bluewater multihulls

rya.jpg

VS. 
_MG_3383.jpg

I'm interested if even the denizens of this board, the multihull one, are sometimes still partial to monos for certain applications.   Specifically longer short-handed blue water voyages.  

If you were given the choice between, for instance, a production cruising oriented multihull (like a Dragonfly) vs. a similar sized monohull in the popular 33-40 foot length (insert your favorite lead sled here) would you consider the tri a better choice for things like crossing oceans, given that you might be doing it with a small crew, or even single-handed?    

I'm not asking this over in the "sailing general" forum, because I know a lot of monohull guys are just hating on mutis, and consider them unstable racing-only platforms.  I'm not in that class, in fact for a long time I probably considered multihulls better for almost everything.   

But now, when I'm thinking about it more, it seems like mono lends itself to short handed passagemaking.  On a mono, if you have self steering on and you are unaware of the wind coming up you might suffer a knockdown.  In a multihull the same scenario might find you turtled.   It seems like multis are just less forgiving of 'set it and forget it" sailing. 

Now I will admit: all my multihull sailing has been on small boats:  from Hobie cats to Corsair F-28s, with a few big charter cat rides thrown in for good measure.  Where as the few ocean crossings and even long Great Lakes trips I've done have all been on monohulls. 

For instance, take the typical "couple sailing to Japan by way of Hawaii" as a scenario.  Would you feel safer in a nice blue-water mono, or a similar trimaran.  I don't even mention cats, most of them look to be set up for "coastal cruising", and while I'm sure people have done ocean crossings successfully, most of them don't look like that's what they are really designed for.  (Except Gunboats look pretty serious.)  

On the other hand healing sucks, getting tossed out of your bunk is not fun. 

Just curious what others here think! 

 

MultiThom

Super Anarchist
1,751
396
Benicia, CA
This topic is explored in detail on many you tube videos.  For many, it boils down to how much "stuff" you need for an ocean crossing.  On a monohull, the weight is negligible considering overall passage speed and boat stability....for mulit's it isn't negligible but is do'able but passage speed is affected.  But you really ought to be thinking a bit larger for the monohull than 33-40.  

 

socalrider

Super Anarchist
1,390
749
San Diego CA
Anyone sailing from Hawaii to Japan, since the  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Tōhoku_earthquake_and_tsunami would probably hit something floating in the ocean, regardless of how many hulls you might have.  Not a great route to go.

But for efficient ocean voyaging, ill take a awesome sailing and very efficient cat or tri anytime. 
Not enough experience to answer the OP's question, but as appealing as the idea of 15-20kts is, I'd really be terrified of hitting something, especially if shorthanded (less chance of spotting the danger, fewer & less rested hands on deck to try and save the boat).  

I watched the videos of the guy with the Chris White Hammerhead 54 tri & while that seems like a pretty ideal vessel for me, he also mentions having hit whales several times, sustaining significant damage (though no injuries).  

Pogo 12.50 seems like it might be a safer bet at half the speed, easier docking, and similar interior volume.  

 

F18 Sailor

Super Anarchist
2,675
254
Annapolis, MD
And that is a stripped out racing tri, that is a handful offshore by most reports. A weapon no doubt but for a cruising couple? Wrong boat I’m afraid.

I’m pretty much in the camp that if limited to 40’ you are pretty much limited to a monohull. Something like a Pogo 12.5 or JPK 38FC is going to end up at similar passage making speeds to the small tries and even most 40’ cats while providing a safer ride. That being said, I would go up size more quickly on the catamaran side into something closer to 50’, such as a fountain pajot, Mausodon or Outremer and have a more comfortable home. I don’t see too much out there in that size range that makes sense in the monohull world, and really over 40’ on a mono you need 3-4 people. The cats having a 3rd on board for long trips makes sense but they are a little easier to short hand than the equivalent big mono.

 

socalrider

Super Anarchist
1,390
749
San Diego CA
And that is a stripped out racing tri, that is a handful offshore by most reports. A weapon no doubt but for a cruising couple? Wrong boat I’m afraid.

I’m pretty much in the camp that if limited to 40’ you are pretty much limited to a monohull. Something like a Pogo 12.5 or JPK 38FC is going to end up at similar passage making speeds to the small tries and even most 40’ cats while providing a safer ride. That being said, I would go up size more quickly on the catamaran side into something closer to 50’, such as a fountain pajot, Mausodon or Outremer and have a more comfortable home. I don’t see too much out there in that size range that makes sense in the monohull world, and really over 40’ on a mono you need 3-4 people. The cats having a 3rd on board for long trips makes sense but they are a little easier to short hand than the equivalent big mono.
Asking out of ignorance: why would you say a 50' cat is easier to shorthand than a 50' mono?  

