monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Catamaran vs. Monohull: We Changed, Should You?

Catamaran vs Monohull

There are two schools of thought when it comes to monohull versus catamaran . We have done extensive cruising and lived aboard two monohulls and four catamarans over the past 25+ years . We experienced the good and the bad for both single hull and multihulls first hand. Quite honestly, the pluses for catamarans far outweigh the minuses. There are multiple benefits of catamarans. They are faster, more stable and spacious, and have shallower drafts allowing safer anchorage closer to shore. Being on a stable platform with no heeling cuts down on crew fatigue and seasickness leaving the crew more alert and in control of the vessel. Even novice sailors feel more confident on catamarans.

When we built our monohull Royal Salute in the early 90s, catamarans were not established and were looked upon with extreme suspicion by most cruisers, including ourselves. “Safety and the capsize” issue were always the first things to come up against sailing catamarans. It is a fact that monohulls can get rolled in heavy seas but will right themselves because of the heavy lead keel, and while crew and vessel will be battered, the roll is survivable.

YouTube video

However a catamaran once capsized, will remain upside down (jokingly referring to this state of the catamaran as “reaching its most stable position when upside down”). The inability of a catamaran to self-right was and still is a major bone of contention. However, what is not often discussed is that a monohull has about a 5,000 pound keel of lead that is constantly trying to drag the boat to the bottom of the ocean versus a catamaran that has no ballast and is in most cases with modern catamarans, unsinkable.

So the options are to either sail the world on a boat that, if it springs a leak, will sink like a stone or a vessel that cannot self-right in the event of a capsize but will not sink no matter what. So from a practical point of view, here are our observations over the last 25+ years of living aboard, on the advantages and disadvantages of a catamaran.

ADVANTAGES OF A CATAMARAN

1. speed equals safety.

The speed of a catamaran makes it possible to outrun bad weather. While catamarans do not point as high into the wind as a monohull (or if it does, it makes more leeway or slides sideways), it is about 20% faster than a monohull. This means that even if you sail upwind at a slightly wider angle to the wind than a monohull and have to cover more distance, you will still arrive at your destination long before a monohull.

A modern performance catamaran with daggerboards and good quality sails will point as high as a similar sized monohull. It will point the same as a comparable monohull and sail much faster and therefore arrive at an upwind position much sooner than a the monohull. It is important to note that most of the production catamarans on the market are under-powered and are equipped with standard smaller sails. In lighter breezes many of these designs perform poorly unless fitted with bigger headsails, a Code Zero and a square-top mainsail.

While we believe that more comfortable and safer in rough weather , we have to concede that when the weather gets really bad (60 knots of wind or more) we would personally prefer to be on a monohull from the standpoint of surviving. I would say that a monohull is preferable for serious offshore single-handed sailing because you can more easily hove-to in a monohull. We have been in some extreme weather on a number of catamarans and never really felt that we were in danger, although it takes some nifty seamanship.

A monohull could capsize in extreme weather or even roll in a storm, but they generally come back upright. A catamaran on the other hand, will not right itself. But the cat will generally stay afloat, offering a good place to survive while you wait out the storm or until help comes along. Well-designed modern catamarans are very hard to capsize though.

Having said all that, most catamarans can do 200 to 250 miles a day and with modern technology allowing one to pull down weather at will, there is no good reason why you should get caught in extreme weather. A faster boat is a safer boat as it will in many cases be able to outrun bad weather. With good weather routing information a catamaran can avoid most serious weather and, at worst, place itself in the most favorable position to avoid the brunt of a storm.

2. A Catamaran is a Stable, Safe Platform Underway

Catamarans have no ballast in the keels like monohulls do and therefor it relies on beam and buoyancy for stability. Typically cruising catamarans will have a beam to length ratio of roughly 50%, although many designs nowadays exceed the 50% rule of thumb. So, a 45-ft long catamaran will be about 22-ft wide, providing a very stable platform when sailing. Unlike catamarans, monohulls cannot overcome the rolling and pitching with their narrow beam and the lead ballast for stability.

This rolling and pitching makes the deck on a monohull very unsafe whereas on walking around on the deck of a catamaran while underway is far easier since the boat is much more stable, and it doesn’t heel. This makes sail changes and reefing much easier and a lot safer for the crew. Without the rolling and pitching motion, the danger of falling overboard on a catamaran is considerably less than on a monohull.

3. Crew Fatigue Reduces on a Catamaran

Because a catamaran does not heel over like a monohull, it offers far more comfort underway because the motion is mostly fore and aft pitching and very little beam-to-beam rolling. On all points of sail, a catamaran tracks upright and significantly reduces crew fatigue and seasickness. Seasickness is usually caused by things like anxiety, fatigue, hunger and cold, which all add to a sense of disorientation. This leads the crew to making bad decisions and seamanship errors that could be fatal to the crew and vessel. The more stable platform of the catamaran will hugely keep those issues at bay, making the crew more alert and energized.

Every action and chore including cooking is much easier on a catamaran when underway. It is much more pleasant to be on the deck level looking out rather than being stuck “down below.” It is also much nicer to sleep on a boat that doesn’t heel. I remember nights at sea in our monohull when I was rolling around in my bunk unless I was properly wedge in a little corner. That is simply not the case on catamarans.

All these factors ensure that your crew will not expend unnecessary energy to simply try and stay upright, onboard and safe on a long passage. Your crew on a catamaran will be well rested and alert and will be able to function well if a stressful situation arises.

4. Comfort at Anchor

Catamarans provide a wide platform and therefore offer lovely spaces to relax at anchor without the rolling motion that monohulls have a tendency to do in a swell. During our 15 years of cruising on a monohull, we have often had to leave anchorages that we really were not finished exploring because of a rolly, uncomfortable anchorage. Big rollers or swells coming into an anchorage can make conditions in an anchorage very uncomfortable and unsafe.

We were anchored off Funchal on the island of Madeira in our monohull Royal Salute once, when we were forced to leave our anchorage. The rolling became so bad, we were rolling from gunnel to gunnel. The anchorage became untenable to remain anchored, forcing us to go out to sea in foul weather in the middle of the night. This is an extreme case but believe me, we have left many an idyllic anchorage because of a rolling swell into the anchorage. Catamarans, on the other hand, do not roll from like monohulls have a tendency to do and are far more comfortable at anchor.

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

5. Anchor Bridal Setup

Lagoon 450S named Zuri

Catamarans are fitted with a bridle, attached to both bows and down to the anchor chain, resulting in a very stable position at anchor. What we found with our monohull was that because the bow acts as a sail (because of the high freeboard), the boat tended to sail at anchor in high winds. It sailed in one direction until the chain snatched and tacked over and sailed in the other direction, feeling like it might dislodge the anchor altogether. The catamaran on the other hand sits at anchor a lot more stable and doesn’t sail around as much.

6. Ease of Boarding on a Catamaran

Thank goodness we were much younger and more agile during our monohull days. Royal Salute and most monohulls of her generation or older, have high free-boards, making it quite a feat to get onto the boat from the dinghy. It was one of the most challenging things to do because unlike the more modern monohulls that have a scoop at the back, we had to climb up on the side of the boat to get on and off. We, of course rigged steps, etc. but it was always a hassle compared to the ease of getting on and off a catamaran from a dingy or from the water.

7. Shallow Draft Equals Better Anchorages

Catamarans have significantly shallower drafts than monohulls, allowing for safer anchorages closer to shore. Most catamarans in the 40-ft to 50-ft range draw between 3-ft to 4.5-ft, so they can anchor in places that a monohulls can not even consider. In the shallow waters of the Bahamas for example, the catamarans have a big advantage. We often anchor our own catamaran just a few feet away from a beach. It definitely allows one to be able to explore areas where the water is shallow without the fear of running aground.

The shallow draft also allows for emergency repairs in shallow water and even doing the bottom job when the tide goes out as we have done in places like Mtwapa Creek in Kenya, East Africa. The catamaran easily rests on her keels on the sand without help making it a breeze to do the “annual haul out” even in remote locations.

Bali catamaran anchored

8. Dinghy Davits & Dinghy Size

All catamarans have a set of davits that make it very easy to raise and lower the dingy. Our monohull and most cruising monohulls do not have an efficient or easily accessible set of davits. This makes raising and lowering the dingy an elaborate production. Catamarans on the other hand, has davits systems easily accessible and some even have platforms to rest the dinghy on.

The lack of beam and difficulty of lifting the dinghy also limits the size and type of dingy that one can reasonably carry on a monohull. As we all know, the dingy is your transport to and from shore and diving or fishing spots, so the bigger and faster the dingy, the better off you are. A catamaran can carry both a heavier and bigger dinghy which makes the popular center consul dinghy so much more possible.

lagoon 450 cruising catamaran

9. Interior Space and Comfort on a Catamaran

We sailed 32,000 NM on our 45-ft monohull, happy as clams, not realizing that sailing does not have to be done lying on your ear 24/7 while on passage or sitting knee-to-knee in the cockpit at anchor with your two other guests at the dinner table! One can liken sitting in a monohull cockpit to sitting in an empty Jacuzzi, you are always nice and close to the other folks.

Now that we are on our fourth catamaran, there are a few things that have become more evident to us than the incredible space and comfort of a catamaran, not only at anchor but also underway. The cockpit and living space in general are huge compared to a monohull, making for very comfortable and spacious living conditions. It feels more like you are at home, rather than just on a camping trip.

Knowing that one spends at least 90% of one’s cruising life at anchor, it’s important to have good open living space, which most modern cats nowadays offer. A lot of cats have walk around beds, lots of storage, every modern appliance including washer/dryer, etc. However, one has to fight the urge to fill the space if you want to keep the cat light and fast.

Lagoon 450 Salon

Sailing with guests onboard for extended periods of time, in close quarters can become claustrophobic but on a catamaran people are spread out and separated. With guests sleeping in one hull and the owners in another, catamarans offer much more privacy and separation. Some cats even have privacy doors that will close off the entire hull and has a separate entrance onto the deck, which really separates you from the guests completely.

There is very little heeling on a catamaran, so there is no need for hand grips and safety harnesses inside the boat. There is nothing better (and safer) than being able to walk from the cockpit into the living room (saloon) on one level or one step down at most. In a monohull, when heeling at a severe angle, you would have to claw your way from the companionway steps down to the living area, while fighting to stay upright, significantly tapping your energy.

Unless you hit extreme conditions, everything stays put on a catamaran reducing the anxiety before doing passages of having to stow and secure everything. This very issue makes a lot of cruisers reluctant to weigh anchor and explore more often. It is just too much effort to pack away all your stuff once comfortable in an anchorage!

One thing you will notice is that the stove on catamarans are not gimbaled like it is on monohulls and this should tell the story in itself. The stability and comfort on a catamaran is far superior. Cooking is easy and safer. I often open a nice cold beer, put it down to do something and forget about it only to find a warm beer later in the same place I left it. This is not something that happens on a monohull.     

Lagoon 450 Owners cabin

10. Redundancy on a Catamaran

Unlike monohulls, catamarans have a lot of critical redundancies. That of course means two hulls to clean and anti-foul, double the engine maintenance, etc. but having two of the critical equipment like engines for instance, outweighs the downside.

With two engines, if one fails you still have adequate propulsion to go anywhere. If by some fluke the second engine also fails, you have a full set of spares to fix at least one of them. Our friends once hit a sleeping whale off Tanzania, and when it dove, it hit the prop, bending it. They limped into the narrow channel on the one engine but at least they could make it to a safe harbor where we surveyed and repaired their damage.

We often only use one engine when motoring while making passage in order to conserve our fuel. The one engine is totally capable of moving the boat along at a good speed unless you are in heavy seas and you may need more power. Other than that we only use two engines to dock or maneuver the boat in close quarters.

Because there are two engines there are also two independent charging systems via the alternator on each engine. If one alternator goes out, there is still another complete charging system. There are two rudders and if one fails or falls off (as has happened to our friends on a monohull off Columbia, where they almost lost their boat) you have a second rudder that is completely capable of steering the boat by itself indefinitely. That holds true for several things on a catamaran!     

11. Maneuverability

The engines are spaced far apart on a catamaran and it makes maneuvering much easier and more precise than monohulls, unless the monohull has a bow thruster. We did not have a bow thruster (not many monohulls do) and had to rely on prop-walk and using prop wash on the rudder. A modern catamaran can do a 360 turn on her own axis. A monohull cannot do this and have a bigger turning circle. However, a monohull under sail is much more maneuverable and certainly will tack a lot faster than a catamaran. The ease in maneuverability under engine on a catamaran in close quarters specifically, is vastly superior comparatively.

12. Rigging

Because of the beam on a catamaran the spinnaker pole has become unnecessary equipment. Hallelujah, I say. That pole on our monohull was a pain the behind and I always hated having to use it. On a catamaran, one can fly an asymmetrical cruising chute or spinnaker, using the bows to tack the clew or run a guy through a block so it is very much simplified, easier and safer.We also sail wing-on-wing with twin headsails when we sail downwind. We use our furling jib and furling Code Zero. It is as easy as one, two, three.

DISADVANTAGES OF A CATAMARAN

1. bridgedeck slamming.

One advantage most monohulls do have when underway is that they don’t slam. Catamarans with a low bridgedeck clearance can experience significant slamming in confused seas sailing upwind. This slamming can be quite disconcerting when you first experience it as we did on a Shuttleworth 44 design, our first ever catamaran experience, 20+ years ago. At times, it felt as though the boat was falling apart. Of course the boat was fine but nevertheless, the stress on the crew from the constant noise and discomfort was significant.

Monohulls don’t have a bridgedeck which means no slamming and are therefore a bit more comfortable than l ow bridgedeck catamarans when beating into severe confused conditions or “washing machine” conditions as we call it. Modern catamarans mostly have better bridgedeck clearance and the slamming is significantly less. However, not all cats have a good clear tunnel under the bridgedeck. Some manufacturers build beds into the bridge deck in order to make more space in the chest of the catamaran where the slamming occurs. These protuberances into the bridgedeck tunnel will likely increase slamming. So be mindful of that when selecting a catamaran. We currently own a Bali 5.4 and the bridgedeck clearance on this boat is more than adequate and the tunnel is clear. We therefor experience very little slamming compared to our Prout 45 that we previously owned (picture of sister ship below) with a much lower bridgedeck.

We Explain Bridgedeck Clearance

In the pictures below, the Bali 5.4 has very good clearance from the water to the bridgedeck and has a nice clean tunnel versus the very low bridgedeck of the Sunreef 50. 

Sunreef 50 bridgedeck clearance

2. Sailing Downwind

Monohull spreaders are set at 90 degrees to the mast whereas a catamaran has to have backswept spreaders. The reason is that, on a monohull, there is a backstay and using this, plus the intermediates you can get a nice pre-bend in the mast (the pre-bend is to flatten out the main sail and allow for better performance).

On a catamaran with no back stay, you need to use the back swept spreaders and the diamonds to pre-bend the mast. The reason I point this out is because on a catamaran, if you want to broad reach or run, the mainsail cannot be let out all the way because the backswept spreader tips could punch holes in the fabric.

On a monohull, the spreaders are at 90 degrees so you can let the main and the boom out much further which is, of course, much more effective. This is one of the reasons it is better to broad reach and tack downwind on a catamaran.

Whether a monohull or multihull, sailing dead downwind doesn’t usually make great VMG. Therefor a regular cruising cat, much like a monohull, needs a lot of sail area and has to sail deep downwind if it is to achieve a decent speed made good (VMG). This video demonstrates how we achieve this by sailing wing-on-wing downwind.

YouTube video

It is more difficult to find a dock either as a transient or a permanent slip for a catamaran in general because of the wide beam. But this is changing fast and will soon not be too much of an issue. In the USA dockage is charged by the length of the boat in feet, so there is no disadvantage there but, in some places, (the Mediterranean for example), dockage is charged at length times one and a half because of the additional beam.

Since the catamaran is stable at anchor, we mostly anchor out. We have more privacy, a better breeze and usually a stunning view.We have a nice dinghy with a good outboard engine and is big and comfortable enough to get to shore fast and together with the modern conveniences like the generator, watermaker and washer/dryer, docking becomes a non-issue.

It is definitely more difficult to find a travel lift with enough beam for a catamaran for a haulout, while, for a monohull, there are absolutely no problems anywhere. The wide beam of cats also greatly limits the number of shipyards that can haul them out. Most catamarans over 40-ft must be hauled out with a 50-ton travel lift. This not only increases the cost of the haulout, but greatly limits the choice of the shipyards for repairs and maintenance. With limited choice, prices are high for shipyard services.

Prout sailboat named Zuri

Catamarans do tend to have a lot more windage than monohulls. This can be an issue especially when maneuvering in close quarters with a strong wind. But I have found that, provided the engines are powerful enough for the size of catamaran, that twin engines negate this problem. Also, many modern large catamarans now have a bow thruster fitted. It is super easy to dock.

The cost of getting into a catamaran is much higher than that of monohulls. That could put a serious dent in your cruising kitty or require you to put your dream on hold a little longer. Pre-owned monohulls on the other hand are very cheap to buy comparatively, because the supply presently far outweighs the demand.

Catamarans are in high demand and they typically hold their value much better and longer and the trend is now heavily in favor of the catamaran market. When prospective buyers contact us for catamarans under $250,000 the choices are very limited and catamarans under $100,000 is near impossible to buy. In this case, your best bet is to go with a monohull unless you go with much older boats like the Prouts or the less expensive Geminis.

Our Own Catamarans & Monohulls

FYI: Royal Salute , a Bruce Roberts 45 monohull, was the first boat we owned and sailed approx. 30,000NM on. Mythral, a Seafarer 30, was our “toy boat” while we were waiting for our catamaran to be built. Even though this classic little monohull sailed around the world, it didn’t have much in modern conveniences like running water. Siyaya was an Island Spirit 40 catamaran that we sailed from Cape Town to Florida on and then taught live-aboard sailing classes for several years. Zuri I was a Prout 45, a beautifully crafted catamaran but by today’s standards is considered old technology. Our Lagoon 450 SporTop ( Zuri II ) is a fantastic live-aboard catamaran. We lived and taught aboard her for three years but sold her last year and we currently own a Bali 5.4 ( Zuri III or Z3 as we call her now). Read about our various boats .

catamaran vs monohull

CONCLUSION: CATAMARAN vs MONOHULL

We were dyed in the wool monohull sailors for 15+ years. We loved the pretty lines of monohulls, the sailing ability and what we believed at the time to be much safer vessels. However, now that we have been avid catamaran enthusiasts, we simply can never go back to monohulls. Catamarans have come of age and with modern technology have overcome most objections that sailors of old had against them. They are well designed and built, are safe, and we simply love that they sail fast and upright. There is not a whole lot to dislike about a catamaran when you live aboard. We have weighed all the pros and cons of catamarans and found that the pros far exceed the cons. We made the change to a catamaran and do not regret it one bit!

We hope that this article will clear things up for all the prospective catamaran owners out there.

Contact us if you have any questions regarding catamarans, Fractional Yacht Ownership or our Charter Management Programs .

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4 thoughts on “Catamaran vs. Monohull: We Changed, Should You?”

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

I read that the engineering on the catamarans were improved over the years. Whats the oldest year would you recommend designwise?

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Scott, my apologies for the late reply. We’ve been traveling in Africa. Anyway, catamarans have come a long way and improvements in technology is happening at lightning speed. I reckon that even the older model catamarans are good. It depends on what your needs are. If you want something a little better performance wise, I would go for something no older than 15 years.

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

After buying a catamaran what is the difference in expense of a catamaran vs a monohull. Many articles state that not only the initial cost of a catamaran is more it the operating cost as well.

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Hi Todd, it is more expensive. The annual dockage and haul out as well as maintenance will be more expensive. You obviously have two engines to maintain and various other pieces of equipment to service in both hulls. While there is more equipment there is also more redundancy and of course you have the comfort factor. So, depending on your situation, it’s probably worth it.

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FAQs about catamaran vs. monohull

Catamaran vs Monohull – Which is Better?

Which is better a catamaran or a monohull.

I’m often asked by my students why one would choose a sailing monohull or a sailing catamaran for their adventures. The simple answer is: There is no simple answer — it depends on a lot of things, perhaps the most important one is your preference. “Yeah, well, this is my first week sailing ever, so how do I have a preference?” Let’s explore the differences and discuss the ins and outs of sailing, chartering, performance, and living aboard either vessel.

Catamaran vs Monohull

Notice that I don’t say “pros” and “cons” when considering the differences between the two vessels. To some, the gentle rocking of the monohull elicits nostalgia for a bygone youth spent sailing dinghies in the bay. To others, it represents sleepless nights, banging kitchenware, and angry spouses.

