Little Catamarans Vs. Little Trimarans for Beachcamping

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by rayaldridge, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. rayaldridge
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    I just posted an article on Slider's blog regarding this subject.
    It's a long piece, but stated briefly, my claim is that if you want a
    multihull microcruiser, a tiny cat makes more sense than a tiny tri--
    unless high speed is at the top of your priority list.

    If you're interested in the subject matter, please let me know what
    you think, here or there.

    Ray

    http://slidercat.com
     
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  2. Manie B
    Joined: Sep 2006
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    Manie B Senior Member

    I also favour a small cat.
    That is why i have started to build my own MiniCAT5 with the accomodation layout of a Jarcat and hulls similar to Strider.
    Keep up the good work, you have been endless inspiration for me, thanks.
    Herewith some pics of such a beauties that i got of the net.
    I should hopefully be able to post pics in two weeks time of progress made so far.
     

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  3. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Manie, what a great thing to say. Thanks.

    I'll look forward to seeing pictures of your progress. I have to admire your decisiveness. It took me a year or two to go from "I have an idea for an interesting boat" to "I think I'll build that boat."

    Ray

    http://slidercat.com
     
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  4. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Ray,

    I have not read your blog posting yet, as I just got back from a long
    climbing trip with my son and daughter. I'll get to that reading as soon as time allows. While getting to the reading of your blog, I would like to offer-up this response to the claim that a small cat is better than a small tri for cruising.

    Simply put; it all depends on the designated purpose, owner desires and
    destinations planned.

    Each boat has its points in favor and they reach well beyond the speed
    potential while under sail. They each also have their problems. There is no
    one size fits all solution to the business of how all the sailors out there
    in multihull wonderland may wish to use their boats when they want to take
    on a boating adventure.

    Personally, I'd be much more inclined to suggest that each sailor first try
    to define, as closely as possible, just what kind of "cruising" they would
    like to do and how much utility they might expect in their boats for that
    potential. Then, they can go about the business of selecting a proper craft
    for their particular kind of need.

    Chris
     
  5. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Can't argue with any of that, but I think it's helpful to give specific examples of the strengths and weaknesses of different boats. My belief is that for open boats under 20 feet, beachcruising cats are superior to beachcruising tris in every aspect except speed. I'd need to see some concrete counterexamples before I'd change my mind.

    Of course, speed is a really big deal, as most folks who are attracted by multihulls would probably list speed as the biggest multihull advantage over monohulls. There's no theoretical reason why a little cat can't be almost as fast as a little tri, but that involves giving up certain advantages, such as fixed beam at a highway-legal width (or some stability.) With Slider, I chose quick launching and anxiety-free sailing over speed, because that was more important to me.

    As you say, boat design is a matter of making choices between imperfect alternatives. I just wanted to explain mine, from the viewpoint of someone who wanted as much luxury as was possible in a simple open 16 foot cat.

    Apparently, my choices are unusual, since no other boats like Slider appear to exist. That seems to be changing, as another Slider is building in NY, and a larger Slider-like boat is being planned from modified Selway Fisher plans. The latter is being built with sliding beams and a big rig, so it will have all the cruising advantages of Slider and also great speed, at some cost in complexity and time spent at the ramp.



    Ray

    http://slidercat.com
     
  6. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Specific examples 1 and 2

    So, here's an opening mind changer...

    You are out sailing down an interesting coastline (lake or ocean) and notice that there's a substantial estuary system where a small river lets into the larger body of water. The area looks to be filled with small islands, noticeable wildlife and dozens of meandering, very shallow pathways into the interior. You'd like to go in there and explore, but in the draft-consuming cat, there's just no way.

    You did not bring any sort of kayak, canoe, or inflatable as it would have taken far too much of the available room and the weight of the smaller boat would also have to be considered.

    So, you don't get to explore and inevitably pass by the opportunity for a truly rich coastal cruising experience.

    The boat shown below lets you beach your craft, demount the amas and rig and turn the main hull into a low draft, easily paddled canoe. The business of exploring the complexity of this estuary suddenly takes on a whole new level of opportunity for the coastal explorer.

    It's not just speed advantages, or better performance in light airs... it's a whole open book of potential adventures that are otherwise untapped by such small, cruising multihull craft.

    The shot of the canoe being paddled on the lake in fall is the exact same hull as the trimaran on the beach at Lake Powell in the other shot. The trimaran pictured can be demounted right down to an 80 pound, highly responsive and fast tripping canoe that is decked for the elements and very stable.

