Should You Buy a Catamaran or a Monohull? Part 2

So we’ve covered the benefits of catamarans. Now it’s time to get the scoop on the monohulls. Which one should you buy? Well, that’s a personal decision. But after you’ve read this article, and Part 1, the decision making should be super easy.

So let’s cut to the chase: people who love catamarans are often adamant that only a full-blown duffus would sail a monohull. And there’s a similar level of audacity when you turn to the monohull die-hards. It’s hard to know why this is, but monohulls also have their benefits.

Are Catamarans for Wusses?

A sailonline.com writer said that they would rather be on a solid monohull than on a catamaran when the offshore going gets tough. And another sailor says sailing a catamaran is like riding a bicycle with training wheels. Is this true? Well, the sailing experience is certainly different. Skippering a catamaran can actually often be more challenging that sailing a monohull, especially when sailing upwind!

Others argue that you need more intuitive sense at the helm when tacking a cat. A clumsy tack on a monohull that brings the boat into irons isn’t too hard to fix. Fall off of the wind, power up ya sails, and start again. But a clumsy tack on a catamaran could be seriously disastrous. Ever found yourself sailing backwards? Make sure you’re not close to shore or another vessel is all we’ll say. Cats don’t recover quite as quickly as a monohull can.

A hard-core monohull sailor man said once that when he sails a cat, it feels like he’s driving in his living room. For some, a cat doesn’t give you that real sailin’ feel, because cats don’t heel (unlike dogs, haha). So you may miss out on that full, hard, pure sailing experience. Let’s face it, heeling is fun!

The Cons of The Catamaran

That Annoying Noise

Alright, so what are the real disadvantages? We can read about the benefits almost anywhere online. Even YouTube is full of people praising the likes of the biggest cat they can afford. Let’s get into the deep and dirty.

Firstly, let’s talk about that slap. The pounding, banging sound. I mean, you head out to sea to seek the tranquility of Mother Nature, right? This is one of the main disadvantages, surely. This can be improved by reducing sail (and therefore speed), but in heavier seas you might not be able to get rid of it.

Less Feedback

If you spend a lot of time at the wheel of a monohull, and then try a catamaran, you might notice that you don’t get as much feedback with a cat. That means you’ve got to be super on it in rough seas and high winds, and know when to reduce sail. I mean, you don’t want to surfing down a wave, burying those bows and pitch polling, do you? I mean, that would take some doing, right? But still.

Docking Cost & Buying Price

Cats are roomy. Oh yeah, but they also take up more space. That mean you’ll spend more when it’s time to dock your boat. This can make a bit difference when you’re in an area where staying in marinas is necessary.

Since we’re talking about money, it’s also worth mentioning that catamarans with a similar sleeping capacity and equipment are usually more expensive to charter than monohulls. Why? Well building two hulls takes more materials and manpower.

Also, since monohull dominate the boat market by around 90%, there are more monohulls for you to choose from, find a trailer for and sell your boat if it ever comes to that.

The Pros of The Monohull

They Tack Quick

Monohulls are much more maneuverable and are faster to respond to the helm than cats. They slick through the water effortlessly, with no slapping!

They’re More Fun

Call me a daredevil, but you can’t match the exhilarating sailing experience that come from not ever sailing “flat”.

They Stay Put

Since cats are generally lighter, they have more windage with no keel and ballast, so they bob up and down and head sideways when the wind is up. Monohulls don’t move half as much in an anchorage.

So, in Conclusion…

Monohulls have some great advantages. There’s so much pro-catamaran advice on there (people really want to sell them by the looks of it), but at the end of the day, you need to try both to really figure out which is best for you. Or not! Maybe you’re happy with your monohull, and you’ll always be. Here’s a good example of a catamaran not beating a monohull in a race. Hurray for the monohull!

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  • felix9008

    They both have their pros and cons. I like the trad of the monohulls, though. Slocum would have gone with a mono now, imho.