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Dear Duncan,

After 8 years, 20,000 cruising miles and 2 oceans, I realize that it is time to send you our sincere thanks for building such an excellent boat. We have Quantum Leap, the first 48 foot St. Francis out of the mold. Many yachting friends thought that this was inordinately risky, taking the first boat and from a South African builder who not well known in the States. I had done the research and was confidant that Quantum Leap would be a superb yacht, and so she has been.

We are now in Vanuatu, and will be sailing to Australia for the cyclone season. For the past three years, we have sailed in company with friends who have Voyages, Lagoons, Fontaine Pajots,Privileges, PDQs and Catanas. We have made the same passages in the same weather, and so have gotten an insight into the sailing ability,comfort, and general toughness of our St. Francis and the other cats. Four of these passages were to or from New Zealand, which can be an very rough. These past three years have given us experience that one could never get from a test sail or a new boat review article.

We have also been in marinas and boatyards where catamarans are hauled and damage and construction problems are repaired. So we have learned of systemic problems concerning a production line of a particular factory. By this point in a world cruise, all catamarans have earned their reputations,good or bad. I am a strong believer that boats have karma,and Quantum's karma is most excellent.

I don't intend to go into the negatives of other cats, I will say however that I don't envy any other man's cat. I have owned 6 yachts in the past, but Quantum Leap is the only boat which we will need in the future. Right now we are anchored with 5 other cats. We were out in the dinghy, and looked back to the anchorage at the assembled cats. Two things jump out at one. The first how tall and voluminous are the St. Francis'hulls. This is wonderfully reassuring when surfing fast down big waves. Those big hulls have so much reserve buoyancy, I am never worried about stuffing the hulls and pitch poling. Those big hulls also mean that the interior space is enormous. The first thing almost everyone says when aboard for the first time is" Wow, you have so much room."

The second thing is bridge deck clearance. We sailed from New Zealand to Tonga with a young man who had circumnavigated on another brand of cat. It was an extremely rough trip. He had never been seasick on his circumnavigation, but was sick for 2 days in this one. He was amazed at how little slamming we experienced,and how we were able to maintain boat speed in those conditions. He commented that the other boat would have probably had to heave to.

Nothing is more important in a boat than confidence that it's construction is such that it will always get you there. I have that confidence in Quantum Leap. We have been in marinas specializing in cats, and have seen cats with water impregnated hulls, gel coat blistering,leaking dagger board trunks,loose main beams,and cracking hull-bridgedeck joints. Our boat has had no problems with construction or major systems at all . She is solid, and my confidence in her has only grown with the passing years.

We have catamaran friends who dread windward passages to the point of avoiding them altogether. This is usually because they have been so uncomfortable,but especially because of the damage suffered. We have friends who have blown out trampolines( a very dangerous condition when working the foredeck.) Others have ripped gennys and mainsails or lost their awnings and dodgers.

I don't like going to weather, only a fool or racer would. We have had to do it often enough on ocean passages though. We have never had any damage including legs with green water coming all the way over the hard top. One such passage was a 1300 mile trip from Fiji to Opua ,New Zealand. We were very late in leaving,since daughters don't consider maritime weather when scheduling weddings. Our weather router had promised a spirited sail with a need to brace ourselves toward the end. He was dead right about the weather. What we didn't know was that the man didn't know the difference between a beam reach which it wasn't; and a beat ,which it was. We were hard on the port tack for the entire voyage. For the first 4 days, we could not even lay New Zealand,and were headed instead for Antarctica. We had winds between 25 and 38 knts, and regularly took green water over the hard top. We were double reefed on the main and the genny was about 50%. Our boat speed was 7 to 9.5 knots. Well, you might say, no wonder you were taking a shellacking; going so fast in such conditions. Our reasoning:there was much worse weather coming,and it is very reassuring to be able to sail fast out of harms way. We made Opua in five and one half days, and just in front of dangerous low. We arrived with absolutely no damage to hull or rigging. True, the crew were still vibrating for a day or two,but the boat was fine.

Of course,things like pumps and electronics wear out. A month of distance cruising seems to be equal to a year of coastal cruising. After all cruising is working on your boat in exotic places. I would recommend your clients take lots of spares,especially pumps,electronics and auto pilot spares. Our auto pilot central unit failed 500 miles out of the Galapagos with 2500 miles to go to Fatu Hiva. Fortunately we had a spare. The thought of hand steering 2500 miles is too grim to contemplate.

So Duncan, here's to you and your staff for building such a damn fine boat. She's tough,reliable,fast,comfortable,and good looking. I owe the factory staff another Braii, and you a bottle of excellent South African wine when we return to St. Francis in a couple of years.

Best regards,
Tom Walker

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