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Posted by on Jan 11, 2010 in Boat Reviews, Boat Show, UK, US |

Discovery 50, a Catamaran to Sail the World

Sailed by a couple, this Dixon Yacht Design multihull can go the distance, quickly, and look good doing so.

John and Caroline Charnley, founders of Discovery Yachts, have some definite opinions on how to design and layout a long-distance cruising catamaran, and they are reflected clearly in the 50-foot design they created for their own use with Bill Dixon of Dixon Yacht Design. I climbed aboard on a chill morning (1 degree Celsius) beside the London Boat Show’s Excel Center, where the boat made its debut.

This private-owner cruiser is the first in a line of Discovery cats for long-distance cruising.

This private-owner cruiser is the first in a line of Discovery cats for long-distance cruising.

Firstly, the boat must be a good sailer, and as I stepped aboard and the boat rocked gently I knew it was a lighter weight vessel (less than 30,000 pounds with tanks half full) that would sail well in light airs. (I subsequently heard it motorsailed from Southampton to London in less than 24 hours!)

The 50 has lean, performance-oriented hulls and a good-looking profile.

The 50 has lean, performance-oriented hulls and a good-looking profile. The large portlight windows provide light on either side of the master stateroom. On deck, the mast has electric in-mast furling.

When I was aboard, there were at least a dozen people in this space, but the illustration is not far off from reality. I like the galley and nav area forward, and with the autopilot when at sea, the helmsman can steer from this position.

When I was aboard, the saloon was over-populated, so I couldn’t take a photo, but the illustration is not far from reality. I like the galley and nav area forward, where, with the autopilot, the helmsman can steer at sea.

Second, as the main saloon door opened and I felt the warmth of the interior, I realized I should leave my winter coat out in the cockpit. There were at least two dozen people aboard for this press-day introduction but even without them, the cabin would’ve proved comfortable on such a cold day. No doubt about it, the Charnleys have a well-insulated home.

The full-width master stateroom. That's Nigel Stuart, managing director, on the left.

The full-width master stateroom. That’s Nigel Stuart, managing director, on the left.

Thirdly, walk forward within either of the hulls, which are connected by the spacious bridgedeck saloon, and you’ll find yourself in a massive full-beam master stateroom. The king-size bed is amidships, on the bridgedeck, while his-and-hers dressing areas and heads sit outboard in the hulls. Aft in each hull is guest cabin and additional head.

The galley is up in the main saloon, forward, alongside the nav station, which can serve as a steering position in rough weather when the autopilot is in use. The dining table is to port, aft, along with comfortable seating to starboard. This isn’t a setup for entertaining huge charter parties, but more likely another couple, invited aboard from another cruising boat. Any larger party can move outside into the ample cockpit.

Nigel Stuart, Discovery’s managing director, told me the boat would be trialed for the next few months out of Southampton, then on show in L’Orient, France, at a multihull show. After that, the Charnleys will sail to Gibraltar and then transatlantic where the boat will be shown and can be test-sailed in Annapolis, Maryland. If you are a cat aficionado, put one of these ports on your itinerary.

Read a full updated review: Discovery 50: A Bluewater Cat with a Fine Finish

—John Burnham