The Pros and Cons of Catamarans
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.
There are many advantages to owning a catamaran over a monohull. The most obvious advantage is overall stability. Because of the catamaran’s design it does not heel underway and will not roll while anchored which adds to it’s comfort factor and all but eliminates sea-sickness. There is no debate over the fact that cats are faster than monohulls under power or sail. They also have outstanding maneuverability. With an engine on each hull, a catamaran can pivot around within a space equal to it’s length. Additionally, with it’s shallow draft, one can often reach places inaccessible to monohulls and anchor closer to shore as well.
The advantages don’t stop with performance. A catamaran will keep you connected to your cruising environment with it’s level layout. Because there is minimal descent to ‘below deck’, the windows in the galley and entertainment areas are at eye level, which create a light and open feeling while allowing you to enjoy almost as much of the scenery as you would above deck. The open design does not infringe on your privacy though. The layout prevents sound from traveling from cabin to cabin, ensuring a quiet retirement every evening.
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.
Although the roominess of a cat is a big advantage over a monohull, it can be a disadvantage when it comes to docking and storing the boat. Many marinas can not accommodate the width of a catamaran, and the ones that can often charge a higher fee to dock or store them.
Although a catamaran is almost impossible to sink, it has been known to capsize in situations which the bow sinks under the water and the boat flips over. Capsizing in a beam-wise, or side to side manner is almost unheard of, and due to the two-hull design, unless both hulls are completely destroyed, it’s going to float.
Monohulls are comparatively cheaper to purchase but keep in mind, you get what you pay for. A catamaran will hold much of it’s value through the years making it very desirable in terms of resale value.
The best decisions are made by carefully weighing your options. After taking the facts into consideration, you may just find that a catamaran is right for you.
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