Catamaran sailboats are multi-hulled ships that have two primary hulls, which are joined together by a structure that acts as the framework for the boat. These boats are popular selections for leisure and sport sailing.

Basic Facts About the Catamaran Sailboat

Catamaran sailboats, like other multiple-hulled boats, were once looked at with skepticism. Most boaters were more familiar with single-hull boats. The catamaran does offer excellent speed and stability, though.

Catamaran sailboats became more popular when people realized just how easy they are to maneuver, inspiring the development of the Beach Cat. There are also catamarans made by the Hobie company (also known for their surfboards), known as Hobie Cats. These boats only weigh about 250 pounds, and they quickly gained favor with boaters. They are usually about sixteen feet long, and they have trampoline-type fixtures between their two hulls. The mast of a Hobie Cat is mounted so that two people can crew the boat.

The first catamaran to be used in an Olympic Games venue appeared in 1976, about nine years after it was designed for just that purpose. It defeated all the other challengers with ease.

How Catamaran Sailboats are Used

You will no doubt enjoy the challenge of sailing catamaran sailboats, which are normally launched from land. They are able to rest on their keel, and you don't need to worry about tipping over, as you sometimes do with boats that only have one hull. You can also retract their rudders to the depth of their keels, protecting them from any damage if you run the craft aground.

Larger catamarans are used for cruising, and for sailing long distances. A race around the world in 2001 was won by a crew on a large catamaran sailboat. If you have previously sailed mono-hull boats, you'll feel some principles that will be familiar to you, but some of the aspects of sailing are different on a catamaran.

Catamaran sailboats may be somewhat difficult to tack, if you have a boat without dagger or center boards. Every style of sailboat must be able to resist any lateral movement; otherwise, it can only be sailed downwind. The dagger hull accomplishes this, while allowing for a lighter overall weight.

Catamarans have higher capabilities for speed than do mono-hull boats in the same size range, as they have less drag on the hull. Catamarans take longer to turn than mono-hulls, though, since the hull spacing is increased. It's best to learn to sail on mono-hull boats before you graduate to a catamaran, since the mono-hulls are more easily learned on. You will find, however, that catamarans are more comfortable to sail, and they are faster than mono-hull boats.

The deck area of a catamaran is entirely usable when you sail, and since they don't roll while at anchor, you don't need to visit marinas, which can be expensive. The ability of a catamaran to dry out while upright, and its shallow draft will open up more miles of sailing area, and quiet anchorage. If you prefer coastline sailing, like many boaters do, catamarans can be sailed close inshore, unlike mono-hull boats with deeper keels.

Sailing a Catamaran

The average sailing catamaran is fairly long, since shorter hulls are more uncomfortable to sail. You can still get a shorter-hulled catamaran that is comfortable to sail, though. Smaller sailboats are more easily maintained, and larger boats are usually more sophisticated, needing electric anchor windlass, powered headsail winches and the like. Be sure someone who is sailing with you can make minor repairs, and don't sail long distances without quality equipment on board. For safety and practicality, it's always good to have a quality Marine GPS unit, and some type of ship-to-shore radio. Garmin is a preferred vendor for the American Boatbuilders Association, and Uniden has some of the best waterproof radios.

Your boat should be easy to control in various conditions, and easy for you to sail. Multiple hull boats are no longer harder to handle, slower to tack or more unresponsive. Multi-hull boats like the catamaran can be sailed as easily as any mono-hull boat. They should have the ability to sail “hands off” in many conditions, while still tacking fast, even if you are sailing under the mainsail alone.

About the Author

Jane is a water sport enthusiast. She especially loves swimming, scuba diving, and boating. She and her friends enjoy having a great time on the water with their boat, skis, and towable tubes. One of their best boating tubes is the Super Mable towable. It holds up to 3 riders, and has 2 tow points: you can ride either sitting up, or laying flat on the tube.

Because of her involvement in water activities, Jane also publishes a website about boat tube reviews, and other reliable boating and water sports products. Some of the waterproof items include Celestron 7x50 binoculars.

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