Short Summary – Catamaran vs Monohull

Generally, I describe my preference as follows: If I want to invite guests that are not frequently on the water, have less tolerance for “bumpy” nights, or expect a more “luxury” experience (you’ll see why I put it in quotes shortly) then I select a sailing catamaran. There is more room to spread out (vs the same length mono), rocking at anchor/mooring is minimized, and the kids love playing on the trampoline. Or perhaps phrased differently, “If you want to drink from beach to beach…”

DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL WHILE OPERATING ANY VESSEL. EVER.

If, however, you want to put some miles down sailing from port to port in the Med (or wherever you have variable wind direction), then the mono is probably the better option. It has better upwind performance and costs less in marinas.

Let’s get into the details. We’re going to compare a suitable, common charter catamaran ( Lagoon, 40 ’) with a good, common charter monohull (Beneteau, 41’).

Sailing and Performance

The monohull total tacking angle is about 90-100 degrees apparent wind angle (AWA). This means that the closest close-haul sailing angle achievable is approximately 45-50 degrees off the wind. The comparable catamaran has a total tacking angle of about 110-120 degrees (55-60 degrees AWA off the wind). This loss is due to the extra leeway experienced in the catamaran. This is a significant difference when trying to beat to windward and can mean the difference between sailing the entire distance vs putting the sails up for show only. For those interested in math, the progress into the wind is determined by the cosine of the close haul sailing angle (angle of the wind) times the length of the leg on that tack.

windward distance = cosine(𝜶) x leg length

Where α is the close haul sailing of the vessel. Table 1 compares the windward distance achieved of 3 sailing angles over a leg length of 1 unit (nautical mile, km, etc). For example, if the leg length is 1 nm, and 7 legs are sailed, a total distance of 7 nm is covered. However, the progress to windward is not 7 nm, but

cosine(𝜶) x leg length = cos(45°) x 7 nm = 0.71 x 7 nm = 5.0nm

for a monohull sailing 45° to the wind, and 4.0 nm for a catamaran sailing 55° to the wind. The final difference after 7 tacks each is 1.0 nm, which would take the catamaran an additional 2 tacks (and just shy of 2 nm distance sailed) to make up the difference.

Table 1. Sailing Angle and Distance Comparison Sailing Angle (off the wind) Windward Distance Achieved % loss from 45°

Sailing Angles table cat vs monohull

Figure 1. Sailing Angle Mono vs Cat

Sailing angles image

A real-life example

Sailing from Mallorca on a new Lagoon 40. We needed to sail directly upwind in about 20 knots of wind, 3 miles from Cala Mondragó to Cala D’Or. It took over 2 hours and we sailed over 7 nm. As you can see, the tacking angle is far from 90º typical to a monohull.

Catamaran sailing example

Additionally, the loss to each tack must be considered. Speed and headway is lost with each tack – the mono carries its momentum much better (minimal speed loss) through the tack and has minimal leeway loss compared to the catamaran. The cat loses a tremendous amount of its momentum and experiences significant leeway loss. And it has to take more tacks to make the same windward distance, rendering the loss greater than that just lost to having to sail a greater distance due to the tacking angle.

Daggerboards greatly reduce leeway and give catamarans excellent upwind performance on par with monohulls. There are reasons why all cats don’t just have daggerboards. Especially on charter boats, one mistake, leaving the boards down, in shallow water can destroy the boat.

Across the wind (most reaching situations), the catamaran is faster. Upwind, the mono makes better progress due to the tacking/sailing angle. Downwind is a competition.

Downwind is where catamarans really shine. The stability and smooth ride is no comparison to a monohull. We sailed Never Say Never, our Lagoon 400S2 from Hilton Head SC to Ft Lauderdale, we had a NE wind of 20-25 knots. For us to stay inshore of the Gulf Stream to avoid rough conditions, we were wing-on-wing for over 24 hours, surfing down gently at over 7 knots. We covered over 160 miles in 24 hours. Escorted by dolphins, this was one for the books —non-stop 3-day delivery.

Comfort & Stability

The catamaran doesn’t heel (well, it shouldn’t. I guess if that’s the case we’re having another conversation ). No heeling can mean easier walking about while underway: we’re all familiar with walking on level ground; walking with the ground at an angle is a less-common experience. However, there is an oft-missed discussion about the mono’s stability on a heel. Waves tend to roll under the mono’s hull. Once sea legs are found, the motion of the hull on the water is predictable and smooth.

The cat’s motion on waves tends to bounce between two “stable” states: one resting on the starboard hull, the other resting on the port hull. You get a slight, but sudden rock to starboard when the wave passes under the port pontoon, then a sudden return to port as the wave passes under the starboard hull. This tends to be a jarring motion all day. So while some argue that mono heeling is tiring, others will argue that this cat phenomenon is tiring. A sarcastic captain often says:

“One benefit of a cat, you get each wave twice!”

Each vessel has its own quirks for sail trim, so that is a wash. I can read a mono’s sails much easier than a cat’s, but I sailed monos for 20+ years before trying cats so I may be biased.

Catamaran vs Monohull Safety

The mono gives lots of feedback about being overpowered long before it becomes a problem: heel angle and weather helm are the loudest. The cat is much more subtle: mast and boom groans, light windward pontoon, lack of steerability. Experiment with the main traveller position and reefing on a schedule per the owners manual to find the optimum sail configuration on a cat.

When the seas pick up, catamarans do much better downwind. Monohulls tend to roll, yaw and wallow in the troughs and round up on the face of the waves. Catamaran’s tend to surf straight down the waves. A force 7-8 blow can be enjoyable. Stow your main and run with just the jib downwind on a cat and you’ll see the beauty and ease to steer this configuration.

“When the seas pick up, catamarans do much better downwind. Monohull’s tend to roll, yaw and wallow in the troughs”

Chartering and Living Aboard Considerations

Charter cost – cats are 30-60% more expensive than the equivalent mono.

In marinas, the cat rate is usually 50% greater than the mono rate. And, unless you get a reservation long in advance, they might not have room for you.

On moorings, depending on the bow cleat location, the mooring lines can run over or along portions of the hull of the cat. This leads to line stretch-and-relaxation noise all night long. For anyone in the forward cabins, this is a nightmare. Or worse since you can’t even get to sleep to have a nightmare.

Cats tend to have shallower draft and therefore can anchor closer to the beach. If wind and swell are from the same direction, cats tend to weather it better at anchor. Due to the bridle, cats do not swing on anchor. Older monos used to swing a lot, modern designs have reduced this swing tremendously.

There is lots more room on a cat to house the luxury amenities like A/C, water makers, and generators. Though, modern design is allowing for clever locations for these items in the mono, so there will probably be more monos becoming available with these options.

Cats tend to carry more potable water than the mono. They also carry more fuel. And burn more. Our weekly mono fuel bill ranges from $80-150 USD. Our weekly cat fuel bill ranges from $180-300 USD. (1.) Though you pay more for a catamaran, most systems are redundant. Two engines are better than one.

Catamaran vs Monohull Maneuverability

Cats are far easier to maneuver under power due to the two engines being separated by such a great distance. This makes picking up moorings, dropping and weighing anchor, and docking a breeze.

I would argue that monos are easier to manoeuvre under sail due to large rudders and heavy keels. The heavy keel maintains its momentum through manoeuvres much better than the cat. The large rudder means a small helm adjustment is quickly experienced in the respective heading. This large rudder also reduces steerage way to about 0.75-1.0 kts, whereas the cat is about 2.5 kts. While I doubt we’ll see cheaters , I mean bow thrusters, on 40’ monos, I have seen them on 44’ monos before. This added amenity makes up for greatly increased manoeuvrability while docking or weighing anchor.

Dinghy Storage

Storing the dinghy on the davits is a wonderful location for passages of any length. The reduced drag from not towing it is immediately seen in increased sailing speed. Monos must carry theirs on the bow or tow it astern. And you have to take the engine off too. Usually by hand, so you are not going to see a 20HP electric start engine on a dinghy for a 40’ mono. Not that you’d see that size for a 40’ cat either, but a 9.9 – 15 HP isn’t out of the question.

Ultimately, it boils down to what your preferences are. Do you like the extra space and amenities the cat provides? Do you like the sailing performance of the mono? Again, I choose a cat to sail from island to island in the Caribbean, where having a water maker or A/C is nice, fairly flat water is expected at all times, and anchoring close to the beach is a cool experience for everyone on board. I choose a mono to sail greater distances, go offshore, or hop from one marina to another in the Med.

1. This article was written in the spring of 2022, just before the crazy increase in fuel prices.  As of publication date, these numbers need to be adjusted higher by about 50-100%

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Ben Martin is a long-standing instructor at Nautilus Sailing. ASA 201, 203, 204, 205, 214 Certified Instructor, RYA Yachmaster Offshore, USCG 100 Ton Captain. Ben grew up in Northern Maine sailing dinghies on a lake. He graduated from University of Maine with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. After working for the US Navy for a few years, he decided to pursue his passion on the water and worked as a charter yacht captain for several years in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Eventually, his career led to sailing instruction and he hasn’t looked back since.

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Catamaran vs Monohull: Pros, Cons & Main Differences

By: B.J. Porter Editor

Catamaran Vs. Monohull

The choice of catamaran vs monohull ultimately comes down to preference. What’s critical for one buyer may mean little to another. If your partner refuses to set foot on a boat which heels, that’s a deal-breaker for a monohull. But if you’re passionate about classic looks and styling, your quest for beauty may override other considerations and rule out catamarans.

We can’t tell you whether a catamaran or a monohull is right for you. But we can help you with the pros and cons of each for your search.

Catamaran vs Monohull

The Strengths and Pros

No matter your choice of monohull or catamaran, there are safe, comfortable, and excellent sailing boats of both types. Neither has an exclusive lock on any strength, and both sail safely and comfortably. But there’s a different emphasis on how they do it. No matter what you are trying to do – sail fast, cruise the world, or just host a crowd at the dock, there are monohulls and catamarans that can work for any requirement.

Catamaran advantages

Catamaran advantages

Space and comfort: Two hulls and a wide beam make a very stable platform with lots of volume in the saloon and cockpit. Most living space is above the waterline, with wonderful light and airflow. Cabins in the hulls offer better privacy and isolation, usually with standing headroom.

Straight line speed: Most catamarans are faster in straight-line sailing speed (1) that similar sized or even longer monohulls. Without a lead keel, they’re lighter, so more driving force from the sails converts to speed, and narrower hull forms may have less drag than wide hulls with deep keels. Some heavier cruising catamarans may not be faster, especially if they keep rig size small for ease of handling.

Stability : The beam of two hulls with a bridge deck leads to much higher stability and resistance to roll (2). Waves in an anchorage that induce violent roll in a monohull may make a catamaran bounce or bob. Under sail, catamarans do not heel appreciably even when powered up.

Twin engines. : With one engine in forward and balanced in reverse, most catamarans can spin in a circle in place and make sharp adjustments to the boat’s direction. If you have an engine failure, you also have a second engine, giving a safety edge when you can’t sail. 

Monohull advantages

Monohull advantages

Upwind sailing performance: While catamarans have the edge at straight-line speed, monohulls sail closer to the wind. When you’re racing or you have to sail upwind to get to the next island, this can get you there faster.

Sailing feel and responsiveness : The “feel” of sailing a monohull is much better. With a single hull, you’ll feel wind pressure and trim adjustments immediately for a more responsive helm and a better ability to sail to the wind.

Maneuvering under sail: Monohulls are quite nimble tacking and turning under sail, and there’s less risk of slow or missed tacks.

Righting Moment: The primary offshore safety argument for monohulls is their ability to right when capsized. The heavy keel keeps the boat deck up when sailing, and most monohulls will come back upright even after a complete capsize.

Cargo and Loading: A higher displacement boat with thousands of pounds of lead hung from the bottom isn’t going to be as affected by loading as a relatively light multihull.

Aesthetics: This is subjective, as many catamaran enthusiasts love how they look. Classic sailboat styling, with swept sleek looks, springy sheer lines, and all the “right” proportions are more common on monohulls.

Also read: The 5 Best Electric Anchor Winches

Weaknesses and Cons

Like strengths, weaknesses are relative; just because one class has a strength doesn’t mean the other doesn’t. There are spacious monohulls and beautiful catamarans, just like there are cramped catamarans and unattractive monohulls. The differences have to be highlighted relative to each other, and the weaknesses of one are most apparent compared to the strengths of the other.

Catamaran Cons

Catamaran Cons

Upwind performance: Cats don’t sail as close to the wind, but they make up for it by sailing faster off the wind. You’ll sail a less direct course upwind. Even if you get in at the same time, you’ll have to sail farther.

Less responsive sailing: Two hulls with two rudders and a very broad platform reduce the helm feel when sailing, cutting responsiveness sailing in shifting wind and wave conditions. It also makes tacking slower.

No-flip zone: It is very difficult, but not impossible, to flip a large catamaran (3). But if a catamaran capsizes, it will not flip back over by itself.

Large in marina/close quarters: You have two problems in marinas. Beamy cats are tough to maneuver in tight spaces because they’re big and visibility is tough over the hulls. And many marinas charge extra because the wide beam extends into the next slip. The good news is that twin engines make tight maneuvering easier.

Price point: Catamarans are more difficult to build and need more materials. This is directly reflected in the cost of the boats.

Monohull Cons

They are heavier: Every large monohull needs a keel for stability (4). They can not sail or stay upright without thousands of pounds of ballast, and this makes them heavier and slows them down. Tiny monohulls can use a centerboard or daggerboard for stability, but most boats big enough to sleep on need ballast.

Darker interiors : Most monohull living space is lower in the boat, where you can’t put enormous windows for light and circulation. It’s very hard to get space as bright and airy as catamaran saloons.

Less living space: With one hull and no bridge deck saloon, most monohulls feel cramped compared to spacious catamarans.

More prone to rolling motions : Only one hull makes monohulls susceptible to rolling in waves, and the movement can be quite uncomfortable.

Heeling: Tipping is just part of sailing monohulls upwind and is unavoidable. It can be reduced on some other points of sail, but not eliminated. Many people, especially non-sailors and new sailors, find this movement uncomfortable or distressing.

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Catamaran vs Monohull: The Great Sailboat Debate

16th jun 2023 by john burnham.

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Do you love the natural sounds of water sliding past the boat’s hull and a breeze blowing across your rigging and sails while gliding ahead powered only by the force of the wind? If yes, you are well-suited to spending plenty of time on a sailboat, like so many generations of boat people before you. 

But do you take your lead from the Egyptians who rigged sails on their boats built of reeds along the Nile River or follow the path of the Polynesians, who used an outrigger for extra stability and sailed from one Pacific island to the next in the earliest catamarans?

The question of which is better for sailing, one hull or two, has been a matter of debate over thousands of years. Today, let’s explore these two basic types of sailboat, and while we may not settle the argument once and for all, hopefully in the process you will begin to discover which option is better for you.

What Are the Differences Between Catamaran and Monohull Boats?

The monohull and the catamaran (often referred to as “cat”) are the two most common categories of sailboats, and of the two, the monohull far outnumbers the catamaran in popularity due to its simplicity and sturdiness. Advocates of the catamaran, however, are typically even more convinced than monohull sailors that their boats are best due to performance potential and overall spaciousness.  

What are catamaran-style boats?

Catamarans are easily identified by their two-hull design. Two hulls sit side by side with an interconnecting deck or structural beams across the bap in the middle. Catamarans have been around since Pacific Islanders and other Austronesian people sailed them centuries ago, and they continue to gain popularity in a wide range of designs both as high-performance racing boats and ocean-cruising designs.

Although not part of this debate, a third sailboat type comparable to a catamaran is a trimaran. Trimaran sailboats are constructed similarly to catamarans but have three parallel hulls rather than two. Collectively, catamarans and trimarans are referred to as multihulls, and sailors of both types often refer lightheartedly to monohulls as “monomarans.”

What are monohull-style boats?

Monohull sailboats are the most common boat type because they feature a single hull, typically with a single mast and two sails. Rather than maintaining stability with a second hull creating a wider beam, monohull boats usually carry lead or other heavy ballast in their keel, or are stabilized by human weight as their crews lean out to counter the force of the wind. Monohulls can also be excellent racers and cruisers, depending on their size, volume, sail area, and displacement or weight.

Where Catamarans and Monohulls Excel 

Each type of boat has its advantages, depending on what the owner wants in a boat. Here are the main advantages of each type.

Catamaran advantages

• More space .  Catamarans have greater beam for a given length, which provides more space for the crew on a daysailer and larger living quarters on cruising designs, which are often laid out with berths in each hull and living quarters across the bridgedeck between hulls.

• Faster hull . If they are light enough, the sleeker shape and reduced wetted surface of two narrow, shallow hulls can produce quicker straight-line sailing speed than a single, deeper and wider hull.

• Comfort and stability . Two hulls provide better initial stability and generally heel less than monohulls, especially in light- or medium-strength winds and waves.

Monohull advantages

• Upwind sailing . When sailing against the wind, monohulls often sail at a closer angle to the wind and arrive more quickly at their destination.

• Easier motion . Heavier monohulls often have a slower, gentler motion in waves than a lighter catamaran. 

• Load carrying capability . A monohull’s performance is reduced less than a catamaran’s when the boat is loaded heavily with cargo or crew.  

• Righting characteristics . Larger monohulls have weighted keels that provide increased resistance to a capsize when the boat is heeled far over by wind or a wave and if capsized will return the boat to an upright position.

Sailing yacht open sea

Catamaran vs. Monohull Sailing Speed

There are several reasons why a catamaran is often faster than a monohull boat. These include the fact that most catamaran hulls have less water resistance than monohulls, they are often lighter, and they can be more easily driven by a relatively small sailplan. At similar lengths, a catamaran can be dramatically faster than a monohull under similar sea conditions. However, weight is the enemy of a catamaran’s speed; a heavy or heavily loaded catamaran may be much slower than a lightweight monohull.

Catamaran vs. monohull power

A monohull under auxiliary power may be faster than a catamaran in certain conditions, like powering against a strong wind. In other wind and wave conditions, the catamaran is often faster. Also, with an engines on each hull, the cat is often much more maneuverable in close quarters or at the marina. While it may seem counter-intuitive, turning and controlling the boat is often less challenging than when sailing a monohull boat with the typical single engine. Monohull boats require more finesse when in tight quarters like berthing in a marina.

Catamaran vs. Monohull Efficiency

A sleek monohull may sail against the wind super efficiently, pointing close to the wind and making an excellent speed. However, the power-to-weight ratio of the catamaran allows it to make good use of whatever wind it has. Some fast, light catamarans can travel at speeds equal to or faster than the wind, something very few monohulls can achieve. When the wave action increases and you start sailing into the wind, the catamaran may lose its advantage, and in strong winds, the greater windage of the wide catamaran may have a pronounced slow-down effect compared to the sleeker monohull.  

Catamaran vs. Monohull Stability

Despite not having a weighted keel, a catamaran design is able to avoid heeling over in strong winds or bad weather due to its greater width or beam. As a result, the multihull also tends to be more stable at anchor and any time in calmer seas. However, if the winds are strong and the waves are large, a monohull, with its keel weight and ability to sail against the wind while controlling the sails, is sometimes the steadier of the two types. While a monohull with weighted keel can be knocked down by strong gusts of wind, it will only capsize in extremely large waves. Likewise, a cruising catamaran can only capsize in large ocean waves, unless it is a fast, lightweight catamaran, that can more easily tip over in gusty winds and waves.

Catamaran vs. Monohull Safety

Power catamarans and power monohulls are relatively comparable in terms of safety. But depending on the size of the mast and sails, the weight of the boat, and the wind and wave conditions experienced, many sailors believe that a monohull configuration is safer than a catamaran for a sailboat. That’s mainly because while a monohull will initially heel over further in a strong gust of wind, the weight of its keel provides increasing stability as described above and if completely capsized, the keel typically helps the boat self rescue.

It should be clarified that many sailing catamaran designs are conservatively configured and difficult to capsize except in extreme ocean wave conditions—and the same can be said for larger power catamarans. 

In terms of ultimate safety in the event of a capsize, however, the catamaran is considered safer because even should it turn once upside down, even if damaged, the catamaran with its two hulls and minimal ballast typically remains buoyant and provides a safer configuration in which to await rescue. By contrast, if a monohull’s hatches and port windows suffer damage in a knockdown, the boat can more quickly take on water and, weighed down by its keel or other ballast, be more difficult to keep afloat in extreme conditions.

fountaine pajot motor yachts my40

Photo credit: Fountaine Pajot

Monohull vs. Catamaran Maintenance

Depending on size, age, and type of hull construction, maintenance costs will vary, but when comparing two fiberglass sailboats of similar length, the catamaran typically costs more to maintain. That’s because there are two hulls to care for, two engines, connecting structures that align the two hulls, and an overall larger boat due to the catamaran’s greater beam. Hauling and launching a catamaran can be more expensive at many boatyards, as well.

