What Size Catamaran To Sail Around The World

What Size Catamaran To Sail Around The World | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

Catamarans are generally longer than monohulls, but their accommodations and handling vary widely between sizes.

The best size catamaran to sail around the world is 45 to 50 feet. The smallest catamaran with space for long-term provisions and a cabin is around 30 feet in length, and a 55 to 60-foot catamaran is the largest that can be accommodated at most marinas.

In this article, we'll go over the different sizes of catamarans and how they handle in the open ocean. Additionally, we'll cover each size category and the best sizes for traveling the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

We sourced the information used in this article from marine design guides and the consensus of experienced catamaran sailors.


Table of contents

What Sizes Are Catamarans?

Catamarans come in all shapes and sizes, but the smallest models don't have the accommodations required to sail around the world. Most catamarans under 30 feet in length don't have a cabin at all, which is a stark difference that they have with monohulls.

Small monohull sailboats often have cabins, as there's plenty of room below on a wide single-hulled sailboat. Monohulls can be as small as 16 to 18 feet and still have a cabin, but catamarans must be much larger to have suitable accommodations.

The smallest catamarans are about 12 to 15 feet long. These are small recreational craft used primarily for racing, and they aren't designed for the open ocean. Larger catamarans in the 20-foot range can (and have) been used on the ocean, but they're usually classified as day boats.

Catamarans become practical for longer excursions once they hit about 30 feet in length. A boat of this size is large enough for a cabin and can usually accommodate between two and four people comfortably. Catamarans commonly stretch beyond 50 feet, which is where they're the most useful and comfortable.

Smallest Catamaran to Sail Around the World

So, what's the smallest catamaran you could use to sail around the world? In theory, any catamaran can sail long distances—but you need one that's large enough for shelter and storing provisions. Generally speaking, 30 feet is the bottom limit for an ocean-crossing catamaran.

Let's take the ME Cat 30 (Maine Cat) as an example. This small and nimble 30-foot catamaran makes use of its limited space and provides comfortable accommodations for a few adults. The ME Cat 30 is a split design that houses the basic accommodations in either hull, with an open seating area between them.

Inside the ME Cat 30, there's barely enough room for all the living spaces. It features a head and a large bed in one hull and a galley and a smaller berth in the other. With that, all the useful cabin space is filled—and this is considered a very good design for the size. As you can see, the best catamarans for sailing across the world are usually much larger.

Typical Ocean Crossing Catamaran Size

Based on what we discussed above, a 30-foot cruising catamaran is really pushing the limits on size. However, it doesn't take a whole lot more length to make a catamaran exponentially more comfortable and suitable for long journeys.

The typical ocean-crossing catamaran is usually about 40 to 45 feet long. With the addition of 10 feet in length, designers can fit an enormous amount of additional accommodations in the hulls.

This is because adding a little extra length allows designers and boatbuilders to widen each hull significantly, which makes room for luxuries like private bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, and entirely separate dining and cooking spaces.

Cruising Catamaran Floor Plans

A 40-foot to 50-foot catamaran usually comes with a mirrored floor plan. The traditional catamaran has an identical layout in each hull. That means if one hull has a private berth in the bow and a shower and a toilet in the stern, the other hull will have the exact same layout except opposite.

This is usually because spaces like the galley and sitting area are kept in the center console, where there's much more space to move around. Spaces that are used at night or only occasionally are kept in the narrow hulls, as this has proven to be a more comfortable layout for crews.

Storage is usually kept deep in the hulls as well, as there's extra space to work with when the only other design purpose is for sleeping in bathing. Catamarans in this size range can also have separate hull layouts, but the mirrored design is by far the most common.

Best Catamaran Size for Pacific Ocean Cruising

Catamarans are very versatile craft, but some function better in the Pacific Ocean than others. One of the main considerations when choosing a catamaran for Pacific Travel is that the Pacific usually has greater distances between ports and stopping points.

This is especially true on the US West Coast, where there are only a handful of ports and safe anchorages. The best Pacific cruising catamaran size is between 45 and 50 feet in length, as you're likely to need more space to store provisions for extended cruising.

If you're starting in San Francisco or Seattle, even a 'short' trip along the coastline could mean you'll pass hundreds of miles of steep rocky cliffs and no stopping points insight. When crossing the Pacific, you may travel thousands of miles before you encounter a port or island with any infrastructure at all, let alone stocks of provisions and a full-service marina.

The Pacific is a huge ocean, and the last thing you want to do is run out of food or fuel a thousand miles from your destination. Larger boats store more supplies, and they also give you more breathing room when you're surrounded by empty blue water for months on end.

Best Catamaran Size for Atlantic Ocean Cruising

The Atlantic Ocean is smaller than the Pacific Ocean, and the coastlines of many countries that border it tend to be well-developed. This makes it easier to get away with owning a smaller boat, as you don't need to store as many supplies, and your voyages will be shorter.

Another factor to consider is that not all marinas on the Atlantic can accommodate extremely large catamarans, or it may be prohibitively expensive to dock a 55-foot or 60-foot double-wide vessel. That's why the ideal size for an Atlantic-crossing catamaran is between 40 feet and 50 feet. Today, 45 feet seems to be average.

The boat of this size will fit in at most marinas in developed countries around the Atlantic, and its draft is shallow enough for island hopping and exploring the coral reefs that the Atlantic Islands are known for. Additionally, 40 to 50-foot catamarans are usually just as seaworthy as the larger boats, and they're less expensive to maintain.

Unlike the US West Coast, where ports are few and far between, the Atlantic in the Gulf of Mexico is littered with marinas and safe anchorages. You can travel for weeks along the coastline of the United States and parts of South America and never be further than a hundred miles from a full-service marina.

There are also hundreds of islands, tourist destinations, and service locations that reduce your need for large stores of provisions aboard your catamaran. This gives you a lot more flexibility in choosing a size and a floor plan, as your needs are different than that of a Pacific sailor.

Best Catamaran Size for World Cruising

If you're planning to go on a world tour or a circumnavigation, you're going to need a catamaran that's large enough to fit your crew and your provisions comfortably.

You'll also need a boat that is small enough to be serviced and accommodated in most locations but also seaworthy enough to whether anything you're likely to encounter out of the water.

For most people, the sweet spot seems to be around 45 to 50 feet in length. A 50-foot catamaran is more than large enough to store enough provisions for many months of sailing. It's also roomy enough to house two to six people comfortably for many weeks at a time.

Catamarans between 40 and 50 feet in length are also extremely seaworthy and have been known to make circumnavigation frequently. You're almost guaranteed to find a 50-foot catamaran in almost any remote anchorage in the world where sailors are known to frequent.

Also, almost any marina can accommodate a 50-foot catamaran, and most boatyards can perform at least basic repairs on a boat of this size. Most marinas have fee schedules for boats based on size, and the cutoff for large boats is usually 60 feet. This keeps you in the 'medium' boat category, which can save you thousands.

How to Choose a Catamaran Size

Choosing the right size catamaran can be challenging, but there are a few things you can do to narrow it down. First, examine how you plan to use the vessel. You can travel the oceans in a catamaran between 30 and 40 feet long, so if you have a small crew, you may want to consider a compact model.

Larger catamarans can sleep eight or more people comfortably. This is large enough for most people, though some charter captains may need additional room. A 40 to 45-foot catamaran is usually large enough for a small family, though a 50-footer would be more comfortable, especially if there are kids running around.

What Size Catamaran To Sail Around The World
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

What Size Catamaran To Sail Around The World

What Size Catamaran To Sail Around The World
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Lifeofsailing.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Email: contact@lifeofsailing.com
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy