A catamaran is a type of boat that features a pair of parallel hulls. This type of watercraft construction, which traces its roots from Austronesian peoples, has been around for centuries and is still being used for all kinds of applications.
These days, catamarans are growing in popularity over the more traditional monohull and there is a good reason for it. So, which is the best cruising catamaran for a couple?
Now its time to give you a simple guide that will help you find the best one for your needs.
- What Size of a Catamaran Is Best for a Liveaboard Couple?
- Catamaran Keel Types
- 9 Best Cruising Catamarans for a Couple
- Equipment and Gear for Living on a Catamaran
What Size of a Catamaran Is Best for a Liveaboard Couple?
Catamarans can be found in all shapes and sizes, from something as small as a trailer sailor to something as large as a mega yacht.
For couples intending to go cruising, the choice can be quite confusing. However, most experts would recommend that aspiring boating couples are best to pick a catamaran that measures at just under 50 feet. To be more specific, the ideal measurement should be 40 to 50 feet long.
Most models considered contenders for the best cruising catamaran for a couple have 40-50 feet of working space. This size of a vessel is considered to be the sweet spot for 2 people to efficiently control the catamaran themselves.
Go larger and controlling the sails, the steering, and all other running components may prove too overwhelming for most couples. The recommended size used to be much smaller, but it has steadily expanded, thanks to improvements in the engineering that made vessels easier to manage.
Catamaran Keel Types
The keels are an important part of the construction of catamarans. Catamaran keel types can have a huge effect on the ride characteristics of the vessel. Its speed, stability, and maneuverability are directly tied to what keel design is used. The following are some of the more common keel designs being used in catamarans and should be a key consideration in finding the best cruising catamaran for a couple.
The fixed board is the most common type of keel used in catamarans. The simplicity of its design makes it the keel of choice for most vessels, and for the most part, it is highly effective in what it does.
A fixed keel has a fixed structure, with its shape and weighting specifically designed to provide stability for the boat in virtually all directions. While this design makes the boat heavy and incapable of entering shallow water, its stability and low-maintenance nature makes it the keel of choice for most catamarans.
A daggerboard is a form of a keel where the board can be adjusted vertically. It has proven to be a more popular option than the other form of the adjustable keel, the centerboard. The main advantage of using a daggerboard for catamarans is in the performance department.
Vessels equipped with a daggerboard are known to steer and sail faster, thanks to reduced drag. Also, when set up properly, a daggerboard can provide a lot of stability, especially during wind conditions that can threaten to capsize less stable vessels.
Centreboard (swing keel)
A centerboard, also known as a swing keel, is another form of an adjustable board that is commonly seen in catamarans. Because you can adjust the height of the board, it is much easier to operate in shallow waters.
Also, you can adjust the height of the board for minimizing draft, which translates to better handling, depending on the water conditions. And while such a system leaves the potential for failures, these benefits can outweigh the risks on the right vessel.
9 Best Cruising Catamarans for a Couple
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The Outremer 45 may be compact but is loaded with both style and substance. A nicely designed cabin trunk combined with functional bows gives it an impression of both size and performance. The hulls and deck are constructed using a combination of vinylester, glass, and carbon to provide both lightweight and superior durability where it is needed.
The bows and daggerboard are all designed for safety and can break in such a way that prevents sinking in the event of a collision.
Maximizing cabin trunk space allows the Outremer 45 to have more room compared to most catamarans of comparable dimensions. Wide side decks and passageways make it easy for boarders to move around.
A single helm station allows the captain to operate the ship in full comfort. Solar panel mounts are also available on strategic parts of the boat. Multiple interior arrangements are available at the factory, providing owners with different options to dress up the cabins of their catamaran.
Utilizing a design that is reminiscent of traditional French catamarans, the Manta 42 has all the tools to be in the consideration of the best cruising catamaran for a couple. Utilizing a broad beam and narrow hulls, it possesses great stability while still being able to go through the water with ease.
A reinforced boom and hull further add stability to the entire vessel. Inside, the Manta 42 has a homey feel. All areas of the boat never feel cramped and high-quality materials are used to build it.
