8 Reasons I Want a Catamaran

my circumnavigation.

The truth is this depends mostly upon budget. Once you have your budget, you then look at your needs, then your wants.

I’m a strong believer that you can circumnavigate in a huge range of vessels.  And that’s not based on my opinion, it’s based on sailors actually circumnavigating on a wide range of vessels.  From this guy who sailed around on a 12 footer to people who have circumnavigated on massive trimarans with full crews (they did it in 48 days, see here).  So what is the minimum size one should consider?  I don’t know.


A friend of mine (pictured above in a local paper) has made a circumnavigation and he sailed on a 46 footer (I think).  I remember him saying that he thought 33ft is a minimum – but not any 33ft:  construction matters.  Some sailboats are made for coastal cruising and some are proven bluewater performers.  Personally, I’m most comfortable on something in the 40ft range (for monohulls).

But I’m actually looking to spend a bunch of time on the boat and I’ve been strongly persuaded by more than one cruiser that a catamaran is the way to go.  I’m pretty sold on it – except that that cost is about 1.75-2X the cost of a regular monohull. So what makes it worth the money to me?

Well, here’s my list:

1.  Catamaran’s are more stable

You spend a bunch of time at anchor (the majority of it) and it really, really makes a difference to be stable at anchor.  Sleeping, eating, entertaining, making coffee, cooking – are all much easier to do when you’re not rolling.  Any good sailor knows this and monohull advocates will tell you that you’re a crappy captain if you anchoring in spot where your rolling.  That may be true, but what’s also true is that there are sometimes limited mooring spots and that waves and weather change.

Equally importantly, while under way catamarans stay upright so walking, making food, keeping beverages upright, and fighting fish (if you’re lucky) are all made significantly easier.

2.  Catamaran’s have a larger salon

I want space to hang out, not in a hull.

Ideally I’d like the galley in that area, as well as some seating, and a bunch of windows.  Something like this (but with more windows – for ventilation in the tropics):


 3.  Catamarans are (often) faster

You’ll certainly hear a spirited debate about this subject if you bring it up among sailors.  Monohull advocates will also remind you about how a catamaran really isn’t a sailor’s vessel.  Cool, I have no problem with that.  I’m choosing sailing because it’s cheap, it’s natural, it’s quiet, and it’s not reliant on fuel.  I couldn’t give a shit what is considered “real sailing” and what isn’t.  From what I’ve read and heard – cats are generally faster, and that’s really important on those long passages.

4.  Catamarans have shallow drafts

This one can be hard to grasp, but it’s really important.  If you have a boat with a 7-8′ draft, you’re in a very different mooring situation than one that has, say – a 4′ draft.  The draft is the distance between the waterline and the bottom of the keel (the lowest spot beneath the waterline) and reflects the shallowest water that a boat can safely navigate in.

A catamaran typically has a very small keel because it doesn’t need the stabilization of a deeper keel necessary in a monohull. Instead, for stabilization under sail it has two hulls.  The types of cats that I’m interested in (38-40ft cruising cats), typically have a 4′ draft – while a comparable monohull would typically have a 6-8′ draft.

Why does this matter?  Because a shallow draft allows catamarans to get to anchoring spots that a comparable monohull wouldn’t be able to – say a really protected, but shallow cove.  And if you’re not interested in protected spots to anchor, a shallow draft still allows you to cruise into much shallower waters (like a really beautiful patch of reef).  Or provide you with a bit of wiggle room if you’re cruising through patchy reef.

5.  Catamarans have more deck space

This gives you many, many advantages including: more room for solar panels, more room for relaxing, more room for moving around your boat, etc.  Think of it this way: if you’re going to live in an apartment for the next 3-4 years, would you prefer a 400 sq ft apartment or a 600 sq ft apartment?  Easy choice, but it costs.

6.  Catamarans have more room for a dingy

Correctly outfitted, you’ll be able to store a larger dingy, and (maybe) more importantly you don’t have to stow the dingy everytime you pick up and move.  Instead, you simply pull it up on a couple of pulleys and you’re off.  This makes a big difference – our last trip on a monohull we spent an inordinate amount of time stowing the outboard and the dingy.

7.  Catamarans have more privacy

Catamarans have a ton more privacy.  Instead of all bunking in the same hull, you can have cabins in entirely seperate hulls. Obviously for short-term trips this isn’t a big deal, but for longer trips small things can really start to grind on you when you’re sleeping just feet (or inches) from everybody else aboard.

