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.
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.
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”.
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