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How We Chose the Best Liveaboard Catamaran

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close up of anchored Lagoon 380 catamaran

It was eye-opening when we began our preparation to shop for a cruising catamaran. We didn’t have many clues as to what to look for. We did know that we needed to research (a lot) and rely on others’ knowledge and experience.

We listened and learned throughout our six-month process of buying a sailing catamaran. We also figured out which advice to take to heart.

Here are the five important things to look for and take into account when choosing the best liveaboard catamaran and the perfect boat for you and your crew.

1. What Size Catamaran Do You Need?

The most common advice we found was to buy the smallest sailing cat we could comfortably live aboard.

Here are a few tips for deciding on your catamaran’s length.

  • The smaller the boat, the less boat to maneuver, dock and maintain. As new boat owners, this didn’t go unnoticed. We would pay for any gluttonous purchase with more sweat, tears, and cash later.
  • The layout of the saloon and galley can play a part in how big a boat feels. Getting inside different catamarans, whether at a boat show or by other means, will give you more knowledge of your preferred interior space layout.
  • Sailing on a catamaran generally becomes more comfortable on larger models. If you are planning to do a lot of offshore sailing, things like bridge deck clearance, beam-to-length ratio, and other performance indicators will become drastically more of a priority when purchasing your boat.
  • Another significant factor for us was the ceiling height of the boat. At 6’3, Ross could step on a boat and know almost immediately if it was a contender. (Ceiling height can vary in different models and isn’t always correlated with the length or size of the catamaran.)

Sunnyside crew demonstrating the height in a catamaran cabin

Ross still has to watch his head, but he’s getting better at subconsciously ducking.

WHAT WORKED FOR US: As a two-human, one-feline family that was planning to do mostly coastal cruising, the ideal catamaran length for us turned out to be in the 37-40 foot range for most production catamaran lines.

2. the fixer-upper catamaran sailboat.

Learning the ins and outs of our first boat, including learning to sail a catamaran, was already overwhelming.

Considering also needing to fix many major working parts made my eyes cross. We would have our hands full even with almost everything in working order.

Replacing rigging right away? No, thank you.

Sunnyside crew inspecting the main sail on a Leopard 38

We found other experienced sailors agreed, at least for our first boat.

Yes, we’d miss out on the attractive cost savings. But we would be able to spend our precious time getting to know the boat, its systems, and this new lifestyle.

NOTE: There are a lot of opinions about purchasing a charter boat (a boat that has been retired from the charter market). These can be good sailboats, and the average price is often lower than a boat that hasn’t been chartered. Just be aware there could be additional wear and tear, and of course, hire a reputable surveyor.

What worked for us: there will always be things that need to be fixed when you buy a boat, even a new catamaran. we found a pre-owned catamaran that needed minor repairs but was overall ready to set sail., 3. what systems do you need onboard.

At first, we found ourselves looking for a catamaran with all the systems (we thought) we needed. Insert watermaker, generator, air conditioning, etc., here.

There is a wide range of what is said you “need” on a boat. Every sailor is different. Some people live without refrigeration; some consider a washing machine essential.

Lagoon 380 under sail with Sunnyside captain on the bow

The only way to know what sacrifices and trade-offs you’re willing to make is to live the sailing life. Cruise how you plan to in the future, and see what works. Then you can start answering questions.

How frugal do you want to be with water? How conservative with energy? How do you want to handle the heat?

Changing your mindset to buy a boat capable of living off the grid but without all the additional comforts can be a good idea.

When you start cruising more remotely, you can decide if you want the convenience of a watermaker, more solar, or a generator for backup power.

Sailing legends Lin and Larry Pardey are famous for their sailing quote , “Go small, go simple, go now.” And although I don’t believe they were referring to a 40-foot cat, I still think we can take away a reminder to keep things simple and get on the water – especially newbie sailors.

WHAT WORKED FOR US: We landed on the most important system to us – solar, and went from there. We found that by getting started cruising, we could live without many of the conveniences we thought we needed. In the meantime, we were able to enjoy not having an overabundance of systems to learn and maintain.

4. owners’ version catamaran.

Whether you choose a charter version or an owners’ version catamaran will have a big impact on the boat’s cabin layout and purchase price.

What is an owners’ version catamaran? This desirable catamaran layout has three cabins instead of four cabins (referred to as a charter version because this layout is the standard for charter companies). Meaning there is a spacious bathroom (head) in the place of the fourth cabin in the owners’ hull.

Layout of a Lagoon 380

These sailing catamarans are a little scarce and come at a premium, but it’s one a lot of folks are willing to pay an additional cost to have, including us.

In one hull, the forward cabin is replaced by an expanded bathroom. This allows for a more open layout and storage space. On catamarans under 40 feet, the 2-cabin, 1-bath hulls can be especially tight.

WHAT WORKED FOR US: This was our most inflexible condition. If we were going to live in this tiny floating home, we wanted to maximize the hull’s limited living space better. A larger bathroom, a more open layout in the hull, and more storage space would let us do that.

Also, I can’t imagine the fiasco of Ross trying to shower in a wet bath where you shower with the toilet. I would most likely end up living with a very smelly guy! Lucky for my nose, with a little patience and persistence, we were able to find our three-cabin home.

5. Choosing a Catamaran Manufacturer

One of the big questions I find future cruisers have is, ‘What is the best cruising catamaran?’ There are a ton of opinions out there about the right catamaran to purchase. Remember, the answer will depend on your cruising style and the price range of your budget.

How much offshore cruising do you want to do? Will you be sailing single-handed? Balancing your needs and budget will be a big part of the process.

Production Sailing Catamarans

Many people asked if we were looking for a Lagoon catamaran when we were shopping.

The truth is, we didn’t know what we wanted, so we looked at as many boats as we could. From the popular South African-built Leopard Catamarans to the smaller U.S.-manufactured Gemini, we looked at various makes, models, and years of catamarans on the used market.

In the end, we found purchasing a highly-produced boat would make our lives easier as new sailors.

Catamaran sailboats are not cars. They are made on demand. For many models, 100 (or fewer) boats might be manufactured.

However, catamaran manufacturers, such as Lagoon , Leopard, and Fountaine Pajot, may design and produce quite a few more.

Lagoon 380 with the jib out

Our Lagoon 380 is hull number 322, which was a lot when it was built in 2005. I recently saw in a Facebook group that the tally is creeping up to 900.

Whoa, that’s a lot of boats. Or, as I like to call them, my newfound sailing friends whom we can inquire about how to fix this or get to that.

From forums and Facebook groups to people we meet, someone out there has already done what we are trying to do on our model boat.

WHAT WORKED FOR US: For us rookies, access to more information and the comfort of knowing a certain model production boat had been tested could save us oodles of time and money. Ultimately, the Lagoon 380 layout and availability of a boat that ticked all our other boxes made this the right choice for us.

Buying the best liveaboard catamaran.

Buying a catamaran came with many hard decisions because, let’s face it, it’s a lot of money for something you keep putting money into.

Things like how you want to cruise, how long you want to cruise, and other circumstances will help you decide what catamaran is best for you.

sailboat crew watching the sunset from the dock

Ultimately, given our knowledge, personal preferences, market climate, and many other factors, we sought to make the most informed decision possible.

Our Lagoon might not be the biggest or fastest boat out there. But so far, Sunnyside has been the right boat for us. She got us out cruising and living this sailing lifestyle, which makes her the best sailboat we could ask for.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Our post featuring 5 Important Tips to Remember When Buying a Catamaran .

For more about our Lagoon 380 catamaran, check out the link below.

Want more tips on how to start cruising on a boat?

View our guide to get a real look at life on a boat, including the cost of cruising and priceless tips for learning how to live aboard.

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Morgan, the founder of The Home That Roams, has been living nomadically for over five years. She began her journey traveling across the U.S. in a motorhome and cruising on a liveaboard sailing catamaran. Currently, she lives full-time in a travel trailer, sharing resources on RV living and boat life to help others downsize their lives and thrive in an alternative lifestyle.

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best live aboard catamaran

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

9 Best Liveaboard Catamaran: Sail Away and Explore the World in Style!

Liveaboard catamaran sailboats are some of the most comfortable vessels on the water for long-term living and traveling. The choices when shopping for a cruising catamaran can be daunting, however.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best liveaboard catamaran sailboats that are 40-plus-foot and comfortable for long-term offshore cruising.

liveaboard catamaran

Table of Contents

9 best catamaran for liveaboard, 1. antares 44, 2. knysna 440/500, 3. leopard 42/43/45/47 (circa 1998–2004), 4. lagoon 42/46 (circa 2018), 5. manta 38/40/42, 6. alliaura marine privilege 42/435/45/445/465, 7. catana 401/42/431/471, 8. fountaine pajot orana 44/helia 44, 9. voyage/norseman 380/400/440/470, why a liveaboard catamaran, questions to ask before choosing a liveaboard catamaran, performance cats vs. cruising cats, size — what’s too small and what’s too big, build quality and longevity, owners vs. charter layouts, galley up vs. galley down, open transom/traveler up vs. closed cockpit, best features of a liveaboard catamaran, 1. downsize and organize, 2. learn to conserve, 3. maintenance skills, 4. safety first, 5. stay connected, 6. embrace the lifestyle, 7. financial planning, 8. health and well-being, 9. environmental responsibility, 10. education and learning, which is the best catamaran for liveaboard cruising, best catamaran for liveaboard faqs.

Picking the right liveaboard catamaran for your crew is a big choice. This list has been handpicked based on personal experience of years living on the water. 

BoatPros
Antares 44Gorgeous, seaworthy, comfortable, good support
Knysna 440/500Extremely well built, high quality, pretty
Leopard 42/43/45/47Shaft drives, good looks, spacious, popular
Lagoon 42/46Self-tacking jib, modern design, open layout
Manta 38/40/42Quality construction, good reputation
Privilege 42/435/45/445/465High quality, well-designed
Catana 401/42/431/471Performance-oriented, dual helm stations
Fountaine Pajot Orana 44/Helia 44Good balance of features, right size
Voyage/Norseman 380/400/440/470Open cockpits, easy walkaround, low windage

Note that some of these are grouped based on the boat model. Many times, a boat goes out of production, and the hull molds get bought by another yard. They change the name and sell it under their brand. As a result, you will find a lot of boats listed with multiple names.

Are you looking for a smaller, cheaper option? Check out our list of cheap catamarans , including many older and smaller models that can be gotten for a bargain. 

Best Liveaboard Catamaran Options

Originally built by Canadian builder PDQ, it’s now produced by an Argentine company. The Antares 44 is one of the few purpose-built yachts for owners and cruisers.

They include training with new boat sails and have excellent after-sales support. The boats are gorgeous and some of the most seaworthy and well-appointed catamarans on the market, with high bridge deck clearance and everything to make life aboard as comfortable as possible.

Knysna is a boutique, semi-custom yacht maker from South Africa. Their boats are extremely well built to a very high standard. The designs came from the St. Francis boats (also really nice options!) but have been updated and redesigned. Knysnas are some of the prettiest cruising cats you’ll ever see. 

These early Leopard models had a lot going for them. The 43 is probably the most popular, but the 42 is in the same boat but a few years older.

The Leopard 43 was made popular recently by the Gone With the Wynns YouTube sailing channel. What’s to like? They’ve got shaft drives (not sail drives, so less maintenance), good looks, spacious cabins, and lots of living spaces. 

This newer line of Lagoons has a self-tacking jib and sleek, modern design. What we like most is the layouts, which have wide open spaces between the salon, cockpit, and helm station.

Manta was a US builder with a great reputation for building quality boats. They only built one model, which started as the 38 and progressively got more and more added to the transoms (sugar scoops). 

These older French boats were built to a much higher quality standard than current charter boats. They’re well-designed, even if the layouts are a bit dated by modern standards. There are many offshore cruisers that have been comfortably live aboard Privilege owners for years.

Catana is a performance-oriented French company. Their boats have distinctive daggerboards, narrow hulls, and asymmetric hulls. Catana now also makes the new Bali line of charter liveaboard catamarans. One of the company’s trademarks are the dual helm stations mounted aft on each hull, a really fun place to sail from.

Many FPs could be on the list, but the 44s are my favorite. They have just the right balance of good looks, useable space, and a workable layout, and it is just the right size. For tours and videos of the Helia, check out the Out Chasing Stars YouTube channel.

A South African yard from the early 2000s, the Voyage boats have a nice feature set and are built well. Unique for the era, these boats have open cockpits and easy walk-around side decks. Compared to many of today’s cats, these have low windage and low-slug decks for a sleek, seaworthy look.

Whether you want to set off and sail the world or just live comfortably while tied to a dock, catamarans are a great way to do it.

Catamarans first became popular with charter companies because they had more space to sleep more people . But something else became apparent quickly—non-sailors liked them. While they have all the parts and equipment to sail, they also have more space for guests to spread out. Everyone can have a private cabin, and there’s tons of space on deck to lounge where ever you like.

What’s more, the space on a catamaran feels different. The salon, the main living area in the cabin, is up high on the bridge deck. It has large windows that let in lots of air and light. A sliding patio door opens directly into a large cockpit , usually with bench seating for up to ten people and a dedicated large table for meals. All of this is separate from sailing controls and the helm, which is nearby but not in the way.

The dream of sailing and living on a sailboat appeals to many people until those people see the inside of a typical monohull sailboat. 

You see, the classic sailboat is cramped and dark. Many sailors describe the cabin of their sailboat as a “cave.” Windows are limited. Every inch of space in a sailboat has a purpose, so the space is usually packed with furniture, storage lockers, and need-to-have items. The outdoor space, called the cockpit, is crammed around the sailing controls and the helm or wheel. Getting between the cabin and cockpit requires climbing a steep ladder. The deck space is taken up with lines and sails, with no room designed to stretch out and enjoy yourself. And then you step on a catamaran.

