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One of the things that was quickly apparent to the Admiral and I when we were checking out the Helia at the Annapolis boat show was that the factory trampoline was not going to be suitable for us. The trampoline was essentially a large, open net and quite “stetchy”, for lack of a better word, which meant it was a bit difficult to find solid footing. The Admiral didn’t enjoy stepping on it and didn’t find it to be comfortable, and I was concerned about trying to stabilize myself on the trampoline if I ever had to go forward in heavy weather to play with the furler or something else at the bow. Either way, we both agreed looking at alternatives would be wise.
We’ve received recommendations from several people to look at Multihull Nets and they have a great section on their website that discusses the different “openness” requirements for different boats based on their size and touches on their use (offshore, coastal cruising etc). The factory trampoline would be suitable to get across the Atlantic, but since trampolines are relatively easy to swap out, it’d be worth our time to find an open net with the right level of comfort. We want to make sure that if we get any water over our bows that the trampoline will be able to shed it quickly, but still serve as a good lounge area while we are at anchor.
Fortunately, the company is located relatively close to us over in Florida, it was pretty easy to get some samples sent over for us to look at.
These nets seem to offer a good mixture of openness and comfort. We could choose the size of the hole or gap, anywhere from 1″ to 2 1/2″. The smaller gaps offer less openness, but greater comfort and even with the smaller gap size, it should be open enough to shed water coming over the bows. We have been on a boat with this type of net before and while they were nice, I remember my foot falling into the gap. While that’s something I’m sure we could get used to, it would be nice to avoid if we could.
We have chartered boats with a square mesh net before, and our current catamaran has something very similar. These nets are very comfortable, but unfortunately, they don’t provide the level of openness we need. Water coming over the bows doesn’t drain very quickly through these trampolines, and while it may not be a big issue for a wave every once in a while, several waves could add thousands of pounds of water on the trampolines, causing damage to them or the boat. Not exactly ideal when you’re thousands of miles from anywhere. In addition, the Multihull Nets version is limited on their size, so you can see they have to include a seam to create a net that would otherwise be too large. Not the most pleasing from an aesthetics point of view.
There are two options Multihull Nets offer under their Open Nets category that may work for us:
Offshore 3/8″ hole Polyester Open Net
This net seems to offer the best compromise between openness and comfort. It has the ability to be stretched taunt which means it will provide a relatively good lounging platform, and the 3/8″ hole means it will shed water quickly. Since neither the Admiral nor I have been on a boat with these nets, I started a thread over at the popular Cruisers Forum website and received several positive responses from catamaran owners who have installed these nets on their boats. While I would still like to get on a boat that has these nets so we can get a first hand look at them, the responses we’ve received means these nets have moved to the top of our wish list.
Dyneema 1″ hole Open Net
No real good picture of this trampoline is available on their website, but it’s quite similar to the factory trampoline available from Fountaine Pajot. The strength of the net may mean it could be stretched taunter than the factory, but it’s similarity alone is enough to make us look elsewhere.
Trampolines are like everything else on a boat: personal preference. The type of material that works for some won’t work for others, but taking an honest look at our needs for comfort and blue water capability (UV Protection for longevity doesn’t hurt either!) will definitely help as we choose the right trampoline for the Starry Horizons.