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pdq 32 sailing catamaran

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  • Sailboat Reviews

The PDQ 32: A Comfortable Cruising Cat

Fast and full of unique features, the pdq 32 continues to impress..

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

PDQ Yachts in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, launched the Alan Slater-designed PDQ 32 catamaran in 1994 and built 53 of the boats in the following eight years. Practical Sailor first reviewed the PDQ 32 catamaran in April 1997, which happened to be when the test boat for this review update rolled off the production line. Heres a look at what testers have learned from coastal cruising this boat for 18 years and from other owners who live aboard.

The PDQ 32 has proven to be a high-quality boat-bashing through rough seas without a groan-with bulletproof basics. It remains pretty darn quick (PDQ), outpacing much larger boats, and most PDQ 32s today sell for what they cost 15 to 20 years ago ($85,000 to $110,000).

PDQ 32 Midori

Photo by James Forsyth

The PDQ 32 was kept lightweight- 7,200-pound displacement-through efficient design and the smart use of triaxial cloth, acrylic modified epoxy resin (AME 5000), Klegecell core, and even carbon fiber (in the main beam). As a general rule, fast cats have displacement-to-length (D/L) ratios between 50 and 70, and slow cruisers about 100 to 120. With a D/L ratio of 108, the PDQ 32 could be on the slow side, but the D/L doesn’t tell the entire story.

Its sail area-to-displacement (SA/D) ratio of 19 indicates ample power to drive the hulls; the SA/D increases to 23 with the addition of a genoa. The beam-to-length ratio is 0.52, meaning length overall is nearly twice the beam. While some catamarans, such as the Lagoon 37 (0.60 beam to length ratio) come in much higher, this is a compromise. Ratios greater than 0.5 can lead to bow-burying and increased dockage rates.

Ample bridgedeck clearance and a good ratio of clearance to beam (the wider the boat, the more clearance she will require to avoid slapping) are vital; with 23 inches of minimum clearance over an 8-foot span, the PDQ 32 is nearly immune to bridgedeck slamming, the curse of catamarans that have accepted low clearance in exchange for increased salon headroom and convenience dockside.

Rigs on cruising catamarans usually look rather stubby, and the standard masthead rig on the PDQ 32 is no exception. With an I dimension (the distance along the front of mast from the highest genoa halyard to the main deck) of 40 feet, 10 inches and a sail area of 443 square feet, the PDQ 32 rig is a bit smaller than rigs on monohulls of similar length and has less sail area. For example: The Beneteau First 325 has an I of 41 feet, 7 inches and a 489-square-foot sail area; the Catalina 320 has an I of 43 feet, 7 inches and a 521-square-foot sail area. Also, the Gemini 105M cat carries 515 square feet of sail. However, the PDQ is by far the lightest of these boats, managing to still do well in light air and really scooting when the breeze hits 15 knots.

A tall rig was a PDQ 32 option, most common on the heavier long-range cruising (LRC) version. However, it has not proven to be faster through a range of wind strengths.

The PDQ 32 has a clever, unique cockpit design that allows three levels of seating-all under a hardtop. To help solve the headroom problem in the saloon, the companionway hatch is very wide and slides forward so that just aft of the dinette table, there is full headroom (6 feet, 11 inches) under the hardtop. When the hatch is closed (a rare occasion in most conditions, if you have vinyl windows connecting the hardtop to the deck), most crew must stoop with only 5 feet, 2 inches of headroom. However, when the slider is open, the saloon becomes a delightfully airy place.

Some owners have rigged mosquito netting from the hardtop to the main bulkhead, allowing for great ventilation, even on steamy nights. While the area is not very large, theres plenty of seating, good visibility on the top tier, easy access to the deck, and yet a feeling of protection and shelter.

This setup also means that foul-weather gear is seldom used, as the boat is easily sailed from under the hardtop, and the deck stays dry aft of the beam. In winter, sweaters and windbreakers are the rule in all but sub-freezing weather, since wind is effectively blocked from the helm on most courses.

There is no exterior brightwork-music to a liveaboards ears-and the handrails are stainless steel. The double lifelines, on 24-inch stanchions, have gates at the aft corner and sugar-scoop transoms. Cleats are 10-inch anodized aluminum.

Most of the sail-handling equipment is Harken brand: blocks, cam cleats, and travelers for the self-tending jib, mainsheet, and slider. Primary and secondary winches are located on either side of the cockpit, a mix of two-speed, self-tailing Harken 32s and Lewmar 40s. Rope clutches are Spinlock Easylocks. Some boat owners lead lines back to the cockpit, while others have twin, two-speed winches mounted on the mast.

The PDQ 32s pull-pull steering is by Whitlock. There is also a very workable emergency tiller, and jammed rudders are easily isolated thanks to access through a stern locker. Seacocks are Marelon by Forespar.

Factory ground tackle was most often a 25-pound Delta or Bruce anchor, backed with 50 feet of quarter-inch G4 chain and 150 feet of half-inch, nylon three-strand line led to a windlass and a bow chain locker. Cruising owners have generally upgraded to a 35-pound Rocna or Manson Supreme anchor and 100 feet of quarter-inch G4 chain, again backed with line.

