Monday, June 18, 2012

Catamaran vs. Monohull

Image of a traditional dhow I took off the coast of Zanzibar
Everyone loves a good rivalry.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Leno vs. Letterman. Bears vs. Packers....Catamaran vs. Monohull.  "What?" you say, "There is a rivalry between mono and multihulls".  You better believe there is!

Don't get me wrong - it's a healthy rivalry and, for the most part, friendly - but it definitely exists and almost all of us have gotten into a debate, whether serious or humorous, as to why one hull is better than two or visa versa.  We have lots of friends who sail on cats and an equal number who sail on monos and we all get along because at the end of the day we are all after the same thing: freedom.

What surprised us the most during this particular boat search was the amount of blog followers who wrote us suggesting catamarans after I specifically mentioned we were looking for a monohull.  While I could go on about the pros and cons of both, here's the deal:  We are not catamaran people.  It's as simple as that.  Are we being closed minded?  Maybe.  Are we stubbon?  For sure

For us it is probably more about history than anything.  Both Scott and I grew up sailing monohulls.  And, selfish as it may seem, we want our kids to sail on monohulls too.  We grew up heeling over on boats and surfing along on a tilt.  That is what sailing is to us.  In fact, some of my favorite childhood memories were of my brother, sister and me sitting on the low side of my parent's boat desperately dangling our toes over the side trying to touch the water and squealing with joy when we did.    Forts on the bow, halyard swinging while sitting in the bosun's chair underway, lee cloths...We loved life on an angle. It meant we were going places.  Heck, it meant we could stand on a slant without falling over (very, very cool to a five year old)!  Sure, we had to make little adjustments to accomodate life like this, but we liked it.

At the risk of offending our catamaran friends, I would be lying if I didn't say it is also about beauty.  Luckily, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for us - a monohull wins the contest every time.  The aesthetics are hard for us to overlook; we love the lines of a traditional sailboat - they are as breathtaking as those of a thoroughbred racehorse; strong, lean, powerful and elegant.  Cats just don't have that same appeal to us.  We've been on and sailed catamarans and can definitely see their appeal; they are indeed much roomier, they are (usually) faster, and infinitely "flatter" but not once has one turned our head and made us pronounce "that is beautiful."   While there are a million other variables within the catamaran vs. monohull debate (safety, cost, upwind performance, blue-water ability, strength...etc), I will not go into them as I am, obviously, biased.  A quick Google search, however, will bring up hundreds upon hundreds of stats and opinions for you to dig through and find out what side of the coin you fall on.

I know that amongst our followers we have devout lovers of both - and that is great.  Some of you have only sailed cats, others are purist mono sailors like ourselves and I know many of you started out with one and switched to the other.  We all have a right to our opinions and thank god for that!  I'm not saying we'll never own a catamaran (I've learned never to say "never") but for now, we like one hull.  But here's the thing:  whether you sail on two pontoons or one, there is always one thing that will unite us - and that is the call of the sea.  And nothing is more unifying and more powerful than that.


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Great post! As you said, both types of sailboats are great ... they both take you out on the water! We love our mono-hull, but also appreciate the catamaran. We love the lean too!

Jake DiMare said...

Great piece. I've always heard cats are great for gunkholing around the Caribbean -not great for extended cruising. The reason being their poor performance and lack of comfort sailing upwind.

Personally, I am only considering monohulls for a lot of the same reasons you cite.

Tom~Tom said...

It's an endless debate, but I'm with you, although you [b]MAY[/b] consider a cat when you start having grandchildren. Plenty of time before that happens, eh?



Creamer said...

Mono has a better chance in Hurricane weather while at sea. Wind seems to make Cat and Tri Vessels Fly. Also heavy lead sinkers give a better motion to windward with weight inertia, in heavy seas and high winds.
This coming from a 25 year 50foot Trimariner. I will be buying an under 36 foot leadballast Bluewater Mono Classic plasticfor my single handed senior years of liveaboard retirement this summer....with extended cruising planned.I have enjoyed both....just prefer one hull with lesser ! Thats what retired is about ...afterall!

Unknown said...

Great post, as always. It's nice to be so sure of what you want, since searching for just the right boat is already fraught with layers of decisions. Looking forward to stories and pics of your little trio aboard the next adventure.

Paul A said...

As always Brit, fun read. You forgot one vs. however; Cubs and Sox! Like your family and monohulls, I didn't know the American League existed until I was in high school!
How much longer are you going to keep us waiting to see and hear about the new yacht?! Hope the sea trials are going well and she is all you hoped she would be.

Last Paradise said...

Well said. Jeff and I are certainly on your same page with history (I too have memories of 'banana peel' on the low side with my brothers!). We have sailed mono hulls both with our families growing up and together for over 10 years... Some days I wonder why we are building a cat! Life is a learning experience, right? By the way, Isla is amazing... Some day it will be great to get our kiddos together on a beach, San Blas maybe? Xo. Abby

Joe said...

"We grew up heeling over on boats and surfing along on a tilt. That is what sailing is to us."
You could have stopped with that statement. :)
I think I understand your passionate desire and the way a monohull appeals to all of your senses. Sailing period gives my wife and I those same thrills. We own a monohull now which is lake bound in Texas and are one year away from buying what we call our phase two boat which will be a monohull. (We're looking at a 45' Morgan CC now.)Our ultimate goal is to end up on a Catamaran in the 44' range.(Something like a Fountaine Pajot or Leopard)
I don't ever see us being able to afford the following boat but I have to say it is one of the prettiest cats I've seen.
We are going into this as the boat is a means of getting to where we want to go so it has to be capable and comfortable. We know that a catamaran will be much more difficult to find marina berths or haul out for maintenance and that is why we are starting out with a bigger monohull. (Well that, and money. :) ) Love reading your blog and good luck on the new boat.

Mike said...

That's it, I'm canceling your dinner invitation on our cat.



Windtraveler said...

Haha - Mike, ZTC doesn't count ;)

Liesbet said...

Hi guys,

And, hi Mike from ZTC!

Much debate and much fun to be had during these discussions!

For another take on the subject, read my article "Catamaran or Monohull" in the April 2013 issue of All At sea Caribbean:

All the best and happy cruising, reading, writing and blogging (and raising the newborns! :-)),

SV Irie

Lillian said...

I have been busy doing a lot of cat vs monohull research. I get very motion-sick, and have read that monohulls aren't good for people like me. Is this a problem for you?


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