Knysna yacht in the knysna lagoon

Boat Review by Two Can Sail (Knysna 500SE)

The Knysna Yacht Company, a boutique yacht builder out of South Africa, has combined a sleek silhouette with a stylish interior and equipped her with all the live aboard comforts to take a couple anywhere in the world. The key features in the design of the Knysna 500SE allow her to be handled by just two people. She seems to have been designed utilizing the top ten features we look for when a couple is choosing a catamaran. As business owners of “Two Can Sail” we specialize in working with couples assisting them through the yacht selection process and personal training aboard. We have sailed and surveyed more than 200 different models of yachts including at least 30 different models of catamaran primarily in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Caribbean, often sailing offshore with our clients to assist them in their first voyages, which has lead us to outline these preferred features for those who want to sail to distant shores on a catamaran.

two can sail knysna 500se review

Helm Location

The Knysna 500 SE has a cushioned bench seat built for two people, which provides excellent visibility from the helm and allows the operator sight of all four corners of the vessel. In addition you can communicate with your partner from the helm as you are in sight of each other. The seating provides security at the helm so that even in a heavy seaway one cannot be launched over the side deck. The two engines are controlled with single lever throttles and instrumentation for navigation is at your fingertips. The halyards and reef lines are run back along the deck to the helm and the roller furling gear for the genoa is within reach. The main and jib sheets, are also run along the cabin top allowing for single-handed control of the boat.

Galley Style

A U-shaped galley, which provides security for the cook while underway as well as plenty of storage and refrigeration, with additional refrigeration located below in the starboard hull.

Hull Form

The waterline entry forward along with long waterline aft combined with the wide beam provides a more sea kindly motion. In addition the shape of the underbody directs the waves downward and the wake from the hulls meet far aft of the vessel, which in turn lessens slamming. The transom is protected by a solid wall along the aft end of the cockpit preventing waves from breaking over the transom.

Engine Horsepower

The engines are appropriately powered for the windage of the vessel with twin 57 hp Yanmar diesels and saildrives, allowing for her to be maneuvered to the dock even in windy conditions. The access to the engine space can be customized for either under the berth or through a deck hatch aft, which allows a large space to service the engines and hydraulic steering.

Transom and dingy stowage

The stern steps extend the hulls and since they are gently sloped they create that additional waterline and a platform to ease boarding the dingy. The dingy has custom designed lifting tackle that extends from the boom and secures the dingy on chalks instead of swinging on davits for offshore sailing.


The Knysna 500 SE is laid out with owner’s hull portside; a custom fit double berth aft, bench seats and an office set up midship. Forward is a watertight bulkhead that can house your dive compressor; just aft of the bulkhead is a huge standing shower stall just aft of that is a ladies vanity with seating. There is a dedicated machinery room with access to all the equipment that needs regular attention, like the generator, watermaker, etc. The sea strainers are also easily accessed under the cabin sole and are installed so that any seawater spills harmlessly into the bilge. The starboard hull houses the two guest cabins each with en-suite heads. The forward stateroom also has a large shower stall with access through the watertight bulkhead to a washing machine. The ventilation has been carefully thought out so that the hatches provide natural airflow from the deck to the side opening portlights, as well as the perfect airflow through the shower and heads. The Knysna 500SE strikes an incredible balance between live aboard comfort and ease of access for the realities of yacht maintenance.

Sailing Features

She is equipped with a full roach on the main sail instead of the square top main which makes the sail easy to flake onto the boom and yet provides plenty of sail area. The genoa can be reefed along with the full batten mainsail for heavy air. For light air sailing there is a screecher on a furler attached to a bowsprit ready to deploy. The Harken Battcar system allows the main to drop easily. When you turn to go dead down wind, just unfurl both the screecher and the genoa to go wing on wing, in just 6 knots of apparent wind the Knysna 500 will sail along at 4.5 knots. The placement of the rigging allows for more opportunity to sail at a larger variety of angles to the wind. In addition we are pleasantly surprised to find her ICW capable. (62’4” clearance) when the owners would like the possibility of going in shore in bad weather.

Weight to Length and Sail Area

At 13.5 tons light ship displacement she has plenty of load carrying ability along with the sail area of 800 sq. ft. of mainsail and 538 sq. ft. of Genoa, to move her even in light air.

Anchor Set Up

The anchor deploys from the bow so that the vessel naturally blows away from the chain. She is equipped with a Windlass with both up and down controls as well as a chain counter. The Knysna 500SE has a teak catwalk with hidden “chain-guides” which allow the foredeck person a secure platform while anchoring. She comes equipped standard with a Rocna 40kg anchor and 10mm calibrated galvanized chain 50-meters/ 18mm Anchor warp of 30 meters appropriate for her weight and windage.


Last but not least is the ability to carry water and fuel, the Knysna 500 SE has a 158.5 gallons each of fuel and water. Not to mention she comes equipped with all the live aboard niceties, like 6KW generator: a huge battery bank 1260 Amp hours for the house bank and 2 deep cycle engine start batteries; 3000 watt Inverter/2500 watt charger, with battery monitoring system, watermaker, reverse cycle air conditioning and heat plus a lot more, all standard.

A perfect blend of performance and comfort the Knysna 500SE has eye-catching lines that draws the attention of bluewater sailors and is produced by one of the world’s finest boutique yacht builders. Built to high quality standards well thought out in every way for a couple to live on and cruise keeping in mind the owner will also be in charge of the maintenance.

If we were designing a yacht for ourselves we would be hard pressed to make any changes to her existing design. Make sure to put this boat on your list to see at the next boat show.

Photo Gallery

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Knysna 500SE Boat interior

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