The difference between a regular monohull sailboat and a catamaran is night and day. If you look at pictures of the two, the monohull is undoubtedly a boat. But the promo shots of a catamaran could be a seaside cottage or tiny house. It’s more comfortable and more approachable for the non-boater despite the spacious interior. And for boaters, it represents a huge step up in space and comfort . 

liveaboard catamaran

Here are some critical questions to ask yourself before making this investment:

  • Purpose and Use : What is your primary purpose for the catamaran? Are you planning long-term cruising, weekend getaways, or perhaps a mix of living aboard and chartering? Understanding your primary use will help guide your choice in terms of size, layout, and features.
  • Budget : What is your total budget, including purchase price, outfitting, and ongoing maintenance costs? Remember, the purchase price is just the beginning; insurance, docking fees, maintenance, and potential upgrades can add significantly to the overall cost.
  • Size and Layout : What size of catamaran suits your needs? Consider the length and beam in terms of living space, comfort, and handling. Additionally, how many cabins and heads (bathrooms) do you need? The layout should accommodate your living and privacy needs, especially if planning to have guests or family aboard.
  • Sailing Performance vs. Comfort : What is your preference regarding sailing performance versus living comfort? Some catamarans are designed for speed and agility, while others prioritize spacious living areas and amenities. Your sailing plans (long passages vs. coastal cruising) will influence this decision.
  • Single-handed Sailing Capability : Will you often be sailing solo or with a crew? It’s crucial to consider how easily you can manage the catamaran by yourself or what kind of crew you will need for longer passages.
  • Equipment and Amenities : What equipment and amenities are essential for your lifestyle? Consider navigation equipment, safety gear, kitchen appliances, energy systems (solar panels, generators), water makers, and storage capacity.
  • New vs. Used : Are you considering buying a new or used catamaran? New boats offer the latest designs and technologies, along with warranties, but at a higher cost. Used boats can offer significant savings but may require more upfront maintenance or upgrades.
  • Inspection and Survey : Are you prepared to have the catamaran thoroughly inspected by a professional marine surveyor? This is crucial for identifying any issues or potential maintenance concerns, especially with used boats.
  • Docking and Mooring : Have you considered where you will dock or moor your catamaran? Availability, costs, and accessibility of marinas or mooring spaces can vary significantly by location.
  • Lifestyle Fit : Does living aboard a catamaran align with your lifestyle and comfort level? Consider the implications of living in a smaller, mobile space, including storage limitations, privacy, and the need for a certain level of physical mobility and adaptability.
  • Insurance and Registration : Have you researched the insurance and registration requirements for your catamaran? These can vary by location and the type of sailing you plan to do.
  • Exit Strategy : Finally, what is your exit strategy? Consider how long you plan to keep the catamaran and how easy it will be to sell when the time comes.

Reflecting on these questions can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your sailing aspirations, lifestyle preferences, and financial situation.

Picking the Best Catamaran for Liveaboard Life

There’s a lot to look at when thinking about catamaran liveaboards.

Here are a few things to consider as you browse Yachtworld, Sailboat Listings, and Catamaransite.

Cats are unfairly divided into two groups, but it’s often oversimplified. All catamarans are built for cruising once they’re above a certain size (about 35 feet). At the same time, all catamarans are built for some amount of performance. The trick is figuring out which manufacturers balance these two things the same way you do.

Cruising catamarans are generally charter cats from companies like Lagoon, Leopard, Fountaine Pajot, and Bali. These boats lean on the side of having bigger hulls, stub keels, and easier-to-sail rigs . They still sail well, though. Unless you’re a racing sailor, know that most owners are very happy with how these catamarans sail. 

There are also a few companies making cruising cats that are aimed at private owners. Antares and Knyesna are two examples of spacious cruising catamarans perfect for living aboard. These are built semi-custom and are more likely to have space dedicated for storage, workspace, and offices.

Performance catamarans usually have smaller accommodations and sleeker profiles . They are also likelier to have daggerboards than stub keels, narrow hulls, and more sail area. Brand examples include Catana, Outremer, Maine Cat, and Gunboat. They’re built as lightly as possible out of the best materials and aim for the highest speeds and the most miles sailed per day. Boats in this category are much more expensive due to their higher construction costs and more advanced features.

More and more companies are spouting up with their own balance of performance vs. cruising space. No company picks one or the other; they all make compromises somewhere.

Picking the right size for your catamaran is important. If you’ve been boating on a few types of vessels, you might have some ideas. But if you’re shopping online, it is almost impossible to tell. 

As a rule of thumb, the smallest liveaboard catamarans are usually between 35 and 40 feet long. This isn’t just about accommodations, it’s about weight-carry capacity. It’s very easy to overload a catamaran, affecting both its performance and stability. If you’re a couple and want to go long-distance cruising, a 38-foot-class cat is best. This has space for you, your stuff, and an occasional guest or two.

If your budget allows, a 42 to 44-foot class boat is superior in a few ways. If you often have guests or more kids coming with you, this size boat is about right. They also carry more load, perform better (more miles per day), and ride better in a choppy sea.

Of course, there are couples cruising out there who couldn’t possibly do it on anything less than 65 or 70 feet! The size of your boat is a personal choice based not only on your budget but what you are comfortable with.

You really won’t know where you fit until you get on some boats. Visit a major boat show to get aboard some boats. Even if they don’t have the exact models you like the most, you can probably get an idea of what sizes work. If you’re close to buying, you can also enlist the services of a buyers broker to show you around some boats and help you pick the right size for your trip.

However, It must be said that bigger boats come with bigger price tags—for as long as you own it. Just looking at asking prices, you’ll quickly see that they leap at intervals as the boats become more complex. A nice, sail-away-ready 38-footer can be found for $250,000, but a 45-footer in similar condition will likely be over $400,000.

But everything is more expensive on a bigger boat, not just the purchase price. Dock space, boatyard fees, and most labor tasks (waxing, bottom paint, rerigging, etc.) are priced based on the boat length, not time. It is always beneficial to buy the smallest boat you’re comfortable on and save the extra money for longer cruises and future boat projects!

When shopping for a catamaran, it’s really important to gauge the build quality of the boat. This can be a daunting task for first-time buyers as you learn about how these boats are made and the differences between manufacturers. 

The bottom line is this—since catamarans are built for speed and performance, they are built lightly with modern techniques and materials. Unfortunately, most boat builders aren’t paying much attention to how that boat will last after ten or twenty years of pounding across oceans. Stress and flexing issues on these boats are real, as are manufacturing issues that don’t appear until years later.

If you’re looking to buy a used boat, you want to ensure it’s been built by a reputable builder and has been taken care of. Therefore, a survey from a professional who knows about catamarans is really important. 

Features of the Catamaran Liveaboard

For liveaboards, a few layouts and features set catamaran designs apart from one another. 

  • Owners vs. charter layouts
  • Galley-up vs. galley-down design
  • Open transoms vs. closed cockpits

Since many catamarans were designed and built for charter use , their layouts often feature as many staterooms as possible with en suite heads (bathrooms) . This enables groups of couples to pool their resources and travel on a boat but still have personal space and privacy. It also allows hiring a crew to work the boat for your charter and for everyone to have separate accommodations.

The result is a pretty common layout found in many catamarans that features four cabins and four heads. The 4/4 will have a bunk on each end of the hull, each connected to a small bathroom and shower. If the catamaran is under 40 feet, it might be a 4/2 with only one larger bathroom in each hull. If you assume two per bed, and the salon settee converts into a fifth bunk, this boat could conceivably sleep ten. 

A private owner probably doesn’t need or want this many bunks. Most boats are owned by cruising couples that occasionally have friends visit or small families with one or two kids. Two bunks are plenty.

For this situation, the owner’s version layouts are much better. In this case, the owner’s stateroom takes up an entire hull . There’s extra storage space , a very large head, and a more spacious cabin . Plus, you usually get a very roomy separate shower that feels like home. All that extra space can make an office space or room to install amenities like a washing machine. The other hull shares the same layout as the charter version, with a smaller cabin on each end and one or two bathrooms in between. So, the owner’s version is either a 3/2 or 3/3.

Owner’s versions are slightly harder to come by and usually more expensive. However, many go into charter service despite the name, so they are out there. They’re more desirable and have higher resale value. On the other hand, the charter versions are often the cheapest liveaboard catamaran options because they’re common and less desirable in the resale market.

The next feature is how the boat is laid out with the galley.

Most modern charter cats have adopted the galley-up layout, which has the galley in the upper salon . That way, it’s right next to the indoor and outdoor dinettes, and the cook can be part of the social action.

A galley-down design has the galley tucked into one of the hulls . It’s more common on smaller boats where the upper salon is too small for the galley. But having the galley down is a safer and easier arrangement if you are cooking at sea, where the chef needs to brace themselves against a counter to get things done. 

Galley up or galley down? It’s a matter of personal preference. Some like being up with the views and fresh air while cooking, while others like the counter space and useability of a well-laid out galley down layout.

One big difference between modern charter catamarans and early models (and older monohulls) is the cockpit’s layout.

On catamarans, the cockpit is open and easy to walk around. You can step out onto the boat’s transom or side deck without stepping over any seats or deep coamings . This is a much more comfortable arrangement for living aboard.

But, if you’re crossing an ocean and the weather turns ugly , being tucked inside a deep cockpit with a tall coaming is pretty comforting. 

A common feature to look for is an arch or hardtop over the cockpit. The main sheet, the line that controls the mainsail, attaches to a control called the traveler. If this is on the deck at the back of the cockpit, it’s very hard to work around it. But if this is on top of a hardtop or arch, the cockpit will feel more open and spacious. Many older Lagoons and FPs had deep cockpits with the traveler on deck. Leopard catamarans were among the first to put it on an arch and open up the cockpit.

Again, it’s a matter of personal preference. But you definitely want to consider what you like and why before purchasing a catamaran because these are not features you can easily change. 

Here’s a list of the best features to look for, tailored to ensure a harmonious balance between sailing performance and liveaboard lifestyle:

  • Spacious and Comfortable Living Areas : Look for a catamaran with ample living spaces, including a large saloon, comfortable cabins, and multiple heads with showers. Adequate headroom and natural light can make the interior feel more spacious and livable.
  • Efficient Galley : A well-equipped galley (kitchen) with sufficient storage, counter space, and appliances such as a refrigerator, freezer, stove, and oven is essential for daily living and entertaining on board.
  • Good Ventilation and Air Conditioning/Heating Systems : Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent condensation and maintain a comfortable living environment. Additionally, having air conditioning and heating systems can extend the comfort range to hotter and colder climates.
  • Ample Deck Space : A catamaran with generous outdoor spaces, including a comfortable cockpit, foredeck, and trampolines, provides additional living and relaxation areas, enhancing the onboard lifestyle.
  • Water Maker : Having a water maker on board can be a game-changer for long passages and remote anchoring, reducing the need to frequently dock for water supplies.
  • Energy Independence : Features like solar panels, wind generators, and efficient battery storage systems ensure a sustainable and independent power supply for your electrical needs.
  • Easy Handling and Maneuverability : A catamaran designed for ease of handling, possibly with features like electric winches, a furling mainsail, and bow thrusters, can make sailing and docking less strenuous, especially for short-handed crews or solo sailors.
  • Safety Features : Essential safety features include a robust navigation and communication system, life rafts, fire extinguishers, automatic bilge pumps, and a well-thought-out design for safe movement around the boat.
  • Storage Capacity : Adequate storage for provisions, spare parts, personal belongings, and water toys is crucial for long-term living and voyaging.
  • Dinghy and Davits : A reliable dinghy and an easy-to-use davit system are essential for accessing the shore when at anchor and for general exploration.
  • Strong Build and Hull Design : A catamaran with a solid build quality and a hull design suited for your intended use (coastal cruising vs. blue-water passages) provides safety and comfort in various sea conditions.
  • Bridge Deck Clearance : Sufficient clearance between the water and the bridge deck reduces slamming in rough seas, contributing to a smoother and more comfortable ride.
  • Protective Helm Station : A helm station that offers protection from the elements while maintaining good visibility around the boat is essential for safe navigation.
  • Accessibility and Maintenance : Consider the ease of access to engines, generators, and other systems for maintenance. A well-designed layout can save time and effort in upkeep.
  • Liveaboard Amenities : Additional amenities such as a washing machine, entertainment systems, and outdoor grilling areas can make life aboard more enjoyable.

That said, each potential owner’s priorities will vary, so it’s important to consider which features align best with your lifestyle and sailing plans.

Tips for Liveaboard Catamaran Life

Living aboard a catamaran is not just about adjusting to the physical constraints of boat life; it’s also about embracing a lifestyle that is both challenging and immensely rewarding. With the right preparation and mindset, you can make your liveaboard experience truly unforgettable.

