Skip to main content

Cat vs. Mono: The Family Factor Page 2

Selecting a boat to cruise on inevitably involves compromises, but this is especially true when searching for a good family cruiser. Families often make ideal cruising crews in that they already know each other well, but they do have particular requirements as to living space and sailing performance that differ from those of all-adult crews. Some of these are perfectly fulfilled by modern

Eating & entertaining

When feeding children on boats, supply lines between galley and table should be kept as short as possible. Euro-style midship galleys on monohulls work well for in-saloon feedings, but from the more traditional aft location by the companionway you can instantly deliver food in two directions, both out to the cockpit and forward to a saloon table. Catamarans again offer an optimal solution. Those aft-bulkhead bridgedeck-saloon galleys (seen on many production cats) that open out directly into the cockpit from behind sliding doors or panels really cannot be improved upon.

Family cockpit feeding is strongly preferred in any palatable weather, and a fixed cockpit table is extremely useful. On monohulls this will be a centerline table with folding leaves. Saloon tables should also be fixed, both because kids always need a flat surface on which to play or spread out projects, and because fixed furniture—in the cockpit and below—creates more strong brace points and shortens up falling distances when a monohull is heeled.

Junior appetites are much sharper on boats, and the galley will always be busy. There should be at least one dedicated counter area whose use does not block access to important stowage areas. It is best if this area is adjacent to the stove.

Advantage: Catamaran

On deck

The skipper will be more relaxed and everyone will be more secure if he or she can sail the boat unassisted by crew when necessary. Balanced against this imperative is a strong juvenile need for outdoor social and resting space, both at anchor and while under way. It is also very useful if cockpit seats are long enough to sleep and spend the night on.

Given these contradictory directives, the best location for the main traveler is either behind the cockpit, as seen on many cats and on most center-cockpit monohulls, or over it on an arch or rooftop, as seen on very few monohulls and more often on cats. Here they are both clear of children loitering in the cockpit and can also be made accessible to the helm. Travelers positioned within the cockpit—either on a bridgedeck or on a rail directly in front of the helm—are strongly discouraged, as any temporary loss of control (a common enough phenomenon when working a boat in the presence of children) might lead to the mainsheet abruptly falling to leeward and crushing and/or trapping both smaller and larger crew.

The deck itself should have lots of flat surfaces, lots of antiskid, and lots of useful handholds. A flush deck with raised features like granny bars around the mast and tall, strong Dorade vents is great. A deck with a house raised enough that the house itself is a decent brace point for people under 4 feet tall is also very good. Very-low-profile rounded houses with grabrails at ankle height are not so good. Strong stanchions and lifelines should be mandatory.

Catamarans, once again, are optimal in that tramps between hulls make great resting and play areas, are reasonably secure while under way in moderate conditions, and are also usually clear of working lines and gear. On some cats, however, the route to the tramp is over curved cabin faces with poor handholds, which is less than optimal. In catamaran cockpits it often isn’t possible for the skipper to lay hands on all controls from the helm, so routes from the helm to outboard controls should be direct and not obstructed by cockpit seating or tables.

Advantage: Catamaran

Related

20220815

VIDEO: Small but Mighty

This summer has been a great one for sailors everywhere, but in particular for the 87 sailors participating in the Tiwal Cup on France's Gulf of Morbihan. In addition to some great sailing, the event saw a new record on the books--fastest ever assembly of the inflatable dinghy. ...read more

00-LEAD-210918_11HR_AZIMUT48HRS_AMO_00411

11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo ...read more

D61_JKELAGOPIAN-3

Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production ...read more

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more