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Old 06-08-2020, 18:38   #1
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Can Catamarans handle the cold?

Hello!

My husband and I have just begun researching/preparing/constantly day dreaming towards the goal of living full time on a Catamaran in 8 years time. We both love to travel and have quite a lot of experience doing so but are totally new to the boating community. Our ultimate idea would be sailing to different locations around the world..and staying for however long suited us..for as long as we have the health and happiness to do so. We currently live in the United states, so this would be our eventual starting point. My question is 2 fold.

1. My husband is very set on a big part of our sailing journey including Europe (specifically: Norway, Germany, Ireland, the Mediterranean) Are these locations feasible in a live aboard catamaran?? So far in my research I have only found people sailing there in monohauls.

2. What is the best route to sail to Europe in a Catamaran? I have mostly found Europe to North America routes as I know the winds are much more favorable. So wondering if we would need to come from the East up around Africa?

ps: Please excuse if my question sounds silly, we are total novices in this arena but you have to start somewhere
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Old 06-08-2020, 18:54   #2
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

The parents of a good friend of mine spent a winter on Spitzbergen in their big catamaran Sposmoker II.
Which is built from wood & epoxy as far as I know.

They now live since many years in Southern Chile on the very same boat.
So yes its possible, but you have to pick a suitable boat.
For very up north I'd pick an aluminum boat. Still multihulls below 14m tend to be to heavy when built in metal.

Interesting boats for up north would be for example the Garcia Explorer catamaran or a Bestevaer monohull.

US to Europe you stay north in the west winds. Usually 40-60 degrees north that is.

The weather on the way from the west to the east tends to be tougher than on the barefoot route when heading west.
Mainly due to the higher latitude climate.

For Europe to the Caribbean you take the trade winds from the Canary Islands or Cape Verde Islands.
You have to avoid the Hurricane season though. Leaving late December to early January.
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Old 06-08-2020, 19:17   #3
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

https://www.fountainepajot.com.au/20...and-to-alaska/


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Old 06-08-2020, 19:25   #4
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

https://www.aeroyacht.com/2015/01/21...48-antarctica/


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Old 06-08-2020, 21:43   #5
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

Many brands of cat started life in the UK - Prout, Woods, Iroquois, Wharram, Heavenly Twins, etc. They could all handle the UK and surrounding "summers" where it must get all of 5 degrees above absolute zero - on a good day . Woods himself took a couple of his 23' Striders across from the UK to Russia.

Some of the French cat are designed specifically for it, like those in aluminium from Meta.

I can't think of one reason that a decent boat - cat or mono - can't be made ready and able for the cold. Note that there's a difference between "cold" and "ice"! If you want to go into ice, then steel/aluminium for monos and aluminium for cats are what I'd want. In cats, there are few of aluminium (Banana 43 for example) but there are more being built, but you need lots of money.

Some easy way to get to Europe is glide across to Gibraltar from Africa or take the ferry across the Bosphorus from Asia. After all, you didn't say where you are so we don't know, and this is an international forum! If you happen to be in North America, then there's lots of information about transat's - trans-Atlantic crossings. Search for Bermuda and Azores to get quite a few. Have a look at some pilot charts online, learn about them and what they mean, and do your own due diligence and not (necessarily) just follow the crowd! You may decide Greenland-Iceland is a nicer route for *you*...
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Old 06-08-2020, 22:52   #6
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

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Originally Posted by mcarthur View Post

Some easy way to get to Europe is glide across to Gibraltar from Africa or take the ferry across the Bosphorus from Asia. After all, you didn't say where you are so we don't know, and this is an international forum!

The OP did say
"We currently live in the United states, so this would be our eventual starting point."
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Old 07-08-2020, 02:20   #7
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

Norway although cold is dry. The UK/Germany/Ireland is less cold but damp. The killer on boats in higher latitudes (excluding ice) is condensation.

Good heating (eg Eberspatcher), good insulation and good ventilation are key factors.

A foam sandwich boat will heat up quickly and retain the heat. A solid GRP or metal boat will not.

Special considerations for damp environments is NOT to have hatches over top of berths. Great for the tropics but will drip and drip until all the berths are WET.

You need dry heating (Eberspatcher hydronic) and dry cooking (Wallas diesel). Gas produces condensation.

Closable through flow vents are essential.

This stuff does not come as standard on off the shelf boats.

Sailing out of season is cold and miserable (sailing in season is not always fun Ireland isn't called the emerald isle for no reason) most boats in N.Europe are used six months and then laid up winterised ashore.
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Old 07-08-2020, 02:24   #8
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

They will be significantly more difficult/expensive to heat due to the larger enclosed volume and more windows on the bridge deck. That’s what I have found out over the years. That’s really the only issue.
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Old 07-08-2020, 02:40   #9
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

In winter in the northern Netherlands, we overcame the heating volume issue by curtening off the hulls from the bridge deck.
That way we only needed to heat the areas we did use fully at a given time of the day.
It's not ideal but it made it more bearable, even on an uninsulated plywood boat.
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Old 07-08-2020, 02:45   #10
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

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Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
In winter in the northern Netherlands, we overcame the heating volume issue by curtening off the hulls from the bridge deck.
That way we only needed to heat the areas we did use fully at a given time of the day.
It's not ideal but it made it more bearable, even on an uninsulated plywood boat.
Unless the curtains are air tight, this is not a good idea. It creates a lot of condensation and mold when warm, moist air reaches the cool surfaces in the unheated areas.