  • Downsize Belongings : Space is a premium on a catamaran. Carefully consider what you need versus what you want. Downsize your belongings to the essentials and a few comforts that make you happy.
  • Organize Intelligently : Use space-saving storage solutions and keep your belongings organized. Every item should have a designated place to avoid clutter and ensure safety while underway.
  • Water Conservation : Fresh water is precious on a boat. Get accustomed to water-saving habits like short showers and using saltwater for preliminary cleaning.
  • Energy Conservation : Be mindful of your energy use. Rely on renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind generators, and invest in energy-efficient appliances.
  • Develop DIY Skills : Basic maintenance and repair skills are essential for a liveaboard lifestyle. Being able to troubleshoot and fix issues with the engines, sails, and electronics can save time, money, and prevent potential dangers.
  • Regular Check-ups : Stick to a strict maintenance schedule to prevent small issues from becoming big problems. This includes checking the hull, rigging, sails, and all onboard systems regularly.
  • Invest in Safety Equipment : Ensure you have all necessary safety equipment onboard, including life jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, a life raft, and an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).
  • Be Prepared for Emergencies : Regularly practice safety drills with everyone onboard. Everyone should know how to operate the safety equipment and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Communication Tools : Invest in reliable communication tools, including a VHF radio, satellite phone, and internet access, to stay in touch with the outside world and for emergency communications.
  • Build a Community : Connect with other liveaboards and sailors. They can be a great source of support, advice, and companionship.
  • Be Flexible : Living on a catamaran means being at the mercy of the weather and the sea. Be prepared to adapt your plans according to conditions.
  • Enjoy the Simplicity : Embrace the simplicity and closeness to nature that comes with living on a catamaran. It’s a chance to focus on what truly matters to you.
  • Budget Wisely : Understand and plan for the costs associated with liveaboard life, including marina fees, maintenance, insurance, and daily living expenses.
  • Emergency Fund : Always have a financial cushion for unexpected repairs or emergencies.
  • Stay Active : Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and yoga are great options.
  • Healthy Eating : Plan and stock up on nutritious foods. Fresh produce may not always be available, so consider growing herbs or sprouts onboard.
  • Respect the Ocean : Practice eco-friendly habits to minimize your impact on the marine environment. This includes proper waste management, using eco-friendly products, and avoiding activities that harm marine life.
  • Navigation and Sailing Skills : Continuously improve your sailing and navigation skills. Knowledge and experience contribute significantly to safety and enjoyment.
  • Learn Local Regulations : Familiarize yourself with the regulations of the waters you are sailing in, including fishing laws, protected areas, and anchoring rules.
  • Knysna 440/500
  • Leopard 42/43/45/47
  • Lagoon 42/46 (circa 2018)
  • Manta 38/40/42
  • Alliaura Marine Privilege 42/435/45/445/465
  • Catana 401/42/431/471
  • Fountaine Pajot Orana 44/Helia 44
  • Voyage/Norseman 380/400/440/470

The good news is that we live in a time when catamarans have become mainstream. They’re exceedingly popular and more exciting new models are coming out each year. We’ve moved past the years when the only boats to choose from were built for charter. There are now great choices aimed at liveaboards and cruising families. 

What is a good size catamaran to live on?

For most cruising couples, the smallest catamaran they’d want to consider is in the 35 to 38-foot range. Small families prefer a slightly bigger boat, from 40 to 42 feet, while those with older kids or more people on board like something in the 45-foot range. Everyone is different, of course, and you’ll find families of 4 or 5 living happily on 35-foot cats and couples that could never live on anything less than 60. 

Are catamarans good in rough seas?

Yes and no. Most catamarans 38 feet and over are certified for offshore sailing and can safely handle any conditions—so long as they are sailed conservatively. In general, as long as you reduce sail early and travel carefully, catamarans are safe at sea. 

But are they comfortable in rough seas? This is a question for which everyone has a different answer, and a lot depends on the model of the catamaran. Catamarans are built light in order to move quickly over the waters. Unfortunately, the two hulls mean that the boat is slammed by each wave twice. In some conditions, this makes for a choppy ride that makes some people seasick quickly. 

Can you sail a 40-foot catamaran by yourself?

Yes. Most catamarans are set up for short-handed or single-handed sailing . Much of it is simply how the boat is rigged and whether or not all the control lines are led to the helm. Even if a boat isn’t set up this way, it’s usually fairly straightforward to make it so.

What is the minimum size of a liveaboard?

People live on all sizes of vessels, so there’s no minimum. It’s a personal choice and depends on how you like to live. The most common size for liveaboard boaters is between 35 and 45 feet. These boats are small enough to be easy to drive, store, and maintain while still having enough space to live comfortably.

best live aboard catamaran

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

Yachting World cover

The best bluewater multihulls of all time: a complete guide

  • Toby Hodges
  • October 6, 2021

Toby Hodges and François Tregouet consider the best bluewater multihulls and look at the options for sailing the oceans in spacious comfort

best live aboard catamaran

What are the best bluewater multihulls for long term cruising? The one you own, or the one you can afford is the simple answer.

There is a wealth of proven designs to suit bluewater sailing and a variety of budgets. While we have focussed here on the best bluewater multihulls in production, we’ve also included some cracking pedigree multihulls which tour the planet and might occasionally pop up on the brokerage market.

If you can afford to, then pushing towards the 45-50ft length will buy you space, pace and that extra payload capacity needed to take all the items you’d want on your home afloat.

When looking at the best bluewater multihulls, the choice will come down to that perennial balance between comfort/space and speed/weight. Choosing a lighter weight performance design will obviously help you cover distance voyages more rapidly and potentially allow you to outrun weather systems. It means you can sail faster, with less sail up and less load and stress. But you’ll have to sacrifice some luxuries and need to be quite scrupulous about keeping weight down and centralised in order to maintain high average speeds.

For the majority of cruisers, however, it is the amount of space multihulls offer once you’ve reached your destination that really appeals. As well as the non-heeling living area and real estate they provide, they’re well suited to typical tradewind sailing .

If you’re considering your first or next multihull, we hope the following will serve as a taster.

Best bluewater multihulls for performance cruising

Outremer 51/55.

When you think of multihulls designed for bluewater cruising, Outremer will likely be one of the first names that comes to mind. Its heritage lies in building catamarans that can sail fast and are built strong enough to do laps of the globe.

The 51, the current version of which launched three years ago, is an archetypal example of what to look for in terms of blending speed and space is a dream design for a family circumnavigation.

The French yard’s new 55ft VPLP design may look boldly different from its past models, but the philosophy behind it remains the same. It is designed to match windspeed up to 12 knots and Outremer reasons that its ability to sail in 5 knots of breeze will allow it to sail for 95% of the time on a circumnavigation.

Read more about the Outremer 51 and Outremer 55.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Diego Yriarte

Seawind 1600/1370

For nearly four decades the Australian Seawind brand and its founder Richard Ward have been gearing catamarans around safe bluewater sailing, including performance, protection and ease of handling. Its Reichel Pugh-designed 1600, which launched three years ago, is an elegant looking cat with relatively low, long lines and some smart solutions for fast bluewater sailing.

Seawind also launches its new 1370 later this year, a staggering 60 of which have sold on plans alone.

This first 50 is built from a composite sandwich of basalt fibre, a cloth made from volcanic rock, and PET foam from recycled plastic bottles, which helps to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 50% when compared with traditional glassfibre methods.

This new 50 footer is perhaps a more appealing and practical prospect than Rapido’s previous 60 (with its significant fixed beam), particularly as the amas on this new model can fold to reduce beam to 18ft.

Infused carbon foam sandwich construction is used, along with beams, daggerboards and rudder in pre-preg carbon to keep displacement to 8,200kg.

Read more about the Rapido 50

This OC50 is designed as a more affordable cruising alternative, than the HH models which have preceeded it. This model targets ocean sailing.

It’s still stiffened and strengthened by carbon, but built in vinylester composites with a gelcoat finish. This adds an additional 300kg or so over a full carbon HH50, but cost savings are in the region of $400,000.

Read more about the HH OC50

Balance 526

The 526 launched four years ago, designed to suit short-handed sailors and families looking to sail long distances, hence it can carry large payloads and promises easy maintenance. It looks good too.

Berman’s Versahelm design is a key feature. The wheel cantilevers, allowing the helmsman to steer from outboard with clear sightlines or from the hardtop protection of the aft cockpit.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Christopher White

Atlantic 47

The A47 suits short-handed fast ocean sailing at an approachable size. Lengthening it to 49ft allowed for an aft cockpit. It is available as a sloop or with White’s patented MastFoil ketch rig – rotating aerofoil masts designed for easy short-handed cruising without sacrificing performance.

Read more about the Atlantic 47

A combination of sharp design from François Perus and high build quality brings plenty of appeal to this sporty Italian-built cat. The first example launched three years ago with a light displacement of 10.5 tonnes, thanks to an E-glass epoxy-infused build with carbon strengthening. The yard offers semi-custom construction and full hybrid packages.

Catana 53/Ocean class 50

Catana’s performance model from 2017, sports twin aft helms (which may not suit ocean sailors), reverse bows and carbon daggerboards. The high topsides help create good bridgedeck clearance and plenty of accommodation. Its new Ocean Class 50 seems more in the shipyard’s bluewater DNA. The light weight, and dynamic and modern shape with slim hulls and a relatively short nacelle suggests a seaworthy nature and high speeds.

Read more about the Catana 53

Best bluewater multihulls for pedigree performance

Veteran multihull designers Morrelli & Melvin designed this smaller model for the Gunboat range. It was built to be more manageable for an owner-driver yet still capable of up to 300-400 mile days.

The Gunboat 48 is something of a rare breed, just six 48s were built between 2004 and 2009. Oh, to have a spare €1.3m right now… one of them is actually on the market.

Read more about the Gunboat 48

At the start of the Millennium, Catana offered fully equipped boats as standard for long distance cruising. The Catana 471 or 472 (one or two helms respectively), represented at the time the optimum in ocean-going catamarans.

Chincogan/Lightwave

Tony Grainger has been drawing fast multihulls for 35 years, including racing trimarans and the Lightwave and Chincogan cruisers. The popular Lightwave 38 has admirable performance and comfort, and the Chincogan 52 (pictured) has the length to clock high average speeds.

Outremer 45 G. Danson

With its characteristic roof, narrow hulls and daggerboards, the Outremer 45 is a standout design which has become somewhat iconic. Despite a rather spartan interior, it has been a great success with fast cruising enthusiasts. On board, family ocean crossings at an average of 10 knots are the norm.

Best bluewater multihulls for family cruising

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Nicolas Claris

The Lagoon 450 remains the most popular model in Lagoons already popular range. It exemplifies the VPLP/Nauta design partnership which has made these the very definition of modern mid-size cruising catamarans which can appeal to families and charterers alike.

Indeed the 450 marked the modern look of Lagoon and was the first with interior styling from Nauta. It originally launched over a decade ago as a flybridge design with central helming position (450F), before this ‘sport top’ option (450S) was offered with a starboard helm station and lower boom.

Read more about the Lagoon 450

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Guilain Grenier

Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

The 47 has a modern shape, with straight bows and a reverse sheer line. It incorporates significant volume in the hulls below the bridgedeck to create room for the optional athwartships cabins. Cabin space is a prime selling point, particularly the owner’s suite to port, where there is also abundant natural light and headroom.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Tui Marine

Leopard Catamarans, together with designer Simonis Voogd and builder Robertson and Caine, produce the archetypal dual-purpose owner-operator or charter boat in their modern catamaran range.

Key features of the 45 are the amount of light in the saloon and the incredible volume and space on offer in the cabins above the relatively narrow waterlines. Vast social living areas include the flybridge, saloon and dual cockpits.

Read more about the Leopard 45

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: www.jfromero.fr

Nautitech Open/Fly 46

During the 1990s and noughties Nautitech earned a good reputation for its elegant catamarans. The 441 is a timeless example and the 44 can be credited with the ongoing trend in hardtop biminis. While its acquisition by Bavaria seven years ago helped Nautitech implement industrial build techniques, the French brand has retained its DNA at its Rochefort sur Mer yard.

The modern Marc Lombard designs have tall rigs with generous square-top mainsails. Twin wheels in the aft quarters of the Open 46 offer a direct feel on the helm, however those spending long periods in the tropics may prefer the shade of the bimini-equipped flybridge option. The layout is also open, with a saloon more outside than in. Styling is clean, modern and simple, and the standard of build and finish are good.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Olivier Blanchet

First impressions of the Neel 51 are sure to centre on its sheer size and space inside. But as you’ll see from our review of the Neel 43 on page 83, when you sail one overriding impressions quickly centre on its performance.

These trimarans are becoming a popular mass production-built option.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Christophe Launay

The Excess 11 packs plenty of potential as the smallest yacht offered by the big production yards. A little like the Lagoon 380 of old, it presents a good value new entry-level boat for genuine cruising in a more sporty, modern and enticing design. Some may argue against aft helms for ocean sailing, but those coming from monohulls will appreciate the more direct steering they offer.

Broadblue 385S

Broadblue is a UK brand which offers a distinct line of cruising and Rapier performance catamarans. Its staple 385 packs a lot of cruising comfort into its length, including generous tankage, and has been sailed all over the world. Broadblue built its first electric drive catamaran 12 years ago and offers the only all-electric production sailing catamaran under 40ft in Europe.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Christophe Breschi

Bali Catspace

For those looking for maximum volume within 40ft, it’ll be hard to beat the Catspace – although it is more of a holiday apartment than a traditional bluewater cruiser. Bali’s garage style sliding aft door does help offer an enormous amount of enclosed (or open) living space.

Best bluewater multihulls for luxury cruising

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Nico Krauss

Privilège 510 Signature

The 510 is designed to take a serious amount of cruising gear – up to six tonnes of it in fact. The excellent helm station now has a fixed windscreen and all lines lead to hand. Finish quality including the electrical installation is first class and Privilege’s trademark, an admirable full beam (26ft) forward cabin, is sumptuous.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Jérôme Houyvet

Garcia Explocat 52

Garcia Yachts has cornered the market for series-built aluminium monohulls and multihulls in the last decade and this new Explocat 52 is sparking real interest. We ran a full test report in our February issue, describing it as a go-anywhere cat with an enticing combination of space, pace and rugged construction.

