Beach Your Catamaran For The First Time (with 6 Safety Tips)


If you have heard about beaching a Catamaran but don’t know how to do it? Dont worry, it’s easier than you think. Below I will teach you how.

  1. Choose a flat sand beach without rocks
  2. Position your Catamaran relative to the beach taking into consideration winds and waves
  3. Approach the beach looking for objects under the water
  4. Stop the engine and slowly drift until you have beached your boat on the sand
  5. Use your dingy to deploy anchor

If you want to know more about how to choose the right beach, when beaching cant be done, and more, keep on reading.

What Does Beaching a Catamaran Mean?

 Beaching a catamaran is when you use a beach as an improvised marina. It can be done in two ways, either entirely stranded on the beach with no water around the hulls (for hull repairs), or partially stranded, with only the bows on the beach (bringing onboard load).

 The fundamental distinction between these two is that a fully stranded version utilizes the high tide to go far up the beach. When the low tide comes, it remains on the beach—leaving enough time for repairs until the next high tide comes and picks the boat up.

Using the partially stranded method enables you to bring onboard gear or people that otherwise would be tricky with a dinghy. It can also be used as an alternative to standard anchoring.

How to Choose the Right Beach!

To find the right spot to beach your catamaran, I would recommend using this list to aid with your choosing. The Criteria are;

  •  Sandy beach that is flat enough for the bows to “dig into.”
  • Only sand and no hidden coral or rocks under the sand.
  • A predictable wind and wave pattern.
  • Protected from big wakes from ferries, large ships, etc.
  • Protected from strong winds.
  • Good sea bottom to set one or two anchors.

Choosing the right beach and location on the shore is an essential skill in making this an enjoyable experience instead of a horribly expensive one.

I see two potential situations: you find yourself cruising, and suddenly this perfect beach appears, and now you want to bring your catamaran upon it.

The second situation, which is the preferred one out of a safety perspective, is the one where you actually plan to beach your cat because ou needs to do maintenance or inspections of the boat.

Let’s look at situation number one, you have found a beach, and you want to park your boat on top of it.

Since you dont have information on the beach other than the charts of the water coming up to it, you will have to bring all your experience to test on this one.

If you know the area well, then you can use that information to your advantage when choosing your spot. Do you usually find coral rocks on the beach? Can you already spot that the beach isn’t flat but seems to have dark spots?

All of this might be indications that this might not be the perfect place to beach.

You also might have to anchor a few meters out to understand the wave patterns and winds before you go all the way to the beach.

The second way is much better since now you will be able to ask people in the marina, or online. You can also carefully study the amount of traffic that passes by and if they create big waves that might interact with your beaching.

Planning your beaching means that you can find a beach that fulfills all the criteria, which I would say is especially important the first couple of times. Once you get more comfortable, you can improvise more and more.

What Catamarans Can Be Beached?

An excellent example of a boat that can be beached is a Lagoon; this is because the keel protects all of the vital parts. Let’s look a little bit deeper and see if also your boat can beach safely!

If the boat is appropriate to beach or not os something that differs from model to model, here I will give you some general guidelines so that you can better understand what makes a boat able to beach safely.

The lowest point of the boat needs to be something hard, so this principle means that if you are going to put all of the boat’s weight on any part of the baot, that part really needs to be strong enough to hold the full force of the boat.

If you have a boat where the lowest part of the boat is either the rudder, propeller, or anything else that is obviously not strong enough, then that boat is not a good match with beaching.

If you have a boat with daggerboards, please notice that they are not strong enough to withstand beaching, and since you dont have any fixed keels, beaching might not be possible.

On the other hand, if you have a boat with fixed keels, then the odds are that you will do much better since these are usually very sturdy. They are also long, making the weight distribution more even.

If your boat has skegs, this will significantly enhance the safety of your rudder. For example, if you’re on your last few feet from the beach and suddenly, a medium-sized wave lifts your boat up and then drops it down again once the wave has passed.

Then there might not be enough water to keep the boat afloat; the boat hits whatever is under, and in the case of skegs, no big deal, in the case of the unprotected rudder, it might bend or crack.

The size of the boat is a minor issue; more important are the factors mentioned above. Obviously, a smaller ship can be more easily pushed or winched in the direction you want if you get stuck.

But other than that the size doesn’t really matter…

Why Should You?

 There are many good reasons to beach a boat, I think first and foremost, since the boat is totally dried-out, the possibility of doing maintenance and repairs under the water level even if your in a somewhat deserted area (which is something I really would have enjoyed when we had a giant hole in our monohull, more on that in another article 😉 ).

 The other aspect is the amount of money you will spend, especially if you’re on a big boat where the prices for a haul out can be ridiculously high.

 It is also an excellent way to inspect and remove growth on the hull. Just make sure you do this in an environmentally healthy way. It is not a nice thing to leave your antifouling scrapings in the sea. That’s something for a proper marina.

