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Old 11-02-2024, 16:54   #1
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Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

Admiral and I are long term monohull cruisers, having sailed along the California coast between San Francisco and Mexico and between Seattle and Skagway, Alaska through the inside passage. Both of us have a bunch of US Sailing certifications (that's how we got started) and the Admiral is now a 50 ton USCG master near shore too.

We recently purchased a Leopard 45, which will be delivered later this year in Florida. Trying to figure out the best the best way to learn tips and tricks for a catamaran. I don't expect us to have much problem on sailing but I'd rather practice some docking maneuvers before we scratch our shiny new boat. Ideally, we would do this in PNW, before we take delivery of the boat in Florida . Also curious if lack of cat experience could result in problems getting an insurance.

Looked at catamaran endorsement for US Sailing and ASA 114 (which would require us to do a bunch of challenges to match our US Sailing to ASA), but they are unnecessarily complicated and expensive.

If you have followed a similar path, what were your experiences? Suggestions and recommendations welcome.
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Old 11-02-2024, 19:33   #2
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

We had no boat of our own at all, other than a Hobie 16 and a Laser, before taking ownership of a 55’x23’ sailing cat. I did have lots of experience on other peoples’ boat (monohull) and a few catamaran charters before getting the cat, and my wife had owned a medium sized single engine motor launch with a previous husband.

The catamaran is so easy to manoeuvre under engine that you won’t believe you were ever worried after the first 5 minutes. You lock your rudders fore and aft and use each engine independently. Easy peasy. As you get more advanced, and if your rudders are aft of your props, then you can use angled prop wash as well. The only problems are with a strong side wind - blowing on ’is easier to handle though nerve-wrackingly faster than blowing off.

The high sides can be a challenge, especially with low floating docks. If it’s just the two of us, we usually get a stern line on first from the near side sugar scoop, then use that as a spring to get the boat along the dock. Have all the other lines ready to go and either grab them from the dock or have them lowered to you from the boat. As you gain experience you can lasso the dock cleats from the deck - when done correctly it’s very slick.

Otherwise, just make sure you’ve got two or more helpers on the dock (radio ahead for marina staff help, or circle around until other people in the marina come to the empty berth to help, and to spectate). With people on the dock, just lay the boat along the dock and pass them lines.

We like to double lines through the cleat and back to the boat if possible, so that we can adjust from the boat. If it’s your home dock then make up exact length dock lines for bow, stern and spring (and any cross ties from the outside stern or bow), have them live on the dock, and simply grab them as you come in and place them onto the correct cleat. High lines or pulley lines will make the dock lines easier to grab from up high on deck.

Regarding insurance, though our experience is not with US companies, was that they don’t care about boat type - as long as you can show certifications and/or experience of handling boats you should be good to go.
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Old 12-02-2024, 01:49   #3
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

Get a pair of "Marriage Savers" headsets (used on motor bikes). As helm on a big cat it can be difficult to judge momentum, and distance to the dock or mooring and getting the hang of rotating the boat on engines when the rudders stall. Good coms with the crew is key to less stressful operations. Other than that it is just practice and reading/learning. Your keel boat coastal passage experience will be plenty good enough to sail a Leopard 45.
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Old 12-02-2024, 03:29   #4
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

The big difference is the use of two engines/props for steering in dock maneuvers instead of water flow over the rudder.

If you want to try before taking delivery of your new boat, then you could fly to Marsh Harbour and rent one here, there’s plenty available.
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Old 12-02-2024, 03:45   #5
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

Oh, and one further tip, if you can't get it to tack, start a motor and force it through - don't feel embarrassed. Did this many times till we got the knack of easing the main and back-winding the jib .
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Old 12-02-2024, 05:55   #6
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