Yes, it works, but I just want to caution anyone trying it that there is a downside unless it’s completely airtight.
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Old 07-08-2020, 04:47   #11
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

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Originally Posted by mcarthur View Post
Many brands of cat started life in the UK - Prout, Woods, Iroquois, Wharram, Heavenly Twins, etc. They could all handle the UK and surrounding "summers" where it must get all of 5 degrees above absolute zero - on a good day .
Below todays weather in Southern England, might be able to take the gloves and woolly hat off for once

Temperatures in winter for England vary between 50F and 30F, sometimes, once in a decade it might snow, so a real treat.

We spent last Christmas on board in a marina which means cheap rates in the UK. Plugged into shore power with electric heating and a dehumidifier we had a great time. In between the low pressure systems that come across from the US, there are often periods of high pressure, so cool with bright sunshine and light winds to go go sailing and no crowds.

Europe is generally hotter in the summer and very pleasant due to the large land mass and colder in the winter. German and French canals often freeze. The med a little warmer but wet and windy until the Spring. Eastern Med very hot (too hot for us) in July and August.

So explore from spring to summer from Norway to Tunisia on board and then park during the depths of winter and travel on trains or car hire to see the sites of Europe's capitals.

So yes do have insulation fitted, with diesel heating and then add mains electric heating too. AC not needed. You will need to think about which voltage to run the boat on as its different from the US, but not the end of the world and lots of advice on here.

Of course there are some folk who sail northern Norway during the winter on little boats:
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Old 07-08-2020, 05:49   #12
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

This has been discussed: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ers-47613.html

When we were researching boats, we visited a couple on a cat staying in Victoria, BC and they had space-heaters and power cords running all over the boat - so it can be a challenge to keep the boat warm.
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Old 07-08-2020, 10:27   #13
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

Wanderlust:

The question is not whether catamarans can "handle the cold". All boats that I know of, multihull or monohull, can handle any amount of cold you, as novice sailors (or even after gaining experience) could possibly offer it. The REAL question is whether YOU can handle the cold :-)!

You don't say where you are located currently - other than it is in the US. If you are currently in, uhm..., Florida, you'd probably have to develop some entirely new personal habits and review/modify your current personal likes and dislikes. If you are in Alaska, the need to "reinvent" yourselves in order to be happy celebrating X-mas in, say, Trondheim would be rather less!

Your problem seems to be two-fold:

1) You don't know what the "sailing routes" are. Not to worry, before you will be ready to actually sail along them, you'll have plenty of time to study up on them and learn why they are what they are. Since the mid 17th Century British sailing ship masters were required to report to the British Board of Trade ("Department of Commerce", essentially) what sailing conditions (wind and wave) they found each day in their progress from "A" to "B" around the globe.

From that "body of knowledge" grew a system of publications that tell sailing ship masters, including yotties, not only how to get from ANY "A" to ANY "B" in the shortest possible time, but also how to stay away, as far as possible, from any dangers. The latter knowledge is found in a compendium of books called "Pilots" that describe any coast you might encounter complete with sketches of prominent landmarks. I highly recommend that you google for these things as a preliminary to any consideration of leaving the US as skipper of your own vessel - cat or mono.

Go here to get a start on your studies. Be prepared for a long, steep climb :-)!

https://www.admiralty.co.uk/publicat...l-publications


2) Your second problem appears to be that you are not familiar with boats as "dwellings". NOTHING you know about shoreside dwellings and their construction is "portable" to boats. Regardless of where in the world your boat happens to be, you have only TWO considerations: a) keeping its interior dry and b) keeping its interior temperature within a range that is comfortable for human beings.

Keeping the interior dry is most easily accomplished by keeping the boat's interior temperature equal to the ambient outside temperature. That in turn is best accomplished by keeping air flowing through the interior of the boat, i.e. by ventilating it. No need for air-conditioning. Just ventilate the boat. That prevents condensation within the boast for reasons most of us became acquainted with in high school physics class. A serious source of condensation is peoples' breathing and sweating. Ventilation is therefore important as a prophylactic against the fug and the pong that is the inevitable consequence of people breathing and sweating in a very small space.

Heating of the boat militates against keeping it dry. So don't heat it. I understand that some people go to sleep high up on the slopes of Mt.McKinley and wake up hale and hearty in the morning. It's all in how you dress. My wife and I have slept comfortably in TrentePieds with the temperature, above and below decks, in the mid-30s (F). It's all in how you dress.

Anyway, you say you still have eight years to learn about all these exotic things, so learning them shouldn't be a problem :-). But do get a start now. Being a good skipper requires a vast amount of knowledge that is neither intuitive not commonly part of a landsman's knowledge. Most of the knowledge is acquired through book learning and hard study, not through the actual sailing. Sailing is just the practical application of the book learning.

So stick around here and soak up what you can from the old hands. But don't neglect the books :-)

All the best to you!

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Old 07-08-2020, 10:29   #14
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

I have spent winters on my cat, the cold/snow is not a problem, just like any other boat...only problem in some places is finding marina space
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Old 07-08-2020, 14:23   #15
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Re: Can Catamarans handle the cold?

From USA to Europ the nothern route, catching the sometimes troubled westwind belt and stoping at the Azores - from Europ back the southern route, stoping at the Canarys to the southern Caribean Islands, enjoying the more reliable trade winds.

Capt. Claus - ocean tramp of the eighties
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