In my early days as a magazine editor, I pitted two sailboat dealers against each other for a story. One specialized in monohulls; the other, cats. We all bellied up to the bar at a watering hole in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and, over a couple of gin and tonics, the two squared off in a spirited debate about which number of hulls is more desirable.
I listened intently as the two sparred like heavyweight boxers, trading blows on topics such as stability, speed, efficiency, maneuverability, maintenance, comfort and cost. I scribbled notes on my pad as fast as my fingers would allow. Being a monohull-first guy my whole life, I walked away with a broader appreciation of the multihull mystique that was taking the industry by storm at the time.
That was more than a decade ago. In the years since, the popularity of multihulls has skyrocketed, and with good reason. This past summer, I was invited to partake in my first extended cruising experience aboard an Aquila 54 power catamaran in the British Virgin Islands with friends and family. Sure, I missed the sweet serenity of sailing, with only the sound of the wind and waves lapping the sails and hullsides underway, but the comfort factor was still off the charts.
A catamaran can feel like a penthouse apartment over the water when compared, foot for foot, with a similar-length monohull, especially for a family with kids. With the shallow draft, we were able to roam where most keelboats wouldn’t dare. On the sailing side of things, because catamarans have a lower wetted surface area on their hulls, they can often deliver a few more knots of speed, which can shave hours or days off extended passages. On the motoring side, improved fuel efficiency is the prize.
At this year’s Sail America Industry Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Franck Bauguil, vice president of yacht ownership and product development for the Moorings, Sunsail and Leopard Catamarans, said that he expects the growing demand for catamarans to continue over the next decade. That’s in large part because their inherent fundamental traits appeal to modern cruisers: volume, one-level living space, redundancy, natural buoyancy, minimal heeling, comfort, stateroom privacy, performance and safety—all of which also make catamarans highly desirable for the charter industry (or, as I like to call it, “the gateway drug to boat ownership”). Still, with multihull ownership, other considerations should be weighed, such as cost and maintenance, logistical challenges associated with slip space and haulouts, and different sail plans to optimize performance.
If you’re a catamaran owner—or simply among the cat curious—our June/July double issue is a must read. We take a deep dive into the catamaran equation, from new boats and the latest design trends to maintenance tips, sail plans and more.
In this issue, CW editor-at-large Herb McCormick brings us into the rarefied world of performance-cruising catamarans; industry expert Tim Murphy unravels the evolution of the Balance 482, which toes the line between cruising comforts and extraordinarily satisfying sailing; the always insightful technical guru David Schmidt walks us through the right sail inventory for sailing off the wind on a multihull; and veteran cruiser Tom Linskey, who recently crossed the Pacific and is currently cruising in the Marquesas aboard his Dolphin 460, lends some essential advice for maintaining a catamaran.
Other June/July issue highlights include sine-wave piloting across the Gulf Stream, how to create a home office afloat, DIY tips on alternators and battery charging, the lifestyle appeal of chartering a catamaran, and the riveting story of voyager James Frederick, whose 32 days alone across the Pacific included 1,000 miles without a rudder. We’ll also check out a fleet of new cats, including the Nautitech 44 Open, the Lagoon 55 and the Fountaine Pajot Isla 40.
The June/July issue is hitting mailboxes and newsstands as we speak. If you don’t have one, grab one. If you’re not currently a subscriber, I hope you’ll consider becoming one.
On behalf of the Cruising World crew, thanks for reading. As always, don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts. We hope you enjoy the issue. As for the monohull-versus-multihull debate, I won’t be taking sides anytime soon, but I’m always up for a gin and tonic aboard either one.
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