Rather than monohull
owners theorizing on the reasons for the increase in popularity of multihulls, e.g. an experience chartering (or the number available off the charter
market), or advertising hype (afterall, they are inferior to monhulls so it must be that), perhaps there would be a benefit in actual owners of multihulls describing their intended use for their boats and why they chose a multihull
? You know, actual imput from people who put their money
where their mouths were and why they did it?
I can start by saying: 1. I have never chartered a cat, so that did not play into my decision. 2. The cat I purchased did not come off the charter market, nor was it designed for the charter market. 3. Advertising hype played no part in my decision. Rather, it was a decision I made after considerable research
and determining that, after owning a series of monohulls, a cat was the best compromise for my next boat and its intended use.
I wanted a boat primarily for cruising in the Caribbean
with my wife and occasional guests. However, we are also in the process of developing a small, boutique beachfront resort in the Caribbean
and wanted a boat for taking out guests on some short sunset cruises and snorkellling trips in conjunction with the business. Finally, after the business has been up and running for a few years, my wife and I intend to take the boat to Europe
for 18 months and then return to Isla Margarita, all via trade-wind routes.
Whether others agree with my assessment or not, here are what I see as the advantages for a catamaran
(and in particular, the catamaran we purchased) for our needs:
1. The shoal draft
of a catamaran opens up additional cruising grounds and enables anchoring
closer to shore. It also enables us to pick up guests in shallow water
in front of our beach, by means of a removable ladder off the crossbeam to the central walkway that divides our forward trampolines.
2. The additional deckspace/cockpit area is pefect for carrying additional guests.
3. Even with the risks of skin cancer, my wife and I like to sun occasionally and the forward trampolines provide a perfect area both under anchor
and while sailing in moderate conditions.
4. Being able to 'go below' in order to get drinks/snacks without having to navigate a steep and often angled companionway
ladder is a boon to not only this aging sailor, but also to our occasional landlubber guests.
5. The relative lack of heeling makes for increased comfort/safety for our non-sailor guests, particularly on our boat with its forward walkway and full-width bow pulpit.
6. The 'dated-looking' tiered decks and coachroof on our cat reduce windage, but they also provide a much shorter (and safer) boarding height and a place forward and along the sides for guests to sit while underway. This distributes weight more evenly and reduces crowding in the cockpit
when sailing with a number of guests.
7. The twin LAR keels with shoes allow our boat to be beached for underbody maintenance
without the need for a haulout. In the real world of sailing, a clean bottom can improve performance significantly.
8. The interior
is not only more spacious than a monohull
of comparable length, it is also IMO more practical:
- I have a full size chart table/nav station that allows someone seated to have virtually a 360 degree view around the boat. Yes, this is available in some
pilothouse monohulls (although in my Cartwright 36 Pilothouse I had to stand to see from the chart table), but it is a valuable feature in any boat. For a cruising couple, it allows the person on-watch to maintain visibility around the boat (and the trim of the headsail) even when you need to go below to use the SSB/VHF, make log entries, etc.
- There is also virtually 360 degree visiblity while eating/seated in the main saloon
. Amongst other things, when under anchor
it permits crew to watch for other boats that may be dragging down on you without the need to go up on deck
. It also makes for a much brighter and less cave-like interior
- My galley
down (open to the saloon
interraction with others) is fully 12 feet long with counters on both sides. Apart from comodious storage
and prep space, the relative lack of heeling makes meal preparation easier than in a monohull (I don't miss the need for a gimballed stove/oven); and, when the going gets rough you are braced in on both sides.
- The three double staterooms all have hanging lockers, seats, multiple cabinets with shelves and two of them have generous ensuite head
compartments. Furthermore, unlike the aft cabins of many monohulls where headroom
is seriously compromised by the intrusion of the cockpit
well, there is at least 50 inches of headroom
and a large opening hatch
above all of the berths on my boat. Finally, for increased privacy, the staterooms are all separated from each other by either the cockpit or at least 10 feet of floor space.
- Our boat has a separate compartment with a bath tub and shower
. Lest you consider a tub to be a waste of space in a 40 foot boat, I can tell you of the following advantages: when it is too rough to safely shower
on board, it is nice to be able to rinse off the salt
in a tub; it is also nice for occasionally soaking sore muscles (and for someone with two herniated discs in his lumbar region, it is occasionally nice to soak in a hot tub regardless). Since there is a large hatch
to the foredeck above the tub, it is a great place to throw down a wet spinnaker/clothes (and there is dedicated storage
for the spinnaker
in front of the tub).
- there is seating for 10 - yes, six at the table and four on two separate settees in the saloon. In conjunction with the large and convenient galley
, it is great for entertaining. Remember, my wife and I plan on living aboard
for relatively extended periods and we do not expect to change our habits more than necessary while cruising. At home we enjoy cooking
together and entertaining and this boat will allow us to do the same.
9. When sailing is relatively protected waters it is nice to be able to carry your inflatable
: so carried, the inflatable
receives some additional protection from the portion of the hulls that extend aft of the bridgedeck.
10. The additional beam permits much more area for installing solar panels
11. Most catamarans are better sailing boats than most monohulls off the wind
. This is so because the additional beam and twin rudders virtually eliminate wallowing and the risk of a broach (it is also why some new monohulls are attempting to approximate this attribute by extending beam aft and installing twin rudders). Furthermore, a symmetrical spinnaker
becomes a legitimate crusing sail for the non-athletic cruising couple. Due to the elimination of a pole and wide beam, in order to jibe/gybe one need only let off on the tack on the windward side, haul in on the tack on the (new) windward side and adjust the sheets
. My boat wil run/reach comfortably
at half wind
speed up about 18 knots of wind. In a boat that is intended primarily for tradewind sailing this is extremely important. In addition, my timetable (or more to the point, lack of a timetable) will allow me to wait for favourable winds before most passages.
12. Although my boat is admittedly no demon to windward, she is nevertheless quite acceptable for my intended use. Unlike some older cats, she tacks readily through 90 degrees - although speed, comfort and VMG improve if I bear off to about 50 - 55 degrees from the true wind. This increases speed, again to virtually 50% of wind velocity, and virtually eliminates pounding in most conditions. In any event, at my age I am much less enamoured with long beats to windward than when I was younger. Of course, if I am ever in a hurry, what makes a better motorsailor than a cat with her twin diesels?
13. There are various aspects of the design/construction of my cat that IMO, make her especially well-suited for in-season, trade-wind Atlantic crossings:
- bullet-proof construction to Llloyd's 100 A! unlimited offshore
rig with dedicated, roller reefing staysail/storm jib
- rudders on partial skegs, sacrifical below the skegs to provide protection from debris etc.
- relatively small cockpit with relatively small (non-sliding), 1/2 inch thick tempered, safety
- angled chines forward (match angle of bows in extremis) provide additional bouyancy, reduce hobby-horsing
- shoes on keels.
Anway, those are the features which led me to the purchase
of my current
boat - my first catamaran. All boats are compromises and she provided, IMO, the best compromise for our current
needs and ages. The needs and priorities of others, will of course, vary.