SeaKnots

Monohull sailboats are obviously the most common for cruisers, but I've noticed a lot more people starting to go with Catamarans recently. Why is this? Is one really better overall then the other? Just looking for opinions, comments; let me know what you think.

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Oh man,are you ever opening up a can of worms. This should be fun!!
Can of worms is true, but why not, and it will be fun. So, herewith my 5 cents worth:

Wether you prefer monohulls, cats, double enders, center cockpits, ketch vs sloop, tiller vs wheel, long keel, fin keel.. it is all a question of personal preferences and what you want to do with your dream yacht and the size. Cats are nowadays probably as seaworthy as monuhulls, at least as of 40' or so. The Gemini 105 (36') was sailed over the Atlantic, the Leopards are sailed from South Africa to the buyer - so they are all capable. The very big advantage I see in a cat is the speed (if you don't overload it), the space, the fact that you do not go downstairs into the basement when you go into the saloon, but rather stay above water and have a 360 degr view and that usually the motions while on a cruise are a lot easier on your body. You can actually leave your drink on the table while you sail.
This aspect, the easier motions, let's me consider to buy a cat down the road. My present yacht is a heavy 41'Moody, extremely seaworthy and built for anywhere you want to go, but my Admiral, who gets motionsick, would prefer a cat because of the movements, or lack of it....Would I keep my Moody? Definitely, but if it makes a difference whether your Admiral enjoys sailing or not, is a major factor as well.
I have sailed only once a cat (52') at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and the speed was impressive, but at no point did I really have the feeling of a sailing yacht, like you get a windgust, the yacht bends slightly leeward and here you go. Cats don't do that, but they have a lot of advantages.
Othere sure have different opinions, and if all would think the same, we all would sail cats, or cats would not even exist...

Michael
SY Sail La Vie
Moody 41
Miami, Florida
Lots of catamarans have voyaged far afield and done well. However, most bluewater, monohull sailors - me included - fear that in a really bad storm, a cat can roll over and not come back up - that's the death knell.
A year or so back Richard Woods was featured having got off his (small) Cat in a storm due to worries that he would be over powered in some very steep seas and strong winds. In fact the boat subsequently survived the storm even though it would have been running down the waves forwards/backwards/sideways with no one at the help to head off a broach or capsize. It was later found in the middle of the pacific, still the correct way up.

The conclusion was that modern cats have huge stability and in fact are very hard to flip over. Back in the 70s there were a bunch of designs which gave the class a bad name. However, since then I think even amongst the racing crowd there have been very few accidents

I attend the start of the World Cruising ARC event and always find it fun watching the different types of boats pack up for the Atlantic crossing. The monohulls always have to stow everything away and talk about only eating hot food intermittently because people don't want to cook underway. The cats all just have normal shelves like you might have in your front room and can be seen just sticking boxes of food on flat surfaces and cook whenever they feel like

My parents have been going around the world in an elderly Privilege 42 for a few years now. To contrast the cat vs mono experience - they rate a particularly rough trip (for example when they described getting through lightening storms and high seas through the Straits of Malacca) as being one which causes the washing up liquid bottle to fall into the sink... They usually sail with their photo frames (ie frames you stand on the table) and a bowl of fruit just sitting on the edge of the main saloon seat. The kettle sits quite happily on the stove the whole time. A cup of tea can be placed on the saloon table during a sale change in strong weather and be where you left if when you get back in.

As a kid I sailed with them and although I owned a set of oilskins I only wore them I think twice. I sailed the boat in a variety of "fairly" strong conditions (eg F8-9 across Biscay and around Ushant) with the boat surfing at 22+ knots with no particular reason to wear more light weight clothing. Much drier than most mono's

Note that a 42 foot cat gets them 5 double cabins, but to be fair only 4 of those cabins get on suite shower and toilet... The 5th cabin has to slum it without a toilet of their own...

I think speed is actually pretty similar between cruising cats and monos though. Cats *can* be way faster, but for a cruising boat you tend to be heavily loaded and the designs usually favour comfort over speed and so most cruising cats are fairly slow (and most people pick fairly heavy mono designs for cruising also for similar reasons).

It used to be claimed that monos point to wind better. They do a bit, but they usually loose out on downwind comfort. Most long distance cruising tends to favour downwind sailing

It's still unknown what to do in a cat in really heavy weather. Accepted experience is that in a mono you battern down the hatches and hope. Probably the boat is without mast, but alive at the end. With a cat you risk capsizing so this doesn't seem to be a sensible plan. On the other hand cats tend to go really fast once the wind picks up. So the more modern suggestion is that you simply outrun the bad weather - at 10-20 knots it's very feasible to simply miss the center of the bad weather. Just to be clear - we are talking about really serious weather, not just it blowing up a bit. With most cats you will tear the mast off well before you come close to capsizing the boat

The big advantage of monos is quality of fit out and lower price... At the end of the day if you are looking for a high spec boat then you get a much better class of fit with most monos and the price is usually significantly lower than a similar sized cat...

