Catamarans are by far the most prevalent cruising multihull, formany good reasons which we'll discuss shortly. They are also the mostwidely available as a charter yacht. This means that most sailors new tomultihulls get their first taste on a catand first impressions,especially those on a well-appointed charter yacht, can be lasting. Mostof the cruising trimarans on the market are in fact trailerable sportcruiserseasily transported boats that can serve as racer, cruiser, orsome combination of the two. While catamarans seem to be the cruisingmultihull of choice, trimarans have some distinct advantages that make themwell worth consideration. Let's compare catamarans and trimarans usingvarious cruising considerations.
Accommodations and Storage Ability By far the most impressive characteristic of a cruising catamaran is theamazing amount of space on board for the overall length of the boat. Thewide beam on most catamarans allows for truly outstanding cockpits,foredecks, living and sleeping accommodations, galleys, heads, and storagespaces.
The galley and living areas on a cruising cat can also be quiteastonishing. This is mainly due to the fact that the main salon on a catis level with the cockpit, affording panoramic views and the ability tointeract easily with people in the cockpit. The galley on a cat can bedown in a hull or up in the main salon area, and either option allows for aspacious, well-equipped food handling area.
Catamarans not only have more physical storage space, but theygenerally have a greater load-carrying ability for a given length of boat. The interior layout and accommodations on most modern trimarans aresimilar to those found on monohulls. There are a few trimaran designs withsolid wing decks where the interior accommodations (usually in the form ofberths) extend out toward the amas. These designs are the exception,however, and tend to be of an older vintage.
Trimarans, and to a lesser extent catamarans, are often given a badrap concerning safety. This is almost exclusively due to two factors:
- The majority of trimarans out sailing are sport models whose skippers oftenpush the safety envelope in search of higher performance.
- The widelypublicized mishaps concerning high-speed ocean racing tris, and to a lesserextent cats.
Initial Cost and Resale The initial cost of multihulls is higher than monohulls of equivalentlength, with catamarans generally higher in cost per foot than trimarans.The high initial cost keeps many would-be multihull sailors out of the newboat market. Used boats can be a good option for those on a modest budget,but since the resale value of multihulls is excellent, you'll need to do somesearching to find a true bargain.
Maintenance and Ongoing Costs Catamarans have two main hulls to maintain, while trimarans have one mainhull and much smaller outer hulls called amas. Cats also tend to have twoengines (one in each hull) and, therefore, twice the mechanical maintenance.
Making the Decision The choice between catamaran and trimaran comes down to personal preferenceand finding the best boat for your needs. For thoroughbred performance andthe potential for trailerability, take a look at the trimarans on themarket. Many catamaran designs also offer superb performance, and a fewdesigns such as the Aquillon 26 and F-25 are trailerable. Most other catamarans onthe market offer a nice blend of performance and the opportunity forincredibly comfortable cruising. Remain flexible and you're sure to findyour ideal cruising multihull.
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