However, smaller catamarans of about 20 feet in length or less are often more comparable and sometimes cheaper to maintain than a similar length monohull. That’s because cats are often lighter and suitable for keeping on a trailer rather than in a slip or on a mooring.

Catamaran vs. Monohull Cost

Compared to similar length monohulls, a catamaran will likely cost more than a monohull boat. That’s mainly because when you purchase a 40-foot catamaran, you are buying two hulls and two engines, but you are also buying a bigger boat that typically has much more volume. In the case of a 40-footer, you end up with a boat that has a large saloon and three or four private cabins, whereas in the monohull, the saloon is smaller and you’ll have three smaller sleeping cabins. Annual maintenance will also be greater, as described above.  

Among smaller catamarans and monohulls, pricing will vary, and a lightweight beach cat may be less expensive than a heavier monohull keelboat of similar length.

Catamaran vs. Monohull, Pros and Cons

Depending on a variety of factors, there are plenty of catamaran and monohull pros and cons. These are some to keep in mind when comparing the two boat types.

Catamaran pros

• Comfort . On a cruising designed catamaran, two hulls with a wide beam create a stable and comfortable living environment with open spaces and plenty of standing room.

• Speed . Smaller, lighter catamarans are speed champions, especially in a moderate wind and modest waves. Cruising cats are often fast when sailing at reaching angles.

• Maneuverability . When equipped with two engines, a catamaran is highly maneuverable under power.

Monohull pros

• Upwind sailing . Although catamarans are often faster when sailing in a straight line, monohulls typically perform better against the wind.

• Self-righting . Except for unballasted monohulls that rely on crew weight for stability, the ballasted keel of a monohull prevents capsizing in most circumstances and the keel makes the boat self-righting.

• Maneuvering under sail . Monohulls turn more easily due to their shape, maneuvering in close quarters or tacking when sailing against the wind.

family sailing yacht

Catamaran cons

• Lack of feel when steering . Except in lighter, more performance-oriented catamarans, the broad platform with two rudders and two hulls sometimes isolates the sailor and provides little feedback through the helm when under sail.

• Sailing against the wind . Upwind sailing is generally not a catamaran’s best point of sail, but its straight-line speed can be such that it may arrive quickly at its destination, even though you will have traveled much farther than in a monohull.

• Pricing . Catamarans are typically more expensive than monohull boats due to their two hulls and other required build components and complexity.

• Not self-righting . Thanks to its wide beam and two-hull design, a catamaran is more difficult to flip, but it is not designed to right itself except for small beach cats where the crew can use their weight to re-right the boat.

Monohull cons

• Weight . Most monohulls have thousands of pounds of weight in the keel for ballast that is vital to its stability but can degrade performance.

• Wave motions .   Monohull boats are much more susceptible to rolling wave motions.

• Cabin . With the monohull cruising design, you'll typically find a darker interior with smaller port windows and fewer space options.

• Heeling effect . Monohulls will heel over in a moderate wind, which is normal but often uncomfortable for newer sailors.

Written By: John Burnham

John Burnham is a marine ​editor and writer with ​decades of journalism experience as ​Chief Editor of​ boats.com,​ Sailing World, Cruising World, and ​other boating websites. As a competitive sailor, he has led teams to world and national titles in the International One-Design, Shields, and other classes. Based in Newport, Rhode Island, John is a​ PCC leadership coach, a member of the ​America’s Cup Hall of Fame Selection Committee​, and a ​past board member of Sail America and US Sailing. For more, see  johnsburnham.com .

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Catamaran vs. Monohull.

Catamaran vs. Monohull: Which Is Better?

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Table of Contents

Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

It used to be that sailors and powerboaters (blowboaters and stinkpotters, respectively) used to hold the loudest arguments about which was better– sailboats or powerboats. Today, the debate is centered around catamarans and monohulls— how many hulls are best? Is there a best?

Let’s look at what each boat offers— and continue to read for all Pro Boatsetter Tips .

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The benefits of catamarans

Spacious for large crews, easier on your body, shallow drafts, safety system in case of emergencies.

Pro Boatsetter Tip: Did you know catamarans have seen a great surge in popularity over the last decade?

Catamaran Sailboat.

If you’ve got a large crew or plan on throwing parties aboard, you’ll probably benefit from the catamaran’s (also known as “cats”) roominess. Cats offer separation on deck with the aft cockpit , forward lounge or trampoline, and maybe even a flybridge .

Inside, cats have cabins and multiple heads for convenience. A cat of a given length (let’s say 40 feet) has 1.25 x the space of the same length monohull. In other words, it feels the same as a 50-foot monohull. It’s also usually laid out in a more user-friendly manner.

Cats have two hulls, making walking easier for kids, older folks, and pets! Because of its steadiness, you and your crew are less likely to be fatigued by the end of your boat trip. Maybe stay out longer to catch more fish.

Best of all, you’re less likely to feel seasickness because they don’t feel “on their ear” even when sailing in high winds and rough conditions. Not to mention, they’re much easier to sleep on.

Most sailing catamarans have a shallow draft perfect for skinny water cruising like the Chesapeake Bay and Florida. They can venture into areas previously off-limits to deep-draft monohull sailboats.

Most cats have double the systems, including bilge pumps, freshwater pumps, showers, heads, engines, etc. This means if one system fails, you’ve got a backup!

Twin screws also offer easier docking and increased maneuverability. It’s much easier to drive a large sailing cat than a single-engine monohull, especially in a cross-breeze and when docking, backing, or maneuvering in tight quarters.

The benefits of monohulls

  • Performance
  • Easy cruising
  • Familiarity
  • Availability & expense

Pro Boat Type Tip: Operating a monohull can be challenging! If this is your first time sailing on a monohull , make sure to rent with one of our pro captains.

Monohull Sailboat.

Competitive performer

If you want to win a sailboat race, use a monohull. This boat’s design makes it a favorable contender even when weather conditions are working against you.

Let’s add a caveat here for cruising under power– cats tend to be more fuel efficient because they’re lighter and they’re not dragging a heavy keel through the water.

Easier motion

Monohull sailboats have their own groove. This motion is predictable and distinguishable by pro sailors. Cats, on the other hand, depend on the body of water’s condition state. Also, cats pound when going upwind into big seas if their bridge deck is pummeled by waves, while monohulls tend to slice through the waves.

Familiar handling

Monohulls have been around for centuries, and chances are that you learned to sail or powerboat on one, so their handling is more familiar. A cat’s dimensions may seem intimidating at first, especially if you are short-handed.

Availability & cost

Monohulls are more available, especially for rent. There are simply more of them. They’re also usually less expensive to rent and less expensive to moor in a marina.

The good news about catamarans and monohulls

There’s no right or wrong choice. It all depends on your budget but, above all, your boating lifestyle. So the better question is: what will you use your sailboat to do?

Party at hidden coves with your crew. Take the kids out for a fun sailing excursion. Sunset cruises with your partner. Enter a regatta; win! Rent it out for an extra income.

Learn more about boating types, gear, and fun water toys at Boating Resources .

Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat , book a boat , or make money as a captain .

List, rent, earn — Only at Boatsetter.

Zuzana-Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin. 

A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide. 

Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico. 

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Monohulls vs. Catamarans: Which One is Best for You?

If you’re considering purchasing a sailboat, you might be wondering which type of vessel is best suited for your seafaring adventures. Fear not, for we’re here to help you weigh the differences between monohulls vs. catamarans to make an informed decision.

Now, before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of hull design, sail handling, and the like, let’s take a moment to appreciate the quirky personalities of these two boats. Sloop rigged monohulls are the classic, old-school sailboats with a single mast and a triangular sail. They’re like the wise old grandpa who’s been sailing the seas for decades and has plenty of stories to tell. On the other hand, catamarans are the younger, hipper cousins of the boating world. With their twin hulls and sleek designs, they’re like the trendy millennials who are always up for an adventure.

But enough with the stereotypes, let’s get down to business. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of monohulls and catamarans across various factors such as stability, maneuverability, accommodations, and cost. By the end of it, you’ll have a better idea of which boat is best suited for your sailing style and preferences. So, hoist the anchor and let’s set sail!

What are classic monohulls?

Let’s start with the basics – what exactly are classic monohulls? Well, sloops. To put it simply, a sloop is a type of sailboat with a single mast and a fore-and-aft rigged mainsail. But there’s more to these boats than meets the eye.

Sloops are the OGs of the sailing world, tracing their roots back to the 17th century. They were the go-to boats for explorers, pirates, and adventurers alike, with their simple yet effective design making them perfect for long journeys at sea. Nowadays, they’re still a popular choice for sailing enthusiasts who appreciate the classic, traditional look and feel of a sloop.

Monohulls vs. Catamarans

One of the defining characteristics of a sloop is its versatility. They come in a range of sizes, from small day sailers to larger offshore cruisers, and can be easily handled by a single sailor. Their rigging is relatively simple, making them a great option for beginners or those who prefer a less complicated sailing experience. But don’t let their simplicity fool you – sloops can pack a punch when it comes to speed and performance upwind.

Of course, there are some downsides to monohulls as well. Due to their single-hull design, they can be less stable in high winds or rough seas. They also tend to have less living space below deck compared to their bigger brothers. But if you’re looking for a classic, reliable, and versatile sailboat, a monohull might just be the vessel for you.

What are catamarans?

Now let’s talk about the other contender in this seafaring showdown – catamarans. These boats are a bit like the cool kids in high school – they’re sleek, modern, and always turning heads.

So, what exactly are catamarans? Well, to put it simply, they’re boats with twin hulls that are connected by a platform. But don’t let their basic design fool you – these boats are anything but ordinary. Catamarans come in a range of sizes, from small day boats to luxurious yachts, and offer a unique sailing experience that’s hard to beat.

Monohulls vs. Catamarans

One of the biggest advantages of catamarans is their stability. With two hulls instead of one, they’re less likely to tip over or roll in rough waters. This makes them a popular choice for families or those who prefer a smoother sailing experience. They also have more living space above and below deck compared to monohulls, with spacious cabins, lounges, and kitchens that are perfect for extended trips.

But let’s not forget about performance – catamarans are no slouches when it comes to speed and agility. Their twin hulls create less drag in the water, allowing them to glide through the waves with ease. And with their sleek, aerodynamic designs, they can often outpace traditional monohull boats.

Of course, catamarans do have their downsides as well. They can be more complicated to handle compared to monohulls, and require more space to in marinas or docks. They also tend to be more expensive than other types of sailboats, but hey, you can’t put a price on luxury.

Hull design

Per definition, the hull design is the biggest differences between monohulls and catamarans.

Let’s start with monohulls. These boats typically have a single hull that’s shaped like a long, narrow tube. This design allows them to slice through the water with ease, making them great for speed and agility. The hull is usually rounded or V-shaped at the bow, which helps to cut through waves and reduce drag. At the stern, the hull flares out to create a wider, more stable base.

Now, onto catamarans. These boats have two hulls that are connected by a platform, giving them a unique look and feel. The hulls are usually wider and flatter than those of monohulls, which provides a greater amount of stability. This can be especially beneficial for those who are prone to seasickness or prefer a smoother sailing experience. The flat shape of the hulls also creates less drag in the water, allowing for higher speeds and better maneuverability.

When it comes to sailboats, stability is crucial for a comfortable and safe journey on the high seas. So, which type of boat – monohulls or catamarans – reigns supreme in this category?

Monohulls vs. Catamarans

Well, let’s start with monohulls. These boats have a single hull, which means that their stability comes from the shape and weight distribution of the hull. Generally speaking, monohulls tend to be less stable than catamarans, especially in rough waters. This is because the single hull has to work harder to maintain balance, and can be more prone to tipping or rolling.

With two hulls connected by a platform, catamarans are the kings and queens of stability. The twin hulls provide a wider base and more buoyancy, making them less likely to tip over or roll in rough conditions. This can be especially beneficial for those who are new to sailing or prone to seasickness.

Maneuverability

Let’s talk about maneuverability – the art of smoothly navigating your vessel through the choppy waters. When it comes to monohulls vs. catamarans, the level of maneuverability can vary depending on the design and size of the boat.

Starting with monohulls, these boats are typically designed for speed and agility, which can translate to better maneuverability in certain situations. Their narrow hulls and single keels allow them to slice through the water and make quick turns, which can be useful in tight spots or when navigating through busy marinas.

Now, onto catamarans. With two hulls and a wider beam, these boats can be more challenging to maneuver in tight spaces. However, they do have some tricks up their sleeves. For example, many catamarans have engines that can rotate 360 degrees, allowing for greater control and maneuverability in tight spots.

Of course, when it comes to maneuverability, the skill and experience of the captain also plays a big role. A skilled sailor can make even the most unwieldy vessel dance through the water with ease, while a novice may struggle with even the most nimble of boats.

So, whether you’re piloting a monohull or a catamaran, it’s important to keep your wits about you and stay alert to your surroundings. And if all else fails, just remember the time-honored sailor’s adage – “When in doubt, let it out!”

Accommodations

Starting with monohulls, these boats typically have a more compact interior layout, with limited headroom and sleeping quarters. However, this can be a trade-off for a sleeker and more agile vessel that can slice through the waves with ease. Plus, with some creative packing and organization, a monohull can provide all the basic amenities you need for a comfortable voyage.

With their wider beam and spacious design, catamarans offer more room for living and sleeping quarters, as well as additional amenities like a galley kitchen and a bathroom. This can make for a more luxurious and comfortable sailing experience, especially for longer voyages. In addition, the two-hull design offers more space on deck for dinner parties or sunbathing in the trampolines

Monohulls vs. Catamarans

Of course, when it comes to accommodations, everyone’s preferences are different. Some sailors may prefer the cozy intimacy of a monohull, while others crave the roominess and luxury of a catamaran. It all depends on your personal style and needs as a sailor.

Performance

Let’s delve into the topic of performance, which is a critical factor when selecting a sailing vessel. Each sailor may have a different perspective on what constitutes optimal performance, but generally speaking, it comes down to speed and efficiency.

When it comes to speed, catamarans have an advantage in downwind performance. Their wider beam and twin hulls give them more sail area and a greater ability to surf down waves, resulting in faster speeds. However, monohulls are often faster when sailing upwind, as their pointed hull allows them to sail closer to the wind.

Monohulls vs. Catamarans

The upwind angle is an important consideration for sailors, as it affects how close to the wind they can sail. sloop rigged monohulls are known for their ability to sail at a higher angle upwind, which can be a major advantage when sailing in areas with narrow passages or limited space to maneuver. Catamarans, on the other hand, may need to tack more frequently in order to reach their destination when sailing upwind.

Maintenance

When it comes to sailing, we all know that proper maintenance is key to keeping your vessel in tip-top shape. So, when it comes to choosing between a monohull vs. a catamaran, it’s important to consider the maintenance requirements for each type of vessel.

Monohulls generally have simpler systems and structures, which can make maintenance a bit easier and more straightforward. However, the tradeoff is that they may require more frequent maintenance and repairs due to their smaller size and simpler design.

Catamarans, on the other hand, can be more complex and may require more maintenance in terms of their twin hulls, rigging, and systems. However many important systems like engines, bathrooms, or water tanks are in both hulls which give you redundancy and options. Also, their larger size can make accessing and maintaining these components a bit easier.

Regardless of which type of vessel you choose, regular maintenance is a must. From checking and maintaining the sails and rigging to ensuring the engines and electrical systems are in good working order, taking care of your vessel will ensure that you’re able to sail safely and confidently.

When it comes to the cost of a sailing vessel, there are many factors to consider. Let’s take a closer look at how monohulls vs. catamarans stack up.

First off, monohulls are generally considered to be more affordable than catamarans, both in terms of the initial purchase price and ongoing maintenance costs. This is due in part to their simpler design and smaller size, which requires less materials and labor to build and maintain.

On the other hand, catamarans can be quite costly to purchase and maintain, especially if you opt for a larger or more luxurious model. The wider beam and heavier construction of a catamaran can also mean higher slip fees and storage costs at marinas. But don’t let that deter you! If you have the means and the desire for a more spacious and comfortable sailing experience, a catamaran might be worth the investment.

Of course, the cost of a sailing vessel is just one piece of the puzzle. You’ll also need to consider other expenses like fuel, insurance, and ongoing maintenance and repairs. And let’s not forget the most important cost of all: the cost of living your best life on the open sea!

Monohulls vs. Catamarans

So weigh your options carefully, and remember that the true value of a sailing vessel goes far beyond the price tag. May the winds of fortune guide you to the vessel of your dreams, and may you sail with joy and a full wallet!

Resale value

Resale value is an important consideration when it comes to buying any type of vessel, and monohulls and catamarans are no exception. Generally speaking, catamarans tend to hold their value better than monohulls due to their popularity among sailors and their reputation for being spacious and comfortable. However, resale value can also depend on the specific make and model of the boat, as well as its age, condition, and location.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some monohulls may have a cult following and fetch a higher price on the resale market, while some older catamarans may not hold their value as well as their newer counterparts. Additionally, factors such as maintenance, upgrades, and customization can also affect resale value.

In conclusion, when it comes to monohulls vs catamarans, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each boat has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the decision ultimately depends on your personal preferences, needs, and sailing goals. If you have the money, looking for a faster ride downwind and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of upwind performance, a catamaran might be the way to go.

Resale Value

On the other hand, if you want something cheaper, prioritize sailing close to the wind and want a boat that is more easily handled in a variety of conditions, a sloop rigged monohull might be the better choice. Of course, other factors such as accommodations, and maintenance also play a crucial role in the decision-making process.

So whether you prefer the sleekness of a monohull or the stability of a catamaran, make sure to consider all the options and weigh the pros and cons carefully before making your final choice. And as with any big decision, it never hurts to consult with experienced sailors, boat dealers, or brokers to get their expert opinions. Happy sailing!

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Catamarans vs Monohulls: Which is Better a Better Sailboat For You?

Catamarans vs Monohulls: Which is Better a Better Sailboat For You?

The question of whether to choose a monohull vessel or a catamaran is an eternal dispute between boat lovers. These arguments are usually based on one’s preferences and philosophy. In fact, the popularity of catamarans has grown significantly since their design facilitates many aspects of sailing. But, both mono-hulls and multi-hulls have their advantages and disadvantages. So, in this article, I’m going to list some details about both cats and monohulls so as to help you understand which one is better for you. Remember it all depends on what sort of experience you are looking for. Keep reading!

What is a Monohull?

In general, boats float due to the fact that they displace more water than they weigh. The hull is in “displacement mode” while a boat is stationary or moving slowly. That is, all of the upward forces that keep it afloat come from flotation, which is achieved by displacing water. With certain hulls, increasing the boat’s speed beyond a particular point causes the hull to lift up and skim along on top of the water. This is referred to as “planning.” Monohulls can be divided into two types; displacement and planing hulls.

Some hulls are only capable of moving at displacement speeds . This style of boat has generally slow speed, but it is incredibly efficient to operate. While moving, most have a smooth motion , though rolling (side-to-side movement) might be an issue. On the other hand, while on the sea, achieving fast speeds requires a hull that can readily transition onto a plane. Flat bottom surfaces from amidships aft, or from the middle to the back of the bottom, and a flat transom, or the back of the hull, are the main characteristics of a planing hull. Keep in mind that at a sharp angle, the transom must contact the bottom.

What is a Catamaran?

Nowadays, catamarans are becoming more and more popular. They’re particularly appealing to fishermen since they combine high-speed performance and a smooth rough-water ride with a solid angling platform. Catamarans have two primary disadvantages . Firstly, they require twin engines. Also, larger catamarans may be too broad to fit into standard marina docks. Another disadvantage is that there is less usable interior space than on a monohull of comparable length.

The two hulls of a catamaran are known as amas. These days, the popular phrase is “sponson,” but ama is still acceptable. Note that in comparison to its entire length, each ama is quite short. The narrow amas of a catamaran travel quickly through the water with little power. This allows for fast speeds even when the amas aren’t actively planning.

Trimarans on the other hand have three separate hulls. Sailboat designers have successfully employed this design to provide a large central hull for cabins. But, also for two outrigger amas for stability. The trimaran concept hasn’t been used much in powerboats, despite the fact that several “cathedral” hulls are related. Instead of three independent hulls, a cathedral design squishes them together to the point that they often share a similar planing surface near the transom.

are catamarans better than monohulls

Monohull or Catamaran? Let’s Take a Look at Their Pros and Cons

Catamarans are unsinkable because they are incredibly stable and have natural buoyancy. Yes, they can capsize in a major accident. But, being rescued while floating on the water’s surface is preferable to plunging to the bottom in a monohull. Furthermore, moving around on a flat deck is far safer than on an angled deck.

