Get close to the Dean 441 and open a bundle of surprises. From a distance, it could be just a typical mid-size catamaran with more mast rake than most, but once you’re aboard you’ll see a boat that’s totally different in both design and execution.
The accommodations can be customized to suit the owner’s needs, and the hull, rig, and systems are built to thrive at sea. Since every Dean-built boat makes a delivery trip from South Africa of at least 7,000 miles, all systems are thoroughly tested before the owner receives it.
Third-generation boatbuilder Peter Dean takes pride in his company’s workmanship—and for good reason. The hull is solid quadraxial-stitched glass below the water-line, and the laminates above the waterline and in the deck have end-grain balsa coring to add stiffness and cut weight. Solid glass and stainless-steel backing plates reinforce all deck fittings.
The structural bulkheads and interior joinery are of vacuum-bagged NidaCore composite with wood veneer on the surfaces. This combination is exceptionally strong, stiff, and lightweight. The test boat had a gorgeous walnut interior, gleaming with many coats of varnish.
The electrical system is downright elegant in design and execution. Busbars, numbered circuits (even on the negative wires), and the open, untangled layout will make troubleshooting easy, and the wiring is tinned. The hull and deck are built and fully assembled first, then the drivetrains and systems go in. That means everything inside the boat, including engines and tanks, can come out for maintenance without fuss.
Deck and cockpit
The molded platform in the center of the cockpit is a handy place to stand when you want to see over the high cabintop. There are excellent sight lines from the helm seat. Lines lead conveniently to an electric winch, so singlehanding this boat is not difficult. It’s easy to move around the decks even though the edge of the bimini top is low, and both the forward arch and the cabin have excellent grabrails. Steps lead to the cabintop, where the centerline hardtop is flanked by fabric sections. Most of the foredeck is a solid platform, but small trampolines reduce weight. Big davits at the stern will handle a sizable tender.
When I told Peter Dean that the interior reminded me of a library, he replied, “Or an English cigar lounge.” It’s cozy but not dark, warm but not oppressive—a comfy place to be.
In the saloon, an efficient galley to starboard and nav station to port are out of the way of the main seating area, where eight people could easily share a meal. The required escape hatch is cleverly installed in the bridgedeck, where it doubles as an excellent ventilation source. Each hull of the version I sailed had two separate cabins, and each had an ensuite head with separate shower. All berths are large, but the big ones in the forward cabins are raised to extend over the bridgedeck. The narrow hulls of any cat restrict the width of these spaces, but there’s no claustrophobic feeling in the Dean 441.
If the layout shown isn’t exactly what you want, the factory offers five others and will happily customize any of them in a wide variety of woods. Peter Dean says this flexibility is what appeals to many of his customers.
Our test boat’s instruments recorded an average speed of 8 knots during its 7,500-mile delivery from South Africa. The Chesapeake was not in a mood to challenge that, offering only 4-to-7-knot zephyrs for our sail. I was surprised how easily the sturdy-feeling vessel moved out in those conditions; it ghosted along at 2 to 4 knots, and we tacked without backing the genoa.
The twin Mitsubishi inboards had the deep, throaty rumble of a motorboat instead of the sewing-machine whirr of saildrives. Normal motoring configuration is a single engine running at 2,800 RPM, which yields just over 7 knots. I measured a 70-dBA sound level (moderately low) in the saloon. The boat stopped, turned, and backed with precision.
Headroom: Main saloon 6’3”, aft cabin, 6’6”, forecabin 6’6” ›› Bunks: Aft 59”x79”, forward 59”x83”
Price: $475,000 (subject to exchange rate, FOB South Africa) includes choice of cherry or maple interior, ST60 speed, wind, depth instruments, freezer, full-batten mainsail, roller-furling genoa.
Builder: Dean Catamarans, Cape Town, South Africa; www.deancatamarans.com
U.S. dealer: The Multihull Company, Philadelphia, PA; 215-508-2704; www.multihullcompany.com
Designer: P. J. Dean
LOA: 43’7” ›› LWL: 43’ ›› Beam: 23’7” ›› Draft: 4’1”
Displacement: 24,250 lbs
Sail Area: 1,345 sq ft (actual)
Power: (2) 42-hp Mitsubishi diesels
Tankage: (fuel/water/waste) 290/177/40 gal
Electrical: 630-Ah (house) plus 105-Ah (engine)
Displacement-Length Ratio: 136
Sail Area-Displacement Ratio: 17.4 (100% foretriangle, moderate)
Certification: CE Category A
•Excellent line leads for easy singlehanding
•Optimized and constructed for voyaging conditions
•Good sailing performance in a variety of wind conditions
•Slightly deeper draft than most keel-type cats this size
•High cabin restricts visibility from cockpit
•Low-frequency vibration from engines at some speeds
A Dean 441 is customizable, tested by an ocean voyage from the factory in South Africa, and supported by a builder who does not wave goodbye permanently after the boat goes over the horizon.