October 12, 2001


Multihulls Make Their Move With Speed, Space & Stability
By Chris Knauss

Could it be that multihulls are a better boat? Author Rick White, in "Cruising Multihull Fundamentals" poses this interesting question: "What if America had been discovered by the Polynesians, rather than Scandinavians? Well, we'd all be sailing multihulls. Then someone would come along and say, "Hey, I have a great idea. I'm going to design a boat with just one hull."

Everyone would ask how it would keep upright and Mr. Monohull would reply, "weights and a deep keel.  I'll put a lot of weight down deep in the water."  Then everyone would ask if that wouldn't make the boat go very slow, and he would enthusiastically reply, "Yes!, Yes!, YES!"  You can bet slow and heavy would soon have advocates and a new novelty would be born."

Are multihulls a new novelty?  Yes, their popularity is relatively new, but it seems unlikely they will remain novel.

In the on-water battle between the Multihulls and Monohulls, three main factors favor team Multihull: speed, space, and stability.

Multihulls, mainly catamarans, typically draw less water yet handle rough water with a greater degree of comfort than monohulls. This dual advantage seems especially well suited for Chesapeake Bay anglers who desire the versatility of both shallow water and deep-water angling.

As testimony to the newfound popularity of multihulls, they now occupy their own lagoon at the U.S. boat shows in Annapolis.

Says Peter Jones, Twin Vee Marine company president "We're very excited about the new Bay Cat 19, the factory specifically designed it for the needs of Chesapeake Bay boaters; it has a very shallow draft, delivers excellent economy and will cruise smoothly across 4-foot seas at 40-mph with a single 90-horsepower engine, all for under $18,000 complete with boat, motor, and trailer."  The new Bay Cat 19 is one of many power cats that can be seen at this year's U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis October 11-14.

Power catamaran hulls use a concentrated volume of air that becomes entrapped between the hulls to create lift. This creates hull altitude and a dry surface, which results in less drag, more speed, and better fuel efficiency.

n Advantages

Multihull boats are extremely stable, even without a ballasted keel. The wide spread between the hulls creates enormous leverage to keep the boat smooth and upright. And in the rare instances when a catamaran does tip over, it's not likely to sink, unlike a lead ballast sailboat that will drop in seconds. Why, you ask, do you see so many pictures of capsized multihulls?  It's because you can still see them!  Capsized sailboats don't offer a very long photo op!  Since all that heavy ballast isn't needed, multihulls can reach high speeds quickly and efficiently. On average, catamarans offer 20 percent greater passage making speeds.

In July 1999, a World Cat team crushed the old speed record in the Boating Bermuda Challenge, motoring from New York to Bermuda in the "Red White & Two" in 29 hours, 19 minutes. The old record of 37 hours was set in 1996.

And just because well-designed multihulls are light, smooth and fast, that doesn't mean you have to give up living space. Typically, cruising sail cats offer the same living space as a 10-foot larger mono hull.

"You don't step down into a dark hole," said Phillip Berman, president of The Multihull Company.  "In your main salon you're up in a light, airy space with lots of ventilation and light.  You can have the galley of the boat up in the main salon area, so that for entertaining the people are all together at one time.

"If the multihull is built properly it's considerably faster than a monohull.  But I would say that many multihulls are built too heavy and therefore not considerably faster.  So the boat has to be built light".

"The boat never rocks at anchor," added Berman. "When you pull into an anchorage, even if there are big swells rolling, it's still very comfortable. Monohulls are rocking back-and-forth and multihulls are sitting there stable.

"The other one is if you're a cruising sailor and you live on your boat and you want to go sailing, you don't have to stow everything everytime you want to go sailing. That saves you 30 minutes packing and unpacking at both ends."

n Disadvantages

Team Monohull, with a formidable defense, says it can maneuver better, can carry more, is easier to find a place to dock, and isn't as expensive.

It's true the price per pound is generally higher on cat boats, due to the cost of manufacturing two quality hulls.  However, while the price per pound may be higher, the price per cubic foot of living space can be lower. 

Maneuvering a multihull under power is not a problem.  Sailors say that today's modern, well-designed cat, with fin keels, will point about as high as a comparable monohull. Daggar boards can also help.  Simply put: "If you get a multihull with daggar boards it will go upwind as well as a mono.  If you don't, it won't," says Bermen.

However, daggar boards are easily broken by grounding or floating debris.  And if you leave them down for long periods, barnacles can make them difficult to get back up.

Since catamarans are so stable, there virtually isn't any heeling.  That's good, but also bad.  Since they don't heel, they don't tell sailors when they are overpowered.  Sailors need to keep a lookout for changing weather and for the need to shorten sail.

Cruising cat sailors also estimate that you can figure approximately 10 to 15 percent less load carrying ability than with a multihull - size for size.  An overloaded catamaran's performance will be reduced to that of a comparable sized mono.  However, you still have the advantages of a bright, open salon, privacy in sleeping quarters, and a shallow draft.

Docking remains a problem, especially in the Chesapeake Bay, where older marinas have slips suitable for 9-foot beams.  The wide beams of multihulls won't fit, however cat boaters can find berths on the outside of "T" docks.  In many cases, the easiest thing to do is take a mooring or anchor out.  Power catamarans don't need to be that wide because they don't need to be that long,
as smaller cats fare as well in heavy seas as much larger monohulls.

n A Matter of Preference

It's all a matter of preference.  But there's enough to like about the "new" cats that you should give them a look the next time you're shopping for a new or used boat.  Make sure you do your homework and take them on a sea trial.  With any "new" product, proper engineering and design can mean the difference between an enjoyable, solid investment and a clunker.

Twin Vee Marine opens new 
Mid-Atlantic Power Cat Center

To premier new Bay Cat 19 at the Annapolis Boat Show

ANNAPOLIS, MD - Twin Vee Marine, Inc. http://www.twinvee-md.com announces the opening of its new Mid-Atlantic Power Cat Center located in the Port Annapolis Marine Complex at 7076 Bembe Beach Rd., 1st Floor Annapolis, MD 21403.

The Company is the exclusive representative of Twin Vee Power Cats of Post St. Lucie FL http://www.twinvee,net servicing the Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore, Maryland, Northern Virginia and the Washington DC areas from the new facility.

"Twin Vee Power Cats are a perfect boat for this area; delivering unparalleled performance, ride and stability in all conditions.  Boaters here need a boat that only drafts a few inches so they can get into the flats, shallow creeks or over the numerous shoals without giving up the seaworthiness to handle the heavy seas off the Eastern Shore or heavy chop in the Bay", said company president Peter Jones.

Twin Vee Marine will be premiering the new "Bay Cat 19" at the Annapolis United States Powerboat Show, October 11th - 14th located in the downtown Annapolis Harbor.  The company's exhibit located in the Multihull Magazine Catamaran Lagoon on the outside of "I" Dock will also feature a Twin Vee Weekender-26 Walk-Around cabin model and Twin Vee Awesome-22 Center Console model.

"Twin Vee illustrates the difference between cheap and inexpensive, delivering an effective fishing platform and reliable propulsion at an eye-opening price… an excellent, low-cost cat that delivers one of the smoothest rides we've ever experienced - cat or monohull", states PowerBoat Reports. 


Twin Vee Marine, Inc. is the exclusive representative of Twin Vee Power Cats, Inc. serving the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding area.  Twin Vee builds of more power catamarans than any other boat builder in North America.

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