Classicists have long claimed that catamarans are not as safe as their keelboat counterparts. However, this remark is now regarded as archaic. Since it dates from the mid-nineteenth century when the majority of catamarans were made by amateurs. They could readily tip over even in calm weather, especially if one of their bodies became leakproof owing to damage. Sinking is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a well-built modern catamaran. Modern structures are designed using computer simulations of various water conditions. Bear in mind that the maximum potential safe sail area is available to cruisers and charter possibilities in particular.

Monohulls , particularly sailboats, offer significantly stronger “self-righting” capabilities in the event of a worst-case knockdown situation. In a catamaran, once you’re upside down, you’re stuck there…And, who wants to be upside down in the middle of the ocean? Returning to an upright position gives you complete access to onboard safety equipment. This includes a liferaft, dinghy, flotation devices, EPIRBs, and strobe lights, which can save you if the boat sinks.

Generally, a catamaran’s high speed allows it to avoid adverse weather . While catamarans do not point as high into the wind as monohulls they are around 20% faster . Or, if they do, they create more leeway or slide sideways. This means that even if you sail upwind at a slightly broader angle to the wind than a monohull and cover a more distance, you will arrive at your destination sooner than a monohull.

A modern performance catamaran with daggerboards and strong sails may point as high as a monohull of comparable size. It will point similar to a comparable monohull but will sail far faster. This allows it to reach an upwind position far sooner than a monohull. However, it’s worth noting that the majority of production cats on the market are underpowered and have standard smaller sails. Many of these designs perform poorly in light breezes. Unless they’re equipped with larger headsails, a Code Zero, and a square-top mainsail.

While cats are more comfortable and safer in rough weather, we must admit that if the weather gets extremely terrible (60 knots of wind or more), it’s better to be on a monohull for survival reasons. For serious offshore single-handed sailing, I believe a monohull is superior since it is easier to hove-to in it. Bear in mind that when you’re in a cat during severe storms you won’t feel any danger, but it demands some nifty seamanship. And, keep in mind that even though a monohull can capsize in bad weather or even roll in a storm, they usually right themselves. A catamaran , on the other hand, is incapable of self-righting . However, the cat will usually stay afloat, providing a safe haven to wait out until aid arrives. Modern catamarans, on the other hand, are extremely difficult to capsize.

That being said, most catamarans can travel 200 to 250 miles per day, and with contemporary technology allowing one to control weather, it’s difficult not to deal with bad weather. In many circumstances, a faster boat is a safer boat because it can outrun heavy weather. A catamaran can avoid the worst weather and, at worst, put itself in the best position to avoid the brunt of a storm if there’s good weather routing information.

So, to sum up, cruising catamarans are quicker than monohulls, and sailing catamarans, depending on their angle, can sail at half the speed of the wind. It’s great to be on a boat that can swiftly attain high speeds and get you to your destination safely and on time. However, catamarans are faster because of their lower surface area , but their prices are generally higher than those of monohulls. Instead of fighting the elements, monohull designs operate in harmony with them . In addition, keep in mind that when sailing upwind, sailing catamarans are inefficient and tack slowly.

Fuel Consumption

Do you want to save money on gas? Then, in most cases, catamarans have less fuel consumption than monohull boats. Catamarans save a lot of gasoline since they have a less wetted surface area on their hulls. They can propel the boat with just one engine in weak winds. Also in flat water, and if the engines have the same number and horsepower. However, in heavier weather , where the higher efficiency of a monohull design provides less resistance , this is not the case.

Generally, catamarans have two fuel-burning engines, which can raise fuel expenses . However, because a catamaran is lighter on the water, it requires less energy to move. In a catamaran, you’ll use less fuel than you would in a monohull. Furthermore, in low-wind areas, catamarans might choose to use only one engine. This reduces the amount of fuel consumed by a catamaran even more . But, only calm waters are subject to these laws. A monohull is far more efficient than a catamaran in navigating waters with heavy waves and heavy winds. A monohull will consume less fuel than a catamaran in this situation.

Are monohulls better than cats

The best feature of catamarans is that all of the rooms are on the same level. The four-cabin arrangement is common with sailing cats and is popular among charter companies. Owner versions usually feature three staterooms, with one hull serving as a big cabin for entertaining. Most catamarans have a big central living room with not one, but two narrow staircases leading down into the hulls—one on each side. It’s a little like living in a tube in the hulls. They’re too thin to accommodate walkaround double/queen berths like those found in monohulls. But, in case of an emergency, it would be impossible to communicate with someone in the opposite hull.

Obviously, a monohull has less space than a catamaran. This is due to the fact that a cat is broader and has a larger deck surface. It also has twice as many hulls as the other, giving you greater total space between them. People who want to host parties on their boats will appreciate the extra space. The catamaran is usually the party boat of choice at the docks, according to most boat owners. Even if you don’t like to host parties, the extra room might be useful for lounging on the balcony or tanning. The boat’s large open space also makes it simple to utilize as a fishing platform.

You also have more room for equipment like surfboards, rafts, and other equipment that can easily clutter a monohull’s deck. Even fishing from a catamaran can be easier because the deck allows for plenty of space between anglers. Owners of catamarans also have more room for carrying fresh water and installing generators and solar panels. A catamaran’s interior room is often larger, and in luxury catamarans, it’s easier to install heavy appliances like washers and dryers inside. These can be fitted to larger monohulls as well, though it will be more difficult than on a catamaran.

All of the extra space, on the other hand, means the catamaran owner has more room to maintain and clean. Furthermore, all of the other stuff that can be brought into the boat will add to its weight . And, as well all know, a heavier boat will consume more fuel and move at a slower speed.

Maneuverability

With their twin motors, catamarans are incredibly agile . On a catamaran, the engines are widely apart, making navigating more easier and more precise than on a monohull, unless the monohull incorporates a bow thruster. Most of the time, a bow thruster isn’t required because the engines are around 20 feet apart. When there’s no bow thruster (as do few monohulls) you have to rely on prop-walk and prop wash on the rudder. On her own axis, a contemporary catamaran can turn 360 degrees. A monohull would be unable to accomplish this while it has a larger turning circle.

A monohull under sail, on the other hand, is far more maneuverable and will tack much faster than a catamaran. But, the ease of movement under motor on a catamaran, especially in close quarters, is substantially superior. They also feature shallow drafts , allowing you to maneuver into areas that a monohull cannot, as well as anchor closer to shore . However, monohulls are more maneuverable as you don’t have to deal with two hulls. They can make sharper turns and travel through small channels and small areas easier than cats. In addition, their hull displacements lessen the negative impacts of crosswinds in confined spaces.

Anchoring and Docking

While docking a catamaran is simple, its big size makes it difficult to fit into a standard slip. However, with some skill and good planning, finding room should be no problem. You may even anchor or moor the boat and dock it with the dinghy, which is much easier than a monohull. However, keep in mind that in most cases docking, hauling, and slipping a monohull is significantly easier, takes up less room, and is far less expensive.

Moreover, docking a catamaran can be a challenging task. This is due to the fact that catamarans are frequently too wide to dock in the marina’s core regions. As a result, they must be docked at the far end of the dock. Therefore they have fewer docking options and raise the cost of docking. Owners of catamarans sailing through places where there aren’t many catamarans may find it difficult to find a dock at all. This is especially true in the northern Atlantic, where monohulls outnumber catamarans.

Keep in mind that one of the most significant advantages of a sailing multihull is its stability . Not only at sea, when heeling simply does not – or should not – occur to any significant extent, but also at anchor. It also greatly expands one’s anchorage options to include areas influenced by the swell. This is quite common in the Caribbean, where a slight shift in wind direction may make a previously flat, quiet anchorage intolerable in a monohull. In addition, its fairly shoal draught expands the options even more.

Catamarans have a large platform, making them ideal for relaxing at anchor without the rolling motion that monohulls are prone to in a swell. Many monohull sailors had to leave anchorages because of the uncomfortable anchoring. This is because large rollers or swells entering an anchorage can make the situation extremely uncomfortable and dangerous.

Also, a bridle is tied to both bows and down to the anchor chain on catamarans , resulting in a fairly secure position at anchor . In heavy winds, many monohulls tend to sail at anchor since the bow acted as a sail (due to the high freeboard). They sail in one direction until the chain snatches, then tack across and sail in the opposite direction, almost completely dislodging the anchor. The catamaran, on the other hand, is much more stable at anchor and does not sway as much.

Catamaran vs Monohull Sailboats

Sailing Abilities

Most cruising multihulls won’t point like a monohull with a deeper keel upwind, and the motion may be rather unpleasant when sailing in rough weather. You must also keep a close eye on the sail area, but we’ll analyze this further below.

Moreover, catamarans are not suitable for racing and sailing sports. They can be fantastic for a holiday or even living aboard, but most racers would never buy one because of the stability. There is no sense of wind, waves, flying, or the boat itself on a catamaran. It’s quite tough to tell when it’s time to reef. While this can be done by feel on a monohull, there is specific instruction for catamarans as to what winds the sail area should be reduced.

When sailing to higher latitudes, like the North Atlantic, then a monohull would be a better solution than a catamaran. Residential areas are easy to heat and keep warm, and traditional metal may even melt thin ice. The contrary is true in the tropical zone, where huge catamaran salons would be unbeatable.

Monohulls can sail higher into the wind than most catamarans due to their keel. Daggerboards, which serve the same role as a keel and boost windward performance significantly, are common in some catamarans. However, daggerboards are not seen on 95 percent of cruising cats (those available for charter). Also, a monohull will be much easier to tack than a catamaran and glide lightly through the water. Moreover, in rougher seas, certain catamarans experience an annoying slapping of water on the bridge decks. A monohull responds to the helm more quickly than a multihull (in other words, they turn faster). This is due to the fact that most cruising cats have small “spade rudders” whose depth is dictated by the need for a modest draft. While with a keel, a monohull can have a more responsive rudder for its draft.

Monohull spreaders are 90 degrees to the mast, however, catamaran spreaders must be backswept. The reason for this is that a monohull has a backstay, and by combining it with the intermediates, you can achieve a lovely pre-bend in the mast. Keep in mind that the pre-bend is to flatten out the mainsail and allow for better performance.

Also, in order to pre-bend the mast on a catamaran without a backstay, you’ll have to utilize the backswept spreaders and diamonds. The reason I bring this up is that if you want to broad reach or run on a catamaran, you can’t let the mainsail out all the way because the backswept spreader tips could puncture the cloth. Because the spreaders on a monohull are at 90 degrees, you can let the main and boom out much wider, which is obviously more effective. This is one of the reasons why a catamaran should broad reach and tack downwind.

  • Maintenance

Because catamarans have two of everything, there is a clear trade-off between maintenance costs, reliability, and redundancy. One of the most significant advantages of having two of everything is that you have a backup . As a result, even if one component fails, you can typically still utilize the boat, such as running on one engine while the other fails. While redundancy is fine, lower maintenance and repair costs are generally preferable. Although having two of everything provides you some redundancy, I doubt you’ll want to take the boat out if one of the two hulls “fails.” Of course, this means two hulls to clean and antifoul, double the engine maintenance, and so on , but having two of the important pieces of equipment, such as engines, outweighs the disadvantages.

cat vs monohull

Due to their weight-bearing, catamarans have minimal to no heeling and do not roll at anchor. With sudden gusts, heeling on a monohull can be dangerous and uncomfortable, not to mention seasickness. Again, the trade-off is a noisy ride and fast movement, which many people find uncomfortable in bad weather. However, the heeling action of a monohull sailboat offers stability, spills wind from the sails, and provides safety.

Catamarans, unlike monohulls, do not have ballast in their keels, therefore they rely on beam and buoyancy for stability. Typical cruising catamarans have a beam-to-length ratio of around 50%, while several modern designs exceed this figure. A 45-foot catamaran will be around 22 feet wide, offering a highly solid sailing platform. Monohulls, unlike catamarans, cannot overcome rolling and pitching because of their narrow beam and lead ballast.

Rolling and pitching on a monohull while underway is quite dangerous. But, walking around on the deck of a catamaran while underway is easier because the boat is considerably more stable and does not heel. Sail adjustments and reefing are also significantly easier and safer for the crew as a result of this. The risk of falling overboard on a catamaran is far lower than on a monohull because of the rolling and pitching motion.

Generally, buying a catamaran is substantially more expensive than a monohull. So, if you opt for a cat you should also consider your budget before even starting your research. Pre-owned monohulls, on the other hand, are extremely inexpensive to purchase due to a current supply that considerably outnumbers the demand.

Nowadays, catamarans are in high demand , and they normally keep their worth far better and longer than other types of boats. And that’s why the market is currently centered to manufacture lots of them. Bear in mind that looking for a catamaran under $250,000 your options will be limited, and finding a catamaran under $100,000 is nearly difficult. Unless you opt with older boats like the Prouts or the less priced Geminis, a monohull is your best bet in this instance.

The cost of a cat rises if you need at least two of everything. But, keep in mind that due to their popularity, catamarans have a high resale value and a low depreciation rate , and they normally sell faster than monohulls. Due to the fact that most catamarans are not made in the United States, delivery expenses must be considered when purchasing the boat. Multihulls are becoming more popular, and as a result of the increased demand, they command greater prices in both the new and brokerage markets. Lastly, when considering a purchase, keep in mind that maintenance costs are substantially higher than on a monohull.

catamaran vs monohull pros and cons

Catamarans vs Monohulls – The Bottom Line

So, this is it! We’ve come to the end of this highly discussed topic among sailors. Obviously, everything would be determined by two basic factors: personal preferences and budget considerations. Both monohulls and multihulls have their pros and cons and it’s totally up to you to decide which one suits you best. Because the two types of vessels provide such a different experience, it is highly recommended that you rent and test each one before purchasing to compare everything. In any event, it’s reasonable to say that a catamaran is an excellent choice for a charter, if not for purchase. Despite its high price, it provides comfort, space, and stability but you have a better overall sailing experience with a monohull. So, I hope that this article will help you make the right choice according to your needs. I wish you good luck with your research!

Peter

Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Catamaran VS Monohull: what should you choose to sail around the world?

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Sailing around the world is a dream come true: you discover the world to the rhythm of the wind and the stopovers, exploring new destinations every day as you sail. If you’re just starting to read this article, you’re probably nurturing this project. Are you planning to sail around the globe? Then the choice of ship for your next voyage is crucial. It alone will determine how you experience this adventure! Catamaran VS Monohull : Do you know the differences between single-hulled and double-hulled sailing yachts for an ocean voyage? What are the advantages of sailing around the world in a catamaran, rather than a monohull?

Aboard a multihull, greater comfort and stability

When you decide to sail around the world, whether you’re going alone, as a couple or as a family, you’re always leaving your home and comforts behind to move aboard a monohull or catamaran. While you’ll always have to get used to living in different spaces, in a changing environment, the living space on each boat can vary. So, if you’re setting off on an adventure on a monohull, for example, you’ll inevitably have less living space than in a unit made up of two hulls. It’s up to you to work out how much living space and storage volume you need, depending on the crew you’re putting together!

The length of the hull, of course, will have a big influence on the interior layout of the boat and its facilities: the number of cabins, washrooms and the width of spaces often depend on the waterline length of a boat. Fortunately, choosing a larger catamaran for greater living comfort doesn’t mean sacrificing sailing comfort. Bénédicte Héliès, owner of the first Outremer 55, Saga, confided as much to our yard: “After our first round-the-world trip on our Outremer 51, our children were growing up and taking up more space, so we wanted a saloon that was a little more spacious, but just as easy to manoeuvre. We were delighted! Our new catamaran has proved to be very agile in light airs despite its size, powerful in a breeze and comfortable at sea. The platform is exceptionally spacious for such a seaworthy boat, and the living space in the saloon is very appreciable.

As you know, the comfort of a boat is mainly experienced when sailing. By opting for a catamaran on a round-the-world trip, you will always choose to heel less than you would aboard a monohull yacht. When sailing or at anchor, you’ll notice the difference aboard a catamaran: by definition, it is much more stable!

Read also: Monohull to multihull – Nikki Henderson

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

The evolution of catamaran performance

The perception of catamarans has evolved considerably over the last few decades, from boats mainly associated with chartering to multihulls capable of competing with monohulls in terms of performance.

In the 1960s and 1970s, catamarans began to appear in regattas, where their speed potential was already evident. At the famous Transpacific Yacht Race, for example, catamarans such as the Seasmoke broke records, proving their ability to sail fast over long distances.

A catamaran’s ability to sail upwind and close-hauled, once considered inferior to that of monohulls, has been enhanced by slimmer, more efficient hull designs, as well as improvements in rigging and sails. These technological advances have enabled catamarans to achieve previously unattainable performances, making them suitable for fast and safe ocean crossings.

Bénédicte can testify to this development: “The catamaran we’ve chosen sails easily in light airs. From 4-5 knots, it moves under sail, whereas classic catamarans need 10 to 15 knots to move properly, depending on the points of sail. So we use the engine very little and sail almost exclusively.

On long journeys, sometimes the weather conditions are not as forecast. They can also change more quickly than expected. If, for example, there’s a storm approaching that we weren’t able to anticipate, a good sailboat will enable you to reach your destination more quickly. Bénédicte explains: “On our boat, being able to ‘swallow’ 250 miles a day is very interesting. This means we can shorten crossing times and avoid being caught out by bad weather, as most phenomena can be predicted within 4-5 days”.

In short, today’s catamarans are no longer simply cruising boats designed for coastal sailing. They represent a serious choice for sailors looking to combine comfort, performance and safety, capable of competing with monohulls in the most demanding sailing conditions.

Read also: Why every serious cruiser should go racing

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

On a round-the-world catamaran trip, make the most of stopovers

You’ve probably already decided which islands or ports you’d like to visit.

Bear in mind that some catamarans allow you to make the most of anchorages and places to stop off: with a shallower draught than most monohulls, many allow their owners to get closer to the coast and beaches. With a catamaran, you can choose anchorages less frequented by other yachts to make the most of your time, and disembark more easily.

When you arrive in port or at an anchorage, for mooring, anchoring or taking a locker, catamarans also generally have the advantage of being more manoeuvrable than monohull yachts. So your arrival at your port of call will be much easier.

When you sail around the world, you inevitably meet other crews who are also travelling, and with whom you always find things in common. If you like having people over, welcoming them aboard your catamaran will be ideal!

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monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Setting off on a catamaran with the best sailing weather

When you’re getting ready to set off on a sailing trip, it’s vital to find out about the seasons and weather phenomena in your chosen sailing area. Even before choosing your cruising destination or travel itinerary, or even selecting your yacht!

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

The Importance of Defining Success

In the Autumn of 2023, I ran a ‘Webinars for Women’ mini-series on transatlantic preparations. The first session was titled: “How to approach transatlantic preparation.” As I zoomed out of the nitty gritty of canned food recipes, spare parts inventories, and preventative sail repair and took a broader look at the framework for a successful crossing, I homed in on what I think the first and most important step is: defining your goal.

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Sailing in the Bahamas : unforgettable stopovers

The Bahamas Islands are a dream destination to explore under sail! In the heart of the Caribbean Sea, the archipelago offers the chance to enjoy sailing through splendid scenery, pleasant places to stop off and memorable activities. In this article, the Outremer team tells you what they consider to be the essential stages of a catamaran cruise in the Bahamas.

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Monohull or multihull: which is best for blue water?

  • Chris Beeson
  • March 29, 2016

As former editor of Yachting World, David Glenn has plenty of experience of both monohull and multihull cruising. Here he weighs up the pros and cons

Monohull multihull

One hull, or two? Your choice will define your life afloat Credit: David Glenn

Through the binoculars I could see masts off Basil’s Bar on Mustique. Their lack of movement suggested a fine anchorage, sheltered from the tradewind-driven swell that builds up in the channel between Mustique and Bequia. It soon became apparent that most belonged to cats, immune from the rolling monohulls like ours would endure if we were to stop in this otherwise enticing bay.

More anchorages in a multi

Monohull multihull

Cats galore off the Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost van Dyke: too shallow for a fixed keel monohull of similar size

Stability is one of the truly great advantages of a cruising multihull. Not just at sea where the tiresome business of heeling is something that simply doesn’t – or shouldn’t – happen to any great extent, but at anchor too. It dramatically widens one’s choice of anchorages to include those affected by swell – not uncommon in the Caribbean, for instance, where a subtle change in wind direction can make a previously flat calm anchorage unbearable in a monohull. Its comparatively shoal draught widens the choice still further.

I grew up with monohulls, own one, and frankly wouldn’t consider a multihull for the sort of sailing I do. In northern European waters, marina berthing is a regular necessity and completely safe open anchorages are few and far between.

