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Mono verses multihull
Team McLube



Mar 7, 2006, 3:13 AM

Post #1 of 14 (28965 views)
Mono verses multihull Log-In to Post/Reply

Got a 40 foot monohull. After a charter with no heeling and faster passage times the mate wants a Cat.

Pros and Cons please.

tim patterson

Mar 8, 2006, 4:25 AM

Post #2 of 14 (28789 views)
Re: [reachout] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

I had the great good fortune to begin sailing at a young age, always on monohulls. At age 25, I bought my first cat, a Hobie 14 hull no. 367. It changed my world. Since then I have had the good fortune to own two great cats, both designed by Peter Spronk. It is my opinion that many of the current crop of multis are not really safe at sea, thought they may be fine for coastal cruising. It is important to think about power to weight ratios when looking at cats, as they must be able to sail in extreme conditions. Many of the new boats have far too much weight to be safe in big seas and wind. I have done two transatlantics, and numerous trips from the caribbean to the northeast coast of the US. I have seen many bad blows, and having been on some of the newer cats to cruise, I would not have been happy on them in many of the situations I have found myself in.
Tim Patterson

peter johnstone

Mar 8, 2006, 11:05 AM

Post #3 of 14 (28625 views)
Re: [reachout] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply


Pros and cons can vary so much based on which cat you select. A good lightweight cat with adequate load carrying ability is awesome. A heavier production type cat, and you may as well spec huge diesels, cause you will use them a lot.

Based on a good lightweight cat like the Gunboat's ( brand):


Daily passagemaking runs between 240-330 miles.
Less time at sea
Speed to sail around nasty weather
No weight in ends leads to no pitching motion
Plenty of sail, so very little side to side motion
Huge interior spaces and lots of privacy
Shoal draft (18" with boards and rudders up) Anchor anywhere!
Easier and safer to shorthand. (Central cockpit, no need to do deathwalk along sides of boat...hard to fall off of it).
Does not heel. World kept level
Awesome salon with 360 degree view at anchor and under sail


Anchoring requires a bridle
All of your friends and family will constantly beg you to go for a ride or a cruise
Docking takes more care. Platform blows around a bit more
No rubrails, so fender management is important
You will want to quit working once you get one.
You will not likely step on a keelboat again unless it is an awesome race boat. All others will feel bland.
You will have to occasionally say no to bringing more stuff aboard.
After you embarras your friends by flying past their super-maxi, they do not talk to you for months.
Everywhere you anchor, you get so many dinghies circling your boat like paparazzi that it can sometimes be difficult to find quiet.
You will sob for months if you ever sell it.

Feel free to run questions to me via the email on our website

You are on the right track. Both my Mom and my wife will only go sailing on catamarans.


Mar 8, 2006, 11:47 AM

Post #4 of 14 (28615 views)
Re: [tim patterson] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

WinkA better reference point, Seems like an unbiased and accurate assesment.
Another fact catamaran holds the jules verne round the world record.
Another fact, they have banned multihulls from the AC races, due to the spanking DC gave the fleet the one time it was allowed.
Another fact is that the insurance on a Multihull is less money than a mono because they don't sink.
IMO, rather be upside down, than have a matter of seconds to abandon a holed boat with a led keel going to the bottom fast.
It is great that we all sail, sailing anything can be a blast, is is just more fun, IMO, to stay flat, go faster and be safer!


Mar 8, 2006, 12:50 PM

Post #5 of 14 (28595 views)
Re: [reachout] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

I have a 35' catamaran that is so stable that my mother - in - law (76 years young) and her sister (78 years young) had a great afternoon sail sitting in the cockpit drinking a glass of wine with it blowing 20-25 knots and a 2 foot chop.


Mar 8, 2006, 3:10 PM

Post #6 of 14 (28569 views)
Re: [peter johnstone] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

I really like Peter Johnstone's reply.

I spent so many of the early years ('73-'90) in the multihull business trying to convince the sailing public of their virtues that I just find it difficult to make the argument any more. Thank goodness they are a very accepted design of vessel now.

I was the original importer of the Fountain/Pajot cats back in 1986. I brought a 37 foot 'Louisiane' into the Annapolis show, and then put it into a demo/charter situation on the Cheasapeak Bay. One thing we could ALWAYS count on is selling the wife if she came along. Most women always liked the level sailing. And why do you think the charter companies love them.

Yes, the multihulls do come in all forms, from the sedate cruising ones to the real performance models. Maybe I've slowed down with years, but I always did like the idea of motor/sailers for cruising the world. And the multihull can make a wonderful motor/sailer:

Motor/Sailing Catamaran Concept

(defining ‘the best boat to undertake a world cruise’)

I sincerely believe that a well conceived Motor/Sailer is the most practical, capable, comfortable, safe, economical vessel for serious ocean passagemaking......while retaining the ability to fully explore the most remote, and often shallow coastal regions of the water world.

