Just when we started putting together our annual multihull issue, I received a curios note from a reader wondering why catamarans appearing in cruising frequency.
“Is it a hot market, a market that’s bringing in a younger demographic and thus newer and more readers” he said. “If the America’s Cup didn’t involve cats, would the cats have less editorial space?”
The A.C quip aside, these were legitimate questions, though I suspected an ulterior motive. I read on: “as the owner of the monohull, a Cape Dory 270, I get no thrill from reading of seeing cats in the magazine and feel they take away from photos and stories that could be devoted to monohulls. Part of the wonder of sailing is the beauty of a boat under sail. You don’t get that sense of wonder with a cat, which look more to me like a floating condo.”
“Whoa,” I thought. That’s sort of telling a guy he’s got the dumb dog or an ugly wife. I mean, who’s to judge? At the very least, I concluded, this guy’s not going to be a fun off our June issue, the bulk of which is devoted to the world of multihulls and the people who enjoy them-which, by the way, increasingly includes many of us.
Multihulls accounted for nearly half of the imported into North America in 2018 and for about the third of the imports last year, according to the annual industry report put together by The Sailing Company.
Meantime, the researchers report that catamarans now account for 22 percent of the bareboat-charter sailing boats worldwide, up from 14 percent of the fleet just five years ago, and it’s growing.
But enough statistics. Visit tropical locales like the British Virgin Island and you’ll discover harbors filled with people who’ve found all sorts of ways to have fun on cats. And the reason is pretty simple: They’re very comfortable, don’t heel (the nonsailors love this), and some of the sportier design are actually quite fun to sail. Honest.
Just ask my sister-in-law and occasional sailing companion Peggy. I clearly recall the trade-wind sail some years back from Tobago Cays to Bequia aboard a 40-something-foot monohull.
While some on board (OK,me) relished the thrashing we took on that long beam reach, most of the rest of the crew faired only slightly better than Peggy, whose head hung over the transom, chumming, for all five of the glorious hours.
Put her on a cat, though, in blustery Sir Francis Drake Channel, and no matter the swell or breeze, she’s ready to sail all day.
As I wrote in an email to our cat-phobic reader, at this point in the evolution of multihulls, I’d guess that we’re the period 1965 to 1970 with regard to the similar debate over wood vs.
fiberglass. at that stage, wood lovers looked with great disdain upon anything plastic, while those sailing their fiberglass boats adored the as equally and we’re quite happy to trade maintenance for sailing time. Once relegated to tropical charter bases, cats these days are circling the globe and turning up in harbors pretty much everywhere.
In fact, with mooring and dock space at the premium (and sometimes an impediment to even owning a boat), owners keelboats dare not venture.
Our reader concluded by asking if I thought that the current compromise-mixing multis and monos-is serving both markets well.
I do. Here at CW, we don’t care what gets you there. We just think you should go sailing. So go. (Mark Pillsbury/Timurmerdeka.com).