Monohull multihull

No rolling or heeling, 360° views and one-level living, as here on a Lagoon 52, appeal to many

But if I were to undertake some serious blue water cruising and I wanted family and friends genuinely to enjoy being afloat, particularly those less experienced, a multihull would have to be a consideration. I would have to put aside the question of aesthetics – let’s face it, they’re ugly beasts – and forego that unique and satisfying sensation of a yacht sailing well, because to date I have not experienced it in a cruising multihull. And that’s quite a sacrifice.

More space in a multi

My attitude changed after chartering catamarans in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. The need to accommodate two families comprising largely of teenage children made the choice of a multihull a no-brainer. In a 46-footer we could accommodate a party of 10 in comfort and the paraphernalia demanded by youth, like surfboards, windsurfers, kites and snorkelling kit, without feeling jammed in.

Monohull multihull

One-level living makes a big difference when sailing as a famly

The cavernous berths in the ends of the hulls, the wide saloon-cum-galley with its panoramic view and the inside/outside lifestyle made possible by the juxtaposition of the big aft deck and the same level saloon, got the entire crew onside instantly.

As an outside living space, with a trampoline at one end and a massive aft deck at the other, there is simply no comparison with a monohull of the same length. So space, linked to stability, makes for an experience that everyone, even the timid and novices, will find hard not to enjoy.

No speed difference

Monohull multihull

A multihull, like this Moorings 46, has abundant stowage on deck and below, but filling it all will slow her down

Load-carrying ability is a double-edged sword. On the up side there is room for a big crew and its kit, much more fresh water tankage than a monohull, eliminating the need for an expensive, temperamental watermaker, and finding space for a generator should be easy.

On the down side the temptation to overload will probably cancel out any perceived performance advantage. Multihulls can be relatively quick in the right offwind conditions, but if they are heavily laden – as they will be for blue water cruising – there really is no significant speed advantage.

Monohull multihull

The Gunboat 66 Phaedo 1 piles on the speed, but for blue water cruisers, comfort and stowage is more important than pace

Some new designs such as Gunboat and Outremer have concentrated on performance, but most clients aren’t overly concerned about outright speed and are happy to trade performance for the considerable comfort offered by brands like Lagoon, Broadblue, the Fontaine Pajot stable, Leopard, Catana, Privilege and others.

Mono sails better

Monohull multihull

Monohulls, like this Amel 55, sail better upwind, and her ballast keel adds displacement, which means comfort when it’s rough. Multihulls can develop an unpleasant motion in a big sea

Upwind, most cruising multihulls won’t point like a monohull with a deeper keel, and when it gets lumpy and fresh, the motion can become distinctly unpleasant. You have to keep a particularly careful eye on sail area too, but more of that in a moment.

In 2011 I was involved in a test of three cruising catamarans and among my fellow judges was multihull design legend Nigel Irens. He pointed out that catamaran buyers have voted for accommodation (which means weight) over performance, so the dilemma of mixing the two has largely disappeared. With it went the spectre of capsize because, relative to their displacement and beam, the modern cruising catamaran is under-canvassed. But that doesn’t mean that sailors can simply set sail and go in any weather.

‘Speed limits’ on a multi

Monohull multihull

On a multihull, it’s more important to know when to reef. Set speed limits and stick to them

Also on the panel was Brian Thompson, the lone Brit on board the 130ft French trimaran Banque Populaire V that sailed around the world in under 46 days. He told me that the tell-tale signs for knowing when to reef are far more subtle on a multihull. Apart from instinct, Brian suggested monitoring boat speed closely and having a speed limit to trigger reefing. It is easy to overlook a building breeze when bowling along downwind in a multihull, which is going faster and faster. ‘Keep your boat speed within safe limits you should not get into too much trouble,’ he said.

People often ask about anchoring a multihull, which is important as a multihull will spend a lot of time at anchor. Squeezing into a marina can be nigh on impossible, and expensive if you can get in. An essential piece of kit, which should be standard with a new boat, is a bridle that runs from either hull and keeps the anchor cable on the centreline. In many ways this is easier than anchoring a monohull as it prevents the ground tackle from fouling the hulls.

If you do get alongside a marina pontoon you will soon discover another modern cruising multihull issue: excessive freeboard. It’s worth investing in a portable ladder for those marina moments. Of more concern is MOB recovery. There are bathing platforms on both hulls of most new boats, but it’s not the place to be if a yacht is pitching in a heavy sea. So considerable thought needs to be applied to retrieving an MOB if the worst happens.

The recent and dramatic increase in numbers of multihulls going blue water cruising is certainly testament to their appealing ‘lifestyle’ attributes, but one must bear in mind that they are not a fix for all liveaboard cruising challenges. It’s just a different way of doing things. The elements remain the same and can inflict just as much punishment for the unwary on a multihull as they can on a monohull.

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  • Catamaran vs. Monohull: What Type of Boat is Right for You?
  • Sailing Hub
  • Sailing Dilemmas
  • Catamaran vs. Monohull - which one should you choose?

When you are planning a sailing holiday, you’ll be faced with a choice; catamaran vs. monohull. Each type has many benefits, but it’s important to think about what your needs are because that will tell you just which one to pick!

Let's dive right in!

Ease of sailing

Maneuverability, space/layout, holiday vibe.

You may also like:  Sailing holiday destinations for your next boat trip

One of the top considerations you should have is what type of sailor you are because catamaran vs monohulls offer a distinctly different sailing experience. If you are a first time sailor and just want something incredibly easy to handle, then a catamaran will probably win out. 

Catamarans have great control when it comes to maneuvering in tight places. Since they have twin engines and rudders, you get a lot of control and can turn pretty much 360 degrees with ease.

Saba 50 catamaran helm and navigation area

Catamarans also have a shallow draft, which will allow you to explore much closer to the shoreline than a monohull would be able to venture. 

In the catamaran vs monohull speed debate, it might be more of a draw. Catamarans are typically 25-30% faster than a comparable monohull, but some argue that it comes at a price. When catamarans are sailing full speed you might experience a lot of slapping from the waves. Monohulls are designed to cut through the water. Also note that catamarans can be inefficient upwind and tack slowly. 

When considering sailing conditions , a catamaran vs monohull in rough seas will perform very differently. 

During rough sailing, you must be more vigilant when on a catamaran. The feedback from the wheel of a cat is not as obvious as that from a monohull. In high winds, you’ll need to know when to reduce sail. 

However, monohulls tend to roll more in stormy weather, while catamarans stay pretty level even in rough seas.

When thinking about catamaran vs monohull stability, the stability that catamarans offer is a huge draw for many. Since cats bounce with the waves less, it is easier to walk around and enjoy the yacht while in motion. The increased stability is also great for children, or seniors, or anyone who might be prone to seasickness. When it comes to catamaran vs monohull seasickness, catamarans come out on top.

Saona 47 sailing in Lavrion

Although it is worth noting that monohulls swing less than catamarans if placed side by side in an anchorage.

If you’re deciding on a catamaran vs. monohull, you’ll have to think about what type of group you have. For family sailing holidays , maybe a catamaran is the best choice. Catamarans are very spacious, offering a large living space, and many cabin/head options. This makes them optimal for parties that want to spread out. Whether you’re a family, a big group of friends, or even couples looking for a 5 star, luxury experience who appreciate the extra space and comfort even if it’s not needed, a catamaran can fit your needs.

If thinking about catamaran vs monohull liveaboard readiness, the catamaran is a top contender. With far more living space and a much more spacious kitchen, Catamarans are great for people and groups that want to focus on entertainment and lounging.  

Catamarans also typically have more spacious cabins and more privacy due to the layout with the cabins separate from the living area. This way you can send the kids to bed, and still enjoy the kitchen, dining, and living area. 

Saba 50 catamaran in Sicily, Italy

While catamarans are often touted for being roomy and luxurious, it’s worth nothing that monohull yachts can also be large and luxe. The Oceanis 62 and the Jeanneau 64 are top choices for those who want to live in the lap of luxury during their sailing holidays , while still getting that real sailing yacht experience.

In terms of catamarans vs monohull price , a monohull will definitely win. Charter prices for a catamaran can be 50-100% higher than that of a comparable sailing yacht. But that can be boiled down to the fact that you’re getting more space and more equipment with a catamaran! 

A monohull, will only have one of everything - like it’s name suggests. It has one hull, one engine, one rudder, whereas a catamaran has twice the equipment and twice the living space of a monohull of the same length.

Another catamaran vs monohull cost to consider is the mooring costs. A catamaran, due to its twin hulls, might use two spots. Monohulls take less space to moor, and will be less expensive in that regard. 

The cost of fuel should also be a consideration and in the question of catamaran vs monohull fuel efficiency, catamarans are the winner. With easy to drive hulls, and super light weight, they have great fuel efficiency. 

Lastly, there is an abundant supply of monohull charters yachts, so the charter costs tend to be less to match the demand. 

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

In the end, what it all comes down to is preference. In terms of performance, price, and comfort, catamarans and monohulls both have a lot going for them. You just need to decide what kind of holiday vibe you’re looking for, and Yacht4Less can help you with the rest! 

At Yacht4Less we recommend fully crewed catamaran charters if you’re looking for top-of-the-line luxury and a super relaxing holiday where you don’t have to lift a finger. These boats will offer the space and comfort you’d expect from a 5-star hotel. 

Saba 50 catamaran flybridge lounge in Italy.

If you’re looking for a hands-on sailing adventure holiday, you might want to do a skippered charter with a monohull.. Your captain can show the ropes and help you learn how to sail. Or if you’re already an experienced sailor, go for a bareboat monohull charter . The exhilarating feeling of sailing a monohull is unmatched. It’s the classic romantic sailing experience, and makes for a thrilling holiday. 

For those looking for a sailing experience somewhere in between extravagant luxury and exciting escapades, Yacht4Less is here to help you find the perfect boat for your needs.  More sailing holiday dilemmas? We got you covered! Sailing Holidays vs. Land-Based Holidays  » Party Sailing vs. Natural Wonders  »

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monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Catamaran Or Monohull? 27 Important Facts (Explained)

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Catamarans and monohull boats are two very different kinds of vessels.  Each craft offers distinct advantages and disadvantages that you’ll want to consider before choosing between the two.

In this post, we’ll go over some of the important things to consider when choosing between catamarans and monohull boats:

Table of Contents

Cost & Availability

Both catamarans and monohull boats come in small recreational sailing versions, larger motorboat versions, and larger sailing models.  In all cases, the catamarans will cost more and will be harder to find.

The reason catamarans are harder to find because there are not as many of them, and they’re mostly made overseas.

Also, there aren’t as many catamaran manufacturers, so sailors have fewer options when buying them.

On top of this, catamarans have only recently become popular in the United States and other areas of the developed world.  This means the used market for boats doesn’t have as many catamarans on it.  You might find that you have fewer options when making a used catamaran purchase, which could bring costs up to a premium.

Two Times The Fun with Catamarans

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Another reason that catamarans are more expensive than monohulls is the fact that catamaran buyers have to purchase two hulls, two engines, and two of all of the components that help make an engine work.

Traditional sailboats and large powerboats with one engine don’t have this cost issue.

On top of this, a catamaran is much wider than a monohull, and thus you have more space to build and equip.

On the other hand, once you’ve purchased the boat, you do get to enjoy the benefits of having two of everything.  We’ll talk about the advantages of this further down in this post.

Maintenance Cost Makes A Difference

The maintenance on a catamaran is also more expensive than the maintenance on a monohull boat.  This goes back to the fact that there is twice as much of everything to maintain.

Catamaran owners will need to do preventative maintenance on two different engines, and they’ll have two hulls and a large deck area to clean and maintain as well.  If they’re getting the bottom of the boat treated, they’ll have to do this twice (once for each hull).

Even the interior components can usually be found twice.

Each cabin will usually have a head in it, so you’ll have at least two toilets and sinks to maintain, which obviously has its plusses and minuses.

One positive aspect of this is that catamaran owners do have the option of deferring some of their maintenance.  For example, if one head is no longer functioning properly, you always have the second one that you can use.

It also adds a bit of safety as well.

This is because while the catamaran does have two engines to maintain, the owner does have power even if one of the engines happens to go down.

Some catamaran owners also like to point out that maintenance may not have to be done as frequently.  This is because the engines don’t have to work quite as hard, and other items like additional bathrooms and sinks might only be used half as much.

How Much Space Do You Need?

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

A catamaran has more space than a monohull.  This is because the boat is wider, and it has a much larger deck area.  It also has twice as many hulls, so you have more overall space between the two of them.

The additional space is great for people looking to throw parties on their boats.

Most boat owners would agree that the catamaran is usually the party boat of choice at the docks.

Even if you aren’t into throwing parties, the extra space can still be nice for relaxing on the deck or getting a suntan.  The wide-open space also makes it easy to use the boat as a fishing platform.

Additionally, you have more space for stuff like surfboards, rafts, and other items that can easily clutter up the deck of a monohull.  Even fishing can be easier from a catamaran as the deck provides plenty of space between different anglers.

Catamaran owners also have additional space for carrying fresh water and adding generators and solar panels.

Interior space is generally more plentiful on a catamaran, and luxury catamarans have an easier time fitting large items like washers and dryers inside of them.  You can have these on larger monohulls as well, but it will be harder to make them fit than it is in a catamaran.

On the other hand, all of the additional space means the catamaran owner has more space to maintain and clean.  Also, all of the additional items that can be brought onto the boat will make it heavier.  A heavier boat will use more fuel, and it will travel more slowly.

Living Quarters Vary Between The Two

The living quarters on a catamaran are much different than they are on a monohull.  Most people would agree that the berths in a monohull are much more spacious than in a catamaran.

A monohull offers people the opportunity to have a large bed with space on either side to walk around it.  This is great for couples who want to get out of bed without waking up their partner.

Catamarans, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to offer large above-deck salon areas.  The galleys, the dining areas, and the living areas can all be above-deck, while the two hulls can provide heads and berths.

Some boat owners say that living in a monohull is akin to living in a basement apartment .  Other boat owners prefer the monohull because it brings them closer to the water and gives them the feeling of being at sea.

Privacy Can Be Prioritized On Catamarans

A catamaran offers up many different living areas that people can take advantage of.  For example, each hull will typically have its own bathroom and bedroom.

This gives each sleeping area complete privacy from the other.

The living quarters are usually up on the deck, so early risers can wake up and move to these quarters without waking up the others.

The same holds for night owls.  A night owl can stay up late without bothering the people who want to retire to their beds earlier.

With two hulls, large catamaran owners can hire a crew and give them their own hull to live in so that there is separation between the cruisers and the crew.  This is a wonderful advantage for honeymooners looking to have their own space.

The downside to all of this, of course, is that sometimes a family may not want the additional privacy.  For example, a family with small children might not want their children in a different hull than they are.

Additionally, the extra privacy can make it hard for people on the boat to communicate.  This could become a big problem in the event of an emergency.

For this reason, it is often recommended that each hull have a radio in it so that the occupants can quickly communicate with each other.  Remember, even in inland areas, cell phone reception may not be very good inside the boat hulls.

Recreation In a Monohull vs. a Catamaran

Most sailors agree that sailing a monohull boat is much more exhilarating than sailing a catamaran.  Traditional sailboats heel, and sailors get instant feedback while they’re sailing.  For the most part, catamarans stay stable, and you don’t get the same feeling with the movement of the wind and the water.

When it comes to monohull powerboats, you have the advantage of being able to pull water skiers, kneeboarders, and tubers with ease, as long as the boat has the power and a planing hull.  A power catamaran usually doesn’t have the speed or maneuverability to pull off these recreational opportunities because they are displacement hull designs.

Catamarans excel in more leisurely recreational activities.  A catamaran makes a great party deck as well as a great cruising deck.  Catamaran owners can comfortably walk around a catamaran without having to worry that the boat might knock them over the next time it decides to heel.  This allows boaters to sit and talk with one another comfortably.

A catamaran can also be used as a beaching vessel.  This makes it a great platform for people looking to go swimming or fishing around sand bars and other shallow water areas.  It also makes it a great boat for sailors looking to sail a larger boat on a river or lake known for having shallow areas.

Swimming and Diving

Swimming and diving off of a catamaran are usually much easier than doing the same from a monohull.  The wide stance of the two hulls offers boat designers the option to put in staircases at the back of both hulls.

In between these staircases, some boats will have an additional diving platform and/or a dedicated frame for pieces of equipment and dinghy storage.  This makes catamarans great for swimmers, snorkelers, and divers.

On the other hand, modern monohull sailboats can also have good transom stairs for easy access to the dinghy and swimming.  Both types of boats can easily travel far out to sea, giving boaters the option of diving in areas that can’t be accessed from beaches and developed areas.

Boat Draft In Shallow Waters

For the uninitiated, the boat’s draft refers to how deep the boat’s hull sits within the water.

A monohull typically sits deep within the water, while a catamaran sits much higher on the water.  This is why we stated that a catamaran is good for shallow waters.

The advantage of having a boat that can go into shallow waters isn’t restricted to just recreational activities like swimming and fishing.  A boat that can go into shallow water is safer to operate in areas where a boat with a deeper draft might become damaged.

Additionally, a catamaran has more stability on calm waters.  This helps make a catamaran more comfortable to relax or sleep on while at anchor or the dock.

The deeper draft of a monohull boat has its advantages as well.  A deeper draft provides more stability in rough waters and allows a boat to go further into the sea.

For this reason, many coastal cruisers will prefer catamarans, while many ocean voyagers will prefer monohull boats.  In fact, some areas of the Caribbean and the Florida Keys can be off-limits to boats with deep drafts as it simply isn’t safe for the boat to navigate these waters.

This isn’t to say that you can’t navigate these waters in a monohull boat, but you will have to be cautious depending on how deep your monohull’s boat draft is.  You wouldn’t have this issue in a catamaran.

Stability On The Sea

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

A catamaran offers a lot more stability in shallow waters, in calm waters, at the dock, and anchorage.  This makes the boat great for cruising and for relaxing in port.

A monohull offers a lot more stability in rough waters.

This makes this boat great for heading out to sea and for navigating vast distances.

Safety Issues To Consider

Both catamarans and monohulls can be built to navigate the waters they were made for safely.  This will be determined more by the boat’s category designation rather than the type of boat.

However, each boat deals with unsafe situations in different ways.  For instance, a monohull boat is likely to right itself if it is capsized.

This means that even in rough seas, you’re unlikely to find yourself permanently capsized.

The downside to this is that should you become completely swamped from a capsize in a monohull boat, you are much more likely to sink.  In fact, if there is a hull breach on a monohull boat, your boat could sink.

Catamarans are said to be unsinkable.  This isn’t completely true, but it is very unlikely that a catamaran will sink.  Even if a hull is breached, you still have a second hull to keep the catamaran afloat.

However, a catamaran can’t right itself.  If you capsize your catamaran, it will stay capsized.

One other safety concern to consider is that a monohull sailboat will heel while a catamaran will not.  This increases the chances that someone could fall off the boat or onto the deck in a monohull boat.

Catamarans Are Faster Than Monohull Boats

A catamaran is faster than the average monohull boat.

This is because they face less water resistance, and their narrow hulls don’t have to deal with their own bow waves as a monohull does.

Of course, catamarans aren’t always faster.  Old cruising catamarans may not go faster than 8 knots, and modern monohulls can exceed 10 knots.

Monohull boats tend to sail downwind and in choppy seas better than catamarans.  This gives them a speed advantage during ocean voyages.

We have a separate post with complete average speeds per type of catemaran . It’s a must read if you are at all concerned about speed!

Fuel Consumption Considerations

Catamarans have two engines to burn fuel, which can drive up fuel costs.

However, a catamaran is lighter on the water, so it usually takes less energy to move a catamaran.  This means you’ll end up using less fuel in a catamaran than you would in a monohull.

On top of this, catamarans can decide to use just one engine in low wind areas.  This further decreases the amount of fuel that a catamaran consumes.

These rules only apply to calm waters.

A monohull navigates waters with high waves and strong winds much more efficiently than a catamaran.  In this case, you’ll use less fuel in a monohull than you would in a catamaran.

Sailing Differences To Notice

Sailing a monohull boat can be exhilarating.  These boats can glide through choppy waters, and you get to feel the motion of the boat as the sea rushes by the cockpit and the wind causes you to heel.

This type of sailing also provides instant feedback as you’ll know what you need to do with the sails as you’ll feel what is going on through the boat’s motion.

Sailors all over the world have been using monohull sailboats for years, and you’ll find plenty of outlets for recreational sailing with a monohull sailboat.

Sailing catamarans do not heel like a monohull sailboat.

These boats, therefore, do not provide the sailor with instant feedback.  Also, if you incorrectly sail a catamaran, you do risk capsizing the boat more easily.