Even in Beebe’s book,”Voyaging Under Power”, the bible of the power-only crowd, his vessel, “Passagemaker”, was a motorsailer, albeit smaller rigged than he really wanted. Many of the examples he offers as prime passagemakers are instead prime coastal cruisers, ‘semi-displacement’ hulls not optimized for long passages, but rather coastal cruising, where rapid transit is a primary requirement, while fuel use and surviving ultimate conditions are secondary considerations. ‘Trawlers’ today are gravitating toward these semi-planning hull configurations, and twin engines, as buyers become reluctant to accept slow 7-9 knot vessels. And forget wide appeal of primarily sail-powered vessels, particularly with our aging population, so how about those old versatile motorsailers.

We don’t hear much of motorsailers these days....not a popular subject. The old traditional, stoutly-built vessels, with a hefty engine(s), were necessarily compromised in both their sailing and powering statistics. Let’s modernize the motorsailer. The multihull planform holds great promise to improve this breed. The long slender hulls of the catamaran vessel have proven real efficient to push under both power & sail.....not only efficient, but not limited to the traditional slow displacement/length hull-speeds. Just what the motorsailer needs....far less compromising increases in both sail and power performance, while maintaining an economy of operation that truly allows a sea-kindly, long-range capability.

Let’s explore a 40' example. Take the single 120-140 hp diesel used to push the conventional 40' single-hulled trawler or motorsailer to a maximum 8.3 knots hull speed and divide it into two smaller 60 hp diesels driving two long slender catamaran hulls. Voila!, maximum to 15 knots under power with the reliability of twin engines and the stability of a twin-hulled vessel. Add a modest sailing rig to these easily driven hulls, and you now have a passagemaker capable of cruising 12 knots under sail/ power compared with those older 7-knot boats. With 12 knots of speed at your command, you can really take advantage of 'weather windows' to: 1) make your passage as smooth as possible, 2) make some lengthy passages you might never have considered in a slower boat. This multihulled vessel will likely be slowed less by an obstructive seaway, and will accordingly make a passage at almost twice the average speed of the single-hulled vessel...twice the speed for the same total HP. There is an economy of operation here that cuts fuel requirements and bills, and greatly extends their range. In light airs, running one engine often is all that is needed to bring the apparent wind forward to make the sails work harder, and the combination provides much better results than either motoring or sailing alone……
.sailing synergy/harmony, the motor taking over in the lulls and the rig taking over in the puffs.

The sea-kindliness of multihull craft is being rediscovered every day. Continual experiences with whale watching boats, fast ferries, pleasure, commercial, and military applications are all proving the validity of the multihull form. What many people forget about a good ride in a heavy sea is that it is very much a function of weight in addition to hull shape. More weight, more robust, more form resistance it offers to moving thru the ocean, the more the sea acts to resist the vessel's progress, and thus the more uncomfortable ride, and we must slow down. A big headsea is a particular challenge. Heavy boats carry their momentum into each trough and crest in a battle with the sea, while lighter weight vessels with slender hulls slice through with less battering. Per a sign at the Naval academy, “you can out-think the ocean, but you can’t out-slug the ocean.” Modern materials allow for lighter boats, and we must properly distribute the vessel's weight throughout long slender hulls. Following seas tend to pick up broad sterns and slew a vessel off to either side....broach. The catamaran hull does not require these broad sterns.

Storm survivability should be considered at the design stage for any vessel making offshore passages. Loss of power (clogged cooling or fuel filters, restricted air supply, water ingress, etc) often occurs at the most inopportune time (during a storm), and this can put the solely powered vessel at peril in short order. A vessel with a modest sailing rig could save your life, and that of vessel itself. Add a proper sea anchor installation, and I would challenge a hurricane. The catamaran planform was rated ‘best in survivability’ in huge breaking wave tests* carried out by Lock Crowther at the prestigious Univ of Southampton.

Most innovative item on my vessel, the mast-aft sailing rig, also referred to as a ‘single-masted ketch’ ......a marriage between a cutter and a ketch without the mainsail. I have LOTS of data to support my contentions as to the aerodynamic superiority of this configuration.... But lets leave that theory out of the equation for our motorsailing application. The ketch rig is a good small-crew size rig, particularly where all three sails are roller furling!....even a novice could learn to operate this rig.....and she balances under a variety of sail deployments. Lower force centers add safety. Boats with moderate rig proportions tend to make faster overall passages because they are sailed at a higher level of capability than if they carry a lofty hi-performance rig. No big head-bashing booms, and simply wing/wing the headsails downwind. The sail rig contributes damping action to the rolling in a beam/quarter sea (no servo-fins needed), contributes to an unlimited range, and ultimately it will get you home if the engines fail. Ahhhh motorsailing!