 There are some drawbacks; once the boat is out of the water, many functions will not work anymore.

 The first thing to notice is that your toilet(head on a boat) is probably not going to work since most need water is taken directly from the sea.

 The other issue is that you might not have electricity to run all your conveniences. Since there is no water around the boat that the engine can use for cooling, you don’t be able to run it. That also means that you want to be able to generate electricity other than with your solar, wind, or portable generator.

 Considering the other alternative, partially beaching, the main reason would be to unload or load large amounts of stuff; maybe you have bought a lot of groceries that would take ten trips with the dinghy. Or perhaps you need to fill up with 400 liters of water.

 Some people also use this as a way to anchor. Still, I never really understood why. My experience tells me that its only a bouncy and uncomfortable event unless its very calm sees and zero waves.

Dangers of Beaching

We have briefly discussed the dangers of beaching, but I want to make a few more points under this heading.

Getting stuck

So there is a real possibility of you getting stuck. This is mostly a problem if you are partially stranded, and a big wave lifts you and carries you onto the beach.

This will put you in a position where you might break something under the boat and the possibility of not getting back out again.

I’m not saying there will be a giant tsunami-like wave to bring you one mile inland; I’m talking about something that will put you far enough up that you can not motor out on your own.

This is mainly an issue of choosing your correct location, making sure there won’t be much traffic, and being aware of weather changes, especially if you are not on board at the time.

Why placing your boat on hard rocks or coral is terrible!

Being unlucky or not doing your reconnaissance thoroughly, you might put your boat on a rock.

One problem with rocks is that they might be under the sand and not possible to spot from above.

So what happens if you do park on something hard. So what the sand actually does is that it shapes itself around the hull, making the forces acting upon it be more evenly distributed.

This distribution of weight is essential if you want to avoid cracks.

When placing a boat on a rock, all the boat’s weight is concentrated on this small point of contact, and the risk of breaking something is much higher.

Extra Tips

1. Excessive wear on the hulls

One problem with beaching is no matter how perfect a beach you will find; you are basically parking the boat on sandpaper at best. This means extra wear on your hulls and antifouling.

There is something you could try to minimize this. Build protecting “boots” for your boat. These could be made of whatever materials you can find that are strong enough to withstand the sandpaper effect of the boat rubbing against the sand.

You add these homemade protectors to the area of the boat, which will be in contact with the beach; this will make the chafing happen between the protectors and the sand instead of against the hull.

2. Prop damage

When traveling in shallow water, you should be aware of the prop spinning up sand and rocks. This increases the wear on the prop by massive amounts.

If you’re unlucky enough, you might even rip up small rocks from under the sand; these can easily make chips in your prop, making it unbalanced and creating vibrations.

The good thing is that it is easy to counteract those problems; the first rule is to limit the amount of prop action.

Keep the rpm as low as you can and avoid revving up if you dont really need to. When it is shallow and possible, consider putting the boat in neutral and drifting the last few feet up on the beach.

3. Make sure you go far enough up on the beach!

No matter which one of the two methods that you opt for, make sure you go far enough up the beach so that you do not bounce around.

What you dont want is that your boat is semi-stranded, that is when your boat lifts from the sand whit every little wave. This will make for a lot of baning vibrations and a lot of noise.

It takes a little practice, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it after a few tries!

4. What about the weather?

There is not a big difference between anchorage and beaching when it comes to weather, but here are some factors worth diving a little deeper into.

Since you are now on a beach, there is only one way to get out, going backward. If you have too much wind or waves on your stern, you might not be going anywhere until that changes.

While at anchor, you might be able to go full speed with your prop; as discussed above, this is not recommended in shallow waters due to the potential damage to the boat.

Beaching is a calm weather sport when the weather is not perfect id instead use a standard anchorage then risk banging around on the beach.

5. Anchor best practice

When it comes to setting anchor, I like to drop them from my boat and then motor-power “away from it,” make sure it digs down, and I know for sure that it is holding.

While beaching, this is also very important since this might have to be strong enough to pull you off the beach, so make sure your anchor is safe!

If you have a strong enough dingy, you can use it to drive the anchor down. Once the first one is set, you lay another anchor to form a Y position; this position is advantageous if the boat tends to wander from one side to another.

6. Prepare your crew!

Something that I always do when I have either a new crew or an experienced crew but are doing something that we have never done before is a “walk-through.”

We do this to determine who does what and when it is also excellent to find the problems in your plan and make it better.

Usually, I start by showing all the different phases, such as the “approach” or “anchoring” phase. Then we draw on the whiteboard how it’s going to look, and together we come up with a solid plan.

The next thing we do is a dry-practice where I will call out the commands, and the crew will act as if we are doing it live.

This makes us identify and correct gaps in the plan. Once we are done with the plan, we get to the mission, and we execute flawlessly.

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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