We have cruised our Searunner
34 for going on 17 years, with 12 of that as full time (no home base) liveaboards. During this time we visited over 20 countries, hundreds of islands, and covered tens of thousands of miles. It is totally doable on a small tri!
While in general, cats of the same length have far more accommodations at the dock
, their storage
is often higher in the structure, and there is less storage
for light weight but stinky things, which we put in the amas. They're motion is worse too.
Up to the "designer authorized 200 pounds each", we put the 8 HP OB motor
, spares kit, spear guns
, 4 large fenders, spare line, broken down Fortress anchor
, etc. in one side, and in the other... a SCUBA
tank, view bucket, wash bucket, garden sprayer shower
, 2@ 11' awning poles, dinghy
accessories box, 6 empty water
jugs, (for ferrying), oars, fishing gear
, etc... Most 34' monohulls OR cats, could not carry what we do, except tied on deck!
Like I said... cats have far less storage for this type of light weight but LARGE, stinky, space filling stuff.
For "cruising", the best older design at finding a perfect balance between performance and accommodation, while keeping the safety
factor high, with the lowest windage and COG, is the Searunner
series. The Searunner 34 in fact, is considered "the best of the best", by many experts in the field, even those who were biased against them.
Chuck Kanter didn't like tris, but the SR 34 was an exception, and it was partly the advice of a competing designer
, (Chris White), that prompted us to get into our SR34. project
in the first place. Chris referred to the 34 as: "Definitely, the best of the older tris". (This was in a conversation between him and our good friends, that were building one of his boats at the time)...
The advantages of trimarans over cats and monohulls, could fill a book, and has... I recommend Jim Brown's, "A Case For The Cruising Trimaran", which has recently been re-printed. Go to: Outrigmedia.com It is THE definitive book on the subject!
There are extreme designs on either side of this perfect balance. Some have far better performance, at the expense of too much loss of the other two... (seaworthiness & accommodation). Other designs like the Horstman series, put payload up in the wings, and filled the down low storage spaces, with walking areas, thereby raising the COG even more! They also have ridiculous amounts of windage, causing a higher likelyhood of dragging anchor
in a gale, capsize
, and they have quite poor windward performance. (A friend with a 45' Horstman said that on his way to Trinidad, he always motorsailed to windward in a seaway)...
You can't have it all! Searunners are good for being the most balanced, right in the junction of "accommodation", "seaworthiness", and "performance". Nevertheless, some Kantola and Cross designs are quite good too. The Crosses' keel
and deeper draft
, makes grounding and haul outs an issue, as the boat doesn't have the Searunner's advantage of a long flat minikeel that the boat can sit on, and when sailing in deep water
, the SR has a 7' draft
, automatic kick up CB, for both "variable draft" AND superior windward ability.
In Searunners, however, the cost of "a place for everything", a redundantly stayed cutter
rig, CB vs keel
, hatches, ports
, and ventilation galore... Is that you need a good one, and being a more complex structure, it may require more maintenance
. They are not tolerant of owner negligence. With modern WEST system construction, however, and if painted with LP paints, and assuming ample glass where needed in construction, (like chines, radii, foils, CB, and CB trunk)... Then the maintenance
falls in line with the others.
If one does not have the above, or is averse to regular maintenance, the Cross might be a bit better choice, maintenance wise, as it is a far less complex structure to keep after over decades.
Same can be said of John Marple's wonderful CC series trimarans. They are like Modern, highly simplified Searunners, in concept
and layout, but for the same utility, need to be longer, wider boats. They will likely all be WEST system / LP paint
, and (being bigger), cost MUCH more to buy and own. Given the budget
, they have the Searunner's advantages, but should require less maintenance over decades. You still need a GOOD one!
Given "good construction", it is hard to beat a Searunner, though. If you look at the crossings, circumnavigations, and total sea miles covered, over 40 years... Then look at the lives lost
as a result of failures of the boat, then the Searunner comes out as one of the best multihull
designs ever... Winged over tris are also nicer to live on.
In looking at one of these older boats, one would be "strongly advised" to DO YOUR HOMEWORK, then hire a competent "ONE OFF custom" multihull
surveyer, like John Marples. The track record
of the "design" means nothing about build quality. That will vary 100% from boat to boat.
Regarding "production boat" trimarans... None that I know of are suitable for long distance cruising, as they do not strike an equal balance of the big 3 needs. Having said that, only a few production cats or monohulls do either. Most boats are designed to SELL, not SAIL...
Beware of the designs on the extreme ends! "Balance Grasshopper, balance"...