Since these boats typically anchor in shallow water, this allows anchoring on all-chain about 90 percent of the time. A bridle constructed from half-inch line is typically used to secure the anchor rode, as the anchor rollers are mounted on the bows and the crossbeam is not designed for anchoring loads. Windlasses vary, but are most commonly vertical Lewmar Sprints with a combination rope/chain gypsy.

Tankage consists of a 30-gallon aluminum or polyethylene fuel tank aft of the cockpit, a 44-gallon polyethylene water tank under a shelf forward of the dinette, and a 30-gallon fiberglass holding tank that can be emptied offshore by means of a Y-valve and hand pump. The fiberglass holding tanks on our test boat have proven permeation-free after 18 years.

The gasoline tank is located in a sealed, bottom-vented bridgedeck compartment that can serve double-duty as safe storage for portable gas cans and propane cylinders.

The propane system is engineered to current standards, with a forward vented locker sized for two 12-pound tanks. Leak detection in both hulls is tied to a controller and a locker-mounted solenoid valve. Some of these boats have as many as four propane appliances fed from the locker-stove, refrigerator, water heater, space heater-each with a separate propane line.

PDQ thoughtfully located all through-hull fittings and head-related plumbing (except for about 10 inches of waste and intake hose) in a ventilated bulkhead compartment. If the hoses do permeate-as they did on the test boat (see PS April 2012 online)-the odor is isolated from the cabin. However, the holding tank vent is located in an unfortunate position, upwind of salon hatches, but this is easily managed with either proper holding tank treatments or a vent filter (see PS February 2012 and March 2012 online).

The contained through-hulls location proved its worth when the test boat was delivered shortly after its current owner purchased it in 2008. After sea trials, the speed transducer was removed and replaced with a plug; in the process, the O-ring was positioned improperly. Some hours into the two-day trip up the Chesapeake in December (think actual freezing water), the crew noticed a little water dripping past one of the head hoses. Investigation revealed that the forward through-hull compartment had flooded 2 feet deep. The crew pumped it out and realized it was still leaking, but rather than struggle with freezing plumbing in what had become gale conditions, they sailed the boat with the leak for two more days, because the flooding was so well contained. The boat has crash tanks fore and aft (the rudder post is in the latter), a glassed-in holding tank on starboard, and another sealed bulkhead before the cabins begin on each side.

The electrical panel, located in the starboard hull, contains numerous spare breakers; weve not heard of any owner running out. Wiring is well organized and labeled. An inverter with automated transfer switching feeds a 110-volt system sufficient for heating and air-conditioning loads; however, a generator is not standard, so you must be plugged in to shore power or invest in a generator in order to use them.

Batteries include three group 27, deep-cycle wet cells (or an equivalent bank) located in lockers surrounding the cockpit, which makes watering and replacing them easy. Most owners have added solar panels to the hardtop, and some have additional panels above the davits; 170 to 400 watts is typical.

PDQ 32

courtesy of Brian Munroe and Lynn Bamberger

The classic PDQ 32 is powered by twin, high-thrust Yamaha 9.9-horsepower outboards mounted in cockpit wells. This central location, 12 feet forward of the transom, places the engines near the boats center of gyration, virtually eliminating cavitation in all conditions and offering the ability to push into 30-knot headwinds.

The LRC version of the 32 has twin, inboard 20-horsepower Yanmar diesels mounted under the aft-cabin bunks. (About 20 percent of PDQ owners opt for the twin diesels.) The diesels offer less noise than outboards and add just a little more speed under power (7.4 knots versus 7.2 knots for the classic), but they reduce speed under sail slightly (about 1 knot), due to increased weight and prop drag. The diesel-LRC version gains a little storage in the cockpit (the outboard wells) but forfeits the cavernous space under the bunks for a net loss in storage.

Whether this storage loss and the weight gain is a fair trade for better propulsion and more reliability depends on whether you sail or motor most of the time, so opinions vary. With twin screws, either version will spin in its own length, and backing into a slip is common practice as boarding the boats is easiest from the stern quarter. However, the twin outboards can be retracted, significantly enhancing performance. Plus, theyre less expensive and can be taken to a shop for service.

Owners of the classic PDQ 32 compensate for lost battery charging power by adding solar panels and a small generator. A rare few add wind generators, but it is pretty common to see a Honda 2000 generator on a PDQ 32. Those who have opted for the new, high-thrust 9.9-horsepower Yamaha outboard conversions can expect a charging capacity of 6 amps at 12 volts each. This, with solar supplementing, is more than sufficient for a cruising couple.

Headroom is 5 feet, 2 inches in the saloon with the slider closed), 7 feet, 2 inches in the amas, and 6 feet, 5 inches in the aft cabins.

In warm weather, the salon bunks become premium, comfortable in dimension and bathed in breeze from well-

positioned fans and overhead hatches. Aft cabins get stuffy owing to their location aft of the cockpit, but hatches provide airflow on even the steamiest night.

While theres a good deal of white fiberglass showing, the overhead liner is vinyl. The cabin sole is teak and holly. Plywood is used for under seats and bunk access boards.

The sleeping cabins are primarily carpeted and have cherry and ash trim. Each has a small hanging locker and several enclosed cabinets for stowage.

There are two private staterooms, complete with six opening ports, numerous cabinets, and cavernous storage areas under the bunk (on the LRC models, this is an easy-to-access engine bay). The mattresses take standard queen bedding. The salon table converts into either a king berth or two twins; there are several versions. We recommend adding quality mattress toppers to the bunks.