So basically rent a bunch of designs and see what works for you! There is a lot to be said for a cat, but they don't suit everyone!
I want to chip in a small point: aesthetics. When I imagine a beautiful yacht under sail, I see a slight heel under full sail and the elegant profile of a monohull, not a cat. I'd love to try sailing a cruising cat, and might even consider owning one if I could afford it, but I would resign myself to the fact that I'd be losing in the "beauty" factor. Face it, a at just simply isn't a pretty or salty looking as a mono.
The Maine Cat 30 has a beautiful line under sail. www.mecat.com
I love catamarans. Sailed Hobies first and loved flying a hull screeching across the bay or surfing waves in the ocean. For cruising we were totally into sloops slicing fast through the waves. Now I love 30 foot catamarans for speed and no need to stow every last thing. It's just a little more civilized.
I like all boats designed with a purpose, though it seems that some boats try to be too many things at once.
Cats are cool, and have a great speed potential.
I'm a mono hull guy with a bit of mulit experience.
I've delivered and raced a Condor 40, and did some race training on a Formula 40 catamaran, though never raced the boat. I was a guest for some day sails with the regular racing crew. Both those boats are pretty fast, with the Formula 40 strictly for day racing.
I grew up sailing a Hobie 16 with my family and now I have a Hobie 18 for fun of which I've flipped the Hobie 16 at least 200 times but have yet to flip the 18, but I will flip the Hobie 18 at least 20 times next spring/summer (I hope).
But the subject is cruising boats. The trend of seeing more multihulls, mostly cruising catamarans have seen some solid gains in popularity. Other than the ultimate disaster of flipping a catamaran over, that type of disaster seems rare, although spectacular. A cat named Cheekey Monkey flipped over just after the start of the 2007 Ft. Lauderdale-Key West Race. I've observed that racing a cat in those conditions were more like sailing with the brakes on to keep the boats from going too fast, with more prudence than you can risk in a monohull. There was also a racing cat that flipped during on of the Port Huron-Mackinaw races where both crew died. One of the most recent multihull accidents was when Franck Cammas & crew flipped his Groupama 3 while attempting a around the world record near New Zealand when a cross beam failed. The crew & boat was rescued and the boat has been repaired in Lorient France.
Don't let me scare you away from a cruising cat. They're different animals and rarely flip and I don't know of any that have flipped.
Another problem I see with catamarans is where to dock them? Most marinas are set up for the dimensions of monohulls and the cats end up on T-piers, quays or moorings. Hauling out is also limited due to the wide beam, and all the big cats need to be hauled with boom cranes.
Cats aren't immune to what ails any boat- If you weigh them down, they go slow.
But I'd love to captain the big new Gunboat

Gunboat at speed:

And the Gunboat 62 sailing video
Hey Pete...great video...I considered a Cat, but scared off about the tipping over and not looking as beautiful as a sailboat mono...I had not thought about the slip problems...but see that could be a problem..they do have a lot of room below it seems
Groupama 3 Salvage video
Playstation going fast in waves
In the club racing world, the Seacart 30 is highly praised
But more of what this group is probably interested in is this series of videos of cruising catamarans:
For the cruising catamaran, the Seawind 1000 seems to have a lot of the features that are attractive to cruising sailors.
Lagoon 420 trans Atlantic crossing average speed 5.9 knots
Charter Catamaran for surfing in Costa Rica
Here's a Gemini 105Mc doing a long cruise passage. The Gemini Catamaran is manufactured near Annapolis, MD USA.
Another thing about multihulls is the quick moments of roll. They can have a bumpy ride, while a monohull will have a smoother roll with less abrupt moments of movement. But of course the monohull will heel over which would bother a cat sailor.
I cruised in monohulls in the Caribbean for about 10 years and I'll stick with them. Think about the fact that catamarans have escape hatches built into the underside of the hull - why would that be?

I was in an anchorage once in Margarita, Venezuela and noticed one hull of a cat had sunk. Reason was that they left the hatch open that was located inside one of the hulls, just inches above the waterline. The anchorage got choppy, they were off the boat and as it took on water, the hatch got lower and it took on enough water to sink that hull to the point where they had all sorts of damage. It's bad enough when you accidentally leave a hatch open and your bunk gets wet - but this goes way beyond that.

For this and other reasons, I'd stick with a monohull. That's real sailing!

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