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Catamaran Vs. Monohull - How to Choose?

Some dyed-in-the-wool purists have been known to demonstrate a little "sailing snobbery" from time to time. A good friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) often mutters things such as, "sailing a catamaran is like to riding a bicycle with training wheels". Well maybe, but I would counter that the sailing experience is just "different" aboard a catamaran than it is on a monohull. In fact, skippering a catamaran can often be more challenging than a monohull, particularly when sailing upwind.

For instance, an intuitive feel for the helm is much more critical when tacking a cat. A clumsy tack on a monohull that brings the boat into irons, is relatively easy to overcome. Fall off the wind, power up your sails ... and try again.

A clumsy tack on a cat that brings the boat into irons can be disastrous! Getting a cat moving from a dead stop (or worse - sailing backwards) can be quite difficult. They just don't recover as quickly as a monohull. If close to shore or another yacht, a cat in irons could spell disaster. So, the argument could be made that the skill set required for catamaran sailing needs to be somewhat more advanced.

Putting sailing snobbery aside ... if planning a sailing vacation and you aren't sure whether you want a catamaran or a monohull, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each to see what makes more sense for your purposes. Personally, I quite like both ... for different reasons!

Catamaran Pros:

One of the major advantages of a catamaran versus a monohull is their inherent stability. A monohull simply can't be compared to a cat in this regard.

More Bonus Points for Cats...

Catamaran Cons:

Monohull Pros:

Monohull Cons:

I spent the better part of two days thinking up these lists and was probably more surprised than anyone at the number of pros I was able to dream up for catamarans over monohulls. I have always considered myself more of a monohull sailor! Who knew?

Clearly, catamarans offer several advantages ... but in the end, yacht selection boils down to four major qualifiers: The fact remains that if any one of the above qualifiers is out of alignment, you may have to consider your alternatives.

Regardless of yacht selection, you will still get to go to the same places, do most of the same things and enjoy all the BVI have to offer ... just like the millionaires and billionaires aboard the yachts anchored all around you!

Last updated: Apr 10th 2020
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