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Are Catamarans Good for Beginners? (Is It For You?)

If you’ve never sailed before, it’s understandable that you’re looking at multiple options, including the catamaran.  That’s what I did when I was getting started and many others before me. After all, you’ve heard that the catamaran is among the safest sea vessels (and it is.) 

It sure is stable and safe, but is a cat the best option for beginners? After all, they are usually quite big. Catamarans are a great choice for sailing fanatics, whether we’re browsing for an outfitted model, a used one, or a basic version. 

Small cats are ideal for newbies, even though they are more pricey. Its two hulls offer a more stable sailing experience that reduces any chance of flipping. If you’re fine with paying extra, getting one equipped with a trampoline, single mast, and up to two sails directed by a tiller is maybe your best option.

Are Catamarans Good for Beginners?

Let’s look in-depth at catamaran sailing for beginners and how beneficial it is as well as the drawbacks.

The Benefits of a Catamaran

Because all necessary lines are guided to the helm, the helmsman can do nearly all sailing maneuvers by himself when sailing a catamaran. Sailing novices can benefit from the catamaran’s auto-pilot feature.

Because the main lines are channeled to the helm, the helmsman may do nearly all sailing tricks all by themselves, with the aid of the autopilot. When sailing in a marina, having two engines and propellers makes maneuvering much easier.

The fact that catching a mooring ball is made easier with a catamaran, a feature that all boaters will love, is another crucial advantage that is sometimes ignored.

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Small reef crossings are easier to navigate on a catamaran, making it a good choice for learners. When it comes to anchoring, catamarans are ideal for beginners who aren’t yet secure enough to venture out into the open ocean.

As a result of this, catamarans make great training vessels for beginners. It’s also possible that they are lighter and have less wave impact than monohulls, making them faster in some conditions, especially when sailing at reaching angles in rough weather.

Because of this, catamarans were developed to allow people to live in larger, more comfortable quarters while still allowing them access to nature. In addition to the large flybridges, electric davits allow for easy lifting of the dinghy. Using a catamaran for everyday tasks like cooking is a great option because it does not heel.

Unlike other boat designs, catamaran sailors can use several redundant systems that are critical to the safety of their vessels. Catamaran passengers should know that there are two motors onboard: one in each hull.

The following is a helpful tidbit:

If you’re in charge of navigating a catamaran on the open seas, set the wheel to noon and only use the throttle control to drive the motors.

The design of catamaran boats should also be studied before going on a sailing trip on one of them. Many pieces go into the construction of a catamaran, for example. Having an idea of what each zone is used for making the catamaran sailing process simpler for newcomers.

How Difficult Is it to Control a Catamaran?

stability

Catamarans are agile in the water since they don’t heel. Since the boat operates differently on the water, the entire sailing experience is affected. As a result, boaters must be mindful of a variety of different elements that monohull sailors might not be aware of. 

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Also worth noting is that during upwind sailing or light wind circumstances, certain monohull sailors may have a harder time getting going.

Even if the boat doesn’t seem to “react” to the wind, it might be hard to tell when it’s time for reefing whenever there’s harsh wind. But with the correct amount of preparation, sailors may overcome these concerns and enjoy their time on the water to the fullest extent. 

When the weather permits, sailing catamarans is a joy because of their great stability and high level of comfort. As a result, catamarans are popular with both new and seasoned sailors alike.

Preparation is the Key to a Successful Cat Voyage

It’s the captain’s job to make sure you have all the ideal navigational and safety gear if you’re a rookie and studying with another sailor. The following is a list of the things you’ll need to bring.

You’ll have to get shoes that are easy to slip on and off while you’re in the water. Two requirements must be met by the sailing shoes you select. Because of this, you will require a pair of non-marking shoes. 

Eye Protection

catamaran hat

There are several quality cat-appropriate shoe brands out there. Not only will you be able to get the non-marking, gripping shoes you desire, but they’re usually visually stunning.

If you’re going out in the sun, you’ll need sunglasses with polarization. When learning to sail and interpret the wind, it’s vital to be able to see the water’s movement. 

When learning to swim, it’s vital to have the ability to see changes in the water’s clarity with mirror glasses.

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Hand and Wind Protection

You’ll also need a pair of high-quality sailing gloves. Some can prove costly, but there are also heavy-duty 12-pack gloves that are quite affordable.

Bring a windbreaker to ensure you are warm and comfy in windy conditions. Getting a wind-resistant jacket that can also do a good job of keeping you dry, so we recommend it. In addition, this jacket will keep you warm when you need it the most.

If you want to keep track of how many hours you’ve spent practicing sailing, you’ll want to keep a logbook. If you ever plan to work as an instructor or charter a boat, you’ll need to have some experience in the water first.

Fundamentals of Catamaran Sailing for Beginners

catamaran

When you’re ready to go out on the water, you’ll need to keep these concepts in mind. We’ll go over the basics of sailing a small catamaran, including how to set sail, how to steer, trim the sails, turn the boat, reduce speed, and stop.

Sailboats with catamaran hulls can easily become disoriented in strong winds because of the short draft and large surface area of the vessel.

Also, if the wind’s approach is from the side, anchoring should be done as rapidly as possible.

When driving in confined spaces, relying solely on the motor’s energy is ideal for directing the vehicle. Remain at the throttle control and keep the steering wheel in the center when driving.

As you approach the jib luff for the wind to steer the bow around, you should approach swiftly. Because the monohull (with its deep keel) can’t be maneuvered easily, it’s more difficult to sail in tight spaces. In strong winds, the boat will teeter on its side, making it hard to carry out most tasks.

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Keeping Your Cat Safe

keeping your cat safe

Before you begin anchoring, make sure your boat is completely stopped. Slowing down a catamaran is far more difficult than slowing down a monohull because of its shorter keel and lower water resistance.

When using the motors to ensure the boat stays pointed straight into the wind, never allow it to drift sideways. Immediately after anchoring, use both engines to straighten the boat out. 

Keep the cat pointed into the wind as you alter the snubber using the bridle that arrives basically on every catamaran. If you’re using a mooring ball, you’ll need a bridle. You can individually clear hulls from the ball line to ensure safety.

Improving Your Catamaran Sailing Abilities 

The speed of a catamaran isn’t always going to be as high as you’d imagine. Catamarans are underpowered compared to high-performance sailboats. 

Simple sail-trim processes, on the other hand, might make even the simplest cat function great. It’s possible to find both catamarans and monohulls with some of the same features.

Catamarans are less efficient upwind than monohulls, so getting a good yaw angle might be more difficult if you’re on a smaller catamaran, like a 38-footer. Most catamarans sail upwind for that reason. When sailing upwind, ease off several degrees to minimize motion.

How Catamarans are Built to Sail

A catamaran is built to sail in the opposite direction of the wind. The most efficient sailing ranges from 120 to 150 percent. In this approach, we recommend that you sail at about half the current wind speed. In these scenarios, you’ll be a lot faster than many monohulls!

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Before heading out on the water, you should know everything there is to know about sailing a catamaran, having gone over the fundamentals and the essentials. 

You can learn to sail a catamaran in a short period if you plan and practice. You’ll be able to spend hours at a time on the water after you’ve mastered the catamaran.