Read our review of the Garcia Explocat 52

Built in Argentina, the Antares 44 is the ultimate evolution of a model launched 21 years ago. Entirely dedicated to bluewater cruising, it is the yard’s only model and is constantly being improved according to owner feedback.

Time seems to have no hold on this boatyard and, against the trend, the standard equipment of the Antares 44 is extremely complete

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Richard Langdon

Discovery Bluewater 50

This luxury Bill Dixon design may be a decade old now and into its third iteration, but the concept behind its original appeal remains. For those used to sailing high-end thoroughbred monohulls, here is an option to consider for a comparative level of build quality and fit out when moving to a multihull.

Read more about the Discovery Bluewater 50

St Francis 50 MKII

With this latest version of its original model, this experienced South African builder has optimised a catamaran cut out for the unforgiving seas of the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic. The MKII allows for an increased load capacity, an important point in long distance cruising.

Xsquisite X5

Intelligent features on the X5 include the protected helm station with glass windscreen, integrated rainwater catcher, UV-protective glass and generous tankage.

Best bluewater multihulls for size & speed

Mcconaghy mc52.

The MC50 (now MC52) was the first and promises some high speed sailing, but it’s the open plan main living deck which will attract the majority. It incorporates an intelligent centreboard system, which hardly affects interior space, but arguably its exposed helms at the aft end of the flybridge will not suit serious ocean cruising.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Florian H. Talles

HH in Xiamen is building some really impressive large, luxury fast cats up to 90ft. This was its second model to launch, a high-end, high performance Morelli & Melvin design capable of rapid passagemaking speeds and enjoyable regatta sailing. Features include C-shaped boards and central or aft helms.

best live aboard catamaran

Photo: Mike Jones/Waterline Media

Ocean Explorer 60

If Nautor’s Swan made catamarans, they may look like this… The Ocean Explorer 60 uses the same designer in German Frers and some of the same builders who worked at the famous Finnish yard to produce this world cruiser. The resultant quality shines through. A new OE72 is due soon.

Kinetic KC54

A young company with plenty of experience, Kinetic produces custom fast ocean cruisers, which can occasionally race. Its 62 is a serious performance vessel with carbon hulls, rigs and rigging, daggerboards or centreboards. With fast bluewater cruising the goal, carbon is used to minimise weight so features/toys can still be added. The swim platform and hardware on the newly launched 54 weighs just 90kg, and the generous sized tanks are all in carbon too. Views from the saloon and forward cockpit also look special.

Best bluewater multihulls for ultimate performance

Marsaudon ts4/orc 42.

Few catamaran builders produce genuine performance cruisers at this ‘smaller’ size: this one is kept minimalist and light weight (around 6 tonnes) – the yard’s philosophy is ‘simplicity, then add lightness.’ The 42 is a cruiser-racer with the ability to outpace most yachts across the Atlantic, win a regatta and still offer some space for island hopping. Standard tankage is minimal however. Marsaudon recently rebranded its TS range to Ocean Rider Catamarans (ORCs) and has an ORC 57 in build.

Dazcat 1495

Dazcat builds fast, seaworthy cats from its Multihull Centre in Cornwall. The 1495 is a true ocean cruiser-racer, which is stiff and rewarding to sail, with direct steering linked to carbon rudders. The 1495 can hit 20+ knot speeds with relative ease, but it is the consistent high average speeds which will attract those looking to cover serious miles. Weight is centralised including engines, tanks, and systems all located amidships to help reduce pitching. Dazcat has a semi-custom build approach and creates all sorts of weird and wonderful craft for all abilities.

Dragonfly 40

Dragonfly trimarans are known for their high quality construction and ability to delight sailors with their ease of planing speeds. For those who can live without the space of similar length cats, the new flagship 40 is large enough to offer cruising space, while folding outriggers and retractable appendages mean you can dry out where others wouldn’t dare.

Looping 45/Freydis 48

These two designs by Erik Lerouge both offer a high-performance vision of ocean cruising. The Loopings were built individually and the Freydis in small series, and on both you can sail as fast as the wind in complete safety. Interior quality depends on whether finished by an amateur or by a shipyard.

Swisscat 48

An attractive combination of luxury, comfort and performance, the S48 is a stiff, go-anywhere premium cat that is easy to manage single-handed. The lightweight build (11t) is in epoxy infusion with carbon reinforcement.

Schionning Designs

Jeff Schionning has catamaran design in his blood. His designs exude performance and seaworthiness with flowing, even aerodynamic lines. On all tradewind routes you’ll find a G-Force (models from 12m to 23m) or an Arrow (12m to 15m) sailing more quickly than the rest. His latest venture is with Current Marine in Knysna, South Africa.

Best bluewater multihulls for pedigree cruising

The long-time best-seller from the world leader in catamarans, with more than 1,000 produced over almost 20 years from 1999. With its characteristic vertical windows, the 380 and its big brother the 410 made the purists scream when they were presented. But the 380 proved a pioneer of its kind. Safe bow volumes and light displacement (7,260 kg) helped its seaworthy behaviour. The high number of boats on the market makes this the most affordable bluewater cruising multihull for its size, even if price range is as wide as condition is variable.

Casamance 44/46

Between 44ft and 46ft depending on the year of construction and the length of its transoms, the Casamance was an impressive catamaran on launch in 1985. The design by Joubert/Nivelt offered good volume and load capacity. Of the 490 units produced, many joined the charter fleets. The exterior of the Casamance is dated, but the interior in grey ceruse oak has retained plenty of charm.

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Antares Catamarans

  • Build Your Antares 44 Hybrid
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  • Antares Hybrid Details
  • Optional Salon Layout
  • GT and Hybrid Overview
  • Hybrid Design
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best live aboard catamaran

Antares 44 Hybrid

best live aboard catamaran

Timeless Design

best live aboard catamaran

Meticulously Crafted

best live aboard catamaran

Great Performance

New hybrid tour.

Welcome to the NEW Antares design.  It is best to view this virtual tour in full-screen mode.  After pressing play, select the top right brackets to enlarge.

NEW Antares Tall Rig Option

We are pleased to announce a NEW sail configuration for the Antares. We have collaborated closely with Selden, UK Sails, and our engineers to enhance our design and increase sail area for customers who want to maximize light wind performance.

The new Tall Rig option takes the already high-performing Antares to a whole new level. With our improved infusion process, we have managed to reduce the weight by over 1,000 pounds, while maintaining our focus on safety and seaworthiness for our discerning bluewater cruising customers. We are proud to have engineered a new level of performance for Antares.

best live aboard catamaran

New Interior Color Option!

We have a new lighter-colored wood interior, with a new layout option for the port aft cabin.  This is another example of Antares listening to our customers and creating enhancements that make the Antares the ‘Wold’s Best Liveaboard.’

best live aboard catamaran

New Hybrid & GT Cockpit Design

We completely redesigned the cockpit, increasing space, increasing window sizes, adding streamlined seating that is easier to lounge, without compromising our excellent helm position or the ability to manage all lines in the cockpit easily.

best live aboard catamaran

Catamaran Design Discussions

Saildrive vs. Shaft Drive - Which is better?  Which is safer?

Whether you are buying a monohull or catamaran, understanding the difference between shaft drives and saildrives is important!

Are Performance "Cruising" Catamarans Safe?

Join us as we discuss the pros and cons of performance catamarans and dive into research done by the Univerisity of Southhampton, UK, about why multihulls capsize. Topics covered include catamaran stability, 2021 World...

Safe Catamaran Cockpit Design for Bluewater Sailing

Watch this short video to learn about safe cockpit designs for cruising catamarans. All too often, buyers overlook key safety considerations when buying a catamaran.

Catamaran Performance - Hype vs. Reality

In this episode of "All Things Antares," we discuss performance ratios, boat polars and hear from Antares owners about their sailing experiences in diverse conditions around the world.

How NOT to Lose Steering at Sea!

Losing steering at sea is a potentially severe issue. Mechanical systems can be selected, and consistent maintenance schedules must be used to protect the safety of crew and vessels under challenging situations.

Hybrid Catamaran Demonstration

In this episode, we detail how the Antares hybrid catamaran is designed and demonstrate the hybrid systems on the water with our special guest, the CEO of Hybrid Marine.

Why a Hybrid Catamaran? Why now??

Learn about Hybrid Catamaran design, the failures, and successes over the past 15 years. What are the design considerations for a global cruising hybrid catamaran? Are hybrid catamarans ready for world cruising?

Using a Parasailor Spinnaker on a Catamaran

In this episode, learn how to rig, deploy and trim a parasailor on an Antares Catamaran.

Galley Up vs. Galley Down

In this episode, we discuss the design considerations of galley up versus galley down and the differences between both options.

best live aboard catamaran

Superior design is as timeless as the sea. It never compromises safety or dependability for the latest market trends.

best live aboard catamaran

Meticulous craftsmanship takes time. Nothing is built well that is built fast.

Continuously refined.

best live aboard catamaran

Always improve, never settle. Every new Antares incorporates refinements, continuously improving our design.

Exclusively liveaboard.

best live aboard catamaran

Antares owners are part of an exclusive community. Their desires and expectations are to own the world’s best-designed liveaboard catamaran.

Owner testimonials.

best live aboard catamaran

“I love the comfort and dependability of our Antares. As we’ve sailed the world with our family, it has allowed us to be safe at home wherever we are.”

best live aboard catamaran

“Of all the catamarans available on the market, there is no other catamaran available in this size range we would choose at this time. All boats have pros and cons, the Antares provides a great balance in design, comfort, livability, sail capability, and crew safety.”

best live aboard catamaran

“The design of the Antares is well thought out, from the ease of maintenance, to comfort at sea. The contemporary design, wood throughout, large galley, and panoramic salon views make it more than a boat we live on. It makes it our home.”

best live aboard catamaran

“We were essentially non-sailors when we purchased the boat. Our first season, we sailed 8,000 miles. Then proceeded to spend the next 7 seasons exploring the Caribbean. I cannot imagine we would have found a boat that would have better served our needs. A truly special chapter in our lives.”

best live aboard catamaran

“The Antares is a versatile boat that can be used for various purposes, including ocean crossing, anchorage, scuba diving, ICW exploration, marina residency, and Bahamas home. It is easy to maintain and dock, making it suitable for new cruising owners. The Antares community aims to help make dreams come true without drama.”

best live aboard catamaran

“We have had a fabulous experience cruising on our PDQ Antares 44i. We purchased her in New Zealand and have enjoyed 5 years cruising around the South Pacific. We had had great support from the Forum and the Antares company over the years.”

best live aboard catamaran

“After owning the Antares 44 for 6 years, I still have not found another cruising catamaran that I’d rather have.”

best live aboard catamaran

“Antares is unique and special, and we love showing off our beautiful home!”

best live aboard catamaran

“The longer we had our boat, the more we appreciated the design, particularly in terms of safety and efficiency.”

best live aboard catamaran

“The safest, most well-designed couples / liveaboard cruising catamaran on the market – period.”

RetireFearless

Best Liveaboard Catamaran Sailboats

If you are looking to enjoy the best of both worlds and get away from it all, then these best liveaboard sailboats may be just what you're looking for.

Michael Moris

October 17, 2023

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The best liveaboard catamaran sailboats are the ones that provide comfort, safety, and convenience for every member of the family. Catamarans can be sailed in rough waters without risk of capsizing.They also have an amazing design that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also practical.

Liveaboard catamaran sailboats are the perfect vessels for sailors looking to explore new, uncharted waters. They offer a combination of sleek speed and spacious living quarters that no other boat can match! This article will highlight five liveaboard catamaran sailboat options that you should consider when making your purchase.

Our sailing experts have done all of the hard work for you and found out which boats are truly worth taking a look at. In order to make it on our list, these vessels had to be able to provide comfort and luxury while still being environmentally friendly. If you're looking for a boat that is going to fit your needs without breaking your budget, then there's no better place than here!

Table of Contents

‍ 1. Manta 42

The  Manta 42  is the first catamaran designed and built entirely in the United States. A Florida-based business produced these boats in the 1990s and 2000s, and they became very popular among offshore cruisers. The Manta 42 Catamaran is a high-quality boat that will provide you with many hours of enjoyment. It is perfect for anyone who wants a boat that is easy to operate, looks great, and goes fast!

The Manta 42 Catamaran is a great boat for those who love to spend time on the water. This catamaran is perfect for fishing, swimming, or just cruising around with family and friends. It is also great for short trips or extended cruises. The boat features two large decks that provide plenty of room to move around, and the cabins are spacious and well-ventilated.

The Manta 42 Catamaran has two spacious cabins with storage underneath. The beds are comfortable, and the cabins have plenty of ventilation, so you won't be hot or stuffy at night. Both cabin doors have storage space on top, which is handy for belongings that you want to keep safe while you are away from the boat. There is also a full bathroom on board with showering capabilities, so everyone can get cleaned up after having fun on the water.

The large decks on this boat provide extra room for passengers to move around without disturbing anyone who may be sleeping in their cabin. It provides enough room for some serious sunbathing, just relaxing. There are plenty of places to hang out and take in the views, and the boat has a really cool modern design that is sure to turn heads.

The Manta 42 Catamaran is made of high-quality materials. Fiberglass and various resins are used to give the boat a sleek look and help it resist dings and other impacts while cruising around on or near the water. The wood trim looks great and provides an extra touch of class.

The Manta 42 isn't just a pretty face, though - this boat has some serious features as well! It comes equipped with two 30 HP Volvo diesel engines with sail drives so you can go fast when you want to, but cruise along at a comfortable speed when you don't feel like pushing it. There is plenty of room for gear underneath the deck, and there is even more storage inside the cabin if need be.

