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Old 20-05-2003, 16:27   #1
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are cats safe cruisers?

I realize that in sheltered island-hopping, catamarans have a lot to recommend them - they're fast and their shallow draft make 'em easy to handle in shallow waters. BUT, given the stability stats, are they safe in a blow out on open water? I have some friends who've successfully sailed cats from Hong Kong to Manila, averaging some ungodly speeds. But they all admit conditions were nearly ideal the whole trip.

I know I'm deliberately stirring up a hornets' nest here, but am interested to monitor the debate, as I might end up chartering a cat some day.
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Old 20-05-2003, 21:36   #2
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To begin with I guess I would ask the question, "Is any boat 'safe; offshore?" Not really, but some are better than others. With the case of multihulls it all comes down to what you fear. In other words do you fear capsizing more than you fear sinking? Do you fear getting seasick more from quick motion than rolling motion? Do you fear not being able to find a slip or a yard capable of hauling your boat out of the water vs not being able to explore shallower venues or find a place to anchor in a crowded harbor?

Then there is the issue that while cats can be built with a reasonable degree of safety, are the current crop of cruising cats all that safe?

For example, one way that a cat maintains its safety is that it disburses the energy of a big gust by accellerating rather than heeling. All boats do that to one extent or another, but in a Catamaran this is a critical part of its survival tools. As modern cruising cats have gotten heavier and are being asked to carry more 'stuff', they really are loosing both the ability to absorb a big puff by just going faster and they are also losing their speed advantages over monohulls, which have progressively gotten faster.

It is not all that easy to design a cat that is really as 'tough' as a well designed monohull. There are very large stresses in the connecting structures between the two hulls and designing a proper stucture that is not too heavy is a difficult thing. As the current crop of cruising cats are aging, more and more hull to salon deck failures are showing up at repair yards.

Then you add in the styling details that compromise the boat further. The large areas of plexiglass that are a part of the bridge decks on the large cats along with large companionway openings , make them far more vulnerable during offshore passage to swamping than historically cats had been.

So I guess the answer simply comes down to what do you personally fear?

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Old 25-05-2003, 09:37   #3
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There's something else to consider. Most of the French cats, and at least one of the South African cats that I know, are delivered on their own hulls to the U.S. That must say something about their offshore abilities.
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Old 25-05-2003, 13:50   #4
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Just out of curiousity, what makes you think that the French cats come in on their own bottom. I watched a French Cat being commissioned here in Annapolis. The crew commissioning this boat told me that it came in as deck cargo into Baltimore where it was splashed and brought down to Annapolis. Acording to that commissioning crew they had been getting a regular diet of these big cats to commission in that same manner. Also a number of what we think of as 'French' are actually built over in the States. That does not mean that I don't believe that some French cats might come over on their own bottom from France but I have not heard of it.

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Old 27-05-2003, 03:04   #5
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I am pretty sure Privilege (a French cat) comes across on its own bottom. Lagoon and others probably don't.

I did a lot of reading prior to buying a cat. Mine is a Prout, now out of business. Prout was English, but mine was built under license in South Africa. They are sturdy and mine crossed the Atlantic three times prior to my purchase. At the time I bought her, Prout claimed that no Prout was known to have capsized due to weather conditions in all the time they built them and they were the oldest maker of production cats.

She is however heavy for her size and conservatively rigged. I don't have a speed advantage over an equal length monohull, but I have comfort, shallow draft, and yes, safety.

Cats don't sink, at least not quickly. Monohull keels assure that they hit the bottom right side up.:-)
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Old 02-06-2003, 01:45   #6
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I own a Privilege 39, made in France, that was delivered to Tortola on it's own bottom(s). This is fairly common for deliveries to the BVI.
CARIBBEAN SOUL made the trip without mishap and endured hurricane Bertha when it hit Tortola about two weeks later. Again she held up beautifully.
The Privilege 39 is a heavy boat (10 tons) and will never win races, but she is hell for stout and a very comfortable, safe boat.
There is always some give and take when selecting a cruising boat, but the reality is that only 10% of our time (or less) is actually spent sailing. The rest of the time is spent at anchor, on a mooring buoy, dockside, or even motoring while we explore the land. My choice was/is a multi-hull and I have no regrets.
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Old 02-12-2004, 19:51   #7
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Privilege 39

