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The Power Catamaran Compilation

  • By Yachting Staff
  • Updated: December 21, 2018

Power Catamarans have been growing leaps and bounds in popularity, and, in lengths and widths. And for good reason. These cruise-centric yachts offer homelike livability for avid travelers, are fuel efficient and are fairly intuitive to run. Power cats are popular in the bareboat charter market too, for these very reasons.

Here, we take a look at 12 catamarans ranging from a cruising-couple-size 36-footer to a 78-footer for friends, family and some more friends. And there are myriad power options: outboards, diesel inboards, hybrid or even all-solar power.

Fountaine Pajot MY44

fountain pajot my44

The Fountaine Pajot MY44 , a creation of Italian architect Pierangelo Andreani and French designer Daniel Andrieu, has a main deck that’s open from the aft-deck seating all the way forward to the starboard helm station. The sense of spaciousness is significant, for several reasons. First, four glass panels aft can all slide to port, creating an indoor-outdoor space with the aft deck and salon. In the salon, 32-inch-high windows extend for 12 feet down the sides of the yacht, with three sections per side, bringing in natural light along with the three forward panes that comprise the windshield. Finally, 6-foot-6-inch headroom provides vertical clearance, with a 21-foot-7-inch beam that adds interior roominess while keeping the yacht stable.

Read more: Fountaine Pajot MY44

Silent-Yachts 55

silent 55 yacht

The ideas about which solar panels, electric motors, inverters and the like to use — and more importantly, Michael Köhler says, how to configure them — became the basis for the brand Silent-Yachts. The company offers 55-, 64- and 79-foot catamarans that run on solar-electric propulsion. The Silent 55 premiered this fall, and the 64 is sold out for the next two years, Köhler says.

Read more: Silent 55

Horizon PC74

Horizon PC74

As founder and director of The Powercat Company, a Horizon Power Catamarans distributor, Stuart Hegerstrom had long believed that catamaran builders needed to design their yachts to more stylish standards.

“The boats were very boxy,” he says, based on his years of experience with cats in the charter market. He and his partner, Richard Ford, asked Horizon to produce models that had high-end finishes and looked good inside and out.

The Horizon team brought in mega-yacht designer JC Espinosa to work with its own craftsmen. The result aboard the Horizon PC74 is a catamaran with exterior styling, layout and functionality that should appeal to private and charter owners alike.

Read more: Horizon PC74

aquila 36

The Aquila 36 is a departure from her sisterships in that she is an outboard-powered, express-cruiser-style catamaran, but she also adheres to MarineMax’s philosophies.

With a single main living level from bow to stern and a beam of 14 feet 7 inches, the Aquila 36 is like a bowrider on steroids. She has seating that can handle 20 adults for outings and barbecues, and there are two staterooms below, one in each hull, for family weekending. The staterooms have nearly queen-size berths, en suite heads, stowage and 6-foot-6-inch headroom.

Read more: Aquila 36

Lagoon Seventy 8 Powercat

Lagoon Seventy 8

Lagoon is a division of Groupe Beneteau, the world’s largest builder of sailing yachts, and the Lagoon Seventy 8 Powercat is a developmental sistership of its Seventy 7 super sailing cat. The Seventy series yachts are built at Construction Navale Bordeaux in France, which had to add a new yard to construct these catamarans because they require separate stern molds for the power and sail versions.

Read more: Lagoon Seventy 8 Powercat

Horizon PC60

horizon pc60

To understand the Horizon PC60 power catamaran , you need to put aside preconceived notions about midsize yacht amenities. For example, main-deck master suites are the province of yachts over 100 feet length overall. Incorrect. This 60-footer has an elegant and spacious owner’s stateroom on the same level as the salon. If you want a 14-foot center console tender on a 60-foot yacht, you have to tow it. Wrong again. On the PC60, you hoist it onto the upper deck, no problem.

Read more: Horizon PC60

40 Open Sunreef Power

40 Open Sunreef Power

Sunreef is known for pushing the boundaries of catamaran design, incorporating four adjustable hydrofoils into a twin-hulled speedboat.

The Polish builder is one of several European builders (including Evo, Fjord, Wider and Wally) transforming the open ­day-boat category with creative designs. ­Beyond its hydrofoils, the 40 Open Sunreef Power ‘s cockpit has side “wings” along the aft gunwales that fold out at anchor, widening the beam from 17 feet to 22 feet 9 inches.

Read more: 40 Open Sunreef Power

Sunreef 50 Amber Limited Edition

50 Amber Limited Edition

Sunreef Yachts introduced its 50 Amber Limited Edition , with plans to launch just 10 hulls of the exclusive design.

The Sunreef 50 Amber Limited Edition will have a carbon fiber mast and boom, four layout options and numerous amber-colored elements, including the hull.

Read more: Sunreef 50 Amber Limited Edition

Lagoon 630 Motor Yacht

Lagoon 630 motoryacht

Fitted with the optional twin 300-horsepower Volvo Penta D4 diesels, the Lagoon 630 MY burns only 1.64 gph total at 6 knots, giving a theoretical range of 2,952 nautical miles with standard tankage of 793 gallons. Hull No. 1 had an optional 502-gallon tank, giving it transatlantic range.

Luxury, stability and economy are all hallmarks of Lagoon’s return to luxury motor yachts. If you can take a ride, it will be worth your time.

Read more: Lagoon 630 Motor Yacht

Fountaine Pajot MY 37

Fountaine Pajot MY 37

The Fountaine Pajot MY 37 easily accommodates the seafaring family with three- and four-stateroom options. In the three-cabin version, called ­Maestro, you’ll find an owner’s suite in the portside hull with a queen-size berth and en suite head. Two double-berth cabins and one more head are available for the kids. If your brood is bigger, the Quator setup features four double cabins with two heads.

The 37 is a traveler and can be powered with twin 150 hp or 220 hp Volvo Penta diesels. Top speed with the smaller engines is 17 knots, while it’s 20 knots with the bigger power plants. Interestingly, at 7 knots, the fuel consumption is the same, with either set of motors offering voyagers a 1 ,000-nm range.

Read more: Fountaine Pajot MY 37

Solarwave 64

Solarwave 64

Many yachts boast eco chops because they have a handful of solar panels that power the microwave or navigation lights. The Solarwave 64 , launched last summer, has the potential to run on sunshine alone. The vessel’s 42 solar panels generate 15 kW that are stored in batteries weighing about 1,300 pounds. They connect to electric motors.

Read more: Solarwave 64

Glider SS18

SS18, Glider Yachts

This British builder says it strives for design innovation and the Glider SS18 displays that DNA, the result of 8 years of research and development. She has a head-turning, catamaran hull form constructed from aluminum and composite materials. She is 60 feet LOA with a 17-foot beam, and has a relatively shallow 1-foot draft. Powered by quad Yamaha 300 hp outboards, she can reportedly reach 50 knots, and with her Stability Control System (SCS), should give a smooth ride while doing it.

Read more: Glider SS18

  • More: aquila , Aquila Boats , Express and Flybridge Cruisers , Fountain Pajot , Glider Yachts , Horizon Power Catamarans , Lagoon , Power Catamarans , Silent-Yachts , Sunreef , Yachts
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Top 6 Trawlers For Cruising With Families [Yacht Buyer’s Guide]

Fast, slow, large or small — these are the best trawler yachts for family fun on the water..

Looking for a boat to accommodate your family? Look no further than the trawler, boating’s distinct type of vessel that’s designed for long distanced cruising or extended vacations. Livability and practicality make trawlers a perfect family yacht . They offer spacious accommodation and versatility in performance while being easy for the captain to maneuver.

We’re featuring the top 6 trawlers for cruising with families, currently for sale with Denison Yachting. No need to pack light when setting out on an unforgettable boating adventure aboard one of these vessels.

1. Beneteau Swift Trawler 41

best catamaran trawlers

The Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 is a new addition to the swift trawler fleet and an excellent option for families. She’s affordable, spacious, and great on fuel — at a top speed of 23 knots, she can drive to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale with plenty of fuel left to cruise around and return without a refill.

Large interior windows create an ideal galley for parents to watch the kids play in the water while making lunch. She can accommodate up to seven people with three cabins, two heads, and fully equipped amenities to enjoy long-distance cruises or weekend trips with family and friends. She’s available in a flybridge or sedan style.

The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 exudes safety and luxury while preserving performance and comfort. The ST 41 will be featured at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 2020 — stop by to check her out or contact a Denison yacht broker for a private showing of this seaworthy cruiser.

2. 86’ Outer Reefs Yacht 2017

best catamaran trawlers

This 86′ Outer Reef Yacht , named Simon Says , was designed for travel. Her systems were built and optimized for sea conditions that would otherwise prevent a similar size yacht to seek shelter in the closest port. This trawler is made to accommodate a family, plus crew with eight cabins in total.

Her 3,500-gallon fuel reserve lets her sail comfortably for an extended period of time at a cruising speed that ranges from 8.5 knots to 14.5 knots. Her standout features include a sky lounge, beautiful teak, and spacious country kitchen that makes her the perfect trawler for accommodating families.

3. 70’ Marlow 2008

best catamaran trawlers

Pappy’s Toy is an elegant used trawler for sale with Denison Yachting. This family trawler was recently updated with a new bottom paint job, hull compound and wax, and new stabilizer seals. She’s equipped and built for long-range cruising with the help of a crew.

This 70’ Marlow is made for cruising with families because she’s comfortable, spacious, and homey. Her standout features include a wet bar, a large entertainment center, and a VIP guest stateroom. Pappy’s Toy is ready to take you on a luxury family adventure along the coasts.

4. Beneteau Swift Trawler 47

Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 — Boldly Designed

Another new addition to the Swift Trawler range is Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 47 . She offers more room and more power than your typical trawler. The ST 47 provides a true sense of comfort and the ability to take you farther and faster.

The new ST 47 features an open-deck layout, with large walkways and handrails to help passengers move around safely. Her generous cabin space can accommodate up to eight people on board the vessel. She combines those familiar characteristics of a classic long-range cruiser with the speed and convenience of a yacht twice her size.

5. 70’ Marlow 2005

best catamaran trawlers

Marlow Yachts were built with performance and innovation in mind. Bravo Zulu is the most well-equipped and meticulously maintained used Marlows for sale with Denison Yachting. Her updates were made with a family in mind, including a brand new electronics package, new teak decks on the swim platform, and a flybridge enclosure to protect from the elements.

Her three-stateroom, four-head layout with separate crew quarters makes her a comfortable trawler to live in. The master suite includes a king-size berth, office, and plenty of storage — there’s even a separate washer and dryer. You can easily spend weeks on Bravo Zulu and feel pleasantly at home on the water.

