Considering chartering a cat but... - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-07-2012 Thread Starter
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Considering chartering a cat but...

We are starting the planning process for a bareboat trip to the BVIs in about a year. We have been down there 6 or 7 times before on various monohulls in the 40-45' range. My wife and I are both ASA certified through bareboat and fairly comfortable on a monohull - though she typically prefers to sit out in the sun and play with the kids. However, I will say that I am also overly cautious and worrisome by nature and often dwell on what can go wrong. I don't think I'm less capable than the typical charterer (maybe even more capable than many that I see down there), I just worry more than I should that something might go wrong. Anyway, while my wife enjoys sailing a monohull, she is also increasingly insistant on trying a cat. Furthermore, we are thinking of bringing some friends along, which would result in four adults and probably five children on the boat, so a cat may make sense this time (though my preference would be a 50'+ mono). In any case, I'm trying to decide if I should just give in and go the cat route or stick to my guns and push for the monohull.

My biggest concern by far is the practical matter of sailing and maneuvering the cat. I'm not so worried about missing a tack or not being able to pinch as far into the wind - I'm more concerned with things like docking, anchoring and picking up a ball. Is that something that is fairly easy to get used to? I'm not too keen on the limited visibility that most cats offer from the wheel and the extra beam of a cat, but maybe the dual engines help compensate? Or is the extra engine just one more thing to deal with? I am also reticent that we would be looking at chartering a cat that is as long or longer than any monohull I have sailed. Maybe our first time chartering a cat would make more sense when there aren't as many people and I can go with a smaller size. I suppose I could hire a captain for a day to go through the ropes, but once he is gone I still need to manage the boat and I am not sure how much help the rest of the crew will be.

A distant second to piloting the boat is the safety, comfort, and enjoyment of the crew. I need to be careful here, as I can certainly see the benefits of a cat at anchor or on the ball, and some people may feel crammed together in even a large mono. Plus, the kids on the boat will between five and eleven years old so a cat would likely be safer while under sail. At the same time, I want the day to day sailing to be fun and exhilirating and there is nothing like being healed over at twenty degrees bashing through the swell on a monohull. I also like that it would be more difficult for a young one to sneak up on deck during the night on a monohull being that they don't have a big sliding door and it is easier to hear what is going on throughout the boat on a mono.

I have done a search and read what I could find concerning the cat versus mono debate, just thought I would post here to get additional feedback. While my number one priority is the safety of the crew, all of the adults going are quite responsible and I am comfortable enought so that safety of the crew isn't a deciding factor between the two choices. So, my biggest concern here comes down to the safety of the boat. Is it a pretty easy move for a fairly experienced sailor to go from a mono to a large cat? Or is it a whole different ballgame?

I know it probably sounds like I am over analyzing the issue, but I understand and appreciate that I would be responsible for someones $1,000,000 boat and just want to make sure I don't get in over my head. Thanks!

Matt

Last edited by snmhanson; 02-07-2012 at 02:50 PM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-07-2012
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WOW... I have looked into chartering before and never even thought about some of the things that your concerned about.

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post #3 of 8 Old 02-07-2012
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I've chartered 2 47 foot cats from the moorings. They are great..many of your worries are unfounded.. There are few docks that you need to make..mostly moorings..or pulling in for fuel....Your guests will love not having to walk at an angle all day..the trampoline is a great place to hang and get sun..... do yourself a favor and go for it...

The moorings people will hop on at the end of the week and park it for you if need be.

Have fun

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post #4 of 8 Old 02-07-2012
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snm -

I think you will find the period of adjustment to be over quickly. Dual engines located 20 feet +/- apart make maneuvering a dream. The viz can be limited but having somebody forward to relay info solves most of that. I found that that wasn't even necessary most of the time after you get used to it. In slow speed situations I'd leave the wheel, walk over to the side and look for myself. You also develop a feel for the edges of the boat, akin to "knowing" where the edges of your car are when parking.

As far as little crew going above in the night time I dunno. Threats, bribery, locked doors, alert adults? I will say that the acoustics of many cats are not as silent as one might wish. Something to remember on a romantic evening with extra crew aboard.

