Boat Review November 2010 Issue

Tiki 30 Catamaran: A Practical Sailor Boat Test

This Wharram-designed coastal-cruising cat is a tempting DIY boatbuilding project for those looking to get back to the basics.

Practical Sailor reviews a custom, backyard-built Tiki 30, a wood boat designed by cat-cult hero James Wharram ( and built by bluewater voyager Dave Martin. Like most of Wharram's designs, testers found, the real genius in the Tiki 30 comes more from what’s not found than what’s present on board. No lead, no liners, and no inboard engine adds up to a displacement that is so light that a low-tech, no-boom small sail plan can provide enough drive to make way. In light zephyrs, this agile cat will tack and make progress to windward. Not only is the light-air cruiser efficient under sail, but it's also efficient to build. The price point is attractive, as long as one views the labor commitment as part of the recreational experience. But when all the glue and paint has finally cured, the bottom line is that the Tiki 30 is best suited to cruisers willing to slip away without huge battery banks or large-volume tanks, and with less mechanical propulsion reliance.

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