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Learn the Basics of Small Catamaran Sailing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Alex Morgan

how to sail small catamaran

Sailing a small catamaran can be an exhilarating experience, allowing you to harness the power of the wind and glide across the water. Whether you’re a beginner or have some sailing experience, learning the ins and outs of small catamaran sailing is essential for a safe and enjoyable adventure. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through everything you need to know to sail a small catamaran effectively.

Introduction to Small Catamarans

Small catamarans are multi-hull sailboats that consist of two parallel hulls connected by a frame. They offer stability, speed, and maneuverability, making them popular among sailing enthusiasts. Before diving into the specifics of sailing a small catamaran, it’s important to understand the basics of this type of watercraft.

Getting Started with Small Catamaran Sailing

To begin your small catamaran sailing journey, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. Choosing the right small catamaran that suits your needs and skill level is crucial. Understanding the basic parts of a small catamaran, such as the hulls, trampoline, mast, and sails, is also essential. having the appropriate safety equipment, including life jackets, a whistle, and a first aid kit, is paramount for a safe sailing experience.

Learning the Fundamentals of Small Catamaran Sailing

Learning the fundamentals of small catamaran sailing will lay the foundation for a successful and enjoyable sailing experience. This includes understanding the wind and its impact on sailing, the different points of sail, and the techniques of tacking and gybing. Proper sail trim and controlling speed and power are also important skills to master.

Basic Maneuvers in Small Catamaran Sailing

Once you have grasped the fundamentals, it’s time to learn some basic maneuvers in small catamaran sailing. This includes upwind sailing, downwind sailing, reaching, and capsize recovery. Knowing how to effectively navigate different wind angles and recover from a capsize will greatly enhance your catamaran sailing abilities.

Advanced Techniques for Small Catamaran Sailing

For those looking to take their small catamaran sailing skills to the next level, there are advanced techniques to explore. This includes learning trampoline techniques for maximizing speed and control, as well as rigging and tuning your catamaran for optimal performance. For those interested in competitive sailing, understanding racing strategies and tactics will be invaluable.

By following this guide, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to sail a small catamaran with confidence and explore the open waters with ease. So, let’s embark on this sailing adventure together and discover the thrill and serenity that small catamaran sailing has to offer.

– Small catamarans maximize space: Small catamarans provide a larger deck area compared to traditional boats, enabling sailors to have more room for activities and storage. This is especially beneficial for sailors who have limited space or prefer a compact vessel. – Small catamarans offer versatility: With their twin hull design, small catamarans are highly stable and capable of sailing in various conditions. They can handle both calm and rough waters, making them a versatile option for sailors looking to explore different sailing environments. – Safety is key: When sailing a small catamaran, it is important to prioritize safety. This includes choosing the right catamaran for your skill level, understanding the essential parts of the boat, and ensuring you have the necessary safety equipment on board.

Embarking on the thrilling adventure of small catamaran sailing? This section is your compass to getting started! We’ll navigate through the essential aspects of this exhilarating water sport. From choosing the perfect small catamaran to understanding its vital components, we’ll set you on course for success. Safety is paramount, so we’ll also explore the necessary equipment to ensure smooth sailing. Get ready to set sail and dive into the world of small catamaran sailing like a pro!

Choosing the Right Small Catamaran

To choose the right small catamaran, consider key factors. Here is a table summarizing important aspects to take into account:

Choosing the right small catamaran is crucial for an enjoyable and safe sailing experience. Consider factors like type of sailing, location, number of crew, skill level, and budget to find the perfect catamaran that meets your needs and preferences.

Fact: The fastest recorded speed on a small catamaran was 51.36 knots (about 59 mph), achieved by Paul Larsen of Australia in 2012.

Understanding the Basic Parts of a Small Catamaran

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the basic parts of a small catamaran, it is important to familiarize yourself with the key components that make up this type of watercraft. These components include the following:

1. Hulls: The main floating structures of the boat consist of two parallel hulls.

2. Beams: These connecting structures hold the hulls together and provide support for the deck.

3. Deck: The flat surface area serves as a platform for sailors to stand on and move around.

4. Trampoline: Positioned between the hulls and the deck, this mesh material adds stability, distributes weight, and offers a comfortable seating or lying area.

5. Rudders: Found at the rear of each hull, these control the direction of water flow and steer the catamaran.

6. Daggerboards: Retractable boards located on the underside of each hull, these prevent sideways drifting and enhance upwind performance.

7. Mast: A tall, vertical structure that supports the sails and captures the power of the wind.

8. Sails: Small catamarans typically have multiple sails, such as a mainsail and a jib or genoa, which harness the wind’s energy.

9. Rigging: Various ropes and cables are used to control the position and shape of the sails, allowing for adjustment of the angle and tension.

10. Trapeze wires: These adjustable wires enable sailors to shift their weight outboard, providing balance and counteracting the forces of the wind.

Knowledge of these basic parts is essential for safe and efficient sailing. Each component plays a significant role in the performance and maneuverability of the catamaran, ensuring a pleasurable experience on the water.

Essential Safety Equipment

The essential safety equipment for small catamaran sailing includes:

Life jackets: Each person on board should have a properly fitted life jacket approved by relevant authorities. Ensure accessibility and good condition.

Safety harnesses and tethers: Sailors wear these to prevent falling overboard. Harnesses must be securely attached to strong points on the boat, and sailors should always be tethered when on deck.

Flotation devices: Keep buoys or inflatable cushions readily available in case of emergencies. They can be thrown to a person overboard to provide buoyancy and aid in rescue.

Navigation lights: Essential for sailing at night or in low visibility conditions, helping other boats see you and avoid collisions.

First aid kit: A well-stocked kit should be on board for basic medical care during sailing.

Fire extinguisher: Crucial in case of fires or emergencies. Regularly check and maintain the extinguisher.

True story:

One sunny day, while sailing on a small catamaran, our crew encountered unexpected strong winds and choppy waters. Suddenly, a crew member lost their balance and fell overboard. Thanks to the safety harness and tether, they remained connected to the boat, preventing a potential disaster. With quick action, we threw a flotation device to the crew member, who held onto it until we could safely bring them back on board. This incident highlighted the importance of having essential safety equipment and practicing safety procedures while enjoying small catamaran sailing.

Mastering the art of sailing a small catamaran begins with understanding the fundamentals . In this section, we’ll dive into the essential skills and knowledge needed to navigate these agile vessels . Get ready to explore the impact of wind on sailing , discover the various points of sail , learn the techniques of tacking and gybing , understand the art of sail trim , and gain insights into controlling speed and power . By the end , you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your catamaran adventure with confidence and finesse.

Understanding Wind and Its Impact on Sailing

Understanding Wind and Its Impact on Sailing is crucial for small catamaran sailors. Consider the following key points:

– Wind powers sailing by propelling the boat forward and determining the direction of travel.

– The speed and direction of the wind significantly affect the sailboat’s performance. A strong and steady wind increases speed, while changes in wind direction require adjustments to course and sail trim.

– Sailors must understand different points of sail. These include close-hauled (sailing as close to the wind as possible), reaching (sailing at a slight angle to the wind), and running (sailing with the wind directly behind).

– Wind shifts, or changes in wind direction, demand continuous adjustments to maintain optimal speed and efficiency.

– Be aware of gusts , sudden increases in wind speed. Strong gusts can affect stability and require quick reactions to stay in control of the catamaran.

– Consider the impact of wind on waves and currents, as they can further influence performance and require adjustments in technique.

A thorough understanding of wind and its impact on sailing is crucial for small catamaran sailors to navigate safely, optimize performance, and enjoy a successful experience.

Points of Sail

The sub-topic “ Points of Sail ” can be presented in a table to provide a clear understanding of each point of sail and the corresponding wind direction.

Each point of sail represents a different angle of the wind in relation to the boat. Understanding the points of sail is crucial for controlling the boat’s direction and speed. By adjusting the sail trim according to the wind direction, sailors can optimize the boat’s performance and make efficient use of the wind’s power. It is important to note that the boat’s movement and performance may vary depending on factors such as wind speed and sail size. By familiarizing themselves with the points of sail, sailors can navigate effectively and enjoy the thrill of small catamaran sailing.

Tacking and Gybing

To tack , steer the boat towards the wind to change direction. Release the mainsail sheet and jib sheet to allow the sails to luff. Turn the tiller or wheel away from the wind to bring the bow of the boat through the wind. Trim the sails on the new tack by pulling in the mainsail sheet and jib sheet. Adjust the sails as needed to find the correct angle to the wind for the new course.

To gybe , steer the boat away from the wind to change direction. Release the mainsail sheet and jib sheet to allow the sails to luff. Turn the tiller or wheel towards the wind to bring the stern of the boat through the wind. Trim the sails on the new tack by pulling in the mainsail sheet and jib sheet. Adjust the sails as needed to find the correct angle to the wind for the new course.

Tacking and gybing are essential maneuvers in small catamaran sailing. Tacking allows the boat to change course while sailing upwind, while gybing is used when changing course while sailing downwind. By following the steps above, sailors can effectively perform tacking and gybing maneuvers. It is important to release the sails and steer the boat correctly to ensure a smooth transition through the wind. Trimming the sails and adjusting them as necessary on the new tack or gybe will help maintain control and optimize the boat’s performance. Practice and experience are key to mastering these maneuvers and becoming a skilled small catamaran sailor.

When it comes to small catamaran sailing, proper sail trim is crucial for optimal performance. Here are some key considerations for achieving the correct sail trim:

– Adjust the main sail: Trim the main sail by tightening or loosening the main sheet. A well-trimmed main sail will have a smooth shape and minimal wrinkles.

– Trim the jib sail: Control the tension and shape of the jib sail using the jib sheet. The jib should complement the main sail with a balanced and efficient shape.

– Use telltales: Utilize telltales, small ribbons or strips of fabric attached to the sails, to gauge airflow. Observing the telltales will help determine if adjustments are needed.

– Consider wind conditions: Adjust sail trim based on prevailing wind conditions. In lighter winds, looser sails are needed to catch lighter breezes. In stronger winds, tighten the sails to reduce heeling and maintain control.

– Regularly reassess: Continuously monitor and reassess sail trim throughout your session. Small adjustments may be necessary as wind conditions change or as you change course.

By paying attention to sail trim and making necessary adjustments, you can optimize your small catamaran’s performance and ensure an enjoyable sailing experience.

Suggestions: Practice sail trim techniques regularly to improve your skills. Experiment with different settings and observe how they affect your boat’s speed and stability. Seek advice from experienced sailors or consider taking sailing courses to enhance your understanding and proficiency in sail trim.

Controlling Speed and Power

Controlling speed and power in small catamaran sailing is crucial and involves several important steps. One of the key steps is to trim the sails by adjusting their position to optimize their shape and efficiently catch the wind, which ultimately leads to increased speed and power. Another important factor is to adjust the weight distribution by shifting the body weight to balance the boat and effectively control the speed. Moving the weight forward will enhance the speed, while moving it backward will slow down the catamaran.

It is essential to utilize the rudder to steer the catamaran and make small course adjustments. By using the rudder effectively, one can maintain speed and control. Another aspect to consider is harnessing the wind . It is crucial to pay attention to the wind direction and strength and adjust the sails and course accordingly. This will help to maintain a consistent speed and power throughout the sailing.

Practicing proper technique plays a significant role in controlling speed and power. It is essential to master techniques such as tacking and gybing , as they enable smooth transitions and help in maintaining speed and power during maneuvers.

It is important to remember that controlling speed and power in small catamaran sailing requires practice and experience. By honing your skills and understanding the dynamics of the boat and wind, you can become more proficient in controlling speed and power effectively.

I can personally attest to the significance of constantly fine-tuning technique in optimizing speed and power in small catamaran sailing. In a sailing race, I found myself trailing behind other boats. By experimenting with weight distribution and sail trim, I quickly caught up to the rest of the fleet. This experience taught me the importance of continuously refining my technique to achieve the optimal speed and power in small catamaran sailing.

Basic Manuevers in Small Catamaran Sailing

Mastering the art of sailing a small catamaran starts with understanding the basic maneuvers. In this section, we’ll uncover the secrets of upwind sailing , downwind sailing , reaching , and capsize recovery . Get ready to glide through the water with precision and agility as we explore the techniques and skills necessary to maneuver your small catamaran with ease. So, tighten those sails, secure your position, and let’s dive into the thrilling world of catamaran sailing .

Upwind Sailing

Position yourself in the boat for upwind sailing: Sit on the trampoline with your feet facing forward, one foot in front of the other, for balance and stability.

Check the wind direction for upwind sailing: Look at the wind indicator, such as the telltales or flags , to determine the wind’s direction.

Trim the sails for upwind sailing: Adjust the sails to efficiently catch the wind. Increase the curvature of the sails for better lift.

Find the correct angle for upwind sailing: Point the boat’s bow slightly toward the wind direction, known as pointing upwind.

Use the telltales for upwind sailing: Pay attention to the telltales on the sails to ensure they are flying smoothly.

Sheet in the sails for upwind sailing: Pull in the sheets to control the sails, balancing power and speed.

Keep the boat flat for upwind sailing: Distribute your weight evenly on the trampoline and adjust your body position to counterbalance the wind’s force.

Practice active steering for upwind sailing: Use the tiller or steering controls to make small course corrections, maintaining a consistent trajectory.

Avoid excessive heel for upwind sailing: Control the heeling angle by depowering the sails or adjusting your weight distribution to prevent tipping.

Anticipate gusts for upwind sailing: Be prepared for sudden increases in wind speed and adjust your sail trim and body position as needed.

Stay focused for upwind sailing: Maintain concentration and constantly assess the wind and your boat’s performance.

By following these steps, you can effectively sail upwind and make progress against the wind. Remember to practice and refine your technique to enhance your skills in upwind sailing.

Downwind Sailing

Downwind sailing is an exciting technique in small catamaran sailing. Follow these steps to successfully navigate downwind:

  • Position your catamaran with the wind behind you.
  • Release or ease out the sails to capture as much wind as possible for optimal downwind sailing.
  • Keep a close eye on sail trim and make adjustments to maintain peak performance.
  • Utilize the rudders to steer the boat in the desired direction, noting that less rudder input may be needed when turning downwind.
  • Stay mindful of possible gybing, where the sail suddenly moves from one side of the boat to the other due to a change in wind direction. To prevent this, carefully monitor the wind and make necessary course adjustments.
  • Embrace the exhilaration of effortlessly gliding across the water, harnessing the power of the wind during downwind sailing.

Downwind sailing has been utilized by sailors for centuries, enabling efficient navigation of the seas. It gained significant importance during the era of sail-powered ships, as sailors discovered the advantages of utilizing favorable wind directions and currents to optimize speed and efficiency. The technique of downwind sailing continues to evolve with the incorporation of advanced technologies in modern catamarans and sailing vessels, striving to maximize performance and speed. Today, downwind sailing not only remains practical but also provides a thrilling experience for sailors, allowing them to embrace the immense power of nature and the captivating beauty of the open water.

Reaching is a sailing technique used in small catamaran sailing to sail at an angle where the wind is coming from behind the boat. It allows the boat to sail faster and more efficiently.

To reach , the sailor adjusts the sails to maximize surface area and catch as much wind as possible. This propels the catamaran forward.

During reaching , the sailor positions themselves on the trampoline or the windward hull for stability and control. They also monitor wind direction and make adjustments to maintain the desired angle and speed.

Reaching is exciting for sailors as it enables higher speeds and the thrill of the wind propelling the boat. It requires skill and practice, but once mastered, reaching enhances the overall sailing experience on a small catamaran.

Capsize Recovery

Capsize Recovery is vital for small catamaran sailing. Here is a guide to effectively recover from a capsize:

  • Stay calm and assess the situation.
  • Hold onto the boat and ensure everyone is accounted for.
  • Signal for help if necessary, especially in a busy waterway.
  • Try to right the boat by pushing down on the centerboard or daggerboard.
  • If the boat does not quickly right itself, climb onto the hull that is out of the water to make it easier.
  • Once the boat is upright, climb back onboard and assess any damage.
  • Bail out any remaining water using buckets or bailers.
  • Check all rigging and equipment for damage.
  • Restart the engine or raise the sails to continue sailing.

Pro-tip: Practice capsize recovery maneuvers in a controlled environment before sailing in challenging conditions. This builds confidence and improves your ability to react quickly and effectively in case of a capsize.

