Catamaran Vs Monohull Sailboats

The debate between catamaran vs. monohull sailboats continues to be an intriguing argument. There are plenty of pros and cons to consider for both.

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The debate between catamaran vs. monohull sailboats continues to be an intriguing argument. There are plenty of pros and cons to consider for both.

While the argument for which one is better appears to be a fair fight, there are many reasons to consider one or the other for sailing. Does this lead to many questions surrounding the deciding factors for which is better: catamarans or monohulls?

When considering a catamaran or monohull, many factors come into play. Catamarans have more space, speed, and stability, while monohulls offer better maneuverability, are cost efficient, and sail better upwind. Depending on your preferences and desired results will determine which is right for you.

If you are looking for a sailboat that can fit a variety of needs, they both appear to be good candidates. The goal would be to figure out if it applies to the sailing experience you are trying to accomplish.

According to sailboat data, catamarans have great resale value in the event that you need to sell it quickly or decide to hold onto it for many years. As you will see, both boats will have strong characteristics that will help you pick one or the other.

Table of Contents

What Are Catamarans and Monohulls?

Monohulls are sailboats that only have one hull, hence the name mono. These are the traditional looking sailboats that you see in old magazines or movies and still are coming styles for today.

For catamarans, these have two hulls and are fairly new compared to monohulls. While the looks of these are not as traditional, they still have style in certain aspects.

When looking at the two, some sailors might like one design over another. This all depends on your tastes and what you consider to be an attractive boat. Some people absolutely love older photos and the nostalgic look of monohulls.

Factors to Consider

Since the basics of those two sailboats are out of the way, there are important factors to help you narrow down your search. Both boats have specific audiences, so it is important to know which line you are standing in to buy.

Monohulls have been a common design for quite a long time, meaning you can find just about any sailboat to fit your needs and budget. Catamarans are likely to attract higher ticket prices, but you can still find one at a good price to fit your needs.

Monohulls are a great sailing experience, as you will need to have some kind of idea of how to sail. For catamarans, if you are new to sailing, it can be a little easier to hit the waters.

Whichever boat you believe comes out ahead of the other, it is still important that you do the research. This way you will find out which one will cater to your specific needs.

Overall Stability and Safety

No sailor would dare to travel on the ocean without having a reliable vessel. You would first need to make sure you have all of the safety equipment needed before heading out. But, there are two big differences between stability and safety for both boats.

Catamarans have a natural buoyancy that allows them to be “unsinkable” to some degree. Even if they capsize due to an accident, you can still use them to float.

There are plenty of stories online where multi-hulled boats have minor accidents and take on water, but still make it to shore safely. While this is a highly unlikely event, you have another level of safety in the back of your mind.

As for monohulls, they typically right themselves unless they go out of reach beyond their angle of stability. During an accident, however, you are likely going to see this one at the bottom of the ocean if you take on too much water.

If you are experienced at sailing and can navigate through rougher waters, you will be able to point out danger in a monohull. This allows you to quickly grab any life saving equipment, but only in a few moments if things do go wrong.

How Does it Feel

Both boats will feel quite a bit different on the water and you can tell immediately. Depending on how rough the water is, you could have an interesting experience.

Catamarans have great balance due to their weight being distributed evenly. This makes it easy to walk around on the deck without feeling like you are being thrown around. With that being said, it does not conform well to rougher waters and it can make the ride a little uncomfortable.

When the waters are calm, they have a great autopilot feature that can make life easy. However, leaving the boat unattended for too long can cause issues when the wind picks up.

While traveling in a monohull, you will likely feel everything and navigate based on that. But, this feeling will not be as extreme in comparison to cats because these boats will move a little better in the water since they are designed to heel a little.

You can almost forget about walking around more often on these boats. While the boat can move a little better in rougher waters, there is not as much room to move around and you are going to want to hold onto something on deck.

These boats give much better feedback and can give you more information on when to make adjustments. This one really gives you the inclusive sailing experience, if you are looking for that.


There are a few different ways to get the desired speed that you want out of your sailboat. Having a motor makes a big difference and of course using the sails.