6. 65′ Hampton 2009

best catamaran trawlers

This 69′ Hampton 2009, named FeuryUs , is for sale in Old Saybrook, Connecticut with Denison Yachting. She’s in excellent condition with over $300,000 in upgrades, including new Garmin electronics, joystick dockmate remote control, and stabilizers with larger fins. FeuryUs is perfect for families or entertaining guests as she’s fully equipped with four cabins, four heads, a cozy salon, and a large aft deck. She’s stable and reliable, with plenty of space for storage and entertaining.

FeuryUs has the capability of a 1,500-mile range at 8 knots (900 rpm), but can be pushed up to 19 knots at full throttle (in case you need to outrun a storm or want to get back in time for happy hour on the dock). She’s is one of those yachts that make you feel unstoppable on the water, and she’s ready to make memories with you and your family.

Trawlers are an excellent choice if you’re in the market for a comfortable and spacious boat. Their large fuel capacity makes them ideal for long-distance cruising and overnight vacations. Contact a Denison yacht broker to find the right trawler for you and your family.

Latest News

best catamaran trawlers

NEWS | June 21, 2024

84′ cheoy lee 2012 sold by russ schafer [jus chill’n].

84′ Cheoy Lee 2012 Sold by Russ Schafer [JUS CHILL’N] JUS CHILL’N, an 84′ Cheoy Lee built in 2012, was sold by Russ Schafer, who introduced the Buyer. David Weist with RJC Yacht Sales represented the Seller. JUS CHILL’N has been professionally maintained with low hours and many extra features

best catamaran trawlers

100 Azimut 1996 Sold by Kit Denison [SAND DOLLAR]

100 Azimut 1996 Sold by Kit Denison [SAND DOLLAR] SAND DOLLAR, a 100′ Azimut built in 1996, was sold by Kit Denison, who represented the Seller. Felix Mari from Mari Yacht Sales introduced the Buyer. SAND DOLLAR is a beauty among giants, with her pristine white hull she stands

best catamaran trawlers

94′ CNB 2001 Sold by Pierre Badin & Jean-Marie Cabri [SAVARONA]

94′ CNB 2001 Sold by Pierre Badin & Jean-Marie Cabri [SAVARONA] SAVARONA, a 94′ CNB built in 2001, was sold by Pierre Badin, who represented the Seller, and Jean-Marie Cabri, who introduced the Buyer. SAVARONA, a performance world cruiser, was designed by naval architect Philippe Cabon and Frank Darnet (interior) and

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Best catamaran and multihull: We sail the very best yachts on two and three hulls

  • Toby Hodges
  • March 20, 2024

Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the best catamaran and multihull category in the much-anticipated European Yacht of the Year Awards

There are many categories in the  European Yacht of the Year  awards, from the best  luxury yachts  and  performance yachts  to the  best yachts for families  and event a  best specialist yacht category. But with multihulls rapidly increasing in popularity, the best catamaran and multihull category was possibly the most hotly anticipated.

The small number of entrants in this category in no way reflects the rich range or huge demand for multihulls. Many new models were launched by the big yards in the preceding years and they’re struggling to keep up with bulging order books.

However, these three shortlisted represented a choice pick of the latest fast cruisers and each, in their own very different ways, are responding to this insatiable demand for high end space and pace cruising.

Best catamaran and multihull

Best catamaran and multihull winner 2024 – outremer 52.

My highlight test of 2023? Sailing this Outremer 52 for 200 miles over two days and nights! Quite how such a large vessel, one that is capable of doing laps of the planet in true comfort, is also capable of providing such enjoyable sailing is the secret sauce that helps scoop this prize.

And it was pushed hard for this award by the disruptive HH. But the Outremer is such a well rounded, measured and thought out yacht for bluewater cruising at a reliable speed – it’s the full package, a dream boat for family bluewater sailing and arguably the French yard’s best and most refined model to date.

Designer VPLP was tasked with replacing the popular and well proven 51 with more comfort and stowage, while maintaining the performance. It says it took the best of the 55 (which won this award two years ago), and the best of the 51’s deck plan to create this 52. The result means too many good features to point out here, from the variety of helm positions, including a completely protected position inboard using the swing pedestal, to the well conceived spaces. I’d therefore recommend reading our full test report online or in YW’s June 2023 issue!

Neel continues to enjoy its cruising trimaran niche, using the wow factor of bridgedeck accommodation combined with the type of sailing enjoyment and feedback monohull sailors appreciate.

The impressive lightwind performance and direct feel of a Neel I am used to. But I don’t think I’ve ever been so surprised by the amount of cabins or space as I was on this 52. It’s available with four to six cabins plus the option for two crew cabins aft! Some of this maze works well, other areas, such as the forward cabins in the main hull not quite so well. Horizon and rig sightlines and some finishing also leaves room for improvement.

The HH44 seemingly manages to achieve the space and pace balance in a compact 45ft package, while also being one of the most innovative and exciting new production yachts I have sailed. From its looks to layout, to practical on deck solutions such as swing pedestals, side gates through the bulwarks and transom gates that double as swim platforms and boost cockpit security, it’s packed with fresh thinking.

And on the subject of ‘fresh’, the natural ventilation encouraged into the yacht through those massive forward facing coachroof windows which open – a feat made possible thanks to a stiff carbon composite structure – negates any aircon requirements.

With its deep carbon boards and tall carbon rig the HH44 is a powerful, reactive animal to sail. However, it’s the incorporation of the first parallel hybrid electric drive units which really makes this high tech high performance cat stand out. The electric motors are attached to the aft end of conventional diesel engines, not only providing silent power, but renewable energy through regenerative drives while sailing.

Best catamaran and multihull 2023

Best catamaran winner – nautitech 44.

If the very best catamaran delivers the ideal comfort to performance compromise, here’s a catamaran that seems to strike the perfect balance.

For those who cite a lack of visibility and protection as reasons not to choose this aft helm route, try sailing this first – direct steering brings so much more helming pleasure that you get the enjoyable feeling and communication more associated with a monohull. The attention to keeping weight low and central, vacuum infused vinylester build and a low coachroof and boom all aid this performance. The fine entry Lombard-designed hulls allowed us to properly point upwind at 8 knots (in 13), but it was the hands-on steering sensation that really stayed with me.

While there’s no real inside/outside boundary – the saloon bridges both – the Chedal-Anglay interior design works well. It is not as voluminous as some, but is certainly enough to be smugly comfortable at anchor, finished to a good quality, with walnut Alpi trim as standard. The layout option for a ‘smart room’ office/laundry/bunk room or stowage cabin is indeed really smart.

Out of all the multihulls nominated or sailed last year, this cat impressed me the most under sail. It’s the ideal size to go distance sailing, with good performance, low draught and space for family and friends. It had me dreaming.

Balance 482

I was drawn to the Balance 482, thanks to the combination of good looking modern design, high average speeds and, chiefly, the profusion of clever thinking and practical ideas that it brings. The South African build uses a foam core with E-glass laminate and cored furniture for a light weight of 11.3 tonnes, but also with the ability to take a generous payload.

An electric furler option combined with screecher sail helps offer effortless handling and fun sailing, although the 482 prefers a breeze in the double figures. Smart options such as load cells on the rigging, a bowsprit camera to monitor the anchor chain, plus engine room and mast cams all help for maintaining vigilance. Other features we like include the solar panels properly installed on raised brackets, raincatchers built into the coachroof, and how all sheets and lines are led to the helm station. But the prize solution is the VersaHelm, which allows you to swing the wheel inboard, close off the helm station, and stand watch and steer from a fully protected position.

Catana Ocean Class

The Catana Ocean Class is a bulky model which is geared more towards creature comforts than the higher performance of its predecessors. That said, it uses carbon in the structure and roof, foam cored furniture, the tanks are mounted low in the hulls and it has daggerboards and fine entry bows. The weight savings help it offer a massive 5.5 tonne cruising payload, plus there’s capacious stowage and large tank, refrigeration and laundry capacity.

Positioned between Lagoon and Outremer, the Catana echoes a bit of its sister brand Bali’s concept with its internal cockpit-cum-saloon layout while providing good ventilation via large sliding doors and opening windows. We liked how it’s easy to handle solo from one helm station, including the electric remote control of the boards, plus the layout of the galley and navstation.

Those chasing speed and helming pleasure should perhaps look to the C-Cat 48, as it’s as close to helming a fast monohull as a cruising cat is likely to get and one of the rare times we enjoyed sailing upwind in light breezes on a multihull! This is largely thanks to a lightweight, stiff build – the Comar yard has managed to save 1.7 tonnes over the first boat (9.5 tonnes light) and increased the draught of the curved daggerboards to 2.95m.

A carbon roof and rig comes as standard, as well as an epoxy hull, full carbon deck, bulkheads and compression beam. It is a little quirky with comparatively small volumes, but this François Perus design will outperform most other performance cats and monohulls of a similar length.

The Excess 14 shares that direct sensation you get from aft helms and some of the performance of the C-Cat, but in a more balanced, voluminous layout for cruising. The Excess 14 benefits from the research of VPLP’s Vannes racing office, where attention was focused on weight reduction, with savings particularly in furniture, on improved stiffness (PET foam cored sandwich for main structural bulkheads), and the efficiency of deeper fixed keels.

The result is telling on the water, as it should be for any best catamaran contender, where you can log easy miles: we clocked late 7s upwind, reached in the late 8s and regularly averaged 9 knots with gennaker in 12-15 knots. Clear glass windows give acceptable visibility from the helms through the coachroof and the comparatively minimalist interior. In short it offers a good mix of volume, reasonable performance and enjoyable sailing – see our full review last month.

Sailing performance was another key facet in the battle of the big cats from the big cat yards, Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot. Both models offer luxurious amounts of space for home from home comfort, as watersports bases for long term cruising.

The decision to push the mast to the front of the coachroof to allow for a larger genoa than its recent preference for self-tacking jibs has paid off on the Lagoon 51. It helped us sail efficiently into the waves (albeit not pointing too high) before clocking double figures reaching with the code sail in 15 knots.

The Lagoon’s large flybridge with dual access is a USP at this size that will be a hit or miss deal breaker for many. The 51 offers unrivalled accommodation volume in three, four or six cabins, and relaxation zones, and good circulation through these big spaces. Once again the jury applauds Lagoon for thoroughly testing the prototype model during a six month tour. Over 100 have already sold.

We saw in our December issue how the experienced owners of the Fountaine Pajot test boat choose to live and work full time aboard their Aura 51. It’s a design that promotes space, enough to take friends, family and crucially for them, all the toys to enjoy at anchor. Its capability of averaging 8-10 knots also appeals, although the single side helm and hydraulic steering result in scant connection to the sailing in light winds (the same applies to the Lagoon).

The fact the yard already offers this in a hybrid version and has an electric and hydrogen model in the pipeline could sway some, but the decision between the FP and the Lagoon will likely come down to preference between a central flybridge or offset bulkhead helm together with interior design and layout.

If you enjoyed this….

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12 Best Catamaran Sailboats

Best Catamaran Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

The appeal of the catamaran sailboats in terms of speed , stability, and the ability to embark on long-range cruising has made them hugely popular with today's sailors. But what are the best catamaran sailboats?

