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magnusmurphy 12-13-2004 08:08 PM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
I''ve recently (Nov) participated in my first real blue water passage. I helped sail a boat from Aruba to Cayman. The tradewinds were 15 - 25 knts with 20kts most common. Seas were 6-8ft most of the way. I have advanced coastal skipper qualifications as well as some blue water experience, gained while sailing around Vancouver Island. However this was the first time I was continuously sailing non-stop for more that a week.
The surprising thing for me was how tough it was. Not because of physical labor, but exhausting. I managed very little sleep, and felt queezy for the first two days, then again after we turned from a reach to close hauled for the last two days. Never "lost it" but felt drained and didn''t feel like doing much of anything, other than my watches and actively participating in the sailtrim and checking for trafic.
The relentless motion of the boat (43ft center cockpit), the watch system chosen by the captain, the heat (no fan over my bunk and hatches closed because of spray) and the absence of a lee-cloth on my bunk, made for severe sleep-deprevation.
I did get used to it later in the trip and funnily enough felt more queezy the first night on hard land than on the boat at that time.

I learnt a lot, especially some things I''d do differently. It was a very rewarding experience for me nontheless. The crew bonded and got along extremely well with hardly any "words" of discontent. The fact that all of us had confidence that the others knew what they were doing and that the boat was well found, certainly helped.

My question is this: I''d like to hear from people who have sailed cats offshore. I''d like to hear whether cats also induce seasickness/queezyness in some people, and how the different motion of cats is tolerated over extended periods of time. I believe cats do well downwind and less well beating - how "less well"? I''ve heard the motion is jerky and can be violent. How would that stack up to monohull rolling?

M Murphy

bombayduck 12-14-2004 02:28 PM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
Having done offshore passages on both monohull and catamaran, I can say that both can be uncomfortable but the downwind rolling motion on the monohull is absent on the catamaran. It is much more comfortable on a catamaran on this point of sail. Also, there is minimal heeling on all points of sail, so this in itself makes passages less tiring. The motion of a catamaran is quicker in a seaway because there is no ballast but one gets used to the motion in a day or so. I do get less seasick on a cat than a mono but only a little less so.


starcresttoo 12-14-2004 04:51 PM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
its my understanding that all multihulls are extremely stable once they are upside down

bombayduck 12-15-2004 03:14 AM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
Hello starcresttoo. It seems like there is some dislike of catamarans here? All I can say to your comment is that monohulls are extremely stable once they are on the bottom.

sneuman 12-15-2004 03:50 AM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
I only get this second hand, but i talked to a very experienced delivery skipper (he was a crew member in Fastnet ''79 and has circumnavigated several times). He says he prefers a monohull''s motion to the "slap, slap, slap" of a cat, though admits the more modern cat designs have somewhat solved the problem.

WHOOSH 12-15-2004 06:12 AM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
M, you might find this discussion of an offshore cat sailing experience by a two-time (monohull) circumnavigator to be of interest:

One of the incidental observations by the author is the large number of (semi-interdependent) systems on the Cat he took from Brazil to the Caribbean. IME it''s very rare to find a modern Cat which isn''t (over)laden with all kinds of systems, somewhat spoiling the other benefits. ''Systems'' and ''Cats'' don''t have to be synonymous but IMO all the SPACE invites abuse.

I could tell you some pretty funny stories about Lewis, who started out with a basic English-built 35'' Cat he sailed over to St. Pete from Texas. There was just soooo much SPACE on his Cat, he couldn''t resist adding a few things...and then a few more. Meanwhile, he pulled away from the dock one day and his only working Volvo diesel blew up. But that didn''t seem to be a problem because, due to his Cat''s LARGE transom, he could rip out the engines and build a dual stainless open-bottomed boxes cantilevered off the back, to which he could mount twin outboards. By the time he left St. Pete, he had a PWC on deck, acres of canvas to provide U/V protection in that WIDE cockpit, double freezers in their LONG galley...well, you get the picture.

It''s easy for those of us sailing Lead Mines to sneer a bit at Cats; they are built in light-weight ways that make me nervous, offshore. But Lewis also a good example of how crews can benefit. When out of money (Lewis didn''t work much...) he''d charter the boat to young backpackers wanting cheap transport around the Caribbean, his boat would always make it to port (his lady friend holed one hull by hitting an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico during her night watch, on one of many exciting passages) and last I heard via Winlink they were adding yet more gear in a Panama Canal yard before heading into the Pacific.

