If you’ve been out on the water for any period of time in the last 15 years, whether as captain, crew or simply one of the many people from around the world enjoying a boating vacation, it is impossible that you have not noticed the major increase in catamarans on the water.  Although the boom in the catamaran industry has taken place all over the globe, no place is it more evident than in the British Virgin Islands.

It has had an incredible impact on the charter boat business.  This was apparent at the last two prominent boat shows that took place on Tortola—The Charter Yacht Society Boat Show (last November) and The CharterPort BVI Boat Show (this past May).  Out of close to one hundred boats on display for visiting yacht brokers during these events, 75 per cent were catamarans of various varieties!


While neither endorsing catamarans nor denouncing monohulls (I like both), there is no denying the popularity of the cats.  At the same time, we all know that if you are a traditional sailing enthusiast (a sailboat is a sailboat is a sailboat), only one boat will do, and that means a monohull in one form or another.  It is just a matter of whether you prefer “lead-free” sailing (no keels) or “bury the rail in the water” sailing.

Reasons for the upsurge in catamaran popularity are many and varied.  Most that are designed and built for the charter trade have spacious salons, walk-in staterooms, practical galleys and sufficient storage space.  In addition, the large cockpits, flat decks and forward trampoline area make for a good time while outside.  Driving and manoeuvring the vessel can also be somewhat easier, especially if you are familiar with using twin screws.

A few potentially negative qualities associated with cats are the typically higher purchase price, the fact that most marina slips were originally designed to fit monohulls (think more expensive slip fees), and the fact that, once again, you are sailing without a keel (knowing when and how to reef your sails is extremely important).

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that there is really no perfect boat, but for the most part, they are all a lot of fun.  Whichever one you choose, one hull or two, get out there and enjoy yourself!

Bon Voyage!