Addressing the original poster's question :
It's not easy to find reputable statistical comparisons of accidents and fatalities for monohull
and catamaran ( or multihull
) sailing boats. Chris White's book The Cruising Multihull
still appears to be the most readily available summary of this kind of information. His conclusion was 'During the five year period from 1983 to 1987, there were no reported cruising multihull fatalities in the U.S. or adjacent waters. Going back another five years, there were two reported fatalities in the 10-year period 1978-1987 inclusive. ...taking the number of boats into account, one fatality annually for every 16,250 multihull sailboats 25 feet in length. This fatality rate is somewhat lower than the rate for monohull
auxiliary powered sailboats 25 feet or longer, which the US Coastgurd shows as being one death per 12,500 boats annually ( average value for the period 1978-1987).
US Coastguard statistics show vessels 40' and over have significantly lower death rates than shorter vessels.
Link to downloadable Coastguard data : Deprecated Browser Error
Note how high operator error is on list of accident
causes and how few, relatively are the number of sailboat deaths.
A 40' cat will be a better choice than a shorter one for many reasons, assuming that the owner's budget
is adequate to meet the higher maintenance
costs and the vessel can be kept in good seaworthy
condition. Much better living space at sea and whilst moored, particularly when waiting out the unexpected bad weather
/ parts delivery
or repair delay / need to top up funds etc. And that bears on the psychological health
necessary for the task, not to mention happiness / fun quotients.
Longer hull length, wider max beam, greater designed displacement
than smaller craft = better seaworthiness, resistance to capsize
, operating comfort and efficiency in greater range of sea-states. Around 40' is a good compromise between the seaworthiness factors and man-handling factors. Going too large can take you beyond your physical abilities. What happens when the electric anchor winch
fails, the furling gear
fails, you have to go up the mast
, you go aground etc?
Cat vs mono? The cat wins on grounds of capsize survivability; collision
survivability due to preservation of buoyancy by compartmentalization of structure; maintenance
of operator efficiency due to low angles of heel (captain's cock-ups list very high on accident
causes); lower risk of injury and man overboard
due to lower angles of heel and much less violent motion. The cat is far less likely to injure you than the mono and relatively small injuries - broken finger / toe / wrist/ banged head
can be the beginning of serious trouble, never mind being downright unpleasant.
Regarding severe weather
, a well designed cat is going to be a much better place to be than a well-designed mono. Deploy a parachute sea anchor
and sit it out.