With so much interior volume-and no factory air-conditioning (or heat)-good ventilation is a must, and the PDQ does not fall short. Two Bomar hatches above the amas ventilate the forward compartments, and two over the dinette provide salon ventilation; there are four smaller hatches aft, and three in the cockpit. Smaller Bomar side windows line the flanks (13) for a total of 24 opening hatches and ports.

There also are four solar vents in the forward compartments and cabins. Additional light pours in through the smoked acrylic windows surrounding the saloon, providing a rare 270-degree forward panorama, sufficient for watch-keeping during a quick meal.

Galley appliances include a Plastimo propane stovetop, a microwave, and a refrigerator (either a Dometic propane fridge or a top-opening icebox with a cold plate). Because catamarans do not heel much, the propane fridge actually works well, even if its less efficient than an icebox.

While galley counterspace and stowage is limited (there is a large cabinet under the propane fridge, and the bilge in the adjacent cabin is easily accessed), PDQ has worked in a few clever aids such as a pullout spice rack, hinged cutting board, and many shallow cabinets. Its best to keep the gelcoated countertops covered to prevent wear.


The PDQ 32 is basically a 7- to 10-knot boat. Weve seen 14 knots in non-surfing conditions, using either a spinnaker or genoa, but we don’t recommend it. Although we have long experience with performance cats and know their habits, we only push for short periods and with full attention. We prefer to back off just a little, staying comfortably within the boats performance envelope and enjoying the day.

As a good rule, reefing begins at about 9 knots of boat speed or 20 knots of apparent wind to windward, starting with the main. The LRC model is about a knot slower. Upwind in sustained 15 knots true, expect about 6 to 7 knots with the jib and 8 knots under genoa. Beam reaching in the same winds, weve made 7 to 8 knots and 9 to 10 knots, respectively.

Most PDQ 32 owners buy 90-percent asymmetrical spinnakers for off-the-wind sailing. The tack is controlled with a 2:1 purchase tack line led to each bow cleat, allowing the tack to be moved from side to side to optimize set; it is generally centered through jibes. With a sleeve, setting and dousing the spinnaker is fail-safe, and the sleeve provides sufficient protection while the sail is stored in a bow locker, eliminating the need for a separate sail bag.

It is not hard to see double-digit speeds on the PDQ, but caution is warranted-in a breeze downwind, there is hidden power, and the tack should be kept to windward and the sheet well eased. The spinnaker is best considered a light- to moderate-wind sail, and returned to its bag in favor of the genoa when the true wind is over 15 knots. In a breeze, wing-and-wing dead downwind makes for solid velocity made good and glass-smooth sailing-what cruising in these boats should be about.

In any case, youll pass cruising monohulls up to 45 feet when reaching in a breeze, and pace 40-footers under most conditions. To windward, youll tack through a wider angle, but youll stay with considerably larger boats when the breeze is up. The PDQ 32s PHRF ratings range from 135 to 234, depending on equipment and location.

The PDQ 32 has a deeper draft than its big sister, the PDQ 36-3 feet, 2 inches compared to 2 feet, 10 inches-improving windward performance by a few degrees. Tacking though 100 degrees over ground is possible, if the boat is sailed well and kept moving. The profile view reveals that the keels are unusually far forward; perfect for drying out, but all wrong for tacking.

The keels center of lateral resistance (CLR) is too far forward, relative to the sails center of effort (COE), causing the boat to snap into irons and stay there if given a chance. Back-winding the jib to force the bow through the eye of the wind is a sloppy solution; the boat nearly stops, control is lost, and it may pop back into irons. Backing her to one side, wearing ship, is not reliable either.

The savvy PDQ owner has a different tacking procedure: Accelerate to maximum windward speed by cracking off a few degrees, throw the wheel nearly hard over, release the jib the moment it luffs, and dump the main traveler all the way to leeward when the main breaks (the traveler cleats separately on each tack-pre-set the traveler on the new tack down). Steer well beyond the normal 100-degree tack, placing the true wind on the beam, haul and grind the jib in as soon as it can fill to keep the bow off, and then steer back up to proper course and haul the traveler up as the boat accelerates. The process is simple and quick, once dialed in.

Because the CLR is in front of the COE, keep the traveler a few inches below centerline in lumpy conditions, centered when powered up on flat water. Never place the traveler over center, and always ease the mainsheet enough to preserve twist. Reef the main first; this also helps move the COE forward.

Some owners have added genoas to supplement the stock self-tacking jib. This is a real turbo-charge for the PDQ 32 all around the course, as the keels are large enough to support the additional loading and the genoa brings the COE better in line with the CLR, greatly improving balance.

Because the boat is catamaran rigged (no backstay, shrouds to the extreme beam), the genoa is generally rigged outside the shrouds and sheeted to the extreme beam. The resulting sheeting angle (24 degrees) is too wide for efficient windward work. A successful solution has been to add an inner track and a second set of sheets. The genoa is then sheeted tight against the hardtop, reducing the sheeting angle to 15 degrees and giving a good angle of attack without overpressing the low-aspect keels. The boat can’t point as high as a good monohull, but it can really stomp at 50 degrees true. When reaching, the outer tracks provide beautiful sail shape.