Who says there aren''t still adventures to be had when off cruising...?


magnusmurphy 12-15-2004 09:37 AM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
Thanks for all the responses so far.

I personally own a Dufour 36 classic so I guess the question is a bit academic. However there''s always "the next boat"...

I used to race Hobie cats and that was great. However probably not much overlap with a cruising cat.

When recently in Aruba I met a family who is cruising and living on a St. Frances 48 cat. Since the owner is an expatriate South African like myself, he invited me onboard and showed me his SA built cat. I came away jealous of the space, the equipment onboard and the "possibility" of more comfortable passagemaking. According to him, this cat doesn''t suffer from slamming. He does admit that the upwind motion is jerkier than a monohull and that they don''t "point" very well.

I guess one is always thinking about "the next boat". At the moment I''m content with my Dufour, although I''m doing coastal cruising only at the moment. I''ve never really considered cats untill I stepped aboard the St. Francis.

M Murphy

Johnno 12-24-2004 10:02 PM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?

After your good post I was hoping to read some informative stuff. Regrettably not so and you just got all the usual bias.

Maybe one day we will be able to get somebody who has done significant passages in both, perhaps in similar conditions to give a real analysis.

I''m a monosailer myself but I acknowledge that cats have a place and seem very attractive given their space and potential capability.

Even old sea dogs like me are interested in listening and learning to informed comment.


Billpjr 12-29-2004 01:35 PM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
Spend some time cruising and living aboard and you will hear the same info from multihull cruisers.

The boats don''t go to windward well so plan your route accordingly. They don''t tolerate loads...that makes them slow like monohulls but without windward performance. 40''cat = 2 people lightly cruise loaded. The motion while anchored is sharp and uncomfortable...swells lift one hull and it falls, then they do the same with the other hull...double motion and fast. Chose your anchorage carefully. Running with storms can take you along as fast as the storm moves so don''t run. Windvanes are tough to keep adjusted due to rapid ap wind changes. Finding slips can be a chore or you have to pay for two. Your inflatable can be kept under the hulls so it stays out of UV rays and lasts longer. Shallow draft a plus. Cost a negative. Nice sunning platform when capsized.

WHOOSH 12-30-2004 12:19 AM

Monohull vs cat on extended passage?
Here''s a follow-up to Bill''s post, taken from one of the Bumfuzzle logs ( 35'' LOA Cat, attempting to make Galapagos from Las Perlas Is. off the coast of Panama. Rhumbline was SW, with wind 25 kts from the SW:

"By that night we were getting way off course, probably about 100 miles east of where we wanted to be.... The big problem now was that the wind was kicking up to 30 knots and the seas had continued to build. This combined with the current was causing us trouble. Picture this. We wanted to be heading at 230 degrees, which is right where the wind was. Instead we pointed the boat at 195 degrees. However, even though the boat was pointed at 195 we were actually moving at 100 degrees. That''s how much the[Humbolt] current and waves were pushing the boat. We couldn''t make any forward progress whatsoever. And obviously if we tacked the other direction we would be heading straight north, which we really didn''t want. Also, in order to even be able to make this direction, we had to be running an engine as well. So we were burning a lot of diesel.

"The next day we were only a little over 100 miles from the coast of Colombia. We started out the day by tacking back and forth which basically moved us back and forth along the same line not making any progress at all. We did this all day while I continued to download weather and try to figure out an alternate plan. The weather was still showing maximum winds of 12 knots from the same direction for the next 3 days, even though for the last 48 hours we hadn''t seen anything under 25. Finally at 3 p.m. I had a new plan. Unless we wanted to continue beating back and forth and wait for an improvement in the weather, we were going to have to head for shore. And since we were quickly running out of diesel, with over 600 miles to go to the Galapagos, we opted for running with the wind to Colombia."

The owners know littel about sailling and so the boat may have been more capable than this entry reflects. Also, she''s enroute to the Marquesas on the next leg, so the boat was probably loaded down...which is always a problem with Cats as they take loading poorly, especially when asked to go to weather.

Not that they don''t have their advantages...


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