Even on our 32-foot cruising cat the amount of real estate we took up was hard to get used to, and on some of the bigger cats it is difficult to see and/or judge where the corners are when docking or maneuvering in close. More than once we entered what looked like or we were told was a slip for our cat and we got stuck wedged between the pilings. End dock spaces are your friends! As was pointed out above, the windage above water with lack of boat below water can be a challenge when the wind picks up. The twin engines help a lot with tight maneuvers, but they won't do too much when you've got a strong wind on the beam pushing you towards the dock or out of a narrow marina channel. The other thing that is concerning and dramatic is how much greater the pull is when at anchor. That is offset by using a bridle to keep the bows pointed into the wind, but the strain on the anchor rode will be much higher than a mono of similar length. I couldn't pull our 32-foot cat's anchor rode in by hand in the same wind strength I can pull in our 38-foot mono's anchor rode. Make sure you have a big anchor and get used to setting a bridle every time.
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Old 12-02-2024, 06:48   #7
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

I drove a mid size truck for years, but finally upgraded to a big boy truck, and boy learning to park that thing has been a challenge.
I can imagine parking a cat must be very much the same thing. Judging where the ends and sides are from a single vantage point must take some getting used to.
My truck has the advantage of several camera's and sensors, front and rear, but a cat does not have such luxuries, though could well use them.
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Old 12-02-2024, 07:44   #8
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

It's a twin engine boat. For close quarter maneuvers, there are tips to make it even easier.

1. Keep helm centered and use the gears to maneuver. "Shopping Cart" analogy is helpful: push on right has same steering effect as pull on left. Because of prop walk (see #3 below), pushing one gear forward tends to push the

2. Idle speed is your friend. Bump RPMs carefully. When extra ooomph is needed, a small, sustained increase of RPMs (ex: 200 RPMs for 5-secs) is more effective than a large, short increase (ex. 500 RPM increase for 1-sec).

3. You're probably familiar with Prop Walk, tendency for a prop to pull stern to one side in reverse. Twins have counter rotating props. Left engine is left-hand prop, right engine is right-hand prop which means that while they have prop walk as does your monohull, they are ambidextrous. Exercise: approach a side tie at a 30-45 degree angle. As you get close, put the outboard engine (further from dock) in reverse. This does three things. First, slows the boat. Second, shopping cart effect pulls the stern closer to dock. Third, prop wall of outboard engine also pulls stern towards dock. Modulate RPMs to slow/stop boat.

Congrats on your new boat.
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Old 12-02-2024, 07:56   #9
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

In addition to the good advice already posted, here are my $.02.

Slap Happens. It is usually jarring at first, but you will soon realize it is part of catamaran sailing.

The motion is funky. Monohulls rock us as familiarly as our time in the womb. It is a wonderful, relaxing feeling.
A multihull will never feel enjoyable. At best, it is neither here nor there. At worst, it will make you sick.

Reef earlier and oftener.

Remember to shut your new escape hatches.

Enjoy the spinnaker even more than before. Simple and safe.

Practice steering with the emergency tiller once. Since there are two rudders, figure out how to disable each. I believe your steering is hydraulic, so there will be bypass valves. Also, store your tiller where you can access it. I was recently in gales, lost steering, and could not get to tiller because of the waves breaking over the stern. (It is a good 5 minute yarn)

Inspect your trampoline regularly.

Hip tie your dinghy when at anchor. If you trail it aft, it will tend to bump from one hull to the other during swings.


Good luck. I am a captain and instructor in Key West for the season. Having taught for 25 years, I am positive you will be fine and love the new boat. I hope these tips help.
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Old 12-02-2024, 09:41   #10
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

Quote:
The motion is funky. Monohulls rock us as familiarly as our time in the womb. It is a wonderful, relaxing feeling.
A multihull will never feel enjoyable. At best, it is neither here nor there. At worst, it will make you sick.
Cat motion is definitely different! I wouldn't say it "will never feel enjoyable." We were once anchored in our cat in an exposed place in the Virgin Islands with huge swells rolling in from some distant storm. Our cat just went up and down like on an elevator, while the monos were rolling their guts out. OTOH, I have been anchored with a short quick beam sea that set the cat into snap rolls back and forth since one hull was in the trough just as the other was on the crest. Going to windward some cats have such a quick jerky motion you have to be careful not fall into hard things onboard and it can be hard to stand. Offshore in a storm the motion was so fast that a teakettle on the stove full of water being heated flew straight up and hit the overhead. Of course, those are unusual motions that would all be much better on a much bigger cat.
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Old 12-02-2024, 10:09   #11
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

