Catamaran vs monohull sailboats (2023)

When it comes to catamarans vs monohulls, there are two schools of thought that always lead to passionate debates about which is better.

If you've used both a catamaran (a two-hull boat) and a monohull (a single-hull boat), you know that both have advantages and disadvantages. In most cases it all boils down to personal preference and intended use, but that shouldn't stop us from highlighting the better one.

A catamaran is much better than a monohull in many ways. Catamarans are more stable, faster and more spacious. They also offer a more secure anchorage and are easy to control. Monohulls are more manoeuvrable, less expensive and easier to sail upwind. It all depends on personal preference and intended use, but ultimately a catamaran has more advantages than a monohull.

In this concise article we will highlight the key differences between a catamaran and a monohull and see which one comes out on top.

Catamaran vs monohull


Safety on the water is one of the most important things every sailor should consider when choosing a boat type.


Catamarans excel in many aspects of safety. They are generally more stable and appear to have natural buoyancy as they have no ballast making them almost unsinkable. In general, catamarans are endowed with a considerable reserve of buoyancy thanks to the ship's cracks, corners and closed-cell foam. However, these items can become serious safety concerns should a fire break out. All in all, a cat can sink in an accident, but it will most likely float on the surface of the water, unlike monohull boats that sink to the bottom.

Again, catamarans have flat decks. This makes them much safer to walk on than the angled decks of monohulls. Because of their flat decks, a catamaran boat stays level and has less pitch, making it much easier to keep the crew on board and safe even in rough weather.

Another important fact that can contribute to the safety of a catamaran is its speed. If you've always believed that speed equals safety, then a catamaran is the right boat for you. In short, the speed of a catamaran allows you to escape rough weather. A modern catamaran can travel almost 250 miles a day, which is quite faster, and there is no reason why bad weather should catch you by surprise.


When it comes to safety, a monohull is a far cry from a catamaran when it comes to safety. The most important thing about a monohull in terms of safety is its self-righting ability. With a monohull you are likely to return to an upright position even after capsizing and this can give you the ability to access onboard safety equipment, flotation devices, life rafts, EPIRBS, dinghy, flash lights and more.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of a catamaran. With a catamaran, if you're upside down you'll stay upside down and that can be deadly in the middle of the ocean.

Verdict: A monohull's self-righting capabilities can be life-saving, but are not guaranteed. On the contrary, a catamaran has many safety features, the main one being its unsinkability, making it slightly ahead in terms of safety.

speed and performance


If everything stays the same, including length, a catamaran is around 30% faster than a monohull. A cat can sail at half the wind speed, but of course that depends on the wind angle. It remains the faster ship and allows you to reach your destination quickly. If anything, you can escape inclement weather by boarding a catamaran.


Monohulls are generally designed to work comfortably with the sailing elements. This means they don't fight these elements and in return offer slow but safe sailing. However, they do not have less wetted surface area and are certainly much slower compared to catamarans. They can still be a good choice for sailing upwind.

Conclusion: When it comes to speed, the catamaran wins hands down. No argument.



Of course, a catamaran is constructed with two parallel hulls that give it a more reliable form of stability. This is crucial to prevent heeling and capsizing while reducing the risk of over-speed roll. This stability is also of great importance in eliminating passengers' seasickness.

The stability of a catamaran is one of the main reasons why capsizing is very rare. A catamaran can tumble when the wave crests are within a certain distance, resulting in less bobbing.


The stability of a monohull is always questioned, especially when compared to a catamaran. To put it in perspective, a monohull is four times more likely to capsize than a catamaran because it is inherently less stable. If anything, a mono's single beam design makes it seven times more likely to feel the effects of heel than a catamaran of the same size. Heel is essentially a big problem with monohulls.

Verdict: The high level of stability that a catamaran brings to sailing will make even an inexperienced sailor feel like they can sail on a catamaran. In contrast, a monohull is less stable and appears to be in constant roll and pitch motion, making it very unstable and unsafe to walk around the deck.



In most cases, cats always have two engines that are almost 20 feet apart. Not only does this give you excellent control in tight situations, it also eliminates the need for a bow thruster. While it may seem redundant to have a dual engine cat, if the first engine develops a mechanical problem while out on the water, you'll appreciate the importance of the second engine.

The catamaran's shallow draft also plays a big part in maneuverability in the sense that you can navigate to places that you can't get to with a monohull, such as. B. near the coast without thinking about running aground.