    And this estuary potential is just for openers. How about a multi day canoe trip up the river that created the estuary in the style of the French Voyageurs? Not exactly the type of boating adventure that could be taken with the suggested beach cat.

    So, it takes us back to the comment in which one needs to first create the list of needs that one expects from their coastal adventure beach multihull. That list will dictate which kinds of craft are best suited for the person who wants the boat.

    Chris
     

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  7. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Well, there you go. If you're willing to accept the limitations that such a boat entails, I can see that a specialized function like that might appeal to some sailors.

    However, I don't see that a trimaran is necessary to achieve this function-- or is even optimal.

    One big tradeoff that this approach necessitates is that the main hull must be wide enough to be stable as a solo craft. This precludes high speed, in my opinion, at least without a big enough rig to overcome the greater drag that a canoe hull has over a finer, more conventional low-resistance hull. But for someone who's willing to accept that limitation, I see no reason why a cat can't be built from two canoe hulls. You'd have the various cruising advantages I attribute to cats in the blog piece, as well as the take-apart and go solo function you describe. What's more, the boat breaks down into two canoes so a two-person crew could each have his or her own boat, and a solo sailor would be no worse off-- he'd still have to leave big chunks behind. I can see another advantage to the cat format for your idea. When you disassemble the tri, you have to leave the floats and beams and rig somewhere, and risk theft or damage while you're away. The catamaran double canoe might be able to stow that stuff aboard the canoes, if cleverly engineered. You mention a voyageur type of adventure-- but that doesn't seem particularly practical with a boat that must leave vital parts of itself behind when running the river between two lakes. If all the parts can be stowed aboard the canoes, you can run the rapids to the next lake and then reassemble the canoes into the more luxurious sailing cat configuration. Cruise the lake in a leisurely manner, then break down the boats again to run the next river segment. That way you can actually progress through a chain of lakes and not have to be limited by the distance you're willing to put between you and the other pieces of the boat.

    Of course, this design approach has been tried at every summer camp in the Adirondacks, mostly by lashing a couple of Grumman canoes together and sticking some kind of rudimentary rig on it. Such boats are fun, safe, and stable, but not very fast. A lot of room for improvement, in other words.

    If you read the blog piece, you'll see that I'm evaluating the relative merits of cat and tri based on the most common kind of beachcruising-- or maybe it's just the kind I'm most familiar with.

    I have to admit, though, that voyageur scenario is pretty appealing, particularly since I'm originally from the North Country. Maybe I'll work on a kit to convert a couple plastic canoes.

    Ray

    http://slidercat.com
     
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  8. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member


    Unfortunately, Ray, anyone who owns a boat, of any kind, has to accept limitations. Your boat has some significant limitations, the XCR also has its own version of something along those lines. All multihulls, as well as boats of other configurations, have the same issues. So, the point is?



    While you may not, Others certainly do. It's all a matter of preferences. Part your hair on a certain side, do you?



    You mention beach cats as your benchmark. Were you shooting for beach cat-like performance with your boat? Something along the lines of a Nacra 5.8? Did you hit the mark... or did you make another compromise in order to get something else that you prized more than blazing speed?

    Don't get so hung-up on hull width in your understanding of an effective multihull design. To box yourself in over hull width is to not see that there are plenty of opportunities for other, equally interesting expressions.

    Example: with your very nice little boat, you have managed to compromise the rig size of many typical 16 foot "beach cat" designs that are out there in use. You have given away a key performance aspect, in order to get something you felt was more along the lines of what you sought as a sailor. It would seem, then, that you would understand the business of adjusting the design elements to suit the overall needs of the brief.

    The only question that matters is: Did you get what you were looking for? If you did, then the design works for the listed elements in the original brief and the rest is essentially meaningless.

    For all you guys who may find Ray's argument compelling as to marginalized speed under sail for a canoe bodied multihull (trimaran), here's a nice little vid clip for you to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eEouoOXs7M
    I must be missing the part where the speed is not up to par.



    Of course, you can build a cat to any set of design parameters, Ray. If the design process reflects the needs as outlined in the brief, then you have a successful design. Want to hook together two tripping canoes? Go right ahead. I'm sure that in some respects it will be a fine craft for the surmised intent. In others, it will need to address the areas in which a compromise has been made in order to reach said goals.

