Over the last 10 years or so, both sailing and power catamarans have pretty much displaced single-hull vessels in the BVI and Caribbean charter industry. This has happened for well-founded reasons:
Space and Comfort
Generally speaking, catamarans are more spacious and can accommodate more guests in comfort than traditional sailboats. In most designs, the two pontoons house the cabins and bathrooms (heads). The salon, dining and kitchen areas are located in the slightly raised mid-section between the pontoons. There are many variations on this theme, such as extra cabins in the mid-section, galley up or galley down and other interesting design twists depending on the manufacturer and designer. There is always an outside rear deck area that can be used for dining as well as just hanging out. The netted forward bow area is ideal for sunbathing and on the larger cats, there is usually a nice upper deck where the captain runs the boat from and can also be used by guests for sunbathing.
Catamarans tend to be very stable, with very little “heeling over” – this is due to the twin hull design. Traditional single-hull sailboats tend to heel while “under-way” when the wind is blowing from any direction except from behind you. This “heeling” in which the vessel is literally moving along bent over sideways, makes many guests uncomfortable and can cause sea-sickness if you’re not used to it. Additionally, moving around the boat while traveling at an angle and with the deck slanting one way or the other, can be a challenge. Catamarans on the other hand, remain upright and do not heel even in strong breezes. However, all vessels are susceptible to the fore and aft “pitching” motion. No escaping Mother Nature and her wave patterns..!! However, the BVI waters are very protected and do not usually have uncomfortably high waves
The design of catamarans provides the owners and operators of charter vessels to cater for larger groups with the same number of crew members. Whereas the average number of guests used to be 6, now with the advent of catamarans the average number has grown to 8. From a client perspective, with larger groups and with everyone contributing (Yes, I know this is not always the case) the cost per person goes down.
Ease of Operation and Maneuverability
For the captain and crew, sailing a catamaran is easy and gives you or your captain a lots of time to put sails up and down, and is very tolerant when the sails are not set exactly right and very easy to approach a mooring or dockage. The downside is that catamarans do not usually “point” well into the wind. Well, you can always turn the engines on..!!
Overall, catamarans have taken over the industry. Not really a bad thing. Some traditionalists miss the single hull vessels. Personally I do not. Give me a nice cat any day.
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