From another point of view, a monohull may be better in terms of maneuverability since you're not dealing with two hulls. A monohull can also make sharp turns and even sail through narrow canals and tight spaces, which is almost impossible with a catamaran. In addition, a monohull has greater hull displacement, which is essential to reduce the adverse effects of crosswinds, especially in tight conditions.

Conclusion: The differences in maneuverability are small for both the catamaran and the monohull. The fair verdict here is a draw.

Docking and anchorage


Without ballast or a sizable keel, a cat's overall weight is significantly reduced. This makes it lighter and it is therefore not uncommon for a 36ft catamaran to explore some of the shallows where a monohull dares not go.

However, a cat's wider and unique size means it will not easily fit onto a traditional slipway, and this requires a unique set of skills and careful planning to anchor to most docks. This means that finding the right spot at the dock can be quite difficult, so you may have to go ashore in a dinghy.


A monohull is much easier to dock as it takes up less space compared to a catamaran. This means your mooring, towing and slipping costs are much less than that of a catamaran.

Verdict: Does it make sense to bring two boats ashore? Well that's what you do when you have a catamaran and it certainly loses out to the mono in terms of docking and anchoring.

driving comfort

A comfortable ride is without a doubt one of the most important things to consider when looking for the right boat for you.


The fact that a catamaran is designed with a wider footprint is of great importance in mitigating the negative effects of the unpredictable roll and pitch that sailing is known for. A catamaran has a wide surface, which makes it more comfortable and stable. Therefore, it is much easier and safer to cook while sailing.

Again, your passengers in a catamaran are less prone to seasickness as there is less pitching and a cat doesn't roll from swell to swell like there is on a monohull. That's not all; Walking on the deck of a catamaran is much easier and safer as the boat is flat. This makes reefing much easier and safer and your chances of falling overboard are greatly reduced. More importantly, sleeping in a catamaran is more comfortable because it never heels.


In terms of cruising comfort, a monohull offers smooth sailing because it doesn't hit or hit the water like a catamaran. Because it works harmoniously with the sail element and does not fight it like a catamaran, especially when sailing upwind. However, seasickness due to the constant rolling and pitching of a monohull.

Bottom Line: If you want a comfortable sailing experience, a catamaran has many advantages over a monohull as long as it has excellent bridge deck clearance that dissipates wave action.



A catamaran is generally equipped with two of everything. From the two hulls to the two engines you seem to get things double which can be reliable when sailing if there is a problem with one part. In other words, you always have a backup.

However, maintenance costs can be high if you need to maintain the boat even though you can still use one part if the other part doesn't work.


The fact that you only have individual parts means that you have to be very careful and ensure that your monohull is regularly serviced or repaired. Fortunately, maintenance and repair costs are greatly reduced compared to those of a catamaran.

Conclusion: It is highly unlikely that you will take your catamaran out if either hull or engine is defective. The monohull wins this.



The cost of a catamaran is considerably high as everything seems to come in pairs. However, catamarans are known to have high resale values, very low depreciation rates and can sell much faster than monohulls as they are more popular with modern sailors. But since catamarans are not widely available in the United States, their cost is still high since you have to factor in shipping costs.


If you decide to buy a monohull, you should keep in mind that these are widely available in the market, so their cost may be a bit lower compared to catamarans. Again, the low maintenance costs will work to your advantage.

Conclusion: The cost of buying and maintaining a monohull is quite low, so it is the best choice if you are on a tight budget but still want to enjoy sailing. Catamarans are very expensive to build and more expensive than monohulls.

deck space


The amount of deck space that a catamaran offers is huge and always very spacious. The space a cat can give you is one of the main reasons why you should choose a cat if you are looking for comfort or planning to live on board the ship.


In contrast, monohulls are narrower compared to catamarans; hence they have very limited deck space. This is particularly mitigated by the fact that they have extra storage space.

Conclusion: A catamaran has much more space on deck and thus wins.

load balancing


Unlike monohulls, catamarans are rectangular and more stable. This is important to give passengers more freedom without necessarily having to worry about how their weight is distributed in the boat.


A monohull is almost like standing on one leg and balancing can be quite overwhelming. This means that the weight of the passengers must be evenly distributed to ensure the boat is balanced. This of course limits the freedom of the passengers and any imbalance can cause the boat to capsize.

Bottom line: you don't have to worry about load distribution on a catamaran, but this can be a negative issue on a monohull.

fuel efficiency


If you want to save money by reducing fuel costs, a catamaran is an ideal option. A cat generally experiences little drag or drag and does not require much fuel to move. They also have a steady increase in speed, meaning there is no sudden increase in fuel consumption.


