the project

The Schionning Arrow 1200

I first came across the Schionning Catamaran designs about 10 years ago. At that time I sailed a Balticat 42, built by Stephan Hüttermann in Northern Germany. I bought it used, a good sailing boat, fast and well proven on two Atlantic crossings.


Alea, Kattegat, Denmark

I really loved my Balticat but somehow had the feeling that some day I have to build my dreamboat.

I started searching the internet and pretty soon stumbled upon Schionning Marine, at that time pretty much unknown in Europe. Their designs fascinated me from the beginning on and they had a unique construction technique. The hulls and bridgedeck were a 90 % flat panel construction which made it fairly easy to build even larger catamarans. The downside – the kits were only available in Australia.

The Schionning designs moved on and became better and better. The first G-Force was absolutely stunning. However, the building process with curved hulls seemed very complex. But then came the Arrow 1200.

Schionning Arrow 1200

Schionning Arrow 1200

It was my ship from first sight. Right size, sleek design and a 100 % flat panel construction. I thought “some day …” only to learn a few days later, that the kit is now available in Europe. VDL Composites (Wesel/Germany) started the DUFLEX panel production in cooperation with ATL Composites (Australia) and are now able to deliver a complete Schionning Design kit within 4 weeks. That really hit me! I visited the Düsseldorf boat fair to talk to Inga from VDL. Everything looked really good, the kit price was reasonable, so we made our decision.

Duflex Panels

Duflex Panels

Questions came up: When, where, who, how …? First I thought of building it all by myself, with the help of my two adult sons and friends. I even found a building site about 15 minutes away. But with my job, little Hugo and baby Jamie this seemed a little to much. So I asked Stephan from Balticat if he would help me an yes, he does! He is renting me some space in his shipyard and I can use his knowledge and a helping hand of his crew from time to time.

So this is how things are at the moment. I will keep you updated how everything is going on.

8 thoughts on “the project

  1. doug

    If you don’t mind my input, I’ve lived aboard a catamaran for close to 20 years and spent a bit of that time cruising. I think that you are over complicating the propulsion, although I don’t like the idea of a single 35 HP engine either. I’ve seen that fail on catamarans (Shuttleworth Tech 35) and it was a pain to have no mechanical propulsion. I would suggest instead doing two 20-25 HP Yamaha outboards, placed in engine wells on the forward starboard and port parts of the cockpit.

    Outboard advantages are many:

    1) your outboards for your catamaran and your dinghy can be triply redundant. Your dinghy and your starboard and port outboard engines can be the same type of engine (though the ship engines would be electric start with harnesses). If you have dinghy engine problems, you can simply use your ships engines (they would be long shaft and electric start, but you can manually start an electric engine and retrofit a tiller). Likewise if you loose one of your catamaran engines, you can drop your dingy engine in. You would need to pull start it, but it can easily be done in an emergency. You can also keep one spare parts kit that services everything.

    2) I could argue, from experience, that dingy engines even powered with gasoline have unique safety advantages. There is no below the water throughhull to worry about leaking or breaking open. They are retracted above the water when you are sailing and can’t run afoul of floating objects. The dingy engines (sitting in engine wells similar to the PDQ 36 which I used to own and sail aboard and loved) are completely separate from your living quarters and yet able to be serviced in your protected cockpit. Something no interior engine can provide. If they have an issue, that issue is isolated to the engine well in the cockpit. Smoke, wiring, fuel spill, etc are all isolated to the cockpit and immediately vented away from anything that could cause a fire or fill the cabin with smoke.

    3) a $5000-$10000 battery is the equivalent to 1-2 gallons worth of gasoline in terms of power.

    4) outboard engines can be repaired and replaced in every little island in the world. Unlike diesel engines or electric engines.

    5) If an outboard engine breaks, you can simply rig up a lifting eye bolt above each engine and detach your mainsheet to use as a lifting hoist. Outboard engines have threaded holes in their flywheels which you can screw eyebolts directly into. Then simply lift the engine out. It can be done within 15 minutes, and your engine is now completely hanging in mid air, very easily serviced.

    6) even though gasoline is more combustible, with a storage tank in under cockpit floor with large venting holes underneath that, any potential spillage to goes directly into the water and any fumes as well. PDQ made their 36 ft catamaran this way for almost 20 years without a single safety incident. Thus the fuel and engines and hose are completely isolated within the cockpit and no possible way for intrusion into the living spaces.

    7) We’ve known catamaran owners with electric engines who then had them replaced with traditional engines. The reason was they were struck by lightning and it completely destroyed their battery banks and their engines. The couldn’t afford another $30,000 repair bill.

    8) without metal touching the water (engines retracted at anchor and while sailing) there is no possible electrolysis.

    9) Because the props are out of the water, they stay clean.

    10) if they do become damaged or have a line from a crab pot wrap around them, you can reach down
    into the engine well and cut it free.