Providing propulsive power for the Manta 42 is a pair of Volvo diesel engines that generate 30 horsepower each that push the Manta 42 to speeds of 15 to 20 knots in an almost effortless manner. The nice boost of the engines, combined with its solid architecture, results in a watercraft that is fun to handle and glides smoothly across the seas.
It even comes complete with all the essential extras such as a power generator, autopilot, a water purifier, and a fridge/freezer, among others.
The Lagoon 380 hits the sweet spot between being a dedicated cruising catamaran and a vessel that possesses accommodations that can rival vessels of much larger dimensions. It is currently the smallest model available in the Lagoon product line, and it has the dimensions that make it such a perfect fit for couples.
Since it was introduced in 2000, it has been considered by some as the best liveaboard catamaran for both charter fleets and private.
The Lagoon 380 has a room that allows for the customization of interior arrangements. Couples can live comfortably within its confines and can accommodate larger crowds if needed. The layout of the main saloon also expands usable interior space while providing nice views.
The cockpit and deck are also well-arranged, allowing for efficient operations. The unballasted hull is constructed using a combination of fiberglass, foam, balsa, and vinylester. Its speed or cornering ability is average at best, but it can glide on most ocean conditions reliably.
Measuring 43 feet, it earned its reputation as probably the best cruising catamaran for a couple by being named as Sail Magazine’s “best cruising catamaran”.
It utilizes a lot of Bali’s experience in creating award-winning watercraft in creating a ship that is ideal for use by couples and other small crowds. While it is the company’s first foray into the power cat market, it has some details and dimensions that make it such an intriguing choice.
A rigid foredeck and a high, clear tunnel are designed to help the boat stay stable even in the roughest sea conditions. The flybridge, the cockpit, and the bimini are all crafted for maximum ergonomic function, and small details such as wooden handrails and strategic use of color in the cockpit result in a luxurious look.
Even the placement of the cabinets and the lighting is on-point. Powering the Bali 4.3 is a Yanmar engine that delivers up to 60 horsepower with optimal efficiency. Overall, it is a well-balanced watercraft that brings a lot to the table for prospective owners.
Gemini 105 MC
This catamaran makes a name for itself by combining the best traits of both the old and new schools. While it is designed like a traditional catamaran, it has modern features that make it a vessel made for today.
It is 10.5 meters long, and it can be described as something that resembles a floating cottage. Made specifically to be a cruiser, this catamaran is very good for the purpose it is designed for. While some would say that its measurement (33 feet) is too small compared to others in this list, it makes up for it with an interior design that provides great livability for small crowds.
The deck presents a relatively good amount of space for its size, and can comfortably transport crowds much larger than a couple. It utilizes a Westerberke diesel engine for enough push to go to cruising speed. We have seen some Gemini 105s with converted designs, which add more versatility to an already-flexible design.
The successor to the highly successful 440, the Lagoon 450 is a 14-meter catamaran that boasts of a well-made design and build quality. Utilizing an improved version of the flybridge deck layout, the result is a roomy deck that provides a lot of options for customization.
The cabin house design is distinctively Lagoon, boasting round corners and big windows for optimal views. Depending on the configuration chosen, this vessel can house up to 6 cabins and 12 berths.
There are 3 135-watt solar panels installed to power the electrical systems of the Lagoon 450, and you can get an 11-kilowatt generator as an option. An 800-liter water tank provides ample water supply for your trips. A pair of engines that generates 57 horsepower each provides the push for this cruiser, while a 1000-liter fuel tank promises extended range for those long trips.
This popular vessel is a strong contender for the best cruising catamaran for a couple. Utilizing all-new hull and deck molds, an all-new interior, and a number of design changes, this 50-foot vessel boasts of improved dimensions compared to its predecessors. You can choose from 4 different layout options that provide ample room for a couple and their companions if needed. Regardless of the layout, build quality and materials used are superb. 8 solar panels provide extra power for the electricals.
True to Catana’s reputation as a performance-oriented watercraft builder, this catamaran has features that are designed for high performance. It utilizes deep daggerboards for optimal performance in most weather conditions for smooth cruising.
Improving the efficiency of the hull and rig also helps in improving handling and reducing drag. The pair of engines provide ample push even at low RPM.