Try it you'll like it. Warning: You may not get your family back on a mono.

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Last edited by FSMike; 02-07-2012 at 10:35 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-07-2012
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Matt,

I was on the run before so I couldn't respond to all your questions.

Picking up a mooring ball is pretty easy. The difference on the cat is that you'll have a bridle. You can grab the mooring lines, secure one bow cleat then play with the bridle.

Once you're on the water I don't think you'll notice the size, or that it will feel overwhelming to you. The twin engines make maneuvering pretty easy. You can turn the boat 360 using just the engines. Just take it slow, get a feel for the boat once you're in open water, then once in the mooring field you'll know how it responds.

There's a ton of room on them, you can set your drink, or plate down without worrying about it sliding off the table. The crew has a lot of area to spread out and relax

You're not going to get the thrill of heeling over but they sail nicely. Tacking angles are larger. But for comfort you can't beat them. The safety issue, regarding kids wandering around at night could be discussed...and precautions taken..like life jackets, at all times.
As far as reboarding though, I think the cat is pretty easy to reboard at the stern.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-07-2012
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I am a monohull sailor (and not terribly experienced), but I have chartered two cats. I found maneuvering a cat to be much easier than a monohull. With two engines you can essentially spin a cat in place. The maneuverability advantage seemed to far out way the lack of visibility. (How well can you see the end of a 40 ft monohull anyway?) And on one of the charters we lost an engine in a narrow channel with a barge approaching. Sure was nice to be able to keep going while we figured out what was wrong.

I will agree with everyone else about the added comfort and space. As for sailing, one of the two sailed great. I missed the ability to feel what was going on, but it was fast and pointed well enough. The other was a completely different story. I am sure it was mostly my lack of experience, but I just couldn't get it to tack. And upwind was a jarring experience as it pounded into the waves.

I will still choose a monohull, but I wouldn't hesitate to charter a cat on occasion if the rest of the crew wanted one.
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-07-2012 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
snm -

I think you will find the period of adjustment to be over quickly. Dual engines located 20 feet +/- apart make maneuvering a dream. The viz can be limited but having somebody forward to relay info solves most of that. I found that that wasn't even necessary most of the time after you get used to it. In slow speed situations I'd leave the wheel, walk over to the side and look for myself. You also develop a feel for the edges of the boat, akin to "knowing" where the edges of your car are when parking.

As far as little crew going above in the night time I dunno. Threats, bribery, locked doors, alert adults? I will say that the acoustics of many cats are not as silent as one might wish. Something to remember on a romantic evening with extra crew aboard.

Try it you'll like it. Warning: You may not get you family back on a mono.
I think that right there may be my biggest fear. Monos are so romantic and true to the sport. Cats just seem like cheating. If my family refused to sail a monohull and only wanted to sail cats after trying a cat out I don't know what I would do.

Thanks for the replies all - very helpful as we make our decision. Sounds like a cat isn't a big deal at all and should be plenty manageable. If everyone else in the group wants a cat I guess that's what we'll go with - but I'm not going to enjoy it . Also forgot one other reason we are looking at a cat. One of the people in the group that might go with us is like 6'10" or something. I am guessing a cat would be much more accomodating for him.

Thanks again!

Matt

Last edited by snmhanson; 02-07-2012 at 10:22 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-07-2012
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We recently chartered a 39ft cat (our first) in BVI's through Sunsail this past December. I sail a 35ft mono and had similar concerns / worries. Prior to the trip, our neighbor at the local marina offered these words of advice: if you can figure out how to sail a monohull and you know how to drive a car, you will be fine on a cat in BVI's. He was absolutely correct. By the time, we left the breakwaters of the marina, I was fairly comfortable in maneuvering it. Picking up a mooring ball or docking was a LOT easier than with a monohull. Needless to say, the extra space inside and outside was a huge plust for us and the guests.

One word of advice / caution: once the admiral sails a cat (with all that extra space & storage), you will have a hell of time getting her back into the mono. That was the only reason that I still regret chartering that damn cat . . .

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