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Old 16-06-2008, 13:28   #1
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Cats Vs. Single Hull

Hi. New to the forum, new to sailing, and would like any experienced opinions. When I do get a boat, I'm considering a cat because of what I've read. The biggest reason is that they are faster. How much faster? My understanding is that a typical 40' single hull sailboat will have a max speed of about 9 knots per hour (please correct me if I'm off). Now, according to simple math, even if you were travelling at max speed for 24 hours a day, which would be an impossibility, it would take someone 2 weeks to sail across the atlantic. Given that the average speed would probably be considerably less than that, it sounds like it could take someone up to a month. That's some slow going.

I've tried to find out how to calculate the approximate speed that cats are capable of, but have come up empty. I'm hoping they are significantly faster. Can anyone help?

Also, any general comparisons between the two, advantages and disadvantages, etc. The romantic side of me likes the traditional sailboat, but if cats are enough faster, I think I would prefer the speed.

Anyway, forgive my ignorance. I'm new.
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Old 16-06-2008, 13:49   #2
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Friends just completed a Bermuda to Azores trip in a little more than 2 weeks in a 45 ft Mono. Your assesment of relative speed may only be true to a point. While Cats clearly can be faster, the situation for the speed of any boat varies. On an Atlantic crossing the speed does not vary except based on the wind and speed conditions. It's not like you would stop for the night.

The way I look at it I don't think speed matters given when I'm sailing I am already there and nothing is that fast. Some of the racing Cats do get some high speeds but not a boat you would expect to cruise.

Cats generally cost more than single hull boats. Cost too is a relative thing since new vs old and large vs small would cause both to overlap. If speed were you biggest concern perhaps an Ocean Trawler would be more your tastes. Flemming makes some nice ones. They would be more expensive as well. From a pure speed point of view airline tickets are the fastest and probably the cheapest soultion. So even with just cost and speed neither is probably very good.

I'm not so sure I would assess one as better. Better assumes a lot more considerations toward an overall suitability to purpose. So far speed is your stated purpose.
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Old 16-06-2008, 14:04   #3
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This is a question rather like "How long is a piece of string".

Most catamarans are dependent on lightness for their speed. Most cruising catamarans are fairly heavily loaded. For example 150 gallons of water, 5 weeks food, 60 gallons of fuel, tools, clothes, books, bicycles, dinghy, spare sails, outboard, spares etc etc etc all adds up. Then there is the ability for a blue water cat to be able to withstand very bad weather. Thus a lot of designs sacrifice speed for strength and load carrying. The additional weight helps in bad weather in very confused seas. There is another faction that believes that lightness and speed mean that such a cat (e.g. outreamer and most australian designs etc) are fast enough to get away from bad weather. If I did not plan on long distance, I would probably accept that theory, but if you are a long way from shelter, there is a reasonable risk that your escape manoeuvre will eventually be unsuccessfull.

The worst cat is is still faster than any mobo in the right conditions, but european designs tend to have reduced sail area in order to be able to cope with bad weather, which means that light winds cannot be exploited properly. However very old cat designs have a problem with going to windward , not a problem with more modern designs.

As for speeds across the atlantic. A number of cats can achieve over 200 nautical miles per day in the right conditions. Most people will actually passage plan at nearer to 6 kts, in order to cope with low wind or head wind conditions.

Given a good reach, the sensible skipper will not push hard anyway, and will seriously consider a reef for the night. You need to preserve your sails and rigging. The biggest danger for any multihull is to be travelling too quickly, whilst there have been almost no cases of cruising cats capsizing, there have been cases of pitchpole (bows bury in the back end of a wave that you are overtaking, and trips over). Thus you need to consider how to slow a cat down, not how to speed it up!

Have a look on you tube under catamarans and there are several videos of 40ft cats travelling across the atlantic.
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Old 16-06-2008, 14:21   #4
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THANKS!

Thanks Talbot for that outstanding input.

I'm sure my ignorance of the subject is probably showing. The idea is not that I'm trying to be a speed demon across the atlantic, I'm just trying to get a feel for the differences in speed. It seems that if the difference were significant, it would be a valid consideration. I'm sure I'm not ready for an atlantic crossing any time in the next 2 or 3 years at least.

I am just getting started learning. At this point I am completely open. It seems, according to some other threads, that this question seems to open a can of worms. That I can understand, given the passion involved with sailing. Perhaps I should be more specific as to my goals. I would like to one day attempt an atlantic crossing to sail the med, but I can't say for sure if that will happen. I am interested in long-distance trips from the east coast to both the north and south, so that would probably be the biggest consideration. I am realistic enough to realize that sailing will slow me down, but so be it. Maybe that will clarify.

Thanks
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Old 16-06-2008, 14:38   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlb67 View Post
..... I think I would prefer the speed.
.....
I don't wish to quote you out of context and please don't take offense; however as you have asked for opinions, I am happy to share mine.

IMHO, sailing has very little to do with speed unless you are racing. Sailing has a lot to do with many things (as can be discovered just browsing through the many threads on CF) and while speed has some significance, it isn't the raison detre.

Travelling in a boat (cruising / voyaging) is like travelling in space rather than travelling in time. I think it was Richard Bach who stated (and I am paraphrasing here) that flying was like travelling through time while sailing was like travelling through space.

Many sailors have experienced distress when sailing to a timetable rather than going slow and waiting for suitable conditions.

However to generalise, cats are faster than single hulls but there are many many many other distinctions between them that would be more important (to me) than their respective speeds.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with speed and I do like to get the best speed from my boat by sailing efficiently etc.