Manta Marine no longer produces these boats - they went out of business in the early 2000s. If you are looking for a Manta 42 Catamaran, many companies have taken over production, so you will have to do some shopping around to find one that is up to your requirements.

The  Manta 42  Catamaran is a fine example of quality craftsmanship and innovative design. It gets plenty of looks from passersby, but it also makes for an enjoyable day on the water. This boat provides comfort and stability no matter what kind of conditions it encounters - whether that means cruising through calm waters or heading out into choppy waves. This boat would be great for someone who loves spending time on the water and wants something that is easy to control and offers plenty of room and beautiful views.

  • Length Overall: 42 ft
  • Beam: 21 ft
  • Draft: 3 ft 8 inches
  • Displacement: 13,500 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 124 gal
  • Engine Power: 30 HP x 2 (Volvo Diesel)
  • Plenty of storage space underneath for clothes and other belongings.
  • The large decks allow plenty of room for passengers without making anyone feel cramped or uncomfortable.
  • This boat can reach speeds up to 10 knots
  • Decent fuel capacity
  • Durable construction
  • Hard to find new parts because production ceased in 2000

2. Nautitech 44 Open

Nautitech is a French company that makes high-quality catamarans. The 44 model is one of their most popular designs, and for good reason. This boat is incredibly spacious and comfortable, making it perfect for long cruises or extended stays on the water.

The  Nautitech 44  Open is a luxurious sailing vessel that will make you feel at home while you're out on the open sea. Despite its size, the Nautitech 44 Open is surprisingly easy to maneuver. Even novice sailors will be able to handle this boat with ease. This 44-foot beauty has all the amenities you need to relax and enjoy your time away from shore and is available in several cabin layouts to fit your needs.

The Nautitech 44 Open, versatile design means that it can be sailed by a captain and crew or by a family of novice sailors. With two helm stations and a joystick controller, the Nautitech 44 is easy to operate, even in challenging conditions. And with its large cockpit and swim platform, you'll have plenty of room to sunbathe, swim, and relax while you're at sea.

Inside, the Nautitech 44 boasts a spacious salon with a large dining table, a well-equipped galley, and comfortable sitting areas. The three private cabins each have their own ensuite head with a shower, and there's also plenty of storage space for your belongings. For entertainment, the Nautitech 44 comes equipped with several radios, a TV and VCR, and a CD player with speakers throughout the boat.

The sturdy construction of the Nautitech 44's hull and deckhouse ensure that you stay safe and watertight while you enjoy all your time on the sea. The advanced composite construction helps maintain its rigidity and stability while keeping the weight down for easy handling. The main beams are surrounded by polyurethane foam to keep them protected from damage caused by impacts such as running aground or hitting submerged debris in your path.

And if you're looking for some excitement while you're out on the waves, the Nautitech 44 also comes with a powerful engine and a top speed of over 20 knots. So, whether you're looking for a relaxing getaway or some high-speed adventure, the Nautitech 44 open catamaran is perfect for you.

The Nautitech 44 Open is still being produced due to its popularity and excellent seakeeping capabilities. The prices for new and used versions nearly always exceed $100,000. For the price, you get an upscale catamaran that can travel with ease. It is definitely not the cheapest option on our list, but you do get what you pay for when it comes to this boat.

The  Nautitech 44 Open  also does well at sea and can handle rough conditions. The open style layout makes it great for entertaining guests, especially considering the many amenities that come standard onboard. If you're looking for a luxury catamaran that will serve your family or friends well while out on the water, then look no further than the Nautitech 44 Open.

  • Length: 44 ft
  • Beam overall: 24 ft 2 inches
  • Draft: 4 ft 9 inches
  • Displacement: 22712 lbs
  • Engine: 30 Hp x 2 (D2-30 Volvo)
  • Fuel tank: 2 x 66 gallons
  • Spacious interior with plenty of amenities
  • Easy to operate, even for novice sailors
  • Well-built and sturdy catamaran
  • Fast - Ideal for offshore cruising
  • Somewhat expensive compared to other models on the market
  • No open cockpit

3. Lagoon 380

There's something about catamarans that make ailing aficionados go crazy. Maybe it's the spacious sailing platform with its perfect vista views, or maybe it's the fact that they sail like a dream due to their ability to 'plane through the water (like hydro foiling boards). But whatever it is, you can count on cats for roomy and dry bunks along with fun times at sea. And of course, if you don't want to sleep aboard your boat during stormy weather - there are two hulls under which you can huddle!

So, when Lagoon Yachts asked us if we would be interested in taking one of their latest build 380′ s out for a sail, we, of course, said YES! And we are so glad that we did because this cat is the real deal.

The  Lagoon 380  has been out for a few years now, but with the redesign of the Lagoon 400, many of the features and amenities from that model have trickled down to the 380′s. So, if you are in the market for a catamaran that is both comfortable and stylish, read on!

The Lagoon 380 comes standard with four air-conditioned cabins, which can sleep up to 8 people (or six adults), and two baths. These cabins provide plenty of storage for all cruising gear, and there's even a well-placed mirror in each cabin for last-minute touch-ups before heading up to dinner. The master suite, located at the bow of the boat, has a king berth and its own private head and shower. And since it is situated so far forward on the boat, you get an amazing 180-degree view when looking forward - giving us one more reason to love cats!

The Lagoon 380 has large open lounging areas both indoors and out, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies where you can just curl up with your favorite book. The cockpit provides ample room for tanning or reading without bumping into other crew members (a must for any good cruising catamaran!). These two levels are a perfect place to relax and watch the world go by. And if you need a break from the sun, there is plenty of shaded space below decks as well.

The galley on the Lagoon 380 is well-equipped with all the amenities you would expect on a cruising catamaran, including a 4-burner stove, oven, large refrigerator and freezer, and lots of counter space. There is even a coffee maker for early morning starts!

The sail plan on the Lagoon 380 is easily managed by a short-handed crew, and she tracks beautifully in even the lightest winds. With her daggerboards down (a first for a Lagoon cat), she planes effortlessly through the water - making for some very enjoyable sailing.

So, if you are in the market for a comfortable and stylish catamaran that is perfect for cruising, the Lagoon 380 should definitely be at the top of your list! With her spacious deck and comfortable cabins, this catamaran is sure to please everyone on board. And with her easy-to-handle sail plan, she is perfect for even the novice sailor. So don't wait any longer - head on over to your nearest Lagoon dealer and check out the all-new  Lagoon 380 !

  • Length: 37 ft 7 inches
  • Beam: 21 ft 5 inches
  • Draft: 3 ft 9 inches
  • Displacement: 16000 lbs
  • Fuel Capacity: 53 gallons
  • Engine: 20 Hp x 2 inboard diesel engines
  • The Lagoon 380 has long been the most popular catamaran, so it is tried and tested.
  • Spacious deck and comfortable cabins
  • Great value for money
  • Tracks beautifully in light winds
  • Renowned ocean crosser
  • Not the quickest catamaran on the market
  • Fewer baths than its competitors
  • Suffers from hobby horsing occasionally

4. Alliaura Marine Privilege 435

The Alliaura Marine Privilege 435 is a beautiful boat that offers great value for the price. It is well-constructed and has all the amenities you need for a comfortable and enjoyable boating experience. The  Privilege 435  is perfect for cruising, fishing, or just hanging out with friends on the water.

The Alliaura Marine Privilege 435 is a moderate-sized, comfortable catamaran that offers many amenities for your cruising pleasure. This boat can be easily flown by two people and is large enough to accommodate up to eight guests. Two private cabins are perfect for couples or friends traveling together, while the salon/kitchen area provides ample room for entertaining guests or spending quality time with family. The cockpit of this boat is open, which means you can store all of your water toys in there, including jet skis, wakeboards, kayaks, or inflatable boats.

The Privilege 435 has an open design layout, making it easy to navigate. There are dual helm stations at both ends of the salon - one station controls the bow thruster, and another station controls the main propulsion. The bow thruster can be used to maneuver in tight spots and makes docking a breeze. The interior cabinetry of the boat is made from solid cherry wood, which gives it a luxurious, upscale feel.

This boat is extremely stable and tracks well in open water. It has a large cockpit area that provides plenty of space for fishing, swimming, or just relaxing in the sun. The cabin is spacious and includes a full galley, head, and V-berth. The Privilege 435 also comes standard with a host of other features, including electric windlass, trim tabs, bow thruster, cockpit shower, and much more.

The majority of Privilege 435s were recently constructed, making them newer models on the market. This boat is sure to turn heads when you pull up to the dock with its sleek, modern lines. It is also one of the faster catamarans available, reaching speeds up to 10 knots.

The Privilege 435 also has a large swim platform which means plenty of room for lounging or standing while you enjoy the sea breeze on hot summer days at sea. In fact, if you want to get out and stretch your legs, then just hop off onto the platform from either side of the boat! And with its HIN number, you'll have no trouble dropping anchor when it comes time to stop for a break in your voyage.

The average price for this boat is $250,000 to $350,000, making it one of the more expensive models. But you're getting a lot for your money, including comfort and luxury at every turn, plus plenty of bells and whistles. The  Allura Marine Privilege 435  is not cheap, but it's one of the best catamarans available on the used market today.

  • Length: 43 ft
  • Beam: 23.33 ft
  • Draft: 4.42 ft
  • Displacement: 18,300 lbs
  • Engine: 2 x 40 Hp (Yanmars or Volvo)
  • Fuel Capacity: 105 gallons
  • Large sun deck
  • Spacious cabin with galley and head
  • Reliable and fast
  • Large showers
  • Sleeping arrangements can be a bit cramped for larger guests or families.
  • Extremely expensive

5. Voyage 440

The  Voyage 440 Catamaran  is a great boat for cruising, fishing, or simply spending a day on the water with friends and family. It has plenty of space for up to 10 passengers and comes complete with all the amenities you need for a fun day out on the waves. Let's take a closer look at this catamaran and see what makes it so special.

The Voyage 440 Catamaran is built from top-quality materials and features a sturdy construction that can handle even the roughest conditions. It's also outfitted with all the latest safety features, including life jackets, flares, and an emergency beacon, so you can rest assured knowing your loved ones are safe while aboard.

This catamaran is made of light but durable materials, making it easy to transport and store when not in use. It features a detachable floor for extra safety when out on the water. The hull also has built-in drainage holes that release excess water that gets onboard during rough waters or rainstorms.

All controls on this boat are conveniently placed at your fingertips, so you don't have to worry about searching to find what you need. The steering wheel is mounted at the helm, within easy reach of both driver and passenger, while the throttle and shift control are perfectly positioned on either side of the steering wheel.

The Voyage 440 Catamaran has a deep hull that provides an extra measure of stability even when out at sea. This makes it suitable for all passengers, including young children who might be new to boating or surfing. It's also great for beginners who have never piloted a boat before because it's very easy to get used to this one from the start.

The boat's performance is great, and it's outfitted with all the latest gadgets and safety equipment. The large number of passengers it can hold also makes this an attractive option for boating groups.

However, there are some weaknesses that potential buyers need to know about. The boat's ultra-wide beam is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Voyage 440. Of course, there are practical benefits with the extra space and stability this provides. The bottom of the low bridge deck, on the other hand, is one of the most vulnerable in the business, so buyers should be aware of this disadvantage.

Overall, the  Voyage 440 Catamaran  is a great boat for cruising, fishing, and spending time with family and friends. It has plenty of space for passengers and comes with all the amenities you need for a fun day on the waves. This catamaran can handle even the roughest conditions with its sturdy construction and deep hull. So if you're looking for a great boat that's perfect for any occasion, the Voyage 44 Catamaran should definitely be at the top of your list.

  • Beam: 25 ft
  • Draft: 3.5 ft
  • Displacement: 16200 lbs
  • Engine: 2 x 27 Hp
  • Fuel Capacity: 106 gallons
  • Eight sleeping areas
  • Spacious and stable design
  • The extra-wide beam can make turning difficult
  • The low bridgedeck is vulnerable to damage

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13 Best Liveaboard Sailboats (under 30 & 50 ft)

Choosing a boat to live on is a big deal — something you definitely want to get right. There are plenty of options to pick from, which can make the choosing process a bit daunting. So to help you navigate those deep waters (no pun intended), here is an article summarizing the 13 best liveaboard sailboats under 30 and 50 feet.

best live aboard catamaran

So what are the 13 best liveaboard sailboats?

Catalina 30, pacific seacraft flicka 20, nonsuch ultra 30, aventura 34, island packet 35, peterson 44, prout snowgoose 37, gulfstar 44, beneteau oceanis 50.

Beautiful lineup, isn't it? Let me explain what makes these so special.

Picking the Right One Matters

Picking a liveaboard sailboat belongs among those kinds of decisions that require months, if not years of research and testing.

It is not like choosing a car - those are more or less the same, and although they vary widely in terms of comfort, feeling, and performance, rarely you would encounter one that wouldn't get you from point A to B reasonably.

The same goes for a house or an apartment. Regardless of if you get a 200 square foot condo or a 30,000 square feet mansion, it will most of the time provide a warm shelter with a shower and a kitchen and a bed, fulfilling its basic functions.

But this is only the case because there is extensive infrastructure in place helping cars and houses. A car can only get you from A to B thanks to roads. A house can only have a shower and a kitchen if it is connected to a grid.

But on a boat, you are on your own.

best live aboard catamaran

The sea doesn't adjust its waves for your comfort. If something breaks, there is usually not a repair shop nearby. You aren't always connected to water or electricity. And if you don't like what you see around yourself, it's not like you can just leave.