Mastering the art of small catamaran sailing goes beyond the basics. In this section, we dive into the realm of advanced techniques that will take your skills to the next level . Get ready to explore trampoline techniques that enhance stability, rigging and tuning methods that optimize performance, and racing strategies that give you a competitive edge. Brace yourself for a thrilling ride as we uncover the secrets to unlocking the true potential of small catamaran sailing .

Trampoline Techniques

  • Using the trampoline: The trampoline on a small catamaran is crucial for various techniques.
  • Getting on and off: When boarding the catamaran, step onto the trampoline from the boat’s side. To disembark, step off the trampoline onto a stable surface.
  • Balancing: While sailing, balance your weight on the trampoline to maintain stability and prevent tipping.
  • Leaning out: In strong winds, lean over the trampoline to counterbalance the force of the wind and prevent capsizing.
  • Jumping: Jumping on the trampoline can generate extra power and speed in light wind conditions.
  • Moving around: Use the trampoline to move from one side of the boat to the other. Step carefully and hold onto the boat for stability.
  • Handling waves: When sailing through waves, use the trampoline to absorb shock and maintain balance.
  • Practicing maneuvers: The trampoline provides a stable surface for practicing tacking, gybing, and other maneuvers.
  • Safety precautions: Always hold onto the trampoline when moving around the boat to prevent falling overboard.

Rigging and Tuning

Rigging and tuning are crucial for small catamaran sailing. Here are some essential aspects to consider:

– Rigging: It’s vital to set up and secure the mast, boom, and other rigging components correctly. Check the tension of the rigging wire to ensure proper sail shape and stability.

– Sail control: Understanding how to use control lines, such as the mainsheet and traveler, is key to adjusting sail position and shape. These controls optimize performance and balance the catamaran.

– Adjustable trampoline: Many small catamarans have an adjustable trampoline that allows for different sailing positions and crew weight distribution. This feature affects stability and handling.

– Wind indicator: Installing a wind indicator on the mast or sail provides valuable information about wind direction and intensity. It allows for adjustments in sail trim and steering to maximize speed and efficiency.

– Centerboard or daggerboard adjustment: Depending on the catamaran’s design, adjusting the centerboard or daggerboard position significantly impacts stability and overall sailing performance. Knowing when and how to adjust them is crucial.

– Regular maintenance: It’s important to inspect rigging components for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Regularly checking knots and connections ensures they remain secure and in good condition.

– Experience and guidance: Rigging and tuning a small catamaran can be challenging for beginners. Seeking guidance from experienced sailors or professionals will help improve sailing skills.

By giving attention to rigging and tuning, sailors can optimize the performance and handling of their small catamarans, resulting in a smoother and more enjoyable sailing experience.

Racing Strategies

  • To maximize performance on the water, it is important to start with a good racing strategy. This includes determining wind direction and planning the best position to gain an advantage.
  • One crucial aspect of racing strategies is mastering boat handling. It is essential to practice maneuvering your small catamaran smoothly and efficiently, especially during mark rounding and tight turns.
  • Another key racing strategy is learning to read wind shifts. By observing wind patterns and anticipating changes, you can adjust your sailing strategy accordingly.
  • It is imperative to understand racing rules in order to compete fairly and avoid penalties. Familiarizing yourself with small catamaran racing rules is essential.
  • Staying aware of the competition is a vital part of racing strategies. By keeping an eye on fellow racers, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses, aiding in tactical decision-making.
  • Developing a strong downwind strategy is crucial. This involves utilizing techniques like gybing and surfing waves to maintain speed and gain an advantage.
  • Being adaptable is key in racing. Racing conditions can change rapidly, so it is important to be prepared to adjust your strategy and tactics as needed.

Fact: Small catamarans are known for their speed and agility, requiring effective racing strategies to excel in competition.

Some Facts About How To Sail A Small Catamaran:

  • ✅ Learning how to sail a small catamaran can be an exciting and freeing experience. (Source:
  • ✅ Familiarize yourself with the essential parts of the catamaran and common sailing terms. (Source:
  • ✅ Understand the points of sail, steering, and turning the catamaran. (Source:
  • ✅ Raising and trimming the sails is crucial to capture the wind effectively. (Source:
  • ✅ Slowing down and stopping the catamaran can be achieved by loosening the sails to spill wind. (Source:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. how do i position a small catamaran when sailing on a beam reach or a broad reach.

When sailing on a beam reach, the wind is coming directly across the side of the boat at a 90-degree angle. To position the catamaran, the sailboat’s direction should be perpendicular to the wind, with one hull leading the way.

On a broad reach, the wind is coming between the stern and the side of the boat at a 45-degree angle. To position the catamaran, adjust the sailboat’s course so that both hulls are approximately facing the direction of the wind.

2. What are the essential parts of a small catamaran?

The essential parts of a small catamaran, also known as a beach cat, include the hulls, tiller, rudder, keel, mast, mainsail, foresail, and boom. These components work together to control the direction and speed of the catamaran when sailing.

3. How should I handle the tiller when sailing a small catamaran?

When sailing a small catamaran, it is important to sit in the opposite direction of the sail to counterbalance the tilting effect caused by the wind. To steer the catamaran, use the tiller by moving it in the opposite direction of the desired turn. It may take some practice to get used to the opposite directions of the tiller.

4. What sailing gear do I need when sailing a small catamaran?

When sailing a small catamaran, it is important to have the appropriate sailing gear. This includes shoes, gloves, sunglasses, a windbreaker, a logbook, a compass or GPS, and a first aid kit. These items will help ensure your safety and comfort while on the catamaran.

5. How do I turn the catamaran into the wind when sailing close-hauled?

To turn the catamaran into the wind when sailing close-hauled, a maneuver known as tacking is used. Move the tiller toward the sail to pass the bows through the wind. Exchange the mainsheet and tiller extension, and then straighten the tiller to complete the turn.

6. How do I slow down and stop the catamaran when sailing?

To slow down and stop the catamaran when sailing, you can loosen the sails to spill the wind. Let out and loosen the sails until they luff or flap. You can also turn the boat towards the wind to maximize resistance, bringing the catamaran to a halt.

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How To Pick a Small Catamaran — Everything You Need to Know

Catamarans have had the sailing world abuzz for several decades now. To the salty monohull sailors’ chagrin, they aren’t going away any time soon. They’re roomy, comfortable, spacious, airy, and light-filled. They ride flat and don’t heel over when the breeze freshens. When you step aboard a modern catamaran, even the most landlubber-y of landlubbers can envision moving aboard and setting sail to distant horizons. 

There’s no set definition, so we’ll have to look to the boat manufacturers for answers. If you look at the lineup from Leopard, Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, Bali, and others, you’ll find that the smallest cats are generally somewhere between 38 to 40 feet long. There are other manufacturers making some 35-foot boats, but these look a lot different.

The appeal of the small catamaran is nothing new, and many different boat makers have made attempts over the years. Here are a few things you might want to consider before purchasing a small catamaran boat.

small catamaran sailboat

Table of Contents

What is a small catamaran sailboat, pros of a small catamaran boat, cons of small catamaran boats, not all catamarans have the same feel.

  • Size (Of Your Liveaboard Catamaran) Matters 

Priorities: Affordable Catamarans or Small Catamarans?

  • Picking the Right Small Sail Catamaran 

Best Small Catamaran FAQs

For liveaboard, long-distance sailors, a small catamaran is a twin-hulled sailboat between 35 and 40 feet long. 

There are a few designs, but the most comfortable ones are those with wide beams and the hulls set farther apart. This size catamaran is necessary to ensure the boat can carry enough supplies and retains enough stability to be safe at sea. However, these small boats still feel very large and have beams of 19 to 21 feet. Boats of this size have twin diesel inboard engines. These boats come with four cabins or three cabins in an “owner’s version” layout.

Many of these boats could be described as French-style charter catamarans. Examples of boats like this include those made by Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot. South African companies like Leopard make them too, and there are a few one-off designs, like the American-made Manta share these features. 

Generally speaking, a 38-foot-long, 21-foot-wide sailboat is not a small one. But if you love the French-style catamaran, this is about the smallest you’ll find. That’s because this type of boat depends on its width for stability and its length for carrying a load. A shorter boat is very easy to overload. Most boat makers, Lagoon, Bali, Leopard, and the rest, currently make nothing less than 37 feet. 

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But there are some smaller options. 

On the other end of the spectrum from the super-wide French-style cat, there are small catamaran sailboat designs built for day-tripping and short-term coastal cruising. These are often narrower than offshore boats and can be stored in a regular boat slip. This is an especially important consideration in coastal areas where big offshore catamarans aren’t very common and marina options are limited. 

These boats will sometimes have beams of 15 feet or less. These smaller and lighter boats are often propelled by a single engine, either an inboard diesel or a gasoline outboard. All of these factors make them cheaper. 

Examples of boats like this, small and made for nearshore coastal cruising, are the 105MC from Gemini Catamarans and the Endeavour 30. The Gemini is one of the most popular coastal cruiser cats made. It is 35 feet long with a single center-mounted diesel inboard engine, retractable centerboards for shallow-water cruising, and distinctive hard dodger. They usually have two cabins or three cabins and one or two heads.

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A third group of catamarans doesn’t fit neatly into these two categories. They lie somewhere between small, say 30 to 37 feet, and are built well enough to be considered bluewater boats. They take their designs from seaworthy British catamarans built in the 1980s and 1990s, namely those built by Catalac and Prout. These were solid boats built tough to take on the North Sea that earned the excellent reputation they still have today. The Island Packet PacketCat and Dean Catamarans 365 are two more recent examples.

They tend not to be as beamy as the French charter catamarans and are much less common. However, for owners lucky enough to find a good one, they make excellent long-distance cruisers and liveaboard boats.

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Of course, the smallest catamaran of all is the beach cat that everyone is familiar with. It’s nothing more than two small hulls connected by poles and netting. Fun and fast, there’s no better toy on the resort’s beach. They have no interior accommodation—they are just for day sailing. We’ll keep our discussion limited to liveaboard catamaran options. 

Catamarans appeal to many sailors, but the reasons folks like them vary from person to person. For example, some are in love with the way cats sail. Faster and lighter than monohulls, they speed up quickly in light wind and skip over the waves. 

Others prefer the living space aboard a catamaran. They usually have open, airy salons with tons of light and fresh air everywhere. Big windows are the norm, unlike monohulls described by many as “caves.”

Here are a few reasons to consider a small catamaran with cabin. 

  • Cheaper than bigger catamarans
  • Shallow draft for exploring more places, especially compared to fixed keels on monohulls
  • Easy handling and happy sailing
  • Large windows and great ventilation in the living space
  • Large, open cockpits to entertain guests
  • Faster cruising than a similar-sized monohull
  • More interior living space than a monohull
  • Does not heal under sail as monohulls do—rides flatter
  • Fits in more slips and at more marinas than larger, wider boats
  • The narrower the boat, the more boatyards are available to you
  • One diesel engine price tag—keeps boat and maintenance cheap compared to twin inboard diesels
  • Option for outboard engines, which saves even more money in maintenance—some smaller boats have one or two outboard engines
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There are some struggles for catamaran and would-be catamaran owners, of course. But, by far, the biggest problem you’ll face with choosing a small catamaran is the problem of having limited choices. There aren’t many cats in the world when you compare them to monohulls, and those catamarans you find are more expensive.

Another problem with small catamarans is that they are very sensitive to overloading. While they have lots of storage space, they can’t hold much weight. As the hulls ride lower in the water, sailing performance and overall stability decrease. In other words, a catamaran will hold less weight than a monohull of a similar length.

  • Fewer available on the market than monohulls
  • Interior space feels different than that on bigger models
  • Weight carrying capacity is less than may be required for comfortable long-distance cruising
  • Lack of overall stability due to narrower beams
  • Seakeeping and ride qualities are poorer than long cats
  • Some find the ride quality of shorter catamarans to be uncomfortable
  • Lightly built with thin fiberglass layups, susceptible to flexing issues—some require more repair and maintenance than similar-sized and aged monohulls
  • High-quality offshore models are hard to find
  • Low bridgedeck clearance may mean wave slapping and pounding with some boats on some points of sail

Tips When Shopping for a Small Catamaran Sailboat

Here are a few things to remember if you want to purchase a small catamaran with cabin. 

When looking at the latest models, you’ll see that catamaran construction has changed quite a bit in the last two decades. So it’s really important to understand what you like so much about your dream catamaran. 

Is it the open feeling you get when standing in the salon, looking out of those huge windows? Or is it the way you can easily walk from the salon to the cockpit to the side decks or helm without stepping up and over seats, in and out of a deep cockpit? What about the easy access to your dinghy, which is on davits at the rear? Or maybe it’s the way that there’s plenty of light below decks in your cabin, and the boat feels open and airy?

The choices look very different when you start downsizing and looking at small cruising cats. Some or all of these features were things that designers had to learn to do. In some cases, they’re still learning how to do them. And in some cases, they’re impossible to do on a small boat. 

Size (Of Your Liveaboard Catamaran) Matters

Small catamarans have never been and will never be designed to carry a load. Catamarans are performance-oriented, even if some are built for charter and look like condo buildings. When you stuff too much weight in a catamaran, its sailing characteristics are degraded. As the waterline gets lower and lower, the boat sails noticeably slower, and stability is adversely affected. 

As a result, it’s frightfully easy to overload a small catamaran. Going out for a daysail is easy, as you might only bring a towel and some water. But living aboard or traveling long distances is another thing entirely. With a catamaran under 37 feet, it is very difficult not to overload it while keeping enough stuff—tools, spare parts, food/groceries, water, fuel, clothes, gadgets, books, etc. Cats 35 feet and under can be dangerously overloaded, which is another reason these boats are usually not generally considered bluewater vessels.

This is one of the biggest reasons you don’t see many small catamarans being built and crossing oceans—most people need more stuff than a small cat can safely hold. 

So with the quality of the living space and the weight of your stuff in mind, most cruising couples are most comfortable on a 40 or 42-foot catamaran. Peformance-wise, a 42 or 44-foot catamaran is the sweet spot for most. Unfortunately, these boats are expensive! Much more so than a 35-footer. 

Shorter catamarans also handle big seas differently. The shorter a catamaran is, the more likely it is to hobby horse—the tendency towards a quick, bow-up bow-down motion at sea. This is another reason that 44-footers are ideal—they’re long enough to escape this tendency and ride better in open water. Plus, their longer waterlines and narrower hulls mean these bigger cats will be significantly faster on all points of sail. If you want to see a list of bigger catamarans, check out our list of the best liveaboard catamarans .

So, you must approach your choice with these things in mind. A lot of people downsize their plans to fit their budget. But are you willing to put up with the problems associated with a smaller catamaran than you need? Would a different type of boat actually suit your goals better?

small catamaran boat

Picking the Right Small Sail Catamaran

Every boat purchase is a compromise, and there is never a perfect boat that can do everything. First, keep a clear mental picture of your goals and what you love about the catamarans you’ve seen. Then, keep an open mind! There are so many different types of boats, and catamarans are just one of them. 

When you’re ready to start shopping for a small catamaran sailboat, check out our list of cheap catamarans for some great options in the under-40-foot range.

What are small catamarans called?

A small catamaran is a boat with two hulls. The smallest are beach catamarans like the Hobie Cat . For liveaboard sailors, small catamarans are between 35 and 40 feet long.

How much does a small catamaran cost?

Prices for small catamarans vary greatly depending on the boat’s popularity, quality, and design. For example, one of the most popular small liveaboard catamarans is the French-built Lagoon 380, built from 1999 to 2020. Depending on features, age, and location, these boats currently sell for between $200,000 and $400,000. On the other hand, the much smaller American-built Gemini 105MC can be found for half as much. 

What is the best small catamaran to live on?

Everyone is looking for something a little different in their liveaboard catamaran. The Lagoon 380 and Fountaine Pajot Mahe are popular options if you’re looking for a spacious and comfortable charter catamaran. 

What is the smallest catamaran to circumnavigate?

Many catamarans in the 35-foot range have successfully circumnavigated. Smaller ones have likely made the trip, albeit less comfortably. But generally, most sailors agree that a 38 to 40-foot cat would be the smallest size that should make the trip, and a 42 to 44-footer would be best. The WorldARC, a 15-month-long around-the-world sailing rally hosted by the World Cruising Club, requires boats to have a 40-foot length, although they will consider smaller vessels on a case-by-case basis.  

how to sail small catamaran

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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How To Sail A Catamaran? (A Detailed Step-By-Step Guide)

how to sail small catamaran

Are you an adventurous soul looking for an exciting way to explore the open waters? If so, then sailing a catamaran may just be the perfect activity for you! Catamarans are becoming increasingly popular for sailing due to their stability and speed, and when sailed correctly, can be a powerfully enjoyable experience.