In comparison, the drag created by the larger displacement in a monohull means there is more drag and this translates to higher fuel consumption.

Verdict: A monohull uses more fuel than a catamaran, so a Cat is the ideal option if you're looking for fuel efficiency.


To that end, it's easy to see that a catamaran is the best option in many ways. That doesn't mean that a monohull doesn't have its perks. Of course, just like a catamaran, it has both advantages and disadvantages.

And even if the catamaran comes out on top, the final decision is yours and may depend on personal preference. Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy your sailing vacation.


Is a catamaran easier to sail than a monohull? ›

It's less tiring to sail a catamaran than it is to sail a monohull. Sailing flat has definite advantages. If you are into SCUBA diving, carrying tanks and all the assorted equipment is much easier on a cat. It's also a lot easier in many cases to board a cat on the sugar scoops than it is on many monohulls.

Is a catamaran better than a sailboat? ›

A catamaran is much better than a monohull in many ways. Catamarans are more stable, faster, and spacious. They also offer safer anchorage and are easy to control. Monohulls are more maneuverable, have lower costs, and better when sailing upwind.

Why is a catamaran better than a monohull? ›

Most notably, a monohull vessel has only one hull, or main body, whereas a catamaran has two hulls. Because of these two hulls, catamarans typically stay more level than their single-hulled counterparts. They also tend to offer more space, and arguably will go a lot faster.

What is the disadvantage of catamarans? ›

Disadvantages of catamarans

Charter of catamarans is more expensive than yachts of the same length, sometimes it is 150% more, sometimes 200% or even 300% more. expensive marinas - for catamaran (due to its width) crews are charged about 150% of that what pay sailboats of the same length.

Why are catamarans not popular? ›

Catamaran yachts are not suitable for sailing sport. They can be just great to go for a vacation or even to live on them, just like in a houseboat, but it is exactly because of their stability that half of the yachtsmen would never buy them.

Are catamarans good in rough seas? ›

Yes, catamarans are good in rough water. One of the reasons for this is that boaters have the option to steer from the inside during bad weather. What's more; the size, bridge, and bridge clearance all contribute to catamarans being a joy to drive when the water conditions are less than ideal.

Do catamarans flip easily? ›

A large modern catamaran has plenty of buoyancy and exceptional roll inertia. Together these make a capsize, or inversion, highly unlikely. A 30-foot breaking wave hitting a cat abeam will simply make the boat surf sideways.

Which is safer catamaran or monohull? ›

As catamarans don't have heavy, lead-loaded keels, they will remain afloat, even when (heaven forbid) they are holed. This is because most modern catamarans have such a large amount of buoyancy built into them that they are almost unsinkable, making them much safer than monohull sailboats in this regard.

Are catamarans safe to sail across the Atlantic? ›

Catamarans are safe for ocean crossings. In fact, catamarans are often much safer than similarly-sized monohulls offshore. Safety comes from increased motion comfort, great stability, speed, and excess buoyancy due to lack of ballast.

Are catamarans hard to sink? ›

When speaking about safety, the main argument for catamarans is that they are unsinkable. Sailboats can sink, but very rarely can capsize, because they have better abilities for straightening.

What is safer a sailboat or a catamaran? ›

The truth is that catamarans are one of the safest types of boats around. Catamaran does not have ballast which makes it virtually unsinkable. Meanwhile, a monohull sailboat has a 5000-pound lead keel that is constantly trying to drag it down to the depths of the ocean.

What is a good size catamaran to live on? ›

Size. The best liveaboard catamarans range in size between 30 and 50 feet, width 40 feet being the comfortable average. In general, vessels smaller than 30 feet simply lack the space to include a practical interior layout.

Can catamarans go in shallow water? ›

Catamaran vessels rely on the buoyancy of their parallel hulls as opposed to a single hull, meaning they can incorporate a shallower draft without sacrificing stability or the ability to navigate effectively. Monohull vessels, by design, rely on a deeper draft to ensure both stability against capsizing and heeling.

Can a catamaran be sailed solo? ›

Catamarans are known for their stability and comfort, but are they too complex to sail single handed? You can sail most small and medium-sized cruising catamarans by yourself. Thanks to technological advances such as electric winches and powered sail control, it's easier than ever to sail a catamaran single handed.

Is a catamaran more stable than a sailboat? ›

Much more space on a catamaran! Catamarans are far more stable than monohulls so they do not heel when sailing, and are less prone to rocking when at anchor. Making for a much more comfortable boat! Catamarans have a shallow draft which allows them to enter shallower areas.

