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Catamarans vs Monohulls – Which is more popular?

Voyage Catamaran

Skipper’s Tips: Charter with Cattitude

Photography provided by The Moorings, Dream Yacht Charters and Voyage

There is little doubt that catamarans are among the fastest growing trends in the cruising industry today. If you look out on the water, you will observe that the majority of bare boats plying the BVI briny are sailing catamarans, where 20 years ago there was only a handful.

In the year 2000, the BVI Boat Show for crewed yachts had 59% of the fleet composed of multihulls and in 2013 it was 89%.

This steady growth is mirrored in the bareboat fleet and we can measure the increased interest in catamarans by simply counting cats to monos at the docks of our numerous charter companies.

Moorings Catamaran

Dream Yacht Charters, only five years in business now in the BVI, started with four monohulls and one catamaran. Today, their fleet has swelled to 40 vessels and an overwhelming 85% of those are now cats.

The key ingredients to their popularity are space and a non-heeling sail. The huge sleeping quarters and the comfort of one-level living, provide sailors with the sensation of being on a super yacht, despite the boat being only 45′ long.

Even the people who prefer monohulls have moved to using catamarans on vacation and once visitors have chartered a cat, it’s unlikely they will return to a mono.


Moorings Catamaran

Certainly this is the perfect vessel for family vacations as she sails flat and safe. The kids have room to play on the trampolines, imbibing while underway is smooth, the boat is incredibly easy to manoeuvre in close quarters, and all are equipped with generators to power the air conditioning. The lure is tremendous and this remains a lifestyle choice with attractive aesthetics, arguably superior to monohulls.

Sales figures show production multihulls remain at a high and this is obvious as we see more and more cats delivered each season to the BVI charter bases. Robertson Caine who manufacture for The Moorings, are said to be increasing their per annum production by 40% next year. The French ‘Lagoon’ production cats are the third biggest yacht manufacturer worldwide. But there are more than a few designs of catamaran available to charter in the BVI from the high performance Catana to Fountaine Pajot, Voyage and Privilège.

Moorings Catamaran

Still, among the most popular cats out there today are the Moorings 4800 and the Lagoon 450, both comparable, but with different advantages.

Nominated as ‘Boat of the Year’ in 2013 by Yachting World, the new Moorings 4800 has a vastly different layout from its genetic forebears, where a large forward cockpit with access from the main saloon completely opens up the shaded living quarters. This unimpeded passage fore to aft, wide side decks with flush hatches, and a broad cross deck from hull to hull, well aft of the main cockpit, lends so much room that no one should feel cramped on board.

Another significant improvement is that the helm station now has access from both sides, which is important for the flow of passengers.

Dream Yacht Charters Lagoon Catamaran

The Lagoon is recognised for the very social walk through fly bridge and vertical windows that give more view, more room, and better shade. It is also fair to identify the Lagoon 450 because of the quality of the interior. All the mod-cons of contemporary living are available with microwave, hideaway 36″ flat screen TV, and space for a washing machine.

Dream Yacht Charters Lagoon Catamaran

The light wood veneer throughout softens the ambience of each cabin, and on some models the ‘owner’s hull’ offers a sizable space with a study area, changing room, separate head and shower up forward – one would be hard pressed to find such expansive living quarters in a New York apartment.

Like all cat families, there are measured improvements on their predecessors; lessons are learned and designs adjusted – for example, the Lagoon 450 introduces a new broad hatch over the cockpit, which serves to provide airflow to the guests beneath and a better view of the port quarter when parking. These tweaks to design are industry driven and constructive feedback and advice from charter companies keeps catamaran design evolving fast.

Moorings Catamaran

As the popularity of sailing and power catamarans has soared, we have seen changes in the construction of docks and size of travel lifts on island. Where previously two monohulls lived, now one catamaran is accommodated so new docks are built to accommodate two cats side by side.

We know we have the easiest cruising waters in the world: steady trade winds, flat waters, minimal current and tide, plenty mooring buoys, bigger docks, and cruising room for us all. All bases are at an easy distance to call out a chase boat (unless you’re in Anegada), so there is no stress for the bareboat captains. Bareboat captains are even allowed to get behind the wheel of a 58′ catamaran these days, which was unheard of years ago. But here we have a vessel type so easy to manoeuvre, that even part-time captains are enabled, empowered and emboldened. So, if you want to flaunt your skills to your friends and family, colleagues or lovers, take this tip – charter a catamaran.

Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

Louise Reardon has been sailing around the globe on private yachts since 1992 and taught sailing with Offshore Sailing School on Tortola since 2006. She holds an MCA 3000 ton Masters, is a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, US Sailing Instructor, and has a BA hons in Asian & African Geography.
Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

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