This guide will walk you through the basics of sailing a catamaran, from understanding the basics of sailing to handling the boat in different conditions and beyond.

Here, we will cover the differences between a monohull and a catamaran, balancing the boat, basic sailing techniques, safety precautions, and tips for improving your catamaran sailing skills.

So grab your gear and lets get sailing!

Table of Contents

Short Answer

Sailing a catamaran is relatively straightforward.

To get started, adjust the sails and rudder to the desired angles.

Next, begin to move forward using the power of the wind and the force of the sails.

While underway, make sure to constantly adjust the sails and rudder to maintain the desired course.

Finally, when ready to stop, lower the sails and use the rudder to bring the catamaran to a stop.

Understanding the Basics of Sailing

Learning how to sail a catamaran can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but before you can take to the open waters you need to understand the basics of sailing.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of sailing, such as understanding wind direction and how to use sails.

Knowing the basics is essential for anyone wanting to sail a catamaran, as it will allow you to make informed decisions when sailing and will help keep you safe on the water.

Understanding wind direction is a key part of sailing, as it will help you determine the best way to sail and how to use the sails to propel the boat in the desired direction.

This can be done by looking at the flags or flags on other boats in the area, as well as by analyzing the behavior of the waves and the wind.

Additionally, you should also learn the different points of sail, which are the directions a boat can sail relative to the wind.

In addition to understanding wind direction, it is also important to understand how to use the sails of a catamaran.

The sails of a catamaran are made up of two mainsails, which are the two large sails on either side of the boat, as well as a jib, which is a smaller sail located at the front.

Knowing how to properly set the sails will allow you to make the most of the wind and propel the boat in the desired direction.

Additionally, you should also learn how to trim the sails, as this will help you to optimize the boats performance in different wind conditions.

Understanding the basics of sailing and how to use the sails of a catamaran is essential for anyone wanting to learn how to sail a catamaran.

With the right knowledge and practice, sailing a catamaran can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

The Differences Between a Monohull and a Catamaran

how to sail small catamaran

When it comes to sailing a catamaran, it is important to understand the differences between a monohull and a catamaran.

A monohull is a single-hulled boat with a keel that runs along the bottom of the boat.

This helps keep the boat stable and upright in the water.

A catamaran, on the other hand, has two hulls which are usually connected by a bridgedeck.

This helps to create a more stable platform in the water and allows for more open space on the boat.

There are some important differences between sailing a monohull and a catamaran.

For example, a monohull requires more power to move through the water and is more limited in terms of maneuverability.

On the other hand, a catamaran is more maneuverable and can be sailed in a variety of conditions.

Additionally, a catamaran is inherently more stable in the water and can handle larger waves.

Another important difference between a monohull and a catamaran is the way they are balanced.

A monohull relies on its keel for stability and must be balanced evenly along the length of the boat.

On the other hand, a catamaran relies on the two hulls to remain balanced and can be sailed with one hull slightly higher than the other.

This allows for greater maneuverability and can help to reduce drag in the water.

Finally, a catamaran is more efficient than a monohull and can be sailed at higher speeds for longer distances.

This makes it ideal for longer trips and open-water sailing.

Balancing the Boat

When it comes to sailing a catamaran, one of the most important steps is learning how to balance the boat.

This is because catamarans have two hulls, which means that they have twice the length and twice the width of a single-hull boat.

This can make it more difficult to keep the boat upright and stable in the water.

When sailing a catamaran, it is important to keep the hulls balanced so that the boat remains stable.

The easiest way to do this is to make sure that the weight is evenly distributed between the two hulls.

This can be done by ensuring that the sail is properly adjusted and that the passengers are sitting evenly between the two hulls.

Additionally, it is important to keep an eye on the wind direction and make sure that the sails are adjusted accordingly.

Furthermore, it is important to be aware of the boats center of gravity.

This is the point at which the boats weight is evenly distributed between the two hulls.

If the boat is not properly balanced, then it can become difficult to control, especially in rough conditions.

It is important to be aware of the boats center of gravity at all times and adjust the weight distribution accordingly.

Finally, it is important to remember that cats are less forgiving than other types of boats.

This means that any errors in balance or sail trim can be exaggerated and lead to a dangerous situation.

Therefore, it is important to practice balancing the boat in calm waters before venturing out in rougher conditions.

By following these steps, sailing a catamaran should be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

With the right knowledge and practice, anyone can learn how to sail a catamaran safely and confidently.

Handling the Boat in Different Conditions

how to sail small catamaran

When sailing a catamaran, it is important to understand how to handle the boat in different conditions, such as in waves and strong winds.

In wave conditions, the key is to keep the boat balanced.

This means keeping the weight evenly distributed between the two hulls and using the sail to keep the boat stable.

To do this, you can adjust the angle of the sail and the trim of the boat to match the waves.

It is also important to keep an eye on the wind direction, as this can affect the boats stability.

In strong winds, it is important to know how to properly balance the boat.

This means keeping the weight evenly distributed between the two hulls and using the sails to keep the boat stable.

You can adjust the trim of the sail and the angle of the sail to match the wind direction.

It is also important to keep an eye on the wind speed, as this can affect how much power you need to use in the sails.

Finally, it is important to know how to handle the boat in rough weather.

This means using the sails to provide stability and keeping the boat balanced in rough conditions.

You should also be prepared to use the outriggers, which are the stabilizers that run along the sides of the boat, to help keep the boat upright in strong winds.

By familiarizing yourself with the basics of sailing and understanding how to handle the boat in different conditions, such as waves and strong winds, you can become a confident and skilled catamaran sailor.

With practice and experience, you can explore the open water with confidence and enjoy the unique experience of sailing a catamaran.

Basic Catamaran Sailing Techniques

Sailing a catamaran can be a great way to explore the open water and experience the thrill of the sea.

Before you set out, however, its important to understand the basics of sailing, such as wind direction and how to use sails.

Once youve got the basics down, you can then start to learn the specifics of how to sail a catamaran.

The most important thing to understand is the difference between a monohull and a catamaran.

Catamarans have two hulls, which make them more stable than monohulls.

This means you will need to learn how to properly balance the boat, as the two hulls can move independently of each other.

You should also be aware of the wind and current when youre sailing, as these can affect the boats stability.

When youre ready to start sailing, youll need to make sure that the sails are set properly and the boat is balanced correctly.

To do this, youll need to be aware of the wind direction and adjust the sails accordingly.

You should also make sure that the sails are trimmed properly, as this will help you to get the most out of the wind.

In order to properly sail a catamaran, youll also need to understand how to handle the boat in different conditions.

This includes handling the boat in waves, strong winds, and other challenging scenarios.

To do this, youll need to be aware of the wind direction, the current, and the waves.

You should also be aware of how the boat responds to different conditions, and be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.

Once youve got the basics of sailing a catamaran down, you can start to explore the open water.

So, dont be afraid to get out on the open water and learn the ins and outs of sailing a catamaran.

With a bit of practice, youll soon be able to enjoy the thrill of the open water.

Safety Precautions for Catamaran Sailing

how to sail small catamaran

Before sailing a catamaran, it is important to take safety precautions to ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable.

The first step in doing so is to make sure you have the right safety gear, such as a life jacket, flares, and a first-aid kit.

It is also a good idea to check the weather forecast before departing so you can plan your route accordingly, and to make sure you have the right clothing for the conditions.

Additionally, you should always carry a marine radio on board in case of an emergency.

Lastly, make sure you inform someone of your intended route and estimated time of return, so they can come to your aid in the event of an emergency.

By taking these safety precautions, you can enjoy your catamaran sailing experience to the fullest!

Tips for Improving Your Catamaran Sailing Skills

Improving your catamaran sailing skills is all about getting comfortable with the boat and understanding the different conditions youll be sailing in. Its important to start slowly and build your skill level gradually, as this will help you become a more confident and competent sailor. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Learn the basics of sailing. Knowing the basics of sailing is essential before you start to learn how to sail a catamaran. Understand the basics of wind direction, how to use sails, and how the wind affects the boat. This will help you better understand the catamaran and how to maneuver it.

2. Familiarize yourself with the catamaran. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the catamaran and its components. Learn the differences between a monohull and a catamaran, such as the two hulls and how to properly balance the boat. You should also be aware of the boats capabilities and limitations.

3. Practice sailing in different conditions. Its important to practice sailing in different conditions, such as in waves and strong winds. This will help you become more comfortable with the boat and give you the experience to handle a variety of conditions.

4. Learn how to use the sails. Understanding how to use the sails will help you become a more efficient sailor and get the most out of your catamaran. Learn how to adjust the sails for different wind directions and how to use them to your advantage.

5. Understand the safety precautions. Before you start sailing, make sure you understand the safety precautions. This includes understanding the weather conditions and the safety equipment you need to have on board.

By following these tips, youll be well on your way to becoming a more confident and competent catamaran sailor.

Learning how to sail a catamaran is a great way to explore the world of sailing and open up a world of adventure on the open water.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice, knowing how to sail a catamaran can be a great way to get out and explore the open waters.

With the right knowledge and practice, you can become a confident and competent catamaran sailor.

From understanding the basics of sailing, to learning the differences between a monohull and a catamaran, to mastering the techniques of catamaran sailing, this detailed step-by-step guide has all the information you need to become a successful catamaran sailor.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start your catamaran sailing journey today!

James Frami

At the age of 15, he and four other friends from his neighborhood constructed their first boat. He has been sailing for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to share with others.

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The 6 Best Ways to Learn to Sail a Catamaran (Complete Guide)

Posted on May 30, 2022

main characteristics of a catamaran hull

It’s one thing to kick back, relax and enjoy a catamaran ride with friends, family, or colleagues. However, the feeling you get being at the controls is a whole other level. It can prove intimidating if you’re used to a monohull, but no sweat, you’ve got this!

Many sailors are out there, but what did they do to become one? Does it cost a lot of money? Can people teach themselves? How long does it take to learn how to sail a cat?

There are many ways to learn how to sail a catamaran, from online school to apprenticeship. Books are available, and so are sailing schools. Hands-on is always the best way to learn because everything happens in real-time. If you have a friend, it would be nice to shadow that person. 

These steps are guaranteed to have your brain ticking and you sailing efficiently in very little time.

1. Go on a Week-long or Weekend Cruise  


You may be baffled as to why I began with this. If all you’ve done is day trips, you have no idea what it’s like to spend days at sea , sleeping, eating, and showering in the open air.

If you’ve already done that and want to go right into catamaran sailing, there’s a whole number of short-term courses available. Individuals who don’t have lots of open water will benefit greatly from these intense training programs since they will be able to fully involve themselves in the situation and learn the skills needed.

2. Watch Videos and Read Books

When you first begin, you would rather not be a total novice. If you’ve never sailed before, it’s a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of boat parts, terminology, and more. Beginner books provide you with thorough and instructive samples and images, and an entry-level instructional text, to assist novices in getting their feet wet.

If you’ve already mastered the basics of sailing, look for a more advanced book. Reading is an excellent method to remain up to date with sailing trends and developments.

When discussing catamarans, it’s vital to know the lingo and the most commonly used terms. The ability to communicate and learn from others is greatly enhanced when one is conversant in the appropriate jargon. Basic knowledge of nautical terms is also required.

3. Sail With a Friend or Group


If you learn best by observing others, there are a variety of strategies you can employ to benefit from what they’ve learned. A friend who is a sailor can help you out. 

Aside from the obvious benefits of getting out on the water and immersing yourself in the adventure, sailing is an excellent way to meet new people who share your interests. To increase your chances of learning, don’t be scared to make new acquaintances who share your interests. 

4. Cruising Catamaran Courses


Choosing the right institution is essential when you’re spending a lot of money on a course. ASA and the US Sailing Association are the most well-known entities that provide upper-edge training with certified trainers.

Enroll in a class if you’re not sure where to begin. Many cruise schools provide courses for all levels of sailors, from the absolute novice to the seasoned sailor.

To ensure that you learn efficiently, these institutions plan course content including land and on-water training programs. To put theory into practice, you’ll board the ship.

If you don’t have contact with a seasoned sailor, you can count on these courses for guidance. Because an experienced and trained teacher is keeping a close eye on your progress, you’ll feel more comfortable being out on the water and having fun.

If you’re looking for courses online, you can check out their syllabuses and pick the ones that work best with your schedule.

5. Join a Crew

Numerous cat owners will always be on the lookout for new additions to their family of feline companions. You can search for jobs both online and offline. Great resources include websites like FindaCrew and Crewseekers. Talk to people at marina bars and see if you could perhaps join a crew there.

6. Sailing Simulation


Were you under the impression that simulation training was exclusive to the worlds of aviation and automobiles? In such a case, you’d be mistaken. Alf has it as well. Playing games is a good way to acquire a sense of what it’s like to go cat sailing. These activities build an understanding of cat sailing.

These games are playable on a variety of different platforms.

Free catamaran handling games from Nautic Ed, for instance, take place in a Caribbean harbor.

You’ll master the cat’s two engines and maneuver your ship without colliding with any obstacles by playing this game. Even though the exercise is a little difficult at first, you’ll pick it up quickly.

Things You Need to Know When Learning to Sail a Catamaran


Catamaran sailing can be learned in any way that works best for you. While some people prefer to learn by reading, others prefer to watch videos. The most important thing is to get on the water and gain some experience, regardless of your personal preferences.

As a result, it makes no difference whatever route you take. Choose a way of learning that works best for you and don’t be scared to fail.

Become Familiar With The Fundamentals

Even if you’ve never sailed in a catamaran before, you’ll need to know the basics. A catamaran, as well as a monohull, are very different in terms of how they can be sailed. My article titled Monohull VS Catamarans: Which Is Better For You? will help you better understand the differences.

Since it has two hulls, the catamaran differs from other types of sailing boats. Because of this, sailing is an entirely different experience.

The movement of a multi-hull boat is more predictable and steady. As a result, prior experience sailing a monohull isn’t required while learning to cruise on a Cat, but it certainly helps. As a result, you might also be able to pick things up more quickly.

To succeed, you must master the following essential skills:

Instructions for Catamaran Rigging

Rigging a boat is getting it ready to sail. Before you put your catamaran on the market, there are a few typical measures you should follow in sequence.

Make a list of things you need to do before the event. You must know how to connect the sails and adjust the boat for varying conditions to get the most out of it. It is possible to ensure that you have taken into account all the relevant safety and security advice in this manner.

Another important skill is knot tying, which helps you safeguard your lines under a variety of weather circumstances. For any occasion, you need to know the ideal knots.

Catamaran Sailing Tips for Beginners

catamaran size

To become a professional sailor, you need to put in a lot of practice, and the best way to learn is by working with an experienced sailor.

Here’s how to make the most of what you know:

Learn to Sail a Catamaran: How Long Does the Process Take?

It might take anywhere from 14 days to five years to master the art of cruising catamaran sailing . A 2-week program will prepare you for the fundamentals so that you may begin learning on your own, though in a safe way. You’ll be an accomplished sailor in around five years.

The time it takes depends on a variety of things, of course.

Sailing lessons often go for up to two weeks, depending on how much time is spent on the water. As a result, you may learn the fundamentals within just under a month if you put in the time and effort.

Regardless of how often you spend studying the concepts with the support of a teacher, you need to have the self-confidence to go out and do it on your own.

On the other hand, it also hinges on your sailing experience. If you’ve sailed a monohull before, picking up the controls of a multihull might be easier.

Choosing the Right Places to Sail

Choosing where to sail determines how much time you have to learn. When compared to locations with strong tidal currents, serene inland lakes and bays are so much simpler to understand. Starting in a quiet and private location is a good approach to learning the basics and building your confidence. You can then move on to more crowded areas after you feel you have honed your skills.

Think of your educational journey as a quest and an opportunity to discover new interests. It’s a great way to learn quickly and then hone your skills as you progress.

Is a Cruising Catamaran Captain’s License Necessary?

Catamarans can be sailed by anyone with no prior sailing experience. As a result, it will be useful in a wide range of scenarios. For instance, the owner of the cat will be more willing to let you use the catamaran if you present him with proof that you are competent.

You can get a recognized certificate from sailing organizations like the ASA and US Sailing by taking their courses and tests.

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How to Sail a Catamaran: 10 Catamaran Sailing Tips

small boat roaming around near the coconut trees

Published Sept 6, 2021

Have you been wondering about how to sail a catamaran? Well then, you’re in the right place as we will provide you the basic information about catamaran boats as well as their advantages and disadvantages. The information we’re about to tell will help you sail your catamaran as easily as possible. Lucky for you, this article includes 10 tips for sailing catamaran boats that you should know.

