About Tahina

This page describes the sailing vessel Tahina – our home and mode of transportation. Since our trip will last five years, we will be selling our house and cars – our boat is now our real home. We had previously owned a nice sailing catamaran and found it to be the ideal boat type for cruising and blue water travel. I should point out that sailing is an incredibly “green” mode of transportation. The primary means of movement is wind – you can’t get much greener than that! Here is a photo tour of Tahina.

About the Name

Our boat was named something else by the builder since they were using it as a demo boat. But, we had a better name planned for our boat. So, we had to perform a boat renaming ceremony when we put the boat back in the water. This is something that must be handled very carefully as we want the gods to be happy with our vessel as we sail the oceans. After performing the ceremony our boat is named Tahina. We looked long and hard for a name which sounded nice, was unique, and meant something positive. I first came across the word while reading about a new type of palm tree discovered in Madagascar. The word “tahina” means “blessed” or “protected” in the language of Malagasy (the language in Madagascar which is derived from polynesian origins – note the similarity to Tahiti).

Buying the boat

For the past few years we attended each of the Miami and Annapolis Boat Shows, did a lot of reading, and communicated with many boat owners looking for the right boat. We ultimately settled on a St. Francis 50, by St. Francis Marine built in South Africa. South Africa has a reputation of building some of the best catamarans in the world. Our last boat was also built in South Africa. This boat has 4 queen-sized staterooms with a private head (bathroom) for each room (we plan to have friends and family visit along the way). There is a nice galley in one of the hulls; between the hulls there is a large salon area with a dining table suitable for up to eight people , lots of windows, a navigation station (and large desk area), and a TV entertainment center. There’s also an outside dining area suitable for eight, and the helm station with instruments all protected by a large “roof” area (called a bimini) giving protection from the sun and ocean spray – and there are solar panels on top (another important “green” element). The boat has two engines for times when you can’t sail, or while maneuvering in a harbor. And, it has a generator for charging the battery systems when solar power can’t keep up. See specifications including floor plans.

The boat we’ve just purchased was used by the builder at the Cape Town Boat Show in the fall of 2007, and then at the Miami Boat Show in February 2008 (where we first saw it). Then, it was taken to the St. Francis Resort in the Bahamas where their sales representative lives (which is why we went to the Bahamas back in June 2008). Here is a Google Earth file which shows where the boat was built, and the approximate route it took to get to the Bahamas along with the two boat shows. The boat had nearly 8000 nautical miles on it when we picked it up as a “new” boat. But, that’s often the case when a US citizen buys a South African boat. These boats are designed for long-distance travel. Here are some pictures of a St. Francis 50 from their web site (no, it doesn’t come with the cheerleaders). And, here are some pictures of it under sail.

7 Responses to About Tahina

  1. Heiko Niedermeier says:

    Hallo Frank

    I trust you are well. I have not opened your blog for quite some time, being rather busy with my own preparations.

    When I opened your site now I saw there is something with your eyes. I will read more in a minute but trust that thins are going well with you.

    Our Knysna 480 is nearly completed and we are now starting to buy more and more equipment.

    If you could help me with the anchor I would be grateful

    The boat comes standard with a 35 kg anchor and a 50m (10mm) galvanised chain.

    I have been advised to go with a 45kg Anchor with 100m of (10mm) stainless steel chain.

    I look forward to your experienced advice.


    • Frank Taylor says:

      There are many opinions on anchors and chains. Having a heavier anchor is usually good, but you don’t want too much weight on a catamaran – it will slow things down. We have a 40kg Rocna anchor (New Zealand built) and we are very happy with it. It’s never failed us. We also have 130m of galvanized chain – but, 100m is probably enough. I think stainless chain is not worth the extra cost. It doesn’t cost much to re-galvanize – which we did in Australia this year. The chain looks like brand new again.

  2. Heiko Niedermeier says:

    Hallo Frank

    Thank you very much for your advice. I will now also go for a 40 kg (Ultra, some new anchor from Australia) with 100 m 10mm stainlesse steel chain.

    I trust that your eye is getting better quickly and that you guys will soon be on your way again. Something I am sure many readers of your blog are eagerly anticipating.

    Our boat will be finished by the end of September and then we will slowly prepare ourselves for the long cruise. Hopefully we’ll have as much fun as you guys. Since I have two left hands (when my 72 year old mother sees me with a hammer in the hand she takes it from me and rather hits the nail herself), I am rather anxious of the technical and maintance side of it all.

    However I am sure I’ll cope, what else can I do if there is no one else I can ask for help.

    All the best

    Heiko and Allison from a soon to be wetted Alleycat

  3. Fick says:

    But you can’t beat stainless in looks dept!

  4. SC says:

    Phil Berman of Multihull.com strongly recommends a cat with daggerboards for speed and stability, and increased ability to close haul. Did you consider daggerboards for your selection of boat? Thanks

    • Frank Taylor says:

      I know Phil, he knows his stuff. He probably was referring only to upwind ability and depth for daggerboards on cats. A keeled catamaran is no less stable than one with daggerboards. He is right that you can increase ability to close haul. But, on a well-planned route around the world, you should have very little need to go up-wind. Almost the only time I regretted not having better up-wind performance was when we raced against cats on an upwind leg who had daggerboards. Tahina actually out-raced the daggerboard cats on downwind legs, but we couldn’t point high enough to make the upwind leg without an extra tack.

  5. SC says:

    I was influenced by his commandment #4:
    Would you recommend buying a used car to someone who is interested in offshore cruising? Thank you.

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