Originally Posted by Captain Bill
While generally not considered a high performance cat, my Endeavourcat can tack through 100 degrees true with no loss of speed, I can go to about 80 degrees true at the sacrifice of about half the speed. The apparent angles are much closer than that as I'm loosing about 10 degrees to leeway. That is I'm pointed near 40 apparent but making 50 true. This is a condomaran with stub keels, not a dagger board cat. These numbers are for sheltered waters with no more than a 2 ft chop and the sails
have to be trimmed properly. I don't know who told you cats can't point but I've shown several cruising monohulls, who questioned my boats pointing ability, my stern as I crossed their bows going to windward in my condo. I would hate to see what a performance cat would do to their egos.
I think that this is one subject where it is very hard to gather truly comparable numbers. Like the size of fish
people catch, this is a subject which seems to induce not just lying, but involuntary self-deception.
My boat is supposed to be a fairly high performance monohull with a modern underbody with bulb keel
, a draft
of almost 8 feet, and a tall rig. I can pinch up to 32 degrees apparent in perfect conditions and tack through something around 80 degrees true, but this is with telltales flopping and stupid VMG's to windward. Thus entirely meaningless. To make good speed and to be able to leave the boat on autopilot
(in wind-following mode) without constant sail trimming, I need about 38 degrees apparent which gives me a tack of a little more than 90 degrees true. And that's in perfect
conditions with 18 knots of wind and flat seas and meticulously trimmed sails. More often I'm at 40 to 42 degrees and tack through more like 100 degrees on the GPS
. This may be less than perfect conditions or may even be that I'm just too lazy to trim the sails to the nth degree.
Maybe I'm not as masterful a sail trimmer as many but the boat is a better performer than most cruising boats, so I doubt that a lot of people point a lot higher than that in real life. I sail in the race
boat - infested Solent (at least, I sail out
of it) and frequently tack down the Solent with hot race
boats. Depite the klutz trimming the sails on my boat (me), I am practically never passed (my waterline length helps there) and very, very rarely outpointed by much, so I think my tacking angles must not be so terrible. But they are more than 90 degrees except in exceptional circumstances and so a lot more than many people claim
Cats inherently can't point as high because they inherently make more leeway. Without keels and the hydrodynamic lift
produced by a good keel
, it simply cannot be otherwise. The difference is less with a very light well dagger-boarded cat, but the difference is there. So if Captain
Bill achieves the kinds of numbers he says then he is a vastly better sail trimmer than I am.
That being said, I did spend a couple of weeks on a cruising cat in the Windward Islands
a few years ago. I expected much more speed than the monohulls I was used to, and much less pointing ability. I was wrong on both counts. The speed was not much if any greater than monohulls of comparable waterline length, and the pointing ability was about equally dismal compared to most of the monohulls I had been chartering up to that time -- that is, a realistic 110 degrees on the GPS
even when trying fairly hard, but not pinching. That is because to do much better than that, even on an excellently designed monohull, you need really good condition sails which are not baggy or blown-out, and well-tuned rigging
with no forestay sag. And you need to work hard. In a charter
boat, whether mono or cat, that's usually not realistic, so you're happy with your 110 degrees. What that means is that the theoretical advantage of good
monohulls is easily and quickly lost
if you don't have perfect sails and rigging
-- yet another gap between theory and practice.
And one more thing, to the OP:
I never met a catamaran
owner who lamented his boat's pointing ability, and never heard of one. What cruiser, in fact, likes to sail uphill at all? How often does any of us really make a passage
tacking upwind rather than just putting the engine
on? So how important is it in real life?
I think the boat and crew and circumstances are fairly rare where you will be willing to spend a lot of time hard on the wind, for extended periods of time. I crossed the English Channel
last November hard on the wind (in what turned out to be a gale during the last part of the passage), and I would not choose to repeat that experience if I had a realistic choice, even though my boat is supposed to be very weatherly compared to other cruising boats. The first year I owned my boat I never motored anywhere just on principle; lately if I would like to be in such and such a port by dinner time, and that port turns out to be upwind, I tend to just put on the motor
rather than change my passage
plan to give me time to tack there. I suspect that most cruisers -- maybe nearly all of them -- do the same.
So if you like catamarans, buy one, and forget about whether it may or may not point quite as well, which may or may not be true to a noticeable degree.