Just Launched – PDQ 34

First  published in SAIL Magazine, 1989

Just Launched – PDQ 34

by Tom Dove

If you can keep your way when those about you are losing theirs, you are probably sailing a PDQ 34. This spacious catamaran has remarkable light air ability.

According to Canadian builder David Slater, the PDQ 34 is at its best in the conditions common along the East Coast in summer but still has the strength and sailing ability to handle rough conditions on the offshore legs of a trip. “Lake Ontario has an average summer wind velocity of eight knots – that’s typically four knots one day and twelve the next”, Slater explained.

We sailed the PDQ 34 in what appeared to be a flat calm at Annapolis. In fact, we offered to reschedule the test as the other boats out that day were drifting with lifeless spinnakers and little or no steerageway or were motoring home.

We motored out with the outboards humming softly in t?heir wells, raised sails and continued sailing for the next two hours. Our speed never dropped below two knots and touched three occasionally, providing good control in tacks and turns. Perhaps multihull racers expect that kind of performance but this fat cat astonished me.

Under power, either engine will drive the boat to over six knots and both together move it at about eight, burning about three quarts per hour per engine. The twin 10 HP four-cycle Yamahas are mounted on clever tilt-up brackets that raise the lower ends clear of the water while sailing. Close-quarters control is excellent and the boat will turn tightly with the props counter-rotating.

Directional stability, enhanced by the long keel design, is excellent. All three of us sat on the bow trampoline for nearly ten minutes, chatting as the vessel sailed herself.

The deck hardware is of top quality, with roller furling, self-tailing winches and Isomat single-line reefing, and all lines lead to the cockpit. Moving about the big deck is easy although monohull sailors will need to get used to the lack of handholds. Cats heel little so it is easier to maintain your balance than on a typical keelboat.

The interior is bright and airy, without the claustrophobic effect common in many cruising multihulls. Headroom is six feet, hatches and ports are plentiful and the wood is light-colored ash, trimmed in teak. Finish work is above the usual production multihull standard.

Two couples could cruise quite comfortably on this yacht or a family could live aboard with plenty of privacy. Two queen-size double berths are in the hulls along with a nav station and head to starboard while a galley and a “spare room” are to port. On the test boat, this extra space was finished as a sort of den with a convertible settee and a desk. The refrigeration is water cooled and the box design is clever and functional. The huge dinette is on the bridge deck.

Stowage throughout is excellent and it would be tempting for an owner to overload the vessel and compromise her performance. The hulls are foam cored above the waterline and this, along with multiple watertight compartments, make the PDQ 34 unsinkable. The glass work is neatly done and this builder takes pride in his product.

The base price of the PDQ 34 is $110,000. PDQ Yachts, 1710 Charles Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 1C2. (416) 430-2582.