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Old 10-05-2021, 05:12   #1
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Visibility from Catamaran

I have always sailed monohulls but have an interest in learning more about Cats. Recently I spent a day sailing with a friend on a midsize cruising catamaran. I did learn a lot about cats. One issue I had never considered before was the total lack of forward visibility through the headsail. This boat had the common high steering station and there was no way to see under, around, through etc the headsail. On a mono it is usually easy to take a peek from the leeward side and look under the sail to see whatís coming. Seems kind of an undesirable situation to me. Is this a common setup on Cats? How do these sailors keep an eye out for other boats approaching from behind the sail? I know that I had never figured this out and will now plan on doing a better job of avoiding approaching a Cat from behind the sails.
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Old 10-05-2021, 06:04   #2
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That's why Cat sailors like radar..
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Old 10-05-2021, 08:03   #3
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

Well on sailing dinghies with genoa jibs you don't have the luxury of going to lee side to see what's coming, they put a window in the jib (and the main). The carbon fiber reinforced plastic panels available now days would last a lot longer and stretch less than the old vinyl windows. If you are on a fly bridge cat with autopilot you can duck over to lee side easily. In a semi fly you can duck down and look through the forward salon windows as most cat jibs are not deck sweepers.
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Old 10-05-2021, 10:56   #4
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

Not all cats have the high helm, but seeing though sails be it a spinnaker, genoa, parasailor or main does require an occasional shifting of position. Many salon windows are at deck level allowing a near unobstructed view from the salon and there some cats have navigation instruments to adjust autopilot from the salon as well. On passage we do a 20 minute required check of radar, AIS and binocular along the horizon to verify we are craft free, and if not on AIS we will keep an eye out until we safely pass. Obviously much more attentive when near land or in port.
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Old 10-05-2021, 11:40   #5
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

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Originally Posted by Peeew View Post
... On a mono it is usually easy to take a peek from the leeward side and look under the sail to see whatís coming...

You answered your own question - leave the usual helm position and go down to leeward to see whatís there. Or walk up to one of the bows.

No different mono vs cat.
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Old 10-05-2021, 11:49   #6
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

depending on the cut of the sail there is a blind spot on many boats not just catamarans


the normal way to deal with this is to install a gyro compensated camera atop the mast with automatic panoramic scanning object detection
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Old 10-05-2021, 12:14   #7
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

On my cat if you are sitting in the cockpit you can see very well under the sails. For any decent length trip the autopilot is your friend. You can sit drinking your tea or soda and have great visibility. It is also good to move around the boat. I use the autopilot as an extra crewman. I can be adjusting the trim, looking around, and tidying up all while keeping a perfect course.

I have been thinking of getting an autopilot remote so that when we are up at the trampoline looking for lobster pots we can +10 deg /-10 deg around them.

Cheers,
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Old 10-05-2021, 12:20   #8
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

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Originally Posted by Peeew View Post
How do these sailors keep an eye out for other boats approaching from behind the sail? I know that I had never figured this out and will now plan on doing a better job of avoiding approaching a Cat from behind the sails.
You do know that this is why there are stand on/stand off rules.......... Um, right??
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Old 10-05-2021, 14:35   #9
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

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Originally Posted by seandepagnier View Post
depending on the cut of the sail there is a blind spot on many boats not just catamarans


the normal way to deal with this is to install a gyro compensated camera atop the mast with automatic panoramic scanning object detection


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Old 10-05-2021, 15:04   #10
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

From above “ You do know that this is why there are stand on/stand off rules.......... Um, right??”
That’s the question. If the other boat can’t see you.. I realize that they should be looking around, walking below if needed. But doesn’t always seem to be the case. I’m using the general idea that if I can’t see the person on the helm they probably can’t see me. But this requires a pretty close approach.
Anyway. It is really just food for thought since I have been surprised at the lack of avoidance response sometimes and this might just explain some. As I said it was a learning experience for me and it seems odd to design a boat that can’t see where they are going without leaving the helm. Upwind with some leeway and it sure seems that is the case.
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Old 11-05-2021, 12:08   #11
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

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...As I said it was a learning experience for me and it seems odd to design a boat that canít see where they are going without leaving the helm...

Golly gosh, pretty much every sailboat is designed this way! Shock and horror!!

Stand at the tiller or wheel of just about any boat and with a headsail set for close hauled I bet you have got a blind spot behind that sail. Whatís that got to do with catamarans vs monohulls?
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Old 11-05-2021, 12:46   #12
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

If you can't see anyone, assume they can't see you and sail accordingly.
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Old 11-05-2021, 15:49   #13
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

Always sail on a starboard tack, no problem!
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Old 12-05-2021, 15:35   #14
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

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If you can't see anyone, assume they can't see you and sail accordingly.
If you can't see someone, how do you know they're there?
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Old 13-05-2021, 15:05   #15
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Re: Visibility from Catamaran

If you're really worried about visibility, have you considered perhaps adding a camera to the mast and a screen at the helm?

I know running the cable can be a real pain, but the ability to pan and zoom in as well as the birds eye view when docking or watching the shallows seems like it would be well worth it.
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