Hekla

Chris White Designs Atlantic 57 Hekla

December 2012 Owners Report, Atlantic 57 Catamaran

Early in 2010 we found ourselves thinking about a new boat for world-wide cruising. I was familiar with Chris White's multihull designs, having owned a 54’ Hammerhead trimaran at the time, but wished to change to a catamaran for the greater living comfort, and was willing to accept some loss of performance. Because Chris’s catamaran designs enjoy a strong reputation in performance-cruising circles, we took a test ride on Cerulean, an Atlantic 57 in charter service in the Caribbean, and loved it; “OK I think I want do this” I said to Chris. “Where do we have it built?” “You can choose an American builder if you like”, he said, “but I am working with Alwoplast in Chile now, they have built seven A-57’s so far and do an excellent job. The favorable labor rates in Chile make the total cost much less than in the states, even considering the travel and shipping to South America.” With 7 boats completed or in process at Alwoplast and universally favorable owner comments, I was confident it would work.

Indeed, it did work! We are the proud owners of Hekla, an Atlantic 57. There are lots of ugly nightmares about boat building, most of which go something like this: (the builder says) “I know we have a contract but we used up all the money and time. If you don’t give us more time and money, come get your unfinished boat.” Not so with Alwoplast. They honored the contract exactly without any extra charges, and while our delivery was some weeks later than expected, it was mostly due to our own late delivery of specialty wood products and the artistic custom floor painting that we chose to have installed.


Hekla's handpainted pilothouse floor, by artist Nancy Jeffrey

We were grateful that Alwoplast was willing to work with us and our artists, and also that they were willing to support our choice of bamboo veneer for interior joinerwork, a product they had never heard of before. It shows that they are truly a custom build company. They know how to build the Atlantic 57, having completed ours, number eight for them, and everything on our boat was done right the first time.

The service Alwoplast offers is spectacular. All through the construction process they took care to advise us on layout and finish options with knowledge from many past projects of what works, and what doesn’t. Their caring service especially peaked when Alex and Roni made the difficult choice to advise us against our plan of sailing deep into the challenging Patagonian waters double-handed, since one of Hekla’s resident crew has little sailing experience. In addition to treating us like family, they arranged a crew person to assist us for a number of weeks.

Alwoplast’s workmanship is outstanding. While a visitor to Hekla will be most impressed by the superb fit and finish of the bamboo wood products, I was in the shop everyday for over two months of the final build, and could observe the care taken in the composite fabrication process, fairing and painting, mechanical installations, deck hardware, and electrical. These are nearly all covered by finish materials now, but everything was done precisely and with care.

We are also enjoying the Atlantic 57 design! It is clear that Chris White is a passionate sailor, and this boat reflects design refinements learned through decades of his own cruising and feedback from customers. Living aboard the Atlantic 57 is spacious and bright. Hekla is a dream cruising catamaran, and we love the way she sails: stable and quick. Her typical beam reach sailing at over 10 knots is effortless and low stress, and much to our surprise, not significantly slower than our very fast trimaran. On our second day out of Valdivia, we were close reaching in 25 to 30 knots of wind, well reefed down and still going fast, having a comfortable lunch inside while the watch captain stood dry in the pilot house with full visibility of the surroundings. There is just not much more we could ask of a cruising catamaran. We are living our dream thanks to Chris White and Alwoplast.

Jeff Lebesch, January, 2012, cruising aboard the Atlantic 57 Hekla in Patagonia.

A57 "Hekla" Photos.
All custom floor painting is by
Nancy Jeffrey, of studio2eleven


Chris White Designs Atlantic 57 Hekla with spinnaker

(Click photos to enlarge)