Fountaine Pajot SABA 50
With almost 50 feet worth of length, the Fountaine Pajot SABA 50 boasts of superior dimensions. It is large enough to provide ample space for a couple (or even a family) to live in, but it is also compact enough that you don’t really lose any of that cruising capability.
Utilizing fixed keels and fine entry hulls, this catamaran’s handling is one of the best in its class. Using vacuum-bagged PVC-foam core laminate in the construction helps in saving weight for even better performance. The SABA is equipped with a pair of the ever-reliable Volvo Penta D2 Diesel Engine that generates 55 horsepower each. This allows this catamaran to cruise at speed smoothly while still delivering great fuel efficiency.
You can effortlessly go to 10 knots, and can even go faster with the right sea and wind conditions. Combine this with the lightweight and great construction, and you get a catamaran that is made for some amazing sailing.
The Leopard 40 has earned quite a reputation in the compact catamaran market. While it traces its roots from other vessels that were produced decades ago, it is a fully modern watercraft that combines both style and substance.
The galley is located at the front of the boat; go there and you can enjoy a near-360-degree view of the ocean. The cockpit, saloon, cabins, and other parts of the vessel’s interior are well-connected, making transfers from one area to another effortless.
The Leopard 40 is designed to provide great performance as you cruise the seas. With increased volume in its hulls, stability and load-carrying capacity are both improved. And while the engine is not overwhelmingly strong, it has enough power to sustain cruising speeds without much fanfare.
By utilizing some of the best traits of the Leopard brand, the Leopard 40 belongs to the shortlist of the best cruising catamaran for a couple.
Equipment and Gear for Living on a Catamaran
There are specific tools that will prove very helpful when you and your partner are exploring the seas with your catamaran. When you are looking for the best cruising catamaran for a couple, having these items at your disposal can prove to be handy (and potentially life-saving too).
Here is a list of some of the most highly-recommended items that should be present if you intend on living on a catamaran.
Autopilot systems have grown by leaps and bounds in both precision and usability. It has become a common accessory found on any sailboat. Furthermore, availing of such systems is not as expensive as it used to be. For those looking for the best cruising catamaran for a couple, having a good autopilot system should be part of the consideration. It would greatly help in making your passages much more enjoyable.
Solar and Wind Power
Having solar and wind power in your catamaran is considered essential equipment now, especially for those who prefer to go on long trips. Depending on the size of your solar and wind power system, you can use it to power a lot of your vessel’s functions, from the electronics to the engine. Not only does it help make your catamaran more efficient in using energy, but it’s also one way to help save the environment.
Read our review about the best marine solar panels for sailboats
Snorkeling and Dive Gear
For those who are into water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving, having snorkelling and dive gear in your catamaran is considered a must. There are all kinds of snorkeling and diving equipment available on the market; it would be a nice addition if you have this gear on standby. Of course, it is recommended that you still follow proper safety protocols when diving/snorkeling and only do these activities in safe waters.
Fridge and Freezer
Regardless if you are into short or long trips, having a fridge and freezer is a great addition to your catamaran. They are very useful for storing food, water, and drinks for your trips. It can also be very useful for people who are into fishing
Depending on their capacity, it can contribute to the length of time you can spend at sea before you dock for replenishment. A lot of these vessels have these pre-installed, but you have the option to install your choice of fridge and freezer.
Reverse Osmosis Water Maker
Water is considered essential for any form of on-sea travel, as it is used for drinking, washing, and specific vessel functions. However, water also carries a lot of weight, which can cause logistical problems in most vessels, especially smaller ones.
One solution for this is to have a reverse osmosis water maker installed at your catamaran. These devices are designed to create freshwater using salt water and should augment the water supply for your boat when you need it.
When your solar panels aren’t keeping up then a generator is a great option to top off those batteries. also, if your catamaran comes with air conditioning then its almost a must have to keep cool on anchor.
I hope you have a better understanding on what features the best cruising catamaran for a couple have. Any of these choice that we reviewed would make an outstanding full time liveaboard for a couple and will take you past the sun sets in comfort and safety.
Thank you for reading to the end. Happy Sailing!