I was going to post this under cons of owning a cat but that thread is closed, so I will weigh in here. I own a 40' cat. Plywood
. Designed by John Hitch (Australian). Built in South Africa
(1996). I have been living, cruising, and working on it for 14 months now. Someday I will sell it (I would sell it now for $150,000). Every boat is a compromise. You have to take the good with the bad. I owned a little mono that I loved to sail and I still like monos. Got to sail at 24 knots on a 56 cat in the Kauai
Channel with a spinnaker
up! Great fun! Nice to do that on other peoples boats. (we shredded that kite, cost him $5,000 for a new one). My wife is terrified of sailing, especially heeling. She said she would only go if we could get a multi-hull. Looked at cats, too expensive for us. Searched for homebuilt tris, 36'-40' Searunners, great sailing boats if you can find a good one. Almost bought a 36. We dismasted it during the sea trial. Found our boat on Yachtworld,it had just been listed. A project
boat, but with some really nice features, two heads, galley
up etc. Great boat to live on and it sails good (downwind or on a reach). Plenty of room. Here are some of my opinions:
1. If you are an "armchair sailor" and like to dream up your ultimate boat and cost is no object, dream big! definitely go for a big fancy cat! In terms of houselike comforts on a sailboat big cats can't be beat.
2. Those big vertical "ugly" wraparound windows that you see on Lagoons and some FP's are really a great feature. You can see where you are going from inside the boat which makes them much safer and easier to stand watch.
3. Twin engines, Love them, especially for docking
. I don't know if I could dock
a big monohull in a tricky situation without damaging something and worries about sudden engine
failure are about nil. They motor
along pretty good with only one. I can actually spin my boat around in it's own length!
4. It is true that you can leave your drink on the table through whole passages but the motion aboard a cat can't be described as comfortable. It is more of a jerky sensation.
5. In order for a Cat to perform well it must be built very lightly. The use of modern materials and engineering has solved
this but think about this: You are capable of twice the speed or more but the impact resistance of your hulls is probably less than half that of a heavily built mono so if you hit a floating log or something the chance of major damage is a lot more. You won't sink but it will be very expensive.
6. You can't put wind vane self steering
on a cat. You have to rely on electric autopilot
and you need a pretty hefty one at that.
7. It is true that you have a more space but you can't bring a lot of weight without sacrificing performance and comfortable motion underway.
8. I really don't think that people with little or no sailing experience or time at sea should go out and buy a big cat unless you can afford a professional captain
to go along with. These boats are dangerous in the wrong hands, less forgiving to operator error, and expensive to buy, store and maintain. In a lot of ways they are the ultimate cruising machine but they can also drag you down.
9. If you are going to cruise
the world in a big, fancy, rich guy boat, you will really have to watch your back because you will definitely be more of a target for thieves, pirates, kidnappers, etc. Remember, you will have to anchor
your boat in lots of funky places, leave your dinghy
on shore, sleep at night with the hatches open with all kinds of very poor people watching you live in luxury and they can't always resist the temptation to relieve you of some of your wealth.
10. Bridgedeck clearance. You see some big cats with very little bridgedeck clearance, some have center pods that stick in the water
, some have hulls that flare out over the waterline. Then you have little cats with hardly any bridgedeck clearance, cats that are decked over forward (no tramps). Even big cats with plenty of clearance slap sometimes and some cats slap violently to the point where you wonder how they can actually hold together. Some cats even slap at anchor
. It is true that one couple (slapdash?) circumnavigated on a Gemini but did you ever take a look at some of there video footage? It is true that the builder crossed the North Atlantic on one but he said that he would never want to do it again! Don't get me wrong Gemini's are really neat boats for what they are but slapping is a huge problem on a lot of these boats and can be more than just a little annoying, in the wrong conditions it could actually tear your boat apart!
There does seem to be a lot of people considering buying
catamarans these days. That is great, for me (I'll be selling one). I love our boat with two hulls, we have a teenage son and our boat has a lot of privacy between the two hulls. Part of the reason I am writing this is I am procrastinating going out and stripping down another acre or so of deck
that I am refinishing. Sometimes I look out with envy at nice looking classic 30 something foot monohulls, how sweet the lines are, how gracefully they sail, relatively easy to maintain, available for a song due to expensive marinas
being crammed full of them and the owners want out. You can dream all you want about building the ultimate boat, saving up to by the ultimate boat, designing the ultimate boat. Most boatbuilders don't do much boating
, they spent all their time building. The point here is that the ultimate boat is not a cat or a mono or tri. The Ultimate boat is the one that you have. If you want to go cruising you can already be doing it. It doesn't matter what kind of boat you have. It doesn't matter if you don't go around the world. Cruising is more about making do with what you have and self reliance. It is about making it to the next port or anchorage, fixing stuff without the proper resources, provisioning
, and waiting for the right weather
so you can do it again. It is not about sailing magazines and the ultimate gear
and the ultimate boat (which you can never afford). I highly recommend: Turn of the computer, throw away the magazines, go down to the water
, go sailing anyway you can. You can crew on a race
boat, go fishing
with someone, dinghy
sailing, windsurf, go along on a sea trial, help with a delivery
, rent a boat, whatever it takes to hone your seamanship so that if you do get a cruising boat you will actually have the confidence to operate it. I know that this thread has been beaten to death (it is actually a good thing that I procrastinated because now it is raining) and sorry for the mini novel. If anybody has actually read this far and you live somewhere cold with no body of water to sail on and you want to take a mini vacation
to see what cruising on a budget
is about you can come sail with us for a week or two for way less than any charter
and believe me, we could use the money! Just send us a message, we'll either be going through Belize
or sailing to the Bay Islands next month (great snorkeling and scuba
diving). Then we will be going up Guatemala's Rio Dulce river. We are on the Caribbean coast of Mexico
now. Phil aboard Thumb's Up