Welcome aboard and enjoy your time on CF, I hope you will want to spend a lot of time here
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Old 16-06-2008, 14:48   #6
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Charles Kantor in his book Cruising in Catamarans said that based on his experience cruising cats on average would get to their destination about 20 percent faster than monos. I think the fact that cruisers do everything they can to spend as little time as possible going upwind probably factored into his extimate. His book was written a while ago and I suspect that some of the recent designs with ever expanding accomodations space will result in slower cats and probably little difference in passage times.
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Old 16-06-2008, 15:23   #7
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<snip>
I've tried to find out how to calculate the approximate speed that cats are capable of, but have come up empty. I'm hoping they are significantly faster. Can anyone help?
<snip>
Welcome to the forum, jib. Glad you're here.

I don't know if you saw this recent thread, jib: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ing-16148.html Dave (maxingout) is a very experienced catamaran cruiser, with a careful approach to cruising. That is, take care of your vessel if you expect it to take care of you. Pushing a vessel hard to make speed, for whatever reason, stresses the vessel and its many systems, not the least of which is its crew.

If you're the first person in the history of cruising whose destination is always downwind, then you're probably not going to hurt your vessel. But if you're ever compelled to try to make haste to windward, well, be prepared for something(s) to break.

Another thing that makes your query almost unanswerable is that there are so many variables involved that it becomes an apples and oranges comparison. For example, is a 32' PDQ cat faster than a 53' J Boat? Don't bet on it. For that matter, is a PDQ cat faster than another PDQ cat? It depends on how the "same" boats are loaded, maintained, equipped and sailed.

You may very well find that, for a given length, a properly set up, maintained and sailed trimaran is the fastest vessel. I would suggest that you get some experience sailing on monos, cats and tris. I think you will discover that each has its merits, and characteristics that you find agreeable or disagreeable, vital or trivial, may be much more important in leading you to your choice of vessel than theoretical speed.

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Old 16-06-2008, 15:32   #8
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I am new here also and also looking into cats. The one thing I have learned in all my reading about sailing is that the journey IS the destination. I am thinking that fast is for the fun of it, if you know what I mean. Not to get somewhere quickly. Airplanes get places quickly. Sailboats get there memorably. Everything I have read is that when you are trying to get somewhere quickly, you get into trouble.
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Old 16-06-2008, 16:03   #9
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Airplanes get places quickly. Sailboats get there memorably.
<snip>
A very nice turn of phrase, isbolick. Well put.

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Old 16-06-2008, 16:49   #10
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jib67, I think if you do a quick scan over the topics in the multihull section, you'll find that almost every possible argument, from every possible direction, has been well and truly covered.

As for me, I've owned a 40 foot cruising monohull since 2000. After looking at all the pro's and cons, for my new boat I'm building a 44' cat. (photo's of the build so far, if you're interested: http://www.cruisersforum.com/gallery...00&userid=3477 )
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Old 16-06-2008, 18:40   #11
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JLB, I cruised a 37' mono for 8 years before switching to a 37' cat for the last 3 years. Both boats were fully loaded for cruising, except the cat's weight was about 7000lbs less due to cored construction and lack of lead ballast. When I do passage planning for the cat, I plan an average speed of 6.5kts compared to 5.5kts on the mono. A whole knot is a big deal on a long passage. Under ideal conditions the cat has much greater speed potential than the mono. The best I could do on the mono was about 8kts while I have seen over 12kts on the cat and over 10kts on several occasions. I think that speed is less important than the "ride" and the cat has a much better ride. There is nothing more fun than taking a mono for an afternoon sail in a fresh breeze, burying the rail, and bracing yourself against the cockpit seats. What is fun for an afternoon sail becomes a hardship for 2 day passage. The cat, however, stays level and doesn't wear me out on a long passage like the mono did. On the mono there were times when going to the head or making a baloney sandwich was a major challenge due angle of heel and rough seas, but the cat is much more stable and even going on deck in rough conditions is fairly easy. Since you plan on crossing oceans, I think a quality cruising cat is a good choice.
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Old 16-06-2008, 19:03   #12
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Taking someone elses advice on what is the best boat for you is kinda like having someone else controle your money. Not a good idea.
All boats, mono's, cats, and tri's have thier good and bad features. Which is best for you can only be answered by you. I would hazard to sugjest that before making the desisign on what to buy, you sail on as many different types of boats as you can - find out foryourself what you like and dont like about each type.
Fact is that there isnt a better type of boat, they will all do thier jobs if you do yours.
The rest is just a mater of personal preferences, however always keep in mind that you will have to look at your boat for the whole time that you have it, if it doent turn you on...
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Old 16-06-2008, 22:55   #13
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new to sailing... I'm considering a cat
IMHO, the first consideration should be given to 4 points:

1) where do you want to go?
2) what time of year do you want to go there?
3) what do you want to do there?
4) how long do you want to stay there?

Once you've done that, then you can workout which hull design (mono/cat/tri/bathtub etc) is more suitable to your task.
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Old 16-06-2008, 22:57   #14
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Taking someone elses advice on what is the best boat for you is kinda like having someone else controle your money.
Or in some cases, your life.
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Old 16-06-2008, 23:43   #15
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As a cat owner, I obviously like them and think they are great for many cruising purposes. However, there are places and times I would not take one and where a mono would clearly be the better option.

Exfishnz has got it right -- answering those questions, for you, is the first place to start.

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