8.  Catamarans have two engines

Last, but certainly not least -If shit breaks, and it will – you really want to have two.  Engines are pretty important, even when sailing, and being stuck without an engine is way worse than ending up with a single engine (because you have two on a cat). Pretty straightforward but really important.

With all that considered, here’s what I’m considering – a 38-40ft Lagoon, Leopard, Jaguar, Catana, or Fountaine Pajot.  I’m sure there are more, and if anyone has any suggestions I’m open.  Here’s an example of what I’m looking for:


Disclaimer:  these are my opinions, not based upon personal experience.  My opinions are based instead on advice from others and a ton of reading. I’m probably wrong in part of this, please feel free to correct me.

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Getting Here – A Life of Adventure


The Path

I’m a lucky guy.  There’s absolutely no denying it.  As a matter of fact, I’m so lucky that I’ve suffered serious guilt about how lucky I am.

I’ve survived things that other people didn’t, I have a family that’s set me up for success, and people have given me chances in my professional life.  I’ve experienced adventure that I would never be able to describe in words – from freedive spearfishing over a hundred miles offshore, to engaging in firefights outside of Baghdad, Iraq.  From learning to really ride my motorcycle, to sharing some epic diving trips in remote spots with amazing friends.

There’s been no shortage of adrenaline or adventure.  But it wasn’t always like this.

I bore you with an endless list of issues I’ve had, but in summary:  I’ve lost brothers in battle, had romantic interests violently killed, lost family members (most painfully – my father), and endured a variety of failures both personal and professional.

Honestly I don’t do well with failure and throughout the process there have been periods of serious self-doubt that border on depression.  The earth-shattering, soul-crushing kind of self doubt that makes you question every decision you’ve ever made.

Abandoning “my future.”

Early in college a friend died in a Jeep rollover and I stopped caring about college.  They ended up kicking me out on academic probation – apparently final exams are meant to be attended (who knew?).  That failure lead to a shitty manual labor job, living out of a shitty trailer, in a shitty town in Texas.  The level of people I worked with were illegal immigrants (good people) and drug addicts (sometimes good people).

I wasn’t making any money, couldn’t afford my cell phone payments and my student loan payments were beginning to pile up.

Risking my life for a different future.

Eventually I decided to join the military, not really seeing any way out (and it meant I got that adrenaline/adventure fix). I did alright in the military and really enjoyed the camaraderie and the no-bullshit attitude.  What I didn’t enjoy was the lack of real leadership (commanding isn’t leading), insistence on rules, and lack of genuinely motivated and ambitious people (nothing against any of my friends – you were the exception).  Admittedly, I also have a little bit of a problem with authority.

My career essentially ended when I was offered a promotion, and they resorted to telling me I wouldn’t last “in the real world” (meaning being a private citizen). I declined the promotion. The truth is – I was starting to realize that the war my friends and I were fighting was bullshit.  It was ruining our country, drastically increasing our national deficit, and ruining our credibility worldwide. And we weren’t doing any fighting that was satisfying, we essentially drove around waiting to get blown up. Not cool.

I couldn’t bear that level of sacrifice for a cause I didn’t believe in. So I left.

It wasn’t a particularly hard decision, but changing my view of the world was hard. I was coming from a war zone, where everyone was fighting everyday – thousands of miles from their family.  Suddenly I was dropped back into a world full of feelings, caring about people, and sensitivity.  Political correctness had run rampant and it seemed like even the most innocent jokes offended somebody.  I wasn’t a saint nor soft-spoken, but everybody sure did seem overly sensitive.

Adventure Bet

Betting on me.

I quickly found out that you have to work to be awesome in the private sector – there’s serious competition (scattered amongst complete idiots).  So I went back to school – easily made Dean’s list (until I got bored) and worked hard at learning (easy – I love learning). After I finally graduated I found out about Venture Capital, Startups, and Technology Companies and how they can deliver such a staggering amount of wealth to founders and investors.

One of my professors saw a little bit of promise in me and passed my name along to a neat little startup run by some truly passionate people.  There I met friends that I have to this day, and there I also learned alot about how to not manage people, how to deal with difficult personalities, and the in-the-trenches truths about startup life. It was an amazing learning experience and I loved it, but couldn’t wait to get out of it.

Some time in Silicon Valley.