If youre a performance-oriented sailor considering a PDQ 32, look for a boat with a genoa and inside tracks. The difference is real.

Compared to other cats in the same class, the PDQ 32 is as fast in base form, and even faster when tweaked, something the strong but light design seems to encourage. Quality construction has proven to be a boon to owners as well. Sails and moving parts require replacement and upgrade, but the structure and basic systems have been bulletproof.

The center-cockpit setup is different, but testers like the privacy of queen cabins and the expansive forward view, something missing in most cats this size. The salon slider is a unique feature that allows incredible openness in warm weather, requires some stooping in cold weather, and is the cost of high bridgedeck clearance and superior helm visibility. All compromises. Among the few cruising cats of this size, the PDQ 32 offers excellent value.

The PDQ 32: A Comfortable Cruising Cat

  • PDQ: Rugged Quality

The PDQ 32: A Comfortable Cruising Cat

  • PDQ Owners Forum


Best, detailed, comprehensive review that I can recall reading. Thank you so much!!!

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  • By Quentin Warren
  • Updated: November 2, 2001

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

In the world of cruising catamarans, aesthetics take a hit when you cut down on length overall. At issue are a host of conflicting themes — the practical demand for interior volume works against the visual imperative that freeboard be low; the need for bridge deck clearance and standing headroom pushes the cabin profile skyward. What’s graceful, extended and cunning at 45 feet often becomes ungainly in the context of 35.

Which is why Alan Slater’s PDQ 32 is such a remarkable boat. Fully outfitted for long-range cruising, she remains bright, airy and easy to look at. With a nicely proportioned rig and a subtle sloping cabin top, she carries herself like a longer cat and avoids the pitfalls of many of her peers that attempt to consolidate as much mass as possible into a length that won’t accept it. You can cruise or even live aboard this boat quite comfortably, but her scale is such that sail handling and overall maintenance remain uncomplicated.

The deck is safe underfoot with wide gangways, extra-high lifelines, six sets of stainless handholds and the calculated omission of abrupt jogs or steep transitions to throw you off balance. There are deck lockers for anchoring paraphernalia in the bows port and starboard, and a very secure trampoline strung forward of the cabin between the two hulls. Open-air lounging is relegated to this area, also to the cabin top around the mast step and to the stern sections where boarding steps are molded into the transoms.The cockpit is smallish and deep, well protected from the elements by a rigid Bimini. Given its depth it offers a secure haven for kids, and with the main companionway hatch that stretches clear across the cabin shoved forward it becomes a pleasant extension of the saloon. The Bimini is strong enough to stand on when tending the mainsail, and cut-outs allow you to look aloft from the helm under way to check on trim. Care should be taken to avoid bumping one’s head on it when entering or exiting the cockpit area.

Indeed, the Bimini structure and sliding cabin top section constitute a major feature aboard this boat and one that PDQ has sought to refine in more than two years of design trial and error. Early problems with the sliding element involving watertightness and ease of operation have been resolved, as have height and interference problems associated with the Bimini. The result is a unique cockpit space that offers the shade and protection of a pilothouse while retaining an outdoorsy ambience.

PDQ is a good builder with a solid grasp of modern materials. Where exotic components can offer calculable advantages, they are used. Hulls and deck are laid up with knitted triaxial fiberglass fabric in a matrix of AME 5000 (Acrylic Modified Epoxy) resin. Klegecell rigid foam is used for lightness and stiffness in the deck and in the hulls above the waterline; solid glass is spec’d below the waterline. All the coring is vacuum-bagged to optimize the resin ratio and primary bond. A fiberglass beam reinforced with carbon supports the mast step. An aluminum beam is fitted bow-to-bow and rigidified in compression by a pelican striker to accept headstay loads. Structural bulkheads are taped carefully to the hulls with X-weave knitted fabric. There are watertight crash compartments in each hull forward and aft. The rig is set up with diamond stays, and aft-led uppers are secured to stainless steel chain plates bolted into primary reinforcement at the hulls outboard.

The PDQ 32 is available in two basic configurations — the Classic version, offered with two retractable 9.9-horsepower four-stroke Yamaha outboard engines cleverly deployed from pods beneath the cockpit lockers, and the LRC (Long Range Cruiser) version, offered with twin 20-horsepower Yanmar inboard diesel sail drives located in shielded-engine compartments aft. Both give you dual propulsion well separated athwartship for great close-in control. The LRC package offers more power and considerably more alternator charging capability; the Classic package is simpler and lighter.

Both versions are wired for 12-volt and 110-volt circuitry. Freshwater capacity is 90 gallons, pressurized. All plumbing output is above the waterline through the insides of the hulls, and intakes below the waterline are fitted with ball-valve-type seacocks. Wherever possible, fiberglass and PVC pipes are used as fluid conduits in lieu of hose for strength and abrasion resistance.Below, sensitive glasswork combined with just the right amount of cherry trim makes for a delightful interior. The main saloon accommodates up to six people around the dinette and spills congenially into the galley that occupies the port hull forward. Cozy double berths with shelving and locker storage are located in the sterns. The starboard hull amidship includes the nav station with a fold-down chart table and forward of that a one-piece modular head with its own shower.