Training Can Be Quite Hard

Sailing a catamaran and sailing a monohull boat are two different experiences.  People looking to sail either should probably get professional training.

Obtaining this training will always be easier with a monohull boat.

This is because monohulls are more popular, so you’ll have more instructors available to you.

Do You (Or Your Friends) Get Seasick?

People who are prone to getting seasick easily might want to consider a catamaran.  A catamaran provides much more stability in calm waters, and you get a lot less movement.

On the other hand, people who are not prone to getting seasick might prefer a monohull in choppy waters.

This is because a monohull will deal with deep and choppy waters with high waves much better than a catamaran will.

As a result, a catamarans movement can seem extreme under these types of conditions.  People who have never gotten seasick before can end up sick under these conditions.

Here’s a separate article we wrote with everything you should know about seasickness on Catamarans . There are some things you can do and some things you should know!

Docking Is (Usually) Easier With A Monohull Boat

Docking a catamaran can be a difficult endeavor.

This is because catamarans are often too wide to be docked within the slips located in central areas of a marina.

Because of this, they need to be docked at the end of the dock.  This leaves them with fewer spots to dock.  It also makes docking more expensive.

Catamaran owners traveling through areas that are unlikely to have many catamarans in them may find it difficult to find a dock at all.  This is true in areas of the northern Atlantic where monohulls are much more popular than catamarans.

Storage Issues To Consider

Even storing a catamaran can be more difficult.  This is because storage facilities often do not have the equipment to get a catamaran out of the water.

The wide width of these boats requires special lifts, and not all boat marinas will have them.

Storage facilities that do get the catamaran out of the water will often charge more money for it.  They’ll charge additional fees for taking the catamaran out of the water, and they’ll charge additional fees for the actual storage of the boat as well.

Redundancy And Backup Equipment

We touched upon this earlier, but it is worth repeating that catamarans have many redundancy built into them.  This can be a big advantage when it comes to safety.

For example, if one rudder becomes inoperable, the boat can still be steered with the other one.  If one engine becomes inoperable, the boat can still be driven with the other one.

In extreme cases, a hull could become damaged, and you could still stay afloat because the other hull will keep the boat safely above water.  These safety advantages can save lives and keep people from becoming stranded out at sea.

The primary downside is the maintenance issue that we mentioned earlier.  All of these redundant components will need to be maintained.  As a result, maintenance costs will be close to twice as expensive in a catamaran.

Cooking Is Easier On Catamarans

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Cooking on a catamaran is usually easier than it is on a monohull.  The main reason for this is that a catamaran doesn’t heel like a monohull, so you don’t have to worry as much about things falling over.

This not only makes cooking easier, but it makes cooking safer as well.

Additionally, catamaran galleys tend to have more space in them to move around.  Also, they are often up on the deck, so you don’t have to climb in and out of the hull with your dinner in hand.

Dinghy Storage

Monohulls and catamarans can both hold dinghies.  The larger the boat, the larger the dinghy can be.

However, catamarans have a wide area at the rear of the boat that is perfect for holding dinghies.

This makes getting in and out of the dinghy easier.  Also, people can often have larger dinghies on their catamarans because the boat’s stern is so accommodating.

Power Generation Is Easy On A Catamaran

A catamaran has a lot of space for solar panels and wind turbines.  Rigid panels can be placed in areas that won’t be walked on, like overtop of the bimini, and flexible panels can be placed in areas where the panels might end up getting stepped on.

The width of a catamaran even gives them more opportunities to put hydro generators into the water.

This means catamarans can generate more power than the average monohull boat can generate.

On the other hand, a monohull usually has less powered items to worry about.  Monohulls need less power to operate at full capacity, so you may not need all of the additional space for generating power.

Ventilation Issues To Think About

Some people feel that monohull boats don’t offer enough ventilation.  This is especially true in warmer areas of the world.

Catamarans also lack ventilation within their hulls, but fortunately for them, much of the living space is located up on deck.  This gives catamarans an edge when it comes to cruising in warm weather.

On the other hand, monohull owners aren’t exposed to the cold winds that you might find up on deck in harsher climates. 

This lack of airflow may actually be of benefit in this instance.

Some people find monohulls to be better looking than catamarans and vice versa.

This all comes down to personal preference, so you’ll have to decide for yourself which type of boat has the advantage in this case.

Some people think catamarans are the most elegant thing in the world while others prefer monohull boats as they look more classic.

Resale Value Is An Important Factor

If you read our extensive guide to boat depreciation per boat type , you know that no matter what boat you buy, it will always go down in value.  This is just a sad fact of boat ownership that people need to consider before buying a boat.

Many factors go into how much you’ll be able to get for your boat when you resell it.  These factors are the condition of the boat, the age of the boat, and the economy in general.  For example, people are less likely to want to buy boats during a recession.  This is especially true when it comes to smaller boats.

However, one additional factor that catamaran owners need to consider when thinking about resale value is the value of the dollar. 

People from the United States don’t have many American catamarans to choose from and will usually need to buy these overseas.

This means that a catamaran will be less expensive to buy when the dollar is strong compared to the Euro and more expensive to buy when the dollar is weaker in comparison.  This will affect the used market as well because higher values on new catamarans can help to bring up the value on the used market.

With a monohull boat, you may not have to consider situations like this as there are makers of monohull boats all over the world.

Don’t Let The Length Trick You!

One thought to keep in mind when comparing monohull boats and catamarans is that their different shapes account for different space advantages.

For example, a 40-foot long catamaran will have much more cubic space than a 40-foot long monohull.

Because of this, when comparing boats, you should look at the cubic space rather than the length. In this case, you may be comparing a 48-foot long monohull with a 40-foot long catamaran.

When you compare the two types of boats in this manner, the price differences aren’t quite as large, and the comparison is fairer.  It also may make the operating and maintenance costs more similar.

This is an important distinction to make because the length of the boats can trick you!

Consider Trying Both (Before Buying)

Boats can be an expensive purchase, so it makes sense to try them out before you decide to make your purchase.

Rent each type of boat and use it on the types of waters that you intend to cruise on the most.

Try the boat out in different weather conditions as well, and don’t be afraid to do multiple rentals before you make your final choice.  The time and money invested into making sure you get the boat you really want will be more than worth it in the end.

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

Monohulls or Catamarans – Which is Best for the Cruising Sailor?

The debate between catamarans vs monohulls still rages, and most boaters are firmly on one side or the other. The truth is, either a catamaran or a monohull can provide a wonderful way to enjoy sailing, traveling, and being on the water. 

Both have advantages and disadvantages, and both have large and loud fan clubs. The choice between a catamaran and a monohull depends on your budget, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

My wife and I have owned both types of vessels over the years. After five years of cruising on a Lagoon catamaran, we decided to go old school and bought our current boat—a heavy, full-keel monohull. The catamaran was fun, for sure—but it wasn’t for us in the end. Here’s a look at all of the differences we learned about during our journey.

Table of Contents

Life at anchor, life at a dock, life underway, living space, storage space, ride comfort and motion at sea, maintenance time and costs, docking and maneuvering, capsize risk, hull breach scenarios.

  • Rigging Safety 

Rigging Strength and Configuration

Monohull vs catamaran speed, thoughts on catamaran vs monohull for circumnavigation, deciding monohull vs catamaran, faqs – catamarans vs monohulls.

white catamaran sailing during sunset

Life on Sailing Catamarans vs Life on a Monohull Vessel

At anchor, a catamaran provides superb comfort and living space. The “upstairs” cockpit and salon mean that boaters can enjoy non-stop wrap-around views.  Monohull boaters are stuck in their caves and must peek out of their small portlights or climb into their cockpits to view the world. 

A modern catamaran will also have swim steps that make it easy to get on and off the boat and provide easy access to dinghies and water toys. 

If there’s an uncomfortable roll or swell in the anchorage, the catamaran’s stability will make the roll a bit less noticeable. Monohull boaters are more likely to be adversely impacted in a rolly anchorage. This does not mean that the cat owners are getting a perfect night’s sleep every evening, however. Catamarans just have a different motion in rocky anchorages, not a lack of motion.

Life at a dock gets a little more tricky for catamarans. Most marinas were built long before the catamaran trend and feature traditional slip sizes meant for monohulls. Marinas have to put catamarans on t-heads or make other accommodations. Therefore, it can be harder and more expensive to find a catamaran-friendly dock. 

Once at a dock, the massive space of a catamaran can be harder to heat and cool efficiently. Catamarans usually need several air conditioners or heaters installed, whereas a monohull can get by with only one or two. That also means that cats might need more power (50 or 100 amp service instead of 30 amp) than some marinas can provide.

Monohulls will have fewer issues finding marinas that can accommodate them, and they pay standard rates. 

parked boats on water

When sailing in protected waters, catamarans usually speed past their monohull friends. A catamaran provides a flat ride and sailors can move around their boats easily to make sail changes as needed. Walking on a catamaran’s deck is undemanding. 

Catamaran sailors also have many options to rest comfortably underway. Because catamarans don’t heel over, catamaran sailors can sleep in their usual cabins. They can move about the interior of the boat with ease. Cooking in the galley doesn’t usually look any different underway.

In similar conditions, a monohull will heel over. Some sailors love the feeling of being heeled over and feeling the wind in their hair. Some don’t. It can be more challenging to walk the decks and work sails on a monohull vs a catamaran. While in the cockpit, monohull sailors will want to sit on one side and may even need to brace themselves to stay comfortable. For long trips, there is no doubt that living while heeled over for days at a time is exhausting. 

Moving around the interior of a monohull boat at sea is also more challenging. Monohull sailors usually sleep in sea-berths with lee cloths instead of their usual quarters. It would be very uncomfortable to sleep in a v-berth underway, as the bow may be continuously pitching in seas. The lee-cloth in the sea-berth helps keep a resting sailor in their berth instead of falling onto the floor. 

Monohull boats have gimbaled stoves. Even while the boat is heeled over, the galley stove will remain level. However, cooking in a monohull while underway is still more challenging than cooking in a catamaran since the cook needs to constantly brace themselves against the heel and rolling motion. 

At the same time, none of this is to say that catamaran sailors have it easier at sea. In reality, catamarans may be more level, but they feel every wave in the ocean twice. The result is a choppy, bumpy ride with no rhythm. It can be just as tiring as being heeled over in a monohull.  

Sailing Casco Bay Maine

Catamaran vs Monohull Sailing Compared

Here are just a few ways that catamarans differentiate themselves from monohulls as platforms for living aboard.

  • Living space—quantity and quality
  • Storage space and weight
  • Budget—purchase and routine maintenance
  • Maintenance
  • Catamaran vs Monohull for Circumnavigation
  • Docking and close-quarters maneuvering

Catamarans have significantly larger and often more attractive living spaces. On the other hand, the living space on a monohull is usually small and can be dark due to small windows.

A monohull’s cockpit tends to be small and focused on safety. Families are more likely to feel in each other’s way, and moving around while others are seated can be awkward. On a catamaran, the cockpit is likely to be large and social. Catamaran cockpits have large tables and lots of lounging space in the cockpit.

Catamarans have large trampolines forward, which provides another comfortable, social lounging space that monohulls lack. Many catamarans also feature additional lounge space via the large cockpit roof. 

The salon on a monohull is located in the main cabin. A monohull’s salon will be smaller than a similarly-sized catamaran. Often there is a small table, room for several people to sit, and a single sleeping berth. 

Catamarans feature a wide bridge deck that crosses both hulls. This large living area features great visibility, ventilation, and natural light. On some catamarans, the galley is located on the bridge deck (called “galley up”), and on others, the galley is located in one of the hulls (called “galley down”). 

Monohulls have sleeping quarters in the bow and stern of the boat. On smaller monohulls, the main sleeping area is usually a v-berth. Older, smaller monohulls usually have just one head. 

On a catamaran, the sleeping quarters are located in each hull. These cabins often feature regular-sized boat beds and large en-suite heads. Cabins on a catamaran usually offer more privacy than monohulls. 

Catamarans are popular with charter companies because large families or groups of friends can enjoy living on a boat together in style and comfort. Each will have a private cabin and a private head. In addition, if you want to find space to exercise, do yoga, or watersports, you’ll find these activities much easier and more comfortable on a catamaran. 

yacht on sea

Catamarans have more space in general and certainly have more storage space. The additional deck space catamaran designs offer lends to easy storage for larger items, such as paddleboards and kayaks. Catamarans can often hoist and store larger dinghies than monohulls can. Large compartments make storage easy. 

However, many catamaran owners are very cautious about storing too much. Additional weight can slow down a catamaran’s performance speeds. With so much space to put things in, it’s remarkably easy to overload a cruising catamaran. Many owners complain about the performance of smaller cats, when in reality they are often just badly overloaded.

Monohulls have less space and less storage. Finding space for big items like water toys can be challenging. But monohullers worry less about weight and freely carry around their cast iron skillet collections—because weight doesn’t impact performance on a monohull nearly as much. 

This is a consideration when cruisers consider adding additional equipment. For example, a catamaran owner will have to consider the added weight of a generator and its detriment to sailing speed. In contrast, a monohull owner will have to consider finding space for the new generator. 

Some prefer the motion of a monohull while sailing. Monohulls heel over but are steady, and sailors usually get used to the heeling motion. On a catamaran, if conditions are good, the boat won’t heel and will provide a comfortable ride. 

When sailing upwind, some catamarans experience bridge deck slamming. Waves get caught between the two hulls and create a slamming motion and sound. It’s hard to predict the timing and strength of each slamming motion, so some catamaran sailors can find it tiresome. 

The amount of bridge deck slam varies from boat to boat. Catamarans with higher bridge decks will experience less slamming, while boats with bridge decks closer to the water experience more. 

Beyond that often-discussed issue, there is also the issue of the boat’s motion. It’s very difficult to imagine how different the motions are when compared to one another. The monohulls slice through the waves, usually with a predictable rhythm. A catamaran, built lightly to sail fast, feels more like it bounces over the tops of waves. The crew will feel each impact as each hull hits each wave. The result is a choppy, unpredictable motion—but it’s generally flat and level.

Monohulls have been around for ages. Therefore, sailors just starting out can find inexpensive, older monohulls. If you have a tight budget, you’ll probably start looking for a monohull.

Catamarans are newer to the market. Therefore, the initial purchase price of a catamaran is likely to be higher. Monohull buyers can often find a used, well-equipped, comfortable monohull for less than $100,000. Catamaran buyers usually spend upwards of $250,000 for a used cruising catamaran. 

Because monohulls have been produced for so long, there is much more supply. The catamaran’s more modern pedigree means that there are always fewer catamarans on the market than monohulls. As more and more customers are drawn to the attractive living space and stable sailing offered by catamarans, demand keeps going up, while supply remains low.

Besides the higher up-front costs, catamarans are more expensive to keep and maintain. A monohull usually just has one engine. A monohull might have one head (bathroom) and will generally have less equipment. Monohulls have less space and storage, after all. Catamarans have twin engines, multiple heads, more hatches—more everything. 

With more equipment, catamarans have higher maintenance costs. When a monohull owner services their engine, they have just one engine. A catamaran owner will need to service twin engines. Furthermore, each hull on a catamaran usually has separate and independent systems like bilge pumps, plumbing, fuel, water tanks, holding tanks…the list goes on. 

A monohull owner will paint one hull bottom and wax only one hull. A catamaran owner will do everything twice. Therefore, the effort and cost of maintenance are often doubled on a catamaran. 

Not only does it cost more money, it can also be harder to accomplish maintenance on a catamaran. You see, catamaran owners have fewer options to haul out. Most older boatyards have travel lifts that only accommodate boats up to 18 or 20 feet wide. Therefore, catamarans need to find a boatyard that has a large enough travel lift or a trailer to haul them. Because there is less supply and more demand for these larger travel lifts, the cost of hauling out a catamaran is often higher. 

While some monohulls have lifting or swing keels and can reduce their draft, most catamarans have a shallow draft. This allows them greater flexibility while choosing anchorages. Even if a catamaran and monohull boat choose the same anchorage, the catamaran can get closer to shore and get better wind protection. 

One final big difference between these two types of vessels is their ability to maneuver in tight spaces. Monohull sailboats are notoriously difficult to maneuver around docks and marinas. They often have poor visibility from the helm and difficult handling, especially in reverse. The single-engine design often requires a bow thruster, even on smaller boats. 

The contrast that catamarans offer is pretty stunning. Even though they appear massive and ungainly in comparison, their twin engines mounted far outboard enable them to spin in their own length. Catamarans can be maneuvered in pretty much any direction using only differential thrust from the engines–all without a bow thruster.

Safety Considerations — Are Cruising Catamarans Safe?

Since most people have only limited experience with these vessels, many people wonder are catamarans safe. Even though they have been making large cruising cats for decades now, most of us have only really played on Hobie cats at the beach. And if there’s one thing we know about Hobie cats, it’s that they’re a lot of fun until you flip it over!

Here’s a look at a few safety considerations and how catamarans stack up against monohulls. 

  • Catamaran stability — capsize potential 
  • Hull breaches and sinking risk
  • Rigging failures
  • Designing for speed
  • Redundancy on board

So, can you capsize a cruising catamaran? The answer is yes, no matter what the fanboys and girls say. It is technically possible but highly unlikely. Cruising cats are massive, and in all likelihood, you’re more likely to break the rigging than flip the boat. But in rough seas and extreme conditions, it does happen even on modern catamarans.

If a monohull encounters strong winds and rough weather, it will heel and roll significantly—but it will keep righting itself. In dire conditions, the vessel could suffer a knockdown. But a monohull will always right itself after a roll—it has tens of thousands of pounds of heavy keel to ensure that it does. Of course, the rig and anything on deck will sustain serious damage in the process, but the boat will be upright in the end. 

In the same scenario, while unlikely, a catamaran can capsize. And the catamaran will then remain capsized, with no possibility of righting itself.  

One of the scariest risks at sea is that of a serious hull breach, one that a bilge pump couldn’t keep up with. For example, a boat could be holed by an errant floating object or suffer a stuffing box or through-hull failure.

If a monohull sailboat is holed, it could sink straight to the bottom of the ocean. The crew would be left with only a liferaft and whatever they were able to recover before the sinking.

But a catamaran is filled with foam and is (more or less) unsinkable. If a catamaran experienced a hull breach or capsizes, it would take on water and may become less habitable. However, it will still float. In many cases, not much of the boat is left above the water—but it’s still at the top of the water.

Boaters may be able to perform emergency repairs and get the boat to port themselves. Or, they may have to stay with their vessel until help arrives. In either scenario, the crew maintains access to supplies and can stay with a much larger vessel, increasing the likelihood of being found and rescued. 

Some catamaran sailors are so certain of their vessels floating in all scenarios that they don’t even carry a liferaft aboard. This is fool-hearty, to say the least, given the crazy and unpredictable things that can happen to any boat on the ocean. But one scenario is equally scary for the monohull or the catamaran sailor and should convince everyone that any offshore vessel should have a liferaft—the possibility of an uncontrollable fire.

Rigging Safety

When wind speed increases, a monohull will heel over. This heeling motion sheds the excess power of the wind. Monohull boaters should pay attention to the weather and reduce sail to ensure they aren’t overpowering the boat. This is why knowing how to reef a sail is so important for all sailors.

However, on a catamaran, the sails and rigging take the increased load when wind speed increases. Catamarans don’t heel, and therefore, don’t shed excess power. If the weather becomes gusty and a catamaran has too much sail up, all that extra power is transferred to the sails and rigging.

This can cause a dangerous situation. For example, there have been reports of catamarans being de-masted in sudden gusts of wind. In a worst-case scenario, a catamaran could capsize if they are over-canvassed when experiencing extreme wind conditions.

Most monohulls have strong standing rigging. The forestay is connected to a solid structure, the hull. This means that the forestay has a strong, stable platform and gives a monohull better upwind performance. Monohulls also usually have backstays, which provide rigging redundancy.

On a catamaran, the forestay is attached to a crossbeam. Because the platform is not as rigid as a monohull’s hull, the forestay is not as strong. In addition, catamarans usually don’t have backstays, and therefore have less rigging redundancy. 

The configuration of the rigging is another rigging consideration. On a monohull, the spreaders and shrouds are perpendicular to the mast. Most catamarans come with fractional rigs that don’t have backstays, and their shrouds are set far back. Because of this configuration, catamaran sailors can’t let their mainsails out all the way on a downwind run because the shrouds are in the way. This leads to less efficient sail shapes when sailing downwind.

However, catamaran sailors can rig their sails to sail wing-on-wing. While monohull sailors can also use this configuration with the help of a whisker pole, catamaran sailors have a nice, wide, stable platform to fly large downwind sails. 

