Catamarans For Sailing
Although a relatively recent introduction to Western boat design, catamarans and other multi–hulled vessels have quickly become a popular choice for Australian recreational and sports sailors. But is a catamaran the right boat choice for you?
Originally devised as stable wooden canoes for fishing and sea travel across the islands by the seafaring peoples of Oceania and the Indian Ocean, catamarans consist of two hulls or vakas joined by a structure (usually a frame, formed of akas).
Catamarans were initially dismissed by skeptical Western sailors unfamiliar with the concept of boat balance through weight distribution and multi-hull design. After extensive competition success, catamarans gained widespread acceptance across the marine industry and are now deployed as high speed ferries and super yachts due to their speed, stability and large capacity.
Why Choose A Catamaran?
Sail or engine powered, catamarans offer an unparalleled ocean experience. Whether sailing, motoring, cooking, eating, anchoring, relaxing, sleeping or live-aboard for long distance cruising circles - here are just some of their many advantages…
If you've ever sailed a mono-hull boat, you'll find you can sail a catamaran very easily. With twin engines it makes maneuvering very simple and their stability makes them a popular choice for short-handed sailors.
Cruising cats remain level when sailing and rarely heel more than 5 degrees (usually less) and provide a stable platform when anchored. The platform is attractive to non-sailors especially, without nearly as much lateral roll - most of your friends, family and loved ones are less likely to get sea sick. When anchored there is minimal heeling or rolling in anchorages, enabling an easier off shore passage and a quieter, more comfortable night's sleep! Should the weather become unfavorable, reefing can be done safely without the mono-hull risks of a slippery, sloping deck.
Due to the hull shape and design, catamarans are typically lighter and have less displacement and drag than mono-hulls. Production built cats can sail at speeds 20-50% faster than similar mono-hull boats and tend to be more fuel-efficient. The twin hull design allows for significant reductions in water resistance resulting in virtually unsinkable ships that can run steadily and at nearly full power in very rough seas or conditions.
Catamarans also have superior LOA (length overall) space for entertaining and living compared to their mono-hull counterparts and are fast becoming the more popular choice for charter fleets worldwide. With an abundance of extra space above and below with wide side decks, these vessels are excellent for storage and can comfortably accommodate all of your family and friends in one-level living.
You can increase your choice of anchorages and enjoy anchoring conveniently closer to shore in scenic and shallow waters, as catamarans have a much shallower draft (or keel below the waterline) than mono-hulls. Getting in close to shore means better marine protection and a safer, more comfortable anchorage and with the shoal draft keels, the catamaran can even be beached without damage.
And finally, modern cruising catamarans are virtually unsinkable. With light weight FRP/foam construction and twin hulls, even serious damage is unlikely to affect the sailing performance as the boat remains buoyant ensuring the safety of the crew, your friends or family no matter what the conditions.
So as Australians increasingly take to multi-hulls and you ask yourself the question: why choose a cat for cruising, maybe you should be instead asking yourself - why not?
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