    11) Yamaha engines are the defacto world standard. Incredibly reliable, easy to maintain, easy to repair, easy to replace.

    12) The engines can be used to charge your ships batteries when underway. around 20 amps of power, it would preclude the need for a generator on a small boat like the arrow.

    13) With around 700 watts of solar panels you would have enough for a large freezer and refrigerator, lights, pumps, etc. (that’s not really tied to outboards, but just advise from experience).

    14) Even in the event of a completely electrical outage, you could manually start your dingy engines (even electric start) with the pull cord and provide power to the boat.

    15) replacement props for an outboard are $15-$20. Folding props start at $2000 a piece.

    16) a broken outboard can be lifted, through installing a simple track on your hard cockpit bimini, and transferred into your dingy if you needed to take it ashore to be repaired, without actually having to hand carry it.

    17) twin engine controls would provide you complete maneuverability into your slip and are available everywhere they sell outboards. With them, you can literally spin around your axis.

    When we went cruising to the Bahamas,on an island in the middle of no where, and had an old outboard (an evinrude) break down. We were able to get a new engine delivered via the mail within two weeks for $2700. We literally had to call it in from a phone booth with chickens running underneath our feet.

    1. Christian Post author

      Hey Doug,

      every point proven but when walking around on the boat fair with all these shiny items … I got weak. I do have sailing experience with an own catamaran but I don´t have the liveaboard experience where the to do list is always far to big and where the keep it simple philosophy works best. I am only hoping, that once the system is installed it will work without major problems. Greenstar has the “experience” of 8 years, there are about 500 systems installed, I talked to a cat owner who has the greenstar prulsion for 5 years now without any problems … makes me a little optimistic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  2. Robert Baril

    Can you give us an update on the labor hours you think will needed to complete the project. I know that in the early stages, you were mentioning 3000 h. Is that still your projection?



    1. Christian Post author

      Hi Robert,

      we ended up about 4300 hours but put a lot of work into the finish. If you are happy with a more rustic look for the interior you can save 500 to 700 hours I would say.

      cheers, Chris

  3. Joey

    I too fell in love with Schionning designs the moment I saw them. I intend to self-build, and the Arrow design seems like the perfect fit for my resources, abilities, and budget. I have always thought the smaller 1200 would suit my needs just fine. I continue to enjoy the pictures and information you share on your blog. I can’t begin to thank you enough.
    I’d like to ask, if I may, was the Arrow 1280 design available when you decided on your build? The 1280 is just a bit more of everything: size, space, maybe a little more speed?, and a little more cost to build. The Arrow 1360 is too much for me; but the 1280…? I, too, have a lovely wife and a couple of youngsters. I can’t think of a more qualified person to ask. Would you recommend the larger model? Twelve meters is by no means small! Is it enough for you? Anything from Schionning is great.

    Your thoughts on this matter would be appreciated thank you,


    1. Christian Post author

      Hello Joey,

      From todays point of view I probably would have opted for the 1280 for two reasons. First I like the two main bunks in the bridgedeck. I had this option on my catamaran I owned years ago and I really liked it. When we decided to build the Arrow the 1200 was the only available design. I asked Jeff if there is a chance to fit the bunks into the bridgedeck but it didn´t work out. Second – I really love our 1200 but a tiny little more space … the 1280 seems to provide it. Speed is not a reason, I believe the 1200 is fast enough. And the narrower hulls make the 1280 more sensitive to overload.

      Hope that helps, Chris

  4. George Heston

    I am planning to have Arrow 1200 built for me in Thailand. I am making some design changes from the original plan such as raised single helm station with bimini, dual owners hulls. But most significant is my plan is to use dual Electric Yacht 10kw motors and 10 kw diesel genset. This should allow to run the boat at least 6kns from genset. I am planning at least 2kw of solar power and the reverse charging propellers. Battery banks will be expanded over time once we get operational experience with this propulsion. I think that the entire electric system with 20kwh LiFePO battery bank will cost less than 25k.
    There is an issue with finding feathering propellers that work in reverse charge mode and don`t cost a fortune. I would appreciate anyone with related experience to comment my plans.

  5. Peter

    Hi, we have a 13,7 m cat, plywood, a modified Woods design. The propulsion is
    1. a 20HP Beta Marine with shaft and a 3-blade Autoprop on starboard
    2. a 10kW electric drive on 48V on the port side, same typ of prop.

    A 48V batterie (LiFePo, 260Ah) can be charged via the main batterie (24V) and also by a wind generator (a constant source of energy)
    This system works very well: We can go long distances at around 6 kn by diesel, and have enough power in tight places and if we have to go fast, for a shorter periode, (up to 1h).
    With this setup we also have the advantages of a diesel engine: warm water, charging capacity, relaiability and save fuel. The electric drive instead fills up its “tank” with renewables.

    But I have to say that it took us quite a time till everything worked as it should.

    I think the outboarders are a nice and easy solution, if you want to save money and time, preferably on a lighter multi….


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