Skip to main content

Cat vs. Mono: The Family Factor Page 3

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

Sailing performance

This is last on the list because this is often the area where the skipper must compromise most. If you are devoted to the notion of sailing your boat well and fast and often, in both light air and strong conditions, you run some risk of first boring and then demoralizing your young crew. At least until kids start learning to sail themselves, they will always clamor for the engine to be run and for getting somewhere sooner rather than later when you might prefer to ghost along in zephyrs. And—on monohulls at least—they may well feel very nervous when the boat starts heeling. In all cases characteristics that increase interior volume and livability will also decrease performance.

This is also the one area where catamarans sometimes are not optimal. True, a cat does not heel, and this is always reassuring to children, but optimizing a cat for performance—installing daggerboards instead of shoal keels, narrowing hulls, raising bridgedecks and restricting or eliminating bridgedeck saloons—proportionately steals away more kid-friendly features than is the case with monohulls. On the whole, once you factor in windward performance and especially helm feel, a good cruising cat will be less satisfying to sail than a good cruising monohull.

Monohulls also are generally easier to sail under one sail alone, which increases options in emergencies and also creates more opportunities to keep sailing when you might otherwise stop. Some monohulls will beat to weather under a headsail alone, and many others will sail (upwind and down) under a main alone. Most cats do not have such capabilities.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t opt for a cruising cat if you can afford one. My general philosophy is that, when cruising with kids in the early stages of their sailing careers, it is far better to take it easy and sail, as it were, with one arm tied behind your back. It can be quite frustrating at times, but reefing earlier and motorsailing more often so as to keep your crew feeling safe and comfortable is usually the percentage move. Cruising cats work very well when sailed this way, as do many monohulls. Otherwise, I strongly recommend you wait until your kids are older, more knowledgeable, and more experienced before you splurge on a performance-oriented boat that you can sail both hard and fast.

Advantage: Monohull

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