9 Best Cruising Catamarans With Daggerboards or Centerboards!


Many sailing enthusiasts shopping for their first cruising catamaran might find it rather challenging to determine the best choice for their needs. If you’re in the market for a cruising catamaran with a daggerboard, then look no further. I have done the research and built a list of nine of the best daggerboard catamarans. 

The best cruising catamarans with daggerboards or centerboards provide great cruising capability, comfortable living, ease of handling, and strong construction. Based on different styles, designs, sizes, and prices, some of the best catamarans are Outremer 45, Catana 50, and Balance 526. 

If catamaran cruising is a passion you have been longing to pursue, keep reading. You might find your dream boat and become inspired to make your cruising vacation a reality.  

Dagger/centerboards and their Role in Catamarans

Unlike a traditional sailboat with a single hull (monohull), a catamaran balances on two hulls, with the sails sitting in the middle. Some catamarans come equipped with daggerboards (or centerboards) whose work is to balance the force of the wind acting on the sails.

If you want to understand the difference between centerboards and daggerboards i recommend you read this!

If you’re sailing a catamaran with daggerboards, you’d raise the daggerboard on the leeward hull while fully extending the upwind daggerboard. This improves the catamaran’s stability when sailing windward during heavy conditions. The adjustment thus makes the boat less susceptible to capsizing. 

Read this to understand why catamarans capsize!

Should You Choose a Catamaran With Daggerboards?

In general, catamarans with daggerboards perform far much better than those without. That’s because the boat’s design focuses heavily on performance. What’s more, renowned experts design the boats with the best hulls and make the boats lighter by tweaking the materials used. 

So, if you’re looking to reach speeds of 28 all the way up to 30 knots (55 km/h), then choose a cruising catamaran equipped with daggerboards. When sailing upwind, such catamarans sail much closer to the wind and are way faster than their comfort-focused counterparts. In comparison, most traditional cruising boats can only manage 10-15 knots ( 18.52-27.78 km/h).

What makes the catamaran so fast?

Pros

  • You can cover much longer distances in a day with a daggerboard catamaran.
  • Their high speed allows for faster ocean crossings. 
  • They deliver superior performance, particularly in upwind directions.
  • You can anchor your catamaran on shallow waters – after raising the boards.
  • A faster cruiser means additional safety since you can outrun a storm or avoid an incoming one. 

 Cons

  • They entail more work and maintenance. 
  • They require you to learn how to operate them safely. 
  • They are expensive – daggerboards come with an additional amount of up to $30.000 on the construction price.
  • The daggerboard compartment consumes some of the space from the hull’s living area, thus limiting your comfort.

Now, let’s have a look at some of the best cruising catamarans with daggerboards.

The Dolphin Ocema 42

The Dolphin Ocema 42 is a cruising catamaran built in Northern Brazil. The boat comes equipped with daggerboards and can thus point higher windward. But it also boasts a smaller wet surface when running and can pull with ease into shallower anchorages – 3 feet ( 0.91m) or less. That means that you can anchor your catamaran far from the crowd, then walk ashore. It also gives you more anchorage space to choose from.

However, it’s important to note that: 

  • Raising the Dolphin’s daggerboards means exposing her rudders from underwater hazards. 
  • The daggerboard could place the hull’s integrity at risk in case of a grounding. 
  • The trunk consumes valuable interior space. 

Created by designer Philipe Pouvreau, the Dolphin 42 is the only Dolphin model that boasts daggerboards. The boat strives hard to balance performance and comfortable cruising in a compact package. As a result, the cruising catamaran sports a foam core which helps in reducing its overall weight. 

While some of the Dolphins built later at various custom shipyards bear some additions or structural modifications, most Dolphins are high-quality, safe, comfortable, and perform successful circumnavigations.  

Pricing: $220,000-$350,000

The Outremer 45

The Outremer 45 is a Gerard Danson design. This classic cruising catamaran is unique in that it didn’t undergo mass production like most multihulls. Instead, the French Outremer came from a semi-production manufacturing line where all interior parts are laminated directly to the hull, forming an extremely stiff structure.

One downside to this catamaran is that it comes with a much smaller interior than other boats. Also, it doesn’t come cheap. However, everything else about the Outremer makes it the perfect sailor’s boat because:

  • It’s highly responsive to the helm.
  • It has a high bridge deck clearance.
  • It comes with well-proportioned bows.
  • It features balanced weight distribution, which helps to minimize pitching.

Earlier models featured soft canvas bimini (optional) covering a stainless framework, while later ones had optional overhead composite panels. The latter provides a better option since canvas tends to become waterlogged when it rains. 

You can order the Outremer 45 as an owner version, a club version with additional berths, or a four-cabin layout. 

