Prototype launch

Launching day for boat #0. Now it’s testing testing testing.

The Nutshell 26 prototype (as yet unnamed) was launched yesterday at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, South Africa.

The prototype has twin 14hp diesels instead of the standard electric pods. We are still looking for a suitable electric drive partner. The diesel option will include twin 9HP Yanmars in future, but these had a 4-month lead time.

The twin-cylinder 14HPs are too powerful (and heavy) for the boat but make for some great drag-racing.

A better option would be a 9HP diesel to starboard and a 10KW pod motor to port. This obviates solar and big batteries. What’s missing is a fly-by-wire control so that we don’t mix mechanical and electrical engine controls – which feel completely different in use.

Twin electric is still first choice but has the overhead of solar panels (5 x 400W on the roof) and sufficient battery reserve, to counter ‘range-anxiety’. The philosophy is to oversize the motors and use full-power sparingly. I can see sailing this simple rig to be such a pleasure motors will only be needed for calm days and mooring at a dock.

Sail trials start Monday but she is extremely responsive under power and manoeuvres easily. Good visibility all round. The passarel system works a treat – extending the aft deck enormously when stowed. The sail went up easily. Once up, the halyard is removed and the heads’l remains furled. This involves popping up in a bosuns chair but this is a breeze on the spare halyard.

The walking-around space is crazy-big. The size of an average 40’ cat. Enclosed by clear, side-awnings that deploy easily and look great (thanks North Sails) the 3.5 x 3.5m space had 7 people wandering around and chatting and didn’t feel even slightly crowded.

I’ll upload a video of the launch if anyone is interested.

Nutshell 26 interior going in

The Nutshell prototype is being outfitted with galley and heads. The engines for the prototype are 15HP diesels.

Submouldings ready for installation
Finish is first rate

Pics from before the intro

The Nutshell prototype is nearing completion. The hulls, deck, bridgedeck and coachroof are from female moulds. Also hatches, transoms, liner, space-frame and ceiling beams.

Looking good.

Pre-launch Invitation

We are giving a sneak-peak of the new Nutshell 26 compact cat at our new factory.
We will be introducing the all-new, eco-catamaran that’s causing a sensation.The builder Dylan, his team, and designer Phil Southwell will be there to answer questions.

You need to hear about this sensational micro-cat that can be towed behind a SUV, packed into a 40’ container and launched on any stretch of protected water – giving you a home-away-from-home afloat.
A boat will be on display in a semi-complete form – all the GRP moulds are ready to go. Drawings schematics and renderings can be viewed and you can climb aboard and get a feel for the living space.
Be the first to view this eco-friendly, compact, affordable live-aboard platform. In years to come you can tell people you saw it first.

Please RSVP to or phone +27 (0)82 9291167 with the number in your party and whether you are representing :
The media
Hospitality industry
Rental Industry – vacation or watersport
Boat charter industry
Agents or distributors in South Africa or overseas
Potential private ownership
Potential syndicate shareholders
Job seekers (we are looking for marketing & sales skills)

Drinks & snacks will be served
Orders will be taken

See you there –

The Nutshell Catamarans Team

The flexible boating platform

Happy 2022! Hulls are complete

The hulls of the prototype are now complete and ready to receive the bridge-deck. They’re looking good in pure white.

Further finishing is required and the moulds will be polished for the first production hull. In the meantime we will start installing systems and testing the de-mounting system.

No transom as yet
Fair and accurate. Looking good!

Outboard-driven versions of the Nutshell 26

We have had many, many enquiries asking if it is possible to drive the nutshell with outboard motors. The answer is of course yes, and we have always allowed for that option for protected waters without recharge facilities (or sunlight). The reality is electric motors need much less maintenance and can therefore be used in remote areas. However we understand that modern outboards are ubiquitous and there could be resistance to the unknown.


Typically outboard motors need room to tilt, a strong transom, a fuel line, a well-immersed propeller and a steering system.

We think the outboards like the Mercury 9-15 hp Prokicker or 15HP Seapro are good choices. They are light and reliable. The SeaPro has a remote steering options. Otherwise we connect to the existing steering system.

It is a pretty easy adaption and our prototype will use these engines while we make a final decision on the best electric solution.

Light(ish), compact, inexpensive and readily available

Noisy, polluting, high-maintenance and exposed

Outboards in the range 6-15 HP can be used. 2 or 4-stroke.

Progress on hulls

The plug and moulds for the Nutshell 26 hulls are progressing very rapidly in our new factory. Using our 3-axis milling machine the frames can be generated in a day.

We are still on for a December launch but the move has delayed us by about a week. Any potential buyer of fractional owners are very welcome to come for a sail on the prototype – January on Langebaan lagoon in the Cape.

Shown here the outer hull moulds

Containerisation & shipping

Shipping in a standard 40’ container saves 60-70% of transport cost compared to sending one of these by deck cargo. This huge saving means we can ship anywhere, without undue delay, and unload using standard equipment anywhere in the world.

We have designed the mouldings so that they dismantle and fit into a container. It isn’t a trivial operation but we have guides, diagrams and parts lists to help.

The Nutshell 26 in a 40’ container

We recently had an enquiry from a Swedish chap who winters in Thailand. He intends to send his boat ahead of him and keep it at his waterfront property at both ends. The shipping costs the same as the storage. That’s a win-win.

A tight fit

Canvas enclosures

Tents! Well you either love em or you’ve actually been camping.

But marine awnings? A whole different thing. They are so good nowadays they’re pretty much a standard on any boat. Strung between a coachroof-lid and a bulwark, they stop wind and rain from ruining your evening, while still giving you that terrific view of the cute bay or harbour that you chose to stop the night in.

So given the option of enclosing a space for the times when the weather’s a bit dodgy or living within three walls when every cell in your body screams “I wanna be outside on this perfect evening”!What do you do?

Well I overstated it a wee bit, but you get the picture? Having a nice wide aft deck, on a boat designed for barmy weather, I’d rather have it open and close it up when needed.

A boat with the mast at the back will always face into the wind
Close up the sides, the back and the doors separately to get the right combination of protection, ventilation and view.
The roof panel also slides away opening up one side completely, independently of the other – ta-dahh! A verandah..

Picture gallery of the accommodation