Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: New Mexico, USA (Heron, Elephant Butte lakes); Arizona (Lake Pleasant)
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Re: Choosing the Perfect Boat
Here's a try at a more "real" answer...
I'm surprised you haven't heard from more multihull fans. If the weight is carefully managed and the boat is designed as more of a racer-cruiser than just a cruiser, and the boat has sufficient attentive crew, it could be quite speedy. It would have to be dialed back some if it has a smaller crew; a smaller crew has more of a challenge in balancing speed, safety, and fatigue. The speed of multihulls can be weight sensitive, with the degree depending upon the design and purpose of the boat.
Following are very general thoughts about the speed of crossing an ocean on more or less "normal" sorts of sailboats that might be cruised -- someone else may be able to be much more specific and thorough but this might work as a first primer for a writer:
Cruisers crossing oceans can think of the speed of their boat in terms of a reasonable expectation for (sea/nautical) miles made good in a 24-hour period. This typically assumes use of some form of autopilot or wind vane steering, somewhat conservative sail selection, and reducing sail at night or whenever weather is potentially threatening.
Some boats might expect something like an average of 100 nautical miles of progress per 24-hour period; much larger, faster, lightly loaded, better crewed and/or equipped boats that are more designed for speed might do as much as 200 or so.
(Extreme ocean racing boats have of course done better but that's outside the realm of these thoughts.) (For many big ocean crossings, the nominal shortest distance will be on a "great circle" route, but there can be good reasons to deviate from it.)
The average expected performance is normally vastly much slower than the boat's theoretical speed. That might be because of variable (or sometimes no) wind (or lots of headwinds), adverse currents or waves, lack of crew to sail the boat aggressively (such as frequent sail trimming and adjustments), lack of fuel to run the motor often if the wind is light too often (or a dislike of running a motor often/need to save fuel for making electricity or conserve for emergency use), need to slow the boat to reduce discomfort or damage in some conditions, occasional needs for repairs, diversions from the shortest-course track to avoid bad weather or to find better wind, port visits, or any amount of "etc."
There is also some science to being in the right time and place; winds, currents, and storms tend vary (in direction, intensity, and likelihood) by location and season and sailors can use weather routing software or services to pick (and subsequently adjust) routes and departure dates for the best chance of speed and safety. (Jimmy Cornell's book about world cruising routes has been a long-term traditional "Bible" for voyage planning.) Attentive sailors may be downloading and analyzing carefully some very detailed weather information throughout a passage.
And sometimes the success of a passage comes down to plain old luck, of which there are at least two kinds. Well-prepared skippers seem to get more of the good kind. Poorly prepared skippers get more of the not-so-good kind (accidents, breakage, worn-out gear, and ignorance tend to be slow.) But, anyone can get either.