Even though catamaran sailboats have become increasingly popular in the last few years, they have a truly rich legacy as one of the most sought after vessels for bluewater cruising.

Thanks to their incredibly wide beams and bigger daft, catamarans have become remarkably favorable for sailors looking to go for long-distance voyages, overnight cruising, and day sailing.

And if space is paramount for you when out there on the water, a catamaran sailboat is the only way to go as they offer extraordinary space to allow you to spend more time on the water with friends and family.

But even with all these amazing features, you're probably still wondering; what are the best catamaran sailboats?

Like their monohull counterparts, choosing the best catamaran sailboat can be quite overwhelming since there are lots of them out there. They come in a wide variety of designs and sizes ranging from small catamarans to huge ones.

The best catamaran sailboats can easily clock 250-mile voyages, offer incredible performance, and have layouts that can be easily optimized for individuals, charter markets, and great accommodation. In essence, the best catamaran sailboats offer respectable performance and offer good load-carrying ability.

That being said, here are some of the best catamaran sailboats that you can get your hands on.

Table of contents

Best Catamarans

{{boat-info="/boats/manta-42"}}

Even though many multihulls are no longer built in the United States these days, the Manta 42 is a true American-built catamaran that brings good living and good value into one package. Designed cleverly for easy handling, this American built catamaran is a great choice for a liveaboard cruiser for sailors looking to go for long-distance voyages. Thanks to its trademark high bows and an enormously curved incorporated forward crossbeam, this catamaran is easily recognizable even from a distance.

It is designed with a uniquely fixed crossbeam, which is very different from conventional aluminum cross beams that support the tension of the forestay. This fixed crossbeam allows for a little bit of movement thereby helping in absorbing enormous twisting forces of the bows. As such, you have to keep in mind that there may be resultant stress crack particularly in the bow area of the vessel.

All in all, the Manta 42 is a superb offshore cruising catamaran that offers a good sail-area-to-displacement ratio as well as plenty of space and accommodation. The cockpit area is refined, luxurious, and is designed with additional stainless pushpit contraptions to help in holding objects such as wind vanes, dinghies, and solar panels. The boat's quality in terms of performance and stability is the benchmark of what a catamaran should be.

Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

{{boat-info="/boats/fountaine-pajot-elba-45"}}

Recently named the "Boat of the Year" for 2019 by Cruising World Magazine and Sail Magazine, the Elba 45 is the latest model in the incredible line of Fountaine Pajot catamarans. This boat was designed to replace the outgoing Helia 44 and stands to be one of the most popular catamarans with Fountain Pajot having sold over 100 Elba 45 hulls long before even the first one emerged from production.

This French-built cat brings to the fore a well-thought-out, safe, and dependable features with 10% less drag, efficient motoring, top-notch performance, and high speeds. It's also designed with fixed stub keels and slightly aft-raked bows, which are all essential in enhancing windward performance; something that most catamarans struggle with.

To improve on safety, the keels of this amazing catamaran sailboat are glued into a particularly designed recess in the hulls. This is to ensure that there are no keel bolts that can rip out and put the boat in danger if the boat gets grounded or in the event of a collision. The rig is also ICW friendly and is a true representation of a standard catamaran setup.

This is, without a doubt, a modern-looking cruising catamaran that has a low-profile lounging space on its deck, high topsides and bows as well as a more pronounced reverse sheer that's essential in minimizing the bulk of the windows while creating additional and useful volume below. This is a true catamaran that occupies a sweet spot for those looking to sail along the bay or for those adventurous sailors looking to set sail for more ambitious offshore cruising plans.

{{boat-info="/boats/leopard-48"}}

With its fine design, straightforward systems, and easy handling, the Leopard 48 has everything it needs to be ranked among the distinguished category of the best catamaran sailboats. This is an excellent multihull that is structured with advanced materials, designs, and innovations that are meant to be fun, spacious, and comfortable.

Designed in South Africa by Simonis-Voogd, is probably the best design in the Leopard family of catamarans. Its two hulls are vacuum-bagged using balsa core to offer maximum firmness while ensuring that the weight is on the minimum. This is done by articulately regulating the level of resin in the layup. With such types of hull shapes, this catamaran sailboat is very fast and can consistently clock 12 knots of speed against the currents.

The boat is also designed with shallow keels as they're filled with closed-cell polyurethane foam that's of great importance in increasing buoyancy and preventing water ingress. To enhance the safety of the vessel, the stern and bow both have bulkheads that are essential in keeping out that water if the sailboat is involved in a collision.

The hulls of this boat are deep and narrow, particularly below the waterline. They also curve higher up to practically reduce the wetted surface area while offering enough deck space and plenty of room for accommodations. Its cockpit is another excellent feature thanks to its lavish spaces that give you the chance of kicking back and relaxing.

This boat is designed to offer superior livability, quick and easy to handle features, as well as enough space for friends and family. It is designed with beautiful lines and immense practicality for those who want to go on long cruising voyages.

Antares 44i

While many people often believe that voluminous cruising catamarans should be used as charter boats, the Antares 44i brings a very different perspective altogether. Designed in Argentina as a complete bluewater catamaran, this is a boat that's specifically built for private boat owners looking for a sturdy and well-equipped bluewater cruiser. This is an absolutely gorgeous catamaran that has a fully-equipped cockpit just to ensure that you can safely operate it even when shorthanded.

Like most catamarans, the Antares 44i is designed with features that allow for long-distance voyages. It comes with a minimum bridge deck clearance of 30 inches, which is essential in mitigating bridge deck slap. The helm station is designed to offer excellent visibility over the coach roof without having to perch the helmsman high above the cockpit.

If you're planning to make those long-distance cruising to exotic places, you'll appreciate this boat's layout. The galley is put down in the port hull so that it doesn't compromise the size of the galley and the saloon. The forward-facing navigation station is up there with the best and is up to offshore standards. And that's not all; the Antares 44i comes with good mounting points for electronics, a large table, comfortable seats, and provides brilliant visibility outside.

This boat is perfectly suited for extended offshore cruising and is a great reminder for anyone who thinks that all catamarans are charter boats and all offshore boats are monohulls.

{{boat-info="/boats/dolphin-ocema-42"}}

Designed by Philipe Pouvreau in northern Brazil, the Dolphin Ocema 42 is a truly unique catamaran sailboat that goes against the conventional norm of catamarans. It is equipped with daggerboards, which are essential in enabling it to point higher on the wind while reducing the wetted surface when running or anchoring in shallow surfaces. This, however, requires a higher level of expertise in sailing. This is because lifting the daggerboards higher up will expose the rudders while the daggerboards can also interfere with the hulls in the event that the vessel runs aground.

But even with that, the Dolphin 42 balances incredible performance and cruising comfort in a very compact package; something that is not very easy in bluewater cruising. That's why it's designed using a foam core to make it lightweight by reducing weight wherever possible. This vessel will most likely never let you down if you want to circumnavigate the bluewater on a high-performance boat that is safe and comfortable.

So if you've been looking for a real sailing catamaran that doubles up as a very comfortable liveaboard sailboat , look no further than the Dolphin 42.

{{boat-info="/boats/catana-50"}}

Regarded as the best built and most stylish cruising multihull, the Catana 50 is a very huge catamaran sailboat. Measuring about 50 feet long with a beam of about 26 feet, this is an amazing catamaran that will test your sailing skills as a single sailor or if you're planning to sail shorthanded.

This boat is designed with a rig that gives you the option of using either a screecher or a self-tending jib. This may seem complex since the sheets are led to winches near each wheel while all other controls lead to a centerline winch that's located in the cockpit. But even with that, this sailboat can be easily tacked once on the course.

This is a real performance-oriented catamaran with efficient hulls and rigs allowing for top speed. This vessel is also designed with a long waterline and a subtle underwater shape at the bow to help in increasing volume while minimizing wave drag. The stern platforms can help in stretching the waterline length while also providing easy access from a dock or a dinghy. The board trunks are also very strong and sturdy to protect the integrity of the hulls if a collision occurs.

In essence, this is a very modern catamaran that's designed to safely make long-distance passages with ease. It is subdued in terms of styling but this doesn't mean that it falls short as far as performance is concerned.

Atlantic 42

{{boat-info="/boats/atlantic-42"}}

Designed in 1993, the A42 has cultivated a legion of fiercely loyal fans thanks to its efficiency and aesthetic. This is the smallest of the Atlantic cruising catamaran line and is hugely popular with sailors thanks to its ease of handling, ocean-going capabilities, and superb use of space. From the forward cockpit, pilothouse to the sleeping cabins, and brilliant galleys everything about this cat is a true classic.

Unlike most catamarans, the Atlantic 42 is designed with a waist-high cockpit that's located forward of the pilothouse just behind the mast. It brings forth a solid construction thanks to the large metal girder-like bearers that run across the bulkheads. This helps the vessel in having the utmost strength, better air circulation under the engine, and a high level of flexibility as far as the size of the engine and its positioning is concerned.

Initially, the boat's style and its outlook were considered conservative but it soon became clear that it is built of high-quality materials and to last. The internal construction of the boat is impressive, to say the least. The exterior looks very beautiful and perhaps much more beautiful than most boats today. Its large aft cabin accommodation is a top drawer while the space separating en suite heads and shower compartments are considered a bonus.

{{boat-info="/boats/fountaine-pajot-bahia-46"}}

If you were to board the French-built Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46, you'll agree that the high-quality of workmanship, layout, and efficient use of space is quite exciting, to say the least. This cat remains very popular among sailors thanks to its easy handling features and incredible performance under the sails. Well, this may not come as a surprise to many of us given that the Fountain Pajot is known for building some of the most remarkable cruising catamarans out there that it can be quite overwhelming to narrow down to a single vessel, but the Bahia 46 simply stands out.

This vessel is designed with hulls that are broader than those of many other catamarans. It's also designed with centerboards and daggerboards that are meant to enhance its performance. These are essential in minimizing draft while ensuring reliability, generous bilge, and in helping to protect the rudders and propellers.

This boat is big enough to manage any type of serious offshore sailing. This is one of the best cruising catamarans for anyone looking for the right vessel for long-distance sailing. This vessel has a very more generous rig than most cruising catamarans, which is essential in enhancing its performance. The six-post Bimini is very strong and clean and can perfectly hold dinghies.

In terms of its look, the Bahia 36 is designed with gorgeous lines with the deck and hulls sculpted with lines that add a touch of elegance to the overall look of an already excellent catamaran sailboat.

Gemini 105MC

{{boat-info="/boats/gemini-105mc"}}

Whether you're looking for a comfortable catamaran vessel to take you for a weekend sailing trip or a long sabbatical vacation on the oceans, the Gemini 105MC is a very satisfactory liveaboard catamaran vessel that offers spacious accommodation, thoughtful design, and a stable cruising platform for anyone who wants to have some good time on the water.