I've been anchored in places in a monohull, where the outgoing tide opposes the wind, causing the boat to take a weird slant to the waves.
Rolled the fillings out of my teeth. Utter misery !!!
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Old 12-02-2024, 12:57   #12
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

I don't buy the monohull being enjoyable and cats not part either, they are different.

Square running on a cat is great, on a mono you can roll, broad reaching on a cat is great and again on a mono you tend to broach and heel every quartering wave.

Beam seas are different. I try and avoid going directly across beams seas, to the extent of sailing a little high for a while and then a little lower than a beam reach. This is one area where cats do not shine, pulling one hull then another over the seas, but if you are clever you can choose a slightly different course and improve the motion.

Going to windward, many cats can hobbyhorse a bit, but this is really a function of most production cats having lots of weight up high and in the ends. There are lots of cats that don't hobby horse any more than a good mono because the weight is kept low and in the centre of the boat. Keep the dinghy light!

I would also advise that you consider installing preventers (for want of a better word). MOst cats have pretty awful sheeting for dead downwind sailing, where the traveller ends much too soon and the main needs to be eased off much more. So these cats need a husky tackle led to the stern outboard quarte to help pull the twist out of the main sailing downwind. If you don't the main will chafe on the shrouds very quickly.

Get to love the kite, I like a symmetrical for deep running and a Code 0 for reaching but on a cat you can fly the kite heaps more than no a monon because it does not exacerbate rolling and the lack of a pole makes things easier. Sailing dead square under a symmetrical led from each bow is a great feeling, the boat loves it.

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Old 12-02-2024, 15:14   #13
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

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I don't buy the monohull being enjoyable and cats not part either, they are different.
If you enjoy the feel of sailing a well-tuned boat most cruising cats lose vs many monohulls. There is nothing like the feel of a well-tuned mono, heeled over, hard on the wind, slicing through the seas, working its way to windward. Especially if you have a tiller! OTOH doing that in a big cruising cat is more like driving a bus over a bumpy road with potholes.
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Old 13-02-2024, 06:25   #14
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
If you enjoy the feel of sailing a well-tuned boat most cruising cats lose vs many monohulls. There is nothing like the feel of a well-tuned mono, heeled over, hard on the wind, slicing through the seas, working its way to windward. Especially if you have a tiller! OTOH doing that in a big cruising cat is more like driving a bus over a bumpy road with potholes.
Yes, it’s true. And that’s before we get the slamming of the bridge deck into waves, when all h@II breaks loose.

Where a cat wins hands down is a dead run. They can fly a big symmetric spinnaker with two sheets from the bows without any of the foreguys, spinnaker booms etc. to deal with.

A broad reach is also very good with a cat but some monohulls will match the experience. When we come to a reach and closer to the wind, more and more monohulls will provide a better experience over a cat.

Of course I have seen cats do very well to windward. Good videos from YoungBarnacles YouTube channel. But when the weather gets a little sportier, the advantage flips straight over to the monohull.

Still, I would consider both worlds and can think of many scenarios where I would choose a catamaran.
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Old 13-02-2024, 10:55   #15
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Re: Best way to transition from monohull to multihull

Downwind and anchored are certainly situations where a cat beats a mono.

My post stated, “A multihull will never feel enjoyable. At best, it is neither here nor there.”

For me, being stable is “neither here nor there”, even if it is better than a rolling monohull.

Nonetheless, I retract my statement. Who am I to know what someone else will enjoy? Also, it was a bit bold to use the word “never”.
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