Catamaran vs. Trimaran

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by konlow, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    Hey guys, I'm new here and new to sailing, but its my dream to build a boat over the next few years. I was hoping someone could point out the key differences between a Cat and a Trimaran. I'm familiar with the differences between a Cat and a monohull, but what is the benefit of the Trimaran? Speed? Stability? Thanks in advance =)
     
  2. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
    Posts: 1,315
    Likes: 165, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 790
    Location: Australia

    catsketcher Senior Member

    Not much of you are building

    Gday

    To be awfully brutal there is not much going for tri construction in the larger sizes. Farrier does very nice folding tris but if you don't want to fold then building a tri is not a good use of your time.

    My first two multis were tris and I loved tris dearly - still do. BUT instead of building a 40ft tri that took me two years to design I built a 38ft cat and have never regretted it. The cat is simpler to build, has much more interior room, more divided spaces, a bigger single space (bridgedeck cabin), is better at anchor and better on the hard. Oh and the resale value is much better.

    There are reasons to build a tri if you want to sail a sweet boat on the lake or ocean or if you want to race. But for cruiser/racing or cruising a cat is much more bang for your buck.

    That being said there are some awfully nice tris going cheap now. If I didn't have too many cats I would be tempted to get a Searunner or an Impala 38. My friend has an Impala 38. It is slower than our cat and has about 1/4 the room. Still it is a nice boat.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  3. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 15,770
    Likes: 1,197, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I think the tri has an advantage on interior accommodations in the smaller sizes. For example, a 25' Piver can has two full bunks a galley and head. That wouldn't fit on a cat of the same size. However, at 40 feet, the cats with a cabin on the bridge would probably be cheaper and simpler to build.
     
  4. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply, and for the information! Any advice for someone looking to build a Cat? I'm aiming for something similar to your 38 footer. I'm still very new to sailing altogether, and hoping for it to be my home as a live-aboard. one day, I hope to be confident enough to cross oceans. I'm 6'3" so planning to build a very tall cat instead of just buying one. Which model did you build?

    Thanks again!
     
  5. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    Hey Gonzo, Thanks for the reply. I kinda like the looks of that Piver, I will definitely be looking into those a bit more =)
     
  6. sprit
    Joined: Jul 2013
    Posts: 46
    Likes: 1, Points: 8, Legacy Rep: 14
    Location: Lexington, MA, USA

    sprit Junior Member

    The answer to your question depends primarily on the use intended for your multihull.

    All the multihulls are stable and can carry ample sails.
    Their narrow hulls cut through the water without creating a lot of wave resistance, and hence can be faster than monohulls.
    None have excellent weight capacity.
    Trimarans can be lighter than cats because they don't have big bridge decks. But their usable space is less.

    If you want a fun build for a fast cruiser for a few compatible people, consider John Harris's 31-foot cruising proa, Madness.

    If you are thinking of something trailerable, keep asking questions. Most trailerable multihulls are small cats, and the field is dominated by ultralight day sailing cats made of fiberglass.
     
  7. John Perry
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 282
    Likes: 30, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 129
    Location: UK

    John Perry Senior Member

    I have never been a great reader of sailing books and hardly read from paper at all these days, but I did pick up the book 'Low Resistance Boats' by the late Thomas Firth Jones from our local library then chose to buy it from the library rather than return it since I found it something of an inspiration.

    I attach a scan of the final few paragraphs from this book. Thomas Firth Jones had extensive experience of both boat building and coastal and ocean sailing in a variety of boats including monohulls, catamarans and trimarans, so he was far better placed than I am to have an opinion on this question.

    The 'Hummingbird' and the 'Verdelhao' were plywood trimarans that TFJ designed and built himself, a little under 30' LOA. I think the catamaran he refers to is a similar length plywood boat.

    TFJs comments inspired me to take the trouble to draw in some detail a catamaran for myself to build, there are some computer renderings somewhere in this forum. My design ended up a bit bigger than TFJ's - put that down to mission creep. But the first few sentences in the attached quote held me back taking it further - I built a tiny 15 foot monohul sailing boat nearly 40 years ago and we are still having so much fun sailing it that we dont really need another vessel. Now I am having thoughts about trimarans again, despite TFJs comments. As Catsketcher says, Ian Farrier does very nice folding trimarans, I dont think TFJ was considering that kind of boat in his comparison and the ability to fold to monohull width probably would be an advantage for us. And buying second hand has become much cheaper than building yourself, which was not always so. There are enough of Farrier's trimarans around that they do appear on the second hand market, although they may not be the cheapest boats to buy second hand.

