Top 7 Best Catamaran Boats To Live Aboard(And What To Avoid)


With the prices of apartments and real estate rising in most parts of the world, people are ditching their pricey apartments for an exciting and adventurous lifestyle of living aboard. Most of them opt for catamarans, where they enjoy plenty of living space and exceptional stability even in rough waters. So, what is the best catamaran boat to live on? 

The best catamaran boats (power or sail) to live on are known for their spacious living space, incredible performance, and exceptional water stability. Additionally, they boast beautiful and comfortable interiors and plenty of above the deck outdoor space. Some examples include Manta 42, Bail 4.5, and Voyage 580. An in-depth discussion with four more perfect liveaboard catamarans follows below!

This guide offers a clear outline of what you need to know about living on a catamaran boat. Most big power cats are versions of a sailing cat so this article is intended for people interested in either power and sailing catamarans. Read on to get ideas on:

  • Best catamaran boats to live on
  • Important questions to ask yourself before shifting to a liveaboard lifestyle
  • Pros and cons of living aboard
  • Factors to consider when choosing a liveaboard catamaran boat

Are you a beginner with catamarans and don’t really know what to get? check this out!

Manta 42

Manta 42 is one of the high performing catamarans in the sailing market today. It has attracted a good number of sailors seeking to liveaboard because of its liveability and affordability.

This boat boasts of spacious accommodation in which five people can comfortably sleep. In the port (left) hull is the owner’s suite fitted with modern facilities. It has a shower cubicle, a marine toilet, mirror, headroom, bookcases, and companionway pantry storage. The owner’s suite/cabin also features a queen-size bed and a settee.

On the starboard(right) hull of this 42-foot cat is a VIP stateroom with a double berth in the aft and a guest stateroom with a queen-size bed in the forward. The guest cabins feature a shared headroom, shower, swanstone sink, and marine toilet.

The galley (kitchen compartment) is inviting, with large counter space, drawers, and an integral trash bin. It also features a force ten propane four-burner stove and a large swanstone sink. The storage space here is adequate, with cabinets fitted above and below the galley.

The saloon (general living space) is fitted with a modern décor featuring an L-shaped settee, an adjustable dining table, a TV locker cabinet, and two ottomans. It is also fitted with AC heat units to create a comfortable living environment.

For safety features, it is fitted with propane gas alarms. It is an excellent choice for a liveaboard catamaran boat.

Dolphin Ocema 42

Dolphin Ocema 42 offers a perfect balance between high performance and great cruising. It is designed with a foam core for enhanced comfort and to reduce weight throughout its interiors.

It is also an excellent liveaboard catamaran option that offers a large saloon with a kitchen fitted at its port hull. The kitchen features a fridge, freezer, sink, a four-burner stove, and storage drawers.

Its interiors are made of laminated wood combined with fiberglass and epoxy to give a more defined look. It has four cabins with four berths and two heads. Also, it has two complete bathrooms with a hot water system and electric toilets.

Additionally, this catamaran has plenty of storage space offered by its louvered lockers. Dolphin Ocema 42 also boasts a well-fitted air compressor, air heating, and air conditioning systems for increased comfort.

Bail 4.5

This series of Bail 4.5 catamarans is well designed to meet the needs of liveaboards. It has modern interiors and easy to clean surfaces.

Its starboard features a side-by-side refrigerator with an efficient ice maker for a more homely feeling. Additionally, its port houses a galley fitted with an ENO cooktop and a separate oven at eye level for easier and convenient cooking. It also has a double sink, a large countertop, and ample storage space.

Most of the interior items are touch screen controlled, including the modern water maker and the Genset.

Along the port hull of this 45-foot cat is the owner’s cabin. It features a big shower, a wide berth, plenty of hanging and storage space, a separate head, sofa, and desk. The owner’s cabin has a privacy door that separates it from the rest of the cat.

On the other hand, the starboard hull has two cabins, a shared shower, and two heads. This catamaran boat boasts of its efficient lighting, storage, and ventilation, making it more accommodating.

Privilege 435

If you are into class and style, you should consider getting this catamaran boat. It comes with a luxurious finish that makes it stand out among other catamarans.

Privilege 435 boasts of a lavish interior décor that you can customize as per your tastes and preferences. It has a spacious galley with modern kitchen equipment such as an espresso coffee machine, toaster, bread maker, and yogurt maker. Additionally, it has a gas stove with three gas burners and a double stainless-steel sink.

For increased accommodation, it has four cabins, four bathrooms, two heads, and three showers. The cabins have four queen size beds and one double bed. It also has a washing machine for your laundry.

The lighting, ventilation, and storage are ample in this catamaran.

Fountaine Pajot Saba 50

Fountaine Pajot Saba 50 boasts of extensive liveability and comfort. It can carry many people during a day sail but can only accommodate approximately 10-night occupants.

