Cruising in Catamarans is an ideal primer for any Good Old Boat reader who has been thinking about the possibility of getting into multihulls but hasn’t a clue where to start. Chuck Kanter offers chapters on matching boats to your needs, design parameters, including trimarans, and reviews statistics and diagrams of more boats that fit our definition of a good old boat than you might expect.

The title of the book is somewhat deceptive in a magazine market that is totally focused on the dream of travel by sail. While Chuck does give a thorough education about how to sail a multihull, his interest lies in the different types of boats he has surveyed, sailed, and reviewed. A more accurate title might have been Multihulls I Have Known because even though this book offers a vast panorama of different new and used boats, it’s a market that changes constantly. Several Prouts are listed as new although that venerable factory has disappeared; and Fountaine-Pajot and Lagoon, two major French manufacturers, get relatively short shrift despite their huge output. However elderly British designs are listed in enormous detail, which is why I suggest this book will be a delight for a good old boater looking for an inexpensive way to get into multihulls.

Chuck’s enormous experience as a surveyor gives him a sharp eye for details that will alert a careful reader to design flaws that could make multihull ownership a burden instead of a delight. He doesn’t simply trash a design. Instead he tries to explain what sort of owner might best appreciate the particular model. In his review of the Packet Cat, he gives a thumbs up to a design that has had many critics among multihullers: “A multihull orthodoxy has grown up which has as its central theme, ‘in a multihull if you haven’t got speed you haven’t got anything.’ . . . Many people are taking advantage of the other sterling qualities of cruising catamarans such as shallow draft, non-heeling level sailing, seakindliness, large deck area, and interior volume. These cruisers are willing to sacrifice the possibility of high speed . . . for creature comforts.”

Even if you still harbor the delusion that we multihullers live at constant risk of capsize, Chuck will explain far more patiently than I ever could why a catamaran is inherently safer and more comfortable than a monohull. Join the sailing revolution with this excellent primer! I wish someone had offered me all this useful information when I decided to switch to multihulling. In fact, even though I have been a catamaran sailor for six years, I still found helpful information in this book. You will, too.

Now, all we need to do is get Good Old Boat to feature some of these good old multihulls and their owners happily sailing on more than one hull!

Cruising in Catamarans by Charles E. Kanter (Sailco Press, 2002; 406 pages)