I'm guessing that any one of us who spends any time at all out and about is very much aware of the ever increasing number of multi hulls.
Now for the puropse of this thread lets ignore the very high tech racers and probably the tris and have a good look at true cruising catamarans. What is to like ? What is to dislike ?
The way I see it cats have two , pretty obvious, advantages over mono and that is comfort and speed. Now OK, your yahoo whizbang monos such as the amazing Pogos will give any cruising multi a serious run for their money but it does seem to me that for intents and purposes a cat will flog a mono over the ground. Or will it ? Hard on the wind there is probably not a lot in it but reaching it is surely a different story.
As an example of this, on our recent trip we left Port Stephens in company with a 40 odd foot cat. Close hauled we took opposing tacks for the first hour or so and when we crossed we'd pretty much held our own but then the cat eased off onto a reach while we maintained close hauled. An hour later they had beaten us into the anchorage by half an hour.
Now fairly obviously, cats have their shortcomings. Mooring and docking costs are pretty obvious examples. We stayed at two marinas while away, each an overnighter. One, full service and very fancy was $185.00 for the 24hrs but that included a courtesy car and the fanciest bathrooms I have ever seen in a marina, the other a more typical example in a less touristic port was $50.00. Double that for a multi.
Now .... for a cruising cat I'm thinking 40' or thereabouts would be the go. I've heard that under 40' there are comfort issues. True or not ? Much bigger than 40' and the thing is going to be ridiculously large for two people, hell even a forty foot cat has more than enough room for us.
So lets look at a few options, discuss (I know its been done before but what the hell, lets go round again) the pros and cons. Examples Leopard v Lagoon ? Chalk and cheese perhaps but just what does the Lagoon give to the Leopard or vice versa ?
anywho ... topic is here for discussion. I'll be very interested to get any feedback.
...... and no the Womboat is not on the market, I'm just interested in the subject of cats.
I think the performance issue is a debatable one, but it depends greatly on the boats themselves and the point of sail. On a 50nm passage Guadeloupe to Antigua some years back, close reaching a 40' cat didn't put enough time on our 37 ft mono to get into harbour prior to our catching up as the doused sail outside. As you noted hard on the wind you gave up very little yourselves.
I think many cruising cats suffer from overloading and that's what takes the edge off their performance.
Other issues that seem to come up include the clearance of the midsection- apparently certain models are known to pound in ocean waves as the mid "belly" doesn't have enough clearance (but that's anecdotal, have not seen that) I'm sure another factor in the apparent lack of performance could well be the skill levels of the (primarily) charter crews -I'm sure that even an experienced mono sailor may struggle to get a cat up to speed..
The ability to provide multiple relatively private cabins makes it a no brainier for charter operators, I suppose.. And in a quiet area like the BVIs they probably make more sense than for island hopping further south and east.
Our Caribbean cruising friends were avid longtime multi sailors... But chose a mono for themselves.. That spoke volumes to me.
Cats have had me intrigued to the point of pulling the trigger on building two. With our limited slip length, the only way to have a larger more amenity-filled boat on the Dock is to go wider.
As I got knee-deep in designing what we wanted, i learned a great deal about hull design and dynamics- length: beam ratio, optimum bridgedeck height above waterline, etc.
For coastal cruising, or living aboard/daysailing/occasional cruising, a cat is a great fit. but the lighter payload does have some impact on long-range voyaging. A Flicka can conceivably carry the tankage to cross oceans comfortably- a 25 foot cat has a much tighter margin for payload.
The motion is different. With less draft, less ballast and less keel, it is gonna be quicker, more noticeable on shorter boats than bigger cats.
Before getting too deep into building a 25' trainwreck, i decided to warm up by tackling a Puddlecat:
It will be interesting to see how it compares, performance-wise, to the plywood dinghy i built that is about the same LOA.
And maybe some of the old wives tales of cats pitchpoling and turning turtle with any swell may be finally put to rest.
There are cats and cats. Last summer when we were beating against the wind my wife asked me: Where are they going? She was referring to a brand new Mooring 40ft cat. I had some difficulty into convincing her that they were doing the same as us, meaning tacking against the wind. The reason of her disbelieve was the very different angle: Maybe 27º to 40º?
