Tacking up to Harst Castle, the boat showed
it could sail at 45 degrees to the
wind, but it was advantageous to bear away
a few degrees. Lack of sensitivity from the
wheel steering made it hard for the helmsman
to keep her moving if she luffed, and in
practice 50 degrees proved favourite.
On all other points of sailing the cat
performed as well as, or better than a
monohull, and under her inboard motor we
chugged along happily at around 5 knots,
except when plugging into a stiff headwind,
when the single cylinder, 10hp Ducatti was
obviously struggling. Manoeuvring with the
motor mounted in the starboard hull was...urm
...different. Applying power ahead produced
a sharpe turn to port, whilst a burst of astern
turned her to starboard. With as little as one
knot steerage way, the cat could be controlled
quite well, but slow speed squeezes into
dog-legged marinas could give skipper the odd
Owners can opt for an engine in each hull,
which gives ample power, excellent
manoeuvrability and the security of numbers.
Alternatively, and more cheaply, Heavenly
Twins can be powered by a 15hp outboard
mounted in the cockpit - its extra-long shaft
protruding into the water between the hulls.
When it is time to stop for the night, a 25lb
CQR anchor is waiting in one of the capacious
foredeck lockers ready for use. Here is ample
storage for mooring warps, spare sails,
fenders etc. With a draft of 2ft 3in, Heavenly
Twins can be wriggled up shallow creeks and
estuaries with confidence, drying out safely
on her two long stub keels on almost any bottom.
This versatility gives catamaraners the
independence to be untroubled by the few
marinas which refuse entry to cats, and the
occasional harbour which charges excessive
dues for multihull owners.
On board Heavenly Twins, the sailor and his
family should find everything they need.
Behind the safe and sensible centre cockpit
are two large double cabins, where beds can
be left made up - ideal havens of peace
for a nap while on passage - since the space
is not required in the daytime. Step forward
through the large sliding door into the day
cabin, and the interior space is astounding.
The main saloon has ample seating for six,
although the table is a little short for
that number. The table folds down and
backrest cushions infill to form another
double bed. The latest Mark IV version
of Heavenly Twins will also offer a seventh
To port is the kitchen - galley is too meagre
a term for this great expanse of shelves,
cupboards, worksurfaces, stainless steel
sink and drainer and full cooker with oven.
Here is where Mum can reign supreme, producing
sumptuous meals for skipper and mutinous
'crew' in the same sort of comfort and
convenience she's used to at home. There is
full standing headroom and a huge window
for a fine view of the world going by, so
cook need not feel the least bit cramped
or claustrophobic. In fact, throughout the
boat windows provide plenty of light and
space, and in the main saloon the cat's wide
windows give a panoramic view.
To starboard is one of the best navigation
areas I've come across. The big chart table
folds down across the navigators knees as he
sits on the hull step. Charts, drawing equipment,
hand compass, radio direction finder etc can
all be stowed in the cupboard opened when the
table is lowered.
Beyond the nav area is the loo and shower rooom.
No contortions are needed in this sizeable
department which contains handbasin, sea toilet,
shower and a hanging locker for oilies.
Improvements to some fittings and better
access past the in-use chart table are being
built into current production boats,
answering our only minor criticism of the
During our two-day, live-aboard sail test
we discovered more lockers than the average
sailor is ever likely to need. There is ample
storage space for a family's possessions and
provisions for ocean passages, and more than
enough stowage for living aboard permanently too.
Of the 300 or so Heavenly Twins cats built
since 1972 many now live in the Mediterranean,
Atlantic crossing are commonplace and one is
known to have been sailed to Australia.
For us, sadly the sail test was over before
we could circumnavigate anything bigger
than the Isle of Wight. But we were left
with a lasting impression that here was a boat
that could tackle anything asked of her in
upright safety and supreme comfort.
I, for instance, cannot stand any boat that
heels over. I have had the theory explained
endlessly to me - the further over she goes,
the more stable she is, etc. etc. - but I
just don't like it. It scares me, as well
as making life very uncomfortable, above
and below. I also violently dislike the
sort of boat (and this means most of them,
in my experience), where even in harbour,
life, is too cramped for civilised life to
be possible. I loathe squalid piles of
clothes stuffed to fester in little lockers,
tiny toilets and washbasins, and as for those
quaint hell holes that are cutely named
'galleys' in all the glossy brochures, if
ever there was anything expressly designed
to put your average female off sailing for
life, those are they.
I also knew that on those mercifully rare occasions
when we were caught out in bad weather, fear and
simple lack of physical strength rendered me
practically useles in my unchosen role of First
The children, on the other hand, when they were
smaller, quickly got cold and tired in the cockpit,
and yet could not be sent below as we knew for a
dead cert that a few minutes of dark, bouncy, angled
motion would produce problems of a worst and messier
kind. We were fortunately blessed by quite tolerant
tots who would try to sleep in the cockpit, in
corners away from the spray, but this was not always
possible. Cusion and carpet materials were carefully
chosen to more or less match the colour of redelivered
breakfasts, but our boats were never able to totally
lose that smell. Just the thought still gives me a
bad attack of the shudders.
Now they are older, space for sunbathing, extra
berths for their friends, and somewhere to stow
sailboards or folding bikes, seem to be the main
priority. Also, somewhere to be private, occasionally.
At any age, if your sailing does not cater for their
needs, children can make it hell for everybody - and
why not? It wasn't their idea, after all. And surely
families are about looking after each other's interests,
Well, all credit to my man - he cares. Well, most of
the time. After we had finally managed to sell our
last keelboat - nearly five years ago now - he spent
months scouring the cruising books, brochures, magazines,
and of course the shows, to find a boat that would not
just give use the same old compromises with a bit more
room. He wanted, in an age that has put men on the Moon,
a logical solution to what he saw as a basically simple
problem - how could all of us sail safely, with
spaciousness and comfort, within a reasonable budget?
