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
Author:
Publish date:

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.

catamarans

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

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more