What is the point of a catamaran? ›

There are multiple benefits of catamarans. They are faster, more stable and spacious, and have shallower drafts allowing safer anchorage closer to shore. Being on a stable platform with no heeling cuts down on crew fatigue and seasickness leaving the crew more alert and in control of the vessel.

What is too windy for a catamaran? ›

What is too windy for sailing? Generally, anything over 20 knots can be too much to handle for many sailors, especially if they're in a gusty area. More experienced sailors will head out in up to 25 knots (gusting 30-32). You should decide when to stay at the dock based on a variety of factors.

What is the best size catamaran for ocean sailing? ›

The best size catamaran to sail around the world is 45 to 50 feet. The smallest catamaran with space for long-term provisions and a cabin is around 30 feet in length, and a 55 to 60-foot catamaran is the largest that can be accommodated at most marinas.

What boat hull handles rough water the best? ›

V-Bottom Hulls

V-shaped hulls are also planing hulls. They are typical among powerboats, as they allow the boat to reach high speeds and plane on the water while remaining steady in choppy conditions. The deeper the V shape, the better the boat can handle rough water.

How much does a 40 foot catamaran cost? ›

The average price of an average-sized 40-something—foot used catamaran is around $250,000. Age doesn't vary much, as these kinds of catamarans have only been popular since the 1990s. The lowest price you'll probably find for a used catamaran is about $100,000.

Does a catamaran hull pitch in waves? ›

When a catamaran encounters a wave at the bows it will first immerse the bows more deeply which starts them rising upward due to the increased buoyancy of the immersed hull. As result the boat will rotate (pitch) positively.

Are catamarans a good investment? ›

With demand like that and frenzied buying, used catamarans in particular, hold their value very well. In some cases, for the more popular owner version models like Lagoon 42 and Lagoon 450 Sportop, the seller can fetch full asking price almost without fail.

What is the safest sailboat in the world? ›

What are the safest sailboats available?
  1. Wayfarer. The wayfarer is a large two-man sailboat. Someone can sail it solo if they wish, but that might take a little more practice. ...
  2. Flying fifteen. The flying fifteen is a sturdy two-man keelboat. ...
  3. Sprint 15 Catamaran. Catamarans are great boats for beginners.
Jun 15, 2022

What size sailboat is best for Atlantic crossing? ›

In essence, your sailboat shouldn't be less than six feet at it may be too dangerous out there. With that in mind, the best sailboat to cross the Atlantic should measure at least 30 or 40 feet long to be able to withstand the stormy weather and the rough waves and winds.

Is it easier to sail east or west? ›

At tropical latitudes, sailing West-about is usually the easier way. This is thanks to prevailing winds blowing from East to West.” He adds that “sailing at high latitudes is almost exclusively the preserve of Ocean Races.

What is the easiest type of sailboat to sail? ›

Sailing dinghies are usually rigged with one mast and one sail and offer kids and new sailors simplicity so it's easy to learn the ropes. Less overwhelming than boats with two sails, dinghies are light and responsive. They also have a shallow draft due to side or centerboards so they can be sailed just about anywhere.

Are catamarans good for beginners? ›

Catamarans are perfect for beginners. They are by far the most stable of the choices, even if they might end up being more expensive. A catamaran has two hulls and is typically far wider because of this. This makes your likelihood of capsizing very low.

What kind of sailboat Does Jimmy Buffett have? ›

Buffett's motor sailing yacht Drifter is a 15.24 metre Pacific Seacraft.

What are the cons of sailboats? ›

  • Lack of space. Regardless of the size and features of a sailing yacht, she is always too small. ...
  • Limitations all over the place. Water tanks are limited to certain capacity. ...
  • Long distances. ...
  • No absolute control. ...
  • Interpersonal relations. ...
  • Temperature. ...
  • Seasickness. ...
  • Storage place.

Can catamarans cross the ocean? ›

Catamarans are safe for ocean crossings. In fact, catamarans are often much safer than similarly-sized monohulls offshore. Safety comes from increased motion comfort, great stability, speed, and excess buoyancy due to lack of ballast.

Do you get less seasick on a catamaran? ›

Catamarans have two hulls, they rock laterally (side to side) significantly less than a monohull. We highly recommend first-time charters of sailing yachts to charter a catamaran for lots of reasons, and reduced seasickness is one of them.

What is the advantage of a catamaran? ›

Catamarans' parallel hulls create reliable form stability, which prevents heeling and capsizing, and greatly reduces the vessel roll at rest and at trolling speeds. One of the most obvious advantages of catamaran stability is in the elimination of seasickness for passengers.


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