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stinger9 03-03-2017 02:10 AM

Cruising Catamarans Fact or Fiction
After reaching retirement and visions of buying a boat and sailÖ. (You know the story) Murphy raised his head. A number of medical issues arose including a hip that became arthritic and an ankle which I managed to break in three places meant that a sailing off into the sunset on a boat that required a lot of heeling was now a potential nightmare for me. A friend suggested that I look at multihulls as an alternative. So, I started to do some research and found that this may be my answer however there appears to be little current info available. I have listed some issues which I do not know if fact or fiction.
  1. The length of a Cruising Catamaran should not be less than 40 foot if planning extended journeys such as over 6 months travelling around the Mediterranean,
  2. Marinas charge 1.5 to 2 times for Catamarans over monohulls and berths are at a premium,
  3. Due to the manufacture and setup of Catamarans it is very difficult to access electrical and plumbing. There are a number of tales of people wanting to install solar or a washing machine on Lagoon or Leopard boats that did not have access points to run the respective lines. Granted they were pre-2010 boats.
  4. Catamarans with beams of 7 metres find it very difficult to find lifts or places to dry dock for maintenance. Info suggests the most only cater for 6 metre and below.
  5. Putting aside the twin engines and steering the cost maintenance of a Cruising Catamaran is no more expensive than a monohulls. Whilst on this point is it better to have a hydraulic rudder arm or mechanical between the two rudders? Have heard the latter is preferred?
  6. Catamarans have higher stress around the mast with some boats get cracking on the deck around the mast. I guess this refers to the mast not heeling on catamarans to take that stress.
  7. Catamarans are cheaper to buy in Europe than elsewhere. I donít know if this is due to the high volume of charter boats that come onto the market.
  8. Cruising Catamarans do not depreciate as much as other boats due to supply and demand unless ex charter.
  9. Catamarans are very maneuverable under engine power and pivot at the stern rather than in the middle, and finally
  10. You can learn to sail or get your qualifications in a catamaran without having to do monohull training.
I would appreciate your thoughts and heads up on any contempory reading material I can get my hands on. As I am a newbie looking in on Cruising Catamarans rather than a seasoned Cat person I apologize in advance if any of these questions appear naÔve.

haiqu 03-03-2017 08:00 AM

Hi Stinger9 and welcome to CruiserLog. I'm currently looking at cats as well, and can clarify some of these for you.

  1. I'd suggest more like 34' as a minimum for a small family. The main limiter is the size of water and fuel tankage from what I've seen so far. For instance a Beneteau Blue II or a Prout Snowgoose 34 would be a fine cruiser at that size.
  2. True.
  3. Access to wiring and plumbing can be poor on any yacht so not a point of difference there.
  4. Many yards don't use lifts or cranes so width isn't an issue. Look for a yard that runs a trolley under the yacht and rolls her up the ramp instead. Or simply beach the cat for paint and repairs.
  5. False. Due to the surface area of the hull maintenance can be double for paint and preparation compared to a monohull of similar length. However you also get double the usable living space too.
  6. True but not usually an issue unless the cat was poorly designed.
  7. One word: Brexit. Exchange rates have dropped like a rock and buying in the UK is very advantageous right now. However watch out for VAT and visa issues in the EU zone, it's a minefield.
  8. True.
  9. A good design can rotate in its own length, so yes.
  10. True.

There are plenty of forums online where people discuss mono vs cat but in the end it comes down to personal choice and needs. If you want one you should have one!

stinger9 03-03-2017 12:42 PM

Thanks Haiqu, hope not for the same reasons as me. Looking at post 2005 boats that are not timber core.

haiqu 03-03-2017 01:52 PM

Naah, I just find leaning all the time to be hard work. If I were 20 years younger it wouldn't matter I suppose.

I doubt that there would be many post-2005 cats with a timber core unless they're old designs that have been home made. Almost all of the production yachts seem to use foam cores now although you will also find strip planked cedar hull designs like the Graingers around.

