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Preview: Ron Mueller’s Eco 55 Power Cat – JUST ENUF

July 14, 2016

Just when we thought we’d seen about everything in the way of a boat, the Eco 55 Power Cat JUST ENUF slides into view: practical, home-buildable, beachable, economical, and with an aesthetic all her own.

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– We had an Australian sailing cat, a Jarcat, for 10 years. And we just got to where my wife didn’t like the rough water and the sailing, and we found, in the northwest, with our light winds, we motored a lot. So I was kind of thinking, why not get a motorboat? And then online, I saw this boat for a EcoCat by Bernard Kohler, in France. The yellow and design in paint, and that was his color. And it was just one of those, that’s our next boat. So, that started it. I ordered the plans and built the boat. A lot of people think this boat is stitch and glue. A lot of people think it’s an aluminum boat. But it’s really a traditional, traditional plywood plank on frame boat. Where you have a building jig, you set up bulkheads, in this case, every four feet. You connect the corners with a piece of wood called a stringer, and then you shape the wood planks on top of that. That’s done with each hull upside down. The halls are then flipped so they’re right side up and aligned. A flat bridge deck is put between them to align them and set them up. And then the aft beam, the bulkhead is a beam, and all forward lockers storage areas are another beam. So that’s the structural connectors. One thought about this boat, we have to remember, we’re coming from a sailboat with no knowledge of a power boater. Trying to decide, what’s a power boat like? And the designer of this simply drew a little box with a steering wheel, so how do you make that work? So, I made a little box, and it’s evolved. It basically, it uses a traditional cable drive for steering. It uses a remote helm that comes with the outward motors. Has a top speed of 15 knots, although we usually cruise around 10 knots. And it’s a gallon an hour at just about any speed. It has a 12 gallon fuel tank, so that’s a 100 mile range for us. It has a very nice, which I had on the prior boat, Raymarine Bidata, so that gives you depth and speed. A very simple blue cPanel. Here, we just simply have instruments, running lights, anchor light, cabin lights, fuel, voltage. And then, of course, our navigation station. Since Navionics did iPhone stations for years now, we just go and use the latest iPad for all of our navigation, which also gives us speed, time, and all that. So, plenty of room for the fantastic handheld VHF instead of a built in one. Regarding the design, one of the concepts of this boat, it’s called Just Enuf, is it has no systems. There’s one water tank with a hand pump. There’s a tiny battery with LED and neon lights. But that’s it. There’s no real furniture. In fact, James Wharram, one of the famous old catamaran designers, would call it open space or free space, and it just means you rearrange things to suit your use. So if you want to sit up, it’s a lounge. If you want to lay down, it’s a place to sleep. So, this particular boat has the halls, which are almost stand up-able. It has a table surface for a dinette. One of the things I’ve always wanted in a boat was my own dinette. So, the way the inside works, it’s just a flat space. We have the forward bulkhead, has two hanging lockers, so it’s a his and hers boat. And each locker has a large space where you can put two sea bags in. And kind of a cutty bag for various things, for each person has their personal space. The middle space here is simply the anchor locker. And when we want to access the anchor or go outside or open the hatch, we just do that right here. If you’re sleeping, we’re using a sleeping bag system from Big Agnes. And it’s just a double bag that has a real cushy foam pad in. And this trip, I’m just my one person, but if it’s a trip with my wife, then we just have two bags, and double width goes from here to there. The other nice thing is, somebody can be reading in bed with a reading light, and somebody being sitting here at the galley and getting breakfast ready. In this particular hall, you can scooch forward and get clothing out of the hanging locker, or a shoe locker here, or there’s space under there for tools and materials. And then there’s a very nice table. It simply comes up here. And engages in this manner, with a little slipknot. And now we have a table that we can use for two people to sit side by side and dine. It’s always tough to figure out where to put things. In this case, it has a galley that’s on a slider. And it allows us space in the rear area, where we have a water tank. So we have access to that area for filling it. And then the gliding galley can just slide back into view. Below the galley is a couple of bins with the food for the day. Underneath, we simply have an area for a camp oven and stove and paper towels, and then a nice drawer. Everything we need to cook a very nice dinner is in there. Two pots, tea kettle, frying pan, silverware. Sink is such that even for a big guy, you have plenty of room for somebody to stand up at the sink and bend over. Do dishes, brush teeth, and that. And the stove is an alcohol stove. So the only other space left to describe in the boat is the living space, so here’s the reading chair. You can go and read here. You can go and set your feet up here, and enjoy your life. You can look out the large windows and see that we’re almost drifting on shore. One way to think about the boat is that we have two spaces. We have an inside space, which is more or less a stateroom. And we have the outside space, which might be a fly bridge. And in this case, for this boat, it’s the back porch. We have a chair for my wife, as well as room for the refrigeration system, which is a Yeti cooler. Lasts almost a week on ice in the northwest. We have two chairs. We can move them around to be in the helm. We can move them around to sit and talk to each other. We can move them around to just sit back and enjoy the view on our back porch. And at night, when it gets cool or if it’s raining, we can go and simply, and close our back porch with a back canopy with windows in it. A man and his boat. Perfection.


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