 

F18 Sailor

Super Anarchist
2,675
254
Annapolis, MD
Mostly due to systems and cockpit layouts, but I am also talking about performance racers/cruiser boats (as those were the op’s examples) where if you were to do any sort of racing the 50’ mono would generally warrant 8 crew and the cat 4-6. Both boats could be setup for short handed work as is evidenced by boats like Paradox (60’ tri) and the Open 60’s. I just see more production monos in the 40’ range setup for short handed work at the moment and 45-50’ cats are as well.

 

Wess

Super Anarchist
Over the last 30 years we have owned 3 multis that we cruised on.  Prior to that we had owned monohulls.  For coastal cruising we would never go back to a monohull.  The joy of sailing that comes with the multi is not something we would be willing to give up.  However, if we were going off RTW and crossing oceans again, I think we would seriously consider going back to a monohull.  They are are far more cost effective (both acquisition and maintenance costs), have much better load carrying ability, and generally speaking the risk of sinking (monohull) is about the same as the risk of capsizing (multihull) and both can be mitigated through intelligent decisions. 

 

SailingTips.Ca

Feigns Knowledge
791
342
Victoria, BC
I have a sporty cruising monohull and a sportier yet still "campable" multihull. There are many points of comparison and here's one that resonates for me:

Conditions: Wind steady at 20 knots, quartering seas at 2-2.5 meters, double-handed.

Monohull: I have comfortably flown a kite in these conditions for hours on end with the autopilot steering, the kite sheeted on a winch and cam cleat, and the crew expending little more effort than keeping an eye on things. The boat yaws about 10 degrees with the waves, but if you trim the kite for the most heated yaws, it will be slightly over trimmed for the downwind yaws, but still manage itself without much fuss. The boat will be reasonably powered up and will make good VMG close to the rhumb line. You will generally be sailing slower than the waves, and while the speed will vary a bit with each wave, it won't be enough to completely mess up your kite trim.

Multihull: I have admittedly much less experience on multihulls, but I would not trust this job to the autopilot with the kite sheeted on a winch and cam cleat. I would still fly a kite in these conditions, but only with one person actively on helm and the other actively trimming the kite. Due to their much lighter weight, multihulls accelerate much faster than monohulls, so the speed could vary much more substantially with the yaws, easily overtaking the waves, throwing the kite trim out of whack, and potentially burying the bows. You would have to sail more conservatively than the monohull, and also have to sail higher and therefore further, somewhat offsetting the higher boat speed advantage.

IMHO the comparative "dullness" of the monohull requires much less crew effort to effectively sail under with good VMG in these conditions.

 

Wess

Super Anarchist
I have a sporty cruising monohull and a sportier yet still "campable" multihull. There are many points of comparison and here's one that resonates for me:

Conditions: Wind steady at 20 knots, quartering seas at 2-2.5 meters, double-handed.

Monohull: I have comfortably flown a kite in these conditions for hours on end with the autopilot steering, the kite sheeted on a winch and cam cleat, and the crew expending little more effort than keeping an eye on things. The boat yaws about 10 degrees with the waves, but if you trim the kite for the most heated yaws, it will be slightly over trimmed for the downwind yaws, but still manage itself without much fuss. The boat will be reasonably powered up and will make good VMG close to the rhumb line. You will generally be sailing slower than the waves, and while the speed will vary a bit with each wave, it won't be enough to completely mess up your kite trim.

Multihull: I have admittedly much less experience on multihulls, but I would not trust this job to the autopilot with the kite sheeted on a winch and cam cleat. I would still fly a kite in these conditions, but only with one person actively on helm and the other actively trimming the kite. Due to their much lighter weight, multihulls accelerate much faster than monohulls, so the speed could vary much more substantially with the yaws, easily overtaking the waves, throwing the kite trim out of whack, and potentially burying the bows. You would have to sail more conservatively than the monohull, and also have to sail higher and therefore further, somewhat offsetting the higher boat speed advantage.

IMHO the comparative "dullness" of the monohull requires much less crew effort to effectively sail under with good VMG in these conditions.
Word.  Great point.  The only thing I would add is that with a good apparent wind auto-pilot it will handle the multi in these conditions and active trim will not be needed and you will be making great speed but...

