9 Safest Catamarans For Cruising, Circumnavigation and Why!


Catamarans (cats) have become sailors’ favorite sea vessels in recent years, thanks to the extra space, comfort, and speed they offer. Additionally, they’ve built a reputation for their unrivaled safety. But which are the safest catamarans on the market?

The safest cruising catamarans offer a good beam to length ratio, sail fast, and are over 42ft. These include the Manta 42, the Lagoon 450F, and the Catana 44. They are stable, waterproof, easy to handle in stormy weather, and feature a sturdy design.

When boarding a boat, you expect to get to your destination safely, and with your bluewater boat intact, this is what cats are made for, but not all cats are created equal. Read on to learn what to consider when assessing a catamaran’s safety and check out my list of the safest cats available!

What Does It Mean To Say a Catamaran Is Safe?

Cruising for weeks on open water comes with several risks, like strong winds, heavy rains, and other potentially dangerous obstacles. Because of that, you need a bluewater boat that’s designed to take a beating from the most demanding conditions because if you compromise your safety, you might end up in a very dire situation with possible deadly outcomes.

What does it mean to say something is safe?

In this context, the word safe means protected from danger, free from harm, or not likely to lose the boat, as well as not likely to cause danger or harm to either personal or cat.

Therefore, when a catamaran is said to be safe, it comes with features that protect you and your crew from danger. As a result, it would be best to consider a catamaran’s safety features before choosing it.

Why do catamarans capsize? Read my article to understand!

Here are some of the factors i (and sailboat engineers i should add) consider to be the most critical when determining a cat’s safety:

Beam to length above 50%

Beam-to-Length Ratio

Although catamarans generally have exceptional stability, this aspect is always relative, as you’ll find some cats more stable in rough seas than others. Therefore, you’ll want to check their beam-to-length ratio. As a general rule, a boat in the 42 to the 48-foot range should have a beam to length ratio of about 50%.

A ratio lower than that can hurt your boat’s stability in heavy winds, but a larger boat can be okay with a lower value. On the other hand, a larger ratio can make sailing more difficult.

Extra HP adds safety

Engine and Powertrain

Catamarans come with twin engines, which is a significant benefit since you can always use one if the other fails. However, a poor choice of engine location can be a safety risk. Generally, a central location distributes the weight evenly, which is better for safety.

On bigger cats, this is not much of a problem since the weight of the engines is only a small fraction of the total weight of the boat. But on smaller and lighter ships, weight location is of greater interest.

Nonetheless, a watertight bulkhead between the main cabin and engine room prevents flooding if the sail drive or shaft gets damaged. 

Having strong engines will also make the boat go faster and offer extra protection from getting stuck in bad weather.

Rotten balsa core needs to be replaced or the cat will loose its structural integrity

Build Integrity and Quality

Build quality is a critical factor when determining whether a given cat is safe, depending on the nature of your voyages. You’ll want to check the manufacturer’s reputation, the strength and quality of the materials used, and waterproofing features. 

For instance, catamarans made of plywood or cored balsas are could be less safe since they often have maintenance problems once water enters them.

The underwater section of a cat should be solid, impact-resistant, and easy to repair for the boat to be considered safe. A significant portion of the vessel must be made of lightweight fiberglass to prevent the hull from sinking during a collision or capsizing. In other words, you’re safer with your boat upside-down on the water surface than right-side-up but submerged.

Keep the deck clean from obstacles that could trip or injure the crew

Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks

A cat’s deck is another essential factor to consider when assessing its safety. Generally, uncluttered and flat decks tend to be safer for sailing since the risk of tripping or getting in stuck on something is reduced. Most notably, you should check if your boat comes with an aggressive non-skid surface to prevent slip and fall accidents among your crew. The deck should have robust, quality fittings and large backing plates to distribute heavy loads evenly.

Shrouds and stays should be located so they only minimally interfere with moving about on deck.

This small sprayhood will not be enough for a serious ocean cruiser

Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection

The primary helm station should have an unobstructed view of all four corners of your cat that should be well protected from the elements, like wind and water, and accessible from the cockpit. The idea is to prevent damage to your cat by the weather and prevent flooding, which compromises your safety.

Cockpit Covers

Your cat’s cockpit cover can make or break it under heavy rains. A carefully designed cover protects it from water infiltration when it’s raining and allows for sufficient ventilation. 

Generally, the best cockpit covers come with removable curtains, allow for solar panel mounting, and can collect a significant amount of rainwater, which your crew can drink and use for washing.

