Catamaran VS Monohull Sailing – What Are the Differences?

There has been an ongoing debate about catamaran vs monohull sailing for as long as I can remember. Many friends of mine and other sailors I have encountered are solidly on either one side, or the other with very few playing a diplomatic role.

I’ve tried to understand the rabid conviction of some of my friends but decided that it is simply a matter of opinion. The truth about monohulls and catamarans can be broken down by category, giving you a clearer picture of the differences between the two.


Space & Comfort



Multihulled vessels have the advantage of a lot more space for passengers to spread out. The stability of the vessel allows for a smoother, safer sail that is hardly felt by passengers and, even in rough seas, you items aboard won’t be upset, so you won’t need to have to clean up all the things that spilled following a rough sea.



There is far less living space aboard a monohull. Personally, I think there is plenty of space if you are sailing alone or with just one other person, but more passengers than that will trip over one another. You will also feel the motion of the water a lot more aboard a mono, so if you get seasick, this will make it worse.




Essentially, the lighter the boat, the more stable she will become. If a multihull boat is overloaded, especially at either end of the boat, it will have a harder time remaining stable and keeping motion to a minimum. Catamarans also have a far decreased chance of sinking due to damage to the boat. The design of the vessel keeps water from any hole it may suffer from sinking the boat with the use of watertight compartments.



A monohull is generally stable and can be bounced around by waves and rough weather and suffer few ill effects. However, monohulls will take on water if the hull has been damaged. This flaw in the design may never actually pose a threat to passengers if nothing ever damages the boat, but the possibility always exists.


Under Sail



There is a long-standing misconception that cats don’t sail well and bog down, but this is false. Catamarans, in fact, perform better than monohulls, but they are hindered by the tendency to be overloaded. So, while the cat is capable of an impressive show as the wind picks up, it will not reach its full potential if it’s too heavy.



Monohulls can accommodate larger loads than cats, allowing them better performance under sail. Windward, the mono is powerful and impressive in performance. However, monos tend to sail a bit slow and can be tiresome to control and maintain the sails.




When a cat is anchored it stays stable and you will soon forget that you’re in the middle of the water. I also suggest taking out a cat if you are sailing for the first time, if, for no other reason, then the fact that you will suffer from minimal seasickness. I’ve had never seen anyone become seriously ill aboard a cat and I never expect to!



Unfortunately, a mono is easily tossed about by waves, so if it is anchored during a storm, hold on tight. I admit that I enjoy a monohull, but I hate picking up after bad weather. I would also never take a novice sailor out in a monohull if they haven’t developed sea legs yet.


Fuel/Tank Capacity



Most of the space in a cat is devoted to living space, making fuel capacity less than what you would find aboard a monohull. Fuel will need to be replenished more often.



A mono has a large capacity for fuel since it does not have a lot of living space. You essentially sacrifice comfort for fuel capacity.


Catamaran Pros & Cons



  • Easy to control
  • Fast & lt
  • Large cockpit and deck areas
  • Lots of space to spread out or seek privacy from other passengers
  • Can withstand damage and is not likely to sink under the same conditions that would take down a monohull
  • Stable and motion is felt less by passengers



  • Upwind performance is lacking
  • Does not have the capacity carry large loads, unlike a mono
  • Docking can be bothersome because cats need double the space of a traditional mono vessel
  • Requires refueling more often


Monohull Pros & Cons



  • Well-balanced
  • Performs well under sail
  • Can carry more than a cat without being bogged down




  • More difficult to control
  • The hull is vulnerable and, if damaged, can sink the boat quickly
  • Less living space
  • Motion of the water and wind is strongly felt


In Conclusion

In the end, choosing between a monohull and a cat comes down to personal preference. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but it’s up to you which one is best for your needs. I find that there are certain regions where I’d prefer one type of boat over the other, but I would suggest you listen to yourself and not be drawn into the debate by the more insistent debaters. It’s your vacation, so you choose the type of boat you want!

View all the catamarans

View all the sailing yachts


Which yacht do you prefer, catamaran or monohull? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Catamaran VS Monohull Sailing – What Are the Differences?”

  1. This is a very interesting article, but I think it’s very clear which side you come down on! I would tend to agree and you have laid the key points out nicely to create a strong argument for the cat. I have been on both, but I’m definitely not a sailor, but the thing I remembered the most was the smoother ride that you get with the cat. So I agree with you!

    • Hi Ruth,

      Yes, you get a smoother ride with a Cat than with a Mono due to the two hulls and not to forget that the Cat is lighter than a Mono:)

      Thank you for the comment

      I wish you a great day!

  2. Hello Daniella, I am mostly a ballast when sailing but thank you for this nice article.
    I’ve been curious what are the differences of catamarans vs monohulls and thanks to You now i have a little better understanding. And since i was sailing on monohull now it’s time to check out catas 😉
    Maybe You could you provide some more information about renting prices of catas vs mono ? I couldn’t find it here and I think it could also play a big factor when chartering a yacht.

    • Hi Jerry,

      You are right, I didn’t mention this important detail. Sorry about it! Here is the answer. A Catamarans is generally more expensive than a monohull of the same size and the reason is because the cat is a larger boat. But you’ll get the payback in the comfort and space.

      I hope it helped!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a nice day

  3. For myself I have always owned a mono haul sailboat for the fun of sailing around. To actually do a trip on one with others, I would choose the more spacious catamaran for down south in the warmer waters.

    Not knowing much about the catamaran, it was nice to read a side by side description to have a better understanding between the two.

    • Hi Travis,

      I am glad you found this article helpful and I hope it will help you to make the right choice. If you have never tried a catamaran, then I highly suggest you to try it, I am sure you will love it!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you to sail soon!

      Have an awesome day

  4. I’ll go for Monohull in this case. I’ll rather sail alone or take a person with me on board. Not keen on having a group.

    As I mention before, design is one thing I emphasise on but there are lots of people on board, I think I’ll stick by having more space than more passengers.

    Thanks for sharing by the way, Daniella! They’re very analytical and informative, just like the previous debate I red. Good stuff!

    • Hi Tar,

      As long as you feel good with your choice, then no matter what you’ll choose, it will be the good decision!

      I personally love catamarans:) I feel much more comfortable and safe on these boats and the seasickness is reduced to 80%, so I won’t give up on Cats!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you to sail soon!

  5. A Catamaran sounds awesome to me! I love that there is more living space and that they can be faster in the right winds. I’ve always thought they were so cool whenever I’ve seen one. So much space to relax and enjoy the ocean. I personally do more dinghy sailing and like for sailing to be more of a workout – hiking upwind and such. What big boats sail most like a dinghy?

    • Hi Chist,

      Yes, I totally agree with you, Catamarans are great boats for cruising. As you said, cats have everything in order to sail comfortably and in luxury as well. As far as I know, a dinghy will always be a boat and you can try to workout as you do it on a dinghy on a bigger boat like a catamaran or a monohull. If you want to navigate the boat by yourself, then you’ll need to check if you are required to have a license for bigger vessels. You might need to do a sailing course.

      However, I hope it helped and if you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time, I’ll be glad to assist:)


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