Designed by the legendary Tony Smith, this is somewhat a sailing cottage. Like a land cottage, it is cozy, comfortable, and very safe. This is essentially a 35 feet catamaran that offers great value for any sailing looking for a reasonably-priced catamaran sailboat for the weekend or holiday cruising.

This boat is designed with incredibly slim hulls, which are teardrop-shaped with flat bottoms and smaller wetted surface area. This is to ensure that drag is minimized and to lead to more leeway under sail. Each of the boat's hull is designed with a kick-up centerboard is of great importance in enhancing the vessel's windward pointing capability. This boat also has its rudders raised to enable it to seamlessly cruise in shallow waters where most vessels would otherwise run aground.

The eccentric narrow beam, which measures about 40% of the boat's length, is very different from today's 50%. However, its low center helps in keeping its stable, upright, and of course, safe.

Lagoon 450 F

{{boat-info="/boats/lagoon-450-f"}}

If you're looking for a catamaran sailboat that offers prestige at its peak, look no further than the Lagoon 450. This cat is widely known for offering an all-around comfort without compromising its beauty, spaciousness, class, and elegance. This is an elaborate French catamaran that brings to the table fantastic craftsmanship while leaving nothing to chance.

This is a very safe 45 feet catamaran that's not just comfortable but also very luxurious. The deck layout is centered on an amazing flybridge, which has been redesigned and redefined to offer both the traditional and modern outlook. You can very easily access the bridge, engine controls, steering station in a matter of seconds. As a result, this boat is efficiently designed to give you the ultimate control of almost every situation while on the water.

The spacious and luxurious interior of this boat is worth experiencing. The cabins and saloons are perfectly lit. We're talking about four to six cabins, eight to twelve berths, and up to four bathrooms. In essence, this boat can comfortably sleep eight to twelve people. This boat is designed to offer ultra-modern accommodations and amenities that come with little but amazing touches; all designed to make your life inside the catamaran enjoyable.

{{boat-info="/boats/gunboat-62"}}

An original performance catamaran cruiser from the iconic Gunboat manufacturer, the Gunboat 62 has truly cemented its place as one of the best catamaran sailboats to ever grace the oceans. Honestly speaking, this cat-inspired a whole range of other incredible boats including HH66 Catamaran and the Balance 526.

This is a boat that can perform admirably well in storms with a speed of over 35 knots despite being built using epoxy and E-glass with carbon-fiber structural components. It's designed with a distinct angular outline than most catamaran sailboats of its size and category. This is a vessel that was built for people looking to add more stuff and more gear for their voyages. In other words, you can have all the gear and equipment on this boat and still outperform a racing monohull of the same size.

Thanks to its lightweight feature, this vessel can sail upwind at speeds of over 17 knots and pinch up to 30 degrees. Just for comparison, the Gunboat 62 can tack through 95 degrees and still outperform the best racing monohulls. This boat is designed with a comfortable helm seat that offers 360-degree visibility as well as plenty of storage space, a functional working surface, and a luxurious cabin. Like many performance catamarans, the Gunboat 62 can attain about 20 knots if the conditions are right.

Privilege 615

{{boat-info="/boats/privilege-615"}}

Combining elegance, comfort, and style, the Privilege 615 is a lovely catamaran sailboat that seems to be always ready for a long offshore voyage. The roots of this incredible cat can be traced back to the 1980s when Philippe Jeantot opened up a boat-building company in France. As one of the best productions from the company, the privilege 615 sports a flybridge that comes complete with twin wheels, a sprawling sunbed, and other excellent features that will make your bluewater cruising a breeze.

Whether you want the charter version or a privately-owned version, the Privilege 615 is one of the most versatile catamaran sailboats. Step inside this vessel and you'll instantly notice the quality of the wood finish and the elegance of design. The advanced navigation station is not only ultra-modern but is perfectly stationed at a dedicated corner where you can control everything while still having a conversation with your friends and family.

This boat comes with multiple sleeping configurations to ensure that you and your guests can live aboard the boat for months on end. Although the boat appears like some sort of maze on the inside, you'll easily get used to it when you enter the forward section. That's not all; this boat has gorgeous lines that make the exterior beautiful just like the interior. Its sleek profile, incredible volume, and versatile interior make it one of the best catamaran sailboats out there.

There you have it; these are the best catamaran sailboats out there. It doesn't matter the one you choose, these cats will make your day out on the water and will serve you just right for your offshore voyages or for day sailing along the bays.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

The Best Boat for the Great Loop in 2023: Your 6 Boat Options

Embarking on this nautical quest called the Great Loop demands more than wanderlust alone. Selecting the optimal vessel to navigate the Loop’s diverse waterways makes all the difference on this marathon route. Whether you covet the comforts of a spacious trawler, prefer the performance of an agile cruiser or need maximum versatility to “trailer hop” inland rivers, the choice of boat profoundly impacts the journey. In today’s post, I give my recommendations the perfect Great Loop boat.

boating the great loop

Table of Contents

6 best boat types for the great loop, what is the great loop, what is involved with the great loop boating adventure, classic trawlers, fast trawlers and downeasts, tug style trawlers, cruisers and motor yachts, power catamarans, the boat you’ve got, great loop size limits, comfortable cabin aboard and long-term living space, engine choices: gas vs. diesel, single vs. twin, 1. draft and height limitations, 2. fuel range and efficiency, 3. living quarters, 4. navigability and handling, 5. type of boat, 6. accessibility and safety features, 8. personal preferences and experience level, 9. research and planning, boat requirements for the great loop, which is your best boat for the great loop, best boat for the great loop faqs.

  • Unconventional Boats

The Great Loop stands as one of the premier long-term boating adventures in North America, and arguably, across the globe. Spanning over 6,000 miles, this journey offers boaters an experience akin to a cross-country RV road trip, but on water. It presents a unique opportunity to view the countryside through a different lens, as you navigate through a mix of seaways, canals, and rivers at a relaxed pace.

Let’s explore the ideal boats to embark on this remarkable journey.

Let’s get this out of the way – what’s the Great Loop in the first place?

The Great Loop is an adventure for recreational boaters that takes you on a giant circuit of the eastern half of the United States and Canada . It’s the joining of many smaller waterways, open water stretches, rivers, and canals to make an entire journey that’s about 6,000 nautical miles long. 

Where you begin and end your Great Loop journey usually depends on where you buy or keep your vessel.

Here’s an overview using Norfolk, Virginia, as the starting point.

  • Norfolk northbound through Chesapeake Bay, through the C&D Canal, and seaward on Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey.
  • Northbound along the Atlantic coast of New Jersey to New York harbor.
  • North on the Hudson River to upstate New York. From here, you have several choices depending on how one wants to transit the Great Lakes and how much of the Canadian Heritage Canals one would like to cruise.
  • Westbound through the Erie Canal.
  • West through the Great Lakes to Chicago.
  • South from Chicago through the inland rivers to the Gulf Coast.
  • Eastbound along the Gulf Coast to Florida, then southbound on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
  • Either through the Okeechobee Waterway in south Florida or around the tip of the state, through the Florida Keys.
  • North from south Florida on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) back to Norfolk.

There are many choices to make the Great Loop your own adventure.

Loopers usually put between 5,000 and 7,000 miles under their keels while making the trip. However, it’s not a race, and there are plenty of opportunities to make side trips and adventures off the main route.

For example, the Downeast Loop is an extension that adds Maine, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edwards Island. The St. Lawrence Seaway will then take you west to the Great Lakes by way of Montreal. Another good example is extending your trip on the south end by adding an adventure in the Islands of The Bahamas.

For the most part, the Great Loop is a motorboat adventure . There are many open water spaces where you might sail, but it’s often constrained to a narrow navigable channel, making sailing much less appealing. In other words, even sailboats wind up motoring for most of the trip. 

Furthermore, the trip transits canals and waterways with many bridge spans, both fixed and opening. The fewer bridges you have to have open for you, the easier your trip. Many fixed bridges mean you’ll have to take the mast off for long sections of the trip.

The trip spans many rural areas, interspersed with small towns and a handful of big cities. Many nights you’ll be anchored or docked in the middle of nowhere. Other times, you’ll have a new city to explore and check out. 

Your boat should suit both styles. You will want the best family boat that is comfortable to live on, with sleeping, bathroom, and cooking facilities that you and your crew find comfortable. Yes, you can do the Loop in an open go-fast boat–but you will miss what many consider the best parts of the Loop. 

Looper Boats

Six Best Great Loop Boat Options By Type of Boat

There are too many makes and models of boats in the world for anyone to make a specific recommendation here. Instead, here is a list of six types of boats you’ll find doing the Loop and what makes them well suited for this particular adventure. 

Remember, this is anything but an all-inclusive list. There are hundreds of boat makes out there, hundreds more that aren’t built anymore but can be bought used, and even more when you include custom and one-off designs. These lists are provided simply as a starting point for your research!

The classic trawler is basically the power version of a sailboat–slow-moving, heavy, and economical to operate. They have been around forever; tons were built in the 1970s and 1980s, many in Taiwan. That means that the design is time-tested–they are good-looking and seaworthy. Plus, you can readily find them on the used market for reasonable prices. Most have a maximum speed of about 10 knots.

The popular cruising blog Scho and Jo have set out and completed the Loop on their Albin trawler. Check out their Great Loop expenses for information on the adventure and how it’s done. For more about their boat, check out their boat tour.

Examples of Classic Trawlers:

  • Monk 36 (no longer built)
  • Grand Banks
  • Camino Troll (no longer built)
  • Nordhavn 40

The fast trawler is a classic one with a modern hull. Thanks to their improved hull design, they’re capable of faster speeds but use a lot of gas going fast. The best thing about them is probably the simple fact that they can do both comfortably–go slowly and economically or cruise faster (about 15 knots) while still giving a nice ride.

Examples of Fast Trawlers and Downeast Boats:

  • Beneteau Swift Trawlers

Best Boats For The Great Loop

What was once a unique niche in the boating world has caught on, and quite a few companies are now making tugboat-looking trawlers. They’re sportier than the traditional trawler and have an aesthetic that looks right at home on the rivers of the Great Loop.

Examples of Tugs Include:

  • Kadey Krogen
  • Lord Nelson Victory Tug (no longer made)

Tug boats for the Great Loop

A cruiser is built on a planing hull to go faster. That means more miles per day, fewer nights at anchor, and more fuel consumption while doing it. 

There are many sizes and styles that are appropriate for the Loop, so the key is to find the layout that is most comfortable for you. The two most popular styles include express cruisers and aft-cabin cruisers. 

Examples of cruisers and motor yachts include:

  • Sea Ray (many of the best models for the Loop are no longer made)
  • Cruiser Yachts
  • Bayliner Motoryachts (no longer built)
  • Hatteras Cruisers (no longer built)

Power catamarans are popular for the same reason that sail cats are. Thanks to their increased interior volume, two hulls make for a more comfortable living space. Your beam should be less than 23 feet, as the Trent Severn Waterway in Canada limits this. Still, that leaves several interesting power cats that would make fantastic Loop boats. 

