Can A Catamaran Cross The Atlantic Ocean?
Catamarans come in many sizes and for different uses, from personal watercraft to yachts and even ferries. However, can a catamaran cross the Atlantic Ocean with those two hulls? That’s the question we intend to answer, and the results might surprise you!
Catamarans are suitable for long-distance travel due to several advantages in their design. Specifically, cruise catamarans are the best for great-distance travel, among other types, and these can cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Are Catamarans Good For Long-Distance Travel? Can A Catamaran Cross The Atlantic?
Catamarans are known for their two hulls and wide beam. This design induces stability, increased buoyancy, high speed, and motion comfort. Additionally, the wide beam ensures space in catamarans for food provisions and supplies storage suited for long-distance travel.
The high speed of catamarans can outrun storms, and their stability reduces the chances of the vessel capsizing. Interestingly, the Seacat Hoverspeed Great Britain catamaran performed a nearly three-day journey and was known to be the fastest sea crossing of the Atlantic in 1990. Hence, catamarans are reliable and safe for long-distance travel. (source)
There are several advantages of catamarans used for long-distance travel, which are attributed below.
Catamarans tend to experience very little to no heeling, thereby allowing the ship to usually stay flat on the water when exposed to wavy sea conditions. Consequently, this allows the passengers and crew to accomplish activities and tasks commonly rather than uncomfortably at an angle. (source)
The rolling (i.e., potential movement from side to side) of ships varies according to design. The more rolling a ship experiences, the higher the tendency of passengers to experience motion sickness. However, the double hull of catamarans often does not sway from side to side in a swell. (source)
Stability And Comfort
Consequently, the little to no rolling of catamarans promote better sea comfort to passengers who often do not experience motion sickness. Additionally, a significant reduction in heeling and rolling factors causes catamaran vessels to have more stability. (source)
Wide Living Space
The platform connecting the two hulls of catamarans provides more potential space for leisure and comfort to both passengers and crew. For example, open decks may be established for whale watching and fishing activities. Additionally, hammocks may be deployed for passengers to sunbathe. (source)
Additionally, one may also build closed decks on catamaran platforms. For example, one can allocate more deck space to passenger cabins which can induce more privacy for family and friends while resting. (source)
The double-hull configuration of catamarans allows them to have a wide beam and a lighter weight distribution. It enables catamarans to enter shallow water environments like coral reef areas. Passengers may then enjoy SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and swimming in such places. (source)
Additionally, for convenience, you can do emergency maintenance (e.g., damaged hull) on beaches or other shallow areas.
The two hulls of catamarans can accommodate twin engines. Twin engines can induce more speed. Also, one engine failure would not compromise the movement and safety of a catamaran as one engine can still function. (source)
Interestingly, twin engines can allow a catamaran to maneuver a 360-degree turn which is a tremendous advantage in close-spaced terminals/marinas.
Can A Catamaran Cross The Atlantic Ocean? Well, They Are Difficult To Sink, So…
Catamarans are challenging to sink due to the twin hull configuration keeping the vessel positively buoyant. Even if one hull is damaged, the remaining hull can keep the boat afloat. (source)
Catamarans can be designed as hybrids that enable these vessels to use solar, wind, and fuel energy generators for propulsion. Hence, catamarans tend to save more fuel than their monohull counterparts. (source)
As catamarans can be hybrids, these vessels may alternatively use energy sources (i.e., solar, wind, and fuel) for propulsion. Therefore, these vessels are more eco-friendly during long-distance travel. (source)
Types Of Catamaran
There are several types of catamarans for different purposes of sailing, such as:
- Racing catamarans
- Beach catamarans
- Cruising catamarans
The cruising catamaran is suitable for long-distance travel or anywhere around the world. This catamaran type can manage rough sea conditions and have particular perks more suited for the journey than the other types.
Cruising Catamaran Attributes
Cruising catamarans have the following attributes which make them suitable for long-distance travel:
- Positive buoyancy material
- Watertight hatches
- High-strength cockpit windows
- Redundant systems (e.g., bilge pumps, navigation lights, radios)
These attributes lead to a safer and more reliable long-distance sea-faring vessel. Additionally, these attributes are not available in racing and beach-type catamarans.
Can A Catamaran Cross The Atlantic Ocean? Let’s Talk Duration.
The duration of crossing the Atlantic by catamarans varies according to weather conditions, vessel speed, and route. The journey may take approximately 2-4 weeks with an average speed of 9-10 knots.
However, little or no wind support during several days may cause an extension for a few days in travel.
Hence, the best choice would be to allocate one month’s worth of food provisions and supplies to account for unfavorable weather conditions and the well-being of passengers and crew.
It would be best if you carefully plan routes to ensure safety. Modern technology can now easily map out the ideal route for the journey, especially if choosing routes to get to destination/s faster. Weather forecasts can also aid in which route to take or avoid.
Crossing The Atlantic In Winter
The enclosed and high-strength cockpit of catamarans protects them from winter and rainy weather elements. Hence, catamarans are safer to sail than monohulls during winter. Additionally, catamaran crews can operate their vessels from inside or outside enclosed cockpits, as with winches and sails, which can also be automated.
Catamarans have excellent compartments, with the cockpit high beyond the waterline. For example, one hull is damaged and needs to be fixed immediately. Yet, the boat is not entirely in danger of flooding as one hull can keep certain parts of the vessel afloat.
Hence, the cockpit could be challenging to be flooded from the hulls and is the main reason catamarans do not usually sink.
Catamaran Safety Equipment
Can a catamaran cross the Atlantic safely? The answer is yes, with the right-sized ship, the right crew, and the proper safety equipment. The vast deck space of catamarans allows for storage of high-tech contained life rafts and emergency supplies. This makes them ideal for such an adventure.
The high-speed capability of catamarans also contributes to safety. For example, a catamaran can outrun rough weather conditions due to its high speed, which is potentially and simultaneously generated from twin engine power and wind (i.e., through the deployment of sails) energy. (source)
Risk Of Injury
There is a high risk of injuries onboard catamarans, especially in rough weather conditions. Additionally, tools and equipment can be hazardous if encountered by accident. It is essential to ensure the storage of first aid medical kits and to address passenger/s and crew who may be injured during the journey. (source)
Overall, catamaran attributes on heeling, rolling, stability and comfort, vast living space, privacy, shallow draft, two engines, hard to sink, fuel consumption, and eco-friendly potential allow these sea vessels to be well suited for long-distance travel, thereby fit for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Cruise catamarans are the most ideal for crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, essential considerations must be made on the following factors: route planning, crossing the Atlantic during winter, flooding, safety equipment, and speed.
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