Auzzee 03-03-2017 03:13 PM

Probably of more importance than length is the shape and size of the hulls. Buoyancy and load matter greatly for clearance of the underdeck above the waves. Narrow hulls and a full cruising load means low clearance. This makes any passage noisy, stressful (on both the hull and sailors) and can make the boat wallow at lower speeds. A water-maker becomes more of a necessity, than a luxury on a small cat, due to the weight of water.
Width is a problem. Have a look at Gemini cats. Their older 35-37 footers are only 14’ wide and can be accommodated in single berths in many marinas, given that many newer monos of 38’ are also 14’ across the beam.
Older boats and electricity can be a huge problem. Newer vessels generally have removable deck head panels…and wiring is often run through 1” conduit, which makes adding a circuit a little easier.
Larger commercial yards with straddle lifts can pick up a decent sized cat. But, old fashioned slips remain the best way to expose the hulls. Either way it’s a pain. A decent tidal movement is your best friend for careening and routine maintenance.
Hydraulics these days are almost bomb-proof and can be run around corners. Mechanical steering is, in my opinion, a poorer option.
I don’t know about the stress on a tabernacle when it comes to cat vs mono. In many cases though, I think stress cracks form on cats as a result of racking in big seas, rather than compression.
There are some reasonably cheap cats here in the US as well as Europe. The only thing I would add is that the ‘Merkins tend to keep their gadgets updated and replace them routinely; whereas the Europeans tend to maintain and only replace when something dies. This is, of course, a broad generalization.
Charter cats are a good deal. They are motored more than sailed and, if the sleeping cabin configuration suits you, they can be a darn good buy. I was looking at some from The Moorings in the Caribbean recently. Nice, well maintained and cheap. Most charter companies limit the grounds in which their boats can cruise. They are usually restricted to protected waters and, as a general rule, don't suffer big seas stress.
Cats are king for maneuvering and sailing in three feet of water.
Sailing a cat and a mono is not so different in practice. Reaching and running are virtually the same. Pointing and tacking takes a slightly different tone, but with boards down (or with stub keels) again, the difference is minimal.
Cats shine coastally. Shallow water, stability, proximity to the beach at anchor are all plusses.
Even hull maintenance is not so big a problem. 2 hulls on a 38’cat don’t require, for instance, as much antifouling paint as an equivalent sized mono with a full keel…and, it can be applied on a beach.
I am a mono sailor, but I just looked at the new Seawind at the Miami Boat Show. I am capable of being swayed.

stinger9 03-04-2017 12:26 AM

Thanks Auzzee, this imput is very helpful. Do you know of any current catamaran books.

Spike_dawg 03-15-2017 04:01 AM

Do not have a look at Gemini's. They are way too narrow, sail poorly, and are unstable.

Look for a beam about 1/2 the length. Look for a high clearance between the ama's (hulls). I had a 20' beam and had no problem hauling out anywhere, though I also just beached in most places (sits on the short keels and rudders...incredibly easy). At 21' beam you need a lift that only few places have. Easier to maintain a cat as you have more space and dedicated spaces for equipment. Look for catamarans that you can access the engines from inside rather than having to go in through a hatch in the stern. Without starting an argument, you are safer in a catamaran when cruising, then in a monohull. You sail faster so can go around weather, have no rolling motion so everything stays where you put it, everything is redundant, most cats are unsinkable, minimal draft, etc. Just my opinion but I have experience in mono's and cats and would never go back to just half a boat.

Auzzee 03-15-2017 01:28 PM

SoggyPaws 03-18-2017 01:56 AM

Re: Cruising Catamarans
We just (in the last couple of years) switched from a monohull to a catamaran. When chosing "the" catamaran, there are a ton of variables, starting with price and construction, and ending with where the engines are mounted, galley up or down, etc.

My husband did a presentation for the Seven Seas Cruising Association on Evaluating Modern Catamarans which you might find helpful. It's available online here: S/V Soggy Paws - Presentations

Sailing around the world... only halfway in 10 years!

Auzzee 03-22-2017 01:00 AM

Thanks Sherry; very helpful.

jean claude reuille 04-28-2022 04:17 AM

Thanks Sherry and Auzzee!

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