A month ago, when I started looking for a catamaran to buy something, what struck me was the price of catamarans seemed to be more expensive than its monohull counterpart; for that reason, I decided to take a deeper look into the pricing; here’s what I found!
|Year / Length||30 ft||40ft|
|Most expensive||79 000 $||134 000 $||169 000 $||303 000 $|
|Cheapest||35 000 $||6 000 $||78 000 $||19 000$|
|Most expensive||254 000 $||278 000 $||499 000 $||408 000 $|
|Cheapest||120 000$||40 000 $||169 000 $||112 000 $|
Catamarans are by default not more expensive than monohulls of an equivalent size if comparing the same level of condition, age, equipment, and history. My research shows that both the cheapest and the most expensive boat is a monohull. Keep reading to understand how we compare a cat to a mono in a relevant way!
After doing many hours of research and looking through hundreds of ads for sailboats (maybe thousands… I should really get another hobby! ), I have found a few indicators affecting price more important than if whether or not it’s a cat.
Before we talk about the different aspects of a boat’s value, I would like to talk a little about the above table. It only includes boats under 500 000 USD since everything that I found above that figure seems to be of more extreme and one-off type of boats that would not really give an accurate price picture.
Importance of condition, history, and forums(?!)
Let’s start with the condition of the boat; this one might the most obvious; a broken boat is cheaper, well yes, but also there are small damages, and then there’s hurricane-bigholeinthehull damaged.
Which recently seem to have gotten an uprise in popularity through some exciting youtube channels trying to bring them back to their previous glory days for a fraction of the price( more on that under the history section).
As with most things, a new boat drops a huge amount in value the first couple of years, and then many of them seem to settle in price; this might be a function of the condition of the boat also settling. According to boattrader.com, boat condition is usually divided into three categories.
Mechanical, rigging, and cosmetics. The by far most impactful on the price of these three is the rigging. Usually, there is not much renovation work to be done on the rigging as there might be on a mechanical system, which means if the mast is hurt, it usually needs to get replaced (although there are options such as splicing).
Masts are expensive, especially on smaller boats where they may vary from 10-50%of the boat’s value. On the other hand, the engine, even though it might be expensive, is usually something that can be serviced and repaired, and speaking of cats, there are often two engines that make for one in spair. Speaking of cosmetics, this is like buying a car; if it looks like crap, then maybe it is also maintained like crap.
There’s really not much logic to that (you could argue that maybe the owner spent all her time on engine maintenance, fixing up the rigging, and had little time over for cosmetics, which actually would make for some good priorities, right?).
So what about history? history is not only important to understand what has happened to the boat, like the example above with the hurricane-damaged boat resurrecting from the depths.
But also its a matter of spending a lot more on insurance, or maybe not even getting insurance; there are examples of stories where people couldn’t get insurance since their boat was a constructive total loss(CTL) or Total loss (TL), Mooring brokerage states the following in a post about repairing hurricane-damaged boats.
“We have no obligation to vessels classified as total loss or constructive total loss. The warranty is void and all claims must be referred to the repair contractor. The declaration of conformity (CE Certificate) is only valid for the original sale between R&C and the first owner...”
So knowing the history of the boat is vital when it comes to understanding why that specific boat might be so cheap. I love the idea of buying a really cheap boat and fixing it up, actually, i might do that someday, but I’m also painfully aware that just as it could be my only financially viable way to get a cat it could also ruin me!
Forums, i love this part when it comes to researching a subject, i could have called it legacy or rumors, but whatever you call it, its in the online forums where the discussions happens! This is where the “peoples of the internet” decide what is a good boat and what is not, why things are the way they are. No need for critical thinking and if you have heard your neighbors grandmothers dead cat whisper something, you can just put it up there as if it were facts. One example that comes to mind is the discussion of Iroquois capsizing,
“Sad to hear that but IMHO you should seriously listen to all these tales of turning over, especially with a young family on board.“Peoples of the internet discussing what is supposedly “all these tales of turning over”, i could only find 4 tales and that’s not much for a boat from the good ol days.
Looking all over the forums it was clear to me these boats were death traps. but further research at more credible sites such as wharram design and atlantic-cruising led me to crunch the numbers by myself and to conclude that it’s probably more of a captains issue than the boat in itself since the boat in most aspects stay within reasonable safety standards.
So now you’re probably thinking, well yes that makes sense but it doesn’t apply to a new boat does it! hah got ya! i would agree with you so lets talk about that.
Price differences between new/unused catamarans and monohulls?
So looking at new boats, there is some difference in making a catamaran compared to the monohull. Obviously, they haven’t been used yet, so there isn’t really any history to take into consideration, there is still a legacy/rumors aspect to be considered, but now it’s more of a branding.
So comparing two boats of the same size with the same build quality, let’s say 40ft, there are a few big differences!
Starting with building materials, a 40 ft catamaran is basically two 40 ft monohulls when it comes to the amount of glass fiber, interior, paint, work hours, and then you add on the living space between the hulls; of course, this makes the build more expensive. More hours to make, more materials to build = more expensive.
And to that extra hull, you also need to fit an extra engine, extra rudder, something to make these engines and rudder work together( rods, electronics, etc.). Having an extra engine is, of course, not true in all cases since many small catamarans only have one outboard engine.
My conclusion is that there’s a price difference in quality but not so much whether its a mono or cat.
Thanks for reading!