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Old 28-04-2021, 08:41   #1
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Mono versus Multi

As someone who has ambitions of being a live aboard voyaging cruiser, I've gone through a "process" in which I sought out the boat most suitable for my use based on a list of criteria. Many of those criteria are base on a very low month to month budget. Shallow draft has always been high on my list enabling me to anchor out in places other people might not go, and the ability to dry out to service the hull on a low tide is very attractive, saving unnecessary haul out costs. Comfort anchoring out is important. If you are uncomfortable, you will be driven into a marina (floating trailer park). I like solitude and quiet, and while I do not dislike my fellow humans for the most part, and manage socially, I'm most comfortable when that level of social interaction is low.


I ultimately came to the conclusion which is obvious from what I wrote above, that a multihull is what I need. A monohull simply cannot meet these criteria. Up front cost is a big factor, and that will drive me to owner built ply epoxy boats, and I fundamentally have no issue with this


Ongoing monthly cost considerations dictate a smaller boat. Less upkeep, less boat to scrape and paint, fewer systems to maintain. Various other considerations point to outboard power. I love diesels, and have rebuilt countless diesel engines over the years. It's a large part of what I do, but I do not want to deal with one or two diesels sunk in a narrow compartment with a prop shaft, hoses and through hulls, and a prop dragging in the water all the time. I've toyed with various ways to have a single diesel under a hood on deck, and while it's quite possible, I don't want to invest the time and energy and money.... I want to sail. That points to a single outboard.


I originally looked at monohulls, then at trimarans, and ultimately ended up with the obvious choice of catamarans due to load capacity compared to trimarans (about double). Also the possibility of a bridge deck cabin with full all around view on a level with the cockpit just makes sense.... I would sleep there..... Why live in a hole when anchored in a beautiful and interesting place? I don't mind having a galley and head down below, but I want to see my surroundings. The large cockpit area and lack of rolling will make it possible to actually accomplish things at sea or at anchor you would otherwise not be able to do afloat. I don't need to be surrounded by huge expanses of glass, or to be able to stand up in the cabin or pod. One or more sliders or a pop top would do a lot to mitigate low head room. You can after all stand in the cockpit, or in the hull cabins... at least some of them.



My criteria point to a catamaran at around 30-35 feet long 18-20 ft beam, and about 4000 lb payload. Precious few boats fit these criteria. Not because they cannot, but because the designers focus more on performance than utility, or go over the top with convenience and build a monstrosity with a huge cabin and all sorts of conveniences. I've toyed with building my own... but I really don't want to go there. One designer suggested building one of his smaller designs on the hulls of one of his larger ones with the freeboard cut down to match. The result would have been near perfect, but I don't want to spend years building. I seem to be operating in reverse of everybody else. l read what other people want, and their desires seem always to point toward larger boats. The largest they can afford.... I'm looking in the opposite direction, toward the smallest that will fulfill my criteria.... Of course that is oft repeated advice of the experts, and almost universally ignored.


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Old 28-04-2021, 08:51   #2
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Re: Mono versus Multi

If you have never sailed a short cat you may want to see if you can. Short cats tend to hobby horse quite a bit. They also tend to have lower deck clearance so deck slap/slam is more common. While individual preferences and tolerances vary I find that combination to be a horrible experience especially to windward. I will take a modest heel any day.

Larger cats especially newer larger cats where the owners try to keep the weight out of the bow and stern are much better in that respect but you are specifically looking at short cats.
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Old 28-04-2021, 09:07   #3
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pirate Re: Mono versus Multi

Methinks you need to look at the Wharram Tiki 38..
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Old 28-04-2021, 09:50   #4
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Re: Mono versus Multi

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If you have never sailed a short cat you may want to see if you can. Short cats tend to hobby horse quite a bit. They also tend to have lower deck clearance so deck slap/slam is more common. While individual preferences and tolerances vary I find that combination to be a horrible experience especially to windward. I will take a modest heel any day.

Larger cats especially newer larger cats where the owners try to keep the weight out of the bow and stern are much better in that respect but you are specifically looking at short cats.