Thank heavens he did, as without his perserverance we
would now be stuck with something like a 30 foot
monohull, still wondering why we were at each other's
throats after our annual curise if conditions were
anything other than ideal.
Well, to cut a long story short, he announced one day
to an audience of by then almost professional sceptics,
that he had found it. His ideal family cruiser. It was
a production cruising catamaran, with, we discovered, a
worldwide reputation among the cognoscenti for strength
and safety, as well as good performance and outstanding
accommodation. We spent a whole day with the designer
Pat Patterson, sailing his own Heavenly Twins from
Plymouth in a bleak, grey February with winds that
occasionally dropped to a force 6, and as we all agreed
during the evening's well lubricated debriefing, we
actually enjoyed it. We also found that none of us had
felt the slightest apprehension during the whole day,
even when facing some pretty awa inspiring growlers fresh
in from the Atlantic. That was a revelation. We were
So, apart from inspiring confidence in bad weather, what's
so great about Heavenly Twins? Briefly, it's like moving
to the Twentieth Century from the Stone Age. This is what
you get, although it must be said that mere words cannot
do her credit - it's really a quite different world.
No heeling. Total stability. Easy for adults and
children to walk about, above and below, no need
to carefully stow everything before departure, no
spilt coffees or G&T's, even in bad weather.
Centre cockpit. Very important for safety and comfort.
All sail handling can be done from the cockpit, and
even in big seas you all feel securely in rather than
on the boat. The standard arrangement is two double
cabins aft of the cockpit, although we have seen
retired couples who have removed the divider and
created a simply huge double, just for their own
use, leaving the saloon double for occasional visitors.
Stacks of space below. Having a beam of 13'9", which
does not significantly taper at the ends, creates a
massive interior that leads many visitors to doubt
that the boat is only 26' overall. My kitchen is 8'
long, with full standing headroom of course, and acres
of worktop and stowage space. It is also not in a
passage to another part of the boat, for the crew to
keep squeezing by. A beautiful saloon, which in spite
of a lovely airiness, given by the large windows, is
finished in teak with lovely headlinings, to give a
cosy, almost traditional feel to the evening meal
(the table seats 8) and post-children's bedtime
activities (they depart to the aft cabins, don't forget).
A spacious toilet compartment with shower and no need
to slip a disc to reach those parts that we prefer not
to bother with in keelboats. I also take my turn in
navigating, and really appreciate the site and size of
the nav. table. We have some good friends who are living
permanently aboard their HT in Cornwall at present - all
6 of them!!
Deck space galore, with lots of different sitting or
lying positions which can still be used in quite bad
weather because of the almost complete absence of spray.
We only wear oilies in the rain, and even then, only the
helmsman needs to as we can all happily amuse ourselves
inside the boat without queasiness. What a difference!
Unsinkability. Punch a hole through both hulls and sealed
buoyancy compartments ensure you not only stay afloat,
but are actually sailable. This is a far cry from the
latest unsinkable keelboats which are totally awash when
holed, and totally untenable like that in any seas.
Shoal draft, and perfect beachability. 2'3" we draw, which
speaks for itself. She has long fixed keels, and skegs,
which also give good self steering.
A floating caravan
Ok, you say - a floating caravan. Well, this is certainly a
common opinion amongst those who have never sailed them. But
if it's the truth you are after, it's a different story. We plan,
when sailing long distance, for 5.5 knots average, and can point
to 45 degrees if we have to. She'll sail faster and often get
you quicker to windward at 50 degrees, it's true, but we can
certainly give a modern 30 foot cruising monohull a run for his
money in moderate winds forward of the beam. Once the wind pipes
up and/or moves aft, we gain the edge. We notice that we reef
much later than most monohulls, probably because the motion is
more comfortable than theirs in strong winds. Downwind sailing
in a gale aboard HT is also an exhilarating, and yes, an enjoyable
experience, as far removed from doing the same thing in a mono
as taking a Daimler rather than a donkey down the M1. No rolling,
no fear of broaching, and wheel steering and a super hull shape
take care of the worst that old Mother Nature can throw at your
behind. 10 knots under such conditions is easy, and totally safe
and controllable with it.
What about capsize? You may well ask yourself the question. Well,
the important thing to note is the huge difference between cruising
catamarans like Heavenly Twins and the racing kind. The later are
built as light as possible, for speed and are given huge sail areas,
for the same reason. They are also mostly trimarans, with deep
centerboards to trip over, and a small downwind hull to strain
the structure in beam seas. They are sailed hard too, with crews
and boats continually stretched to their limits. Hardly surprising
that they come to grief occasionally.
The fact is that no HT is even known to have lifted a hull out of
the water while sailing and certainly never come near to capsize,
since they were first launched over 13 years ago - and many HT's
have encouraged their owners to make some pretty ambitious cruises,
often involving the sale of homes and businesses to realize the
dream. Atlantic crossings are taken for granted and several of
them are known to have reached Australia and New Zealand - not
bad for a 26 footer of any kind.
Well, after a few year's acquaintance, we are all totally hooked
on our superb sailing cottage - so much so that when an opportunity
arose ot become involved with them commercially, my husband gave
up a lucrative and demanding computer career just to spread the
gospel according to Heavenly Twins. We all agreed at the time
that this was a great move, and now have a thriving little business,
flourishing Owners' Association, and hosts of HT owning friends
to prove it.
The family's grown a bit now, with over 400 boats sold - and it's
still small enought to welcome new disciples. But be warned -
after sailing HT, ordinary boats will never seem quite the same
again unless you all get a kick out of unnecessary suffering, of