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Old 07-09-2010, 09:20   #1
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Mono vs Multi: Let Me Have it !

Hello all,

For several months, my husband and I have been shopping for our first sailboat. I've posted questions about that process elsewhere. We've been considering bluewater monohull boats in the 40' range to cruise with our two kids for a few-several years.

But then I discovered the catamaran.

I know - this happens all the time. The woman in the crew gets onboard one of these and falls in love.

What I am most enamored with is the open space and light of the salon and the unsinkability factor. Of course, snoozing in the trampoline sounds nice too.

I've searched on this forum and others for the pros and cons of multis vs monos and have found this much out regarding catamarans:

- they don't sink or heel but
- they slap and are miserable to be on in confused seas
- you have to be careful not to become overpowered
- they are expensive.

What am I missing here?

I should also note that I suffer from seasickness so I have some concerns about being on both boats for extended periods of time.

I know everyone has their own opinion on these so if you know of any unbiased articles or websites that feature this issue, I'd be grateful if you could pass this along.

Thanks,
Rebecca

PS I should say that our budget has been $100K and I realize that there is no way that we are going to get a ready-to-cruise cat for that money. We're willing to try to spend more but $300K boats are completely out of the question for us.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:29   #2
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PS I should say that our budget has been $100K and I realize that there is no way that we are going to get a ready-to-cruise cat for that money. We're willing to try to spend more but $300K boats are completely out of the question for us.
I think you have answered your own question right there. Otherwise multi or mono doesn't matter at all. You can simply choose. The important thing is to go cruising ASAP.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:33   #3
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What am I missing here?
you might want to investigate where you're going to keep a boat. Finding suitable moorage for a cat can be more difficult in some areas than others, especially if you will keep the boat in a marina.

please be aware that the mono/multi "controversy" is pretty much confined to the internet. out on the water, real cruisers could care less about how many hulls you've got underneath you. out here, if the boat is being used, it's cool. if it's sitting around unused, it reflects poorly on the owners.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:34   #4
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There are tons of multi vs mono threads in this forum with thousands of posts to peruse through. I highly recommend doing a search on the subject.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:37   #5
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multihull cons-
can be difficult to find slips (may or may not be an issue)
not all yards can haul out cats

pros- shallow draft + Caribbean itenary= ideal
all that lovely light and space + individual cabins *sigh*

Since we added a baby into the mix, I look at the cats a bit more longingly. Our boat was purchased with the intent to have 3 living aboard. Now that we are 4, boy those cats look the business. No regrets with having a mono though as there are a lot of advantages to them as well. Every boat has its trade offs, you just need to figureout which ones you are not willing to make.

"If you can't be with the one you love honey, love the one you're with"
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:41   #6
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There are tons of multi vs mono threads in this forum with thousands of posts to peruse through. I highly recommend doing a search on the subject.
Thanks - there's nothing quite like being overwhelmed with information. It is good to hear from those with similar dilemmas, for sure.

As for where we are going to keep it, we'll start in New Bern and then begin cruising in the Bahamas/Caribbean. I appreciate the note about slip and haul-out availability. Those certainly seem like potential complications.

I also love the idea of just getting out and cruising already, for Pete's sake. I sure am looking forward to that phase of it all.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:51   #7
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I think as daddle pointed out, cost is the biggest issue that would keep you from getting a Cat.

My wife and I plan to cruise in a few years and would love a Cat. If we can afford it, we'll get one, otherwise we'll get a monohull. It doesn't matter to me as long as were out cruising.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:05   #8
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I think the $100k budget is going to be an issue.

Here is a pretty authoritative thread on <$250k cats.

Bluewater Sail Cats Under $250k?

Here is another one that's a bit older.

Used Catamarans under $250K

Here are a couple that attempt to define the market under $200k

blue water cat under USD 200k?

SHORT LIST of $200k cats

Some of the threads aren't the newest but they can help you start to see what you might afford at <$200k
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:11   #9
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Hi, Reba --

Similar story, here. We were looking at mono's, too, but there aren't many cats in the Pac NW so they really hadn't entered our minds. But when my wife started researching them we decided to try one out and we weren't disappointed, at all. That's what we went with.

They do have many advantages, but in response to your bullet points:

1. Many cats don't sink. That is not true for all. In fact, there have been pictures posted on CF of sunk cats, some of them quite popular brands. You need to check this out for any cat you are specifically considering, if that is important to you.
2. Confused seas are miserable. Period. Going to windward in confused seas, even more miserable. The quicker motion in a cat in such conditions is not fun. I wouldn't say it is worse, but different. As to the seasickness quotient, that will vary from person to person and you just need to find out for yourself. As for cats in such conditions, one of the often overlooked items is whether there are handholds available to get across that big salon when everything is moving around.
3. Reefing is good. There's a very nice video on YouTube illustrating this concept when sailing in a gale. Sure, it is a big cat, but the principle is the same. Much better to be sailing comfortably and safely at 9 knots than on the razor's edge at 15.


CF member Dave on Exit Only also does an excellent discussion and video of this on his website: Welcome to Maxing Out

4. Expensive. Yes. $100K for a cruise-ready cat by a known builder will be very difficult. But, it is a crazy time in the market, so maybe. If you can increase your budget to the $150K range, though, there are quite a number of well-known cats in the range of that asking price listed on Yachtworld. I'm sure the condition of them varies, but if you stay flexible as to brand and features, I bet you can find one in the 36 to 40 ft range.