The hobbyhorse issue seems to be at least partially caused by design... and of course payload distribution from what I've learned.


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Old 28-04-2021, 09:59   #5
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Re: Mono versus Multi

But the point is well taken regarding scale and comfort. most multihulls are functionally 1.5 larger and expensive than monos of same length. So a 40 foot monohull is like a 30-35 foot catamaran. Problem is that a 30-35 foot catamaran while as spacious at anchor, is much tougher to scale to blue water safety and comfort than a 40 foot mono. Much tougher.
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Old 28-04-2021, 10:02   #6
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Re: Mono versus Multi

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Methinks you need to look at the Wharram Tiki 38..

The T38 is definitely a readily available and relatively inexpensive boat for what it is. It's unfortunate James Wharram never progressed beyond his original designs significantly. There are a number of areas they could be significantly improved. Such as scrapping the canoe sterns and designing a transom stern, and using rigid beams. I don't think there has been shown to be any benefit at all to flexible or lashed beams, unless it is to truck the boats. He also sets the cabin sole much deeper than makes sense to me... at least in the main cabins. Raising the cabin tops a bit and raising the cabin sole would create a lot more space, more visibility, and fewer steps in and out. Richard Wood made the changes James should have made after they parted company. One of his earlier boats, the Mira, including adding inboard wings Mira 35' ocean cruiser by Woods Designs I'd buy one of those in a heartbeat before a T38.


Beggars can't be choosers..... In the end, I'll buy the boat I can make work for me at the time, and that could well be a T38.



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Old 28-04-2021, 10:36   #7
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Re: Mono versus Multi

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But the point is well taken regarding scale and comfort. most multihulls are functionally 1.5 larger and expensive than monos of same length. So a 40 foot monohull is like a 30-35 foot catamaran. Problem is that a 30-35 foot catamaran while as spacious at anchor, is much tougher to scale to blue water safety and comfort than a 40 foot mono. Much tougher.

Different people have different ideas about what constitutes "blue water safety". Many of the older factory built multis are in my opinion dangerously narrow. There is also the problem of them being decked all the way to the bows. The newer owner built designs usually have more bridge deck clearance, and the foredeck beginning far back from the bows, and tend to run 18-20' beam. With proper weight distribution these have proven to be very blue water capable in the 30-35' category. Compared to the older factory builts like the Gemini and Iroquois and the like that though they did cross oceans are not what I would call "blue water capable". It seems that 34' or 35' is the sweet spot where you can get a hull with decent aft berths, and sufficient payload.

The attitude toward multihulls and blue water dates from long ago in the early days. A lot of it is poor design.... Look under the bridge deck on many of them.... no space, and they are going to pound. The problem is that customers want standing head room in the bridge deck cabin. On a small cat, that is impossible without having excessive windage, or too little clearance. There really is no way around that. You have to sacrifice something. My choice would be head room. The FP Maldives handled it well with it's pop top. Bernd Kohler addressed it by putting no less than 3 sliders on his KD860. Edel put a tub in the floor... which is going to pound. James Wharram left his designs with open decks, though sit down pods are allowed on some. The only "magic elixir" is size, hence everybody gravitates toward 40' and larger.



For your entertainment, enjoy this article from the May 1968 Sports Illustrated.... things are much better now. Hey Ho and Up She Rises


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Old 28-04-2021, 11:02   #8
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Re: Mono versus Multi

I gotta say, a 30-35 foot cat is not what I'd call a 'smaller boat'. A 30-35 foot cat is similar to a 45 - 50 foot mono in space and maintenance costs which is on the larger side.

If you are as cost-driven as you say, there are way cheaper ways to get on the water (mostly involving smaller, older monos)

Also if you've spent much time on a boat in bad weather, I'd say standing headroom in the cabin is a must, not a nice to have.
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Old 28-04-2021, 11:06   #9
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Re: Mono versus Multi

I do agree with you though on the 'smallest that will fulfill my criteria' approach rather than the 'largest I can afford'.

