Spectator — July 2002
By Tom Fexas
Are Cats Dogs?
|Part 2: Do catamarans have their place in the powerboat world?|
And there are other problems with a 24-foot-wide 50-footer. Slips designed for 24-foot beams are usually built to accommodate 70-foot or 80-foot vessels. Thus, you will be paying for a 70-foot slip unless you are lucky enough to be berthed on one of the few outside spaces available at some marinas.
There are alternatives. A few years ago we spent three or four days at the test tank of Stevens Institute, testing an 80-foot craft we dubbed "monocat." The idea was to overcome the looks and other disadvantages of twin hulls with a rather conventional monohull bow that forms twin hulls aft. It's a work in progress. Trimarans that incorporate a long, slender center hull with two shorter hulls (called pontoons or outriggers) well aft are much better from an aesthetic standpoint. This configuration produces a very rakish arrow shape and works well. As a matter of fact, the around-the-world speed record is held by just such a hull.
Actually, I applaud designers and builders who are constantly "pushing the envelope" for something new, different, and, most important, better. But let's not forget aesthetics. If looking at your boat makes you want to barf, this is not a good thing. If you are approaching your boat from the bow and are digging in your pockets for toll money because you feel like you are entering the Lincoln Tunnel, this is not a good thing.
Do catamarans have their place in the powerboat world? Sure they do, and I am certain that as times goes by and we dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists, well...die in the wool, a new generation of boaters (who don't know any damn better) might accept the way these things look. But for now, let's make catamarans better-looking, because venturing out in one now is akin to going out for a night on the town in a polyester leisure suit and white boots. You are telling the world you just don't give a damn anymore. Hey! I suddenly have a hankering for Doublemint gum. Bring on those Doublemint twins!
Fexas is a marine engineer and designer of powerboats. His Web site is
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.