The catamaran is a sailing boat that has two hulls, making it a multihull vessel. There are also vessels with three hulls, so this isn’t the only kind of multihull boat, but it’s the one that is most common these days.
A boat of this type will have the advantage that it doesn’t need ballast to keep it stabilized, since it’s got a wider beam instead. Thanks to the smaller weight and that lack of need of ballast, the typical catamaran comes with a shallow draught that can be an obvious advantage. On top of that, you will find that it’s considerably easier to get to higher speeds with a cat, both thanks to the sails and to the reduced drag.
There is always something connecting the two separate hulls of the boat, either some kind of frame or a structure that includes some accommodation inside, depending on the size of the boat. Sailing catamarans can be a lot of fun, so we recommend you get one, but whether they should also come with an engine we leave it up to you.
The size of the cat will determine whether it’s the kind you can launch directly from the beach, and then get it to land on another one. Since it has two different hulls, it doesn’t tip over like it would be the case with a regular boat. You can’t do that with big catamarans though.
A good catamaran can prove to be a good boat that can be used successfully in long distance cruises. If you want to get a boat that has enough space for accommodations, you will have to get a bigger one than you would if you got a single hull. Generally, a minimum of 26 ft in length should be the size of the cat’s two hulls if you want to have living spaces inside, plus enough of a bridgedeck on top. The recommended size for a long distance cruise in a cat would be 50 ft, with the minimum being at around 40 ft. Though a catamaran of that size might sound like a lot, it’s actually only at 50% of a boat’s weight when it’s got the same 50ft in length. It’s also considerably easier to sail than a similar monohull boat.
A catamaran boat of average dimensions is capable of doing 300 nautical miles each day, while their racing counterparts will often do more than 400.
Certification in the use of catamarans is required if you want to rent one, even if you previously obtained one in the use of monohulls. There are courses offered by the ASA that focus on catamaran sailing, plus equivalent certifications in Europe and in other parts of the world.
If there is one thing that could be considered a downside when we’re talking about catamarans, it would probably be its ability to turn corners. Thanks to its design it has some problems at that, but on the other hand it’s going very fast and very stable in a straight direction. If you don’t need to do a lot of maneuvering and if you’re on the open sea trying to go fast towards a destination, you will love what a cat has to offer you. Another downside would be that a catamaran isn’t as good at going against the upwind as a regular boat would be. These things are overcome once you get a bit of experience and it’s worth getting to that point since these boats have so many other advantages.