Pricing: $320,000-$560,000

The Atlantic 42

The Atlantic 42’s efficiency and aesthetics have resulted in the growth of a massive loyal following. Despite being the smallest of the Atlantic cruising catamarans, the A42 is quite popular with sailors due to its ocean-faring capabilities, ease of handling, and excellent use of space. This catamaran embodies a true classic right from the forward cockpit, through the pilothouse, the sleeping cabins, to the galleys.

Unlike other catamarans, the Atlantic 42 has a waist-high cockpit located in front of the pilothouse and behind the mast. It boasts a solid construction owing to the large metal bearers running over the bulkheads. This set-up provides the boat with maximum strength, better air circulation beneath the engine, and high flexibility when it comes to engine size and positioning. 

At first, the vessel’s style and outlook appeared rather conservative, but with time, it was evident that the Atlantic 42 was a long-lasting catamaran built using high-quality materials. The boat’s exterior looks stunning, the interior quite impressive while spacious aft cabin accommodation and shower compartments are an additional bonus.

Pricing: Contact Chris White Designs

The Gunboat 62

If you’re looking for a vessel that can fit all your gear plus more during your voyages, then the Gunboat 62 is the ideal cruising catamaran for you. And guess what? You can stuff all your gear and equipment in this vessel and still outperform a similar-sized racing monohull. The boat’s helm seat is not only comfortable but also offers 360-degree visibility, ample storage space, a working surface, and a luxurious cabin. 

The Gunboat 62 is among the best top-performing catamarans in the market, and this particular series set up the Gunboat brand. It performs incredibly well during storms with speeds of 35 knots (64.82 km/hr) and beyond despite its epoxy, E-glass, and carbon-fiber build. Furthermore, its design features a distinct angular outline, quite unlike most similar-sized catamarans. 

Check out this list of the fastest Cats on the market!

Since it’s light in weight, this catamaran can sail upwind at speeds above 17 knots (31.48 km/h) while pinching up to 30 degrees. Indeed, this catamaran boat can easily tack through 95 degrees and still manage to outshine the fastest racing monohull. And, like most performance catamaran cruisers, the Gunboat 62 can reach almost 20 knots (37.004 km/h) under the right conditions.  

Pricing: Contact Gunboat

Gemini 105Mc

The Gemini 105Mc is the ideal cruising catamaran for you if you’re in the market for a boat to use for weekend sailing trips. The boat is also comfortable enough for long cruising vacations since it boasts spacious accommodation, great design, and delivers a stable cruising platform. 

This vessel is more of a sailing cottage. Designed by the renowned Tony Smith, the 35 feet (10.6m) floating cottage is also cozy, safe, and good value for money since its price is quite reasonable.

The boat comes with incredibly slim, teardrop-shaped hulls with flat bottoms and a smaller wetted surface, allowing for minimal drag. It also leads towards more leeway when under sail. The hulls sport a kick-up centerboard which helps to enhance the catamaran’s windward pointing abilities. Furthermore, the rudders rise to enable the boat to cruise in shallow waters with ease, while most vessels tend to run aground.

The Gemini 105Mc has a narrow beam measuring about 40% of its length. This is quite unlike today’s beams at 50%. Still, the boat’s low center keeps it upright, stable, and safe. Although no longer in production, you can still purchase a preowned Gemini 105Mc

Pricing: Contact Gemini Catamarans

The Catana 50

There are only 2 Catana production sites in France, this guarantees exceptionally high-quality standards in every boat. The Catana infrastructure is more advanced than that of other catamarans and features spacious bridge-deck clearance and a high freeboard. In addition, its curved daggerboards drastically reduce the drag, while crash boards ensure the buoyancy of any of the Cantana models.  

The Catana 50’s daggerboards angle slightly inward to maximize lift under sail and enhance lateral resistance underwater. They are thus more effective than the long but shallow keels found in other catamarans. As a result, this catamaran performs exceptionally well to windward. When sailing off the wind, raising the boards helps to minimize drag.

The Catana 50 is an ultramodern catamaran designed to make long-distance passages easy and safe. This massive sailboat measures almost 50 feet (15.24m) long and sports a beam of around 26 feet (7.92 m). Most people consider it the best-built and most fashionable cruising catamaran, but the boat is bound to test your sailing skills if you plan to sail it solo.  

The amazing catamaran features a rig that allows you to use a screecher or a self-tending jib. While this might sound complex, the Catana 50 is fairly easy to tack once you set out on the course.

This performance-oriented catamaran boasts efficient hulls and rigs that allow for fast speeds. Also, its long waterline, along with the bow’s subtle underwater shape, helps boost volume while lessening wave drag. The stern platforms can also aid in stretching the length of the waterline while allowing easy access from a dock. If a collision were to occur, the sturdy board trunks would protect the hulls. 