    I have willingly accepted the so-called limitations in order to get what I was looking for in the design of the XCR. It is a successful boat, the new owner is very happy with the finished product and I like the way it works, the way it looks and the level of finish to which it has been built.



    Perfect, you've hit on another wonderful possibility for an effective multihull design. I understand why you make the statement, but it does not push the discussion forward.



    Theft or damage while you are away? This is a huge concern for you? Then do what the Voyageurs did and post a guard at any location where they felt their supplies, boats or anything of value would be compromised. ;-)

    So, the question now becomes... just what do you do with your boat, that would make it decidedly secure, should you wish to take a hike into the surrounding countryside to explore? You are not going to portage that heavy of a craft as you hike, are you? Then that means that you will never be able to leave your boat, or you will be open to the same sort of vandalism you describe as a limitation for other designs. Surely you intend to get to know the country in which you travel?



    And if the need to reassemble the boat on the other side is moot? As in, the paddlers will be making a round trip effort to the original spot of the gear stash.... much like the Voyageurs, by the way, who paddled rivers in both directions and enjoyed pre-stashed supplies for their return home. Surely a North Country person would understand that part of the history and allow for an expansive expression with the design of their craft?


    Well, you did suggest it, right? Still, I just attended the Outdoor Retailer Show, here in Salt Lake City, where all the major boat manufacturers show their collection of offerings for the coming year to owners of retail shops worldwide.

    Being shown on the beach this year, was a craft not unlike the one you describe fashioned from two canoe-like hulls with a trampoline surface in between them. The canoes, in this case, were powered by the company's new pedal powered prop system and the boat moved along at quite a clip. This, in spite of the hull designs that were optimized for much slower movement. So, perhaps there is a niche within the greater multihull genre for your inspired idea, Ray. Native Watercaft sure think so and they are backed by millions of dollars and some of the brightest minds in production boats of this type.

    I say go for it.



    Plastic hulls may just be in your future, no matter what you do about it, so the effort may just be fruitful. I can see you in a paired-up, plastic, canoe-based multihull, blasting through your favorite waters with a big grin on your face. After all, Ray, who is to say that one man's experience is any less than the next guys... no matter the boat he chooses to use for his adventure?

    There are lots of boats out there, there are lots of "uncharted waters" before you and, if you are lucky, you will have the time of your life doing it. I've mentioned, several times, in postings past (on other Forums) that you have turned-in a very nice effort on your boat. But, certainly, you also get, after doing all this work and making your first forays into the water... that this little cat is not a magic carpet on the water, any more than any other boat out there that also does what it was designed to do?

    Spending too much time on this wild goose chase of what multihull is better than the next is rather low on the return on investment scale, don't you think? Especially when the respective owners are as delighted as a guy could be.

    From where I sit, the whole issue is a draw and there's no need to haggle any further.

    Thanks for the thread and your points have been lifted for initiating the stimulating conversation.


    Chris
     
  9. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

  10. popperspop
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    popperspop popperspop

    Ray...........

    I am a former Stiletto 27 owner. We went cruising most summer weekends. With a huge asymetric she would do 18 knts in a 20 knt breeze with two hulls in the water. When new she weighed 1200 lbs.. I think her hulls at the water line were about 1/10 of her lwl. She was a four hour or more struggle on the ramp coming and going

    About ten years ago I ordered plans for a 15 ft. Tri that the designer said he had achieved 23 kts in. I bought the sail, a 10 sq meter wind surfer rig but the thought of sitting on the side tramps turned me off so I designed and built
    a fifteen foot mono with hiking wings but my current health keeps me from risking a capsize, so my interest in a micro cruising cat.

    My suspician is that the desirable lwl to beam ratio pinches off the width of the cat format hulls to a buoyancy function while the Tri can use a planeing center hull. Looks like you did a good job on Slider but that could be contributing to your speed constriction. The Everglade Challenge has piqued my interest in recent years and has convinced me that sitting and sleeping in a hull is preferable to on top.

    I am wondering what affect the canoe body has on top speeds of Chris' Tri.