5. Seasickness is neurologically-based: Your ears, eyes and brain don't agree about physical orientation, balance and the location of the horizon. For the vast majority of people, it is a matter of them "learning" and that can take awhile to resolve. The more time you spend sailing, the better developed your neural pathways become in resolving it and the less time it will take in the future for them to calm down. That doesn't make it any less miserable at the moment, though. We've tried the usual stuff: ginger anything, medications, the Relief Band. All of them have helped "some", personally, we've seen more success with the Relief Band than anything else.

Unbiased articles/websites/books. I'm not sure that a completely unbiased source exists. Lots of the brokerage websites have good articles (www.multihullcompany.com www.aeroyacht.com; etc.) but they are trying to sell you a boat. Chris White's website Chris White Designs Multihull Sailboats High Performance Cruising Yachts - Catamaran and Trimaran has good stuff on it, as does John Shuttleworth's John Shuttleworth Yacht Designs Ltd. and Charles Kanter's Charles E. Kanter -Catamaran Specialist, Catamaran performance, catamaran books, Marine Surveyor.

Asking questions of the multihullers around here and some of the multihull-specific forums can be helpful, too. Of course, nothing beats sailing on a number of different boats.

Good Luck in your search!

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Old 07-09-2010, 10:31   #10
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Disclaimer: multi-multihull owner and rabid Cat fanatic here!
The speed advantage of a multihull is rarely more than a knot or two, and catamaran cruisers spend a lot of time depowering their sails to keep the speed down to a merely teeth-jarring experience.

There are cats designed for open ocean sailing and others designed for in-shore. The latter can get you to the Bahamas or Caribbean safely and comfortably, and even some of them have cruised the Southern Oceans. An in-shore cat will be much less expensive and provide three or four staterooms. Older versions can be had, in seaworthy condition, for about $100K, but they are going to have older instruments and slightly ratty multiple owner "customizations" with Home Depot price tags.

Tell your surveyor [don't leave home without one] exaaactly what you want the boat to do for you, and tell him exaaactly how much and what kind of work you are really capable of and have time for. Get your absolute money's worth out of that investment.

Rely not on a broker for comparative information between two choices. You can tell if he's lying; his lips will move.

Don't wait until you can find and afford the perfect boat. Nobody buys their last boat first unless its a terrible mistake. Get something nice now, do what it takes to minimize it's depreciation, and after learning from it and enjoying ever thing it can do, move up with some solid experience and realistic expectations to guide your next purchase.

Besides, the ultimate cruising dreadnought may be excruciatingly dull in comparison to a sprightly smaller boat that can be handled with one hand and loves to explore those hidden coves and creeks denied many internet-approved behemoths.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:34   #11
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Rely not on a broker for comparative information between two choices. You can tell if he's lying; his lips will move.
great advice!
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:39   #12
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Alas, there is no definitive answer: There are a lot of nice mono- and multihulls. I like sailing a nicely designed sailboat, period. We shifted to a cat about three years ago for many of the reasons you've cited - but, the reality is that on some days I wish I could saw her in half and get that visceral feel of heeling under a good breeze. In many respects I think the whole debate is pointless as it assumes that it can be argued that there is a superior vessel. And there isn't!

I think the reality is that we're almost all constrained by budgets, intended use and preconceptions. A lot of the things you like about the multihulls are true of many cruising monohulls: Space & stability. In fact, a lot of the space 'premium' on many multi's is kind of useless as it's basically cabin space in the hulls. Our 40ft multi technically has more space than a 45ft mono, but in all honesty, a 45 ft Island Packet (or similar) has much more useable space below decks.

Sail as many different types as you can manage and you'll quickly prioritize your likes and dislikes. But most importantly, by sailing a variety you'll get rid of your preconceptions and drill down to the essentials of what you want out of a boat.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:57   #13
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Plenty of previous posts on this subject to browse through. I love both monos and cats (But currently own a cat), so heres my personal opinion:

Monohull Pros:
Better upwind performance
Easier to find marina space / haul-out facilities.
More feel / feedback when sailing.

Cat Pros:
Space
No healing
Living spaces on the same level, with good outside visibility.
Easy to manoeuvre in those tight spaces due to asymmetric engine power (This is no problem on a monohull if you have a bow thruster)
Engine redundancy


Its all personal preference, so you might like to try out both a mono and Cat in your budget, and see what package works for you.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:11   #14
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The Catana looks comfy, but these guys seem chuffed despite the 25'ers en route to Bermuda in a Tayana 37:

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Old 07-09-2010, 12:34   #15
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It's a total jews vs. christians , black vs. white, red vs. blue, democrats vs. republicans.

There are great things on all sides. Great boats with one hull, two hulls, and three hulls (and more?) have crossed the oceans by people who swear by that configuration.

I like a traditional boats made of traditional materials. I learned how to sail on them, I know how they handle, and I know how to work on them. There's a lot of tradition, history, and accumulated knowledge going back a long time in the design, construction, and operation of single hulled vessels. Crack open Heavy Weather Sailing, and I don't think you'll find a single reference (at least not in my edition) to a multihull. There are of course books on multihull storm management, but my point withstands: the pinnacles of maritime history and reference are based around monohulls. To me that means a lot, to others it doesn't, and you can be happy on either.

As far as individual characteristics, those will vary from model to model. A fin keel mono will sail much differently than a heavy displacement full keel mono; you'll be able to draw distinctions in sea-kindliness beyond simply how many hulls they have.
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