Pricing: About $1.4 million

McConaghy MC50

The McConaghy MC50 launched in 2018. A fast cruising cat designed to cross oceans, this catamaran came with impressive features such as a skylight smack in the center of the coachroof that allows light to flood in. Also, the saloon has an extending table that provides adequate space for up to eight diners and converts into a lounging room when you install the fill-in cushion. 

The galley boasts an induction hob and molded-in sinks, while a navigation station occupies a spot at the front of the saloon – providing good visibility and systems access. The vessel’s unique design simulates a penthouse apartment on the deck with 35 to 40m2 (376.74 to 430.56ft2) of space, possibly the largest in a 50ft (15.24m) yacht.

The MC50’s 3.5m-deep (11.48ft) hydraulic centerboards boost the boat’s upwind performance and include a fail-safe if an underwater collision occurs. The boards take only 12 seconds to raise. This catamaran delivers great pace and upwind capability, all wrapped up in a high-quality, stylish, and roomy interior.

The key to the MC50’s outstanding performance is the optimized hull shape and the 40% carbon fiber lay-up, which result in greater stiffness. Exhibiting great engineering detail, the hydraulic centreboards swing into the hulls, providing a welcome solution to the challenge of having daggerboards without eating up too much accommodation space. 

Pricing: Contact McConaghy Boats.

Atlantic 47 Mastfoil

The Atlantic 47 is one of Chris White’s spectacular designs. It places the cockpit forward of the deckhouse, the aft deck sits behind the pilothouse, and the large pilothouse has easy hull access.

This unique design enhances the safety and functionality of the Atlantic 47 as it provides the crew with full forward visibility and easy, safe access to the sailing controls. It also transforms the traditional deckhouse into an appealing and more comfortable pilothouse.  

All Atlantic cats come equipped with daggerboards, with the majority sporting vertically retracting ones. That’s because to sail upwind really well, a catamaran requires deep, well-shaped hydrofoils underneath the boat to enable it to claw windward.

An excellent top performer, the Atlantic 47 combines great cruising capability, comfortable living, and ease of handling. This spacious boat also boasts a generous aft deck, a high all-around bulwark, and a starboard walk-through for quick and easy access to the dinghy.

All Atlantic Cats sport an impressive safety record owing to their robust construction, innovative design, and easy handling. Besides, the indoor watch-keeping capability helps to minimize crew fatigue, allowing safe and more enjoyable cruising. To further enhance their safety, all boats contain watertight collision bulkheads in addition to emergency capsize habitation. 

Pricing: Contact Chris White Designs.

The Balance 526 

A passion for building the best performing cruising catamaran designed for speed, comfort, and the ability to carry cruising payloads inspired the Balance 526. Designed by a team highly experienced in sailing, cruising, racing, and building catamarans, the 526 is simple to operate, maintain, and offers gracious, elegant living.

With state-of-the-art beds, showers, cabinetry, and finishes, the European-styled interiors feature high-end interior design. What’s more, you can pilot this exceptional vessel single-handed owing to the innovative design, reefing station, and self-tending blade jib. These features allow almost anyone to maneuver the catamaran safely through any weather.

If you’re seeking optimal performance under sail, you can configure this cruising catamaran with either dual daggerboards or high-performance fixed keels. The great thing about using the fully retractable dual daggerboards is that you can sail in shallow waters without any problems. 

To enhance upwind performance, place the boards in the down position, and raise them to improve off wind performance. In dangerous cross seas, the Balance 526 side-slips prevent the tripping effect related to large fin keeled catamarans. 

The balance 526 comes with the all-weather Versahelm design. A first in catamaran design, it accords serious cruisers the best of both worlds. You can slide open the hardtop and sail in the open air during fair weather, close it in foul weather, and get into the aft cockpit. The down position allows you to scan around as you look for docking and provides a warm, safe, and comfy place to pilot the 526 in any weather.

To combat fatigue, the Balance 526 thoughtfully comes with adjustable helm chairs. There’s also a retractable helm standing platform that you can raise to increase sightlines whenever you pilot over the bows, navigate narrow channels or cluttered estuaries. 

Strong but light, this vessel weighs under 12.5 tons (11,339.81 kg). Hence, if you ever need to outrun or position away from bad weather, the Balance 526 will speedily and safely take you wherever you need to go. 

Pricing: Contact Balance Catamarans

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this list, cruising catamarans with daggerboards are available in a wide range of designs, styles, and sizes. This can make choosing the best one a bit overwhelming. Still, whether you’re looking to get a catamaran at a bargain, an exceptional performer, or a classic, there’s a boat to suit every need and budget. 

The best thing is to look beyond the fancy designs, layout, or equipment and consider fundamentals. These include sound construction, a good sail plan, cruising capability, ease of handling, and comfortable living.

Sources

Gabo

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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