CapnAndy, all of your points are valid. Appearance is subjective, but important nonetheless (and truth be known, I too tend to prefer the romance of a traditional monohull with a sweeping sheer, overhangs and some brightwork).
On the other hand, I find that the efforts in the design of many current
monos to increase the accomodation to something close to a catamaran
has resulted in some very ugly boats. High houses, no sheer, odd shaped windows, blunt bows, 'racing stripes' etc., etc.
I personally find the 'space age' look to be better suited to catamarans - to my eye, the general form has some parallels and could draw some comparisons to the small spacecraft depicted in movies such as Star Wars - a futuristic look for what is really a rather futuristic type of sailing vessel.
Bridgedeck pounding to windward is indeed annoying, but of course, the frequency and severity will vary hugely from design to design, the load carried, and the size and shape of the waves. In worst case scenarios, it can usually be eliminated (or at least significantly reduced) by bearing off to a close reach.
One should not forget, however, that extreme (and rapidly changing) angles of heel can also be both annoying and a hazard to safety
. To say nothing of the fact that many 'modern' monos with wide, relatively flat underbodies also tend to 'pound' when sailing to windward in certain conditions.
As to racking, it does occur and of course, will be (or should have been) addressed at the design and construction stage. My cat was built in 1994 to Lloyd's 100 A1 unlimited offshore
standards and shows absolutely no stress cracks anywhere except on two cockpit
hatches. Yes, she is more heavily constructed and has a narrower beam than what is currently in vogue, but modern finite stress analysis allows the design and construction of much beamier and lighter cats that will hold up to even the most extreme conditions. The old worry about home-made cats and tris breaking apart in heavy seas is decidedly a thing of the past.
I will also acknowledge that I too prefer the motion of a monohull if she has been designed and constructed for a comfortable motion in heavy seas (typically a relatively narrow beam, especially aft; significant rocker, no flat underbody sections, some front overhang and middle to higher displacement). Of course, this type of hull
form only accentuates the difference in accomodation between a cat and a monohull of comparable size.
Finally, I also tend to prefer the immediate reaction of a mono to gusts, the typically greater feel to the helm
and the relative proximity to the water (at least in aft cockpit
designs without large freeboard).
On the other hand and despite all of the foregoing, my latest boat is a cat as it presents the compromise that best suits my needs. Here are my top 20 reasons for preferring her over a cruising monohull, in no particular order:
1. It is significantly roomier than any comparably sized monohull, both below and on deck. The latter is extremely important for me since I will be using the boat, in part, for sunset cruises and snorkeling trips from my property on Margarita Island. It also provides a much more comfortable environment
in port (where everyone spends most of their time) than any comparable sized mono and is much better for entertaining.
2. The split interior
layout provides a degree of comfort and privacy for 2 or 3 couples (or when my son and wife's daughter join us) than could ever be achieved in a monohull of comparable size.
3. The lack of heeling provides a much more confortable and safe environment
, showering, using the head
, getting dressed, sail changes and just moving about than could ever
be achieved in a monohull.
4. Cats will not roll even in anchorages
that are known to be 'rolly' in certain conditions.
5. Overall, my cat will perform at least as well as any comparably sized monohull that leans towards the comfort, rather than the performance side of the equation; in reaching and running conditions, it will typically be faster. As I have gotten older, the joy of bashing to windward in any boat has lost
much of its luster and I now tend to set courses (or await weather
windows) that minimize the same.
6. My cat is much more airy and bright, and has much better sightlines from below than any comparably sized monohull. While deck saloon
and pilothouse monos can have similar visibility in the pilothouse or saloon
, they will nevertheless revert to being caves elsewhere in the accomodation. And of course, pilothouse and DS desgins tend to have obstructed vision forward from the cockpit and unlike cats, cannot comfortably solve the problem with elevated helmsman seats due to heeling angles.
7. The increased beam forward means that I can fly a spinnaker
without the use of a pole, which hugely simplifies the set, dousing and jibes of the same. Even a symmetrical chute is, as a result, a true cruising sail. This tends to further increase my speed advantage while running or broad reaching over most cruising monohulls.
8. It is not only easier, but much safer to enter and return from the interior
, or food
and drink in hand, both while underway and at anchor
: one can simply walk in and out as if entering a house and is not required to climb a set of steep companionway
steps, sometimes with a significant heel.
9. There is much more space to conveniently (and attractively) mount solar panels
10 Except in heavy conditions or when offshore
, my dinghy
is carried on davits
with the added protection from wind and waves provided by the shelter of the aft portion of the two hulls. In addition, because the waterline extends beyond the dinghy
, its weight tends to have less effect on how the boat sits on her lines.
11. Neophytes, guests and children
tend to prefer the relatively flat platform while underway; there are also less concerns about their safety
while moving about.
12. Having experienced a few knockdowns in monos over the years, I can say from experience that they provide huge
risks to the safety of those on deck and below, They also pose a real risk to the rig and sails
. While a catamaran
would stay inverted in similar circumstances, the risk of actually capsizing is much, much smaller than in a monohull. In fact, based on stability curves, it is significantly less than for a complete rollover in a monohull, which I have blessedly not experienced.
13. Should the worst case scenario arise, my cat should remain afloat if capsized. This provides a safe platform on my inverted bridgedeck in which to use the liferaft
for accomodation ( I have installed 18,500 lb. breaking strength ubolts with which to lash it down). It would also be much easier to spot from the air for the purpose of a rescue
14. I will never have to worry about sinking due to a hole in the hull, failed keel bolts
tubes, a faulty thru-hull or the like. I suspect that the risk of these occurences to any boat is as great as that of a capsize in a properly sailed cat, when one considers the amount of garbage and cargo containers that are now floating (or partly submerged) in the oceans of the world.
15. She is also shoal draft
in comparison to virtually any monohull of comparable size - this not only opens up more anchorages
, it permits safer and easier entry over bars, reefs
16. She is beachable. This permits cleaning
the bottom, replacing anodes and inspections without a haulout.
17. There are redundant rudders.
18. There are redundant engines.
19. She is much easier to dock
and to reverse than a monohull, especially one with a a long , or full keel
(which I prefer in a monohull for offshore sailing).
20. I love the sensation of being able to catch the spray while riding on the tramps forward when underway.
Yes, all boats are compromises. No design is perfect. Your priorities may not mirror mine. But in my determination to go to a cruising cat after owning a series of cruising monohulls, I made a decision that was based upon numerous factors including overall
safety. And there is much more to that than this monohulls sink, multihulls capsize debate.