Examples of power cats that would be good when boating the Great Loop:

  • PDQ 34 Power Catamaran (no longer built)
  • Endeavour 440 TrawlerCat

Finally, it has to be mentioned that the best boat is always the boat you’ve got. Lin and Larry Pardey once famously said, “Go small, and go now.” If the Loop is on your bucket list, it’s better to find a boat you can get your hands on that will suit you well enough to travel and enjoy the ride. Don’t spend years saving up for a “maybe adventure.”

Examples of unconventional Looper boats:

  • Jet skis that camp along the way
  • Open runabouts, sport boats, and fishing boats
  • Sailboats–just take the mast off and motor like a trawler!
  • Trailerable boats that do it in sections–a trailerable boat lets you do a section and then tow the boat to the next section to cruise at your leisure

the great loop boating

What Features Make Good Looper Boats?

So, how do you ever choose the right boat for the Loop? Here are some thoughts on what features make the best Looper boats. 

The limits for your perfect Looper boat will be based on its physical dimensions. According to the Loop Cruiser’s Association, the average looper boat is 39.5 feet long, with more than half between 35 and 45 feet. But this doesn’t tell the whole story, as you must consider each vessel’s dimension.

Air Draft (Bridge Clearance or Height Above Water)

The most limiting fixture on the Loop is a fixed railroad bridge in Chicago that will block any vessel taller than 19 feet, 6 inches. 

But, if you want to do the entire Erie Canal, two bridges offer only 15 feet, 6 inches. Another bridge in downtown Chicago is 17 feet. So, the Loop has lower limits, but most can be gone around by bigger boats. 

Four feet or less of draft is ideal and will mean the fewest problems–although caution is still warranted in many areas. Draft is how deep the hull sits in the water and dictates the minimum water depth for a boat . Any deeper than that, and you will need to be extra cautious. Boats with six-foot drafts have reportedly done it, but few recommend it.

The width of your boat is usually limited to about 16 feet due only to marina slips. 

Catamarans with 23 feet or less can make the trip but require T-heads at most marinas. As a result, finding slips on this trip will be difficult, and finding a place to haul out for boat maintenance is even harder. In addition, there are sections where you’ll need to take a slip occasionally, so anchoring isn’t always an option. 

There’s no limit to length. Some yachts up to 70 feet have made the journey, but it’s a tight fit and most boats that long won’t make it under the bridges. Most Looper boats are under 50 feet, after all, for many reasons.

Think of the Great Loop as an RV adventure where you’re taking your home with you. To that end, realize you’ll be spending a lot of time living aboard your boat. Therefore, the boat should be comfortable, with indoor and outdoor living space and all the amenities you’d want or need. 

Here’s a list of things most people want their boat equipped with when they set off on the Great Loop. Many of these are similar to the considerations people make when living on a sailboat , but some are quite different.

  • A comfortable bed, usually an “island queen” (not a v-berth)
  • A large galley (kitchen) with plenty of cooking space and the appliances they’re used to (fridge, microwave, coffee maker, stove, oven, etc.)
  • A comfortable living room (salon) that has a good view, lots of light, and plenty of ventilation
  • An outdoor patio (cockpit) area for open-air dining, socializing, and relaxing
  • A descent-sized bathroom area with a separate shower
  • Air conditioning and heating (which may require a generator if you plan to anchor overnight extensively)
  • Inside and outside helm positions (upper deck on a trawler)

Tankage refers to your boat’s storage space for liquids–water, fuel, and sewage. The larger the tanks are, the longer you can stay away from marinas for refills or pump-outs. 

The Loop has several long stretches through the inland river system that go hundreds of miles between facilities and services. Therefore, your boat should have a fuel range of at least 450 nautical miles and hold enough water for at least a week. 

Some river stretches have fewer gasoline sellers, meaning gas-powered boats need a greater range than diesel boats. They’ll need about 450 miles of range, whereas diesel boats can get by with less.

Beyond that, gas and diesel engines will both work fine on the Loop. Generally, the most popular trawlers and boats of this size come with diesels, which are praised for their longevity and reliable, simple operation. In addition, diesel is safer on a boat because it is less explosive, which could lower your insurance premiums.

Likewise, having a single or twin screw boat is a matter of preference. Single-engine boats can make the journey without problems, but two engines give you redundancy should something go wrong with one and better maneuverability in tight spaces. But, of course, operating and maintenance costs are higher with two engines.

The Best Boat For The Great Loop In 2023: Your 6 Boat Options

How to Find the Best Boat for You for Sailing the Great Loop

The ideal boat will vary based on personal preferences, budget, and specific requirements for the journey. Here are key considerations to help you find the best boat for your Great Loop adventure:

  • Draft: The Great Loop has areas with shallow waters, especially in places like the western rivers and parts of the Intracoastal Waterway. A boat with a shallow draft (ideally less than 5 feet) will have more flexibility and fewer navigation concerns.
  • Air Draft: Bridges with fixed heights are a consideration along the Great Loop. To avoid detours, your boat’s air draft (the height from the waterline to the highest fixed point on the boat) should be less than 19 feet, though lower is often better to accommodate all routes.
  • Opt for a fuel-efficient boat that has a range of at least 300 miles to comfortably reach fueling stations along the Loop without anxiety, considering both the boat’s fuel capacity and its consumption rate.
  • Comfort is key for the long journey. Look for boats that offer adequate living space, a functional galley, comfortable sleeping quarters, and sufficient storage. The size and amenities should match your tolerance for space constraints and your lifestyle needs.
  • Choose a boat that handles well in various water conditions. Both inland rivers and lakes, as well as coastal sections of the Loop, can present challenges like currents, tides, and weather changes.
  • Trawlers, Sailboats (with a retractable mast for bridges), and Motor Yachts are popular choices because they balance living space, fuel efficiency, and navigability.
  • Sailboats can offer the advantage of wind power but consider the need to lower the mast for certain sections of the Loop.
  • Catamarans are another option, offering stability, shallow draft, and spacious living areas, but be mindful of their beam (width) and how it may limit access to certain marinas or slips.
  • Look for boats with easy access to the bow and stern, strong handholds, and a cockpit or helm that offers good visibility and protection from the elements.
  • Safety features should include reliable navigation and communication systems, life-saving equipment, and possibly a dinghy for exploring shallow or narrow areas.
  • Consider both the purchase price and the ongoing costs, including maintenance, fuel, marina fees, and potential upgrades. Buying a used boat can be a cost-effective option, but ensure a thorough inspection to assess its condition and suitability for the Loop.
  • Your comfort with the boat’s operation, maintenance requirements, and overall feel is crucial. Choose a boat that fits your level of boating experience or one that you’re willing and able to learn to handle confidently.
  • Join forums and groups, such as America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA), to gain insights from experienced Loopers.
  • Consider renting or chartering different types of boats for short trips to gain firsthand experience before making a decision.
  • Size/Draft: Boats should generally be less than 60 feet with a draft of 6 feet or under to navigate the various locks, rivers, and waterways along the route.
  • Propulsion: Twin engines or a single engine with a bow or stern thruster provides the best maneuverability and redundancy for covering long distances.
  • Fuel Capacity: A range of 350-400 miles between refueling is recommended to have a buffer given the distances between marinas in some regions.
  • Accommodations: Comfortable sleeping quarters, a functional galley, and enclosed head are needed for multi-day and multi-week trips.
  • Hull Type: Displacement hull trawlers, cruisers, and motor yachts are well-suited for the journey. Planing hulls can complete it but will take a fuel efficiency hit at slower canal speeds.
  • Navigation: GPS chartplotters, radar, depth finders, and other instruments and marine electronics for navigating varying conditions.
  • Operation: Vessel and systems should be completely reliable and redundant where possible given the several thousand mile journey.
  • Insurance/Documentation: Vessel documentation and insurance is required for coastal, Great Lakes portions.
Boat TypeBenefits
Classic Trawlers– Time-tested, seaworthy designs
– Spacious living spaces
– Fuel-efficient at lower speeds
Fast Trawlers & Downeasts– Capable of higher cruise speeds
– Modern hull design for good ride quality 
– Blend classic trawler aesthetics with better performance
Tug-Style Trawlers– Unique, tugboat aesthetic 
– Often more nimble and sportier 
– Well-suited for river sections
Cruisers & Motor Yachts– Planing hulls allow higher speeds
– Express and aft-cabin layouts optimize living space 
– Travel greater daily distances
Power Catamarans– Exceptional living space for size
– Twin hulls provide stability underway 
– Shallow draft helps navigate rivers
Unconventional Boats– Use whatever boat you currently own 
– Open up the Loop to more budget-conscious boaters 
– “Go small and go now”

Hopefully, this article has provided some ideas and examples of what your best Great Loop boat might be. Beyond a few hard limitations, it’s a matter of taste and style. There’s no right or wrong answer–you’ll often see many unexpected vessels doing the Loop. 

If you’re considering the Loop, check out the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association for more details.

What size boat is best for the Great Loop?

There’s no set size limit for length, but all boats looking to complete the Loop must pass under a low fixed bridge in the Chicago area. If your boat is more than 19 feet, 6 inches above the water, thou shall not pass.

What is the largest boat to complete the Great Loop?

Some people have reported that boats as long as 70 feet have completed the Loop. But taking a vessel of this size is not recommended, as you must navigate numerous tight locks and low bridges along the route. Most Loopers choose boats less than 50 feet long.

What is the smallest recommended boat for the Great Loop?

The smallest boat is the one that you’re comfortable on. Jet skis have completed the Loop, but they’re limited to staying in hotels or camping. It’s best to have a boat that will be comfortable to live on for the better part of a year. Most people want a boat at least 35 feet long to do that.

What is the average time to complete the Great Loop?

Most cruisers take about a year to do the Loop. Several factors affect this plan, and it’s always an individual choice. Generally, you’ll be northbound in the spring to be westbound through the Great Lakes in the summer. Then you “fall down” the rivers in the autumn so that you can over-winter in Florida. But many people take breaks, leave their boats in storage, and complete the Loop in sections. Furthermore, many folks want to take their time and enjoy the scenery. It’s not a race, after all.

best catamaran trawlers

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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best catamaran trawlers

7 Small, Trailerable Pocket Trawlers for New Cruisers

small pocket trawlers

Pocket trawlers are one of the most affordable options around whether you want to embark on a major adventure like traveling the Great Loop , or you just want comfortable cruising accommodations for overnight or weekend getaways. Although far more compact in nature, they provide all the livability of larger motor yachts and cruisers . But their smaller size means they cost a lot less, and there are even some trailerable pocket cruisers out there on the market.

Which small trawlers will be the best for your needs? That’s up to you, but there’s a good chance that one of these seven small, affordable pocket trawlers will fit the bill.

