By our definition:
“SEMI-CUSTOM is a well designed limited production catamaran where you choose the cabin layout, interior materials like (wood, leather,,,), instruments, machinery, sails, and so on. With an experienced staff standing by to assist the process will be easy and rewarding.
CUSTOM CATMARAN is where choice of design, size, hull material, number of cabins, and most everything is up to our clients to decide. We are here to help bringing the best marine architects, yards, and crew together to make sure that our client’s dream turns in to reality.”
But the answer isn’t this simple, there is a lot of gray area between black and white. In a way I believe that as you go trough the fallowing process it will become clear that the choice is almost automatic.
It is suggested before you spend to much time thinking about these options you should come up with the basic requirements that are important for you and a size of boat that fits in to your budget.
A lot of those requirements will depend on your intended itinerary for the yacht. Will you charter the boat? Have her strictly privet? Or somewhat of a combination? Travel around the world with family and crew, demand an entirely different layout then on a yacht where you do weekly charters. Storage, cabinet space, staterooms, and even crew area should be different.
All boats are a compromise regardless of size and cost so it is important to know where you want to allow that compromise.
Using this basic Pre Project Plan, you can now start looking at the market to see if there is a design out there which would come close to what you are looking for. This search can naturally be made easy if you let an experienced firm like the Catamaran Company give you a presentation on today’s Mega Catamaran industry.
The global picture must be looked at first, then zoom in on the approximate size of catamaran in your plan.
If it is in the 65 feet to 85 feet, then we’ll find quiet few manufacturers already building boats like that, and designers who have plans in hand. Yapluka, Alliaura Marine, Sunreef, JFA, Matrix, Exclusive Marine are some that come in mind We may easily find one that is close to what you require and the manufacturer is willing to make the modifications within their structural design that will customize the boat to your likening. Here you have your Semi-Custom Mega Catamaran.
Advantages for the Semi-Custom lies in a lesser cost, but even more in the fact that going in to the project you have an understanding of how your boat will be at the end, because you had a chance of looking at a sister ship. This gives you the opportunity to have seen the quality of the finish, the size of the cabins, cockpit and so on, you will know what to expect.
Down side is if you have to deviate too much from what you really wanted because of the limitation of the Semi-Custom project.
If you can not find what you are looking for in the 65 feet to 85 feet range or the catamaran you are looking for is larger then 90 feet to begin with, most likely your option is limited to full Custom. In this case the first step is to find a marine architect/design group, or an all inclusive yard that are experienced and capable to design your Mega Catamaran.
VPLP, Marc Lombard, Blubay, Berret-Racoupeau, would be a good place to start shopping. Once the design is in hand then you must work in cooperation with the architect to select the yard to build the boat. Price, availability, past multihull experience all plays a large role in the selection.
The yard/ building cost will be the largest part of your expense, they will naturally do most of the work, and therefore selecting them is the most important decision.
Advantage is clear; Sky (your budget and imagination) is the only limit. There will be no other Mega Catamaran alike yours. Disadvantages are the bit higher cost, more research and study to be able to select architect and yard as well as more time to have a detailed Project Definition Book.