My wife and I are in a similar process:
We started looking at a boat for a circumnavigation
in October of last year with the goal of being on the water
by the end of this year. We have sailed a fair amount but almost all of our experience was with mono hulls. I initially didn't even consider multis due to myth and taboo rather than any real substantive data. After the Miami boat show
we were very intrigued by the catamaran
market and chartered a comparable mono and cat back to back.
Our short list and imminent decision has subsequently gone from:
440 aft cockpit
To those three monohulls and:
Lagoon 470, Lagoon 420
Voyage 440 (need to look into construction and bridge deck
43 (need to look into construction and bridge deck
I have a balanced opinion (mono versus multi) at this point but I think my wife is all but a multihull
In trying to get up to speed quickly I have found the owners forums
(and this one!) to be invaluable. I have also found Chris White's book, "The Cruising Multihull", to be packed with great baseline data and good perspective (although it was written several years back). The "Sailor's Multihull
Guide" is a necessary book if just for the reference data. I also recommend the Multihull Maven web site (great consolidated brokerage listings, much like MLS):
(Gord: Thanks for the posts above, I just ordered a few reviews
from MultiHull World. The Brits don't seem to pull punches like the American trades do.)
My Cruising Criteria
After sailing on a few cruising cats I have established some invariants that are important to my wife and I. These are our criteria and not necessarily applicable to anyone else.
- 40' LOA or greater
Everyone has their own risk tolerance and skill set. I recall
a post regarding a couple that sailed from the UK to New England
in a 28' mono who were happy to have only rolled 3 times in the transit and ready for the next passage
. I am not made of the same stuff. Naval architects seem to agree that larger boats are safer in the open ocean, mono or multi. Ocean passages present the one situation where you may be out long enough to make predicting the weather
and seas for the entire trip impossible. There seems to be no substitute for LWL when it comes to safety
and comfort in the tough stuff. Chris White and several others recommend catamarans over 40 feet as a good open ocean stability and safety minimum. Storage
is another motivation especially if considering 2-3 week runs.
- Helm in the cockpit on the bulk head
I do not want to be on a fly bridge or the quarter managing the boat in nasty weather
. I want to be protected from the weather, near the coffee (see next point of criteria), near the nav station and near the rest of the crew (presumably enjoying the comfort of the saloon). It's entertaining when sales reps tell you that your autopilot
will handle things in a gale. It may, but it likely will not, and I probably wont rest while trusting it even if it will. The helm
should be comfortable in all conditions and functional.
- Galley up
I cook a lot on board and I want to be with the rest of the crew while doing it. No other motivation here. I have heard people say that you don't have to look at the dishes if the galley is down. I guess they don't mind the smell of crusty plates near the sleeping quarters? Come on, just put 'em all in a net and chuck 'em overboard
for the night, they'll be clean in the morning.
- No additional moving parts under water
I know many folks love boards and all manner of other trick underbody devices, and for good reason. For us the added complexity of boards and the additional exposure represented by the potential damage in a board down grounding outweigh the benefits. We have chosen to seek full skeg rudders and integral keels. (Looked at a wonderful CNZ4500 that could have been "the one" but had to pass because of the boards.)
- Strong hull and great build quality
I will intentionally beach and unintentionally ground any catamaran
over long distances. I require a strong hull
and will trade
speed for it. I look for boats with a substantial layup
schedule and preferably Vinylester resin. I am interested in minimal maintenance
and no large projects (such as blisters
or delam). The builder
must have a solid track record
and stand behind their product.
- Effective Anchoring system
I need to be able to deploy two anchors off of the bow and one off of the stern. Anchoring
should be easy. I need two self stowing chain lockers and two bow rollers, a good windlass
with rock solid mounting, a good bridle
and a jam free chain path. I have cruised with a rotten anchor
setup only once but I would never wish such a condition on anyone.
Hope some of this is useful or at least thought provoking. I'd be very interested to hear if anyone thinks my short list doesn't match my criteria or if I've missed a boat I should consider.