The long debated issue of which is the better boat, a catamaran or a monohull, recently presented itself when we started shopping for a new (old) boat. It’s a big debate and one that has sparked many discussions and fueled a few arguments.
We had the opportunity to change boats and, having lived aboard a monohull full time for nine years; it was time to move on. We took a long, hard look at what we might want and the ‘should we go multi or mono’ question arose. We weren’t newbie sailors or armchair sailors going in green, we had knowledge and experience. We had a good idea of the things we wanted and didn’t want, and the things on which we might be prepared to compromise.
Pros for a Cat
We tried in earnest to take the catamaran route and there were a couple of multihulls we found really interesting. We liked the idea of the change that they potentially had to offer. There is a certain element of prestige to cats and the days of being criticized as non oceangoing boats have long gone. They are light and airy and can quickly get you where you want to go. Although they can be fairly pricey, especially if you are looking for a well-found offshore catamaran, there is no denying the comfort and stability they offer when sailing. There is no doubt that in a rolly anchorage a cat would be steadier; a better place to be. And they are great social boats too, with huge cockpits and many cabins.
Cons for the Cat
But many cabins with empty spaces we did not need. Two would do. Most of the galleys lacked the space we had on board our 40ft mono. Plus, there was a severe lack of storage. As a full time cruiser my boat is my only home and the sad story is I have accumulated lots of stuff’ that needs to be stowed. The whole ‘not weighing a cat down’ goes against my need to carry as much stuff as possible to be self-sufficient and prepared for anything. Not to mention how lightly made a lot of cats are. I realize the same can be said for single hulls but there is something very reassuring about a thick, strong, heavy hull only a mono can offer.
It seemed that to have a cat that would meet all our needs, with a decent galley, full length sofas (not of the curved variety), good sized cabins and a strongly built hull from a reputable builder we were, all of a sudden, looking at cats that were very big and very expensive. Although the popularity of catamarans has grown tremendously in recent years, they are still a rich man’s toy. For the price of one catamaran, you can get a LOT of monohull. Not to mention the ‘double the hull’ costs in marinas and boatyards. But that’s not it. All things are a compromise. I could make all these things work if I wanted to. For more than two people I think perhaps catamarans are the way to go in terms of the space they offer. But I love the cozy cockpit of my monohull, which makes me feel safe and comfortable at sea. And though I am not fond of sailing to windward, I love the feel of my keel slicing through the water. I love being inside the cool bowels of the boat and have never been a fan of hanging out in the cockpit all day even in these hot and sticky tropics.
But these are all just my preferences. There are pros and cons for each side and it is a very individual topic. What floats one man’s boat will sink another. But for me, at the end of it all, there is something more traditional and romantic about the simple monohull that I just can’t seem to sail away from.
Editor’s note: The above article follows on from one written by cruiser Liesbet Collaert, Catamaran or Monohull, published in the April edition of All At Sea, in which she discussed the reasons why she chose a catamaran. Liesbet and Rosie are friends who beg to differ.
Rosie and her husband Sim Hoggarth from the yacht Wandering Star have cruised the Caribbean and North America full time for nine years. Visit their blog: www.yachtwanderingstar.com