"Gemini 105M" by Quentin Warren

Tony Smith grew up in England where he developed a successful boatbuilding business based on production of the legendary Telstar trimaran. In 1980 he moved to the United States and formed a new outfit on the shores of Chesapeake Bay. He called it Performance Cruising, and in the past decade or so the company has generated no less than a cult following based on two very popular cruising catamaran runs, the Gemini 3200 and Gemini 3400. His newest creation is a logical development of those boats and since its debut last fall it has ignited plenty of interest in its own right. It is the Gemini 105M.

In terms of philosophy, the 105M subscribes to Smith's long-held belief that a well-designed cruising catamaran can offer levels of performance, stability, accommodation and shoal-draft versatility unavailable in comparable monohulls. Five-foot centerboards provide a bite to windward, especially in light air-, when raised they allow reduced drag for downwind work. Board-up draft of 18 inches and a pair of ingenious kick-up rudders clear the way to ambitious gunkholing. A rigid Bimini gives the helm station the weather protection of a pilothouse without infringing on the open-air character of the cockpit. Semicircular hull sections promote good reserve buoyancy and clean flow through the water. And finally, 14 feet of beam simplifies close-in maneuvering and opens up docking possibilities denied to typically wider cats; reduced beam is in fact a Gemini trademark and one of the more compelling reasons for the popularity of the line.

Construction is based on three major pieces of tooling - a full-width deck mold, a hull mold consisting of the two pontoons and connecting bridge deck structure, and an interior liner element that incorporates saloon seating and interior step-ways into the lower living areas. The liner is completed and then glassed into the bridge deck before the boat is lifted from the hull mold, which provides the structural reassurance of a double skin. Further reinforcement comes by way of a diligently assembled H-section of two athwartship and four longitudinal structural bulkheads forward of the mast. The hulls and bridge deck consist of woven roving and mat in an isophthalic polyester resin matrix, with vinylester resin and gel coat in the outer skin for blister resistance. The deck is cored with 1/2inch end-grain balsa. The hulls-to-deck detail incorporates an overlapping shoe-box-style joint bonded chemically with a polyester adhesive/sealant and fastened mechanically with thrubolts on five-inch centers. A protective rub rail finishes it off.

The centerboards are positively buoyant, Lloyd's-approved, epoxy-treated mahogany plywood; they simply lock into their deployed position when down and virtually float back up when raised. They are designed to retract on their own if unintentionally grounded. The kick-up under hung rudders are a Tony Smith original, designed to flip back into external slots that are molded into the hulls so as not to compromise the watertight integrity of the boat. Steering is by way of continuous heavyduty high-tension teleflex linkage wherein one blade is pushed while the other is pulled. The boat is controllable with the rudders up, a great feature in thin water to say the least.

The engine options vary widely. Simplest is a single 40horsepower Tohatsu two-stroke outboard on a bracket off the stern; slightly more expensive is a bank of dual Yamaha 9.9horsepower four-stroke outboards; most elaborate is a 27horsepower Westerbeke diesel inboard with propulsion through a lift-up Sonic Drive Leg. A 27-horsepower Yamaha diesel outboard is available also.

Aboard the earlier Gemini 3400, Smith achieved what he considered perfection in an accommodations scenario designed for live-aboard owner/cruisers; he's brought the best elements of that arrangement to bear in the 105M. A cheery aft-facing U-shaped settee and dinette fill the bridge-deck-level main saloon. Down in the port hull are a double berth aft, a navigation area amidship and a fully molded head with shower and plumbed sump forward. In the starboard hull are another double berth aft, a galley stretched longitudinally amidship and a dressing and storage area for the master stateroom forward; the master stateroom itself is accessed through the dressing chamber just mentioned and consists of a large queen-size berth in the center of the boat just beyond the mast.

Systems revolve around the demands of living aboard and easy cruising. Two 30-gallon freshwater tanks - one under each after berth - and two 18 gallon fuel tanks provide the 105M with good range in human and mechanical terms. Eighteen gallons of holding capacity fitted with a Y-valve and a convenient deck pump-out address inshore- needs. Two deep-cycle batteries combine with an electrical distribution scenario wired both for 12-volt DC and for I I 0-volt AC current. Good storage for long-term provisioning is available beneath the settee in the main saloon.

Topside, the focal point of the boat is certainly the cockpit - open aft, with easy access to the stern steps port and starboard, and covered forward by the hard dodger/Bimini that protects the bulkhead helm station positioned on the starboard side by the main entry. The added shelter allows .the cockpit and main saloon to become a single convivial space in almost any kind of weather. Going forward is compromised by high cabin sides and rather narrow side decks, but there are full-length handrails along the cabin top, which is good because you need them as you work your way toward the bow.

The rig is a double-spreader masthead affair with a medium-aspect mainsail and overlapping genoa. All halyards and sheeting return to the cockpit for easy operation. Standing rigging includes split backstays brought to the sterns, a single headstay forward and shrouds secured to chain plates inboard on the cabin top. The foredeck is rigid (no trampoline), with a chain locker and anchor paraphemalia on the bow amidship.

Our sail testing aboard the 105M took place in calm conditions on Chesapeake Bay. We were able to coax the boat along in the infrequent puffs, but in the end we were left wishing we'd had more breeze. Smith's wide hull sections are intended to promote reserve buoyancy in order to resist their being buried in a seaway, which of course allows for easier acceleration and more efficient sailing. This philosophy is in keeping with the payload theory of happy cruising: Provision the boat and bring the toys, but don't sink the hull(s). With a formidable drove of satisfied Gemini cruising folks out there and enough interest in the line to warrant the launching of a whole new manufacturing facility in Annapolis, Maryland, this fall, it appears that this cat has a future ahead of it.

Reprinted from Cruising World, July 1996