Catamarans Guide

Table of Contents

Catamarans: Two Hulls That Bring You Freedom

There’s not one image more idyllic than laying on a hammock over an open, blue-green ocean, simply soaking in the sunshine. For many catamaran owners, that’s a daily treat. Catamarans are a unique sailing vessel that provide not just a comfortable sailing platform, their stability and speed unlock the world’s oceans to your desires.

What Makes a Catamaran a Catamaran?

Catamaran boats are multi-hull sailing vessels that feature two hulls in the water, instead of just one like a traditional boat. The hulls are connected by either a frame, which is popular in light-weight, racing catamarans, or a bridge that has expansive living areas and plenty of amenities.

There are several benefits to having the weight of a vessel distributed between two hulls, which is why catamarans are so popular. In fact, these boats are some of the most customizable cruising vessels around. Multiple hulls provides plenty of space for luxury features, but it also makes the boat faster, and much more stable on the water.

How Are Catamarans Powered?

The most popular type of catamarans are sailboats. The unique layout of these vessels allows for them to be incredibly wide, which allows them to have a taller mainsail than traditional monohull boats. Having a bigger sail allows them to catch more wind, which means they can cruise across the ocean, even if the wind is relatively still.

However, this increased efficiency doesn’t just apply to wind power. Select powerboat makers have chosen to pick up on the growing popularity of multi-hull boats and have built brands off of the trend. Power catamarans come in three distinct flavors: luxury power-yachts, fishing boats and high-end racing boats. This layout simply lends itself to speed, which is why it’s so popular.

Are Catamarans Faster Than Monohulls?

When people think of multi-hull boats, they immediately think of speed. That’s because the catamaran is uniquely designed for fast sailing. This is thanks to two main features: their narrow hulls, and their very tall sails.

Traditional sailboats are often limited by how tall they can make their sails because their center of mass is often below the waterline. This means that if a strong wind hits the top of their mast, it can easily cause them to become unsettled, or roll the boat over, causing a catastrophe. Meanwhile, catamarans carry their center of mass a bit higher, usually at or above the waterline. This means they can have taller sails, which can catch more wind, generating greater propulsion.

However, the real benefit of catamarans is how they sail. Because these boats distribute their mass over two or more hulls, they don’t sink as far into the ocean. That means that they can drift, or skate over the surface, leaving less of a wake and causing less drag. That makes these boats incredibly efficient as both sailboats and powerboats. In fact, almost all of the best race boats are catamarans, just for this reason. In fact, many multi-hull boats are between 20 and 30% faster than a monohull boat of similar size and capability.

Are Catamarans Safer than Monohulls?

The biggest benefit of catamarans is their safety. In fact, this type of boat is so safe and successful, we have evidence of catamarans being used up to 5,000 years ago to cross the world’s oceans. That stability comes from the mutli-hull design of the boat, which helps spread the weight of the boat over the surface of the water, keeping it low so there’s no risk of roll over.

A traditional sailboat relies on ballast to stay stable in the water. That weight helps keep it upright, despite movement from waves that are hitting it on the sides. Catamarans, in contrast, float on top of the water and waves, allowing them to move with it, not against it.

Since multi-hull boats are so wide, they’re also difficult to flip. Single hull boats are prone to body roll, which can cause them to lean in the water or fall onto their side. The beam of a catamaran makes it harder to lift one of the hulls out of the water, making capsizing or roll over incredibly rare.

Are Catamarans Easier to Sail than Monohulls?

The same advancements that make catamarans safe and fast, also makes them incredibly easy to sail. The stability of multi-hull boats means that they have a large margin of error when it comes to sailing. However, there are some considerations to make before diving in feet-first.

Are Catamarans Good For Beginners?

Catamarans are a great sailing option for beginners thanks to how stable and comfortable they are. However, there are a few caveats to consider if you’re looking for your first boat.

When most people think of catamarans, they think of two types of boats: either super-wide, luxurious cruising vessels, or intense, advanced racing shells. These are popular options, and take up a large part of the market, but they’re not ideal for beginners. Ultra-wide boats can be hard to navigate in narrow channels or marinas, which is one of the hardest parts of learning to sail. Instead, invest in a small or medium sized catamaran while you learn just how the boat reacts to your control.

Can You Sail a Catamaran Solo?

You may be surprised to hear this, but catamarans are one of the most popular boats for independent sailing. The popularity of these boats means that there’s been a tremendous amount of innovation and investment into the body style. Newer catamarans have electric winches and powered sail controls, making them excellent for lone travelers.

That’s not to say that you’d want to sail them alone. The size of a catamaran makes them perfect for hosting guests on board, like family or friends. Having more than one hull means there’s ample room for luggage and carrying all the essentials for a great time on the water, and their huge size provides plenty of space for entertaining.

