Catamaran hulls are not like normal boats but provide increased stability. Let’s take a look at these incredible boats and how their hulls create one of the most versatile watercraft available today.
The Tamil Cholas used catamarans to ferry their troops to invade Malaysia, Indonesia, and Burma. The early paravars or fishing communities in the southern part of Tamil Nadu used two-hulled boats to fish. Polynesian seafarers were also early users of the catamaran, utilizing the watercraft to get to hard-to-reach islands. (source)
Although the catamaran hull concept is a relatively new introduction to modern boat design, the boat has been in use since the 5th century. It was used for fishing, traveling, and transporting people and supplies.
Parts Of A Catamaran
Here are the basic parts of the modern sailing catamaran:
- Hulls are what sets this boat apart from the rest. The catamaran has two hulls, while the monohull, as the name suggests, has only one hull. Most of the advantages of this boat are hinged on these two hulls.
- The bridge deck connects the two catamaran hulls.
- On top of the catamaran hulls and the bridge deck is the deck. It is where owners attach most of the equipment in a boat.
- You can locate the berth, the galley, and other living amenities in the cabin.
- The cockpit is where you find the navigation equipment of the boat. It is where you control the catamaran’s rudder, sails, and engine.
Types Of Catamaran
The modern catamaran is far more different than its crude ancestor. Instead of tree cutouts, catamarans are now carbon fiber or fiberglass. Here are the different types of catamarans:
Based On function
Pontoons are usually present on rivers and lakes and sometimes even on oceans, but they only travel near the shore.
In a catamaran pontoon-type boat, the pontoons serve as storage areas, where you will find the onboard motors. They are useful for water leisure activities such as short water trips, tubing, wakeboarding, and water skiing.
Some pontoons may also serve as houseboats. They provide a broader, more stable platform ideal for a floating house. Plus, the space is bigger, and most of it is above water. It offers a better viewing option than a monohull. (Source)
Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull is a catamaran-type boat that the United States Navy initially used for military purposes. They provide the water stability that is necessary when transporting heavy military equipment.
One example of a military SWATH catamaran is the Spearhead class EPF. It is as long as a World War II escort destroyer, yet it is twice as fast at 43 knots. It can reach that speed because of its two separate hulls.
Because of their innate speed, SWATH catamarans can become patrol boats in lakes and rivers. They can easily outrun and outmaneuver standard watercraft.
Nowadays, there are SWATH cruise ships and other non-military variations. (Source)
Based On Design
- Sailing Catamaran
The smaller sailing catamarans do not have auxiliary engines, so the owner can propel the boat by harnessing the wind using the sails. It’s a popular choice for people with very little or no sailing experience because they are light and easy to use.
The larger sailing catamarans are for group charters and long-distance cruising. They have become so popular lately that they now outnumber monohulls in tropical locations all over the world. They have a last, a headsail, and a mainsail. And the twin hulls have one engine each.
- Power Catamaran
Unlike their sailing cousins, the powered catamarans do not have sails. They have massive engines which provide high speed. Their twin hulls are stronger and can carry and protect the large motors.
The smaller “powercats” are used mainly for fishing. The bigger ones are rented out for charters and cruises.
Catamaran Hulls Performance
Thanks to the catamaran hulls, the boat offers many advantages over other boat types.
- Because its dual-hull design provides a broader base, it offers more water stability than monohull boats. It makes the cat (catamaran) a popular choice for fishing expeditions and cruises.
- Riding a catamaran is ideal for people who feel seasick whenever they ride boats. The twin hulls prevent the boat from moving from side to side. The hulls allow the boat to travel smoothly, even on moderately choppy waters.
- The catamaran is the best choice when storing provisions and other household items with less heeling and bobbing.
- The twin hulls’ stability is ideal for many activities such as cooking and partying.
- Cats offer more moving space because of their broader base, thanks to dual hulls.
- With a catamaran, you have two great options on where to hang out. You can do it on the spacious deck or below the galley.
- Compared to a monohull of the same size, the catamaran can accommodate more equipment and people.
- The living area in a catamaran is above the water line. This feature provides more natural light, a greater view of the outside, and better air circulation.
- Since catamarans do not have keels, they can anchor on shallow waters, something that most monohulls will not be able to do. This ability of catamaran boats is impressive, especially if you are going around areas with many reefs and small islands.
- Catamaran hulls allow the boat to cut through the waves easier and faster. It means they require less engine power than their monohull counterparts.
- Because it has two engines and two rudders, the catamaran can easily maneuver in very tight spaces.
- Because they do not carry heavy keels, catamarans can sail faster than monohulls.
- The catamaran’s stability, speed, and weight make it a safer option than the monohull. It can sail in shallow waters, make a 360 degrees maneuver effortlessly, and carry more provisions.
Disadvantages Of A Catamaran
Like any other boat type, the catamaran also has drawbacks and limitations. Here are some of them:
- The catamaran hulls prevent the boat from sailing as fast as the monohull upwind. The two hulls cause drag, and this slows the boat considerably.
- Because of its bigger size, looking for a docking site can be more difficult and costlier than a monohull.
- For hardcore sailing fans, the experience of sailing with a catamaran will never be able to match that of sailing with a monohull. To them, the challenge of true sailing is just not there with a catamaran.
What Are The Hulls Of The Catamaran Called?
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Tamil word கட்டுமரம், which is pronounced as kattumaran, is where the word catamaran takes its name. The word means “pieces of logs tied together”. Through the years, the term has evolved into what is now a catamaran in English.
What Are The Characteristics Of A Catamaran Hull?
- Both hulls of a catamaran complement each other to achieve very minimum water resistance.
- Because of this, it takes less energy to propel a catamaran, whether via an engine or sails.
- The catamaran hulls provide stability to the boat. The twin-hull significantly reduces bobbing.
- The catamaran’s ability to keep steady on the water makes it an ideal vessel for cooking, dining, and storing provisions.
Are Catamarans Good In Rough Water?
Catamarans are amazingly stable in rough water. The catamaran’s design and build, which provides stability, are factors why it is one of the best boats to use when the waters are choppy.
Yes, catamarans are relatively more expensive than monohulls. Nevertheless, since single-hull boats are less expensive, their resale value is also cheap.
If you add all the advantages that a catamaran offers – safety, comfort, and speed- it does not come out expensive.