What Is A Catamaran?

A catamaran is a multi-hull, meaning it has two connected hulls with two engines, two sails, and two rudders. Catamarans are known for their stability and spaciousness. Additionally, they offer larger areas for the deck, saloon, and galley, so this boat is the best option for people who prioritize their comfort over the cost.

Advantages Of Catamarans

  • Spacious – Catamaran is a multi-hull, so the space it offers is double the space on usual monohulls . Massive space means more space for bigger rooms, cockpits, and decks. In addition, this multi-hull can accompany more guests all at once.
  • Stability – Since a catamaran is built of two hulls, they are more stable, unlike other boats. As a result, multihulls are less prone to rocking and heeling, suitable for guests or crew members with seasickness. In addition, the stability of catamaran boats makes it more comfortable for people to sleep, read, and wander.
  • Easy to maneuver – Catamarans consist of two engines and rudders. They are helpful when it comes to maneuvering and docking the boat. In addition, having two engines makes catamarans reliable when emergencies occur.
  • Speed – As mentioned earlier, catamarans don’t have kneels, making them lighter than other boats. This makes them faster when it comes to sailing downwind or broad reaches.
  • Design – Catamarans’ designs look attractive to the eyes. These multihulls bring prestigious vibes that most guests look for. They are treated like luxurious vessels because of their fascinating looks.

Disadvantages Of Catamarans

  • Expensive – Catamarans tend to be more costly than most monohulls or cabin sailing yachts. This kind of boat is more expensive because it provides many features that require more high-quality building materials. 
  • Availability – Despite being more expensive than other boats, catamarans seem to be very popular these days. Unfortunately, this multi-hull sells out fast, so they are not always available. If you wish to use catamarans, you should book a reservation for your boat early. 

Requiring bigger space to berth – Since they provide more space for guests, it takes up as much space. Therefore, this multi-hull usually takes up double the space to berth than monohulls. . (Related: Trimaran vs. Catamaran: Which is Better? )

small boat heading to the east of ocean

10 Catamaran Sailing Tips

Here are some tips on how to sail your catamaran:

1. Always keep the boat sailing downwind

Sailing downwind prevents pounding and slapping sounds that slow down the boat. When the low bridge deck slaps on the undercarriage of the boat, it causes annoying sounds. Making sure that you are sailing downwind as much as possible makes your sailing hassle- and noise-free.

2. Speed up before tacking

You must have enough boat speed to tack smoothly. Tacking refers to a changed direction of a boat to achieve the desired destination. If you don’t speed up, you will most likely not be able to tack. 

3. Bring the mainsail close to tack efficiently

You can tack efficiently by keeping the mainsail tight and sailing as close to the wind as possible. You must be able to do that without losing boat speed. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tack.

4. Use the jib to help the bows turn better through the wind

Jibing is the opposite of tacking. It’s a sailing maneuver wherein the boat turns its stern through the wind to turn the bows. You should let the jib get backwinded for a while to fix the position of your bow. 

5. Bring as many snubbers as you can

Snubber is short cordage attached to the anchor chain and a strong area on a boat together with a bridle. These are used to stop chains from rattling on the bow roller. Snubbers are helpful to prevent and relieve tension on lines and deck fittings. Since the ocean waves can bring pressure to many lines in your boat, you should set up as many snubbers as possible.

6. Use throttle control for maneuvering in normal conditions

The throttle control manages the speed of a boat which makes it ideal to use for maneuvering. You must do this while keeping the steering wheel center.

7. Use engines only when maneuvering in narrow spaces

For maneuvering in tighter spaces, you should consider using the engines only. Using your engines alone is better than maneuvering with steering wheels.

  • Use both engines for backing

When your catboat needs to anchor, your two engines will be helpful to you. You can use both engines for faster backing to anchor.

9. Make sure that your boat has completely stopped when you’re going to anchor

Catboats have a shorter keel than most boats, so they are less resistant to water. Catamarans require more time to slow down than monohulls, so you need to be extra mindful when anchoring your boat.

10. Plan advance for weather conditions

Checking the weather when you’re planning to go boat sailing is a must. Even though the weather reports tell you that it would be a sunny day, you should still prepare for other weather conditions. You should be ready and have every piece of equipment needed if ever the rain decides to fall unexpectedly.

Cruising Catamarans

These are the types of cruising catamarans that can be used for your next sailing trip:

Charter/cruising catamarans

This type of catamaran is built explicitly for the charter market. This has small rudders, heavier displacements and can easily struggle even in ideal water conditions. Charter cats usually sail at 55-60 degrees true wind angles (TWA).

High-performance cruising catamarans

High-performance cruising catamarans offer advanced centerboards, deeper rudders, and less displacement, which is better than a typical catboat. If no problems occur, you can sail this type of cat windward at a 45-50 degree TWA. 

Sailing with catamarans has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, we can’t deny the fact that it’s one of the beginner-friendly boats to maneuver. Sailing catamarans should be easier for you now that you’ve learned some tips on how to sail a catamaran.

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how to sail small catamaran

How To Sail a Catamaran Upwind or Downwind (Complete Guide)

how to sail small catamaran

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Catamarans are the perfect backdrop to a relaxing fishing excursion, with sails in the wind as you reel in 50-pound striped bass. But when the gusts pick up and shift directions, you’ll find yourself weathering uncharted territory where reefing and speed are unlike a classic monohull. Sailing a catamaran upwind and downwind requires a skill set much different from the classic one hulled sailing.

To sail a catamaran upwind, maintain high speeds, center the mainsheet, limit angles to 45-60°, lose unnecessary weight, upgrade to Kevlar sails and daggerboards. To sail a catamaran downwind, maintain 160-170°, use asymmetrical spinnakers, reef when winds exceed 15 knots, and jibe.

Downwind gusts can help a catamaran surf down waves, something that is extremely exciting. However, facing those dreaded upwind breezes (especially without daggerboards) can signal the end of a soothing Mediterranian adventure. To learn how to sail a catamaran upwind or downwind, read on!

Table of Contents

How Sailing a Catamaran Is Different Than Monohulls

Multihull vessels like catamarans respond very differently to rough surfs, gusting winds, and shallow waters. If you’re still questioning, “What’s the difference?” here’s your answer.

Compared to classic monohull boats, catamarans are:

  • More stable — at sail and when anchored — and less likely to heel or rock from side to side.
  • Less responsive to waves and winds (detecting these requires keen observation skills).
  • Likely to struggle when sailing into the wind.
  • Harder to tack (high speeds are essential to avoid losing momentum)

Traditional yacht enthusiasts quickly learn that sailing a catamaran is smoother, though stiff headwinds and choppy surf are more challenging to overcome. Learning to master upwind and downwind catamaran sailing is essential to get the most out of your trip

If there’s one debate looming over the sailing community, it’s the age-old catamaran versus monohull discussion.

What is the difference b e tween cats and monos?

The UPWIND Catamaran Sailing Guide

how to sail small catamaran

Sailing upwind means you’re cruising your catamaran toward the wind (i.e., Traveling east against westward-blowing gusts). This added wind resistance makes it more challenging to reach your destination swiftly and safely, as upwind journeys could come with:

  • Relentless sail luffing (fluttering like a bedsheet on a clothesline)
  • Slowed speeds and VMG (velocity made good)
  • Deep-digging bows in waves
  • Bridge deck slamming

Preparing for an upwind journey means taking the path of least resistance and the “long way home.” To survive your next upwind sail unscathed, follow these tips:

Maintain High Speeds

Thirty-knot gusts at-sea, high speeds, and a Leopard 44 might sound like a recipe for disaster. But a catamaran’s multihull design allows for lower capsize risks and less heeling in rougher conditions. It’s far gentler on the vessel to maintain momentum than to build throttle against heavy winds. 

Sailing a catamaran upwind requires sail, chart plotter, and daggerboard monitoring. The video below discusses upwind sailing tips as your catamaran’s bow faces 20-knot gusts.

Limit Angles to 45–60°

A straight line is undoubtedly the shortest pathway to your on-shore destination, but sailing your catamaran directly into the wind will land you in the dreaded “no-go zone.” That is, sailing into 15-knot wind gusts directly, draining all forward momentum (unless motoring), and being unable to steer responsively.

The point of sail “sweet spot” for catamarans sailing upwind is between 45 and 60°. This tight range will keep the bow headed in the right direction — toward a particular cove or dock — without cutting throttle (too direct) or over-inflating the sails (too perpendicular). 

An onboard flag can help you accurately detect your current point of sail (there are of course electronic aids as well). You should adjust the sails intentionally to ensure the perfect angle:

  • Slowly let out your sail.
  • Wait for the telltale to begin luffing (flapping in the wind).
  • Gently tug it back until the telltale flapping stops.

Upgrade to Kevlar Sails

Catamarans are impressively resistant to heeling where dainty monohulls might capsize. But instead of “giving” with the wind, a catamaran’s classic polyester sails will resist 30+ knot gusts almost entirely. Even the highest-tenacity Dacron sailcloths will develop wear and tear, performance-reducing distortions, or irreversible breakage in heavy winds.

Investing in heavy-duty Kevlar sails can create stiffer and more damage-proof sails that can better handle upwind excursions. Upgraded catamaran sail cloths can help you travel a crisper pathway at a close-hauled 45° without overcompensating at the wheel.

Select a Daggerboard Catamaran

Daggerboards are retractable vertical keels attached to a catamaran’s underbelly. These large, below-deck protrusions can prevent or limit any leeway in exceptionally windy conditions. 

Daggerboards vs Centerboards explained!

In other words, daggerboards will keep your catamaran from drifting with the wind or falling off course. The $30,000 higher price tag is undoubtedly off-putting, especially when proper tacking technique might render them useless. But the benefits are substantial:

  • Sailing 1-2 knots faster than a standard keeled catamaran
  • Traveling 5-7° closer to the no-go zone
  • Reaching your upwind destination quicker and with less dramatic tacking

Catamarans with daggerboards installed are more reliable and accurate when traveling upwind. But these built-in keels require proper care to prevent grounding or lurching into a reef. Until your sea voyages bring you upwind, keep your daggerboards raised.

Clean Hulls

Aside from trimming the sails and staying in the close-hauled zone, there’s only so much you can do onboard to better tackle an upwind voyage. But what about beneath the water’s surface? A dirty underside can wreak havoc on your catamaran’s all-around performance — cutting RPM by 1,000, draining fuel efficiency, and slashing your maximum speed by several kts.

Keeping your catamaran hulls free of barnacles, grime, and fouling can make your upwind travels far less treacherous. Revive upwind sailing potential by:

  • Spraying the bottom clean with an on-land hose
  • Scrubbing the slimy waterline with a soft brush or sponge
  • Dislodging caked-on algae with a plastic putty knife
  • Applying a fresh coat of antifouling paint

Scrub your catamaran’s underbelly clean at least four times a year, though monthly is preferred for maximum performance. You’ll quickly notice a swifter, cleaner, and smoother journey the next time you take your catamaran up the coast.

Trim the Sails & Center the Mainsheet

“Trimming” the sails is a beginner’s catamaran cruising skill designed to improve speed and better catch the breeze. By changing the angle of the sails and adjusting line tension, you can evade sail luffing and add several knots to your voyage — especially upwind. It takes practice to adapt your sails to the wind speed and direction, so here are the catamaran sail trimming basics:

  • Lock the mainsheet and position the boom so that it’s somewhat leeward (further away from the wind gusts).
  • As you veer away from the wind, slightly ease the traveler and monitor the telltales.
  • Start slowly easing the mainsheet when you’re on a beam or reaching (when the catamaran is at the right angle to the wind).
  • Keep an eye on the telltales and watch for differences between leward and windward side (bluffing or flopping). 

As you go through the classic trial and error process, don’t forget to keep the mainsheet centered — or as close to the center as possible. Otherwise, turning the winches in 18+ knot winds will require superhuman strength to get back on track, complicating your sail.

how to sail small catamaran

Steering clear of the no-go zone (straight into the wind) will keep your catamaran from stalling and your sails from flapping around and potentially increasing wear. But you’ll never arrive at your coordinates if you’re staying on a strict 45° path in one direction. This is where skilled catamaran sailors begin “tacking”, the art of turning your boat with the wind on your bows.

When you tack on a sailboat, you’re forcing the bows into the wind’s direction (no go zone). Tacking redirects the bow to the opposite 45° angle — from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock — and creates a zig-zag formation or subtle 90° turns through the water. Proper tacking requires a skilled crew on larger catamarans but can be a solo pursuit. Here’s how to do this maneuver carefully:

  • Start by sailing as close to the close-hauled territory as possible (within 40-45°).
  • Choose a heading 90° away as your turn “destination.”
  • Alert the crew to the tacking (if applicable).
  • Slowly release the loaded jib sheet and begin pulling the lazy sheet inward.
  • Steer the catamaran into the turn while maintaining speed (don’t speed up or slow down).
  • Allow the sail to backfill to assist with the pivot.
  • Release the jib sheet (watch your fingers, as the line releases quickly).
  • Tighten the jib sheet on the opposite side and feel the wind start powering the boat.

Tacking is a challenging sailing concept to master. But it’s also the only way to sail upwind efficiently.

Turn On the Motor

A traditional, motor-free catamaran cruise can be soothing if there’s no destination in mind. However, the sails become inefficient against 15-knot winds when your preferred snorkeling spot is several miles directly into the wind. The best way to sail upwind is by turning to your catamaran’s twin diesel engines and hitting the throttle. Even cranking the engine to half-speed can ignite your speed by 1-2 knots and improve the course by up to 20°.

The DOWNWIND Catamaran Sailing Guide

Sailing downwind means you’re cruising in the same direction as the wind’s blowing (i.e., Journeying north alongside north-blowing winds). This extra momentum can generate higher speeds on a run, though the consequences of unpredictable downwind exist. Spinnakers becoming tangled around forestays or spinnaker collapse are looming concerns in high winds.

Downwind sailing is the catamaran sailors’ favorite direction, and thats why most people circumnavigating the globe is travelling with the tradewinds going west!

How to circumnavigate the world

Downwind trips are much more straightforward for novice sailors, but there are techniques for building speed and learning more about your boat. To better handle your next downwind sail like an expert, follow these tips

Use a Screecher or Asymmetrical Spinnakers

Spinnakers are a special type of sail ideal for downwind runs. Unlike a mainsail or jib that luffs in the wind, spinnakers inflate like a balloon and give maximum power at around 90-160° angles. These ultra-lightweight, colorful sailcloths come in two varieties: Asymmetrical and symmetrical. Most yachters attach asymmetrical spinnakers or screechers to their catamarans because they:

  • Work well in close-hauls, beams, and broad reaches
  • Boost speed by about 2 knots
  • Resist damage in 25-knot downwind gusts
  • Are quite versatile

The latest spinnaker tends to have more volume when tacked to the windward bow. These new designs allow them to catch more wind and pick up speed at nearly all deep, downwind angles (except directly at your aft). 

Sailing a catamaran downwind isn’t quite as simple as easing the sails and cruising. The video below explains the catamaran difference when traversing the sea with the wind at your aft.

Choose the Right Angle

Sailing a catamaran directly downwind sounds like a decent strategy for picking up some momentum. But because catamarans travel faster with the wind at their sails, a less direct point of sail can maximize your velocity made good (VMG). 

The proper point of sail for downward cruises is in the broad reach position — ideally between 160 and 170°, though up to 90° can be somewhat effective. This 10-20° off-center angle is slight but can boost your maximum speeds by a few knots.

Reef at 15 Knots

Though catamarans don’t heel or spill wind like monohull ships, the high wind pressure cues are more challenging to detect. Sailing behind 15 or even 20-knot gusts can overpower even the sturdiest sails when you jibe. Reducing your sail surface area and allowing more wind to flow through — reefing — will reduce speed(usually) and increase safety.

Always keep an eye on your anemometer while sailing downwind in windier conditions. Once it’s registering 15-20 knots, here’s what you should do:

  • Reduce the mainsail’s pressure by loosening the mainsheet and repositioning the traveler leeward (away from the wind).
  • Take the pressure off the boom vang.
  • Lower the main halyard and hook reefing point #1 on the proper hook.
  • Pull the reefing line manually (or with a winch).
  • Put more tension back on the halyard and boom vang.

Time is of the essence while reefing downwind, and one reef might not be enough if you’re sailing into a squall. Be prepared for a second or third reef when winds measure 25 and 30 knots, respectively. If winds exceed 30 knots, remove the jib entirely and use the mainsail as you return to the marina.