We went for a pleasant sail aboard the 32 off Newport, Rhode Island, in a steady 15-18 knot sea breeze. The boat relished the moderate conditions and rode smoothly and powerfully through a sizable chop at the mouth of Narragansett Bay. We kept speed in the solid sixes and response at the helm was excellent, even through tacks. There was no apparent slapping on the underside of the bridge deck, and acceleration was quick and positive. In the breezy air we encountered, the behavior of the boat was top-notch.

Suffice it to say, PDQ has brought the 32 along to a commendable level of production and finish. It is definitely an owner-optimized vessel capable of reflecting a host of personal touches, and the company stands behind whatever its clients want their boats to be. Certainly in its size and price range, it is a significant cat.

PDQ 32 Specifications:

LOA: 31′ 7″ (9.63 m.) LWL: 31’0″ (9.45 m.) Beam: 16’0″ (4.9 m.) Draft: 3’2″ (0.96 m.) Disp: Disp: 7,200 lbs. (3,266 kgs.) Sail area: 507 sq.ft. (47.1 sq.m.) Mast above water: 45’0″ (13.7 m.) Length/Beam (hulls): 8:1 Bridge Clear: 40″ (fwd.), 23″ (aft) Cabin headroom: 6’11” (open), 5’4″ (closed) Disp/Length: 108 SA/Disp: 21.8 Fuel tankage: 30 gal. (114 ltr.) Water tankage: 47 gal. (178 ltr.) Auxiliary: 2 x Yanmar 9.9 4-cycle outboard Designer: Alan Slater Base price: $129,500 – $139,500 PDQ Yachts USA 309 Third St. Annapolis, MD 21403 Phone: (410) 268-3700

  • More: 2001 - 2010 , 31 - 40 ft , catamaran , Coastal Cruising , multihull , Sailboat Reviews , Sailboats
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PDQ 32 Review with Aurora and Dennis of S/V Serenity

  • Post author By Diane Selkirk
  • Post date March 6, 2021
  • 8 Comments on PDQ 32 Review with Aurora and Dennis of S/V Serenity

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

We spoke with Aurora and Dennis who have a 1998 PDQ 32 named Serenity that they bought in 2017. They tell us about why they chose the PDQ 32, the strengths and weaknesses of the model, and why it has been the perfect catamaran for them. They compare the PDQ 32 to Geminis, Maine Cat 30, Seawind 1160. Please watch the interview below and read on for a transcript with additional photos to illustrate the features spoken about.

Key Takeaways of the PDQ 32

  • Inexpensive, simple learning catamaran that allows for weekend sailing with kids and longer travels as a couple
  • Light and small enough that you can manhandle at docks which lowers stress and likelihood of scratches.
  • Powered by twin 9.9 HP outboards which are inexpensive to maintain, easy to repower, and can be tilted up to gain 1 knot of speed. Wonderful simple sailing.
  • Loves going downwind and sails beautifully with asymmetrical.
  • Higher bridgedeck clearance than other similar size pocket catamarans like a Gemini 105 MC.

Challenges of the PDQ 32

  • Tall rig version and has excessive weather helm. Difficult to balance sails especially with smaller self tacking jib.
  • Unconventional looks. Their nickname for the boat is the alien bug.
  • Single lane traffic down below because of narrowness of design.
  • No dedicated shower down below. Single wet head.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to choose a PDQ as your boat?

We had a 16-foot little day sailor that we had taken around Lake Champlain and some other places, and we were looking to get a little bit larger boat that we could take the kids on and go longer than a weekend sail.

We looked around at a lot of boats, but we’ve got three kids to put through college. So we were going for a little bit of a budget boat, maybe a little bit of a learning boat. We’re looking at small catamarans like Geminis and PDQs and some others like that, and this one just came on the market in Rhode Island. We were not seriously looking when we bought it. We just happened to be visiting a friend in Rhode Island and you’re like, “let’s look at this boat,” and it just kept checking all the boxes and it just worked out.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

Had you known much about the PDQ before you went aboard that one in Rhode Island? Had you narrowed down to that model?

We knew we were looking in the low 30-foot range for a catamaran, and we’d chartered Gemini, so we’d been on a similar sized boat. We’d spent a fair bit of time with Mike and Rebecca from Zero to Cruising, and had been following their blog. They were on a PDQ 32 for their exploration of the Caribbean. So we’d been following them for a couple of years and we’d even sailed with them, not on their PDQ boat, on their next boat, which was an Amel.

One of the things that struck us about our time with them, was that they were on this beautiful cruising boat, on this beautiful Amel, which is what Delos has. It’s around this beautiful cruising boat, and they talked about their PDQ 32 like it was their first born baby and they missed it constantly, and we just sort of looked at each other like, “we’re on their Delos boat, but they missed their PDQ 32 like crazy.”

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

Not long after that one, when we stumbled across this PDQ 32, which there’s not a lot of small catamarans in northern New England. So it’s kind of rare to find one on the hard, and we stumbled across this PDQ 32 and it really did just tick all the boxes, and we said, “let’s do it now!”

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

The other piece that I will add, is that ultimately, we’re part-time cruisers, so we live in New Hampshire and we sail part-time in the summer, because that’s what works well in our lives. We do ultimately have plans to go a little further than that, and spend more time on our boat, but we think that probably won’t happen until our kids are out of the house. So having this little boat was actually okay right now, even though we have, sometimes, too many teenagers on this little boat, but not for long periods of time.