We pass all afternoon tacking against the wind and when we were approaching the destination, I mean only two tacks to go, they passed by us, motoring directly against the wind...and I guess they were doing that for a while.
There are faster cats and slow cats but I don't know why you think that the trimarans should not be considered. If I had the money I would prefer a trimaran. Look at this one:
Regarding Cats I agree with what you say, just adding that distinction between slow and fast Cats. I would also add this:
For the same size multihulls are more expensive than monohulls and less seaworthy. They have also more interior space.
Regarding seaworthiness I am not one of those that consider cats unsafe, what I mean is that a 40ft monohull, generally speaking, is an offshore boat while a 40ft cat is also but by a lesser margin. The Cats made for offshore work are considerable bigger than 40ft and that makes them even more expensive as an option as an offshore boat.
Trimarans have, regarding size, a better seaworthiness. I would fell more comfortable offshore on that 35ft Dragonfly than in any 40ft cat.
But one of these babies:
Is pretty much a perfect offshore cruiser. To be comparable in space and performance we would need a 80ft monohull and the prices should not be very different.
I wanted to like them, I really did but after a week on a Moorings cat I couldn't wait to get back to the tactile enjoyment of healing with the wind. I can certainly appreciate the advantages, especially when you are anchored but to actually sail - a bit numb - a bit like going to bed with your boots on... it just doesn't feel right.
Fast .... there are conflicting stories re cat performance. Undoubtedly the weight issue has something to do with it of course but if that is the case then we need to disqualify any light weight monohull screamers for the same reason. One of the areas that piqued my interest was the realisation that even in LA/Cruising mode we are much less heavily loaded than e.g a family boat or a charter boat of say 6 - 8 people. All in all then, it would appear that at worst a cat is marginally faster than a mono but with scads more space for the crew and a seemingly more comfortable ride. Most certainly more comfortable at anchor.
I guess that heaviest weight carried by a cruiser would be liquid, fuel and water. Fuel is not going to change. Maybe being easier to drive in light air would enable a cat to keep sailing longer but probably not a lot in it compared to a mono. Watermakers otoh reduce the need for overly large water tanks. I'd also think that compared to say the Womboat a similarly sized cat would have less sail area, ergo less weight to lug around. Ground tackle not likely to change. So I'm thinking that for a two person boat weight may not be the issue it might be.
Lastly , when you say you mates chose mono over multi, how much of that was budget ? As I mentioned in a pm to you earlier on to go from the Womboat to a cat would require the Womboats asking price at least doubled.
Jonesy .... the way I am looking at this is that our cruising is almost certainly going to be in no more than passages of less than a couple of weeks, maybe at worst a month. Its not as if we, or for that matter most cruisers spend all that much time away from civilisation of some kind or another. In our month away we did one major and two minor shops, so we were able to sit out at anchor for most of the time, spend probably only four or five days actually sailing and a few days berthed in a marina. Had we not gone into one port where one can only berth, no anchorage, to visit some old friends we'd have only spent a single full day in a marina. Outside of civilisation provided you can make your own bread and catch yourself some fish/squid/shellfish you really do not need to load up with tons of provisions. Ergo, I'm thinking as per what I was saying to Fast, that the overloading thing, if you think it through, may well be overstated, particularly if you are just that little bit careful when it comes to over buying before you set out. I know this is hard for many Americans to grasp but you can actually buy toilet paper outside of NYC or LA.
It seems to me that far to many of us insist on a boat that will go round Cape Horn in a blizzard yet rarely, if ever venture out of home waters. Even then its likely we'll be following the sun. Few cruisers venture into iceberg territory.
The roll over and die argument agin cats has always felt a wee bit iffy to me. Of course its possible and of course it happens but plenty of mono hulls go to the bottom as well while the is at least a good change that an upside down cat will stay afloat.
( I have seen a couple of reports of cat hitting something and then sinking but such a fate could just as easily strike a mono .... unless of course she's a Malo which as we all know are indestructible. )