Now that you have an idea of the things to consider when evaluating a cat’s safety, chances are you’re thinking of reviewing some of the boats on the market to determine if they’re suitable for your needs. To get you started on finding your dream boat I have put together this list, here are some of the best bluewater boats worth considering:

If you are looking for a specific type of cat i suggest you read on of my other articles such as:

Manta 42

The Manta 42

Arguably, the Manta 42 holds near-iconic status among sailors because it has a solid reputation as a capable, practical long-range sailing bluewater boat. The laminated hull-to-deck joint and collision bulkheads create watertight compartments at the end of each hull, making the multihull flood-proof.

For additional structural integrity, the manufacturer joins the hull and deck using high-grade marine sealants and reinforces it with a 360-degree unidirectional laminate.

Overall, this is an excellent cruising cat. 

It offers an impressive sail-area-to displacement ratio and a pretty decent amount of deck and interior space, and its pushpit contraptions come in handy when you need to secure wind vanes, solar panels, and dinghies. Undoubtedly, this boat offers great performance and stability.

Manta 42DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio53%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection8Good visuals and fully enclosed
Engine and Powertrain5Dual inboard diesels
Build Integrity and Quality5
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks5
Dagger or centerboardsNO5
Ease of handling5
Total:38Best suited for: Offshore
Lagoon 450F (flybridge)

Lagoon 450F

The Lagoon 450F (F stands for Flybridge) is designed to deliver prestige and safety and features a deck layout centered on an easy-to-reach flybridge. Accessing the engine controls or steering station is a breeze, especially when you need to steer away from danger.  

The cockpit comes with a dining table to the left, an attractive comfort couch to the right, and a wraparound settee. The boat’s hard dodger comes with an apt opening hatch that offers good ventilation and sunshine in favorable weather and protection from harsh conditions in bad weather.

The construction is sturdy, waterproof, and durable. Besides, its construction can withstand high impact, a solid selling point. If you need a boat that gives you ultimate control and offers all-around comfort, spaciousness, and elegance, you’ll never go wrong with this elaborate cat.

Lagoon 450FDataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio56%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection8Very good visuals and fully enclosed
Engine and Powertrain5Dual inboard diesels 90HP
Build Integrity and Quality5 (?)Bulkhead issues that MUST be checked!*
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks7High lifelines
Dagger or centerboardsNO5
Ease of handling5
Total:40Best suited for: Coastal
*L450 are critiqued of poorly constructed main bulkheads.

Catana 44

Catana cats prove that the Bali Group means business when it comes to sailors’ safety. These boats are only produced in France, so the company maintains high-quality standards. Aboard Catana, you’ll immediately notice the manufacturer’s efforts to make it safe for cruising.

For instance, this boat’s foam sandwich construction is high density and lightweight, making it unsinkable, resistant to shock and impacts, and rigid. The use of aramid fiber makes this boat even more rigid and resistant to perforation. The helmsman can continue sailing even after impact.

It also comes with crash boxes and waterproof compartments to prevent water entry after a major impact. Arguably, this is a sure-fire way to guarantee buoyancy, making this boat hard to sink!

You can also use the multihull’s daggerboards to tack into strong winds and heavy weather, enabling it to glide over waves instead of capsizing. The high bridge deck clearance is another boost to safety since it prevents waves from reaching the cat’s deck.

Catana 44DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio50%4
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection6Single wheel partial view
Engine and Powertrain5Dual inboard diesels 80HP
Build Integrity and Quality5High-density PVC foam (balsa core)
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks6Daggerboards in the way
Dagger or centerboardsYES5Daggerboards
Ease of handling5
Total:36Best suited for: Offshore
Aventura 44

Aventura 44

The Aventura 44 is the successor to the Aventura 43 built between 2012 and 2017, and its safety features are profound. 

The deck mold is integrated with its coachroof to make it lightweight and buoyant, while the hulls feature polyester with NPG Gelcoat. Its structural partitions come with laminated CTBX plywood, and the rudders come with foam-epoxy composite and a stainless-steel stock, making it solid and durable.

This boat can withstand high impact from waves, winds, and collisions because of its ingenious construction. The company proudly tells how they intentionally oversized much of the hardware just to make sure it is up for offshore cruising.

Aventura 44DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio53%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection6Single wheel partial view
Engine and Powertrain7Dual inboard diesels 114HP
Build Integrity and Quality6Oversized standard equipment
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks6
Dagger or centerboardsNO5
Ease of handling5
Total:40Best suited for: Offshore
FP Elba 45

Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

The Elba 45 is a well-respected blue water cruiser, as it is safe, dependable, and beautiful to look at. The slightly aft-raked bows and fixed stub keels deliver excellent windward performance.

The multihull features keels glued into a recess in its hulls, ensuring no keel bolts will rip out if it gets grounded or collides. Because of that, this boat deserves to be mentioned among the safest.  