When we’re ready to go a little further, it’s just fine for a couple, it’s big enough for a couple. So we thought it was a both a good boat for us for now, because of the price and because of the size, but also probably a good boat for us longer term if we decided we wanted to go further. We would be able to do it together on that boat.

That’s cool. The boat for right now is a big deal but what are some of the things that you think are the best things about her for you?

The boat is super simple. The very few systems, the sails aren’t so big that we can’t handle them, even though we don’t really know what we’re doing. We’re new! We went to sailing school in 2015. So we were new sailors when we bought her, and she wasn’t intimidating at all. Really, she’s been a good teacher for us. The boat’s not so big we can’t manhandle it off any dock, and we can get out of scrapes that we wouldn’t be able to with a 40-foot boat, so that’s been good.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

She’s powered by outboards, which is a little weird. So two 9.9 HP outboards, which is what a lot of people have on their dinghy, is what powers our boat. But a lot of people have those 9.9’s on their dinghy, that’s where most people see him, that’s what powers our catamaran are two of those.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

One of my favorite things is that you can lift him up and we gain a knot of speed. Pretty much every time we lift up those motors, get them out of the water. We have no props in the water all the time, so we don’t have growth on our props. When we have to repower, and we’ve now half repowered, it’s not that big a deal to lift an outboard out of this boat and get a new one. It’s just not that big a deal, so I really love that about her.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

So what about criticisms or things that you think could be changed to make her better? You found anything like that?

We’ve had problem with the sail balance a bit. Our boat especially, I think they put on a larger mast in an effort to put on more sail area, but that meant that the boat really wants to go to weather, especially with the self-tacking jib that it came with.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

The self tacking jib is lovely for single-handing, just so easy to sail, but she just didn’t sail really well with the jib on. We did get a Genoa, and it sails much better, obviously in low wind, and it’s better balance. Aurora’s making a main sail right now, which has been fun. We made our asymmetrical spinnaker last last year, so that was fun. We’ve gotten into a lot of sewing for boats in our time, which is a big surprise to me, because I have to say, I was anti-sewing. I didn’t sew and now I make sails.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

I guess the sails aren’t so huge, you could probably fit them in your home.

Not flat! But you can make a sail in our house. We’re hoping the new main sail helps with the sail balance too. The other thing I would just say, is that this boat does not have conventional looks. When we pull into a harbor, people go, “where’s your boat?” We go, “Oh! We have the alien bug!” They are cute but they look really strange. We’re in Rhode Island, where there are all these beautiful wooden boats, with classic lines. Often, we pull into an anchorage and I’m like, I can’t even believe they let us in here, because we don’t look like we belong. But the America’s Cup boats are pulling up, going right by us, and we’re like, “what do they think about our boat?” It does look kind of funny.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

I will say the design, every square inch of this boat has been well thought out. Even though it’s a really small boat, it’s so functional. I think the only thing that is hard for me about it is, there’s only single lane traffic in the boat. Everything is narrow, and two people can’t pass in any place. It’s not an island bed, you’re climbing over your partner. Those kinds of things of being on a small catamaran. We don’t have a separate shower, although I prefer my showers outside anyway. So that’s not so bad. It’s a small space, but it is very very well designed. So it doesn’t feel dysfunctional in any way. It just is not large.

Why don’t we pop into the interior then? Tell us a little bit about how you use it for your family and go through that a little bit. Where’s the galley and how does that work for you?

It’s galley down. The galley is down in the port hull, which I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that, but I actually love it. It’s really lovely. It’s easy for cooking underway, because it’s just really comfortable. It’s narrow enough that you can brace yourself really easily if it’s a little boisterous out. The galley is very, very functional. It has two cabins, both are in the aft, so they are fairly comfortable. There’s one head, which, if you have too many teenagers on the boat, it can be a bit of a challenge.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

Often, when we have too many teenagers, those are the moments that we choose to spend a night or two on a dock, so we get some extra toilets and showers and stuff. We have two cabins, and then sometimes when we have a lot of people on board, the salon table lowers down and it converts into a oversized king-size bed. We have put three teenagers there.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

The other thing we do that’s kind of funny when we have too many teenagers is, we will pitch a tent on the forward trampoline, because the trampoline is just the right size for about a four person tent. So we have been known to pitch a tent on our trampoline and send teenagers up to sleep on the back.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

That’s fantastic. Maya had a lot of sleepovers on our nets, but because we’re in the tropics, she didn’t need the tent. But I think the tent sounds fantastic, it sounds like a lot of fun. Are you able to sit everybody at the table and all that kind of thing works?

Yeah, it easily sits six. Six comfortably, eight a little cozy.

And storage?

We have no problem with storage, there’s a massive amount. Probably too much storage for weight. Like other catamarans, if you filled up all your storage, you would be really really slow. There’s lots of storage under the beds, and there’s adequate cabinets. Some of the cabinets are quite small, but it all works. There’s a lot of storage underneath the salon area. The storage is perfectly adequate for what we do. I don’t know how we’ll feel about it if we’re living on it full-time. We live in a pretty good-sized house right now, so it’ll be a little bit of an adjustment. But for what we’re doing, a couple weeks at a time, it’s perfect.

Tell us a little bit about sailing then. How does she sail and what are her favorite conditions?