There’s no doubt about it–catamarans sail faster. Most articles and comparisons state that catamarans are about 20% faster than a similarly sized monohull. Catamarans have a lower wetted surface area and less drag than monohulls. They’re especially nice to sail in light winds, conditions that heavy cruising monohulls tend to not do well in.

While most cruising cats can’t sail upwind as high as monohulls can, they still win the race. However, if a catamaran has daggerboards and a good sail inventory, it can point as well as a monohull. 

Many boat owners believe that speed equals safety, as you might be able to outrun an impending storm. That’s a debatable strategy since weather systems often move faster than any cruising boat can move. It has a lot more to do with planning and the decisions made by the skipper, in the end. 

Furthermore, more speed means a rougher ride. A heavy, full-keeled monohull might not move very fast, but the sea-kindly and forgiving ride means a more comfortable and better-rested crew. This only goes to illustrate that the “more speed” argument is far more of a personal preference than many sailors admit—especially when it comes to long-distance cruising.

A faster boat provides a skipper with more options, but it does not ultimately equal inherent safety. That will always come down to the skipper and the crew, and the choices they make. A slow boat in the hands of an experienced and careful crew will always be safer than a fast racer under the command of an inexperienced and green crew. In other words, there is no replacement for seamanship and careful planning.

"Dragonfly" heads downwind in the lead during The Prince of Wales Trophy race sponsored by The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron,  the oldest yacht club in the Americas.

Catamarans have two of everything. While this does equal double the cost and maintenance, it also provides redundancy. If a monohull’s single engine dies and there is no wind, they may have to call for a tow or wait for wind. If a catamaran’s left engine dies, sailors can just continue on the right engine. 

Twenty years ago, the majority of boats completing circumnavigations were classic bluewater monohulls. Monohulls are considered safe and capable circumnavigators.

But today, catamarans are establishing themselves as the more desirable choice for many circumnavigators. Catamarans are fast, stable, and capable of crossing oceans. In addition, catamarans can carry significant supplies and offer redundancies. Plus, the extra space that catamarans provide also means that the crew will enjoy watersports like diving, paddle boarding, and surfing. 

Since nearly all traditional routes are downwind “milk runs,” catamarans naturally excel along the way. If you take a look at the competing boats for the World ARC rally for the last few years, a definite trend is growing. More catamarans compete every year. Common entrants include Lagoon 450s and Antares 44s.

Shots from a boat trip to Orak Island Bay near Bodrum, Turkey. The Aegean Sea / Mediterranean

One of the most significant decision points when thinking about catamarans versus monohulls is your budget. If your budget is under $100,000, a monohull will be your best bet. If your budget is between $100,000 and $250,000, you can consider a smaller, older catamaran. Catamarans such as PDQs, Prouts, and Geminis will be in your budget. If you have a budget of over $250,000 and can afford higher dockage and maintenance costs, you can consider a catamaran.

Next, consider your comfort level. To try it out, you might want to charter both a monohull and a catamaran. Check out a sailing vacation in the BVI or with a company like Cruise Abaco. Taking classes at our local sailing school might also be helpful. https://cruiseabaco.com

Many folks are attracted to the larger, more comfortable spaces of a catamaran. However, some people feel more seasick on a catamaran and can’t get used to the motion.  So a lot of your decision will come down to personal preference. 

If you can’t imagine squeezing into a darker, smaller cabin in a monohull, then a catamaran might be calling your name. On the other hand, if you are a traditionalist who loves heeling and boats with a lot of teak, a monohull might be your dream boat. It’s just impossible to know how a boat will make you feel until you’ve experienced both.

Boaters often discuss the compromises involved in boat choices. Whether you choose a monohull or a catamaran, there will be some compromises involved. However, no matter which boat you choose, you can enjoy smooth sailing, beautiful anchorages, and some adventure along the way.

Worried about getting caught in severe storm conditions in your boat ? Visit our guide!

Which is better monohull or catamaran?

Both monohulls and catamarans are popular choices for cruising sailors. Which one is better depends entirely on your personal preferences and which boat is more comfortable and appealing to you. If you are on a tight budget, a monohull is your best choice. On the other hand, if you love large open living spaces, a catamaran will be the better option.

Which is safer catamaran or monohull?

When wondering are catamarans safe, always remember that the primary determinant of the safety of a vessel is its captain, not the vessel itself. Both monohull sailboats and cruising cats have important limitations that their skippers must know and abide by. 

Some consider catamarans safer because they are virtually unsinkable. If it has a hull breach or capsizes, it will still float. 

Others see the sea-kindly monohull to be the safer bet, as they are better designed to protect their crews from the elements in severe weather. They also cannot capsize, as their ballast provides a righting moment in all conditions. But on the other hand, if a monohull experiences a hull breach, it can sink.

Can catamarans handle rough seas?

Modern cruising catamarans are built strong enough to cross oceans and survive in all kinds of conditions. It might be an uncomfortable ride, but not an unsafe ride. In the end, it is the skipper of the boat who ensures its safety at sea. Good seamanship makes a far bigger difference in how a boat handles rough seas than the design of the boat does. 

In extreme conditions, such as hurricanes or sudden gusty winds, catamarans can capsize. Once a catamaran has capsized, it won’t right itself. However, it will still float, although upside down. Heavy seas are more likely to cause maintenance and chafing issues on both catamarans and monohulls.

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

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Matt Weidert

Catamaran vs Monohull: Why the Cat is Better for Your Sailing

  • We enjoy the extra lounge space a cat provides, especially a flybridge if available - that's where we'll spend most of our time during the day
  • We like the common areas being above the waterline and the better stability
  • We care less about sailing performance - we are the type of crew that is OK dropping sails if the winds are light or it's more convenient to motor
  • As the captain, I appreciate the maneuverability twin engines provide for docking - it keeps some stress out of the equation
  • Most tend to come with generators, AC, and water makers: all features we enjoy on these trips

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Space & lounging

Sailing performance, maneuverability.

  • Comfort & Stability

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

  • Catamaran draft: ~4-5 feet
  • Monohull draft: ~5-6 feet

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

Comfort & stability

monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

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Are Catamarans Safe For Ocean Crossing?

Are Catamarans Safe For Ocean Crossing? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

‍ Catamarans aren't the most common ocean-crossing sailboats, but they're surprisingly safe and capable offshore.

Catamarans are safe for ocean crossings. In fact, catamarans are often much safer than similarly-sized monohulls offshore. Safety comes from increased motion comfort, great stability, speed, and excess buoyancy due to lack of ballast.

In this article, we’ll examine if catamarans are safe (or safer) than monohulls for offshore cruising and ocean passages. We’ll also examine the benefits of cruising catamaran design, along with how these vessels handle in different offshore conditions.

We gathered the information used in this article from offshore sailing guides and reputable catamaran experts. We also examined design guidelines for offshore cruising boats, including head-to-head tests done between catamarans and other vessels.

Table of contents

‍ Safety of Bluewater Catamarans

Cruising catamarans that are capable of bluewater sailing are some of the safest vessels on the water. In fact, they're often preferred for ocean crossing due to their miraculous speeds and excellent rough-water handling qualities.

Catamarans are uniquely equipped for safe and comfortable offshore sailing. They're not subject to the traditional limitations of hull speed, and they have a mild planing effect which reduces drag and the effects of rough seas.

Safest Catamaran Design for Crossing an Ocean

The safest ocean-crossing category is cruising catamarans, as these vessels include design elements and safety features that aren't found in recreational racing catamarans. An example of this is additional positive buoyancy material and watertight hatches.

Cruising catamarans have high-strength cockpit windows, which are designed to resist damage if a wave crashes on them. They also have redundant systems such as bilge pumps, navigation lights, and radios—which are all essential in an offshore voyage.

In fact, cruising cats are so safe that they're often recommended by expert sailors to more novice individuals. They aren't necessarily easier to sail, but they can handle rough weather safely and with better stability.

This keeps the crew dry and rational while the boat handles much of the ocean's beating all on its own.

Is it Safe to Sail a Catamaran During the Winter?

Catamarans can actually be safer to sail in winter weather conditions than monohulls. This is because cruising catboats almost always have enclosed cockpit spaces that are completely shielded from the elements. This is particularly helpful during the winter, but it's also a great feature in the tropical rainy season.

Catamaran crews can usually pilot their vessels from inside or behind these enclosed cockpits, keeping them warm and dry for as long as possible.

Additionally, given the premium nature of cruising catamarans, many of these vessels have automated winches and sails, allowing complete control from the interior cockpit.

How do Catamarans Handle Rough Weather?

Catamarans handle rough weather well, especially larger vessels with more displacement. But unlike monohull sailboats, draft and displacement aren't the most critical factors when evaluating foul-weather safety.

Catamarans are more difficult to swamp than monohulls. This is because they create a channel between their hulls that acts as a pressure relief valve, thus decreasing the likelihood of a rogue wave pushing the vessel under or knocking it over.

Catamarans are famous for their ability to weather high winds and chop. An equal-sized monohull may be just as strong and seaworthy, but the crew certainly wouldn't be praising its easy-riding qualities after a strong storm.

Catamaran captains are sometimes guilty of underestimating the danger or intensity of storms because a storm that beats the confidence out of a monohull crew may not even spill the coffee off the galley table in a catamaran.

Catamaran Buoyancy

Catamarans also have design elements that make them difficult—or nearly impossible—to sink. Or, to sink completely anyway. It's all about buoyancy, and catamarans have tons of it.

Monohull sailboats can handle well offshore, provided they have a low enough center of gravity and enough displacement to stay upright in violent gusts and large waves. Usually, monohull designers achieve this by working in an extremely heavy and deep ballasted keel.

In other words, offshore monohulls sit artificially low in the water due to added ballast for stability, both inside the cabin and deep in the keel. This is great until something starts to throw off-balance, like a bunch of water in the cabin.

Catamarans don't sit very low in the water because they're much more buoyant than monohulls and carry no large keels or ballast.

On their own, catamaran side hulls would probably roll over due to their lack of low ballast. But when strung together, they balance each other out and keep the hull far out of the water.

Catamarans don't often sink because they're simply too buoyant. They use their width and dual hulls to make up for the lack of ballast.

Plus, catamaran builders sometimes add additional positively buoyant material such as foam, to the point where sinking an intact vessel would be utterly impossible.

Are Catamarans Strong Enough for Ocean Sailing?

All production bluewater catamarans are extremely rigid and structurally sound. Catamarans make ocean journeys all the time and suffer tremendous stresses, which monohulls never experience. As a result, they're built using stronger materials and reinforced in all necessary areas.

Do Catamarans Break in Half?

It seems easy enough to believe—a catamaran hits a funny wave and breaks in half. After all, catamarans are only held together by a thin strip of fiberglass, right? Wrong—catamaran design is very robust, and all production catamarans are thoughtfully designed and strong.

Apart from the odd story in a sailing magazine, catamarans rarely just break in half. There have been some cases of it happening, but only due to extreme conditions, specific design flaws, or shoddy amateur construction.

Catamarans hulls break off far less often than regular monohulls sink—often in much less hazardous conditions than the few catamarans that did break in this way. So no, you don't have to worry about a production catamaran breaking in half while on the ocean.

Catamaran Comfort and Safety

Comfort can actually be a safety benefit on the open ocean, especially when sailing with a limited crew. Catamarans are known for their stability and increased motion comfort, which can improve the overall health and ability of the crew.

Think about it this way. A seasick and exhausted crew won't be able to deal with navigation or emergencies as efficiently and safely as a well-fed and well-rested crew. This is one of the indirect benefits that offshore catamarans have above most traditional monohull designs.

Catamaran Roll Safety

What happens if a catamaran suffers a knockdown? Usually, nothing good—catamarans can't self-right after a knockdown, unlike some monohulls with a low center of gravity. You're much more likely to have a knockdown or nail-biting roll on a monohull than a catamaran.

That said, catamarans don't suffer knockdowns nearly as easily as similarly-sized monohulls. This is because catamarans distribute their weight widely, and they have a much greater natural roll resistance.

Catamarans have great buoyancy in some parts of the hull and minimal buoyancy in others, which can actually increase roll resistance. For example, catamarans can slice through waves instead of riding over the crest and rolling violently.

It's not easy for the wind to push a catamaran down—quite the opposite. Catamarans actually rise out of the water slightly when sailed properly, even at angles perpendicular to the wind. Catamarans tend to increase in speed as wind speeds increase, directing more energy forward instead of to the side.

Monohulls have completely different high-wind handling characteristics. At some wind angles, high winds can push a monohull dangerously to one side. This is distinct from normal heeling, as the water can begin to rush over the deck and swamp the single-hull vessel.

Can Catamarans Survive Flooding?

Catamarans benefit from another safety feature that's not necessarily a design choice but a design element nonetheless. Catamarans are essentially compartmentalized, and they have a center cockpit high above the waterline.

These characteristics increase the amount of flooding necessary to seriously endanger the vessel. For example, a small leak in one hull needs to be fixed promptly—but it doesn't endanger the boat nearly as much as the same leak in your only hull.

Additionally, much of a catamaran's interior space is in the center console, which is above the waterline and thus can't be flooded from the hulls. Or at least not immediately. This is one of the reasons why catamarans rarely sink.

Catamaran Safety Equipment

Catamarans have a large amount of flat, open space between the hulls. These areas are useful for stowing equipment such as high-tech covered life rafts.

A small boat may have to make do with a small life raft and limited emergency supplies, yet a catamaran can store safety equipment for much larger vessels.

Catamaran Speed

Speed is an important and often overlooked aspect of safety, and we can use an example to demonstrate why. Picture two boats somewhere between Florida and the Bahamas. Dark clouds begin to form overhead, indicating a possible afternoon thunderstorm.

Boat A is a catamaran with good speed and sea keeping abilities. Boat B is a heavier monohull of the same length but greater displacement and technically better seaworthiness.

The catamaran, Boat A, deploys full sail and makes a speed of about 15 knots to outrun the forming storm. Boat B is a monohull and can't make more than 8 knots, even in the best conditions.

Boat A makes it back to port with time to spare, but Boat B is well out to see taking a beating from the storm. Speed means safety in many situations, even though it's never smart to try and beat the weather if you can stay in a safe location instead.

Related Articles

Are Catamarans More Stable?

Are Catamarans Good In Rough Water?

Are Catamarans Safer than Monohulls?

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Catamarans vs. Monohulls

Which is better, a monohull or a catamaran.

This question gets asked a lot in sailing. Especially if you are looking to take your friends or family out for the week: which will be better, a catamaran (aka cat) or monohull (aka mono)? The short answer is it depends what sort of experience you are looking for. Let's explore this further.

Tell me more about monohulls and catamarans.

Monohulls are boats that have one hull. They are the classic sailing yachts that you see old black & white photos of, racing off Newport or Cowes.

Catamarans on the other hand have two hulls. They tend to be newer, and are said to be less traditional, although some of the earliest sailing boats ever developed may well have been catamarans.

Catamaran vs Monohull

Image: monohull (left) and catamaran (right)

Things to consider

Now that we understand the difference between catamarans and monohulls, let's look at attributes that are important in sailing. Once we have explained these, we can look at how each boat-type deals with them:

For obvious reasons, you want to have a stable boat. Monohulls are a bit like a roly-poly doll, where when pushed over, they tend to right themselves. That is unless they reach what is termed the "angle of vanishing stability" or AVS. Catamarans deal with stability in a different way.

Catamarans tend to be much more stable in most conditions, but should they capsize, they quickly become stable, albeit upside down.

Nevertheless capsizing is such a rare occurrence that "stability" here really means comfort when sailing.

Heavy-Seas-5-rya-avs

Angle of Vanishing Stability (AVS) graph, image thanks RYA: rya.org.uk

Living area

Your boat needs to strike a balance between sailing well and being comfortable to spend time in. The layout of the boat is important in this regard: what level it is on, how large it is, and how square the space is.

lagoon-450-12b-vivisail

Lagoon 450 Living Area. Image thanks vivisail.com

The draft of a boat is how far in the water it goes. "How much does she draw" means "what is the minimum depth of water that this boat needs so she doesn't go aground". Monohulls by definition require a keel, a heavy piece of iron or lead that goes deep into the water. Catamarans do not require this, and therefore tend to have a "shallower draft".

boatparts2-thecampfirecollective

Draft and Freeboard explained. Image thanks thecampfirecollective.com

Maneuverability

Being able to easily maneuver your boat is clearly an advantage in tight situations, such as when docking in a crowded marina. Both monohulls and catamarans have their pros and cons here, which will be explained further below.

cat-maneauver-cruising-world

Maneuverability, image thanks Cruising World (cruisingworld.com)

The speed of a sailboat is not as simple as for a motorboat. The angle of the wind has a large effect on the speed of a sailboat. Some boats can sail faster when close to the wind - monohulls normally fall into this category - while others can sail very fast when the wind is on their side (aka a beam reach) - catamarans usually like this sort of "reaching" sailing.

F50 catamaran - Sailing Virgins

F50 catamaran in the fastest sailing competition in the world. Image thanks SailGP and James Wierzbowski

Having natural light and a decent view can make the living space much more comfortable. With monohulls, most of the living space is "down below" whereas for catamarans, most of the living area happens "up" in the saloon which is located between and above the two hulls. This creates two different environments. One person's "cozy" is another person's "claustrophobic". Just the same, one person's "light and open atmosphere" is another person's "soulless". So there is a fair degree of taste to this particular aspect.

190110-Swan48-Nortern-light-view1

Interior of the incredible Nautor Swan 48, image thanks Nautor Swan

"Feeling Sailing"

By this we mean the feel of the boat responding to the wind as she slices through the water. Some people sail for this feeling, while others simply sail as an ecological, efficient way to move from A to B. Monohulls and catamarans offer very different visceral experiences here.

wally-yacht-off-monaco

WallyCento Tango sails off Monaco, image thanks Gilles Martin-Raget/Wally Yachts

In breaking down the pros and cons of monohulls and catamarans, we found that a pro for one was a con for another. With that in mind, we think it is more helpful to list the pros of each, so you only read it once. Here goes:

8 Pros to Catamarans

1. catamarans are inherently stable..

Two hulls provides a wide base, which means in most sea states, less "bobbing". Every now and then, when the space between wave tops is a certain distance, the cat can lurch. But this is more the exception than the rule.

Catamaran-Roll-Stability

Great illustration of reduced rolling on a catamaran, image thanks aeroyacht.com

Here are some more pros of stability:

  • Stability is a big factor for families with young children or seniors. It suits "non-sailors" in the group;
  • Stability is very helpful for those prone to sea sickness (although scopolamine patches are probably still required if someone is very susceptible to getting sea sick);
  • Stability means things are more comfortable at anchor, and for cooking;
  • Because cats don’t heel over nearly as much, storage and stowing of provisions and household items is much easier.

Apologies for resolution, a brilliant graph on catamaran stability, thanks sailingcatamarans.com

2. Catamarans have more space.

Catamarans generally have much more living space in the main salon, galley and cockpit, and in the cabins. This can allow for greater privacy when chartering with friends or children, as the two sleeping areas (one in each hull) are separated by the living area. Here are some more pros of space:

  • More space on a catamaran for preparing food, which means the cooking experience tends to be less a balancing act, and more like the kitchen at home;
  • More space on a catamaran for storing things, which means people are not tripping over them throughout the trip.
  • The space on a catamaran is square-shaped, akin to an apartment, as opposed to a monohull which tends to be more rectangular.

Enigma-Saloon-600x360

Interior of a Lagoon 620, image thanks Indigo Bay Yacht Charters

3. Catamaran living space is above the water line.

On a monohull, almost all living space on a is at least partially below the water line, which limits light and view, and can lead to claustrophobia in some. Catamarans on the other hand, sit above the water line. In addition:

  • Ventilation in the main saloon area on catamarans is generally excellent, given their above-water design.
  • Most of the living quarters are also above the water line, which allows for more light and a better view, as well as better circulation of air.

4. Catamarans can venture into shallower areas.

The lack of keel on a catamaran results in a shallower draft, allowing to anchor in shallower water, which is especially valuable around reefs in the tropics.

shallow-draft-aeroyacht

Shallow draft of a catamaran, image thanks aeroyacht.com

5. Catamarans can turn on a dime.

Because catamarans have two engines and two rudders, maneuverability in tight spaces is improved, with most cats being able to turn 360º within the length of the boat.

6. Catamarans (usually) sail faster.

Without the need for a heavy keel, catamarans are lighter than an equivalent monohull. That, plus the fact that they keep their sails perpendicular to the wind, means they sail faster than monohulls, especially on a run or broad reach.

hh66-sail-fast

The magnificent HH66 catamaran, image thanks Sail Magazine

7. Catamarans are harder to sink.

Without the need for a lead-weighted keel, catamarans are not just lighter and faster, they are also harder to sink. Monohulls have been known to "lose their keel", by hitting something such as a semi-submerged container or even a whale. When this happens, the boat will tend to sink within minutes. Catamarans do not have a keel to lose, which means in this (admittedly very rare, blue-water) event, catamarans come out trumps.

