What is a Catamaran?

Catamarans, or “cats” for short, are increasingly popular boats used for many purposes. Originating over 3500 years ago, these boats range from just a dozen feet up to a hundred or more. They are used for personal boats, cruising, and racing (as was seen in the 2013 America’s Cup). Catamarans offer a variety of benefits, make for a unique sailing experience, and have an interesting history.

catamaran infographicThe History of Catamarans

The known history of catamarans dates back to 1500 BCE and the Polynesian people. The word catamaran likely comes from the Tamil word “kattumaram,” which means “logs tied together.” Historians believe it was developed from the outrigger canoe, a simple binding together of two canoes with a sail attached.

outrigger canoeIn the following millennia, catamarans became more widely used in the Southern India. They were incredibly stable and effective for fishing, trade, and travel. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the West came into contact with these crafts. William Dampeer, an English explorer (and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times), wrote of catamarans in his account of his travels in 1697. He said,

On the coast of Malabar they call them Catamarans. These are but one Log, or two, sometimes of a sort of light Wood … so small, that they carry but one Man, whose legs and breech are always in the Water.

Over a hundred years later, in the early 19th century, Mayflower Crisp built a catamaran for use as a merchant ship in Rangoon. The boat, christened Original was known for being able to sail during monsoon season without wrecking. In the 1870’s an American by the name of Nathanael Herreshoff constructed his own double-hulled boat for racing. His boat, Amaryllis, was suprisingly effective. After this event, catamarans were banned from regular sailing classes. This ban was not lifted until almost 100 years later.

The mid-twentieth century brought more catamaran productions in the West. Eric de Bisschop sailed his “double canoe” from Hawaii to France in 1936, the Prout Brothers converted their boat factory to a catamaran factory in the mid 1950’s. Beachcats became popular, with the most notable producer being Hobie Alter, a California surfboard maker. Hobie cats are still popular today, with hundreds of thousands in existence.

racing catamaranCruising, Racing, and Sport

With a long history of many different uses, cats have been utilized in many different areas. Because catamarans generally experience significantly less resistance than monohulls, they are able to accelerate with more ease and less power. This has made catamarans a popular choice for racing and sport. The racing catamarans are often built because of its strength and relatively low weight. These boats can move at about 50 knots.

Cruising catamarans have become popular in recent decades. There is a trade-off with cats, as monohulls often offer bigger accomodations per unit of cost. However, catamarans can move quickly, draw much less water, and are generally more stable. Because they require two rudders and two engines, cost and upkeep is often much greater. There are versions of catamarans built as powered boats. These may be used as ferries, military vessels, and cruising craft.

Catamaran Benefits

We have spent quite a bit of time on the water, and love sailing. Monohulls and catamarans both have benefits, and we’ve chosen a catamaran for our charters for a few reasons. The cruising catamaran, like Tehiya, is a beautiful craft. She is stable on the ocean, can move swiftly through the waters in the Caribbean, and offers spacious cabins and salons.

Our catamaran is a beautiful 62′ cruising catamaran that offers the perfect blend of luxury, adventure, and comfort. Spending your time on Tehiya as we sail across the beautiful British Virgin Islands is a one-of-a-kind experience. Our amenities create an easy atmosphere, the crew is present to take care of your needs, and the experience of sailing is life-changing. Come join us on our beautiful catamaran for some smooth sailing!

Contact us today to book your charter in the beautiful British Virgin Islands!

Contact Us