So a liveaboard boat needs to provide what a house does, what a vehicle does, and more, plus it needs to provide this regardless of if you are docked in a marina or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That is a lot to ask, especially if we are talking about boats around 30 or 50 feet.

Fortunately, every single boat on this list is an all-star that ticks all the right boxes. Let's see why.

best live aboard catamaran

I know, I hear you, it isn't exciting enough as it doesn't perform that well. Sure. But we are talking about a boat that is supposed to be a house too. So why is it on the list?

This boat has been in production since 1975, which means that it has been extraordinarily well-refined according to the suggestions of thousands of owners. And this manufacturer is known for listening to the sailors' feedback. It is a very popular model, so finding spare parts for it will always be easy. Its famous well thought through the salon, and cabin layout is generous and spacious, so Catalinas are comfortable boats to live on. Plus, the boat has quite a wide beam, great ballast/displacement ratio as well as low sail area/displacement ratio, making it a stiff boat under sail, which adds to stability and comfort.

Good condition MkIII Catalinas can be found for about $35,000, but given the volume of these on the market, you can find a usable one even for around $15,000.

This one is a hero. I'd be hesitant to call such a small boat a comfortable liveaboard if it wasn't for this model. For its size, the interior is very spacious. It is also made for comfort since it seems to be inspired by the aforementioned Catalina 30. In fact, after reading some reviews, I am confident in saying that you will not find a significantly more comfortable 27 footer out there.

It also has a talent very uncommon for liveaboard boats - you can put it on a trailer, which can make your life easier when it comes to certain trips. But most importantly, it is a beauty. Just look at it.

Pricing this boat is a tricky task. You can buy nearly new ones (2015) for around $140,000, but even for $50,000, you can stumble upon models from both the 80s and the 2000s. This means the condition is a big factor, and you gotta inspect your choice well. The good news is that whatever your price in that range, you will find a boat for that money. The bad news is that the cheaper you go, the more effort will the potential repairs take.

I thought the Nor'Sea 27 is gonna be it, but let's push the size limit even more with the 20 foot Flicka, this tiny, towable, but seaworthy beast that accomplished several circumnavigations. Upon entering, you will be amazed at how spacious and equipped with amenities the interior is. Its designer lived on this boat with his partner (who too was a naval architect) for years and cruised all around the world - and what a proof of confidence in his own design that is.

Truth be told, there is a lack of deck space, but underneath it has the comfort and size of a boat a few meters larger, a space you can comfortably live in. Due to its size, it is easy to operate, tow, and sails better than what you would expect from a boat this length.

This boat is incredibly charming, and so its owners rarely sell it. In fact, it has amassed quite a following since it was designed into existence. So expect to spend quite some time searching for one for sale. Once you do find one, it will cost you around $30,000 - $40,000.

This one's a weird one. But because of it, a very spacious one. It is structured as a catboat, that is, with the mast being all the way on the front of the boat, which makes for impressive space below the deck. It has all the necessary amenities, including a shower, so for the liveaboard lifestyle, this boat definitely deserves to make this list.

The single sail catboat design also means it is easy to handle single-handed, which makes for great solitary passages.

Expect to pay around $40,000 to $60,000 for this one.

Though I am trying to keep this list in lower price ranges, I have to put this one in. If you don't mind the price tag of around $170,000, this boat is marketed as the currently cheapest liveaboard catamaran. As previously mentioned, cats offer the most in terms of space, and this model is a brand new one. Thus when it comes to service troubles and costs, you wouldn't pay much. The look is modern, relatively minimalistic and sleek, so for those of you who would like to give the liveaboard lifestyle a go but get cold feet upon seeing boats from the 80s, this is a way to make sure things remain stylish.

The modernity, space, and attention to practicality when it comes to using this as your home, make this a great entry-level liveaboard choice.

Again, this is no performance vehicle. Rather it focuses on the usual cruiser aspects - space, stability, sturdiness, and convenience, which makes it an ideal candidate for your choice when looking for a new floating home. Aside from the spacious interior, this boat also has an unusually large cockpit, great for those lunches on the deck.

As if the designers knew this might be used by the liveaboard people, this boat is easy to handle, which means even under sail, you won't have issues focusing on what you came for in the first place - sea living.

This boat can be found on the market for around $75,000 - $100,000.

The great thing about the Hunter 33 is that it was designed as more of a house than a sailboat. The attention to accommodation details is great here; there is plenty of space for sleeping the owners as well as the occasional visitors, it has a fantastic headroom throughout the boat and one of the most spacious and comfortable dining spaces seen on boats this size.

Food preparation and consumption was probably high on the priority list of the makers; the kitchen has an L shape, which adds to the convenience.

The price spread on these is quite large, with the bottom around $55,000 for the 2004 models and the top around $95,000 for the 2013 models.

This one is for those who don't mind sacrificing luxury for space. If in the middle of the ocean, it makes sense that one would want as much of usable space as possible, so if you are okay with the simplicity that will inevitably come with a system like this, you have found your match.

An undeniable advantage of such a design approach is that the storage space is maximized. Long passages with the need for plenty of room for equipment and provisions won't be a problem here. The simplicity of this boat is not just in terms of design, but even the electrics and plumbing. Thus if something breaks, you will have an easier time fixing it.

This being an older model, you can get your hands on one for around $30,000.

Since we are mostly looking at cheaper boats here, most of them aren't new - in fact, they likely have quite a few years behind them. The build quality is thus important. You want to go for builds that will last. Peterson is known for this, so it's gotta be on the list. As far as this list goes, it is quite a large boat. Moreover, it is one that has been built with spaciousness in mind, both when it comes to living spaces and storage.

A neat thing about this boat is its attention to performance. It isn't a racer; rather, it fits in the performance cruiser category, but they haven't made too many speed-related compromises here.

Peterson 44 can usually be found for $80,000 - $100,000.

There needs to be a catamaran on this list - they are, by definition, more spacious than monohulls, providing a large living area, which is, of course, an attractive characteristic for a liveaboard boat. Especially if they have a solid bridge deck, creating yet more square feet of usable space, which Snowgoose has. Unfortunately, they tend to be costly. While it is easy to recommend a bunch of half a million dollar cats, to make this list more within reach of the average sailor, I've found this beauty that you can get for around $100,000.

Aside from the extra space, this model is a true bluewater cruiser, meaning you won't be limited by its abilities when planning your journeys.

Those of you who had the pleasure of sailing this boat know why it needs to be here. It was built for a liveaboard lifestyle. Its wide body makes for one spacious interior which is well ventilated, (a very important aspect) with a beautiful galley and it has a large aft cabin with a huge bed. It was made with comfort, practicality, and convenience in mind.

Not to sound like a salesman, but believe me when I say this boat is a genuine pleasure to be on. If you want the homey feeling, you don't get much closer than this in this size range.

Expect to pay around $80,000 - $100,000 for this one, though some digging around and 'fixing her up' can knock this number down significantly.

This is another easy choice, space being the reason. Not only does it have an extra-large main cabin and salon with a kitchen, many small Parisian apartments could envy, but it is also very generous in terms of storage space. Stocking up for longer crossings will be a pleasure on this one.

Also, it was built as a racer-cruiser, so you won't be making many compromises in terms of performance, as is often the case with comfortable boats.

All of this comes for a price, though. You might be able to find one for around $100,000 if you put some time into your search and won't mind a bit of travel to see it, but otherwise, the average price is around $130,000.

Let's end this list by stretching the ceiling too with this fifty-footer. It was designed as a holiday cruiser, and it is a popular choice among charter companies. The designers know that there are places in Europe where it is very easy to get a sailing license, so many inexperienced people who don't want to give up the comforts of their home end up on these boats. Oceanis 50 is thus comfortable, spacious, easy to sail, and the attention to accommodation details, amenities, and practicality, is very high.

As such, it is designed to house whole families, so if you live there as a couple, you will have a floating house for yourself, and if kids come, no need to buy a new boat. Even on the deck, this boat is designed for pleasure cruises, so as far as that goes, you will be taken care of. As far as their seaworthiness goes, some consider Beneteau an entry-level holiday brand, and some models are indeed more designed for coastal hopping than large crossings. But that can be fixed with some proper fitting.

If you fancy a new one, you will find yourself paying above the $500,000 mark, but older models start a bit above $100,000. Which is something a person who just sold all their possessions to escape to the sea is more likely to have. Just be a bit careful with boats sold by charter companies. Their previous owners serviced them regularly, but you can be sure the hundreds of sailors that touched the helm weren't necessarily skilled or kind to them.

So there you have it. $15,000 - $50,0000 range, 20 - 50-foot sizes, from cozy towable boats to large sailing houses. A range anybody can choose from to pursue the liveaboard dream. Nothing is stopping you now, so hit the yachtworld.com website and start browsing.

Know though that if you really want to take advantage of the boat market, you might have to travel quite a bit. If you are an American, the strong dollar will make it enticing to look for a boat in European countries without the EUR currency. Or you might find plenty of cheap models in Turkey, for instance. It requires more effort, but in return, it might save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Fair winds!

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10 Affordable Cruising Catamarans

  • By Phil Berman
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

Orana 44

So, you want to get a catamaran , sail off into the sunset, and capture some magic with your lover or family for a few years. You have no ambition to sail around the world or to live aboard forever, but think a one- or two-year sabbatical might be life-changing. You’d like to sail the US East Coast, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, perhaps the Med—or up and down the West Coast and on to Mexico and Central America. You have $300,000 or less to spend and want a catamaran you can sell at the end of the journey without consuming a bottle of Tylenol to blunt the pain. 

The good news is that this is quite achievable. The bad news is that there is a vast wave of baby boomers who are all looking for the same thing—and for right around the same price. This makes finding a good deal on a great used catamaran a lot of work, even working with a broker. But, it’s possible. You just need to keep an open mind.

The other good news, which might seem surprising, is that an older catamaran, besides being more affordable, might sail just as well—or even better—than the same-size new cat that will cost considerably more. Yes, the older model might have less room inside and lack the latest condo-on-the-water styling, but it was designed and built before the current trend to supersize the newer generations of multihulls at the expense of sailing performance.

Here’s my advice to the cat hunter on a budget: Don’t get too hung up on the length of the boat. Instead, focus on the spatial and payload requirements you seek and which can be achieved within your budget. And best not get too focused on must-have features—what I jokingly call “surround-sound beds.” Catamaran designs and interiors have gone through massive changes in the past 10 to 20 years, and most older designs simply cannot compete with the new ones in terms of space and high-end amenities.

None of the cool cats I have in mind are over 47 feet. This is not because there aren’t bargain boats out there that are 47 feet and longer, but because any larger multihull that you can buy for $300,000 or less will most assuredly need a significant refit or is either very old or very odd. Buying a fixer-upper is, to my mind, the most dangerous thing a budget-minded consumer can do. It’s just too easy to underestimate the cost of yacht refits and repairs due to the extremely high prices charged in most boatyards. 

RELATED: 20 Best Cruising and Sailing Destinations

Nearly any cat you buy over 10 years old is fully depreciated. What we were selling a Lagoon 440 for eight or 10 years ago is nearly the same as what they sell for today. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal is tied solely to a yacht’s condition and refit history. As they joke in private-equity circles, “Any idiot can buy; you deserve congratulations only when you sell.”   

So, when your search gets underway, focus on ­condition—it is far more important than the year, brand or features you might crave. And when you find the cat of your dreams, the best way to remove financial-downside risk is to get a great survey and to choose the newest, smallest cat that will work for your agenda, not the oldest and biggest.

– CHECK THE WEATHER – The weather changes all the time. Always check the forecast and prepare for the worst case. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

And a word of caution: Your problem will be knowing a good deal from a bad one after the survey is over if you are not well-schooled in pricing. Besides steering you toward potential boats to consider, this is where a broker, working on your behalf, can provide knowledgeable advice. It’s been my experience that this is the point when so many yacht sales come apart: a dispute over the value of a given yacht when the survey results come in. All too commonly we see buyers reject yachts they should have accepted and purchase cats they should have rejected. Remember, a used yacht is a used yacht—not a perfect yacht. A catamaran need not be perfect to remain a perfectly good deal. Here, then, are 10 cool cats to ­consider in the ­$300,000-or-less range:

1. Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 (above)

Fountaine Pajot had the misfortune of tooling up this boat just before the global financial crisis, so not that many of them were built between 2007 and 2012. But these were the first of the larger-space charter cats in this size, but not yet so porky that they still could not sail decently. In the three-­cabin owner’s version, they designed the living space very nicely; even in the four-cabin version, the aft starboard bed was very well-done. 

During this period, Fountaine Pajot had problems with the resin it was using, which led to blistering on the hulls and undersides. Affected models therefore had new bottoms done at approved shipyards throughout the world. Make sure the one you are considering had this done or that it doesn’t show evidence of significant blistering. Honestly it is only cosmetic, but it will impact resale if not repaired. Many consumers think blisters are the end of the world; frankly, they are not.

Catana

2. Catana 431

Built in France by a long-­standing yard, the Catana 431 was always a very viable vessel because it is big enough to go anywhere, but not too large for a competent owner to handle. And because the 431 has good underwing clearance and daggerboards, it sails smartly to windward. 

That said, there are a few things to watch for. The primary bulkheads on many of these boats were not tabbed on the outer ends, and over time tended to distort. Often this led, or will lead, to a costly replacement of some bulkheads. So be careful to survey these areas properly. 

The 431′s furniture is all foam-cored and handmade, but the banding on the outer edges in some cases slowly starts to peel, which allows moisture to infect the wood veneer. This can create a somewhat unsightly appearance in the cabinets and drawers. It is only a cosmetic issue, but it can make the interior feel a bit worn out. 

