Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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help with lifes dream
I am sorry if my comments sounded like I was picking on you. My comments were not intended to pick on you as much as to demonstrate that there are a wide range of opinions out there and then to comment that my own opinion differed quite a bit from your own.
I am not precisely sure what to recommend to someone sailing in the Pamlico Sound area. It is one of the few areas on the U.S. Atlantic coast that I am not all that familiar with. My sense of that region is that you are doing sailing in waters that are fairly shallow, have strong currents, and which typically have light winds puntuated by some pretty heavy and sudden thunderstorms packing high winds.
You also say that you want to sail with a young child. A Catammaran may be a good boat for that kind of application. Cats offer a lot of deck space, which at anchor would be a good thing.
Back to my original point, if your goal is to develop sailing skills, a cruising catamaran is a poor platform for that purpose. While you can learn a lot about sailing and can enjoy being out on the water, there is relatively little ''feel'' to a cruising cat, and that feel is what provides the feed back to learn helmsmanship and sail trim. That does not make Cats a bad choice for a shallow water venue, it simply means that they are hard boats to learn to sail well on.
The whole debate about the relative offshore safety of a monohull vs a cruising cat comes down to what you fear most. If you fear capsizing more than you fear sinking then a monohull will seem safer. But of you fear sinking more than you fear capsizing then a Cat would seem safer. That said in recent years the big cruising cats have been capsizing with a comparatively high regularity and they are not staying afloat. The use of rudders that terminate within the hull shell and the addition of multiple sink drains have provided air vents that allow the cat to vent the air that is necessary to keep them afloat in the inverted position.
I would also like to touch on motion comfort with a cat. Cats are not necessarily more seakindly. They offer a different motion but not necessarily one that is more universally comfortable. It is true that Cats roll less than monohulls in most conditions, but they tend to have quicker, jerkier pitch, roll and heave motions. For many people that quick motion is far harder to tollerate than the slower motion of a monohull.
In the end, given your single-handing with a very young child and the shallow venue that you are in, I am not 100% sure of what to tell you. My initial impulse is to suggest that you proceed with your plan to buy a moderate sized Cat because it will may easier to handle with a young child aboard (although many cats are not reliable in stays and so take skillful carefully timed sail handling to even tack the boat, something that is hard to do while tending a young child.)
If you decide that you really want to develop your skills further, 3 or 4 years out, when your child is a little older and more physically mature, I would buy a monohull and use that as a training platform to develop your skills.
After owning both you will be a better position to decide which type makes sense for your more ambitious East Coast, then to the Caribbean and eventually further a field ambitions.