If something goes wrong on the monohull its a ho-hum yawn broach.  On the multi - assuming we are not talking about a condomaran or a $1 million 50 footer - this could easily be turned into an "oh-shit" moment.  Suspect under the scenario described on your - or my tri - we are reefed and only have up a smaller chute, slowing the boat down and calming things down if double-handed offshore cruising.

 

SailingTips.Ca

Feigns Knowledge
791
342
Victoria, BC
Suspect under the scenario described on your - or my tri - we are reefed and only have up a smaller chute, slowing the boat down and calming things down if double-handed offshore cruising.
Yes, if we're talking sporty cruisers in the OP's approximate size range in the conditions I described above, I think you can safely sail the monohull to say 80% of full race speed, but the multihull would probably be something closer to 50%. 

 

Mordoc

New member
36
12
Europe
Word.  Great point.  The only thing I would add is that with a good apparent wind auto-pilot it will handle the multi in these conditions and active trim will not be needed and you will be making great speed but...

If something goes wrong on the monohull its a ho-hum yawn broach.  On the multi - assuming we are not talking about a condomaran or a $1 million 50 footer - this could easily be turned into an "oh-shit" moment.  Suspect under the scenario described on your - or my tri - we are reefed and only have up a smaller chute, slowing the boat down and calming things down if double-handed offshore cruising.
I think the ARC 2020 was interesting in this regard i.e. the TS5 and Neel47:

Neel 47 was flying a kite (parasailor) 100% of the time, no other sails up, and following the rumb line -> autopilot in true wind mode

TS5 had a gennaker up 100% of the time and sailing the angles -> autopilot in apparent wind mode ... and really fast

 

EarthBM

Anarchist
If you were given the choice between, for instance, a production cruising oriented multihull (like a Dragonfly) vs. a similar sized monohull in the popular 33-40 foot length (insert your favorite lead sled here) would you consider the tri a better choice for things like crossing oceans, given that you might be doing it with a small crew, or even single-handed?   
LOA for LOA the Dragonfly will be about 2x more expensive than a comparably nice mono. $ for $ you are looking at a 50’ mono vs a 35’ Dragonfly. With 2.5x more space and load capacity in the mono.

Most cruising multi are at or below hull speed most of the time, unless unloaded and pushed.

And anywhere outside the Bahamas you don’t really need the shallow draft all that much (nice to have though).

 
Last edited by a moderator:

boardhead

Anarchist
My wife and I built and blue water cruised a 32', 5.300 pound trimaran over many, many thousands of miles and really never came close to a capsize situation including shredding a chute in big wind and waves. At night, transatlantic, we both went to bed under masthead spinnaker on autopilot, each going on deck to lookout when we stirred (pretty frequently when you keep well rested)  The power and stability of that boat was awesome, 150 % ama float, sturdy masthead cutter rig, non folding/demountable but no lightweight with very good lightship performance but limited payload, nevertheless we lived aboard, buying minimal provisions and no spares en route for 15 months - problem is you can't buy a boat like that anymore.

We found two people need a big volume, powerful, 40' trimaran to "have your cake and eat it" - go really fast and have the payload to stay out there a while. So we built another one - that boat, eight feet longer weighs only 300 pounds more than our bulletproof starter boat - but with a 2,000 pound payload - trouble is you can't buy a boat like that either!!

So I would answer that, YES, you can have an ocean crossing, shorthanded, extremely safe trimaran that will blow the doors off that Pogo and monohulls ten or even twenty feet longer and carry the the necessary payload BUT you will need to go build it because boats of that type, weight and quality are not commercially available. They should be, they could be but the market demand is not there to make it happen and that's sad.

 

boardhead

Anarchist
I would add that having experienced the kind of sailing that multihulls - catamarans and trimarans - have delivered for me over the last 53 years and given my preference for a husband, wife and kids crew mix that I could never tolerate the performance an appropriate monohull would deliver.

 

MultiThom

Super Anarchist
1,751
396
Benicia, CA
I wonder if a walk around the marinas in New Zealand might shed some light on general choices and options for this topic.  If there are more multis than monos; that'd certainly be a good data point.

 

unShirley

Super Anarchist
1,706
286
Ventura
Yes, if we're talking sporty cruisers in the OP's approximate size range in the conditions I described above, I think you can safely sail the monohull to say 80% of full race speed, but the multihull would probably be something closer to 50%. 
Boardhead, Wess and Gspot, I have some experience sailing F28, F27, Val 31 and a Tremolino offshore.  You all obviously  have much more experience than I do.  I have always been under the impression that a tri sailed conservatively is still faster than a monohull being pushed.  Is my impression inaccurate?  In the quote above, which boat would actually being going faster?

 




Top