During the period when the 431 was being built, Catana used a distributive electrical card system, and the boats had several modules, each a zone, to which electricity was run. If one thing in a zone stops working, the only solution is to jury-rig a wire from that nonworking item back to the main breaker panel. Replacing the modules or getting them repaired can be done, but it is getting harder by the year. For this reason, the best 431 is a boat that someone else had rewired at some point along the way.

470

3. Lagoon 470

If you need a larger escape pod, the Lagoon 470 is one of our favorites. This model of older Lagoons was built at CNB’s yard in Bordeaux, France, and the build quality was high. The 470 was the first design to have the more-vertical windows that are a Lagoon signature, and ample saloon headroom. The 470s are also old enough that the hulls were not so supersize that it compromised sailing performance. They have decent underwing clearance, so they are not persistent pounders to windward. Many were built with a galley-down layout, some in galley-up style. You will always pay more for an owner version of this or any model. 

The big thing you have to concern yourself with on Lagoons of this vintage is that the hulls and decks are made with a balsa core, so it is not uncommon to find moisture problems, especially around deck fittings or hatches. This can sometimes require rebedding or recoring areas, and this sort of repair, in North America, can be a costly undertaking. Make sure you get good moisture-meter readings near all deck fittings and, of course, on the hulls. Hulls, however, tend less often to have moisture issues because there are few fittings through which water can enter the core. Were that to happen below the waterline, it is a real mess that must be repaired immediately and properly.

– CARRY A BEACON – Satellite beacons such as EPIRBs or PLBs allow boaters to transmit distress signals and their exact coordinates from anywhere on the planet, no cell service required. It may be the best $400 you ever spend. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

435

4. Privilège 435

Back when the Privilège 435 was built, Privilège catamarans were constructed by Alliaura Marine in France, and they were truly the Mercedes of the multihull world at that time. While not a performance cat by any means, the 435 was a super-solid yacht, built with great care and the finest components. The 435 is large enough to go anywhere but small enough to handle easily. 

The largest negative of this model—and many cats of this vintage—is that the saloon windows slope dramatically, so the interior gets very hot unless the windows are covered most of the time. When they legalize growing pot on catamarans, here’s the perfect greenhouse for it! Seriously, if you should buy a used 435, you really have to get strong sunblocking external UV covers, as well as interior blinds or shades to inhibit heat buildup. 

Some of the 435s were laid out with the galley down in one hull, and these days most people want a galley-up arrangement, where cooking and food preparation are done in the saloon. A three-cabin galley-up owner version will be far more sought after and cost more than a four-cabin galley-down version. 

Leopard

5. Leopard 46

This was the first of the Morrelli & Melvin collaborations with South African builder Robertson and Caine and the charter companies owned at the time by TUI Marine to create a catamaran that could be sold both into charter under the Moorings brand and also privately as a Leopard, so effort was made to design a boat with good sailing performance. Gino Morrelli did a good job creating a lot of underwing clearance, the 46 has a powerful rig, and yet its interior still offers spacious sleeping areas and nice flow from the cockpit to the saloon. These can be bought as ex-Moorings charter boats for less than $300,000 but are more costly in the sought-after Leopard owner version.

Because these are balsa-­cored boats, you must inspect deck fittings carefully for moisture incursion. Some of the earlier ones also experienced structural problems on the aft bulkhead and over-door-frame areas between saloon and cockpit. Also, during this period, the windows in the main saloon had a tendency to leak and, when they did, required rebedding or replacement. This was a costly job, so check this out carefully during survey.

Knysna 440

6. St. Francis 44/Knysna 440

If you wish to spend under $250,000, the older Saint Francis 44 and Knysna 440 are worth a look.

Back in 1990, Duncan Lethbridge started St. Francis Catamarans in South Africa with the St. Francis 43. The boat was meant to be a fast, strong bluewater voyager—and it was. The 43 was made with foam core, keeping the structure light, and it was very strongly built, with a powerful rig. The 43 loved to sail. And so too did the St. Francis 44, an updated version of the original. 

The boat did have a couple of negatives, however, the first being its sloped windows that built up interior heat. And the boat wasn’t a great fit for tall people, having less than 6-foot-2-inch headroom in the hulls. Also, the engines were installed amidships, which made the boat noisy inside under power. It also made the amidships areas of the hulls too narrow to have centrally located heads and showers, which in turn meant the only layout available was a four-­cabin, four-head design. In the forward cabins, the heads and showers had to be far forward; in the aft cabins, the heads and showers were located far aft.

St. Francis sold the tooling for the 44 to Knysna Yachts in 2004, and Knysna raised the headroom in the saloon and moved the engines aft to each stern. The hulls remained fundamentally the same, but the design was improved nicely. 

The largest negative of both the Saint Francis 44 and the Knysna 440 is that they have very low underwing clearance. Things can get pretty noisy when pushing against ­washing-machine seas. 

But you cannot have it all and still pay less than $250,000 in a midsize cat; compromises must be made. And these boats do sail quite smartly compared with many in their size range.

Lagoon 440 catamaran

7. Lagoon 440

This was the most popular catamaran ever made, and it started the catamaran flybridge craze, which helped to convert many powerboaters to sailors. 

What I like about the 440 is that it is an infinitely better sailer than some of its peers, and has decent underwing clearance, vertical windows, and nice cabins for sleeping and living. While the aft cockpit is rather small, the saloon is quite large.

Flybridges are a bit of a love-hate thing. There is no question that in a cat of this size, the windward performance suffers a bit due to the boom positioned so high off the water. When piloting, the skipper is separated from those on the bridgedeck. Part of the reason flybridges are so popular in charter is that most of the parties take place up there while sailing and at anchor. In private ownership, however, it is seldom that everyone is hanging out on the flybridge during a long passage. 

As always with Lagoons, these are balsa-cored boats, so a careful survey is in order. Pay attention also to bulkhead ­tabbing to make sure they have not separated from the hulls.

Because so many of the 440s were built to go into charter, there are a lot of four-cabin, four-head models for resale. These will sell for considerably less on the ­brokerage market than a ­coveted three-cabin, ­private-owner model.

– CHECK THE FIT – Follow these guidelines to make sure your life jacket looks good, stays comfortable and works when you need it. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Leopard 40 catamaran

8. Leopard 40

When you get into the 40-foot size range, a four-cabin layout can become pretty cramped and claustrophobic below, but the three-cabin owner version of the Leopard 40 is a very nice pocket cruiser. A Morrelli & Melvin design, the 40 has good underwing clearance and nicely shaped hulls. Not a large cat, per se, and less-suited for significant distance sailing than others because its payload is limited, the 40 is still well-suited for a couple and a child or two for near-coastal and ­island-hopping action.

Manta catamaran

9. Manta 42

If you are searching for a cat in the $200,000 range, the Manta 42s were well-built in Florida, and their electrical systems were very well-done compared with many other multihulls of that era. While many of the features on the boat are quite dated, these Mantas sail very well, and easily, and have been popular with coastal cruisers for two decades. 

The largest negative of the Mantas is that people taller than 6 feet will find the saloon headroom right on the edge, and the berths are not especially large. Also, forward visibility from the saloon windows is not particularly panoramic, so the interiors are a bit darker inside than current-­generation catamarans.

Lagoon catamaran

10. Lagoon 410

The Lagoon 410 was quite a popular cat in its prime, and for good reason. It offers lots of visibility thanks to its vertical windows, good headroom for a cat of its size, nice berths, and a workable, though smallish, galley-up design. The 410 has decent underwing clearance, can sail nicely over the waves, and its singlehanded operation is super easy. In the three-cabin owner’s configuration, it’s just a very cool little cat.

As always, a balsa-core boat must be surveyed carefully, especially on deck, for moisture incursion near fittings and hatches. It can be costly to repair rotted core and to rebed deck fittings. But find a dry one, and it should definitely be counted as a contender for a buyer with a limited budget. 

Phil Berman is the president of the Multihull Company and the founder of Balance Catamarans. He has managed the sale of more than 900 catamarans.

  • More: catamaran , lagoon , leopard , multihulls , print june july 2020 , Sailboats
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A catamaran sailing school was unheard of years ago. In the early days of Catamaran Guru, catamaran experts, Stephen & Estelle Cockcroft kept their cruising kitty going by teaching American Sailing Association courses and offered liveaboard orientation experiences aboard their monohull and later their catamarans. They know by experience that a liveaboard seaschool is the best way to learn to sail.

Though no longer offering instruction or liveaboard orientation experiences themselves, their passion to help others follow their nautical dreams of yacht ownership has kept them involved in sail training and hands-on cruising lifestyle experiences.

Why catamaran sailing school is important

The ASA sail training courses provide a good grounding for all new sailors and advanced courses increase competency and confidence. While learning to sail monohulls will provide many useful basics of sailing knowledge, instruction aboard a catamaran, and even better aboard your catamaran or a similar model is the best possible scenario.

Getting yacht insurance , especially a policy you can afford, requires proven related boating experience. The only way to get that experience safely is with a catamaran sailing school that offers liveaboard hands-on experiences.

Another vital role sea school plays for cruisers is getting the enthusiasm and confidence of the first mate up. While not always the case, often one partner in a sailing duo is the driving force of the cruising life dream while the other is often reluctant. Here are our tips on overcoming the reluctance of a catamaran cruising partner .

The top tip is to participate in a liveaboard experience with a seaschool even before you buy a boat. 

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Weeklong liveaboard sailing school is invaluable for anyone who plans to own their own boat, but especially those who plan to be full-time cruisers. During these hands-on sailing experiences, your seaschool instructor combines our real-life practical methods with the most up-to-date sailing theory courses. These experiences set you up to enjoy a stress-free cruising lifestyle. Especially when you can train aboard your own boat, you can become comfortable with your equipment and configurations for operation and safety.

You not only learn how to be a team as you sail, anchor, trim sails, and navigate safely from point A to point B, you also get your questions answered by experienced liveaboard sailors about how to downsize, provision for long cruises, and mostly, how to enjoy watching the sunset in a gorgeous anchorage with your favorite beverage in hand.

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Best Sized Catamaran for Ocean Sailing and Liveaboard?

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Buying a boat is a tricky thing, but once you start figuring out what you’re going to use it for things begin to become more apparent. I’m assuming you’re here because you are interested in knowing how small of a sailing catamaran you can get while balancing factors such as price, length, and space. If so, you have come to the right place!

The perfect sized catamaran for ocean sailing (including around the world sailing) is around 40ft; it is small enough to be sailed by one person but big enough to provide safety and speed. Of course, there are many variables to consider, and below we will discuss many of them.

Before we can decide which one is perfect for our needs, we need to look at all ends of the spectrum: the smallest, biggest, cheapest, and most expensive.

Table of Contents

What is The Smallest Sized Catamaran for Ocean Sailing?

The size of the smallest suitable catamaran that can safely, and somewhat comfortably, cross big oceans is according to consensus in the sailing community, around 30ft. It is possible with less, but a smaller boat has some real downsides, which I will discuss below .

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Anything smaller than 30ft is starting to become too much of a tradeoff. When it comes to dealing with huge waves and strong winds, size is an issue. Too small of a catamaran and every wave appears as a mountain.

It also has a significant effect on the crew; if the boat is never at rest always pitching and yawing it really takes its toll on the team, this will sooner or later impair the crew’s ability to make the right decisions, something that is a must in a situation of crisis.

One of the most significant issues with small catamarans  is the low bridge deck clearance; most catamarans make some noise when sailing upwind. These loud noises are due to waves coming towards the boat only to get projected with high speed and force straight into the deck’s underside.

This makes for massive noise and vibration, something that isn’t dangerous but adds to the crew’s fatigue while also making for a horrible trip. There are really only two things that you can do to prevent bridge deck slamming, either you get a big boat with a high bridge deck clearance (more on that here) or you sail downwind.

Usually, fitting all the gear you need for a long trip on the boat is not an issue. But there might be a problem with balancing the ship once you have filled it with all that weight, having weight too far out on either the bow or the stern is a safety issue and can lead to unnecessary pitching and in a worst-case scenario make you dive right into a wave instead of staying on top of it.

Why is a Bigger Catamaran Better For Sailing Around The World?

best live aboard catamaran

Having a bigger boat offers a lot of advantages, some of them are;

Speed   is not only fun, but it is also something that adds to the safety of the trip. If you’re doing ten plus knots instead of just five, that means you will only need half of the time at sea, and if there is a storm on the way, you definitely want to get into safe harbor before it strikes.

It also means that you could “outrun” or at least out-steer a storm, so speed gives possibilities and therefore, safety.

Another  aspect of speed is how much fun  it is:

“Sailing my old 35ft monohull, it was always a slug, slow and steady wins the race they say, we won nothing but boredom, and when you realize that your speed is so slow that on an average jog you would easily outrun your boat, that sucks.” Gabo

But when you are  starting to surf waves  and semi-plane, it’s a whole different world; it’s exhilarating, and you go from thinking when is this horrible experience over to thinking, let this never end!

Getting a bigger boat also means  a lot more space , and that means more places to store all the fun stuff you want to bring, scuba gear, snorkels, surfing boards, and other fun stuff. Having a smaller boat might mean you won’t have space enough to fill up your dive tanks, so you miss out on many great opportunities.

Another aspect of space is  the problem with headroom  if you are a tall person and/or you want to bring tall friends onboard then having a saloon where you don’t have to hit your head on the ceiling is a significant factor, and to be honest small catamarans usually don’t have this. This is often not a big issue for short trips, but going on a cruise for multiple days, being comfortable is a big thing.