She loves going downwind, wing on wing with an asym up. She loves going downwind like lots of catamarans, but she’s pretty comfortable in all directions. With the Genoa on, she points better than she did with the jib, which is nice.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

We’re kind of fair weather sailors, which is great for a boat like this. This is not a boat to sail through hurricanes, so we haven’t sailed in really really boisterous conditions, but we’ve been in some ways in chop, and she does well. I think compared to boats of her size, like the Gemini that we sail on, we have much higher bridgedeck clearance, we have much better shaped hulls. You don’t feel like you’re pushing through the water. The 16-foot beam is really nice. I can’t imagine a boat the same size sailing any better.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

So you’ve been in light winds, moderate winds. You haven’t been into bigger winds at all to see how she does in heavier weather?

We avoid those.

Fair, so do I. Totally, totally agree.

We’ve occasionally had higher winds here and there. They’re by surprise for short periods of time, generally short distances. She’s always been fine. I mean there’s three reefing points, it’s on a furling jib. You can put out just a scrap ahead sail. She’s easy to get the sail really way down, to make her more comfortable and in higher winds. But those are not our chosen conditions for sailing.

That’s a good call. How about motoring? How’s the speed under motor and maneuverability?

With both motors, you can easily get five knots, maybe six if you redlined it. But a lot of times, we’ll just put one motor down and do three and a half knots if we’re not in a rush. We get about a half gallon per hour, per motor, so we can go for a while. We go pretty far on not much, and we usually fill the tank maybe twice a year, and we sail as much as we can. Also, we do really love to sail, so we motor some.

We’re Rhode Island sailors, so the farthest we’ve gone, so far, is Nantucket. We’re doing day hops here and there, and although we’ll go for a few weeks at a time, we’re hopping 30 miles, 40 miles, maybe 50 miles every once in a while, in a day. We’re not going really long distances.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

Like around here. And those are nice distances that you can do within a day, and get in and enjoy the sunset. I think a lot of what it’s about. How about getting in and out of docks, and that maneuverability and that visibility? Do you have any issues there?

No, the engines are far enough apart that we can spin the boat pretty easily. The design of the helm and the visibility is kind of unique. A lot of catamarans have the salon between the helm and the front of the boat. With this boat, there’s a sliding hat, like the roof opens. It’s like a convertible car, so there really isn’t anything between you and what’s in the front of the boat, and the helm’s raised just a little bit so you can easily see over everything that the cabin has. I think you can see all four corners of the boat, just about, from the helm. The two engines really do give excellent maneuverability.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

The only time when you maybe don’t always feel it, is in a lot of current, because 9.9 outboard are still 9.9’s. In a lot of currents sometimes, you sort of feel like, “am I a little under powered here?” But we’ve had no trouble docking her at all. I mean, she has a 16-foot beam, so you know it doesn’t fit everywhere, but she’s not hard to dock.

That’s cool. So the future of the boat, do you have any projects that you’re working on, or anything that you think needs changing aside from the sails that you’ve already done? Is there anything else?

Always. We put in lithium batteries and did a big solar project for it, and that has just made the boat such a joy to not have to have a generator, to never plug into shore power.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

That’s been great, and in fact we can even run a little air conditioner. We can run that off the batteries now, so it’s pretty awesome. That was a great improvement. Other than that, we’ve done all the canvas, and we’ll have all all new sails this year.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

What year was she? I forgot to ask you that.

She’s a 1998. Kind of older, right? So there’s constantly projects. I’ve gotten into sewing, so I think there’s going to be some new cushions coming, maybe next winter. We’ll see. That kind of work. With the big hardtop doing the dodger all the way around, we knew one of those that worked for us was just a huge project that was awesome. Every time we unzip those windows we’re like, “Yes! This is the best thing ever!”

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

That’s cool, yeah.

We’ve done a stack pack, we made our own stack pack. All those things have have made her really lovable. We don’t have any really big projects on the horizon right now. We’ve done all our big ones. Now, we’re just waiting to see what breaks next.

That’s fair. So here’s the tricky question. If you were going to swap her for another boat what would you swap her for, if anything?

We chartered a Maine Cat 30 in the Abacos, and it’s kind of a similar boat, but a little more sporty, and with a daggerboard. So the performance was a little bit over. Also a little lighter, very lightly loaded.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

It doesn’t have all the teenagers aboard!

I would look at a Maine Cat 38 probably. You like Seawinds, right? I really do like Seawinds, although I’ve never sailed one. I have always had a thing for Seawind 1160 Lights, which again, have the outboard engines that you can lift up.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

I’m really curious about potentially going electric, potentially on one side. So half electric. I’ve thought a lot about that, and that’s part of why the outboard motors are a little more appealing to me. Once we get there, once we really think we’ve got the right batteries, and the right electric motors, we could easily swap out for one electric, and sort of do that as a little bit of a test. We’ve had great experience with our Torqeedo on our dinghy. We’re just like, “no oil changes, super easy maintenance, just goes every time.” We love it.

If people are looking at a PDQ 32, what tips would you offer? What would you have to say?

I don’t know, other than enjoy it.

Are they are all pretty much the same?

