Further thoughts on Cats

Suzie Too - Western Caribbean
David & Suzanne Chappell
Sun 6 Dec 2009 10:49
You may have noticed I haven't mentioned catamarans recently and the reason is I have been quite surprised by their lack of performance. I think they are great at anchor or socialising, but now don't see many other benefits.

In a marina of course they are large and get charged 50% more which is fine and I can accept that and anyway we aren't marina people. What did surprise me is how difficult they are to manoeuvre, everyone says with 2 engines they are easy and in light airs they are - but have you seen one in 25kts of wind - they have no grip on the water and go wherever the wind may blow. You have to try and drive against the wind and the windage on them is terrible - scary to see a 45ft cat going diagonally out of control in the fairway.

Then there is sailing performance - or not - we have outsailed and beaten all the cats, including the Afri-Cat - he is sometimes faster than us, but we can sail more directly and beat him to Cape Verde, by sailing 75M less, so they don't point which we know. The thought is that cats are really fast downwind - no, it's just a rumour that has no truth whatsoever - we sail past them with ease. Then it gets worse, because one of them told me he cannot go downwind with the mainsail, becasue if the wind changes the whole cat spins 180 degrees - can you imagine how scary that is, I like a boat that keeps going the way I point it.

When we have overtaken them at sea we have seen them slewing terribly, how the autopilot could cope I have no idea and it was only a modest sea. They also pitch into the troughs between the waves and I can't believe that is more comfortable than a monohull, Suzie Too blasted by shouldering the sea aside without a murmur. Now I understand why they have a trapeze, it's not for sunbathing, it's to stop them nose diving under the waves with tonnes of water on the foredeck and pitch poling, 2 of the cats on our Rallye have solid foredecks - hmm.

The other issue with them is the height of the bridge, this means the clearance between the sea and the underside of the body between the hulls. When this slams into the sea it is a huge flat area and the whole things shudders as it is a very solid flat surface against the sea.

The only cats these guys rate are the Catana, the Outremer and the Dolphin from Brazil, which is not really a practical consideration.

So I am going to have to think, it's very obvious to me now the difference between "marina" boats and sailing boats, I shall be looking in the future with a different perspective. Suzie Too is so good, just a few minor jobs in Brazil to sort out a pole and we are good to keep going around the world.

Keep smiling - it will soon be Christmas - then you can have it off for 2 weeks

David & Suzanne