8. Catamarans allow spooning.

Most catamarans have a trampoline or net at the front. This allows for spacious and comfortable cuddling under the stars - not to be underrated.

Monohull Pros

1. monohulls look great..

You can’t beat a monohull sailboat for good looks. Classic, sleek, beautiful, there is a timeless beauty to monohull sailboats.

Catamarans on the other hand have a “non-traditional” aesthetic that some consider to be a little harsher on the eyes. Let's face it, many are downright ugly.

DJI_0021-SailingVirgins-TisaSencur-BVI-2019-Edit

2. Monohulls are a romantic, evolving tradition.

Do you love the old photos of well-dressed people sailing their immaculate wooden monohulls in beautiful surroundings? If you answer yes to this question, take a good look at monohulls. That romance and tradition is still there.

3. Monohulls give you more options.

Due to the sheer volume of monohulls made over the last century, there are many more options for a boat that meets your individual lifestyle, personal aesthetic, or budget.

4. Monohulls carry a lower cost.

  • Monohulls take up half the space at a marina than catamarans, and therefore generally cost you half as much.
  • Monohulls are more readily available used in good shape, and cost less to charter for equal sleeping capacity.

5. Monohulls sail better upwind.

Due to their keel, monohulls can sail higher into the wind than most catamarans. Some of the more exotic catamarans have daggerboards which serve the same purpose as a keel, and therefore improve windward performance substantially. However 95% of cruising cats (ie. those you can charter) do not have daggerboards. Furthermore:

  • A monohull will be far easier than a catamaran to tack.
  • Monohulls slice through the water effortlessly. On some catamarans you get an irritating slapping of water on the bridge decks in rougher seas.
  • A monohull is generally faster to respond to the helm (in other words, they turn faster). This is because most cruising cats have little "spade rudders", with their depth dictated by the need to have a shallow draft. Whereas with a keel, a monohull can have a far deeper (read: more responsive) rudder for its draft.

mono60

Monohull sailing upwind, image thanks Sail Magazine

6. Monohulls give you more feedback when sailing.

This factor (and lower cost) is why most sail training happens on monohulls. If you have too much sail out for the wind, your overpowered monohull will heel over and become a pain to sail, before anything breaks. 

On a catamaran you get less feedback at the wheel, which if you are not being very attentive can get you into trouble in big winds.

Then there is the visceral joy of "feeling sailing". A monohull will heel (meaning it is designed to tip over anywhere from 10º to say 50º) whereas a catamaran won't. While their increased heeling can be a performance disadvantage, it can also be an advantage as it is a lot of fun. 

7. Tacking is easier on a monohull.

While they can accelerate faster, catamarans also decelerate much quicker, and as such can have a harder time maintaining momentum through a tack. It depends what sort of sailing you are after. If it is about enjoying being outside, and not so much about the sailing itself, then a catamaran is fine. But if you are out there sailing for sailing's sake, then you will probably find more enjoyment on a monohull.

8. Monohulls tend to swing less at anchor.

While they may rock more in a side to side motion than their equivalent catamaran, monohulls tend to swing less at anchor.

email-banner-2

Libertas on a mooring ball. Monohulls exhibit less "sailing on their anchor" when moored.

Conclusions

The above shows that there are no clear winners to the Catamaran vs. Monohull debate. At Sailing Virgins we teach and cruise on both monohulls and catamarans. If you have to make a decision yourself it really comes down to:

  • How much hard-core sailing you (and your crew) intend to do;
  • What your budget is;
  • How much space you need;
  • How shallow the bays are that you would like to visit.

We hope that helps your decision making. If you would ever like to know more, if you become a Sailing Virgins Patron, you can take part in any of our once-per-month live Q&A sessions, where absolutely any sailing-related question if yours can be asked and answered. Patron support starts from as little as $3 per episode. Click here for more information.

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monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

OceanWave Sail

How is Catamaran Sailing Different from Monohull Sailing?

Published by oceanwave on july 16, 2023 july 16, 2023.

Catamaran sailing has gained immense popularity in recent years, captivating sailing enthusiasts with its unique design, enhanced stability, and remarkable performance. In this article, we will dive into the captivating world of catamaran sailing, exploring the differences between catamarans and monohulls, their growing popularity, safety considerations, ease of sailing, transatlantic crossing capabilities, and impressive speeds they can achieve. Join us as we unravel the allure of catamaran sailboats and embark on a journey of discovery.

Catamaran sailing distinguishes itself from monohull sailing in several ways. The dual-hull design of catamarans offers increased stability and reduced heeling compared to monohulls. This stability provides a smoother and more comfortable sailing experience for passengers.

Catamaran sailboats are known for their impressive speed and efficiency, thanks to reduced drag and optimized sail area-to-weight ratio. They can achieve higher speeds and improved performance compared to monohull sailboats. Additionally, catamarans have enhanced maneuverability with their shallow draft, allowing them to navigate in shallower waters and anchor closer to the shore. The presence of twin engines or outboard motors further enhances their maneuvering capabilities, especially in tight spaces such as marinas.

Why Are Catamarans Popular?

Catamarans have become increasingly popular among sailors for several reasons. One key factor is their spaciousness and comfort. Catamarans, including luxury catamaran yachts, offer generous living spaces, multiple cabins, and expansive deck areas. The dual-hull design allows for separate living areas from the sailing and engine compartments, reducing noise and vibrations and enhancing overall onboard comfort. Catamarans also provide versatility for various sailing conditions. Their exceptional stability, shallow draft, and comfortable amenities make them suitable for coastal cruises, offshore adventures, and luxurious experiences on the water. The appeal of catamarans extends to their aesthetic beauty, modern design, and the panoramic views they offer from their spacious decks.

Are Catamarans Safer Than Monohull Sailboats?

Safety is of paramount importance in sailing, and catamarans offer several safety advantages over monohull sailboats. The dual-hull design of catamarans provides inherent stability, making them less prone to capsizing and offering a more secure sailing experience. Compared to monohulls, catamarans have reduced heeling, which minimizes the risk of crew members or passengers being thrown off balance or objects sliding across the deck. The stability of catamarans also allows for a more comfortable and enjoyable sailing experience, particularly for those prone to motion sickness. Additionally, many modern catamarans are equipped with self-righting features and built-in buoyancy, further enhancing safety in challenging conditions.

Are Catamarans Easier to Sail?

Catamarans are often considered easier to sail compared to monohull sailboats, particularly for sailors with limited experience. The wide beam and dual-hull design of catamarans provide inherent stability, reducing the learning curve for beginners. This stability minimizes the need for constant adjustments to maintain balance, making catamarans more forgiving in terms of sailing skills. The reduced heeling angle of catamarans allows for a more comfortable and stable platform, giving sailors increased confidence on the water. Furthermore, the presence of twin engines or outboard motors on many catamarans enhances maneuverability, especially in tight spaces such as marinas. The ability to control each hull independently contributes to easier handling and docking, making catamarans more accessible for sailors of various skill levels.

Can a Catamaran Cross the Atlantic?

Catamarans possess the capability to undertake transatlantic crossings, demonstrating their long-distance sailing potential. With proper preparation, equipment, and an experienced crew, catamarans are well-suited for extended offshore passages. Their inherent stability, spaciousness, and range of onboard amenities make them ideal for extended voyages. Catamarans offer ample storage for provisions and necessities, allowing for self-sufficiency during long passages. Their shallow draft enables them to access shallower anchorages and explore remote areas. Many sailors have successfully completed transatlantic crossings on catamarans, attesting to their reliability and suitability for long-distance adventures.

How Fast Does a Catamaran Sail?

Catamarans are renowned for their impressive speed potential on the water. Their reduced drag, optimized sail area-to-weight ratio, and twin-hull design contribute to their ability to achieve high speeds. While actual speeds depend on various factors such as wind conditions and the size of the catamaran, they are known to be faster than many monohull sailboats. Racing catamarans, specifically designed for speed, can attain remarkable velocities. It is not uncommon for catamarans to surpass monohulls in terms of speed, offering an exhilarating and dynamic sailing experience. However, it is important to note that the speed of a catamaran depends on factors such as hull design, sail configuration, wind strength, and sea conditions.

Luxurious Features of Catamaran Interiors

Catamarans are renowned for their luxurious features and well-designed interiors, offering a harmonious blend of elegance and functionality. The interiors of catamarans are carefully crafted to provide a comfortable and stylish living space while maximizing the available area. Design elements such as panoramic windows, spacious saloons, and tasteful furnishings create an inviting ambiance. Catamaran interiors often feature well-appointed galleys equipped with modern appliances, allowing for the preparation of gourmet meals. Air conditioning systems ensure a comfortable temperature throughout the yacht, even in warmer climates. Thoughtful layouts and clever storage solutions optimize space, enhancing the overall experience on board.

The Rise of Electric Catamarans

With the increasing focus on sustainability and environmental consciousness, the rise of electric catamarans is gaining momentum. Electric propulsion systems are becoming more prevalent in the marine industry, including the world of catamarans. Electric catamarans offer numerous advantages, including quieter operation, zero emissions, and lower operating costs compared to traditional combustion engines. These eco-friendly vessels contribute to cleaner seas, reduced carbon emissions, and a more sustainable future for the marine industry. Advancements in electric catamaran technology, such as lithium-ion battery systems and regenerative braking, are further improving efficiency and range.

Catamaran Cruises and Yachting Vacations

Catamaran cruises and yachting vacations offer an extraordinary way to experience the beauty of the seas and explore breathtaking sailing destinations . With their spacious decks, luxurious amenities, and exceptional stability, catamarans have become a sought-after choice for those seeking unforgettable sailing adventures.

Catamaran Cruises: Catamaran cruises provide an idyllic escape, combining the thrill of sailing with the comfort of a floating resort. These cruises offer a unique perspective of coastal landscapes and the open water, allowing passengers to relax, unwind, and explore. The dual-hull design of catamarans provides remarkable stability, ensuring a smooth and comfortable journey even in choppy waters. Passengers can sunbathe on the expansive deck, enjoy the panoramic views from the trampoline netting between the hulls, or simply bask in the tranquility of the sea. Catamaran cruises create the perfect setting for relaxation, adventure, and connection with nature.

Yachting Vacations: For those seeking an extended escape, yachting vacations aboard catamarans present the ultimate luxury experience. These vacations allow travelers to immerse themselves in the beauty of exotic destinations while enjoying the opulence and comfort of a private yacht. Catamaran yachts are designed with multiple cabins, spacious saloons, and well-appointed interiors, providing a home away from home on the water. The luxury of a catamaran yacht allows guests to indulge in privacy, relaxation, and personalized service. From Mediterranean gems to Caribbean paradises, there are endless possibilities for yachting vacations that cater to different preferences and interests.

In conclusion, catamaran cruises and yachting vacations provide unforgettable experiences for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and luxury on the water. The spacious decks, luxurious amenities, and remarkable stability of the catamaran sailboats create the perfect platform for indulging in the beauty of the seas. The well-designed interiors of catamarans offer comfort, elegance, and functionality, ensuring a memorable stay on board. As the industry embraces sustainability, the rise of electric catamarans signifies a commitment to a greener future, where sailing enthusiasts can enjoy their passion while preserving the environment. Whether embarking on a catamaran cruise, savoring a yachting vacation, or exploring the world of electric catamarans, these experiences continue to captivate and inspire sailors around the globe.

Catamaran sailing has captured the imagination of sailors around the world, offering an exhilarating and comfortable sailing experience. With their unique design, enhanced stability, and impressive performance, catamarans have become a popular choice for sailors seeking adventure, comfort, and speed. Whether cruising the scenic coasts of Puerto Rico or embarking on transatlantic crossings, catamarans continue to enthrall and inspire sailors, taking them on unforgettable journeys across the seas. So set sail on a catamaran, embrace the freedom of the ocean, and experience the wonders of this remarkable sailing phenomenon.

To learn more about Sailboat info check out the various sailboat brands and choose one according to your functionality and budget. Start preparing for your upcoming sailing excursion right away with Ocean Wave Sail !

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IMAGES

  1. Catamaran vs Monohull

    monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

  2. Catamaran vs. Monohull: Which Is Better?

    monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

  3. Catamaran vs. Monohull Sailboats

    monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

  4. CATAMARAN vs MONOHULL: Price & Performance

    monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

  5. Catamaran vs Monohull Sailboat

    monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

  6. 5 Advantages of a catamaran over a monohull

    monohull or catamaran for ocean sailing

VIDEO

  1. Why Catamarans SUCK

  2. Trans-Atlantic Crossing on a Small Catamaran

  3. Catamaran over monohull ⛵️

  4. Monohull Vs Catamaran

  5. Grenada Fall 2023

  6. Catamaran Ocean Sailing Trip in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

COMMENTS

  1. Catamarans Vs. Monohulls: Choosing The Right Boat

    Sailing to weather, however, can be like tacking a shoebox. No matter what the brochures say, sailing much closer than 60 degrees apparent wind angle is only in the realm of true performance cats that are typically not found in charter. If you want tight tacks and good upwind performance, a monohull will be a better bet.

  2. Catamaran vs. Monohull: We Changed, Should You?

    7. Shallow Draft Equals Better Anchorages. Catamarans have significantly shallower drafts than monohulls, allowing for safer anchorages closer to shore. Most catamarans in the 40-ft to 50-ft range draw between 3-ft to 4.5-ft, so they can anchor in places that a monohulls can not even consider.

  3. Catamaran Vs Monohull

    Monohulls have a single hull, and catamarans have two hulls side-by-side. Catamarans are faster than monohulls of the same length and displacement, but monohulls are stronger and more spacious. Monohulls are also cheaper and easier to build than multi-hulls. In this article, we'll cover the differences between catamarans and monohulls, along ...

  4. Catamaran vs. Monohull: Choosing your sailing path

    Deciding between a catamaran and a monohull often boils down to personal preferences. Catamarans excel in stability and space, making them suitable for larger groups and extended trips. Monohulls, on the other hand, offer a classic sailing feel and perform well in various weather conditions. Consider your priorities and the type of adventure ...

  5. Catamaran vs Monohull

    for a monohull sailing 45° to the wind, and 4.0 nm for a catamaran sailing 55° to the wind. The final difference after 7 tacks each is 1.0 nm, which would take the catamaran an additional 2 tacks (and just shy of 2 nm distance sailed) to make up the difference. Table 1. Sailing Angle and Distance Comparison Sailing Angle (off the wind)

  6. Catamaran vs Monohull: Pros, Cons & Main Differences

    Upwind sailing performance: While catamarans have the edge at straight-line speed, monohulls sail closer to the wind. When you're racing or you have to sail upwind to get to the next island, this can get you there faster. Sailing feel and responsiveness: The "feel" of sailing a monohull is much better.With a single hull, you'll feel wind pressure and trim adjustments immediately for a ...

  7. Catamaran vs Monohull: The Great Sailboat Debate

    Monohull advantages. • Upwind sailing. When sailing against the wind, monohulls often sail at a closer angle to the wind and arrive more quickly at their destination. • Easier motion. Heavier monohulls often have a slower, gentler motion in waves than a lighter catamaran. • Load carrying capability.

  8. Sailboat Debate: Monohull vs. Catamaran

    Jul 30, 2018. Original: Aug 17, 2015. Two sailboat experts argue monohull vs. catamaran. Contributed by Denison Yacht Sales. The great debate over which is better—one or two hulls—boils down to several factors, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages. The verdict usually defaults to personal preference and intended use of the vessel ...

  9. Catamaran vs. Monohull: Which Is Better?

    Most sailing catamarans have a shallow draft perfect for skinny water cruising like the Chesapeake Bay and Florida. They can venture into areas previously off-limits to deep-draft monohull sailboats. Safety system in case of emergencies. Most cats have double the systems, including bilge pumps, freshwater pumps, showers, heads, engines, etc ...

  10. Monohulls vs. Catamarans: Which One is Best for You?

    When it comes to sailing, we all know that proper maintenance is key to keeping your vessel in tip-top shape. So, when it comes to choosing between a monohull vs. a catamaran, it's important to consider the maintenance requirements for each type of vessel.

  11. Catamaran vs. Monohull Sailboats

    If everything including length remains the same, a catamaran is about 30% faster than a monohull. A cat can sail at half the speed of wind but this will, of course, upon the angle of the wind. It remains the faster vessel and will allow you to arrive at your destination promptly. If anything, you can outrun bad weather with a catamaran. Monohull

  12. Monohull vs Catamaran: A Deep Dive into Design and Performance

    For starters, how a boat handles various wind conditions is critical. Monohulls, due to their keeled design, tend to excel upwind. Their ability to 'point' into the wind is usually superior to that of a catamaran. On the other hand, catamarans, with their lighter weight and reduced drag, often have the upper hand in downwind and lighter wind ...

  13. Catamarans vs Monohulls: Which is Better a Better ...

    The question of whether to choose a monohull vessel or a catamaran is an eternal dispute between boat lovers. These arguments are usually based on one's preferences and philosophy. In fact, the popularity of catamarans has grown significantly since their design facilitates many aspects of sailing. But, both mono-hulls and multi-hulls have their advantages and disadvantages. So, in this ...

  14. Catamaran VS Monohull: what should you choose to sail around the world?

    Bénédicte can testify to this development: "The catamaran we've chosen sails easily in light airs. From 4-5 knots, it moves under sail, whereas classic catamarans need 10 to 15 knots to move properly, depending on the points of sail. So we use the engine very little and sail almost exclusively. On long journeys, sometimes the weather ...

  15. Sailboat Data Comparison: Monohulls vs. Catamarans

    20. Analysis: Comparing sailboat data to monohulls, catamarans frequently have a higher Sail Area-to-Displacement Ratio (SA/D). This suggests that catamarans may be able to use the wind more effectively, leading to faster speeds. The specific design and sail plan, however, are equally important in this regard.

  16. Monohull or multihull: which is best for blue water?

    Multihulls can be relatively quick in the right offwind conditions, but if they are heavily laden - as they will be for blue water cruising - there really is no significant speed advantage. The Gunboat 66 Phaedo 1 piles on the speed, but for blue water cruisers, comfort and stowage is more important than pace.

  17. Catamaran vs. Monohull: What Type of Boat is Right for You?

    Speed. In the catamaran vs monohull speed debate, it might be more of a draw. Catamarans are typically 25-30% faster than a comparable monohull, but some argue that it comes at a price. When catamarans are sailing full speed you might experience a lot of slapping from the waves. Monohulls are designed to cut through the water.

  18. Catamaran Or Monohull? 27 Important Facts (Explained)

    Sailing catamarans do not heel like a monohull sailboat. These boats, therefore, do not provide the sailor with instant feedback. Also, if you incorrectly sail a catamaran, you do risk capsizing the boat more easily. Training Can Be Quite Hard. Sailing a catamaran and sailing a monohull boat are two different experiences.

  19. Monohulls or Catamarans

    One of the most significant decision points when thinking about catamarans versus monohulls is your budget. If your budget is under $100,000, a monohull will be your best bet. If your budget is between $100,000 and $250,000, you can consider a smaller, older catamaran. Catamarans such as PDQs, Prouts, and Geminis will be in your budget.

  20. Catamaran vs Monohull: Why the Cat is Better for Your Sailing

    If you are sailing in the British Virgin Islands, this probably won't matter much since most navigation is line of sight in relatively deep water.The anchorages are also less shallow. However, if you are planning a trip to the Exumas Bahamas, the shallower waters will make a difference.You will most certainly be able to access some anchorages in a catamaran that you would want to avoid in a ...

  21. Are Catamarans Safe For Ocean Crossing?

    June 15, 2022. ‍ Catamarans aren't the most common ocean-crossing sailboats, but they're surprisingly safe and capable offshore. Catamarans are safe for ocean crossings. In fact, catamarans are often much safer than similarly-sized monohulls offshore. Safety comes from increased motion comfort, great stability, speed, and excess buoyancy due ...

  22. Catamarans vs. Monohulls

    A monohull will be far easier than a catamaran to tack. Monohulls slice through the water effortlessly. On some catamarans you get an irritating slapping of water on the bridge decks in rougher seas. A monohull is generally faster to respond to the helm (in other words, they turn faster).

  23. How is Catamaran Sailing Different from Monohull Sailing?

    Catamaran sailing distinguishes itself from monohull sailing in several ways. The dual-hull design of catamarans offers increased stability and reduced heeling compared to monohulls. This stability provides a smoother and more comfortable sailing experience for passengers. Catamaran sailboats are known for their impressive speed and efficiency ...