    Bill Jacobus
     
  11. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Bill, I'd have to say that the main reason Slider is slow compared to a beach cat or little performance tri is that she only has 140 sq. ft. of sail, and she weighs more. In comparison, a Hobie 16 has 218 sq. ft. Slider's hulls are a little better than 10 to 1, and she goes through the hull speed barrier without any fuss at all, so I think more sail could drive her a lot faster. But then she wouldn't fulfill one of her major design goals-- to provide a relaxing anxiety-free sail. She has flared dory-like hulls in order to acommodate comfortable seats inside. I considered giving her sliding beams, so that I could safely give her more sail area, but that would have made launching her vastly less convenient. With her fixed beam of 8.5 ft, and her short mast, with a forestay set up to be tensioned by a lanyard taken back to a cleat on the forebeam, launching is a matter of dropping her in, putting up the mast (to which boom and mainsail remain attached, and sailing away. I chose simplicity and launching speed over sailing speed, but that choice had other benefits as well. Because her top speed is so much less than a performance oriented multihull, she's a whole lot drier and more comfortable in a chop.

    Slider's maximum displacement is 1100 pounds, and empty weight is 480 pounds, so there's room for two adults and a fairly luxurious camping outfit. Because of the difficulty of getting sufficient displacement in such short fine hulls, I gave her more rocker than is optimal for speed. That was another choice in favor of comfort, but it bore dividends, because Slider is the handiest cat I've ever been on. She tacks like a monohull, which is a great comfort in tight situations-- another choice for comfort at the expense of speed.

    The most surprising thing I've learned about Slider since we launched her is that she goes to windward quite well. She has a big deep daggerboard, but she doesn't do badly even with the board up. This seems particularly unexpected because I'm sailing her with a home-made polytarp main. And she has a sprit-sloop rig, which doesn't have a reputation for weatherliness (though the reputation appears to be wrong.)

    [​IMG]

    Ray

    http://slidercat.com
     
  12. uncookedlentil
    Joined: May 2008
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    uncookedlentil Junior Member

    small cats, yay!!!

    My wife and I spent several summers cruising the northern great lakes in a 20x10 foot Shark catamaran.

    The same hulls that doomed her from being an olympic contender allowed her to be the perfect beach camping cat. She easily carried two adults, a couple hundred pounds of camping gear and food that included fresh tomatoes, heh.

    What we came to realize was that her light weight was our favorite feature.
    The boat was secured out of the water and we were warm and dry in front of a campfire.

    The campsite that was good for the people was automatically good for the boat also.

    Later, when we purchased a Tremolino, due to her weight, we were no longer able to pull out every nite and afternoons were spent looking for that combination of perfect anchorage and reasonable camping. Not so easy and we never really enjoyed the alternate of cooking, sleeping on board, especially in the rain.

    Let me recommend the Shark without hesitation.
     
  13. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Oh yeah-- I'd love to have a Shark. Big, beautiful, strong, and fast. If you want to go cruising on a beach cat, I can't think of a better choice.

    Of course, there is an alternative to beach cats:

    [​IMG]

    Where we live along the Gulf coast, it's not always easy to find a place to camp ashore, though it's great to be able to anchor the boat off a remote beach and set up a big tent. But if you're cruising with a flexible agenda and you end up at the end of the day in an area where all the shore is privately owned, then it's nice to be able to set up a tent and a double air mattress aboard. One advantage Slider has over many beach cats is that because she has an archaic rig, with boom jaws rather than a gooseneck, the boom can be hauled way up the mast, and the topping lifts set up, so that you can have standing headroom under a rain fly.

    [​IMG]



    Ray

    http://slidercat.com
     
  14. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    Hi guys
    i have actually started on my little CRUISING cat
    i spent a HUGE amount of time to ensure that my building frame is "TRUE"

    I favour the cat for cruising, but i still think that it is cheaper and easier to build a small cabin, tents are pricy.

    This build will obviously show a different approach on this subject, which some folks will like, others not. The main thing it is in the name of FUN.

    Ray i think that your blog pages are fantastic - keep up the good work.
    Please post a couple of close-up pics of your goose neck / boom jaws because this is the way i am going to go as well.

    It is rather interesting that two people on other sides of the planet have similar boats, the more i look at Slider the more similarities i see in my build. Thanks - Slider has given me a HUGE boost to get going:D :D :D
     

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  15. Zilver
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    Zilver Junior Member

    Ray, Manie and others,

    Here's an intersting link. Tony Bigras is building a 16' cruising cat with biplane rig. It's almost finished and it looks very good. He'll sail it in a few weeks. I'm very curious about the performance of the boat. I might want to built one for myself.

    Anyway here's the link :

    http://www.ideaintegrator.com/boats/mc/default.html

    Good luck with your boats,

    Hans
     
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