Horizon PC58By Capt. Richard Thiel
A Power for the Masses
Horizon’s first mass-market multihull is a Cat that monohull boaters can love.
A lot of boaters do not like catamarans because their interior spaces are too—well, cat-like. The typical cat scenario is an enormous full-beam saloon and tubular staterooms in each of the narrow hulls. Horizon’s PC58 has the big saloon but she also has two staterooms that are as roomy as you’ll find on any comparably sized monohull, plus a more typical third one.
The reason all this space can exist is an innovative layout that begins with a master that is fully forward on the main deck. This not only allows for a much bigger stateroom but also great views out of the expansive windshield. The master head does not intrude because it’s down and forward in the port hull. The after part of this hull, up to the port engine room bulkhead, is a separate two-berth stateroom and head that, to ensure privacy for the owner, are accessed via a saloon companionway. There’s also a third stateroom, a VIP whose dimensions make it worthy of the name. It’s all the way forward in the starboard hull but lies athwartships and extends under the foredeck’s big triple sunpad. Consequently headroom here is restricted but not so much so that you cannot sit up in bed without banging your head. The remaining space in the starboard hull—a pretty small one—is aft, and on my test boat it functioned as a pump-room-cum-machinery-space. Horizon reps say that if an owner wished, the company could move the gear out of here and turn it into a crew cabin/kid’s stateroom, although it would have no head.
Combined with the generously proportioned saloon, with its commodious L-shape galley to starboard and aft and its nav station to port and aft, the PC58 provides an interior layout that can comfortably accommodate six adults. Aft saloon doors open eight feet wide onto a giant (13'0" long x 23'8" wide) aft deck, where the six-person dining table sits, covered by the cockpit overhang. With the doors open, the saloon and cockpit become one huge space. Although there’s an L-shape settee in the saloon, its table is too small for serious dining, thus the outdoor one will be the venue of choice for meals.
So the 58 has roomy accommodations. But how is she superior to a similar-size monohull? Well, there’s that beam. You’re not going to get a cockpit of these dimensions on a monohull, and the advantage carries up top, where in the aft part of the flying bridge there’s room to carry a 15-foot tender with an outboard athwartships—with no overhang. And one other advantage of that beam: 16-inch-wide side decks—not covered—that don’t compromise interior space and do make short-handed line handling much easier.
Then there’s performance. The PC58 has symmetrical semi-displacement hulls with “planing wedges” aft. (Basically they’re pads that produce lift to get the hulls up out of the water.) Each prop is in a tunnel and protected by a small keel that also enhances tracking.
Another notable design feature is the full-length “wave breaker,” a V-shape protrusion on the underside of the superstructure that disperses large waves that enter the tunnel. Many cats have a version of this, but I’ve never seen one that is full-length. The hulls’ interior sides also cant inward to give the boat a lot of reserve buoyancy. The idea is to avoid not only impact but a large wave closing off the tunnel, which can force spray back out the forward opening—the notorious “spitting” found in many cats.
I got an excellent chance to match the 58’s real-world performance against her theoretical design constructs thanks to 15-knot winds and four-foot seas that occasionally piled up into five-footers—perfect conditions to test seakeeping but not so great to measure test numbers accurately. I’m not in the habit of making excuses for the test results, and a top speed of nearly 22 knots is nothing to apologize for. But if we’d had flat water, I’m pretty sure the 58 would have squeezed out a couple more knots, if only because it would have allowed the planing wedges to work better. I should also add that being Hull No. 1, our boat was probably heavier than subsequent models will be, even though she has Divinycell coring laminated using the SCRIMP process. The PC58’s seakeeping needs no qualification. Yes, I did manage to get her to pound and spit, but only when I ran her into a big hole at nearly full speed. Had I been out there in a monohull (I watched a couple of 60-plus-footers poke their bows out and promptly reverse course) or a conventional catamaran, the afternoon would have been much longer, much less pleasant, and much wetter.
I also liked the way the 58 answered the helm—she U-turned in about three lengths at WOT (even in big seas) without any disconcerting outboard lean. But I can’t say I was a fan of her numb ZF electronic steering, though since the system is electronic, some adjustment may be possible. But as tested, it didn’t match up to other electronic steering systems I’ve tested.
Even so, the PC58 is the best-balanced power catamaran I’ve driven. The fact that she’s Horizon’s first production multihull makes the success all the more remarkable. I’m betting this cat will turn a lot of monohull adherents her way once they’ve spent some time aboard. Especially if it’s rough.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.