A New Breed of Cat
The Aspen C100 Escape is a seaworthy, fuel-efficient, and well-built power cat with distance cruising credentials.
By John Wooldridge
Believing a single-engine catamaran is powerful enough to tackle the Pacific Northwest seas and continue on to the Inside Passage and Alaska, Larry Graf came up with a design that feels right.
Enter the main cabin from the aft deck looking forward toward the helm station and experience wide-open visibility. There are clear sightlines to port, starboard, forward, and aft. You can see everywhere with no appreciable blind spots. Between the entry door and the helm is an efficient galley to port and comfy dinette to starboard. Each feature seems to be a smart use of space. Tucked into the port hull is a single berth for an extra fishing buddy or lots more stowage when provisioning for the Great Loop.
Beneath the dinette a deck hatch in the starboard hull opens to reveal some items requiring low-frequency maintenance, including batteries, battery charger, inverter, and fuel filters. This is a great dry-stowage location for those seldom-needed spare parts. Continue forward and starboard of the helm, down a step or two and you have arrived in the hallway—OK, so it’s the starboard hull but it feels like a vestibule. Turn forward where you’ll find a king-size bed in the master stateroom or turn aft to a roomy head.
The hull is all hand-laid by the builders of Nordic Tugs, while the gelcoat is the CCP Premium Armorcote, a flexible UV-stabilized blend. This is followed by pure vinylester Hydrex for the first layer of fiberglass under the gelcoat. The vinylester prevents water intrusion and acts as a barrier coat. Above the waterline a 3-millimeter Coremat with an ounce and a half of mat under and over is followed by alternating layers of mat and 18-ounce woven roving. Each layer is carefully squeegeed of any and all excess resin. Additionally the bows have a layer of Kevlar making them impact resistant and proud to carry a 10-year warranty.
Five bulkheads in each hull provide three watertight compartments, each with bilge pumps. The hull and deck overlap as a “shoebox” fit. An aluminum backing plate is bonded into the hulls’ top inside edge and the fiberglass deck cap is joined and sealed with aircraft-grade urethane adhesive. Then everything is screwed down every 3 inches with stainless steel screws. The final fitting includes knitted biaxial material glassed into this joint everywhere accessible.
Our sea trail saw fair weather with sea conditions varying from flat calm just outside the marina to a good chop with swells from the tugboats operating in the area around Guemes Island off Anacortes, Washington. Our decibel meter was on the fritz but noise was never a concern while underway even at top speeds. The fiberglass hull interior is soundproofed with foam insulation and the engine compartment is outside the rear cabin bulkhead, reducing engine noise. During the sea trial we experimented with different angles of approach to tug wakes to see how the boat would right itself after crashing across tall seas. As promised, the two hulls pierced the wakes. We felt buoyant upward forces but did not pound like a planing boat might. We ran at WOT to steer hard over port and then starboard and the boat rode steady. It did not throw us around the saloon nor make us feel uncomfortable. This boat seems ready for most any voyage.
Aspen Power Catamarans, 360-668-4347; www.aspenpowercats.com