Capt n' Bob;

Do you still have your Privilege 39? I am trying to locate a decently price Privilege 37. Just wanted to see if you were still happy with that boat.
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Old 02-12-2004, 20:52   #8
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cats dont capsize they ptch pole, that is under the right conditions ie running with a fowling sea and too much sail they can surf down a swell and burry a alma in the next swell and turn turtle. Now this is only known to happen in early produced cats and light weight raceing cats. No cruising cats have been known to pitch pole because of their modern design and weight, ballast. Many cats have circumnavigated the globe and survived all kinds of weather, seas, and hurricanes. as in all sailing there is allways risk involved . but it is safer, if you are prudent, than driveing to your boat jt
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Old 02-12-2004, 20:59   #9
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Sink

Just wanted to add to this, not all monohulls sink, many have sufficient floatation to keep them on top. The heavier the boat for its length the more difficult it is to float them. Jeff has mentioned he likes a longer lighter boats and I aggree with him. These types are easy to keep afloat if desired.
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Old 03-12-2004, 05:41   #10
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Cruising cats

Makai is a Voyage 380 by maxim. It was built and delivered on her bottom from Durban, SA. Voyage and Maxim all are delivered on their bottoms. The waters along the SA coast are some of the roughest in the world.

We done passage making offshore. We have found it to be a well found and safe vessel. In the last year we have met many that have traveled around the world without incident.

Construction techniques and engineering have changed the way most cats are built and have elimenated most of the problems found in the early cats.

I would never go back to a leaner
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Old 01-03-2005, 22:11   #11
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Hi guys and gals, new member here.

Never have sailed a big cat but did sail a Hobie 16 in the rough during my crazy youth.

Since we're talking safety here, do big cats have the propensity to bury the leeward hull like my Hobie did under adverse conditions.
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Old 02-03-2005, 05:10   #12
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Cruising cats do not sail like a hobbie which has a high sail to weight profile. cruising cats generally do not raise a hull even in the windest of conditions.
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Old 02-03-2005, 11:26   #13
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again are anny boats safe?was the titanic safe?I have a fountain pajot athena she was delevered on her own bottom as most are. anny boat will sink,burn, or run aground or be run over given the right curcumstances(carelessness). boats float because of displacement.and have been known to sink at the dock.are they safe? as safe as you make them. be prudent know where you are going watch the weather and ask for local guidence when necessary. my cat has been hit by rogue waves and taken blue water completely over the salon ripping the dingy of the stern. also has survived 2 direct hits by hurricanes where we were, there were 9 other boats only 2 survived intact both cats. i personly think cats are as safe as anny other kind of boat if you are a safe captian. jt
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Old 02-03-2005, 11:48   #14
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Well said Capt John.
I am concerned whan It seems regularly stated here, that mono hulls sink, cats don't. So why should a mono sink??? At least, why should a mono hull be any more/less subject to sinking than a cat. What I mean here, is you need to take a look at the conditions that would most likely cause a sinking. Inevitably, it would be ruff sea conditions. IMO, anyone thinking of cruising, especially long term cruising, should be preparing for the worst case scenario, a severe storm. So the question must be asked, how is the vessel type going to handle the worse case conditions and the even bigger question, how easy is it for her crew to handle the vessel in those conditions. The biggest concern that arises from most sailors when met with those scenarios, is how to slow the boat down. High performance hulls and that includes mono, produce that one very common complaint from the pro sailors when faced with bad weather, They can't slow the thing down and are fighting to maintane control throughout the storm and it severly tests the abilities of those pro sailors. So how much more testing is it, to the humble cruiser.
So I too echo what some have already stated here. No boat is safe, or any well designed boat, used within the her intended limits, is as safe as the next one, whether it be multi or mono.
So you should be choosing a vessel based upon it's intended use and based upon what you intend to use her for.
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Old 02-03-2005, 13:47   #15
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( you should choose a boat for its intended use) also your experiance. if you want to stop or slow down put on the brakes! on a boat there is several ways to do this. first slacken the sheet ,adjust topping lift, reef your sails.than deploy a drogue .deploy a sea anchor. these heavy weather tactics have saved manny a life and boat if i was to make anny open water crossing i would have a sea anchor for safety just as you would a life jacket. jt
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