Explore All Trawler Brands & Models

beneteau swift trawler 35

1. Beneteau Swift Trawler 35

The smallest trawler in Beneteau’s lineup, the Swift Trawler 35 straddles the boundaries between a full-sized trawler and what some will consider a true pocket-yacht. But with a 35’6” long hull, a 13’ beam, and a single 425 HP inboard providing the power, it’s easy for a couple to handle on their own, has minimal maintenance and operational needs, and remains relatively affordable compared to larger trawlers (base price starts at $480,200).

The benefits to going big in the world of small trawlers are obvious: more elbow room throughout the boat, better abilities to handle larger seas, and a higher level of luxury aboard. On the Beneteau Swift Trawler 35 you’ll enjoy a master stateroom with a queen berth, a second private stateroom with over-under berths, a full-sized flybridge with a settee and dinette, and a full galley, saloon, and lower helm station in the cabin.

Visit Beneteau to learn more.

cutwater c-24 couple

2. Cutwater C-24 Coupe

Starting at $136,937 the Cutwater C-24 Coupe is one of the most affordable offerings in this roundup. With a low profile, sporty looks, and zippy performance courtesy of a 250-horsepower outboard, it’s as much a pocket cruiser as a pocket trawler.

Yet it still has all the prerequisites to fit the bill: a private forward cabin, a separate mid-cabin berth under the dinette, a complete galley, and a fixed head with a holding tank. Plus, thanks to a svelte 8’6” beam, this boat is easily trailerable.

Visit Cutwater Boats to learn more.

cutwater c-28 pocket trawler

3. Cutwater C-28

Up the ante by about $50,000 and you can step into the Cutwater C-28 , which offers everything the C-24 has plus a lot more elbow room. Beam remains 8’6” and the mast can be folded down to reduce bridge clearance to 9’1” so this boat is still trailerable, too.

Power comes via a single 270 horsepower Volvo Penta D4 diesel inboard, providing a range of over 200 miles at a 25 MPH cruising speed or over 450 miles at a six-mph slow cruise. And along with the additional interior volume, this model also benefits from a large cockpit that’s perfect for casting a line or setting out deck chairs plus a transom swim platform with a boarding ladder.

marlow pilot 31 pocket trawler

4. Marlow Pilot 31

Classic looks and style are prominent on the Marlow Pilot 31 , and one glance at this pocket yacht will bring images of downeast lobster yachts and fishing trawlers to mind. But this boat has a very modern level of luxury, from the forward cabin with V-berth, settee, enclosed head compartment, and galley, to the bridgedeck and open cockpit.

A specific price is difficult to nail down since the Marlow Pilot 31 is quite customizable with options like powerplants ranging from 220 to 320 horsepower and wood-trimmed interior choices, but you can expect it to be in a competitive range with other boats of this size and nature.

Visit Marlow Pilot to learn more.

nordic tug 26 pocket trawler

5. Nordic Tug 26

Many pocket trawlers have good looks, but few can trigger the nostalgic appeal of a Nordic Tug 26 . These boats look like mini-tugs, with trawler accommodations and performance. Powered by a single 110 horsepower inboard diesel and stretching the tape to a 28’9” length overall with a 9’6” beam, the Nordic Tugs 26 features a private forward stateroom, an enclosed head compartment, a compact but complete galley, and a dinette that converts into a second berth.

It also enjoys some unique perks, like hydronic heating via the engine, Sapele-faced cabinetry, and a radar reflector located in the stack. Again, in this case pricing is variable, but you can expect to see numbers starting around the $200,000 range for new models.

Visit Nordic Tugs to learn more.

ranger tugs r-23 pocket trawler

6. Ranger Tugs R-23

While there may not be such a thing as a cheap trawler, the Ranger Tugs R-23 is the most affordable in this roundup at a list of $130,937. But it still has each and every accommodation needed for weekending aboard or even more extended stays. There’s a private forward cabin with a berth and head with shower, plus a second sleeping area incorporated underneath the dinette. The galley sits aft of the helm and has a refrigerator, sink, stove top, and microwave.

Power comes courtesy of a 200-horsepower outboard, which runs the boat up to a 22 MPH cruising speed and a top-end in the upper-30s. Plus, with an 8’6” beam this is another trailerable trawler.

Visit Ranger Tugs to learn more.

ranger tugs r-25 pocket trawler

7. Ranger Tugs R-25

The Ranger Tugs R-25 has everything found on the R-23 but in a bigger version. Pricing starts at $167,937, and the powerplant jumps up to a 250 HP outboard. This model is available in Northwest and Luxury editions; the Northwest version is appropriate for cooler climates and has a diesel forced-air furnace plus downrigger plugs and pads for chasing those salmon, while the Luxury edition features dockside air conditioning with reverse-cycle heat.

Although length is stretched to 28’5” (including the outboard) beam remains 8’6” so again, this model can be hauled down the highway to distant destinations on a trailer.

Is a Pocket Trailer Right for You?

Pocket trawlers and trailerable pocket cruisers are great choices for couples and families looking to add some adventure to their lives, and any of these seven top picks would be a good one. Where will your next cruise take you? On one of these small, affordable trawlers, the answer is just about anywhere you want to go.

Read Next: What is a Pilothouse Boat?

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2022 Boat of the Year: Best Cruising Catamaran (Under 50’)

  • By Cruising World Editors
  • December 15, 2021

During and in the four days immediately following the US Sailboat show in Annapolis, Maryland, the  Cruising World  judges inspected and sailed on 27 boats vying for recognition. Learn more about the boats in our  2022 Boat of the Year  »

The sweet spot for cruising catamarans, for most multihull sailors, is right there between 40 and 50 feet: manageable by a couple, not so large that finding a place to park or dock is prohibitive, and with lots more room to spread out and bring the toys and kids than a monohull of similar length. This year’s set of nominees features industry stalwarts Leopard and Fountaine Pajot—both of which have enjoyed plenty of success in previous Boat of the Year competitions—and a pair of relative upstarts from Bali, the cruising offshoot from French builder Catana. The former are all-around cats with plenty of versatility; the latter aim to cater more toward the cruising/liveaboard part of the equation. Choices, choices! It proved to be a challenging quartet of cats for the judging panel to evaluate and sort out. 

The larger sibling of the two Bali cats entered for BOTY 2022—all the Bali offerings feature an innovative “garage door” separating the saloon and cockpit, which when raised creates a seamless indoor/outdoor living space that has proven to be highly popular—was the 46-plus-foot 4.6. It’s yet another one of this year’s catamarans with the ever-popular flybridge that has become a design staple for many cat builders. Judge Tim Murphy found it a pleasure to sail. “On some of the other cats, you felt you were fighting the sail controls,” he said. “Not here. It’s laid out nicely. It has a double-ended mainsheet system with no traveler but control at both ends, so you’ve got a port and a starboard sheet, and I think that’s a fine way to control the mainsail. It’s arguably easier to jibe with that system than a standard traveler; you have good athwartships control throughout the maneuver. Bali cats are known for comfort, but this one sails well too.”

Bali 4.6

At 40 feet, the Bali Catspace—the second of two boats from the brand entered in the 2022 BOTY contest—is the smallest offering in the Bali line, but judge Murphy found the open floor plan particularly alluring: “The living experience of being able to open up the back end of these cats so you create an indoor/outdoor platform is terrific. I didn’t give it much thought until I chartered a Bali, and it was totally delightful. The sailing performance was actually fine, but it was that back porch that made the trip.”

Dream Yacht Charters has added more and more Bali cats to their fleets, and it’s easy to see why. With their vast interior space; plenty of amenities including air conditioning and multiple fridges, including ones that would not be out of place in any well-equipped household kitchen ashore; and surprisingly effective sailing prowess given their systems and accommodations, these boats are almost synonymous with the word “vacation.” Take the interior layout of the Catspace: It has four staterooms with private heads, the forward pair with berths aligned athwartships and the aft set laid out in a fore-and-aft configuration. It’s hard to imagine a better use of space for four couples or a family in 40 feet of waterline.

Bali Catspace

Yes, a 40-foot catamaran is a design challenge; it’s fairly easy to accommodate loads of features in a 50-foot multihull, but it’s quite another to include all the creature comforts and niceties in considerably less real estate. But Murphy felt that the Isla 40—another 40-footer like the Catspace, but this one from longtime cat leader Fountaine Pajot—pulled it off well. The Isla also had a tall order to fill in that it replaced a previous cat of the same size in the builder’s lineup, the highly successful Lucia 40. “The mission for this boat was described in thirds,” Murphy said. “Bareboat charter, crewed charter and private ownership. I think they’ve created a boat that accomplishes all those missions. The boat sailed well, but it was also laid out well. In fact, the owner’s cabin to starboard was superb, one of the nicest places on any boat we inspected. We toured a lot of much bigger boats that didn’t have that sort of space.”

Isla 40

But when all was said and done, the Bali Cats and the Isla ran into a juggernaut with the Leopard 42, which proved to be a powerhouse BOTY entrant. It’s pretty clear by now that the relationship between South African builder Robertson and Caine; their lone client, the Moorings; and naval architects Simonis and Voogd, who bring the Leopard brand to life, is strong and fruitful. And they have a wall full of BOTY award-winning plaques to prove it. It’s time to make room for another. The judges found much to like about the latest Leopard, including the offset steering station to starboard and the lounge space forward accessed via a front door in the saloon. But the Leopard sealed its victory with an awesome sea trial in which it overhauled and passed a popular new monohull that shall remain nameless. Cats can’t point? Wrong!

Leopard 42

What put the boat over the top wasn’t just the sailing performance, which was obviously terrific, but also the tools with which to sail the boat, and its overall deck layout, all of which optimized the experience. Murphy said, “With the Leopard, you have visual eye contact from the raised helm station to starboard down into the cockpit, you’ve got a visual line of sight into the saloon, and you’ve got a pretty good visibility over the top of the cabin top everywhere. You had access to your main sheet right there where you needed it. This was one of the boats that had no traveler, but instead had a windward and leeward block on the mainsheet. I think that’s a fine system, I like the control you have. Jibing works fine and is easily controlled.”

It was one little thing in a series of them, all of which added up to a boat—the Leopard 42—that was the unanimous winner in the 2022 category of Best Cruising Catamarans (Under 50’).

  • More: bali catamarans , Boat of the Year , Boat of the Year 2022 , Fountaine Pajot , leopard catamarans , Sailboats
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Better Sailing

10 Best Catamaran Brands

10 Best Catamaran Brands

Shopping for a new catamaran can be intimidating, even as consumers have more resources than ever to help them research from the comfort of their own home before they even contact a yacht broker. The great news is that there are a lot of great catamaran brands on the market right now. For us consumers, the catamaran market has evolved rapidly from what it was only just a few short years ago when monohulls were favored. On the flip-side, this can make it even more challenging to figure out which catamaran brands are the very best.

