Catamarans - advantages and disadvantages
In popular sailing destinations we can see more and more catamarans.
Why are they getting popularity? What are the advantages and disadvantages of multihulls? Which one to choose when you sail with children? Is it easier to maneuver a catamaran or sailboat in narrow marina? Which one is faster? We will try to summarize all those aspects and questions in this article.
Advantages of catamarans
- much more space than on monohulls - cockpit and living room between 2 hulls offer really a great space, it is much more space then on monohulls of the same length. It is important especially in destinations, where a lot of time we spend anchoring and in marinas. It is also of great value, when there are kids onboard - they just love the cubic space!
- more stability, less floating - catamarans are built differently then monohulls and there is little floating on waves. The movements are rather upside-down, which is a good news for crew members who have problems with sea sickness. There is also less tilt of the catamaran sailing in comparison to the monohulls.
- bigger speed - side length of the yacht is twice (2 hulls) as long as in traditional sailing yachts, thanks to that they can sail faster than monohulls. They are generally lighter, because they do not have keel which weighs usually a few hundreds of kilograms.
- smaller draft - lack of keel results also in smaller draft. It is about 1.0 - 1.2 meter in comparison to sailboats which draft is 1.9 - 2.3 m. In sandy bays it gives great possibility to sail closer to the beach or even to put hulls on the ground (this last option is for advanced sailors who know the bay, we do not recommend it, but still it is possible)
- comfortable maneuvering - 2 seperate engines, each on each hull gives absolute comfort in maneuvering in narrow marinas. You can turn around the whole catamaran in 1 place, when you set 1 engine forward and the other backward. There is no risk that wind will push the bow to the left or right without control, because you can always use 2 engines to perfectly nacigate forward or backward, left of right, bow or stern. In sailboats skippers need bow thruster, which are generally weak and not 100% trustful (you can't use them too long). 2 engines minimum 30 HP on both sides of catamaran gives 100% control and safety.
- prestige - for many sailors it is not important, but still - it is true. Catamarans are treated as luxurious vessels, giving prestige for the crew and a skipper (staying on a flybridge). Lagoon 52 or Lagoon 620 coming to the marina will always attract attention of other crews.
Disadvantages of catamarans
- higher price for charter - for all the advantages mentioned above there is a premium to be paid. Charter of catamarans is more expensive than yachts of the same length, sometimes it is 150% more, sometimes 200% or even 300% more.
- expensive marinas - for catamaran (due to its width) crews are charged about 150% of that what pay sailboats of the same length.
- hard to find place in marinas - as for catamarans require 2 times more space than yacht in the marina - it is not easy to find a 2 free places one next to each other in crowded marinas. So book the marinas earlier before coming, if you want to be sure you will find place there.
- availability - despite of higher price for charter and smaller number of them in comparison to sailboats, catamarans are very popular. So when you want to charter a multihull always book them early. They have many fans and year-to-year their popularity grows!
Number of catamarans grows. They are getting more and more popular, especially in the destinations, where there are little marinas and most nights are spent on anchor. So in the Caribbean, Seychelles, Thailand, French Polynesia catamarans stand for almost 50% of charter fleet. In other destinations, such as Croatia, Greece, Italy, Balearics number of monohulls is still higher than catamarans, but also here the trend is clear: more and more catamarans are sailing on the waters of Mediterranean Sea.
We know there are sailors who say they would never put their foot on catamaran (some of us where also of this kind), but we say: try once and then say its not worth sailing. We said so to many sailors and guess what? They loved catamarans. Some of them stopped considering monohulls when chartering a boat.