Main Types of Catamarans Used in the Shipping World

A catamaran is a boat with two hulls instead of a monohull which the traditionally designed sailing boats have. They were designed to be fishing boats though their use has increased today. Generally, they have more interior space, saloons and cabins than a conventional sailing vessel.

The following points will enable us to understand the boat and its types clearly.

Origin of Catamarans/Cats

The fishing community ‘Paravas’ in Tamil Nadu first created the catamaran in the 17th century. The main feature of these boats was that they had two hulls which offered a lot of stability and balance compared to the other fishing boats of that era. This concept of two-hulled boats was adopted by the British and then made famous across the world.

Present-Era Cats

In the present times, cats have evolved from being mere sailboats or fishing boats. There are two basic design types of catamarans: Pontoon and SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull).

The former is relatively small, compact and uses floats (known as pontoons in marine slang) as a major technology to propel the water along with the dual hulls. In contrast, the latter is quite large and is designed primarily to maintain balance in sea areas with unpredictable currents and tides.

It has to be noted that in today’s times, all variations of catamarans are made of fiberglass or carbon fiber. They are motorised and engine-powered, making them even more reliable than they used to be before.

Physical Characteristics of Cats

Generally, charter catamarans have twin engines, one in each hull to manoeuvre. It also has a mast that supports the mainsail and another for the headsail. Power cats are an example of innovation, offering the best experience.

Power cats or multi-hull powerboats have large engines and no masts or sails. Their powerful motors give them high speeds, and their reinforced hull types handle their weight. Their demand is growing daily, and they are available in many stylish designs. Another feature of cats is that they can go into shallower waters, as they don’t have deep keels.

Catamaran sailboats have a minimum sail area of 470 square feet and a maximum of 2260 square feet. Some famous builders are Robertson and Caine, Lagoon, Seawind, Fountaine Pajot, Gemini and Leopard. They make catamarans with secondary inboard, outboard, electric and other propulsion systems in diesel, gas, and other fuel systems. Custom-made catamaran sailing vessels are a speciality of the Privilege Shipyard. Usually, the vessel’s average capacity depends on its size. Some can carry about 16 to 60 people.

These new vessels are sought for their rich legacy, greater draft and wide beam, which make them excellent for overnight cruising and day sailing.



Some of the main types of catamarans can be elaborated as follows:

Cruise Catamarans

These catamarans are also known as luxury catamarans or ferry catamarans. This is because they offer the best possible luxury to the passengers who take a trip in such ferries. And the addition of engines has made such ferries even more attractive to the crowd.

Also, the space between the two hulls is filled by a cockpit, a main cabin and netting for relaxing in the sun. Their size and stability is the reason for their popularity. With two hulls, there is enormous space on a catamaran above and below the decks, which provides comfort on sailing vacation. Hence, they are preferred by vacationers for their unique characteristics.

Cruise Catamarans

They also offer great speed, which ensures that the passengers get the cruise trip of their choice without any lapse in time. It has to be noted that luxury catamarans operate not internationally between nations but internally within a country.

Some popular cruise catamarans worldwide are the Stena Voyager (operating in the Irish Sea) and Victoria Clipper IV (operating between Seattle and Victoria in the USA).

Sailing Catamarans

 Catamaran sailing is another type and utility of a catamaran. Sailing catamarans are used for recreational purposes by people who want to experience the life of a sailor.

Catamaran sailing does not involve any place for residing in the boat. In other words, catamaran sailing can also be referred to as catamarans used as yachts.

The average speed achieved in a day in a sailing catamaran is up to 300 nautical miles. Such catamaran sailing was first introduced in Europe though it has started gaining popularity worldwide.

Sailing Catamarans

It has to be noted that catamarans are quite novel in their creation and development. Unlike other boats, they have not become inoperative or extinct.

Their name still commands unique respect, making a catamaran adapt more successfully to the changing era and times.

Frequently Asked Questions About Catamarans

1. What are catamarans used for?

Catamarans are a preferred option for day sailing, cruising, fishing etc. Many boat charter companies offer their customers yachts, motor yachts and catamarans. Though their design dates back 100 years, the updated and technologically updated catamarans have a massive demand in the sailing market.

2. What are the disadvantages of catamarans?

Catamarans are 150 to 200 per cent more expensive than yachts of the same length. Also, special marinas are built for these vessels due to their width. Also, they are costlier to maintain and repair than other similar vessels.

3. What is the speciality of catamarans?

Catamarans offer more stability as they have two hulls, which decrease the chances of people falling overboard. They are larger and more comfortable than normal sailing boats, not to forget their eye-catching designs.

4. Do they have washrooms?

Today, catamarans have all amenities, including saloons, seating areas, well-fitted washrooms and plenty of interior space. Also, during bad weather, they can be steered from inside.

5. What is the lifespan of a catamaran?

On average, a catamaran can last for 15 to 25 years and even 30 years if it is well-kept and maintained. Its lifespan also depends on the usage, type, quality of construction material etc.

You might also like to read

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used in the article, have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight. 

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

About Author

Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

Get the Latest Maritime News Delivered to Your Inbox!

Our free, fast, and fun newsletter on the global maritime industry, delivered everyday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *