Exciting news for Canadian boaters as an upstart Ontario manufacturer continues to make headway in the Great Lakes.
The North Channel Cabin Boat Company made waves in 2021 with the launch of a unique catamaran cruiser. The original 'cabinboat cruiser' blended the laidback lifestyle of houseboating with big water capability needed to withstand Ontario's rugged North Channel -- an inimitable part of larger Georgian Bay that serves as one of the Great Lakes most popular boating playgrounds.
The initial run was built by Henley Boats on Manitoulin Island -- the only boat manufacturer in the world that builds roll-form aluminum lapstrake hulls. The company's ability to mix the amenities sought by seasoned boaters with the modern conveniences required by off-gridders caught the eye of not only boaters, but also outdoor enthusiasts, retirees, and city dwellers looking to escape the rat race to cruise calmly along Northern Ontario's pristine shoreline.
Thanks to clever marketing and an unconventional design captivating the imagination of Great Lakes boaters and overtaxed urbanites alike, the company his now launching their second model -- the NC9.
The NC9 is another unique design -- a 9 metre (29.5 ft) aluminum cruising catamaran featuring outboard power and a litany of 'home-like' amenities, albeit with stronger emphasis on performance and long-distance cruising capability than its predecessor. It's most exceptional feature? A 14' x 6'6" Muskoka Room -- an homage to nearby cottage country and its beloved fascination with the ultimate relaxation alcove.
“The NC9 was conceived by a couple of older boaters who wanted a boat that’s comfortable, safe, and simple to run, dock and anchor — so a catamaran was a no-brainer," says company president Allan Holman.
"Twin outboards offer some redundancy, plus they can be lifted up in shallow anchorages and are serviced easily. She had to have a double stateroom plus all the amenities of home including a huge fridge and freezer. Top priority was a large head with shower, and there needed to be loads of room to lounge around while at anchor without feeling claustrophobic. But most importantly, it had to have lots of solar power so she could be self-sufficient for a week or so on the hook, without running a genny.”
According to the company, the NC9 "is primarily designed and set up for a single person or a couple of an older demographic who prefer to cruise extensively alone, but it can easily accommodate a couple of friends for a few nights, and in fact it sleeps six in three separate areas." There is definitely a market for that.
The NC9 will utlize a semi-displacement hull outfitted with twin 150-hp Suzuki outboards and Sharrow propellers, allowing for better performance at both hull and planing speeds. The NC9's inverted bow also extends the waterline to improve cruising speed while creating a softer ride.
A master stateroom and spacious head occupies the full width of the twin bows. The Muskoka Room is, in essence, a weather-tight aft deck with ample social space created by sliding the adjustable twin berths up and out of the way. The cottage country vibes also feature zero-gravity chairs and loungers, plus storage space under the decking of the twin hulls. A 5-step folding swim ladder is deployed off the aft swim deck at 75° for safe and easy re-boarding. Just like a Muskoka cottage.
Other standout features include a large centre windscreen in the main cabin that opens to provide access to the foredeck -- meaning you’ll never have to tippy-toe along narrow side decks to reach the bow.
The galley features a huge 9.1 square foot (258 L) Nova Kool fridge with a bottom freezer, an electric induction cooktop, a combination micro–convection oven, and a stainless-steel sink with a pull-out sprayer. Pressurized hot and cold water in the galley is as handy as it is necessary to match the laidback lifestyle, while also featuring an electric bidet toilet.
For social gatherings and weekend adventures, a Fusion audio system with Bose speakers and satellite television provide high-end entertainment.
Like their original 'cabinboat' design, the NC9 will feature off-grid amenities like a flat roof loaded with over 2,000 watts of solar panels. Combined with marine wind turbines, high output alternators on the twin outboards, and a lithium ion power battery bank, the NC9 will be able to keep 'the hotel equipment' running quietly at anchor without running a genset. The boat will come standard with twin Suzuki 150 HP outboards with selective prop rotation, but will also be offered with Evoy Propulsion X40 electric outboards.
“The NC9 would be the perfect boat for cruising in areas around the globe like our infamous North Channel where there’s lots of wide open spaces in between a myriad of sheltered anchorages," says Holman. "It’s definitely not a fast boat, but its semi-displacement cat hulls are designed to perform efficiently on plane and be very comfortable and stable in both a seaway and at anchor."
At the helm, the cockpit is fully enclosed with three screened casement windows on each side and patio doors on the aft bulkhead, creating an airy bug-free environment in the Muskoka Room. Up front, the twin bows have a double berth to port and a head with a generous shower to starboard. The dinette also converts to a double bed when additional guests are visiting.
“I think the NC9 will turn a lot of heads with her inverted bows that are incredibly attractive, sexy even. And they actually contribute to her performance,” added Holman.