Safety aside, this boat provides ultimate bliss while cruising, as it comes with a generous living space with a large sofa, low dining table, and an open galley. The interior fittings in the cabins allow your crew to settle comfortably with an en-suite bathroom in each cabin.

As some put it, this is a true catamaran and it deserves a sweet spot for anyone looking for adventurous, open water cruising.

Fountaine Pajot Elba 45DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio56%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection9Flybridge 360 view
Engine and Powertrain7Dual inboard diesels 120HP
Build Integrity and Quality5
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks5Lots of space but high boom
Dagger or centerboardsNO5
Ease of handling5
Total:41Best suited for: Coastal

Dolphin Ocema 42

The Dolphin 42 is the ideal option for any sailor looking for a catamaran that defies all conventions. It comes with daggerboards, which you can use to point higher into the wind and also reduce the draft when anchoring or moving in shallow water thus reducing the risk of grounding.

This vessel balances stunning performance and remarkable comfort in one package, a rare feat in blue water boats. The foam core makes it lightweight and impact-resistant at the same time, making cruising in the most demanding conditions less strenuous.

If you need a cruising boat that will never let you down, then you can never go wrong with the Dolphin 42.

Caveat: Pointing high on the wind using this boat requires pretty decent sailing expertise. If you lift the daggerboards too high, you may expose the rudders or interfere with the hulls if it runs aground.

Dolphin 42DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio56%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection7Partially obstructed
Engine and Powertrain5Dual inboard diesels
Build Integrity and Quality5Laminated wood
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks5Daggerboards in the way
Dagger or centerboardsYES7Daggerboards
Ease of handling5
Total:39Best suited for: Offshore
Atlantic 42

Atlantic 42

Since its introduction in 1993, the Atlantic 42 has grown its loyal fan base, thanks to its aesthetics and efficiency.

The multihull comes with a high-waist cockpit located in front of the pilothouse and behind its mast. As evidenced by the metal girder-like bearers that transverse the bulkheads, the solid construction is a selling point for any cruising enthusiast with safety considerations in mind. 

Most notably, these features make it stronger, improve circulation, and offers a helm position in the middle of the boat.

Although some consider this boat’s style conservative, its durable, impact-resistant build quality is unrivaled. Without a doubt, the Atlantic 42 is built with your safety in mind, but it also comes with beautiful interior and exterior finishes. If you need a boat that delivers comfort, safety, and efficiency in a compact package, you’ll never go wrong with this blue water cruiser.

Atlantic 42DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio56%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection7Unprotected forward helm
Engine and Powertrain5Dual inboard diesels
Build Integrity and Quality5
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks6Wide unobstructed areas
Dagger or centerboardsNO5
Ease of handling5
Total:38Best suited for: Coastal(Offshore)
Outremer 45

Outremer 45

Looking at the Outremer 45, you can tell that it took careful, detailed planning to build. Its weight distribution is remarkably balanced for added stability, and it minimizes pitching, ensuring you have the smoothest sailing. Its parts meet international quality and safety standards.

The boat’s interior structure is pretty stiff since the components are directly laminated to its hull, improving its sturdiness.

It features the proprietary Jefa steering system, which is light and highly responsive to winds, a true mark of a quality multihull. If you try out its autopilot feature, you’ll immediately notice how its rigs and hulls balance remarkably.

In a nutshell, this boat is designed to take good care of your crew. 

It comes in different versions, like an owner’s version, a club version with additional berths in the owner’s hull, and a four-cabin version. Arguably, this multihull deserves to be on the list of the best and safest blue water catamarans.

Outremer 45DataScore (1-10)Notes
Beam-to-Length Ratio51%5
Helm Placement and Cockpit Protection7360 from inside
Engine and Powertrain5Dual outboard 60HP
Build Integrity and Quality8
Check for Uncluttered and Flat Decks8
Dagger or centerboardsYES8
Ease of handling6Very low boom, self tack
Total:47Best suited for: Offshore

What Is The Best Sized Catamaran For Ocean Sailing?

The best-sized catamaran for ocean sailing is around 42ft; it is small enough to be sailed by one person but big enough to provide safety and speed. But, of course, there are many variables to consider, if you want to understand why, I suggest you read my article on the topic:

Best sized Catamaran for Ocean Sailing and Liveaboard?

Wrapping Up

Cruising on a catamaran can be thrilling and worthwhile, as they come with impressive features that make them the favorite option for those seeking open water adventure. They offer incredible comfort, speed, maneuverability, and room space. Besides, they’re safer than monohull boats, thanks to their twin-hull design, which uniformly distributes their load.

Nonetheless, before buying any of the cats mentioned in this article, ensure you check the following specifications about them:

  • Their beam-to-length ratio
  • Helm placement
  • Their structural integrity and quality

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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