Buying a catamaran is a definite statement and choice. Cats have particular attributes that need to be considered. People are either cat lovers or dog lovers. No wait, I mean catamaran or monohull.

Catamarans are a popular type of boat. Inherently stable, great living space, faster performance off the wind (but not so good into the wind), and shallow draft are just some of the key features cats offer that make them so popular especially in places where sitting around and soaking up the views in a sheltered bay are desired. They are a platform of fun to jump from.

Here’s our summary of what to look out for when buying your first catamaran. We have a series of guides e.g. if you are looking for a kayak try this article.

by Juvy Sumalinog, Dream Sails


Available Space

When it comes to space, a catamaran has an edge over a monohull boat because it has two long thin hulls with a platform across the two instead of one wide one. This space works out well for a living since the sleeping areas are functional though they are not spacious enough to accommodate # of beds ( which are typically positioned wall to wall) with no walking space around. So what, you only spend some time of your day sleeping. Catamarans offer more spacious living space in the galley, cockpit, and main salon. Check out the good use of space for you and your guests and also the internal access to engines, anchor lockers, cupboards, and stores.

Personal needs and preferences

Ask yourself a few personal questions. Do you prefer speed over space or are you looking for a vessel that can deliver both? Are you going to use it when sailing with your kids and your entire family? Who needs access to the washrooms and toilets? Are you planning to charter your catamaran or will it be exclusive for your private use only?

Budget and price

Catamarans are generally more costly than monohulls. But this does not mean that you can’t save money when buying a catamaran. There are a lot of ways to save big on your purchase.

Aside from the initial or upfront cost of purchase, also set a budget for the cost of owning the boat e.g. monthly payments, insurance, maintenance, repair, fuel, storage, equipment, and marina/port fees.

Another way to save big on your purchase is to buy catamarans in places that are often frequented by hurricanes like in Florida. You can find many catamarans sold at very cheap prices in these areas. Though you may find some flaws in cheap cats, the damages are often repairable and are less expensive to fix. We would hesitate to recommend buying such a project, though, unless you enjoy such physical and intellectual challenges.

Speed and safety

A catamaran can have more stability and natural buoyancy because of its width that makes it safer for young children, seniors, and other people who lack balance or who are not steady on their feet to walk around. A cat can’t be heeled over at 45 degrees like a monohull can.

In a cat, there is an option to outrun a storm but this may mean taking the course away from your intended destination.

Don’t forego sea trial

As with any boat purchase, before buying a catamaran, consider doing a sea trial. Take her out, not just in the marina, but out to sea if possible.

This will allow you to get a feel of the cat and to test the quality and function of its sails, reefing systems, and rigs.

Maneuvering and mooring a cat

It is also worth mentioning that mooring a catamaran is easier than a monohull. Most catamarans are designed with two engines and a dual rudder. This makes it easier to dock than a monohull. Most often, you don’t need a bow thruster when mooring a catamaran. But because they are bigger and wider, they usually take double space when docking. Most often, it will also cost you double to moor your cat in a marina. On that note, also consider if it is possible to actually get the cat into the marina, especially if there are lock gates, bridges, or narrow entrances.

Seek advice from a surveyor

As this might be your first cat, obtain the services of a marine surveyor. These professionals are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of owning a boat including the types that will best suit your requirements and the best places to sail or to buy cats.

Surveyors can also help you verify the quality and condition of the boat you are interested to buy as well as its ownership and VAT invoice. They can also provide you with professional guidance, especially when it comes to boat buying procedures and the needed legal documents.

Is it legal to sell?

No broker or surveyor will be able to give legal confirmation of ownership. One of the best ways to establish if there are no other claims to the ownership of a boat is to obtain even a small amount of financing. In which case, the finance company will do a search to ascertain any other claims (from other finance companies) to the boat. You will find a clause in all good broker’s contracts that limit their liability in case the boat turns out to be owned by a finance company or other party.

Ask to see the complete sequence of sales receipts, at least the one that the current owner should have checked, as well as the one used when the current owner bought the boat. Without such documentation be very suspicious. These purchases, after all, amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, euros, pounds, or equivalent and many catamarans can be a million plus.

How about enjoying a cat another way?

Do you really need to buy? All boats are a depreciating asset, costly to maintain, subject to high-risk wear and damage to a greater or lesser degree depending on where they are used. If you intend to use the cat for a few times a year only, it would be best to choose chartering over purchasing as it offers you better flexibility especially in terms of budget and being able to simply walk away from issues. By purchasing, you will only have one type of boat to own and enjoy and you can only sail in places where you moor it. Whilst, if you choose to charter and subscribe to a charter yacht-ownership program, you can use different types of boats and sail anywhere you want. If you buy a cat you will love it, you will have to, otherwise, it will quickly suffer and be even more costly. Purchase is really for lovers than likers of sailing.