11 Reasons Why We Chose A Small Catamaran


We get asked why we chose a small catamaran to go cruising on a lot, especially by other cruisers with big monohulls. Here are eleven reasons why we chose Kittiwake over other boats.

You’ll notice a recurring theme – our boat was cheap to buy (£9.5K) and get ready to cruise (£3K), and is still cheap to run, repair, and maintain now. That, above all, is what influenced our decision.

1) Shallow draft

We can get up closer to shore in anchorages, as we’ve got a shallow draft. That means it’s less rolly for us to stay at anchor, and we don’t need to row as much when going to shore in the dinghy.

2) No heeling

Being a catamaran, our boat doesn’t heel, which means Elena doesn’t get as seasick as she’d get on a monohull. We’re happy to pay the price of the slapping noise for a flat boat.

Sunset from a sailboat

3) Cheap mooring fees

If we have to stay in a marina or a boatyard, the charge is rather small. We found a few places that charge us like a monohull because our the boat is small and the beam is only 4meters (tiny for a catamaran).

4) Small rig

Our rig is so small, we sail as if we had one reef even when we have full sails out. This makes it near impossible to capsize our boat and we feel safe on board. It also means the boat is very easy and comfortable to sail.


5) Less attractive to thieves

We’re the less likely boat to get broken into in an anchorage, as there’ll always be a fancier, more attractive boat nearby.

6) Cheap sails

Our white sails costed £300 and £500 each, so if they rip or need replacing, we can easily and quickly replace them.

7) Centre cockpit

We have a centre cockpit with high sides which shelters us from the wind and makes it super safe to sail our boat.


8) Outboard engine as main engine

Our engine is a 9.9 Yamaha outboard. That means we can easily take it out of its well to service it or repair it. Asking a professional to look at it would also be cheap because we can take it to shore on the dinghy. If it breaks down, we can replace it fast (it’d cost around £2K). Although small, our engine takes the boat to up to 5 knots of speed and has been able to go against powerful gusts of wind.

9) Tons of space

For the same price as a similar size monohull (under £10K), we get double the space, and a square, standard-size double bed. We believe the space in our 26ft catamaran is the equivalent to that of a 40ft monohull, except for the standing room. We get lots of space, at a fraction of the price.


10) Small, easy to replace standing rigging

We’ve been able to assemble and put up our small and simple standing rigging ourselves, so if a wire or toggle need replacing, we can easily go up the mast and do it ourselves. It also means replacing the whole rig won’t cost us much (around £800).

11) Great downwind sailing

Sailing downwind on kittiwake is comfortable, fast, and good. We don’t need to worry about broaching, as we would on a monohull. And guess what? We do most of our sailing downwind, so it really pays off.

SV Kittiwake


If you’re looking to go cruising on a small sailboat, I cannot recommend enough Lin and Larry Pardeys’ book The Self-sufficient Cruiser. Lin and Larry have cruised for most of their lives in comfort, without huge amounts of cash, making a living along the way, just as we do. They are an inspiration for people all over the world and they convinced us to “go small, go simple, go now”.


*This blog post may contain affiliate links, BUT we only recommend products or books we truly love.

  • George

    who is the builder of your catamaran? there are not too many 26 available.

    1. Sailing Kittiwake

      Pat Patterson, in 1977. There were 4 or 5 HTs in the UK when we were looking. A lot of Brits seem to have taken them to Greece or the USA.

  • Jim D

    So I’m an older guy that’s been trying to get into sailing for 30 years – long story. But I’m finishing off a 30′ cat that I’ve been thinking of naming Kittiwake! Perhaps it is still fine since I’m in the USA. I imagine there’s maybe a few more out there. We have Black-legged kittiwakes here in NW Alaska. Anyway, found your blog and enjoyed looking through some of your articles.. hope to get to more of them soon. As I’m new to sailing, (I’ve done a little – crewed with two others going across the gulf of Alaska and some inland passage SE Alaska) it is good to read of your experience.

    Slight chance I may be able to launch late this coming summer. Still need paint, then electrical, plumbing, rig. So maybe too optimistic. Building rudders presently and maybe even build the boom. But getting close. It is good to see photos of boats such as yours as it helps me figure out how to do things.

    1. Sailing Kittiwake

      Thanks for your comment Jim. Sounds like you’ve got a lovely project on your hands. What model is your cat? There are many boats called Kittiwake, so you should be OK 🙂 Fair winds and best of luck with your boat projects – it’ll all be worth it once you’re out on the water.

  • Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor

    I like point #5. Our current boat is usually older, smaller, and less snazzy looking than other boats anchored nearby, so hopefully thieves will look elsewhere. Our first boat in New Zealand was a 26′ monohull and there were definite advantages to going smaller.

    1. Sailing Kittiwake

      Cheers Ellen! Yes, definitely 🙂 And that’s great you started off small – we think it’s the best way to get started.

  • Peter

    I really like the look and feel of your boat. I’ve never cruised on a cat but your boat makes it look worth a try.

    1. Sailing Kittiwake

      Thanks a lot Peter!

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