Catamarans, whether cruising or sailing, are faster than monohulls hands down. You can reach high speeds quickly depending on the wind angle and have the potential to outrun storms or get to safety in a timely manner.

However, this can be an uncomfortable ride at times of rough waters. You might even have to slow down to stop the slapping feeling on the water, which of course makes the trip longer.

Monohulls are built to work with the wind and water instead of trying to combat them. While they are not faster at first, you could argue that you might reach your destination first if comfort is involved in the decision.

These boats have a keel and can slice through water much easier than cats. They can turn on a dime and sail higher into the wind, giving them a boost in favorable conditions.

Fuel Consumption

Saving on fuel is a big difference between these two boats. While it all depends on the destination, they each will consume their fair share.

Catamarans are more fuel efficient because they have a reduced wetted surface area and experience much less drag. You can effectively travel around the same speed and steadily use fuel. In lighter winds and calm waters, you can have one engine running to give a boost from the propeller.

Since monohulls are built to work with the wind and water, they have less resistance and will use less fuel. Depending on the displacement from your specific boat, it could cause some resistance in that regard. You might save money in the long run since you have less resistance, but this all depends on your boat.


If you plan on spending a great amount of time on your boat, you might as well make it as comfortable as possible. The layout and how much room you have will differ quite a bit between these two boats.

Catamarans have their living space all on the same

level, with some cabins featuring three or four bedrooms. This provides guests with plenty of room to host parties or take several people sailing. It could make for a comfortable ride and have the space to walk around the entire boat.

Since they sit above the water line, you can get natural sunlight into your cabins and get fresh air. If you are claustrophobic or just do not like the idea of sleeping below the water line, this could work for you.

Because there are multiple hulls, you can have separate sleeping areas for multiple guests. This also makes it a little more convenient for guests to travel for longer stays.

Monohulls can be inconvenient if you plan on taking several people with you. These boats have their living space down into a hull, which is below the water line, and really accommodate a few people.

If you are doing long stays on the water, some guests might feel cramped. As for the owner, they will likely have the double or queen bed in their main room.


In tight situations, you do not want to have issues trying to maneuver your boat. Both boats have their advantages, but this all depends on how you approach them.

Catamarans can move quite easily in any direction since they have twin engines. With their shallow drafts, they can also be anchored along the shore and reach places a monohull cannot.

Monohulls can make sharper turns and navigate through tighter spaces in the water. They also have a reduced chance of getting crosswind when trying to move through tight conditions.


If you want to have long stays at certain locations and explore a city, you are going to have to dock your boat. Depending on the location, you might not be able to stay as long as you like depending on your boat.

Catamarans are fairly easy to park, but they take up quite a bit of space. You might even be charged a little extra for taking up more room at the dock.

If it is a quick stop, you could always anchor or moor the boat and use a dinghy to take to shore. You have a few different options to consider here at least with the cat.

As for monohulls, they are easier to dock and take up less space. This means your standard docking fee that you are used to seeing and it might be cheaper to stay longer at places.

Maintenance and Purchase Costs

When trying to purchase one or the other, it is important to know that there are many different styles of each type. You would need to do research based on your area, budget, style of boat, and how much you are going to use it.

For catamarans, they have great resale value and you can find one in great condition for a good price. But since they essentially have two of everything, your costs over the long term are going to be higher.

In some cases, it is appealing to have two engines if one is not working while out on the water and you need to get back to shore quickly. But, how likely are you going to take it out on the water if you know one of the engines is not working?

Monohulls are as simple as you can get when it comes to maintenance. This greatly depends on the type you have chosen, but you can have a few extra parts laying around versus having to worry about multiples.

When it comes to long term costs, monohulls are less expensive to maintain. You need to make sure that you stay on top of maintenance on your boat so you do not have any issues while out at sea.

Narrowing Down Options

The argument can be made for both catamarans and monohulls to which one is better. In terms of sailing, they both provide many opportunities.

The decision should come down to how much sailing you plan to do, how much you want to spend, the amount of space you need, and if you want to visit shallow waters. These are quality examples to help you narrow down your options.

While both boats have their advantages, it is clear in certain situations that one is better than the other. This means it is up to your sailing goals and what you want to accomplish.

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