Are Catamarans Expensive? (To buy and to own)

Since catamarans are such unique vessels, you might not have a good point of reference for how expensive they are. In fact, you could be thinking “two hulls, that sounds like two headaches!” However, you might be surprised that in many cases, catamarans can be less costly than more popular, monohull boats.

Generally speaking, most catamarans are made by luxury boat builders, which means they are usually high on the price scale. However, you can save costs dramatically by investing in a gently used and well-maintained vessel. The real benefit with most catamarans comes from savings you’ll get in ownership costs.

Since catamarans are so stable at sea, they come with dramatic discounts in insurance costs. These boats are less likely to experience catastrophic failures like capsizing or engine failure, which can make insurance costs high.

Further, some catamarans are too large to fit into a single slip at a marina. While that might sound like an expensive problem, it can actually be to the boat owner’s benefit. Instead of staying in a slip, catamaran owners will usually stay on their vessel at a mooring in a harbor or lagoon. Overall, moorings are much less expensive than classic slips, which can result in excellent savings.

Finally, since these vessels are so efficient, they do have excellent fuel savings. In fact, catamarans can get up to 36% greater fuel economy when compared to a monohull vessel of similar size. That’s a tremendous benefit, that can absolutely pay off over long journeys and the lifetime of the vessel.

What Are Our Favorite Catamaran Brands?

Now that you know a thing or two about catamarans, take a look at some of our favorite brands so you can see what sets them apart from other boat builders.

Sunreef

If you’re looking for a boat like no other, you absolutely must check out Sunreef’s line of luxury catamarans. Sunreef specializes in custom vessels, which means no two catamarans are the same. Their exclusivity allows them to be uniquely innovative with their shipbuilding practices, offering sailing, power and even eco-catamarans which feature carbon-neutral propulsion and manufacturing processes to keep up with current trends.

Lagoon

As a boatbuilder under the Beneteau Groupe, you know that you’re going to get high-value, luxury boating from Lagoon Catamarans. This company has a wide range of sailing catamarans, ranging from 40 feet long, to 70 feet long. They even have two power catamarans that are 60 and 70 feet in length. Every one of these boats is perfect for bluewater cruising, and will get you to your destination safely and comfortably.

Leopard

With a tight line of boats between 40 and 50 feet in length, Leopard Catamarans provides experience and precision in its line of boats. Leopard designs its catamarans to be comfortable for both beginners and single-operators, so that you can tackle bluewater sailing whenever the urge calls you. This focus on sailability and easy handling makes Leopard Catamarans some of the best and most comfortable cruising vessels on the market.

Privilege

Privilege might seem like a small boat company, but looks can be deceiving. This catamaran builder specializes in making unique sailing catamarans with the fit and finish that you’d expect on some of the world's most well-known mega-yachts. Privilege only has four yachts in its line of luxury sailboats, however, each one of those boats is made with hand-built attention to detail that is sure to hold its value.

Gemini

If you’re looking for a smaller vessel perfect for inland waterways, gemini is the boatbuilder for you. With sailing and power lines that max out at 39 feet in length, these boats are ideal for beginners, or those who are worried about taking on a boat too long. The Legacy 35 is only 14-feet wide, which means it’s ideal for those who need to keep their boat in a standard size slip at a marina, saving on costly storage and maintenance costs.

Power Catamarans

If you’re a powerboater and want an economical, fast, and fun vessel, you have to look at power catamarans. There are plenty of boat builders in this segment with the right kind of boat for you.

Many well-known luxury brands have catamaran models in their lines, giving even all shoppers an option to live the multi-hull life. For example, Glacier Bay, which is known for its power yachts, also has a line of catamarans. If you want a boat made by a dedicated catamaran company, you can’t go wrong with Aquila, which produces luxury power catamarans, or World Cat, which is renowned for its fishing vessels.

Finally, for those who are looking for a thrill, there are many high-performance boat makers that specialize in power catamaran hulls to maximize speed on the water.

And What About Trimarans?

Catamarans might be the most popular type of multi-hull boat, but they’re not the only type. Trimarans, as you might guess from the name, have three hulls. However, while catamarans have two hulls of equal size, trimarans have one main hull, with two additional, smaller hulls on the port and starboard side. Trimarans maximize the benefits of a catamaran, featuring stable sailing and excellent speeds. However, they also amplify the negatives. Trimarans are some of the widest boats around, meaning they’re very difficult to find space for in a marina.

We know that the open ocean is calling for you, so now it’s time to get out there and explore it. Take a look at our available catamarans today! These boats are getting more popular all the time, so don’t wait, or you may miss out on the boating lifestyle of your dreams.