Thanks Sean, but understand that there will no doubt be differing opinions. Like you, I have spent my life in monohulls until recently. And some would say that the cat I bought, due its displacement
much like a monohull
only worse to windward! I disagree, of course, although I must confess that she is no lighweight flyer.
I don't know what boat you are in the process of purchasing
, but I suspect that it may also be down a couple of notches on the performance curve for modern catamarans. If so, I suspect that the greatest differences for you initially will be:
1. The beam, especially at the bows. This makes docking
much more intimidating than in a monohull
2. The increased windage and the tendancy of a cat to float over the water
, rather than carve its way through it like a monohull. Again, generally only a problem in docking
(although relevant in sailing to windward and in anchoring). The good news is that cats with twins can be turned on a dime and you will learn to compensate. In fact, you will also find cats much more maneuvarable in reverse than any monohull. Indeed, this is also true for cats with only a single engine
as there are two rudders spaced further apart.
3. Sailing to windward. Pointing will not be a forte and you will be required to give much more consideration to VMG (velocity made good) rather than using the standard technique in a mono: point until she starts to luff, and then bear off slightly until the luff telltales are flowing smoothly aft. In time, you will get a pretty good idea of the best compromise of velocity and course in varyihg wind conditions for your boat. The technique I have described in the posting
above works much better in cats that are capable of substantially exceeding hull speed
; accordingly, I suspect that it will be much less critical in your boat, especially when laden with a number of paying guests.
Nevertheless, virtually all cats sail faster with the apparent
wind forward of the beam.
4. Jibing. Much easier in a cat as there is much less risk of a broach. Nevertheless, you will still need to have your traveller on centerline before the jibe.
5. Tacking. Every cat is different. On the other hand, most cats will have some difficulty completing a clean tack in light air. In my experience, the keys are:
a) ensure that you have good boat speed just prior to the tack (and that you are sailing close to the wind and not reaching just prior to putting the helm
b) make a decisive move when putting the helm
over (albeit not so violent as to stall the rudders);
c) backwind the jib
d) let off on the main after tacking (as a tightly sheeted main will tend to cause the boat to want to return to windward);
e) regain boat speed by bearing off after the tack.
f) sheet in, gain speed and head up gradually, bear-off, sheet in and head up gradually again, etc. as described above.
In a worst case scenario, you can always use the engine
to assist in making the tack (and until you get used to the boat, that may be a good idea in either very light air, or when tacking into very heavy seas). The good news is that cats will actually remain maneuverable when sailing backwards! Wait until you get some rearward momentum and then put the helm over to swing the bows onto the new tack and then reverse the helm.
The above are all directed towards a crusing cat with keels and not boards, although many of the same principles are said to apply. I have read about (but have no personal experience with) a cat with boards and if yours is so equipped, you should get the opinions of those who do.
Finally, you will also, of course, find flying a chute much easier than on a mono as there are no poles to contend with.