It offers plenty of space on the cockpit seattees, the large transom seat, between the sun pads on the bow and the flybridge lounge. People can relax here without feeling crowded.

This catamaran also boasts luxurious interiors with four large cabins, four heads, and four double berths. Its dinette is on the cockpit’s far end, while the saloon features only a lounging settee. Additionally, it has excellent air conditioning for comfortability.

The galley has a microwave, oven, gas burner, and a freshwater maker, among other basic kitchen essentials.

The outstanding performance, exceptional liveability, and comfort derived from this cat make it a highly-priced piece in the sailing market. If you are willing to dig a little deeper into your pockets, this is a good option for you.

Voyage 580

Voyage 580 catamarans are large with a lot of living space and are also quite pricey. They boast luxuriously designed interiors using premium modern materials.

A voyage 580 catamaran has a spacious galley fitted with modern kitchen facilities. The kitchenette has a full-sized fridge, a large induction cooktop, a deep freezer, a freshwater maker, and two electric ovens. This catamaran sailboat also offers you the luxury of using a dishwasher and a washing machine.

Its saloon is cozy, inviting, and accommodating, with ample lighting and air conditioning. It is a perfect space to relax, read, or watch a movie. The dining area is also well prepared with glossy seats that can accommodate 8-10 guests in a single sitting.

For accommodation, it has two spacious cabins, four heads, and three double berths.

Lagoon 630/620

Lagoon 620 (or the powerboat version 630) is another highly appreciated liveaboard catamaran. Although it is a bit pricey (~USD 2 000 000), this large catamaran offers exceptional liveability, comfortability, and convenience. It is highly accommodative, featuring four suites, a galley, and a large saloon.

Its port side hull is a fully equipped modern kitchen followed by a suite containing two bunk beds, a complete bathroom, and some cupboards. The bow is another suite with a raised double bed, ample storage space, and a complete bathroom.

Again, on the starboard side is another suite with a raised double bed, complete bathroom, and a storage area. The fourth cabin is the owner’s suite located at the stern. It has a comfortable double bed, closets, a sofa, a private area, and a complete bathroom. Generally, this cat has four cabins, four bathrooms, four heads, three double baths, and two single berths.

The catamaran boats above are just a glimpse of what the sailing market has to offer concerning liveaboard catamarans. Depending on your budget and your target needs, you may get a new or used catamaran. Most used catamarans are still in good working conditions and more affordable if you have a tight budget.

Interested in a cat under 200k? Read this!

What To Consider Before Moving Aboard

Before shifting from your spacious apartment to a catamaran, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

Will It Be Cheaper?

Living on a catamaran can be cheaper depending on its size, price, and additional costs. You’ll likely save on rent, water, gas, and electricity as you will not be lighting, heating, or cooling a big apartment room.

However, your maintenance costs are likely to rise. You will also incur additional expenses such as slip fees, insurance, and boat mortgage fee.

Therefore, don’t just assume that you will save by moving aboard. Ask yourself this question, do the maths, and make your decision based on facts.

Will Life Be Simpler?

Simplicity here depends on how your typical day or week looks. By living aboard, you may need to go grocery shopping frequently due to insufficient storage space. You may also need to rush to the post office to get your deliveries more often. This means plenty of back-and-forth movements.

If you want a simpler life aboard, it is advisable to run your typical day through your mind first. By doing this, you will be able to find solutions to the wanting issues.

If you plan on doing your own maintenance, then life will definitely not be easier in that perspective; sailing in the Caribbean as a liveaboard; one thing that really surprised me was how incredibly much time I would have to spend on maintenance and repairs!

What About the Storage Space?

Although some cats are large, their storage space does not equate to that of most apartments. Be prepared to forego some items such as kitchen equipment, utensils, and clothes. The kitchen space, lockers, cupboards, and wardrobes will be much smaller. Therefore, you’ll need to declutter and move in with only the essentials.

If it doesn’t serve at least two purposes, don’t bring it along!

Gabo

What About Comfort and Connectivity?

You can tailor the interiors of your cat to suit your taste and preferences. Your cat should be dry, well ventilated, and have adequate lighting and air conditioning for increased comfort.

For connectivity, you can install a satellite receiver for TV or internet access. You do not want to be cut off from your family and friends when aboard. Choosing a satellite reception instead of the usual mobile phone network allows you to stay updated no matter where in the world you are!

Check out my recommended gear page to see what setup I used to get an internet connection!

Will It Be Safe and Secure?

Safety and security will depend on the marina. The security in a marina may be better than that in some rogue neighborhoods. It is upon you to decide whether to lock your cat while aboard or to leave it open.

For safety, be sure to install fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide, and smoke detector alarms. You can also install gas and propane sniffers. If you live with kids and pets, check the above deck space to ensure it’s safe for them.

Since a cat is basically a floating apartment you can install the same type of security that you would on land, cameras, etc.

Can I Move Aboard if I Have a Slip?