It makes way more sense to me.
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Old 28-04-2021, 11:27   #10
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pirate Re: Mono versus Multi

For me the biggest advantage of Wharrams lashed beams are their visibility.. you can see any potential failure and easily remedy before it becomes catastrophic.
Just unlash it and take it off the boat, no needing to take her out of the water and cut through bulkheads etc.. the remaining beams will hold her together afloat in sheltered water.
Not so simple on a condomaran..
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Old 28-04-2021, 11:47   #11
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Re: Mono versus Multi

Im with Boatman on the Wharram. The changes you list seem to be for a better view but sacrifice on the simplicity, safety and seaworthiness of the Wharram design.
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Old 28-04-2021, 11:55   #12
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Re: Mono versus Multi

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I gotta say, a 30-35 foot cat is not what I'd call a 'smaller boat'. A 30-35 foot cat is similar to a 45 - 50 foot mono in space and maintenance costs which is on the larger side.

If you are as cost-driven as you say, there are way cheaper ways to get on the water (mostly involving smaller, older monos)

Also if you've spent much time on a boat in bad weather, I'd say standing headroom in the cabin is a must, not a nice to have.

There generally is standing head room in the hulls and of course in the cockpit... I can live with that.
Older monos are indeed cheaper, in fact often "dirt cheap". As I would hope to live aboard and voyage, the unpleasantness of "living on your ear" for weeks at a time, or constant rolling, will encourage one to avoid long passages, and of course, rolly anchorages will drive one into a marina, driving up ongoing costs. There's a reason the most people are in marinas. The ability to skate into thin water away from the crowds, and to beach the boat to work on it instead of hiring a travel lift and boatyard when it could be avoided, are all offsets that loom large. I'm a do it yourselfer, always have been. Then there is that big storm.... the shallow draft means in theory at least, one can get into places to shelter from it that monos cannot go.
If I were wanting to go day sailing, or on a vacation occasionally and be land based, my perspective would be entirely different.
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Old 28-04-2021, 12:10   #13
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Re: Mono versus Multi

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For me the biggest advantage of Wharrams lashed beams are their visibility.. you can see any potential failure and easily remedy before it becomes catastrophic.
Just unlash it and take it off the boat, no needing to take her out of the water and cut through bulkheads etc.. the remaining beams will hold her together afloat in sheltered water.
Not so simple on a condomaran..

Who's talking about a condomaran? Wharrams have had plenty of wear issues, but that's over time. Rather impressively one survived an Indian Ocean cyclone surprisingly close to the eye with the only really significant breakage being the mast beam... or was it the front beam? I don't remember. They are tough.



The T38 or Tangeroa MK4, either with a pod would probably serve me just fine.... You learn to live with what you have. The latter is a bit small for a pod, in particular considering the fact that in reality their length over all is not representative of their internal space, making the effective space on the T38 probably closer to that of a 33 or 34 footer.


The learning process of boat design has taught designers that being symmetrical fore and aft as Wharrams are more or less, leads to more hobbyhorsing than a more modern design with a transom stern. I believe a lot of the complaints people have about cats arise from pushing them hard on a less than desirable point of sail, which sometimes may be unavoidable, but I suspect often could be alleviated with a dose of seamanship combined with a dose of patience. When you are depending on nature for your motive force, trying to sail to a schedule get impatient and trying to fight your way against conditions is often the wrong thing to do.



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Old 28-04-2021, 12:26   #14
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pirate Re: Mono versus Multi

Regarding the deckpod.. I don't like them at all, much prefer the aerodynamics of a tailored dodger with a drop flap for privacy at anchor..
Easy enough to design and make up, also it can be dropped for heavy weather on passage.
As for the hobby horsing, I can't say that was a problem on my Tiki 21 and 26.. maybe a sail on one rather than listening to hearsay would clarify things more..
Here's a Pic of my Tiki 21 with the cabin to cabin spray hood I knocked up with a drop flap.. preferred sleeping under there to inside the coffin like hulls...
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Old 28-04-2021, 12:36   #15
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Re: Mono versus Multi

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I'd buy one of those in a heartbeat before a T38.
Have you looked at the used boats for sale on Richard Woods website?
https://www.sailingcatamarans.com/in...re-owned-boats
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