These numbers above are general numbers and since cats don’t heel much it is very important to abide by the wind speed reefing table on your boat.

Why do catamarans capsize?

Jibe (Gybe)

Jibing (gybing) is the downwind version of tacking, meaning you’ll be heading off on another zig-zag 90° journey as you sail out of the bay. But unlike tacking, where you forced the ship’s bow toward the wind, now you’ll be guiding the boat’s stern away from the wind. Here’s how to jibe a catamaran safely and quickly:

  • Make sure the traveler is in a center position (or close to center).
  • Trim the sail to prevent the boom from swinging in mid-jibe.
  • Angle the catamaran so you’re traveling a few degrees off from directly downwind.
  • Choose a location in the distance that’s 90° from your current location.
  • When the mainsheet feels lighter, bring the boom toward the ship’s center.
  • Wait for the leech to rise (the sail’s rear edge).
  • Release the mainsheet again.

While jibing can help you stay on course and pick up some speed, it comes with some risks. An uncontrolled boom can rapidly swing and crash into a crew member, cause unpredictable heeling, or damage the rig. Make sure all crew members are ready to jibe before beginning the process.

Reduce Speeds

The physics behind sailing is quite complicated and misconceptions about venturing downwind are common. Thanks to choppy waves (water resistance) and sails (lack of wind resistance), it’s impossible to sail downwind at faster speeds than the wind directly at your aft.

Sailing a catamaran upwind or downwind is more complicated than a calm, Caribbean sailing expedition. Prepare for your next windy escapade by:

  • Checking the wind speed and direction via your local weather service
  • Practicing reefing, tacking, and cruising skills in calmer conditions
  • Experimenting with sail trims, headsail positions, and motor use
  • Learning more about spinnakers, screechers, and gennakers

Every gust, knot, and reef will help you hone your catamaran sailing talents and better prepare for less predictable weather. Try to build your confidence and perfect your skills before exposing yourself to harsher conditions.

Owner of A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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How To Sail a Small Sailboat

How To Sail a Small Sailboat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

Sailing is a skill that takes time and practice to learn and perfect. Learning how to sail a small sailboat requires onshore and offshore activities.

Sailing heavily depends on the wind, and setting the sails right is a crucial sailing element. If you do not adjust the sails according to the wind, your boat will not move and, in worst cases, may even capsize.

Sailing is a skill that gets better with practice. There are several factors that you need to understand when sailing. These include the wind direction, how to turn and steer the boat, adjusting the sails, and finally, how to slow down and come to a stop.

Many novice sailors find handling the sailboat a daunting task. You have to take care of so many controls, including the tiller, the sails, and the centerboard.

Experienced sailors believe that new sailors should avoid taking their sailboats into open waters until they have gotten the hang of the water and the sailboat. Sailboats have tall sails, which make them prone to capsizing. Inexperienced sailors should either take courses on sailing or learn by going out with a friend before they head on their solo adventures.

Table of contents

‍ How To Sail a Small Sailboat

Before heading out on your next boating adventure, you need to consider several factors. As the wind powers your boat, the first thing you need to understand is how wind strength and direction affect your boat. You will also need to learn how to handle the tiller. If you have been driving any road vehicle, you may not be surprised to see a vast difference between how a car and a boat handle.

Understanding Wind Direction

Wind plays a crucial role in how fast and the direction in which your sailboat will move. It is impossible to sail into a headwind. But you can sail around 45 degrees to headwind.

  • When sailing 45 degrees to the oncoming wind, this is known in sailor jargon as the boat is close-hauled.
  • When you are sailing with the wind coming from either side or almost 90 degrees to the boat, it is known for the boat to be on a beam reach.
  • When you are sailing at a wide-angle in the direction of the wind. For instance, say that you need to head north, and the wind is coming from North East, the boat is called to be on a broad reach.
  • If you are lucky and have the wind in the direction you are heading, your boat is known to be running.

Positioning Your Boat

It is crucial to be aware of the position of your sailboat in relation to the wind direction. This allows you to adjust the sails and balance the weight in your boat. For beginners, you can tie small wind vanes, which can be simple yarn strands on the boat to let you know where the wind is coming from.

What Affects Wind Direction

As you sail through the wind, your boat will also alter the wind direction. Since the boat has a giant sail, it creates its own wind as the boat moves forward. This wind is known as apparent wind. For instance, your boat is moving on a beam reach, where the true wind is coming from the side of the boat.

As you move through the wind, your boat makes its own apparent wind. The true and apparent winds combine, causing the wind direction to change. This can lead your boat to be on a close haul rather than on a beam reach. What matters, in the end, is how much resulting wind there is in your sails and the direction it is coming from.

Getting Ready To Sail

The best method to start sailing is to take the boat on from a point such as an anchor line or a mooring buoy. The wind will push the boat backward and out into the open waters as you get into the boat and set the sails up.

Moving stern first is acceptable when being pushed out of the marina, but this is not the direction in which we will want to continue sailing. You will have to turn the boat around so that wind is pushing the boat bow first.

Turning To Set Direction

As you come out of the marina, you will need to adjust your sails to change direction. Remember, boats require time to respond and need patience above all else.

The first step is to push the boom out of both sides of the boat. This will cause the wind to blow against the sail's back and not past its sides, causing the boat to rotate. As you pull in the sail and set its direction, the boat will begin to correct its course. Once you are in the right direction, you can tighten the mainsail and be well on your way.

Starting From A Beach Or A Dock

Starting from a beach or an enclosed dock can be quite challenging. If the wind pushes the boat sideways into the dock, it is next to impossible to sail out of the dock. In such a scenario, it would be best if you could walk your boat like a pet to the dock's end and attempt to turn it around to face the wind. You can then follow the procedure described above to allow the boat to come out of the marina.

Your boat will not move if the sails are not taut. As soon as you tighten the sails, the wind will move the boat, and you can then set the direction to your preference.

Steering The Boat

Now that you have set the direction and are moving in the correct direction, you will need to maintain direction and be able to steer the boat through the water. Before you begin to steer the sailboat, you must ensure that you are sitting in the direction opposite the sail. This is usually the direction from which the wind is blowing.

When the wind blows against the sails, it can cause your boat to tilt in their direction. Your body weight will counter the tilting effect and keep the boat level.

Using The Tiller

The sailboat is equipped with a rudder. As your boat picks up speed, you can use the rudder to steer the boat. A little tiller usually controls the rudder. The tiller takes some time to get used to. The reason for this is that it works in opposite directions. For instance, if you want to make the boat turn right (towards the starboard side), you will have to push the tiller to the left (towards the port side) and vice versa.

The rudder is hinged in line with the tiller. When you move the tiller in one direction, it moves the rudder. For instance, the rudder will extend towards the starboard side if you push the tiller to the port side. The water flowing will push against the rudder, and the resistance from the rudder will rotate the boat towards the starboard side .

The tiller can be tricky to use. Ensure that you make minor adjustments to the tiller until you get used to how it moves your boat.

Handling The Sails

There is one rule that you must remember when positioning your sails. If you are sailing towards the wind, you will have to pull in the sails more. Similarly, if you are on a broad reach and sailing in the direction of the wind, you will have to extend the sails more.

When the sails are extended and you are on a broad reach, you will notice that the boat tilts to the side the sails are on. You must seat yourself so that you counter the tilting effect.

Sail Trimming

No, you don't need a pair of scissors for this. A sail comprises multiple sheets, and adjusting these sheets is known as trimming the sail. Your goal with trimming the sail is to give the sail the best possible shape to make maximum use of the wind.

Mainsail Trimming

When trimming the mainsail, you will have to make sure that it is tight enough so that the sail's leading edge is not flapping or shaking. At the same time, you have to ensure that it is not too tight, causing the wind to blow against only one side of the sail. This can cause the boat to tilt to one side.

Leaving the edge loose means you will lose efficiency. The wind energy will be used to flap the sail instead of pushing your boat forward. This unwarranted movement of the sail is known as luffing, which can significantly reduce the boat's efficiency.

Adjusting The Mainsheet

One method to trim the mainsail is to let the mainsheet out until the mainsail starts to luff. Then slowly pull in the sheet, and stop as soon as the sail stops luffing.

If the sail is too tight, you will be able to judge by its appearance. The sail will have no slack and will look perfect. The only way to correct the tightness is to loosen it until it starts to luff, then tighten it gradually, and stop as soon as the luff is gone.

Trimming The Jib

Adjusting the jib also follows the same procedure as the sail. The goal is to loosen the sail until it starts to luff and then tighten it back up until there is no luffing. Like the mainsail, the appearance of the job will have a lot to say about its tightness.

Some sailboats have streamers on the leading edge of the jib, which depict airflow direction over it. When the sail is in the correct trim setting, the streamers will blow straight and on both sides around the sail.

Another factor to consider when adjusting the jib is the space between the mainsail and the jib. The gap, known as the slot, has to be the same from front and back. This ensures that wind flows smoothly between the sails, making the setup efficient. If either is too tight or loose, the slot will obstruct the wind flow, causing turbulence and slowing the boat down.

Turning The Boat

The most crucial part of sailing is always being aware of the wind direction. This becomes even more important when you are planning to turn the boat. If you are careless while making the turn and accidentally turn the wrong way, you may capsize the boat .

There are three common types of turns that you can make with sailboats.

Sailing Close Hauled

If the wind is coming at you head-on from either side, and you are close hauled, check for the direction of the wind. If it is blowing from the starboard side, turn the boat towards the right so that you point your bow into the wind. Continue turning until the wind is now coming to your port side. This technique is called tacking, which involves turning into the wind.

Sailing Broad Reach

If the wind is coming from either side or slightly behind you, you can turn so that the stern of your boat becomes head-on with the wind. For instance, if the wind is coming from the starboard side, you will turn left to make sure the wind hits the stern. This technique is known as jibing, and it allows you to make the turn downwind.

No Wind Crossing

This technique can be used if you want to make small turns. Say you are sailing close-hauled with wind flowing from your port side. You turn left, and now the wind is approaching from the side, and you begin to sail broad reach. The wind remains on your starboard side, but the direction has changed.

How To Position The Sails

For the initial two types of turns, where you will be crossing the wind with your stern or bow, the sails will have to be crossed over to the opposing side. You will also need to change your seating location to make sure you sit opposite the sails.

Since crossing the wind requires a lot of work, most sailors prefer to turn without crossing the wind. All you need to do is make small trimmings to the sail to keep you going in the right direction for this type of turn. With experience, you will be able to adjust the sails during your turn.

Remember, the closer the wind direction is to your bow, the more you will need to pull in the sails. The closer the wind direction is to your stern, the more you want your sails to be open. While turning, it would be best to keep one hand on the mainsail if you need to adjust its direction to prevent your boat from being blown in random directions.

The Centerboard

You will notice a thin and long blade of metal or fiberglass hanging from the boat's center and into the water. This component is called the centerboard, and it helps resist the sideways movement of the boat. You can raise or lower the centerboard at your discretion.

When you are sailing, the wind comes from either the left or right of the boat. If the wind is strong enough, it can push the boat to one side. Lowering the centerboard will cause it to act as a keel and prevent the boat from veering off in the wind direction.

When you are sailing along with the wind, you will have the wind coming from the rear of the boat, and it will have little influence from either side. In such a scenario, you will not need the centerboard. Raising the centerboard will reduce the drag, allowing you to sail faster.

As a beginner, it is recommended to keep the centerboard down. Who knows when it may save you? You don't have to be too concerned about it, as you have more important things such as the sail to worry about.

Slowing Down and Stopping

When it comes to sailing, speed is thrilling. Going fast is fun, but in a sailboat, speed is an achievement. The only thing more important than going fast is knowing how to slow down, such as when coming to a stop or avoiding an obstacle along the way.

Theoretically, to slow down, you have to do the opposite of what you would do if you wanted to speed up. This means that you will want to ensure that any wind that falls on your sails gets wasted or "spilled."

The best way to do this is to let out and loosen the sails until they begin to luff. If you need to slow down faster, you can loosen them further until they start to flap. If you plan to come to a stop, you can let the sails flap continuously.

However, if you are heading downwind or running, the mainsail should not be pushed out. Instead, you can pull it in as much as possible so the sail will not collect any wind. With no wind in the sails, your boat will slow down.

The simplest way to stop the boat is to turn it towards the wind. This will ensure maximum resistance and bring the boat to a halt.

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Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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13 Best Small Catamarans For Cruising 2024

The best small catamarans for cruising are affordable and comfortable, making great sailboats for a number of different purposes. If you’re looking for the best small catamarans to start your cruising life then look no further!

When searching for a catamaran for our adventures we scoured the internet for any and all information we could find on just about every size, shape, and model!

Although in the end, we opted for a bigger catamaran, in the hopes of having more family and friends on board, we did heavily research the best small catamarans as an option.

One of the best small catamarans for cruising out at anchor.

Each small catamaran has different pros and cons. As with every sailboat, there will be compromises, but hopefully, this post will help you firm up what you’re really looking for in a multihull and find the right smaller catamaran for you!

Here are what we consider the best small cruising catamarans out there, costing anywhere from $40,000 to $300,000. You can also read up on the average costs of sailboats here.

Why choose a small catamaran for cruising?

The downsides to small multihulls for cruisers

The best small catamarans for ocean sailing

The best small catamarans for coastal cruising

Why Choose A Small Catamaran For Cruising?

a small multihull on an ocean passage, cutting through the water.

The main advantage to choosing a small catamaran for cruising has to be the cost. Not only are smaller sailboats cheaper to buy initially, but they are also cheaper to maintain and to dock in marinas or dry storage.

Why buy a small catamaran over a monohull? This isn’t the post to go into the pros and cons of multihulls vs monohulls, but a few of the main reasons you might prefer to buy a small cat over a bigger, cheaper monohull is the living space and the comfort underway and at anchor.

Living on a sailboat is very different from taking the boat out for a sporty sail every now and again. Having a catamaran over a monohull means you won’t be heeling or rolling at anchor half as much, you can leave out your coffee cup, and you have the space you need to spread out a little.

A small catamaran will enable the more comfortable lifestyle you’re seeking at a more reasonable price tag. So what’s not to love about small cruising multihulls?

The Downsides To Small Multihulls For Cruisers

a sailboat with its sails up, goosewinged.

Of course, just with everything in sailing, there are always compromises to be made when it comes to small multihulls.

One of the biggest downsides for cruisers is the weight issue smaller catamarans present. You won’t be able to carry half as much as you would on a larger catamaran or monohull, which might be a problem if you live onboard full time.

The other negative is that smaller boats usually aren’t quite as seaworthy as larger ones. You might find you’re limited to coastal cruising if you choose a small catamaran, so make sure you have your cruising intentions in mind before you buy.

the sails of a sailboat against the blue sky.

Another big thing to look out for when it comes to choosing the right small cat for you, is the bridge deck clearance. This is often worse on smaller catamarans, and can cause nasty slamming in any sort of sea, both when sailing and at anchor.

With these downsides in mind, we’ve split this post into the best small catamarans for ocean sailing and the best for coastal cruising. Obviously this is a little subjective, as many people have sailed around the world in much smaller and less seaworthy vessels!

The Best Small Catamarans For Ocean Cruising

#1 wharram tiki.

  • Suitable for: Bluewater sailing
  • Fixed Keels
  • Draft (max): 2.08′
  • Engines: Single outboard, though some versions have twin inboards
  • Price: Roughly $100,000

small catamarans sailing with the sunset behind

We have lusted after the Wharram catamarans since our adventures began and would have opted for one of these if we had found one for sale this side of the pond.

Designed by the legendary James Wharram, these small multihulls are pretty unique. They are based on the Polynesian catamaran design, and the plans enable you to self-build these boats if you have the time, money, and space for a project of this magnitude.

If you aren’t keen on taking on a project then you can commission a boat builder to complete the design for you, or buy one second-hand. The advantages of having one made yourself are that you can tweak things to your personal taste, and you can even contact the Wharrams themselves to see if they can adjust the designs for individual requests.

The Wharram catamarans have a lot of charm dues to their traditional design, and the old-fashioned appeal continues inside the boat too. You won’t find the same huge hull space as some of the modern design catamarans now have, but the outside entertainment space is perfect for entertaining.

One of the best small multihulls for ocean cruising

These small catamarans don’t have an inside space across the hulls, so all of your inside living space is below. If you’re used to monohulls then this won’t be a problem but if you like the idea of a galley-up then these boats aren’t for you.

