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!
Last edited by snmhanson; 02-07-2012 at 02:50 PM.