If you are a beginner in cruising catamarans, this article will help you learn the best brands that are out there with the best reputation amongst boaters. This article will help you get started in the world of catamarans, and I am trying to make it as beginner-friendly as possible. The catamaran brands on this list are mainly production boat companies, but some of them do offer custom designs. However, the added benefit of most of these brands is that there are many options on the used market. You will always be able to shop around for a good deal no matter where you are in the world.

Here are some of the best catamaran brands on the market today: 

Lagoon – Groupe Beneteau

Lagoon is a French boatbuilder with an excellent reputation and sells the largest number of catamarans per year. The brand started back in 1984 and was one of the first catamaran brands to really convince people of the concept of multihulls. The philosophy of the Lagoon brand is good design, high-quality construction, and a decent cruising performance under sail. In other words, a Lagoon is the dream of every fan of sailing that looks for a catamaran that can provide everything, whether that is a fun toy for summer sailing trips or a year-round liveaboard yacht. What Lagoon did right, and the reason it has proven to be so popular is that it listened to its customers. That is why every new Lagoon catamaran has more space, more efficient layouts, and is always more comfortable than their previous version. There is no wonder why they have so many repeat customers.

Lagoon makes 9 sailing catamaran models and 2 powercat models, ranging in length from 40 to 78 feet. It also used to make shorted boats like the Lagoon 380 at 37 feet, but unfortunately, it was discontinued. You can find a Lagoon on the used market starting at $150,000 (like a 2002-2007 Lagoon 380) and as high as $5 million USD for their top of the line fully spec’d Lagoon Seventy 7, which comes with a jacuzzi on deck.

Lagoon Catamaran

>>Also Read: Best Sailboat Brands

Fountaine Pajot

Fountaine-Pajot is a French maritime construction brand that is specializing in catamarans. The company was established in 1976, but it launched its first sailing catamaran in 1983 and its first powercat in 1998. This brand is now famous for building both sailing and power catamarans that have a beautiful and innovative design, superior handling, excellent seaworthiness, and cruising comfort. Also, Fountaine Pajot was one of the first catamaran brands that was manufacturing their boats with environmental protection in mind. So, all of their models have options to include renewable energy sources. Their ECO-Cruising and SMART-Cruising options considerably reduce their yachts’ carbon footprint and provide the necessary clean energy for their sailboats.

Fountaine-Pajot makes both sailing catamarans and powercats, ranging in length from 40 to 67 feet. It also used to make shorted boats like the Lagoon 380 at 37 feet, but unfortunately, it was discontinued. You can find a Lagoon on the used market starting at $100,000-150,000 (like a 1990-2005 Fountaine Pajot Athena 38) and as high as $3.5 million USD for their top of the line fully spec’d Fountaine Pajot Alegria 67, which comes with a jacuzzi on the front deck.

Fountaine Pajot Alegria 67 Catamaran - 10 Best Catamaran Brand

Leopard is a boatbuilder located in South Africa and produces some of the best and most luxurious catamarans. You will find Fountain Pajor catamarans for sale also under the name “Robertson & Caine” because some Leopard cats are built by Robertson & Caine company. Leopards are mainly designed to be luxurious, big, and comfortable, but that usually comes at a cost, both in price tag and sailing speed and maneuverability. 

Leopard Catamarans was established in 2000 their partnership with South African builder Robertson and Caine. This company was manufacturing custom-designed catamarans for the global yacht charter company The Moorings. While Leopard was focusing on sailing catamarans in the beginning, in 2007, they started making powercats as well.

Leopard is always designing their boats to have the optimal balance between interior space and performance, sheltered helm cockpit designed for offshore cruising and single-handed sailing, large lounge areas, optimal comfort, and ease of maintenance. 

Nowadays, Leopard is making sailing catamarans between 42 and 58 feet and powercats between 50 and 53 feet. You can find a Leopard on the used market starting at $180,000 (like a Leopard 38) in good condition and as high as $2 million USD for their top of the line fully spec’d Leopard 58; however, they are not as luxurious as some of the other brand’s top-of-the-line models.

Leopard Catamarans

>>Also Read: 10 Best Catamarans Under 200k

Catana catamarans are a little bit more performance-oriented. They have features that make them sail faster and be more easily maneuverable than some of the other catamaran brands on the list. Many of their boats come with a feature called daggerboard that will help you sail faster upwind, something that most catamarans struggle with. Catana Group was originally called Poncin Yachts and has been building catamarans in France since 2001. It is famous for producing catamarans for owners who most often want to go bluewater sailing around the world comfortably and safely with a high-performance boat. This is not a famous brand, but it grows in popularity very fast. Year by year, I have noticed more and more Catana catamarans in the marinas I visit. 

Catana Catamarans are built using foam sandwich vacuum infusion technology combined with carbon and aramid fiber. This combination guarantees the strength of the hull, significant weight savings, and because of this fact, higher speed.

Catana offers new boats from 42 to 70 feet. In the past, they were building boats as long as 90 feet. You can find a Catana on from the early 2000s’ on the used market for as low as $250,000, and as high as $4 million USD for a top of the line full spec’d brand new one.

Catana Catamarans

Nautitech is another catamaran brand located in France; I guess there is a pattern here. They have built a reputation for designing catamarans that are robust, seaworthy, and capable of putting sailing back into the heart of the liveaboard experience without compromising on comfort. Anyone familiar with catamarans can quickly appreciate the innovative nature of a Nautitech cat design. The brand was also the first one to introduce the concept of liveaboard living, which combines the saloon and cockpit into one spacious, functional living area.

Nautitech offers new boats from 40 to 57 feet. You can find a Nautitech on from the early 2000s’ on the used market (Like the Nautitech 40) for as low as $180,000. However, a new top-of-the-line Nautitech 54 can be spec’d up to $1.5 million USD; though, they are not as luxurious as some of the other brand’s top-of-the-line models. 

Nautitech Catamaran

The brand was founded in 1985 in France. Privilège Catamarans offer unparalleled expertise, know-how, and experience that facilitates the construction of some of the best catamarans on the market today. They can provide luxurious liveaboard life beyond coastal borders. Its elegant hull design ensures superb stability and comfort making then one of the best catamaran brands in the world right now. Every catamaran is custom-built according to the owner’s preferences and handcrafted with great craftsmanship and the finest materials.

The company specializes in the design and manufacture of some of the best, and luxurious bluewater catamarans on the water. Every new Privilege cat is built after multiple consultations between the shipyard and the owner. You can decide to either keep the catamaran in its pure and elegant look and also keep the cost as low as possible or to change it to your personal preferences and make it as high-end as you can afford.

Privilège makes both sailing catamarans and powercats, ranging in length from 51 to 75 feet. It also used to make shorted boats like the Privilege 435 at 43 feet, but unfortunately, they are now focusing on larger yachts. You can find a Privilege from the early 2000s’ on the used market starting at $300,000 (like the Privilege 435) but can easily surpass $5 million USD for their top of the line fully spec’d Privilege 745 or 740.

Privilège Catamarans

>>Also Read: Best Small Sailboats To Sail Around The World

Gemini 

Gemini is one of the few catamaran brands that make its boats in the US. It is a subsidiary of Performance Cruising Inc., and they have been making catamarans since 1981. Honestly, Gemini catamarans might not be the most good-looking and luxurious, but they are affordable and sail well. For that reason, they definitely deserve a spot on the list with the best catamaran brands. 

You can find a used Gemini cat in good condition in good condition from the early 1990s, starting at around 50k and a newer model for as high as 500k. Overall this is a very affordable brand, and you will definitely enjoy one without breaking the bank.

Gemini Catamarans

Seawind 

Seawind Catamarans is a catamaran designer and builder located in Australia, producing high-end performance cruising sail catamarans since 1982. They have produced some of the world’s best and award-winning designs. 

The Seawind brand is especially good for people looking for a catamaran that is not overly luxurious or expensive and is probably looking for a more reasonably sized yacht; however, they do offer a couple of larger, more luxurious models as well. 

Seawind offers new boats from 35 to 52 feet. You can find one on from the early 2000s’ on the used market for as low as $150,000, like a Seawind 1000. However, a new top-of-the-line Seawind 1600 can be spec’d up to around $1 million USD.

Seawind Catamarans

Sunreef Yachts

Sunreef is the world’s leading manufacturer of luxury sailing and power multihulls. Each catamaran, motor yacht, and superyacht they make is a custom vessel. The company was established in 2002 in Gdansk, Poland but a Frenchman and was the first brand to build a 74-foot bluewater cruising catamaran. 

This brand has pulled all the stops when it comes to luxury and comfort. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly liveaboard cat, a luxurious private floating villa, a dazzling party boat, or a fishing expedition superyacht fantasy, their designers will turn your vision into reality. Just be prepared to pay the price. 

Sunreef makes both large sailing catamarans and powercats, ranging in length from 50 to 150 feet! You can find a Sunreef from the early the Mid-2000s on the used market starting at $700,000 (like the Sunreef 62) but can easily surpass $15 million USD for Sunreef 102. They also have the Sunreef MM460 CAT on their catalog, which is one of the largest catamarans even created. However, unfortunately, I was not able to get even an approximate price quote on it. If I had to guess, I would say at least $50 million to have one built. 

Sunreef Yachts Catamaran

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 100k

Bali Catamarans is another brand of the well-known Catana shipyard. And it is also the newest brand on the list established in 2014. Catana catamarans are the golden standard when it comes to high-speed cats. However, in 2014, they decided to start a production brand of fast, light, and easily maneuverable cruising catamarans. The Bali Catamarans collection has a unique design mainly; it has no mesh “trampoline” in the front cockpit. It features an open-space interior, a huge refrigerator in the inner saloon, and many other uncommon features. 

Bali offers new boats from 39 to 50 feet. You can find a Bali on from 2014-2015 on the used market for as low as $300k (like the Bali 4.0). However, a new top-of-the-line Bali 5.7 can spec’d up to over a $2 million USD.

Bali Catamarans

Final Thoughts

In order to compile the best list of catamarans, I took into account the built quality, comfort seaworthiness but also the number of yachts for sale on the used market. In my point of view, I shouldn’t have put a custom catamaran builder on this list because you wouldn’t be able to find one for sale anyway. For most of these brands, there are many boats for sale on the used market in pretty good condition and at reasonable prices.

Peter

Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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best catamaran trawlers

Top 10 Cruising Catamaran Manufacturers: For Families, Comfort and Performance!

best catamaran trawlers

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Cruising steadily and relaxing without a care in the world may sound like a fantastic idea. However, you need the right boat and the right support from the builder. I believe that catamarans are the way to go, but which brand should you go with? Today I have chosen a little bit different perspective on how to evaluate the best catamaran brands.

Leopard, Nautitech, and Catana are some of the best cruising catamaran manufacturers. They offer safe and easy to handle cats with impressive speeds. Leopard boasts the best family-friendly vessels, Antares is environment friendly, and Nautitech offers impressive performance.