Optional nacelle-mounted centerboard precludes any extra hull penetrations, and permits maintenance without hauling-out. ‘Pointed’ deckhouse shape conforms to apparent winds, significantly reducing drag. Flying control bridge & a crows-nest…what a hoot! Dedicated engine rooms, isolated from living spaces. Optional copper-nickel hull material below waterline is impact resistant and naturally antifouling for years.

Accomodations!! How might it appear as a real estate ad?, “Waterfront cottage, 4/5 bedrooms, three baths, large kitchen & dining area, big deck, wonderful views.” Hard to beat a catamaran’s spaciousness and privacy....witness their current popularity in the market. Seamanlike layout... no vast open spaces.

My 65' Motor/Sailing catamaran is the embodiment of a Phil Rhodes’ motorsailer design that has haunted me all these years. Only, this vessel is so much superior. Twin 100hp diesels will cruise her at 12/14knts. Under sail she could make 18/20kts. Range, unlimited. Fuel consumption, extremely low. She could skim over depths as little as 3.5'. Explore those rivers, mangroves, coves, lagoons. Beach the bows. Dive or fish the flats and the reefs from the Bahamas to the Pacific atolls.
THIS IS AN EXPEDITION PASSAGEMAKER!! , 20-25meters, no crew required.

peter johnstone

Mar 8, 2006, 4:42 PM

Post #7 of 14 (28554 views)
Re: [brian] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply


That Louisane was a decent boat. Wish they kept the emphasis on performance like thos early days.

Why bother with engines when you can sail at 10-14 knots all of the time?

I devoured Beebe's original book, but the new addition is an abominable advertisement for the new editor's Nordhavn series. I nearly did a Gunboat power series, but held back. I could not overcome two strong instincts:

1) Fuel is only getting more scarce and expensive
2) The power market is very strong, but it's days are numbered before there is public outlash at the fuel consumption. And owner backlash due to fuel expense.
3) I believe in the benefits of sailing. And if you can have market leading daily mileage runs (whether sail or power) for trans-oceanic passages, why bother with the complexity and reliance on engines?

Good luck with the Rhodes style cats power sailors. I think you are on the right track for a power sailor.


Mar 8, 2006, 5:23 PM

Post #8 of 14 (28550 views)
Re: [peter johnstone] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Guess all those years on a J24 has taught Peter the lesson: fast is fun.

It's funner when there's more hulls, too.


Mar 10, 2006, 10:03 PM

Post #9 of 14 (28484 views)
Re: [reachout] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Pros of a mulithull:
-Stable under 15 degrees of heel.
-Shallow draft

Cons of a mulithull:
-Fundementally unstable/can capsize
-Will capsize with the slightest lack of attention
-Should NEVER be sailed overpowered
-Will capsize with the slightest lack of attention

Hope that helps.



Mar 16, 2006, 7:16 PM

Post #10 of 14 (28401 views)
Re: [Surfer] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Pros of a multihull
- muy rapido
- Stable as long as you ain't stoopid
- Should be sailed overpowered whenever the opportunity presents
- Beachable and removeable from said beach with no ill effect
- they float

Cons of a monorock
- slow
- often lean waaaay over when the wind blows hard
- sometimes keep right on going when they lean too far
- they sink


Mar 16, 2006, 9:26 PM

Post #11 of 14 (28389 views)
Re: [Hypotenuse] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Here are some links to browse for more information
USA Built has a new trailerable tri like the Corsair, but more of a cruiser than racer. Going to possibly see the Telstar in Oakland at the sailboat show.
South Africa
Great Builder:
Another great source for information on Multihull sailing:


Mar 17, 2006, 12:51 PM

Post #12 of 14 (28370 views)
Re: [andrew] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

One minor(?) overlooked item:

Monohull - Good ability to self right from extreme angles of heel.

Multihull - Will not self right once mast gets near water.

Not such a big deal if the multi doesn't get too far over....

Don't forget, a big early proponent of multi's - I think you have heard of him Paul Elvstrom, quit sailing them altogether after capsizing his cat in the middle of the Baltic.


Mar 21, 2006, 5:56 AM

Post #13 of 14 (28331 views)
Re: [reachout] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

A bit off subject, but in the "What's your junior program got?", I just put in my two-cents for multihulls for youth sailing. Kids are going into skiffs for speed/thrill, and the cats offer the same, are easier to sail, and might be cheaper. Just have to accept the next generation is going to be different. if I can just figure out how to text my friend to tell them about this cool podcast I just found.


May 23, 2018, 9:56 AM

Post #14 of 14 (16945 views)
Re: [Snappy] Mono verses multihull [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

In order to feel the sea I would rather pick a monohull however if I am going on a cruise with my family and the kids I will definitely pick a catamaran for the comfort and space

check-out the inside of a Lagoon 450F :

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