Stanford is expensive and really difficult.  Really expensive and really difficult. I actually had to study and actually had to do homework.  And sometimes, even with a bunch of work I wasn’t excelling – something I really wasn’t used to.  And it turns out I really need friends and colleagues to work through difficult problems, something I was noticeably lacking at Stanford.  Believe it or not, the people I was in class with weren’t on my level.  They weren’t lacking in intelligence, they were all smarter than me – I’m convinced of that.  They just couldn’t talk about some of the deeper things I needed – like: philosophy, the difficulties of working inside of an early stage startup, and the underlying philosophies that had defined life and death decisions (like the ones I faced in Iraq or 100 miles offshore – fighting sharks off of recently speared fish).

My classmates at Stanford were brilliant kids, with brilliant kid worries, and I was 28 wondering what I was doing there.  To complicate things, the classes I was involved in were clearly taught by the B-Team.  Don’t get me wrong – the professors were smart, well connected guys.  But it quickly become clear that my entrepreneurship professor hadn’t ever built a company (believe it or not) and that my comp-sci teachers were overwhelmed by the amount of student requests.

It turns out that Stanford Summer Intensives aren’t my learning style.  Another failure, not in grades, but in real learning.

Home from Adventure

Home, whatever that means.

So I returned home to find out that there weren’t any developers willing to leave their cushy jobs to work with me on developing the “next big thing.”  And it shouldn’t have surprised me – these guys had awesome work environments already, great salaries, and challenging work ahead of them.  And I was an unproven guy without easy access to capital or any real mentorship.

So I ended up taking the advice of others and took a job.  It turns out I was pretty good at the job and actually had a bunch to contribute.  I found that I understood and contributed to sales, sales strategy, and marketing but wasn’t a huge fan of sales as a career.  More importantly, I brought an attitude of getting shit done – and it turns out that’s a really rare thing in the business world.  The business world is full of meetings, and politics, and hot air.  I was able to bypass most of it and operated by being friendly and nice, but frank and proactive.

The banality of home.

Boredom.  The only way I could stay engaged was to push hard at my job – not sleeping much, not working out, staying plugged in all the time, and sacrificing everything but the job.  If I started to enjoy any other part of my life again – I’d find that my work wasn’t important.  That feeling – that what I’m working on isn’t important is something I really, really couldn’t stand.  I was craving risk, adrenaline and adventure again.

So I started a company on the side, with an amazing co-founder and we decided we were going to attack the construction space.  The chance of failure is remarkably high – something to the tune of 90% or more.  But I’ll be goddamned if that’s going to stop me.  At the time of me writing this, things are moving but we so early that any prediction would be foolish.


I had it, but it wasn’t wrapped around what I was doing in my day job. As a matter of fact, the stuff that I was working on (in my day job) was boring by any standard and was only really inspiring as it was a source of learning.  But when I was offshore, sailing, diving, fishing, spearfishing, exploring – I was really in my element.  If I was waiting on a monster wahoo to come in, or fighting off a shark, I was having the time of my life.

And even though I craved adventure,  I wasn’t prepared to make the monetary/professional sacrifice to move to something I enjoyed more.

Another Adventure Event

The Event.

I got a call from my sister, who was working in the Congo.  I had a habit of answering like a complete jackass, we had a great relationship – we laughed alot and  had so much fun that we were actually pretty embarrassing to be around. This one was different though, she was serious and tense – I picked up on it immediately.  Something was really, really wrong. The good news is that she wasn’t crying – so she was relatively composed and her life wasn’t in immediate jeopardy.

I’d prepared for this a million times over, she was in a sketchy situation and I was ready to drop everything, empty a couple of bank accounts, and go over there with the express intent of buying a couple of weapons and finding my sister.   I could operate with the best of them and I really didn’t give a shit – it was a lawless place, the kind I liked…  But that wasn’t it at all.

My Mom had a heart attack.  She was visiting my sister in the Congo when it happened.  Immediate grief and a sudden sinking feeling.

I’d already lost my Dad to work, stress, and a generally unhealthy lifestyle.  I couldn’t lose another parent that way.  The night I received the call, I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t do anything.  Completely helpless, I decided I wasn’t going to let work, other people’s opinions, my projects, my desire for wealth, or anything else stand in my way.  I was leaving to go sail and live a pure, simple life and I was taking my Mom with me.

So here I am, ready and (for the first time) willing to give up money and work to practice what I’m going to preach to my Mom – the value of time, following your passions, and experimenting with better ways to live.

If you’ve made it this far, I really appreciate your attention. I hope there was some value in the preceding words, that you’ll subscribe as I share my experience preparing for this transformation, and that you’ll stay with me as I continue to move forward.

I’d like to connect with you – and the easiest way to stay tuned is to subscribe by clicking here.

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