If you’re ready to buy yourself a high-end cruising catamaran, read on. Prepare yourself to spend some money and land the life of your dreams. Pack your sunscreen, lean back, and relax—adventure is on its way!

If you are on the hunt for a catamaran (just as I am), I would recommend you check out my other articles, and maybe they can help you find the boat that suits your needs the best.

  • Best catamarans under $200k
  • Best catamarans under $100k
  • Best catamarans for blue water solo sailing
  • Best catamarans under 50ft
  • Best catamarans under 30ft
1. Leopard9520%
2. Outremer7215%
3. Lagoon5712%
3. Seawind5712%
4. Fountaine Pajot459%
5. Catana204%
6. Nautitech194%
6. Balance194%
7. Privilege163%
7. Antares163%
Other6313%

Table of Contents

1. Best for Families: Leopard Catamarans

best catamaran trawlers

As a fine example of build quality, we have the Leopard 48 , which has an excellent design and great handling. The brand is also known for pushing the standards of catamarans well past industry norms.

Leopard catamarans are known for being very sturdy and great oceangoing vessels

This sturdiness and high build quality have made leopard a somewhat pricier alternative than, let’s say, lagoon. But as we have come to learn the recent years (with bulkhead problems on the Lagoons), this price increase is probably something that you will save in the long run anyway.

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Looking at the Leopard 42 above, we can see that comfort and space are offered in plenty; there are also other versions, but the most common is for the owner to make their own modifications suiting their specific needs.

2. Best Racing-Cruising Experience: Outremer

Even though Outremers haven’t built nearly as many cats as Leopard they definitely have managed to build a reputation equally as strong. Outremer, even though low in production numbers, comes in 2nd place in this poll of the best catamaran brand.

When you first look at Outremer’s website , you’ll see the words:

“Ultimate Blue Water Cruiser” outremer.com

For many this is true, for those of you who follow the youtube channel La Vagabond, they have an Outremer 45 and beautifully showcase how this vessel operates in all types of conditions.

Outremer is famous for continually improving and producing high-performance cruising catamarans in the ranges of 45 to 55ft. This can be seen by their after sales reputation which is said to be next to none.

Outremer also has an interesting perspective on being environmentally friendly, just read this quote from outremer’s commercial director:

“If you can sail at 5kts, you can sail 95% of the time” Matthieu Rougevin-Baville

Slow windspeed sailing is a priority for Outremer, this means less motoring, less noise, less pollution and opens up for better electric propulsion alternatives?

3. Best Customer Experience: Lagoon

Online shopping for catamarans can be complicated, but when it comes to Lagoon , they make sure you can easily navigate to find the right boat for you. The front page advertises their newest additions along with an educational blog.

“[You should get an] Early 2000s Lagoon. We own a 2001 Lagoon 470. Incredible boat” Jacob, Lagoon 470 owner

When you go shopping, Lagoon reminds you that delivery may be difficult due to the recent pandemic. However, they are committed to making sure you’re still able to enjoy your experience. Their cat variety is nice, but the features are even better.

Lagoon even has something called Club Lagoon, which provides extra benefits, including privileged events and personalized meetings. The main goal of Lagoon is to establish a friendly experience with its buyers. It’s quite clear that Lagoon sees you as more than just a customer. 

Lagoon has come in some bad weather for the bulkhead issues of the L450, but to be fair this is only one model of many ever produced. Lagoon still stands as one of the top catamaran manufactures in the world.

They make sure that you feel comfortable and prove they care about you, not just your money. So, if you’re ready for a friendly experience, go with Lagoon!

4. Best Overall Experience: Fountaine Pajot

Fountaine Pajot states that their boats are designed for the best living space to provide comfort to help you enjoy the cruising experience the right way.

“ Fountaine Pajot – been living aboard our Astrea for 6 months and love it. Easy living, fun to sail, rides well. “ Jay, poll respondant

With features such as sunbathing areas, well-designed kitchens, comfortable cabins, Italian-style bathrooms, and more, this brand clearly focuses on making sure you get the best experience. So, if you’re looking to sit back and let the boat speak for itself, get a Fountaine Pajot. Remember that your comfort is their number one priority. 

5. Best Reviews: Catana Catamarans

Much like the Nautitech, Catana designs their cat with a somewhat more open and “unprotected” helm oftentimes seen in racing, this allows for great visibility but can be stressful on the crew during long passages.

Catana remains one of the fastest production catamarans out there and you got to love their slogan:

“Performance by Nature” Catana.com

Everywhere you look, on Youtube, websites, or talking to owners, almost all of them love the Catana, some might not favor the helm position (but usually those are people who haven’t actually sailed a Catana) but all love the general feel and look of the boat.

The Catana is one the highest praised catamarans that I have researched but for some reason this doesn’t reflect in the poll.

6. Best Performance: Nautitech

Nautitech has a variety of catamarans such as the 40 Open, the 46 Open, the 46 Fly, the 54, and the 47 Power.

The 46 Open has a reputation for its unique experience with great safety and luxurious interiors. As for the 46 Fly, it’s best known for its revolutionary flybridge on a sailing cat.

“ Nautitech 46. Simple to sail. Great safety. Easy docking single handed. Fabulous access to engines water maker. Calorifier. Fast boat if kept light. “ Alan, poll respondant

According to their website , Nautitech is known as a brand that keeps in touch with the living at sea experience, all while providing immense comfort.

Nautitech was the first to create the idea of “open living” onboard by combining the saloon and cockpit into a large and functional living space. After all, their catchphrase on the opening page is “elevate your dreams.” 

While they focus on comfort, the might behind it all sets it apart from other companies. With 200 employees producing 80 boats per year, you would almost assume the quality wouldn’t be as good. That’s where you’d be wrong. It operates at the perfect speed so you and your friends or family can enjoy ocean life.

So, if you want a catamaran with comfort and exciting history, get ready to sail with Nautitech. 

7. Best Semi-Custom: Privilege Catamarans

Make no misstake these are not bad boats, but they are somewhat more rare to be seen and as such numbers will always lean towards the more common brands.

If you know what you want it’s a pretty high likelihood that privilege will be able to construct it for you, the brand is known as the midway between custom and production cats. Bringing benefits from both worlds into its own genre of boats.

The list of customizations is impressive and I would be surprised if you didn’t find what you were looking for, just remember, with custom boats comes custom problems , so maybe with semi-custom boats, you get semi-custom problems?

In some ways, this model is the opposite of let’s say Lagoon 380, which has hundreds of identical vessels and a large community of people around it.

Privileges are usually not the fastest cats out there, but if you are prepared to give up a little bit of speed you will most definitely enjoy sailing in great comfort on this masterpiece.

8. Best For Environment: Antares Catamarans

When it comes to vacations, you want to relax, but you still need to focus on safety, and Antares takes that cruising aspect seriously. If you decide to buy a catamaran from Antares (here´s a buyers guide ), you will find that they recommend you “get to know” your boat.

“ As far as actual cruising cats I love my Manta and getting a solid blue water boat under $300k is amazing. But I’ve been on a Antares. Wow. “ Jim, poll respondant

Antares is known for building blue-water capable vessels that are sturdy and excellent for liveaboards.

With a brand new design that focuses not only on space and comfort but also on bringing modern technology onboard and making it environmentally friendly, it’s clear that Antares wants the best experience for its cruisers and for the planet.

They redesigned the electrical system to create a diesel hybrid so you can cruise without having to worry about running low on battery power, all while doing your part in protecting the planet.

Something that is all too common on cruising cats is their poorly sized battery and electrical system making cruisers more often than necessary rely on the genset. With 1800w of solar panels, this is no longer an issue.

A few of their great features include a lightweight cherry wood interior, Corecell construction, and superior steering. This company clearly stands for comfort, relaxation, and safety.

Bonus Boat: Most Popular For Coastal Sailing, Gemini Catamarans

For nearly three decades, their Gemini 105mc has been the most popular catamaran ever built (measured by number of units sold).

According to the website , the Gemini 105mc surprises newcomers with its legendary performance. I would take this with a grain of salt, or two, or maybe a bucket full.

Although Geminis aren’t as beautiful or fast as the other cats on this list, they are much cheaper and smaller . Some Geminis even fit inside a regular monohull slip which will save you tons of money in marina fees.

These are no bluewater I-am-going-to-sail-the-world type of boats, but they are perfect for coastal and inshore cruising whether it be a weekend or full-on liveaboard.

When it comes to their new catamaran line-up, they have the Hull 1227, Hull 004, Hull 012, Hull 106, and the Hull 1223. While the prices may still be high, they offer discounts, and they recently announced they’d have price drops.

The popular Gemini 105mc that has been a legacy since 1981. It’s spacious, light, and airy .

Another interesting model is the Gemini Legacy 35 . While it’s not as popular as the Gemini 105mc, it still has some unique features.

They also have the Gemini Freestyle 37 , which is best known for its flexibility. It can be tailored as a basic family catamaran, day-charter boat, or for single-handed sailing . It also has a low starting price and can be tailored to suit all of your needs for the perfect cruising vacation.

In addition, they have the Gemini Freestyle 399 Power . It’s essentially a power version of the Gemini Freestyle 37. This new catamaran includes several storage areas, comfortable cabins, a vanity unit, a lounge area with seating for up to six people, and air conditioning. 

This would be the perfect catamaran for a group of friends or family on a weekend sail.

Bonus Boat: Best Affordability, Manta

This fantastic brand has eight different models that range from coastal to offshore cruising.

Mantas are one of my favorite boats, but as soon as they show up for sale, they are gone.

There is also a Manta owners club which doesn’t seem to be very active at the moment as far as I can tell.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, the best cruising catamaran brands focus on comfort just as much as they focus on safety. With luxurious experiences and tons of opportunities to relax while also experiencing the adventure of a lifetime, who wouldn’t want to cruise away?

Here are Some of My Favorite Catamaran Cruising Resources

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you hopefully start your sailing adventures. Here are some resources that I use as a sailor that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the exact things that I use and recommend to everyone, even my own family. Sailboats: If you’re looking for the best boat to suit your needs, I would recommend a catamaran. If you’re interested, I can show you the differences between catamarans and other types of sailboats .

Books:  For getting started, I really like  Cruising catamarans made easy . It is actually a textbook from the American sailing association; it is used to get a cruising catamaran certification. There are some other great books, and I have compiled a list of books about cruising catamarans that you will find useful.

Communication:  Being out on adventures, whether it be sailing or climbing mountains, good communications are essential to being safe. I recommend two things Google fi (incredibly simple cellular data all over the world) and Garmin inreach mini (for text and voice in remote areas without cell coverage)

Sailing courses: Online sailing courses are great for beginners starting out their sailing career; it’s an efficient way of learning the basics of navigation, throttle controls, and maritime safety. I suggest starting with two free courses from NauticEd .

To see all my most up-to-date recommendations,  check out this resource  that I made for you!

Owner of CatamaranFreedom.com. A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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