A slip (a parking space enclosed by three sides) is not enough to guarantee life aboard. For most marinas, you’ll need to submit an application for you to move aboard. Most of them have long waiting lists, while others don’t allow life aboard. Ensure you understand the needs of your target marina before commencing your plans.

Most often you are allowed to stay a night or two, but long term stay is frowned upon.

Pros of Living Aboard a Catamaran

Below are some of the advantages you get by living on a catamaran.

  • Economical: Life on a catamaran can be cheaper than the skyrocketing housing prices in major cities. However, you shouldn’t base this only on the cat’s cost. It is important to consider other charges such as marina fees, insurance, state tax, and maintenance fees.
  • Lifestyle: You get to experience a peaceful and exciting lifestyle away from the crowded cities. Here you’ll get plenty of fresh air and a chance to explore the beautiful coastal or sea waters. If you need some solo time away from the daily hustles and bustles of life, this is the ideal lifestyle for you.
  • Social life and community: Depending on the marina and club you live in, you meet and interact with like-minded people. You also get an opportunity to create social networks with a larger community of liveaboards. Additionally, you get to share ideas and learn more from your newly created community. This idea of community life is what draws many sailors to living aboard.
  • Connecting with nature: Living aboard a catamaran gives you a chance to connect with nature. You wake up to beautiful views of the water and the peaceful hummings of sea birds. You also view the sunset from the comfort of your cat as you enjoy the calm sea breeze. If you are a nature lover, you’ll enjoy this special connection with nature.
  • Adventure: Living on a catamaran means you are a step closer to plenty of adventurous days. You have the opportunity to explore the waters anytime you feel like it. You get to learn a new skill and make discoveries with each passing day.

Cons of Living on a Catamaran

Living aboard has several setbacks, which include:

  • High maintenance costs: Unlike standard brick and mortar houses, catamaran boats are prone to damage by water, weather, and microorganisms. They are likely to corrode and rust, which calls for regular maintenance. The maintenance costs of a catamaran may be high compared to those of a standard apartment.
  • Safety: Some marinas and cubs are not safe enough. Additionally, others are filled with dirty water and littered waste materials. As a result, they are not pleasing to live in and may also put you and your loved ones at risk of contracting diseases.
  • Practicalities: The space within most catamarans is limited. The limitations mean you’ll have to adjust your way of doing things such as disposing of waste and cooking to fit into your new lifestyle. Not everyone can fit into this lifestyle. If, for you, the advantages of living aboard a catamaran outweigh the drawbacks, then you’re well placed to start your life aboard. 

With that, let’s look at the factors to consider in choosing the best catamaran boat to live on.

Features of the Best Liveaboard Catamaran

Here are the factors you should watch out for when getting a liveaboard cat:

  • Space: Although the living space in catamarans is limited compared to that of an apartment, it should be enough to accommodate your needs. Your ideal cat’s space will depend on the projected number of occupants. It should be enough for everyone aboard without feeling congested or crowded.
  • Standing headroom: Standing headroom refers to the space available for you to stand in a cabin. Although some sailors live in cats without a standing headroom, it is not good for their general well-being. You don’t always want to crouch or crawl during your stay aboard. Sooner or later, your back will start experiencing problems. To avoid such health issues, get a cat with a standing headroom of at least 5-feet 10-inch (5’10”).
  • Electric lighting: Although the use of kerosene lamps has basically disappeared, except for the enhancing cozy-factor. Consider getting a cat with LED lighting for reliability and low maintenance. Most modern sailing cats have solar panels for an efficient electric power supply.
  • Ventilation: Your liveaboard boat should be adequately ventilated. It should have openings to let in fresh air without necessitating you to open the main hatch.
  • 120VAC: Since electricity is vital when living aboard, your cat should have a reliable power source. Consider one with a 120VAC (or 230v for Europeans) where you can charge your phone, computer, and other electronic devices. Unless your getting a very old cat this is usually included.
  • Toilet and plumbing: Sanitation is necessary when living aboard to avoid spreading diseases or living in a stinky setting. Therefore, when looking for a cat, get one with a well-fitted head (toilet) and an efficient plumbing system for safe waste disposal. It should encompass a holding tank so that you can use the head when parked in a marina.
  • Kitchen facilities: Most cats have a galley but make sure it fits your needs, maybe you love to cook, and therefore you have special preferences for the setup.

Other factors to consider are the shower and the saloon space.

Interested in sailing characteristics and catamaran stability? Read this!

Conclusion

With adequate plans, life aboard can be fun and exciting. To achieve the liveaboard lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of, you need a good catamaran boat (sail or power). When getting a liveaboard catamaran boat, consider some factors such as:

  • Space
  • Kitchen essentials
  • Shower
  • Ventilation
  • Electricity system
  • Toilet and plumbing
  • Standing headroom

Some of the best liveaboard catamarans you can get in the market are:

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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