Are Catamarans Easier To Sail?

Are Catamarans Easier To Sail? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

Whether you're looking for a fully-loaded version or an ex-charter, catamarans are a great option for boating enthusiasts. But are catamarans easier to sail?

One of the reasons for the popularity of catamarans is that they are easy to sail. This is because they do not heel over on the water, which makes them really easy to navigate. Along with this, catamarans are also really comfortable and provide a good sailing experience.

That being said, the amount of stability you get in a catamaran is only as good as the boat's overall design and its size. Then, there are also the types that vary from open-deck cruising catamarans to beach cats, racing cats, and bridge deck cabin catamarans. With so many options available, it pays to find the perfect choice that suits your needs.

If you're wondering whether catamarans are easier to sail than regular boats, then you're at the right place. As experienced boaters, who better to help you distinguish between catamarans and other boats and show you how to sail safely and enjoy your experience on a catamaran.


Table of contents

Charter vs. Cruising

A classic sailboat is a monohull, which means it has only one hull centered on a large keel. The sails are in the middle of a catamaran, which is balanced on two hulls. That's all there is to it. The gap between the two hulls may be filled with a cockpit, a main cabin, and generally some netting, depending on the size of the boat.

You've probably gone on a charter catamaran or a hybrid catamaran. But not everybody is able to distinguish between the two, so keep in mind that fixed keels and high-wind flybridges are common features on these vessels, which are particularly intended for charter excursions. They also have a lot more displacement and shorter bows, which makes them perfect for close-hauled sailing.

Are Catamarans Easy to Sail?

Catamarans do not really heel over on the water, which makes them really easy to navigate. This changes the entire sailing experience because the boat moves differently on the water. This means that you must adjust the sails accordingly, and boaters also have to pay attention to other factors that you may not be familiar with if you are used to monohulls. It should also be noted that some boaters who are used to monohulls might find it more difficult to make progress in light wind and upwind sailing conditions.

Also, it's more difficult to detect when you're overpowered and need to reef when the wind is high since the boat doesn't seem to "respond" to the breeze. That being said, with the right amount of training, these issues can be managed, and boaters can enhance their sailing experience. Catamarans are a joy to sail, mainly because they perform well on the water and are considered one of the more comfortable options when the conditions are good. This is why catamarans are so popular amongst beginners as well as experienced boaters.

Advantages of a Catamaran

When it comes to sailing in catamarans, the helmsman can execute almost all sailing maneuvers single-handedly since the necessary lines are being redirected to the helm. The catamarans also have an auto-pilot option for less experienced boaters to use for more support.

Because the essential lines are diverted to the helm, and they can rely on the autopilot for backup, the helmsman can perform practically all sailing maneuvers by themselves. Having two engines and propellers makes maneuvering easier, especially when navigating inside a marina.

Another major benefit that is often ignored with catamarans is that they also make it easier to catch a mooring ball, which all boating enthusiasts will appreciate.

The low draft of the catamaran makes it easier to navigate shallow reef crossings, which is great for beginners who are just starting out. Also, catamarans allow you to anchor a lot closer to the shore, which is an added advantage, especially for beginners who are not as confident to go out in deeper waters yet.

This makes the catamarans a good choice for beginners to practice on. They are also frequently lighter and have less wave impedance, making them quicker than monohulls in some situations, particularly when sailing at reaching angles.

Catamarans were designed with increased living space and more locations for enjoying the outdoors in mind. The huge fly bridges provide additional space for lounging and partying, while electric davits make raising the dinghy simple. Because catamarans don't heel, they're ideal for everyday tasks like cooking.

The catamaran's main feature is, of course, safety, which includes having easy access to the control panel and being able to interact with the crew in the deckhouse, saloon, and on deck. Catamarans have a vast sail area, making sailing and maneuvering even in light winds simple.

Another major factor that gives catamarans an edge over other boat types is that catamarans give sailors the added advantage of using several duplicated systems that are important for onboard safety. For those who have never boarded a catamaran before, there are two engines – one in each hull.

There are also two rudders, which makes it easier to control without having to stay put on the vessel. Also, when moving from bow to stern, a catamaran provides level, even decks, and broad, safe passageways, with no climbing, which simplifies the sailing experience to a great degree.

A pro tip to controlling a catamaran while out in the open waters is to turn the wheel to twelve o'clock and work exclusively with the throttle control in order to use the engines rather than just the steering wheel while maneuvering. 

It is also best to familiarize yourself with the design of a catamaran before you embark on a journey on one. For instance, a catamaran is made of several parts. Knowing each area and what it's used for can make it easier to sail a catamaran, especially for beginners.

The majority of people are familiar with tiny catamarans known as "Hobie cats" – a catamaran designed for recreational sailing and hobbies on calmer waterways such as beaches and lakes. There are, however, several more types that are significantly larger and more opulent.

A cruising catamaran is a boat that operates on the same premise as a sailing catamaran but has bigger hulls with cabins and facilities. A closed building on the bridge, between enormous hulls, serves as a galley, salon, and living quarters.

Catamarans are significantly larger and more stable than sailing boats. The bedrooms are in the hulls, and each one has its own private bathroom. Sliding doors connect the cockpit and saloon in most cases. But, there are also larger options, which come with additional features that you should be aware of.

For example, the flybridge is an additional level on larger catamarans. The flybridge is normally outfitted with all of the necessary navigational equipment and a steering wheel, and an additional sun platform.

Reasons for the Catamaran's Popularity

Of course, what sets catamarans apart from the rest is their size and stability. A catamaran has greater room above and below decks since it has two hulls, which is also one of its main selling points. Cats are also popular amongst vacationers who prefer leasing a boat since they are more readily available than other boat types.

Furthermore, these boats have enough room for a large group of people and their belongings, with plenty of space to go around. But more importantly, one of the best features of the catamaran is that these boats don't tend to heel over like the monohull.

This is mainly because of the high level of stability that is provided by the two hulls, which keeps the catamaran level on the water, even when navigating through choppy waters. Also, since you aren't fighting gravity, the sailing experience is less taxing and more enjoyable, which is why cats have become the go-to choice for many experienced and novice boaters.

Another major benefit of sailing catamarans is that they are easier for beginners to get the hang of sailing and hone their skills. This is mainly because these boats do not require as much water beneath them as compared to monohulls.

This makes it easier to sail even in shallower waters, which is great for beginners. Also, because they have two hulls, catamarans don't bounce around while being anchored at night, so you can also enjoy a good night's sleep while on a catamaran.

As if all of these great features weren't enough to get you onboard, there's something more you need to know about catamarans. Cats are also significantly faster compared to other boat types, which is great news for adventurers and thrill-seekers who love to go fast on the water.

So, if you are one of them, the catamaran will certainly not disappoint in terms of speed.

Are Catamarans Easier To Sail?
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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