Catamaran Cruiser vs. Monohull Cruiser:
A Veteran of Both Looks at Pros and Cons of Each Capt. Ron Butler with his Ericson, Kismet, in the background.
By Capt. Ron Butler
We are often asked why we went back to owning a monohull after having owned and cruised a catamaran. The question is asked as if, once you get to the Promised Land, why come back? ummm...apples or oranges?
’ll try to explain some of the differences we’ve found over the years and the rationale that we went through when we decided to sell our Edel 35 Cat and buy the Ericson 38, Kismet. Keep in mind, that before the Edel Cat, we had owned a Tartan 34, a Stiletto 27 catamaran, a Kelly 24+2 and a Catalina 25. I have also raced an F28R trimaran for a couple of seasons and even cruised it for a week once. I’m a USCG licensed captain and US Sailing Small Boat Instructor, and I’ve been messing about in boats my whole life. Back in the ’70s, my wife and I were pretty good Windmill Class racers. After we cruised the Bahamas twice in our Edel 35 and decided that we wanted to do more extended cruising, we felt that we needed a bigger boat. While we really enjoyed the Edel 35, it just couldn’t carry all the stuff we thought we needed to go cruising. I guess what it comes down to is personal preferences for convenience. You only really need a certain level of seaworthiness, shelter from the elements, a little water, food, etc., and you can go cruising. The rest of it involves the comforts of home that you want to take with you.
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We really liked certain features of the Edel Cat. Her speed for one thing. As the wind came up, she just went faster and faster. Oh—she heeled (just a little) as one hull became depressed and the other lifted a bit, but we have carried full main and jib up to about 35 knots of wind on a fair reach without lifting a hull clear of the water. Might have been close, but we never flew the windward hull. The best boat speed we ever saw was about 13 knots on a broad reach in about 30 knots of breeze with just main and jib. But speed is a relative thing. We’d sailed our Stiletto cat up to 18 knots, so 13 k in a cruising cat is not very impressive. Typically though, we cruised the Edel at about seven knots and speeds of nine and 10 knots were quite common. That’s fast for cruising boats. For contrast, our Ericson 38 has seen nine knots—surfing on a wave—but only momentarily. Normally, I plan our cruises on the Ericson based on an average of five knots. I don’t mean to imply that the Edel Cat is a faster boat than the Ericson 38. It’s not. In order for the Edel to go 12 or 13 knots, conditions have to be perfect. She must have beam-reaching winds of 20 knots plus and flat seas. If we were to race the Edel and the Ericson boat-for-boat, in, say, 10-12 knots of wind with equal amounts of windward work and reaching, the Ericson will beat the Edel, and it won’t even be close. If the race were held in 25 knots of wind and was mainly reaching, the Edel would do the horizon job on the Ericson. This is because the Ericson really goes well upwind. With its big masthead Genoa, it points high and goes fast. The Edel, with its stubby, low-aspect ratio keels, fractional rig and small jib, won’t point unless the boat can get moving at 6.5 knots or better and even then, it won’t tack through 100 degrees. In cruising terms, both boats cover about the same territory in a day. With either boat, our typical cruising day is 40 or 50 miles in daylight, then anchoring overnight. Both boats have logged 70 plus miles sunup to sundown, and we have run overnight and logged 130 plus-mile days. www.southwindsmagazine.com