Dragonfly

Dragonfly250Nov2By Steve Killing

If you have been a faithful reader of Canadian Yachting, this boat will not appear new to you. I reviewed it in June, 1989, and Paul Howard sailed it across our pages in a performance review in January, 1990. Since my review, over 50 boats have been built. The reason the Dragonfly returns to CY is a very significant design change.

If you ask a multihull enthusiast to point out the worst things about a monohull, he will bark out, “Too much heel, not enough speed.” The monohull diehard will fight back with “Oh, yeah? Better than a multihull with not enough heel and too much beam.”

The arguments are normally harmless enough, but Paul Countouris, builder of the Dragonfly, found that they were affecting business. The beam of his 25-footer was too much for many marinas and yacht clubs to swallow. With dockage at a premium in many locations, there was simply no slip space for a small boat with a 20-foot beam, and that was limiting the Dragonfly’s market to boaters content with hanging off a mooring can, where they could find one.

A swing-wing catamaran

Countouris got mad, and then he got busy. He devised a system to allow the beam of the boat to be reduced to nine feet, six inches when at the dock – or, more correctly, while approaching the dock. An ingenious hinge in the crossbeams allows the two amas (outriggers) to swing back and nestle alongside the main hull. Because the hinge is slightly angled, the amas swing down as they move aft and thereby lift the main hull. With more of the outriggers immersed in the water, dockside stability is maintained.

Listening to Countouris’ description of the process, I was skeptical of the practicality of the system, even if the theory was sound. How do these arms actually swing, and how much effort does it take?

Single-line control

This is the part I like the best. To swing the amas back while returning to dock, the sails are lowered and the auxiliary outboard fired up. Two line stoppers concealed in the cockpit coaming are released and the retaining pins are pulled (they’re there as a back-up measure to prevent an ama from accidently retracting, should the control line break, while the boat is sailing). The drag of the water on the amas push them back, lifting the main hull. The water does all the work! To return the boat to its normal sailing condition, the lines are released while the boat is stationary and the amas float up and out to their normal position. Even while stationary, the amas can be positioned easily by loading the control lines onto the cockpit headsail winches.

In its original configuration, the Dragonfly could be converted readily to trailering by detaching the amas. In the new configuration, the amas still quickly detach, reducing the beam to about eight feet.

This Canadian builder has solved one of the major drawbacks of owning a multihull in a crowded marina. With this modification the class has been officially accepted at several yacht clubs that had formerly rejected the boat previously. Seven of the new versions have been sold across North America to date, and more are underway.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s February 1991 issue.

Specifications

LOA            25 ft. 3 in.

Beam            19 ft. 8 in.

Draft            4 ft. 7 in.

Weight             1,480 lbs.

Sail Area             311 sq. ft.

To see if this boat is available, go to http://www.boatcan.com for listings!


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