The 32s are very similar. I think there is a long-range cruising version that has inboard. There’s also a 36 that is very quite similar, but a little bit bigger, and they have a lot of overlapping features. It’s a lovely boat if you want a catamaran that’s around a hundred thousand dollars, instead of three, four times that. And you’re ready to have a smaller boat that is very very functional, well-designed, but also older. They’re all at this point, I think, 20-years old, almost. They stopped making them almost 20 years ago, well more than 10, 15 years ago, so they’re all a little older.

You’re gonna have those regular upkeep things that you need to pay attention to, but it’s a lovely boat, especially for relatively new sailors. We knew we wanted a catamaran, and four years ago we would not have been able to buy a Leopard 47. We’ve really fallen in love with this little boat. We still get on it, and I mean every single time we sail it, we have this moment. We’re like, “this is just the right boat for us right now, just the right boat for us,” which is a lovely feeling to have about your boat.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

Oh, for sure, yeah. I think love gets you through an awful lot of boat repairs, and projects, and stuff, and enjoying them. Well, thank you so much for spending the time talking to us about your PDQ 32.

Thank you for having us.

pdq 32 sailing catamaran

  • Tags Catamaran Interviews , Catamaran Reviews

Diane Selkirk

By Diane Selkirk

I love to travel and have spent the past seven years sailing with my family aboard our 40 Woods Meander catamaran - traveling from B.C.'s north coast, to the west coast of the US, Mexico, the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, across the Indian Ocean to South Africa and on to St Helena, South America, the Caribbean and Central America.

8 replies on “PDQ 32 Review with Aurora and Dennis of S/V Serenity”

I really like the article. I have a PDQ36 and have sailed the 32s. I found the article quite accurate. Great job on selecting questions too.

Thank you! Means a lot to us to get this feedback. I see you have a media production company and own a PDQ36, so it sounds like your feedback really means a lot! We are looking to cover PDQ 36 if you are available or know someone who would be interested in being featured. Contact us if so.

Hi Richard: I’d be happy to provide more info, a tour, etc. I love this little catamaran. Feel free to contact me anytime.

I am in the process of downsizing to a PDQ 36. It is my retirement boat, after sixteen years of owning and captaining a Leopard 45 in charter in the BVI. I will have more thoughts on downsizing (instead of upsizing!) in a few months. I am also an ASA instructor, so I look forward to figuring out any differences in boat handling, other than the size, etc.

Sounds like a great plan for retirement. We have a review coming out next week on the PDQ 36 which hopefully you will enjoy. Stay tuned.

I have the tall mast and found the original main sail tended to have too much belly even with outhaul as far as it would go. I replaced the main with a loose footed laminate radial by North Sails and I don’t really have trouble getting balance. When winds get up over 15 knots it does balance better with the first reef in.

We also have a PDQ32 and love it. We have taken ours from Virginia, USA to Guatemala and many points in between. For a couple there is plenty of room and storage. She does seem underpowered when motoring directly into the wind but otherwise is perfect! We haven’t added an asymmetrical sail yet but that is high on our priority list. Even with the stock sails and fully loaded, we have seen 8-9 knots of speed on a beam reach but we tend to slow her down at that point. Thanks for the interview, it was great to get another owners perspective!

The PDQ32 is a really good boat and really should be in the sailboat hall of fame for it’s compact unique designs. I also own a F-27, which is in the sailboat hall of fame, the PDQ32 is equal to that boat in many, but different, ways.

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  • Sailboat Guide

Pdq 32 is a 31 ′ 7 ″ / 9.6 m catamaran sailboat designed by Steve Killing and built by PDQ Yachts starting in 1995.

Drawing of Pdq 32

Rig and Sails

Auxilary power, accomodations, calculations.

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.

Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio .311 Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.

SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64) 2/3

  • SA : Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D : Displacement in pounds.

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Ballast / Displacement * 100

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.

D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.

Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam 1.33 )

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.

CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

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    A tall rig was a PDQ 32 option, most common on the heavier long-range cruising (LRC) version. However, it has not proven to be faster through a range of wind strengths. The PDQ 32 has a clever, unique cockpit design that allows three levels of seating-all under a hardtop.

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    Base price: $129,500 – $139,500. PDQ Yachts USA. 309 Third St. Annapolis, MD 21403. Phone: (410) 268-3700. More: 2001 - 2010, 31 - 40 ft, catamaran, Coastal Cruising, multihull, Sailboat Reviews, Sailboats. This small cruising catamaran is bigger than you may think.

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  6. PDQ 32 Review with Aurora and Dennis of S/V Serenity

    Key Takeaways of the PDQ 32. Inexpensive, simple learning catamaran that allows for weekend sailing with kids and longer travels as a couple; Light and small enough that you can manhandle at docks which lowers stress and likelihood of scratches.

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  8. PDQ boats for sale | YachtWorld

    Some of the best-known PDQ models presently listed include: 34 Power Catamaran, 36 Capella and MV 32 Passagemaker. Specialized yacht brokers, dealers, and brokerages on YachtWorld have a diverse selection of PDQ models for sale, with listings spanning from 2003 year models to 2005.

  9. Pdq 32 — Sailboat Guide

    Pdq 32 is a 31 ′ 7 ″ / 9.6 m catamaran sailboat designed by Steve Killing and built by PDQ Yachts starting in 1995.

  10. PDQ 32 catamaran for sale | YachtWorld

    Find PDQ 32 catamaran for sale on YachtWorld Europe's largest marketplace for boats & yachts. We connect over 10 million boat buyers and sellers each year!