CATAMARAN v.s. MONOHULL - did we make the wrong decision..!?

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

in december 2018 elena & i made the momentous decision to become liveaboard sailors and continue traveling the world from now on under sails only. it actually never was a real question what type of boat S.V. Liliput gonna become (yes, the name was already before the boat) and after watching only 4 catamarans, the least interesting boat (by poor advertisement & pictures in a local fb-group) was love on the first sight and we both knew already seconds after stepping a foot on the catamaran, this boat has a soul, this boat will be our future home. two years and 4.000 nautical miles later cruising and exploring the exotic islands of southern thailand and northern malaysia we never regret our decision - not for the type of boat and especially not for the type of catamaran. following a few reasons why a multihull is the perfect boat, at least for our needs as cruisers:

floating home

one hull is the owners, the other is our guests private area. the saloon and all outdoor areas are common space. a catamaran is literally like a 3-4 bedroom condo going to sea and as i need a minimum of 100 m2 to park it, it`s not that cramped as many people may think. as we both cherish our privacy, most of the time we are alone at home anyway and only our closest friends we invite aboard our little world sometimes. both of us never longed for any more space and our little dog guliver in particular has more than enough shady options to chill, in- and outside.

free to stay, free to go - even further

same as we love to drop the anchor in a new picture postcard bay on a new remote island, its always an exciting moment to lift the anchor and set sails towards the next exotic destination. on a multihull our reach is much wider, actually almost unlimited because we can carry much more water, diesel, sails, spareparts & provisions and have enough space for installing enough solar panels to run our watermaker and avoid the noisy need to run a diesel powered generator or a wind powered alternator. independent of power and water and fittet with enough space to carry unlimited shelf life food and fishing gear to get fresh protein twice a week we could stay away from civilization for months what gives us much more freedom, independency and flexibility in planning our trips. we love it fresh and also don`t eat meat on board of s.v. liliput so we do not need a freezer. but we had the space to easily build one in what would extend our independency to another few weeks or even months. the only problem: fresh veggies. after 2-3 weeks our last fresh veggies usually are consumed. but veggies also is the most easiest thing to get along our ways even on the most far away islands, as its the basic food of all people. and i know even some sailors who grow their own veggies or keep a chicken for the daily fresh egg on board of their catamarans.

what is your desire

we love the whole spectrum of the liveaboard sailing lifestyle but, because we can, of course we expect more. we carry two kayaks, a lot of photo equipment inclusive a drone, 6 sets of snorkeling gear, plenty of fishing equipment (traditional and spearguns) 4 full sets of diving equipment and 6 scuba tanks so we can pursue all our hobbies all the time in all of this wonderful places we sail. we even have a 22` tv but prefer to watch movies on our i-pads. no problem to carry all of this pleasuremakers as we have plenty of space to do so.

not necessary but quite nice to have

elena actually demanded only one thing before moving aboard a sailboat, a washing machine. this could have become a serious problem but its quite easy to realize if you have enough space like on a catamaran. as we have cheap (1,5 dollar/ kilo) laundry service here in se-asia on almost every corner and as we do not need many clothes (we do laundry usually once per month) in our lifestyle (its mostly towels and bedding linen) we never used it so far (saves energy, water and water producing energy) but i`m quite sure, one day during our journey far, far away from every infrastructure, we will highly appreciate it, maybe even love it.

reward yourself

living on a boat is not always like you may see it thru the instagram filters. there will be sleepless nights because of storms with strong wind, rain and bumpy swells. there will be grey & cloudy days, without even a little bit of the warming sun, pulling on your nerves and everything feels cold, humid & depressive. (yes, guliver & me don`t like rain at all) there will be the shocking thought crawling into your head, what if your anchor starts dragging now? in the night, during the storm!? sometimes you will be forced to stay on your boat for days because of by the storm caused high breaking waves what makes it quite dangerous to land your dinghy ashore. during this days you will appreciate your spacious saloon and the little things you can easily carry with you. a nice song in good sound quality from your decent bluetooth speaker, the odor from a real coffee machine brewing your morning elixir, the pleasant smell of warm apple cake from your working breadmaker can make even this dark & depressive days much brighter, maybe even pleasant. lucky you that you are able to carry all of this little happymakers easily with you.

sailor, satisfy your girl

both elena and me live quite minimalistic. we do not have anything aboard what has no purpose or what is not in permanent use. especially men can drive this topic to a peak and live by the very essentials. but girls are girls and will always be girls. very much limited space will just cause senseless discussions and girls never will understand that boat spareparts are no pleasure, just expensive necessities - at least for me. provide your girl (and kid(s)) some private compartments for their little treasures of happiness and its gonna become much more easy to feel like at home aboard your catamaran.

you get what you pay for

the more the boat, the higher the price, not only in length. catamarans are round 1,5-2 times pricier than monohulls in purchasing as in maintaining. two engines means doubles maintenance time and costs for parts & repairs but, if one engine gonna fail on the way, you`ll still have the other one working. same applies for toilets, by the way. in a marina you pay 1,5 times the price of a monohull for berthing but on anchor or on a mooring your boat gonna heal 85% less in comparison to a monohull if swell hits you in unfavorable frequency from the side. a monohull is much more difficult to capsize and may straighten up again by itself but who sail his liveaboard boat to the limit anyway? a shallow draft of less than 1 meter (monohull 1,60 m and more) gives you access to much more areas and you can anchor closer to some nice beaches or access some atolls earlier (tides) or in general. most cats you can beach without big efforts by yourself if you have to do some under water line paintjob or ruder/ prop checks/ repairs. a trustworthy haul out & back for less than 500 usd is quite difficult to find, even here in se-asia.

i could, but why should i

catamarans sail bad will be the most heard argument you`ll hear from the „real sailors“ if you tell them you plan to buy a catamaran. well, i`d say: there are boats who can sail faster and some boats are just not that fast and this applies for all types of sailing boats. liliput is a performance catamaran who could make 20 knots under sails but for what? why should i bring my home and my family to the limit and risk to get in trouble when weather conditions change suddenly or risk to break things or even loose the boat by capsizing or loosing my mast and endanger my beloved? liliput makes easy half of wind speed at on-wind courses even with the small self tacking blade i currently use (the big genoa is still in its sailing bag) and 6 knots cruising speed with one engine on 2.500 riffs. i calculate our trips with an average speed of 6 knots what gives me the opportunity to enjoy the sailing, perceive the beautiful environment we sail thru and most important, to have a close eye on my two trawling fishing lines i put out almost all time when we sail. if i`d like to race a boat, there are plenty of regattas around and many of the owners of this high performance racing boats are always searching for crew. i did 2 regattas so far, definitely too much hard work and drinking for my taste and advanced age and this procedure usually even goes over 3-4 days.

different people are on different missions and have different demands. i love all types of sailing boats but for us it was the right decision to go with a catamaran. for others maybe other boat types gonna suit better to their personal needs and before you did not spend some time on a few different of the available boat types, i`d say, its quite difficult to do a proper comparison - but trimarans are the new catamarans anyway, they say ;-))

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