Catamaran vs. Monohull – Comparisons to Consider

Catamarans, which are also referred to as multi-hulls, can be power by either sails or engines. They are basically two hulls joined by a frame.

A catamaran has outstanding overall stability and maneuverability and it also holds a speed advantage. Because of it’s design which includes an engine on each hull and a fantastically shallow draft, a cat can turn on a dime, take you into shallower waters and allow you to anchor closer to shore than your average monohull.

The catamaran’s design enables living and entertaining space on practically the same level. Instead of going down to the salon/cabin area of a monohull, one can walk in to the bright, spacious salon with an eye-level window view comparable to being on deck. While the design allows one to feel connected to the cruising experience throughout the boat, it also provides the utmost privacy with it’s cabin layout. Sound does not travel from cabin to cabin ensuring peace and quiet when it’s time to turn in.

A catamarans seems like a fantastic choice so far, but in the interest of fairness, it is now time to touch on the disadvantages as well.

Cats tend to be harder to turn into the wind, or tack, while under power. Due to the proportion of weight to sail size, they have less momentum to carry them through. In rough seas, one may also experience the catamaran’s ‘slap-factor’. Because of the space between the water and the bottom of the deck floor, when seas get rough, the water can slap the bottom of the boat. This can be somewhat disconcerting to inexperienced boaters as it can often sound (and feel) like the boat is being beaten to pieces.

The roominess advantage of a catamaran can sometimes be turned into a disadvantage when considering docking or storage. Some marinas can not accommodate the size of a cat which reduces your options for docking and storage locations. The marinas that can store and dock a catamaran usually charge accordingly.

Capsizing in a side to side manner, or beam-wise, in a catamaran is an extremely rare occurrence. However, their design can allow the bow to dip under water in extreme conditions, causing the boat to flip over. On a more positive note, the same design that allows for a capsize also creates a virtually unsinkable vessel, which is a definite advantage.

A catamaran will most likely cost you more to purchase up front than a comparable monohull, however, considering how well they hold their value, they are a sound choice especially if you are considering resale in the future.

Catamarans aren’t for everyone. When considering a purchase, be sure you know the facts as well as your own boating abilities and limitations. Remember, an informed decision is a good decision.

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