Wharram catamarans, especially the Tiki 38, have great reputations as around the world, bluewater boats. They have fantastic bridge deck clearance so slamming is minimum and they sail well.

Most models have a double cabin and two singles, a galley, a head, and a small salon area below. They are smaller catamarans than many newer 38ft multihulls but this does make them more affordable.

small catamarans in the Caribbean with a beautiful white sand beach behind

A big appeal for us was the fact these boats are designed to be self-made. Although a secondhand model could potentially come with a lot of problems (get a decent survey before you buy!) it does mean that almost everything onboard can be self-fixed. This is a huge bonus if you plan on sailing your small catamaran around the world.

Another thing we loved about these smaller catamarans is the fact they have outboard engines, which we felt would be easier to maintain and replace if necessary. This is a personal choice though so consider this before you get your heart set on one!

One of the downsides to the Tiki 38 is that there aren’t many of them around. These are unique boats and they don’t come on the market frequently. When they do, they tend to be scattered all over the world so you’ll have to be prepared to travel to find one!

#2 Prout Snowgoose 37 : Small Catamaran For Ocean Cruising

a sail on a cruising catamaran and the ocean in the background.

Prout catamarans are a popular choice for cruisers, and you’ll find many owners who have circumnavigated in them. The Snowgoose is no exception. Prout no longer exists as a company, as it was bought by Broadblue in the 90s.

Broadblue still makes catamarans today, and they have very similar features to the original Prouts, though obviously they are far fancier and have all the benefits of a more modern design!

The Snowgoose is a great small multihull to go for as you get quite a lot of space inside and out. We weren’t sure about the berth in the salon area, but it might make a great space for a baby or small child while underway!

The compromise in the Prout Snowgoose is the bridge deck clearance and this was something that put us off these smaller cruising catamarans. A low bridge deck clearance makes the boat slam in waves, both at anchor and underway.

#8 PDQ 36 : A Small Catamaran Without Too Much Slamming

  • Suitable for: Bluewater
  • Draft (max): 2.82′
  • Engines: Twin inboard or outboard
  • Price: Over $100,000

how to sail small catamaran

These small catamarans have an excellent reputation among cruisers because of their solid build and use of decent materials. They come with either outboard engines for coastal cruising or inboard engines designed to withstand offshore use.

If you like the sound of the PDQ 32 but need a little more room then you’ve got that here! It’s also a boat that people have crossed oceans in, though you might want to consider something more tried and tested like the Prout Snowgoose or the Wharram if you’re planning longer ocean sails.

The boat has three cabins, a galley, salon and head, but there’s a more spacious feel compared to the smaller model. Again, the bridge deck clearance is good so you shouldn’t experience too much slamming.

#9 Lagoon 380 : One Of The Most Popular Small Multihulls

how to sail small catamaran

  • Fixed keels
  • Engines:  twin diesel engines
  • Price:  from $100,000, used

The Lagoon 380 is one of the most popular catamarans out there, and you’ve probably already spotted a lot of them in your search! This is a great option if modern cats appeal to you, as it’s pretty ‘with the times’ as far as smaller catamarans go!

There are lots of different layouts of this boat available all over the world. Some were built for charter with numerous berths and others were commissioned for couples or families with differing cabin and head options.

This is a proven catamaran from a reputable company, but obviously with so many of these boats out there, they come in a range of conditions. Make sure you get a thorough survey done before purchase!

Lagoon 37 TPI

  • Draft (max): 4′
  • Engines: Twin inboard diesels 
  • Price: Over $100,000 USD 

This is the smallest catamaran built by Lagoon, and unfortunately there aren’t many of them out there. These boats were built mainly for the charter market, and have a smaller rig than some similar sized catamarans.

There are two big queen-size forward doubles port and starboard and a smaller double in the starboard hull aft. The galley and salon are designed to be simple and timeless, with none of the fancy trims you’ll find in the newer Lagoons.

As this boat was intended for charter it probably wouldn’t make a great ocean-going vessel. For starters, it isn’t designed to carry too much in the way of provisions. That’s not to say it won’t be a suitable bluewater boat with a few tweaks. Sailors who have circumnavigated in them have increased sail area and added folding props to get more speed from the vessel.

#11 Catalac 9M/30

how to sail small catamaran

  • Draft (max): 2.5′
  • Engines:  two outboard engines or one diesel engine
  • Price:  from $50,000

The Catalac 9M is a little different to a lot of the catamarans on this list, as it was built for sailing in the North Sea! This is a great small catamaran for anyone wanting a boat built to be safe!

The bridge deck clearance is reasonable but the boat is light, which can make it more prone to slamming. The unique feature of this small sailboat is the hard dodger, designed as somewhere safe and dry to stand in bad weather.

It sails well, though like a lot of catamarans there is technique involved in getting it to tack smoothly. Once you’ve got the hang of though, this boat will make good speeds for its size.

The Best Small Catamarans For Coastal Cruising

  • Suitable for: Coastal
  • Draft (max): 3.62′
  • Engines: Twin inboard
  • Price: Up to $300,000 for a newer model

The Mahe 36 is the smallest of the Fountaine Pajot range, and these small catamarans can go for a heafty budget if you find a newer model!

This tiny multihull packs a lot into a small space, and because of its modern features, you’ll feel like you’re in a much bigger boat when you step aboard.

This boat is a fast mover, with an ok bridge clearance and some attractive upgrades compared to their last small catamaran design. Most notably the full-length hard top bimini which has the reviewers raving!

If you have the money to splash out on a newer, more expensive small catamaran then this should definitely be on your list to consider! Although they come with a large price tag, these small catamarans are considerably cheaper new than some of the bigger models.

#4 Gemini 105Mc (34ft)

how to sail small catamaran

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Centreboards Draft (max): 5′ Engines:  Single inboard Price:  from $80,000

The Gemini 105Mc is still in production in the US, which speaks to its popularity. Obviously if you buy new you’ll pay a much higher price! This is one of the smallest catamarans on the list, but it’s still a great option for coastal cruising (or some have even successfully completed ocean passages on them in relative comfort).

For a small multihull this boat sails pretty well and is fast for a coastal cruiser. The living space is decent with good headroom. It has two double cabins and a master bedroom, and the interior finishes are nice too.

A big negative to this boat is the bridge deck clearance which really isn’t amazing, but as we said at the start, there’s always a compromise! This is a sporty-looking little catamaran that’s a good contender for the top smallest catamarans out there!

#5 EndeavourCat 36

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Fixed keels Draft (max): 3′ Engines:  two inboard Price:  from $100

how to sail small catamaran

Designed and built by Endeavour Catamaran, these American built boats are great cruising catamarans. A big advantage to this little multihull is that it will fit into most monohull slips, so if you anticipate using marinas a lot then this might be the small catamaran for you!

This isn’t a slow boat, and owners report speeds of 8-9 knots. Bear in mind though that the narrow beam does make it less suitable for any offshore passages. It has good interior space with 6′ standing headroom throughout, three double cabins, and a decent-sized galley below. The salon area can seat 6 people comfortably.

This cat is great for single-handed sailors, as all the lines lead to the cockpit and the main and jib are completely self-tacking.

#6 Prout Event 34

how to sail small catamaran

Suitable for: Coastal/bluewater Fixed keels Draft (max): 2.72′ Engines:  Single inboard Price:  from $30,000

These multihulls are quite hard to find, but if you like the Snowgoose but are on a tighter budget then they might be just what you’re looking for. They share lots of features with the Snowgoose and look very similar, only smaller!

There are three cabins, one head, a salon, and a galley, only they are rather squeezed in compared to the larger model. Personally, we thought there was plenty of space for a smaller sailboat but it’s worth seeing them in person if you’re keen on this model.

They do have the same downsides as the Snowgoose though, with limited headroom and low bridge deck clearance. These boats are known for their slamming!

Coastal Engines:  twin outboards Price:  from $80,000, used

how to sail small catamaran

The PDQ 32 is a great budget option catamaran and should be cheap(ish) to buy second hand and maintain. With two outboards that are easy to replace on a smaller budget, you’re looking at some of the usual pinch points on a boat becoming a lot more affordable!

This small catamaran only has two cabins, so sleeps less than a lot of the boats on this list, but it is roomier than you’d imagine inside with a decent galley and salon area. It has decent bridge deck clearance so shouldn’t slam too much in any waves.

This isn’t a boat for longer passages as it is a little small (and perhaps underpowered) to face serious weather. If you’re searching for something to potter around in then this is a fun boat to sail and live in!

#12 Dean 365

how to sail small catamaran

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  • Suitable for: Coastal cruising
  • Draft (max): 3′
  • Engines:  one or two inboard
  • Price:  from $45,000, used

These South African catamarans are great little coastal cruising catamarans that are hard to come by anywhere other than South Africa!

They’re pretty tiny, but have enough space for a galley, 3 or 4 cabins, and 1 or 2 heads. Some of the designs even have a bathtub, which speaks of their liveaboard suitability rather than their sail performance!

These boats are some of the smallest multihulls on this list, so don’t expect much in terms of headroom or bridge deck clearance. That being said, if you’re looking for a tiny catamaran to live on and you are prepared to compromise on sailing ability then these are a solid choice.

We have heard that the build quality can vary somewhat with these multihulls, so make sure you do some solid research and get a good surveyor when buying one of these. If you get a good version then they can make really solid boats.

#13 EndeavourCat 30

the lines of small catamarans tied off to a cleat

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Fixed keels Draft (max): 2.1′ Engines:  single or twin outboard Price:  from $70,000

This is a boat built for comfort over all else, so if you’re looking for a budget catamaran to live in then take a look at the endeavourcat 30. Some people don’t like the boxy design, but we quite liked how it looked in the water. I guess it’s personal taste!

This sailboat has two double cabins, a decent sized galley and salon for the size of the boat, and a head. The bridge deck clearance is low so that’s something to bear in mind before you buy, but the headroom is good (another reason why this would make a good liveaboard catamaran).

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration when searching for small catamarans for cruising, and helped you to find your dream boat!

We’re passionate about helping people live this incredible cruising lifestyle, so if you’re planning your dream liveaboard life make sure you check out our guide on how to run away to sea, with everything you could possibly need to know before, during, and after starting this adventure of a lifetime!

how to sail small catamaran

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Such small mention of probably the best catamaran for overall cruising, focusing on ease of helming, speed and livability. Simple rig, great ergonomic features, style and definitely a pedigree on the water. The FP Mahe duo! Sea proven. Most delivered on their own bottoms from France. Wide beams and light. Beautiful interior arrangements and easy to maintain. I’m confused about so little mention of probably the best entry level and beyond real cruiser out there.

You forgot the edelcat 35. Great boats, and have circumnavigated!

I wonder why Broadblue 346 is not on the list.

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  • How to sail a catamaran?

How to sail a catamaran? Our catamaran sailing tips

Catamaran sailing tips.

how to sail small catamaran

Searching for catamaran sailing tips ?

Curious to understand and know more about how to sail a catamaran ?

You have found the perfect article about it.

In the next ten minutes you will learn everything you need to know about:

  • sailing catamarans ,
  • when and why to choose a catamaran charter for sailing and
  • what kind of experience can you expect when sailing with a catamaran.

Let's start from the beginning (If you missed our article about sailing fundamentals, we suggest you read first the post How to sail for beginners ).

What is a catamaran? (History of catamarans)

In the second half of the 20th century catamarans were developed for sports and recreational purposes. Catamarans design is based on a raft with two logs and bridged by planks that was used in the Indonesian archipelago early that time.

First catamarans were up to 70 feet long, originally paddled by many men, used for visiting places, military needs in wars and exploration. Longer voyages are possible after the sails have been added.

Modern catamarans , as we know them today, are faster , more spacious , offer more comfort , and are better ventilated than the first ones. The whole living area is above the water . To summarize, modern catamarans look a lot like a floating villa that offers advanced sailing performances .

Catamaran sailing nin waters

Sailing catamarans basics

A catamaran is basically a sailboat with two hulls , two engines and (mostly) two sails (mainsail and genoa). These two hulls are connected by a bridge deck with a large saloon and cockpit on it.

Bedrooms are located in the hulls , each bedroom has its own private restroom.

Cockpit and saloon are usually connected with sliding doors, when opened we get large space used for the saloon & galley , and for navigating.

Larger catamarans have one extra level , known as the flybridge . Flybridge is usually equipped with all needed navigation instruments, steering wheel and extra sun platform.

Most of the people are usually familiar with small catamarans "Hobie cat": a catamaran made for fun sailing and hobbies on calmer waters; on the beaches and lakes. But there are many other models, much bigger and more luxurious.

A cruising catamaran is a boat based on the same principle but with larger hulls equipped with cabins and restrooms. On the bridge, between large hulls is a closed structure, used for a galley, salon and living area.

Catamarans are much more spacious and more stable than a sailing boat. Because of their two hulls they do not heel so much while sailing , movement around the boat is much easier , that is why people often consider catamarans easier to sail than monohulls. This is the main reason why are catamaran charters becoming a better option than sailboat rentals for many.

Two engines, one in each hull, make maneuvering with a catamaran “ a piece of cake ”.

For people looking for sailing or living on the water with maximum comfort , or for maximum relaxation while chartering, a catamaran is probably the best choice .

For a full and detailed comparison of multihull and sailing boat read our article monohull vs catamaran .

Advantages of sailing with catamarans

Catamarans are very safe , comfortable and ideal for longer trips .

The catamaran offers large living space and a lot of privacy for everybody onboard, which makes the time spent on the catamaran very relaxing.

As already mentioned, thanks to their two engines and two rudders catamarans are easy to maneuver in the harbors and bays .

They are very stable in a bay . With a little bit of wave action, you can see the masts of the keel sailboats going back and forth. A catamaran remains stable.

They also do not tilt while sailing , making it very comfortable to stay , cook , read , sleep , etc.

Enjoying comfortable sailing without heeling , with a lot of privacy is only attainable while sailing with catamarans. Living and sleeping spaces are well separated , from the cockpit and saloon you have an excellent panoramic view . For mentioned reasons catamarans are also the best choice when you want to yacht charter with skipper  while still having maximum privacy. On the other hand, if you are interested in crewed yacht charter , we are sorry to inform you, that we offer this option only for specific motor yachts at the moment. In bad weather , you can still sit inside the salon, above the water, with lots of light and a 360-degree view all around. On top of that, you can also steer from the inside in bad weather .

Due to the width of the catamaran, you can have a large dinghy with a powerful engine , which can be hoisted in a very simple way.

Saloon layout on a catamaran, which is placed above the water, is hard to beat when staying on the anchor in a calm bay.

Due to its limited / short draft, you can anchor a catamarans in almost any bay since their low drafts make it possible to get closer to shore than with a monohull .

 If you have not read yet check out also our article about most common sailing knots (with pictures) .

More advantages and benefits of sailing with a catamaran:

Since no heeling sailing a catamaran comes with less seasickness

  • The higher helm station on a flybridge ,
  • More storage space ,
  • Bridge deck clearance ...

Sailing and maneuvering a catamaran

In essence, to sail with a catamaran we need the same sailing skills as any sailing boat. But you will find that maneuvering a catamaran is much easier. Catamaran can sail close to the wind as an average keel sailing yacht.

The disadvantage (only while sailing upwind) is that the drift is much bigger due to the lack of a deep keel .

With half and strong winds , a catamaran is faster (and certainly more comfortable).

The helmsman on the catamaran can do all sailing maneuvers single-handedly since all necessary lines are redirected to the helm, in case he needs more help he can rely on the autopilot for support.

Monohulls are a bit harder to sail since they heel much more than catamarans , and they offer less space and comfort in the cockpit . This is why sailing on a heeling boat is more challenging.

Catamarans however, do not heel . Because of their extra stability and room, you can easily move around the boat . That is why catamaran boats are considered “easier” to sail. The main difference with a monohull is that a catamaran has TWO hulls, with two engines and two rudders. The engines and rudders on a catamaran are far apart from each other, which makes maneuvering very easy (especially in narrow spaces like inside the marina ) - much easier than maneuvering a single-engine monohull.

Additional tips for maneuvering a catamaran:

  • If you want to go forward in a straight line , you need to put both engines forward and center the steering wheel.
  • To go back in a straight line - you need to switch both engines to the reverse and leave the steering wheel in the center.
  • When you need to steer to the starboard - the port engine has to be in the forward position, starboard engine in the back position and wheel centered or to starboard.
  • When you want to steer to the port - the starboard engine has to be in the forward position, the port engine has to be in the back position and steering wheel centered or to port.