    I would be interested if those here with multihull experience would comment on TFJs comment about trimarans walking from float to float when at anchor. I have definitely seen a trimaran showing this behaviour when anchored in a tidal stream, it wasn't even a wake that was causing it, but asking a Farrier owner about it he said it wasnt a problem.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    yeah, I think a Cat is going to be the winner for my purposes. Thanks for attaching that, it answers a lot of questions I had. I'm going to have to pick up that book as well. =)
     
  9. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 1,913
    Likes: 73, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 739
    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    Honestly I would recommend against trying to build anything this size yourself. Building a 40' catamaran is a massive undertaking, and rarely works out to be cheaper than buying new. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of good reasons to build a boat, but you haven't to express any of them.

    Buy a good condition used boat and save both a few years of your life and a lot of money.
     
  10. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    the main reasons I was interested in building were for room aboard. I'm 6'3" and pretty wide. I know most of the time I spend in the cabin will be sitting or laying down, but I'm not looking forward to a kink in my neck. maybe I could deal with it if its really going to save me 800k though =)

    Secondly, the walk-around area on the outside of most boats seem very, very small, 6-inches? If I built my own boat I would sacrifice cabin space to give me more room to walk around safely on deck. I know cabin space is a premium so most boats favor it and sacrifice the walk-around on deck it seems.

    lastly, it seems that most of the affordable second-hand cats have either outboards or a single inboard. I definitely wants dual inboards, but only finding them on the most expensive of cats.

    The only cat that seems to fit the bill for me would be a Catalac. but they were made in very low numbers, most of them located overseas, and too old to finance. I am wide open to suggestions though, I value the advice from you guys that have experience with these Cats.

    My biggest limitations will be my budget. I don't think I'll be able to get into a 300k Lagoon or anything in that ballpark. also seems viable to piece it together a few thousand dollars a month, but in the end I'm sure it would cost more.
     
  11. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    I also keep hearing about "all these abandoned boat" everywhere, and hurricane boats, etc., that are just free for the taking? any truth to any of that? I figure anything worth any value would have been salvaged, but figured id ask if anyone had any experience with that as an option of getting into a fixer-upper.
     
  12. Richard Woods
    Joined: Jun 2006
    Posts: 2,209
    Likes: 171, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1244
    Location: Back full time in the UK

    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    I think you should invest some time and money on chartering a catamaran before going too far

    I agree with the other comments, trimarans only make sense if they are under 30ft and are trailable. BTW, gonzo, my 22ft Wizard folding catamaran has a double bunk plus four singles. And beats F boats (recent comment - "... we sailed overnight to Catalina about a month ago. motored over, sailed back (in 4 hrs with 10 kt breeze). beat almost all of the F 24, 27, and 31's including sailing through the lee of an F31 with our reaching jib up! They kept taking us up to windward when we were going to sail over them, so I dove off to leeward and went through. Ha Ha Ha to F boats...")

    I have built/owned/sailed a number of cruising designs. 28, 30,32,34,35, all for my own use. I have also sailed extensively on a 38ft catamaran which my wife and I found it too big for just the two of us. Good for two couples though. So size of boat depends on part on how many you expect to sail with.

    They sold about 600 Catalacs, you do see them in the USA, there is one next to my boat right now in Houston. And check this site (as well as mine!)

    http://catamaransite.com/

    Yes, there are lots of boats for free, especially in Florida. Usually small old monohulls. But don't get one unless you know what you are doing or it won't be much of a bargain

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     
  13. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    thanks for the info and links Richard! really appreciate it =)
     
  14. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 1,913
    Likes: 73, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 739
    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    Konlow,

    Building your own large boat is typically going to cost about the same or more than buying a similar size boat new. There simply isn't that much of a profit margin in boat building where building it yourself saves much.

    Sure you can do all the labor for free, but it isn't that simple. Figure you can build 5lbs of boat per man hour versus a professional shop that will build 10lbs/man hour. atthe very high end let's assume they are paying their workers $50/hr. If you just get a second job you would have to make less than $25/hr to break even, otherwise it's cheaper to pay a professional.

    There are also economies of scale at play. Home built or professional will require let's say 8 winches at $1,000 a pop retail. So you are out of pocket $8,000, where a commercial yard has a bulk order contract and are likely paying $5,000 for the set. The same goes for engines, electrical work, instruments, batteries, rigging, sails, it all adds up.

    Finally, there is the amount of time it takes to build a boat this size. A 40' cat with a dry weight of 15,000lbs is going to take thousands of man hours of labor to build. It a full time job for years, and many/most home builders never complete the job. It is pretty common to see half finished hulls for sale 'free to new owner' just to get them moved. And this after 5-10 years of construction.

    In my eyes you build a boat because you like to build boats. You buy boats if you want to use boats.
     

  15. konlow
    Joined: Nov 2015
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Herndon, VA

    konlow Junior Member

    you're right, and I know that. but I can still dream, right? =)
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.