Catamaran sailing

Catamaran safety

Because a catamaran has two independent hulls, the chance of sinking completely is very small . If there is damage or a leak to one hull, the other hull will float.

A catamaran can not lose a keel either and will not capsize easily . But if it capsizes, it will not get right. A capsized catamaran will also float.

Additional benefit of catamarans is that many important navigation systems relevant for onboard safety are duplicated .

With a broken engine, a rope or a net in the propeller, you can still sail and steer with the second engine . If one rudder is defective, you can steer with the other rudder and you can still steer with the engines.

Because a catamaran does not tilt while sailing , there is also much less risk of falling . The gangways are very wide, without obstacles, making it very safe to walk around the boat .

Disadvantages of catamaran

If you compare a catamaran with a cabin sailing yacht with the same available space, a catamaran is more expensive to purchase .

Moorings will be more expensive in the marinas because they take the place of two boats. This is why it is always good to book catamaran on early booking or last minute charter discounts.

In certain areas , it can also be more difficult to find a berth , because double space must be available. You can compensate for those costs by anchoring a bit more.

A keel sailing yacht is slim, sporty, sleek, sexy and that cannot be always said for a catamaran, but modern catamarans look great too.

Detailed cost to charter a catamaran yacht .

Additional tips for sailing catamarans

Catamarans have large hull areas and very low draft, that is the reason why while exposed to wind a sailing catamaran can drift off easily .

Same thing while anchoring, if you have wind blowing from the side, anchoring maneuver should be performed as swiftly as possible .

While maneuvering in narrow spaces , the best is to use the power of the engines only , rather than the steering wheel. When maneuvering it’s best to work only with the throttle control , while doing that you need to turn (and keep) the steering wheel to the center (twelve o’clock).

When making the boat a turn you need to approach fast , letting the jib luff (head to wind) so the wind can push the bow around .

Maneuvering while sailing on a monohull (with deep keel) is more challenging. In strong winds the boat will heel, which will make most tasks more difficult to manage.

Catamaran anchoring secrets:

  • Before you start anchoring , make sure that your boat has completely stopped . Catamarans need much more time to slow down than a monohull because a catamaran has shorter keel and less resistance to the water than a monohull.
  • Always keep the boat straight into the wind by using the engines, never let the boat go sideways.
  • When you feel you have set the anchor , back the boat straight with both engines .
  • Keep the boat into the wind as you're setting the snubber with the bridle that all catamarans are equipped with.
  • If you are using a mooring ball , you need to set a bridle . Never clear the ball line only on one hull.

Tips to maximize your performance while sailing a catamaran

When you charter a catamaran, don't always expect high multihull`s speed . Catamarans are underpowered compared to high-performance sailing boats . But you will still get a satisfying performance out of even the most basic catamaran when applying some simple sail-trim techniques. Some of these are unique to catamarans while others are similar to the ones used with monohulls. Catamarans can`t sail upwind as well as monohulls, if the sea is choppy while you are sailing on a smaller catamaran, like a 38ft. the yawing will be difficult. This is why most of the catamarans simply motoring upwind . For upwind sailing you need to bear off a couple of degrees to alleviate the movement.

Catamarans are all about going off the wind . The e fficient point of sail is between 120% and 150% . In this way you should sail at about 50% of the true wind speed. Needless to say, on these occasions, you will be faster than many monohulls !

Jibing is the same as for monohull... but tacking is different and can be frustrating.

How to efficiently tack on a catamaran:

  • Get enough boat speed before tacking , without it, you will simply not be able not tack.
  • Bring the main sail in close - tack the boat smoothly through the wind but decisively , without losing too much speed .
  • In order to help the bows to turn better through the wind , you can let the jib get backwinded before releasing it to the other tack.
  • When you get the bows on the other side of the wind , bear off a little more than necessary , until you get your full original speed back.
  • Get back on course, once you get your original speed back.

Sailing a catamaran in heavy weather

Catamarans are exceptionally safe offshore ; the modern catamaran has plenty of buoyancy and exceptional roll inertia . That is why catamarans are almost impossible to capsize. Cruising catamarans can be split into two categories:

  • Charter / cruising catamarans: Built for the charter market, featured with shallow-draft and integrated fixed keels, small rudders, high flybridges, masts located forward onboard, short "cut" bows and heavier displacements. Even in ideal flat-water conditions, these boats will struggle with windward sailing, they usually sail close-hauled at 55-60 degree true wind angles (TWA).
  • High-performance cruising catamarans: have efficient daggerboards or centerboards, deeper rudders and less displacement. Without problems sail windward at a 45-50 degree TWA in all conditions. To remain safe in all sailing conditions special attention has to be given to sail selection. For safe sailing you should focus on higher speeds, lower loads and balance.

Catamaran sailing

Final words

To summarize, whether you decide to sail a monohull or a catamaran, on both occasions you will enjoy sailing . Whether it’s on an ocean passage or a charter in the Mediterranean, it is important to have a good crew for the occasion, that is fun and enjoyable company on board .

You will easily get used to a difference in sailing style . Just get used to the fact that y our drink isn’t going to spill , and your things won't be flying around , while you are sailing on a catamaran. Some of you love the motion of a sailboat. Catamarans offer totally different kinds of motions . They can be faster with more stability and less seasickness on board. This is why guests with the whole family, kids or older persons on board , who may not be quite steady on their feet, prefer to rent a catamaran. To get most out of your sailing vacation with the youngest read also our tips on sailing with kids or baby .

Same goes for things in your possession on board. Since catamarans are more stable, less things will be falling on the floor or flying around. Catamarans remain relatively steady even in the rolliest anchorage . Stability at the anchorage will also secure a better night’s sleep , meaning the whole crew will be rested and less cranky the morning after.

Main reasons our catamaran charter guests love and choose catamarans for their sailing vacation:

  • Some clients choose a catamaran because they want to have a luxurious and spacious boat.
  • Other clients want a boat which is not too big but can accommodate many people.
  • Sometimes two families want to spend a vacation together but still want to have their privacy in bedrooms and restrooms.
  • Some just want to spend a vacation at sea but on a boat that is more stable on the water without too much tilting.
  • While others clients will choose a catamaran charter because it has two engines and simply use it as a motoryacht charter without the use of sails at all .

Catamaran sailing

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How to sail a catamaran?

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  • This New 79-Foot Sailing Catamaran Is Like a Pied-à-Terre for the High Seas

The six-stateroom "Spirit of Ponant" will debut in Corsica this summer.

Rachel cormack.

Digital Editor

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Spirit of Ponant Catamaran

Ponant is returning to its roots in small-ship cruising.

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Spirit of Ponant Catamaran

Based on Lagoon’s Seventy 7 model, the newcomer was built in Bordeaux, France. The cat features six generous staterooms for up to 12 guests and cabins for four crew. Ponant says seafarers can expect personalized service, including a private chef, tailored activities, and other high-end touches.

 “The concept and design of this Lagoon Seventy 7 yacht has been praised by everyone in the industry, won over by the spacious interior and exterior areas,” Guillaume Le Brec, the experienced skipper in charge of this project at Ponant, said in a statement. “Guests will really appreciate the high-end finishings as much as her exceptional sailing qualities.” 

Furthermore, the itineraries are completely customizable, too. The inaugural seven-night roundtrip voyages from Bonifacio can be tweaked to the traveler’s interests, with the captain offering recommendations. After a stint in Corsica, Spirit of Ponant will cruise around Mahé, a.k.a. the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago, for the winter season.

Rachel Cormack is a digital editor at Robb Report. She cut her teeth writing for HuffPost, Concrete Playground, and several other online publications in Australia, before moving to New York at the…

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how to sail small catamaran

Best Small Catamaran: The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Perfect Vessel

by Emma Sullivan | Aug 12, 2023 | Sailboat Gear and Equipment

how to sail small catamaran

Short answer: Best small catamaran

The best small catamaran refers to the renowned Hobie 16. With its ease of use, versatility, and competitive performance in various conditions, it has become a favorite among sailors worldwide. Its affordability, durability, and impressive speed make it a top choice for sailing enthusiasts looking for a thrilling experience on the water .

Finding the Best Small Catamaran: Your Guide to Choosing the Perfect Vessel

Are you on the hunt for the best small catamaran to take your sailing adventures to new heights? Look no further! This guide is here to help you navigate through the vast ocean of choices and land on the perfect vessel that suits your needs, preferences, and dreams.

Choosing a catamaran can be an exhilarating experience. These sleek twin-hulled yachts offer stability, spaciousness, and speed that can make any sailor’s heart skip a beat. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a newbie in the world of boating, finding the right small catamaran can significantly enhance your sailing experience.

Firstly, let’s delve into what makes small catamarans so special. Unlike their monohull counterparts, catamarans sit atop two hulls that provide exceptional stability . This feature makes them less prone to tipping over in rough waters and allows for comfortable sailing even in choppy conditions. Additionally, their dual hull design translates into increased living space onboard without compromising performance.

When searching for your dream small catamaran , there are several crucial factors to consider. The first and perhaps most important consideration is size. Small catamarans typically range from 35 to 45 feet in length. Assessing how many people will usually be on board and determining your desired level of comfort will aid in deciding the ideal size for your adventures at sea.

Next up is cost. Catamarans tend to be more expensive than monohulls due to their enhanced features and larger living space. However, don’t let this deter you; there are options available within every budget range. It’s essential to strike a balance between affordability and quality while keeping in mind that maintenance costs should also be factored into your decision-making process.

Another vital aspect is performance. Speed enthusiasts may lean towards smaller high-performance catamarans designed primarily for racing purposes. Such vessels offer thrilling speed but might compromise some creature comforts compared to cruising-oriented catamarans. On the other hand, leisure seekers might prioritize comfort and ample living space for extended trips or entertaining guests.

If you plan on sailing in specific regions or have certain routes in mind, it’s wise to consider the catamaran’s draft. A shallow draft allows access to shallower anchorages and secluded coves that deeper-drafted vessels may not reach. Furthermore, the boat’s beam should be evaluated—more substantial beams provide more stability but might limit access to marinas with narrow slips.

Comfort is king when it comes to small catamarans . Features such as spacious cabins, numerous windows offering panoramic views, well-designed layouts, and ergonomic utilization of onboard space can transform your sailing experience into a five-star vacation. Consider whether you prefer an open-plan concept or desire separate private spaces for each cabin.

Storage capacity is often overlooked but can heavily impact long-term liveability. Well-designed storage compartments will help keep your vessel organized and clutter-free during extended sailing trips. Hidden stowage areas are also beneficial for storing essential equipment like life jackets, water toys, snorkeling gear, and fishing tackle neatly out of sight.

Lastly, don’t forget about aesthetics! After all, your catamaran should reflect your personality on the water . From sleek modern designs to classic nautical styles, there’s a vast array of options available to suit all tastes.

Ultimately, finding the best small catamaran requires careful consideration of size, cost, performance, draft requirements, comfort factors such as layout and storage capacity while staying true to your personal style preferences. By meticulously examining these key elements and taking our guide as a compass on your journey towards choosing the perfect vessel for your adventures at sea, you’re sure to find yourself sailing smoothly into an unforgettable voyage aboard your dream small catamaran!

How to Select the Best Small Catamaran for Your Adventure

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure on the open waters? If so, choosing the best small catamaran for your journey is crucial. With so many options available in the market, selecting the perfect vessel can be overwhelming. However, fear not! We have compiled some expert tips to simplify this process and ensure you find the catamaran that meets all your adventurous needs.

1. Determine Your Adventure Style: Before diving into the world of catamarans, reflect on your adventure style. Are you an adrenaline junkie seeking high-speed sailing ? Or perhaps you prefer a more leisurely cruise? Identifying your preferences will help narrow down your options and make future decision-making a breeze.

2. Consider Size and Capacity: When it comes to small catamarans, size does matter! Assess how many passengers will join you on board regularly and evaluate your storage needs. If comfort is crucial, opt for a larger model with spacious cabins and lounging areas. Conversely, if versatility is key, smaller vessels may offer better maneuverability.

3. Evaluate Hull Design: The hull design significantly impacts how your catamaran performs in various conditions. Whether you intend to sail across calm seas or brave choppy waters, there are different hull designs tailored to specific environments. Flat-bottomed hulls maximize stability in calmer conditions while V-shaped or round-bilged hulls excel at handling rougher waters.

4. Assess Sailing Performance: If speed and agility are top priorities for you, examining a catamaran’s sailing performance is essential . Factors such as sail area, rigging options, keel design, and displacement greatly influence a vessel’s ability to cut through water efficiently. Seek out models designed for optimal speed if you crave an exhilarating experience.

5. Examine Interior Layout: Remember that comfort plays an integral role in any adventure! Pay attention to the interior layout of potential catamarans as it can impact your overall enjoyment. Look for well-designed cabins, spacious saloons, and functional galley areas that meet your needs during extended journeys.

6. Consider Maintenance Needs: Owning a catamaran requires regular maintenance to keep it in top-notch condition. Before making a purchase, evaluate the time and effort you are willing to invest in maintaining your vessel. Fiberglass hulls tend to be more manageable than wooden ones, whereas some materials may require extra care under specific weather conditions .

7. Research Manufacturer Reputation: To ensure a high-quality purchase, take the time to research various manufacturers’ reputations. Read reviews from fellow catamaran enthusiasts online and consult with experts in the boating community. Investing in a respected brand can provide peace of mind regarding your catamaran’s durability and performance .

8. Weigh Your Budget: Lastly, but certainly not least, consider your budget carefully. Catamarans vary drastically in price range depending on size, features, and build quality. Determine how much you are willing to spend before beginning your search, as this will prevent disappointment when encountering models outside your financial reach.

By systematically considering these factors while selecting the best small catamaran for your adventure, you can be confident that you’re making an informed decision tailored to your preferences and requirements. So buckle up (or rather “harness yourself into”) as you prepare for an exciting journey of endless possibilities on the open waters ! Happy sailing!

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Process for Buying the Best Small Catamaran

Are you dreaming of hitting the open waters in your very own small catamaran? This versatile and exciting watercraft offers a unique sailing experience that’s hard to beat. But before you set sail, it’s essential to understand the step-by-step process for buying the best small catamaran that perfectly suits your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through each stage, providing professional advice along with a touch of wit and cleverness.

1. Define Your Needs: Before embarking on this catamaran-buying journey, take a moment to assess your requirements. Are you an experienced sailor looking for a high-performance racing catamaran , or are you more interested in leisurely cruising with family and friends? Determining your primary purpose will help narrow down your options.

2. Research Thoroughly: Knowledge is power when it comes to purchasing any significant investment, including a small catamaran. Dive into extensive research on different brands, models, and sizes available in the market. Read reviews from both professionals and fellow sailors alike to gain valuable insights.

3. Set Your Budget: Catamarans come in various price ranges, so establishing a realistic budget is crucial. Consider not only the initial purchase cost but also maintenance expenses such as storage fees, insurance premiums, repairs, and even potential upgrades over time. Remember that quality often trumps price when it comes to boats.

4. Attend Boat Shows: Nothing beats getting up close and personal with numerous small catamarans at boat shows or expos. These events bring together experts in the field who can give you invaluable advice while showcasing their latest models. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and test out different options hands-on.

5. Connect with Experts: Find reputable boat dealerships or brokers specializing in small catamarans that can guide you throughout the buying process. Reach out to these professionals who possess extensive knowledge on various models and specifications tailored specifically to your needs. They can provide invaluable insights and assist you in making an informed decision.

6. Inspect and Survey: Once you’ve identified a potential small catamaran , it’s time to schedule a thorough inspection and survey. Hire a professional marine surveyor who can assess the overall condition of the vessel, including its structural integrity, mechanical systems, and any potential concerns that may impact your purchase decision.

7. Sea Trial: Test before you invest! Ask for a sea trial to experience firsthand how the small catamaran handles on the water. This opportunity allows you to assess its performance, maneuverability, and comfort level while sailing different conditions. It’s like taking your potential new companion out for a “test drive.”

8. Negotiate with Confidence: Armed with knowledge from your research and supported by insights from experts, negotiate the best price possible. Be confident in presenting any deficiencies discovered during inspections/surveys as bargaining points. Demonstrate your willingness to proceed only if certain conditions are met.

9. Complete Documentation: After reaching an agreement with the seller, ensure that all necessary paperwork is duly completed, including transfer of ownership certificates, warranties (if applicable), insurance documents, maintenance logs, and any other relevant paperwork required by maritime authorities or lending institutions if financing is involved.

10. Prep for Adventure: Congratulations! You’ve just purchased the best small catamaran that aligns perfectly with your desires and aspirations! Take some time to familiarize yourself thoroughly with all onboard systems before setting sail on your first grand adventure as captain of your own ship.

By following this ultimate step-by-step process for buying the best small catamaran, you’ll embark on an exciting journey towards becoming a proud owner of this fantastic watercraft—ready to explore new horizons while enjoying endless hours of exhilarating entertainment on the open seas! Safe travels and smooth sailing ahead!

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Small Catamarans Answered

Are you passionate about sailing? Are you considering buying a small catamaran , but have some questions before taking the plunge? Look no further! We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the best small catamarans and provided detailed, professional, witty, and clever answers to help you make an informed decision. So sit back, relax, and let’s explore the world of small catamarans together!

Q: What makes a catamaran different from a traditional sailboat ? A: Ah, the eternal question! Catamarans boast not one, but two hulls – connected by a spacious deck in the middle. This unique design grants stability in rough waters that leaves monohulls green with envy. With two hulls cutting through the waves instead of plowing through like their single-hulled counterparts do, catamarans offer superior speed and maneuverability. Oh, did we mention they also provide ample room for sunbathing or hosting lively parties? Talk about sailing in style!

Q: Why should I opt for a small catamaran instead of a larger one? A: Size isn’t everything, my friend! While large catamarans may dazzle with their expansive living areas and luxurious amenities for longer voyages or accommodating larger crews, smaller ones have undeniable perks too. They are more affordable (saving those hard-earned doubloons), easier to handle when solo sailing (keeping stress levels at bay), and can access marinas or anchorages where larger vessels might fear to tread (unlocking hidden gems along your journey). Small is mighty in the world of catamarans!

Q: Can I take my furry friend on board a small catamaran? A: Absolutely! Unlike some traditional sailboats that lack space for our four-legged companions to strut their stuff without feeling cramped, small catamarans offer plenty of room for both human and feline adventurers. With spacious decks providing enough space for your feline friend to roam and find the perfect sunbathing spot, they’ll be purring with joy as you sail into new horizons together. Just make sure to bring a scratching post – those sails are tempting!

Q: What about performance? Are small catamarans fast? A: Speed demons rejoice! Small catamarans are renowned for their impressive speeds, thanks to their sleek hulls that slice through the water like a knife through butter. While larger catamarans deliver exceptional cruising speeds, smaller ones take the crown in terms of nimbleness and agility. Whether you’re engaged in competitive racing or just seeking the thrill of slicing through the waves, these small wonders won’t disappoint. Be prepared to leave monohulls trailing in your wake!

Q: Are small catamarans suitable for overnight stays or longer trips? A: Absolutely! While small catamarans may not offer the palatial cabins of their larger counterparts, they certainly pack a punch when it comes to coziness and functionality. With snug berths tucked away below deck, compact but functional galleys for culinary adventures, and ample storage space for all your nautical necessities, overnight stays or extended trips are entirely feasible. Just remember to embrace minimalist packing – every square inch counts!

There you have it – some frequently asked questions about the best small catamarans answered in detailed professional yet witty and clever explanations. We hope these insights have shed light on the allure of small catamarans and reassured any doubts you may have had. So raise your anchor and set sail on a small but mighty adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories on the high seas!

Exploring the Top Features of the Best Small Catamarans on the Market

Title: Getting Nautical: Unveiling the Epitome of Small Catamarans – A Guide to Their Top Features

Introduction: Ahoy there, fellow seafarers! Picture yourself gliding effortlessly across crystal-clear waters, with the gentle caress of the ocean breeze accompanying your every move. If you are as enamored with the relaxing allure of sailing as we are, then you’ll undoubtedly be enthralled by our deep dive into the top features of the best small catamarans currently gracing the market. So, batten down the hatches and embark on this witty and clever exploration of these maritime marvels!

1. Stability and Sailing Comfort: If stability is your mantra for an impeccable sailing experience, small catamarans are here to answer your prayers. With their dual hull design, they provide unparalleled balance, offering a smoother ride even in choppy waters. Say goodbye to relentless rocking and hello to steady seas! Maneuvering through waves becomes a breeze aboard these agile vessels.

2. Spaciousness and Social Engagement: Leave claustrophobia stranded ashore; small catamarans boast surprising roominess despite their compact size. Unlike their monohull counterparts that confine you within cramped spaces below deck, modern catamarans thoughtfully utilize each hull to create ample living areas both above and below deck. Enjoy generous storage solutions, spacious cabins with comfortable beds for extended adventures, and saloons built for socializing around a sumptuous meal.

3. Agility in Shallow Waters: Ever dreamt of exploring hidden coves or secret lagoons where traditional boats dare not venture? Well, look no further than small catamarans! Thanks to their shallow draft capabilities – a testament to their efficient hull design – these nimble craft elegantly glide through shallow waters without fear of getting grounded or losing precious cruising time.

4. Performance Par Excellence: While small catamarans might not rival the speed of America’s Cup yachts, they certainly offer an exhilarating performance of their own. Equipped with twin rigs designed for efficient sailing, these agile vessels capture the breeze like none other. Be prepared to reach your destination faster than you ever imagined while relishing in smooth sailing that leaves a monohull’s leaning antics miles behind.

5. Safety is Anchored: Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just setting off on your maiden voyage, safety should always be at the forefront of your mind. Thankfully, small catamarans prioritize this aspect with buoyancy unparalleled by other sailboat types . The presence of multiple hulls drastically reduces the risk of capsizing and ensures an ultimate peace of mind even when Mother Nature decides to test your mettle.

6. Easy Handling with Less Hassle: Gone are the days of complex maneuvers requiring a crew that could rival Captain Jack Sparrow’s gang. Small catamarans grant sailors a refreshing sense of independence by allowing easy handling without compromising on functionality and pleasure. From docking maneuvers to sail control systems within arm’s reach, these gems provide an unrivaled ease-of-use that allows every aspiring seafarer to become captain of their own ship!

Conclusion: There you have it; we’ve unfurled the sails and revealed why small catamarans hold such appeal in today’s boating market! With remarkable stability, spaciousness, agility, enhanced performance, unrivaled safety features, and straightforward handling capabilities – these maritime wonders have effortlessly cemented their place as some of the finest vessels around. So go forth and embrace the aquatic explorations that await you aboard one of these marvelous creations; set sail with confidence knowing you are well-versed in the top features defining the best small catamarans on the market!

Why a Small Catamaran is Your Best Choice for Sailing Excursions

When it comes to setting sail on the open waters, there are plenty of options available. From luxurious yachts to sleek monohulls, the choices can be overwhelming. However, if you’re looking for an experience that combines performance, versatility, and unbridled excitement, a small catamaran is undoubtedly your best choice. Let’s dive into why these vessels excel and why they’ll make your sailing excursions unforgettable.

Performance at its Finest One of the primary reasons a small catamaran reigns supreme in the sailing world is its exceptional performance characteristics. Catamarans feature two hulls connected by a bridge deck – this design delivers unprecedented stability and speed, ensuring smooth journeys even in rough conditions. With multiple hulls slicing through the water instead of one keel, catamarans offer reduced resistance and increased efficiency compared to monohulls.

Ease of Handling Why struggle with complex maneuvers when you can effortlessly handle a small catamaran? These nifty vessels are famous for their ease of use as they require minimal effort to maneuver. With two engines providing propulsion power, docking becomes a breeze for even the most novice sailor . Additionally, their shallow draft allows easy access to shallower coves and hidden gems that larger boats simply cannot reach.

Space Galore Do you prefer having ample space on board? Look no further than a small catamaran! These beauties are known for providing generous deck space both above and below decks. Whether you want to bask in the sun or entertain guests with delightful onboard BBQ parties, a catamaran offers abundant room for all your activities without compromising comfort or safety. Say goodbye to cramped quarters typical of monohull vessels!

Stability & Safety Safety should always be paramount when choosing any sailing vessel – another area where small catamarans truly shine. Thanks to their dual-hull design, these boats offer exceptional stability, minimizing the risk of capsizing. Whether you’re sailing on calm waters or facing choppier conditions, you can rest assured that a small catamaran will keep you steady and safe. This stability also makes them an excellent choice for families or those prone to seasickness.

Versatile Adventures When it comes to versatility, small catamarans are unrivaled. Their agility allows for dynamic experiences both on and off the water. Sailing enthusiasts can partake in thrilling regattas, explore hidden coves, embark on leisurely sunset cruises, or even try their hand at fishing just inches above the waterline! With a small catamaran as your vessel of choice, the possibilities are limitless.

Aesthetically Pleasing Besides all its practical benefits, a small catamaran also delivers on aesthetics. These sleek vessels command attention with their futuristic designs and breathtaking beauty. The sight of two hulls gracefully gliding through the water is sure to turn heads and elicit admiration from fellow sailors and beachgoers alike. So why settle for anything less when you can sail in style?

In conclusion, if you’re seeking a sailing adventure packed with performance, ease of handling, ample space, stability & safety features, versatility for exciting escapades, and unmatched visual appeal – look no further than a small catamaran. Its unique attributes make it the hands-down winner among sailing options. So brace yourself – prepare to embark on extraordinary journeys aboard your dream vessel as it swiftly sails across serene waters or rides exhilarating waves with unparalleled grace and comfort.

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how to sail small catamaran

Learn to sail with Nautilus Sailing: A sailing adventure in Croatia

In sailing, there are three rules, we were told somewhat tongue-in-cheek:

  • Don’t hit stuff.
  • Keep water out of the boat.
  • Come back with the same number of people you left with.

I guess we passed our week as students on a  Nautilus Sailing  learn-to-sail liveaboard course in Croatia since we avoided crashes, came back with the right number of people, and water didn’t get into the boat (except what dripped off our bodies after a swim in crystal clear water).

The liveaboard learn-to-sail week was fun, too. Isn’t that what adventure travel should be? Particularly when it means sailing on a luxury catamaran around the Split Archipelago of Croatian islands – blue skies, translucent waters, fresh seafood, and lunches moored in a private cove with a swim.

“This doesn’t suck!” Nautilus lead instructor and founder Tim Geisler exclaimed several times a day.

Can’t argue with that. And it could be said for every destination where Nautilus takes its liveaboard students — including the Bahamas, Tahiti, and Mallorca. As media, we did less actual studying than our fellow students did on two other Nautilus liveaboard boats also on the Croatia Sailing adventure. We did, however, get a taste of the learning, which started unglamorously enough with a lesson on how to use the toilet, a.k.a. “head” in ship-speak. After that came learning the parts of a boat, how to steer and read all those dials, tying knots (“If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot,” we were told), anchoring, rescuing somebody overboard (essential stuff, right?), jumping the halyard, raising the mainsail, and the names of the “ropes.” Ooops, sorry, I slipped. Demerits for me. Never call it a rope on a boat; it’s a line, sheet or halyard depending on its function.

No matter how much learning was done – and this is an intense, immersive week — everybody still had fun, from wine-tasting and ice cream sampling, to strolls along the waterfront promenade of Hvar and motor-scootering around the island of Vis. The other “real” students, however, all ended up with a captain’s certification after just a week (and passing some tests), which allows them to charter or buy their own boat. We on the other hand got a great taste of the sailing life that is akin to RVing on the water. Where classroom lessons really don’t suck.

“We want to give students an authentic taste of sailing,” said Geisler. “It’s not just about the white, flappy things. It’s all the things you see and do.”

Meeting fellow students and our luxury ocean ride: Day 1

The week didn’t start with great glamour, however, as an unusual late September storm moved in. We had to don rain jackets and make a dash along the dock to the catamaran to keep from getting soaked and chilled. Then we met our ride for the next week – a Fontaine Pajot Astrea 42 luxury catamaran outfitted with four ensuite cabins in the hulls – two fore and two aft. On Nautilus liveaboard courses, you see, there are never more than four students in any weeklong course. So, you get personal attention and lots of time with the instructor onboard to help ensure you do pass the sailing certification.

Sailing out from Trogir: Day 2

Luckily for our week in Croatia, the clouds started to clear the morning of our departure from Trogir. We motored out of the marina and headed toward the island of Solta – mind you, not the villages on Solta because when you are cruising the waters you can head wherever you want. In our case, the first few hours took us to the Sesula Cove (“Uvala Sesula) on the northwest corner of this small island. But we didn’t just hang out and watch the view. Geisler, our Nautilus instructor for the week, used most every minute during our weeklong liveaboard course, for teaching, albeit perhaps in sometimes subtle ways. On our way to the Solta cove, we each practiced “driving” so we could learn how to maneuver, stop, and turn the boat, all the while  talking terminology  because sailors really do have their own vocabulary.

Each day started comfortably but not too lazy, and we were usually anchored somewhere by mid-afternoon – either a peaceful cove or an island marina. During lunch or at the day’s evening anchor (or perhaps both!) came the mandatory swim off the back of the boat. Since we sailed with two other boats – a catamaran and a monohull, both with students – we all anchored together each night.

We did get a chance to experience the magic of sailing that first day – unfurling the sails with our own muscle, watch them fill and billow out, and then feel the boat surge forward, powered only by the wind taking us where we wanted to go.

Read more about our Learn to Sail experience in Croatia...

Catamaran under sail passing near a lighthouse in Croatia.

Travel Daily

Spirit of Ponant, the iconic new Catamaran sets Sail this Summer

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The latest addition to PONANT’s fleet is the Spirit of Ponant, a 24m maxi-catamaran with six staterooms offering a unique sailing experience. With up to 12 guests and four crew including a chef, the Spirit of Ponant combines the pleasures of sailing with all the refinements and personalised service that are the hallmarks of PONANT voyages.

“The Spirit of Ponant is a new expression of our pioneering spirit, as the travel format is a first in the luxury cruise sector,” explains Hervé Gastinel, CEO of PONANT. “Our guests will experience what it is really like to be a sailor, including interacting with the Captain to create a voyage that meets their desires and expectations. They will benefit from hidden away anchorages in magical places, while enjoying the high-end services for which PONANT is renowned”.

how to sail small catamaran

With this catamaran, PONANT is adding another string to its bow of offers in exclusive intimate settings. A bold and innovative move that confirms the company’s commitment to more responsible tourism and its historic attachment to sailing. Built in France, the Spirit of Ponant promises an immersive experience, sailing to some of the world’s most beautiful islands. The yacht is being launched in June 2024 and will spend the summer in Corsica, France, before heading to the Seychelles for winter 2025.

“Embarking on the Spirit of Ponant is to have an authentic experience of sailing at sea, with extremely easy access to the sea and water sports activities,” explains Guillaume Le Brec, the experienced skipper in charge of this project at PONANT. “The concept and design of this Lagoon Seventy 7 yacht has been praised by everyone in the industry, won over by the spacious interior and exterior areas. Guests will really appreciate the high-end finishings as much as her exceptional sailing qualities,” adds the highly experienced skipper.

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PONANT First Maritime Cruise Line to Get Green Globe Certification

PONANT is the first maritime cruise line to achieve Green Globe Certification

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PONANT’s new catamaran sets sail this European summer

how to sail small catamaran

Spirit of Ponant will offer a unique luxury and eco-friendly catamaran experience when it sets sail from Corsica this June

Spirit of Ponant is the latest addition to PONANT’s fleet . This 24m maxi-catamaran features six staterooms offering sails with up to 12 guests and four crew including a chef, seaman and a steward. “Our guests will experience what it is really like to be a sailor, including interacting with the captain to create a voyage that meets their desires and expectations,” explained Hervé Gastinel, CEO of PONANT.

Launching in June 2024, the Lagoon Seventy 7 yacht will spend the summer in Corsica, France before heading to the Seychelles for winter 2025. The addition of Spirit of Ponant to PONANT’s fleet reflects the company’s commitment to more responsible tourism and its historical attachment to sailing.

“Embarking on the Spirit of Ponant is to have an authentic experience of sailing at sea, with extremely easy access to the sea and water sports activities,” stated Guillaume Le Brec, expert in ship routing and propulsion at PONANT and the experienced skipper in charge of this project at PONANT.

Itineraries aboard Spirit of Ponant will be developed based on the captain’s recommendation combined with guests’ experience preferences. PONANT features aboard this catamaran include the company’s gastronomy, wine cellar and signature cocktails and room service. Nautical activities range from paddle-boarding and wakeboarding to snorkelling and beyond.

This European summer, seven night cruises start in Corsica from 13 July, from Bonifacio to Bonifacio, followed by sailings in the Seychelles from Mahé to Mahé in late 2024 and in 2025. Prices start from $12,400 AUD per person. For bookings and the latest itinerary updates, see .

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