And speaking of bringing  friends along, a bigger boat equals more berths , the bigger ones (40+ft) have full-sized rooms with large beds that are so comfortable that not even grandma will complain, so if you don’t want her to stay for too long, you should probably get a smaller boat.

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What Sized Catamaran is Too big For Ocean Sailing?

A too big of a catamaran is for most sailors anything longer than 45ft, more specifically a boat which is too expensive, something you can´t handle on your own and that has more space than you need .

This once a little more tricky, a general rule of thumb for many is that you should  be able to sail it on your own  because you might have to sooner or later.

Bigger boat means sails that are harder to raise and sometimes only possible with an electric winch and having too much electrical stuff are for many a big NO GO. for me it’s not a big deal, just make sure you are able to repair it if it breaks, just like any mechanical system.

A bigger boat means more sail area, which usually means more power, which means higher speeds and sometimes a bit more complicated to handle for a beginner. Make sure you try to get a boat that you are comfortable handling and know precisely how and when to reef.

best live aboard catamaran

Since catamarans don’t heel  ( more on that here ) they offer handling-feedback a little bit different, for example since they don’t have deep keels and don’t lean to their side they tend to almost “sit down “a little on their leeward side (the hull of the lee side of the boat).

This sensation can be a little bit awkward  at first but is something that the catamaran captain needs to get used to if he or she wants to understand how to properly reef and maintain the sails. If this is not correctly done the catamaran might be at  risk of capsizing .

For most people, anything over 45ft is just too much to handle short-handed.

Balancing Price and comforts

Size in ftComfortsMaintenance & repair costsPricePotential incomeNotes
Up to 30Small berths, full height only in hulls.$
~30 000 USDNot many optionsLow bridge deck clearance
~30Full height only in hulls, $~ 60 000 USDMaybe charteringNot big, not small
~40Full Height in saloon and hulls, large outer deck,$$+150 000 USDChartering, AirBnB, paying crew,Not big, not small
Above 45Full Height in saloon and hulls, large outer deck,$$$$ *
+250 000 USDChartering, AirBnB, multiple berths, paying crewBig boat demands an experienced captain

 *Exponentially higher costs since the amount of stuff you have to do usually exceeds the time you will have to fix it. Let’s use bottom paint as an example, you can do it yourself trying to save some money, but since the boat is soo big, you’ll end up spending a lot of work hours painting.

And every day spent hauled out is expensive (especially for such a big boat), so trying to do it yourself might even be more costly than hiring a few workers (since if you are the only one working on the ship it needs to be hauled out for a longer time).

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Potential Income From a Bigger Boat

When it comes to  the potential income  I would argue that the bigger boat you have, the more money you can make, not only could you attract high-paying customers since now you are offering luxury yacht sailing instead of low-end stuff aimed at backpackers. This could be a massive resource of income.

I tried taking people out on my boat, but since it was quite small and not even close to what someone wanted to pay a lot of money for, it didn’t really generate much money.

If you find yourself staying at a marina for a longer time and having a couple of berths available,  you could AirBnB those to out to people in the area . This is a great way to make some extra income, and it’s also a great way to make some friends. I would definitely recommend this!

Bigger boats also mean the possibility to have a  larger paying crew,  instead of not being able to take a single crew person, on a 43ft you could have seven people both working and paying to stay at your boat. That’s a sweet deal and a lot of fun!

best live aboard catamaran

Bigger Boats = Higher Expenses

Size matters; nothing is more accurate in the boating world, but when it comes to the amount of expenses and the size of your pride.

Haul out and placing on stands when it’s time for your repair and maintenance should be thoroughly planned and executed. This is a good tip since you will most definitely pay by the length of your boat, and if you are sailing around in a  catamaran, be ready to pay a premium,  many times 25 – 50 percent more than the standard price per foot.

So before you take your boat out of the water, make sure you have a solid game plan that includes a rigid timeline of when the contractors should arrive, what the different phases of your maintenance will be, and then push hard to execute according to plan.

If you do it this way there is a lot of money to be saved, what you don’t want to happen is that you have four contractors ready to get to work, but you haven’t bought the paint or the gear needed for the repairs, so they are just sitting around and costing money.

best live aboard catamaran

The Best Sized Liveaboard Catamaran

Most ocean-capable catamarans are also more or less suited for living aboard. This means that the best-sized liveaboard catamaran should be around 40-45ft.

When it comes to long-term living on a catamaran, some things are more important than if we only do a single crossing; a liveaboard is about enjoying your house on the water.

In contrast, a catamaran made for hardcore sailing is more about speed and excitement.

best live aboard catamaran

Liveaboard-demands usually include a lot of space to store your stuff, wide hulls with large-sized berths, and for many getting a used charter boat is the right decision. Beware when buying an old charter boat that they are usually made for coastal waters, and not all are suited for offshore multiday sailing.

Living on a boat means you will spend a lot of time doing the usual stuff you would also be doing in an ordinary house, including cooking cleaning, and working.

Once you understand your needs there is a better chance you can find a boat that will suit your needs in the long run. Catamarans in the “cruising” category usually have a lot of space to store gear, this means that they have wider hulls.

Having wider hulls creates more drag and will hinder the boat from going as fast as a catamaran with narrow hulls ( Check out catamaran hull speed explained ).

But having these hulls will greatly improve your comfort since it allows for wider berths(beds) and a boat that is easier to move around in, this might sound like a small thing and you might think that it’s not a big deal. But…

After a couple of weeks sharing a few square feet, every time you bump into someone or something will be a little annoying so I cannot be frank enough when emphasizing how important internal space is when it comes to comfort but also staying good friends with your crew.

If you have an online job, or maybe just a job that you can do from your computer there might also be a need to have a desk or room that is relatively separate and quiet so you can get some work done.

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Cruising, Liveaboard, and Ocean Crossing. Guidelines on How to Choose Your Catamaran!

To summarize this article I have put together a shortlist of guidelines that you can use when scouting for a suitable catamaran.

  • What is the smallest I   can go that still satisfies my needs?  This is a great question to ask yourself because, as you have seen above, the smaller you can go, the more money you can redirect into outfitting the boat in a way that you want.
  • In a situation where your the only one in “sailable” condition, will you be able to handle the vessel single-handed?  Out of a safety perspective, this is very important since you might have to do a man overboard maneuver on your own. This is also a question that only you can answer. If you have a lot of experience and are a very confident sailor, maybe you’ll be okay with a 45ft, but smaller is more appropriate for most people.
  • How big of a boat can you afford when including the cost of maintenance , repairs, haul out and all other stuff you have to put money into. Don’t forget BOAT really stands for Break Out Another Thousand.
  • When it really comes down to it, do you want speed or space ? You can’t have both, unless your filthy rich, then you can have both 🙂

Hope you find this useful! Take care!

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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  • Solar Electric Boats

iYacht unveils 55-foot solar electric performance sailing catamaran built from scrap metal

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German yacht design and engineering studio iYacht GmbH unveiled a 55-foot solar-electric sailing catamaran called the Hu’chu 55. Its makers describe it as “without a doubt one of the most sustainable and compelling challenges undertaken so far.” Built from over 90% scrap metal, this vessel offers an admirable design lesson in circularity.

iYacht GmbH is a German yacht design studio with offices in Hamburg and Kiel, led by CEO Udo A. Hafner. Over the last twenty years, iYacht’s team of 11 engineers, designers, and naval architects has completed over 400 marine projects, from initial design sketches to “Conformite Europeenne” (CE) marking.

For its latest project, iYacht was commissioned by actor, producer, and environmental entrepreneur Daniel Roesner to develop a solar electric sailing catamaran designed, first and foremost, with circularity in mind. The result is the Hu’Chu 55 – a project iYacht’s CEO described as one of its most ambitious to date:

We have designed and engineered a dozen multihulls in recent years, but the Hu’chu 55 represents a significant leap forward in terms of sustainability and circularity. Daniel had a very ambitious vision, and we guided him in turning it into a feasible project.

iYacht brought all hands on deck from both its design offices to bring Roesner’s vision to life, utilizing a unique recycled aluminum developed explicitly for the Hu’Chu 55.

Solar electric sailing

Hu’Chu 55 solar electric sailing vessel is ultra-sustainable

According to iYacht, the Hu’Chu 55 was built using recycled and recyclable materials, including aluminum, developed by the actor/ catamaran owner with the help of a major aluminum manufacturer. The material comprises over 90 % aluminum scrap from discarded license plates, road signs, cosmetic cans, and automotive and construction manufacturing, without a single kilogram of primary metal.

The result is a solar electric sailing catamaran built from material that’s one-eighth of the market’s average footprint in CO2 emissions. Roesner also requested that other sustainable materials, including natural fibers, reclaimed wood, and recycled cork, be incorporated throughout the vessel.

While the Hu’Chu 55 is a sailing catamaran at its core, it is supported by solar electric technology, including photovoltaic panels that not only generate electricity to power an editing bay, grow vegetables, and treat water onboard but also reduce overall consumption.

When sailing isn’t possible, the solar catamaran is equipped with two electric motors powered by a battery pack of over 100 kWh, which solar panels can also recharge. If the sun isn’t out, the batteries can also be replenished via hydrogeneration, in which the boat’s motion passively spins the propellers of the electric motor, generating a recharge through electromagnetic induction—sort of like regenerative braking but for boats.

iYacht states that the Hu’Chu solar electric sailing catamaran was designed so Roesner could live aboard it, which he plans to do while simultaneously producing documentaries about the oceans and monitoring the water quality. Per Roesner:

I have a large circle of friends consisting of divers, free divers, scientists and underwater filmmakers. I would like to collaborate with them to implement various projects on topics such as environmental protection, research and adventure. I also hope to work with various universities. The boat is going to be a platform for sustainable research, adventure, film and circular living. There are a lot of inspirational projects in the world that have helped me put together some of their unconventional ideas. Among them are Low tech lab , Plastiki, and Energy Observer. Hopefully the Hu’chu 55 will be an inspiration to others as well.

Looking ahead, Roesner hopes to find new partners that share in his quest for sustainability at sea and bring the Hu’Chu to series production so more people can utilize the technology and promote circularity in marine vessels.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports. Please send any tips or suggestions, or dog photos to him at [email protected]

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10 Best Sailboats To Live In

Best Sailboats To Live On | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Living aboard a sailboat is an exciting lifestyle choice, but there are lots of considerations you’ll need to make.

‍ First and foremost, you have to pick a boat to live in. Unless you plan on sleeping under a canvas tarp, it’s essential to find a sailboat with a proper cabin.

Cabin sailboats became common in the United States during the early 20th century, but size and amenities vary widely between boats.  

For example, early wooden sailboats generally featured very sparse accommodations below, typically consisting of a pipe berth, oil lamps, a coal-fired stove and a bucket privy—typically without standing headroom.

Fortunately, the majority of cabin sailboats came with a lot more than a bucket to wash with.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important considerations to make when choosing a sailboat to live on . After, we’ll give a top-ten list of the best used liveaboard sailboats you can buy today.

Table of contents

Why Live Aboard a Sailboat?

Thousands of people choose to live aboard their sailboats.  It’s an alternative lifestyle with a host of benefits for those willing to deal with the added challenges.  

Liveaboards can move their entire house on the water, and it’s typically cheaper to live on a boat than in a traditional house.

This is especially true in major waterfront cities, where rent in the same area as the marina can be several times more expensive.  

Some people love the marina lifestyle, and others travel the world.  All-in-all, living aboard a sailboat can be a rewarding, enriching, and financially-freeing lifestyle choice.

What to Consider when Buying a Liveaboard Sailboat

The most important thing to consider when buying a liveaboard sailboat is what level of accommodation you need.

Some people aren’t bothered by limited amenities; in fact, many traditional sailors prefer a stripped-down and basic sailboat interior. However, many others appreciate useful features such as electric toilets and a full galley.

You can find virtually every creature comfort on board a modern sailboat, so it’s up to you to decide what level of convenience you expect. ‍

For most people, a standard cruising sailboat interior from after 1970 will suffice, as these typically include a usable galley, shower, head, and ventilation.

Offshore VS Coastal Cruising Accommodations

Sailboat interior design is dependent on certain criteria, such as the sailboat’s intended use. Long-distance cruising sailboats have cabins arranged to suit such a journey.

Long-distance sailboats usually remove any unnecessary furniture or extras down below to increase storage, and sleeping options are altered to ensure easy access, which allows the crew to regain control of the boat in a pinch.

Coastal cruisers tend to feature a more luxurious layout, with larger sofas and more complex interior features. Additionally, storage space is generally reduced to allow for the inclusion of other amenities.

Whichever style you choose should reflect both how you plan to use your boat and what level of comfort you need.

What Makes A Great Liveaboard Sailboat?

For this article, we’ve outlined a few requirements which we believe identify an excellent liveaboard sailboat :

  • Standing headroom (at least 5’10”)

While many people live aboard boats without standing headroom, it’s still a nice feature to have.  Months or years spent crawling or crouching can wreak havoc on your back and body, so standing headroom is a necessity in this list.

  • 120V AC availability

Electricity is a definite requirement for our liveaboard list.  Boats without 120V AC outlets present major challenges to liveaboards, as there’s no way to charge most computers or cell phones.  Some boats feature a 12V outlet, but full-time liveaboard boats should have standard house connections for electricity.

  • Galley facilities

Unless you plan on eating out every day, a galley is a must for our list.  We define an adequate galley as a facility with a sink, ice box or refrigerator, and a stove.  An oven is an added bonus, but one can usually be added along with a new stove.

  • Electric lighting

Electric lighting is a matter of both safety and convenience aboard boats.  There’s nothing wrong with kerosene lamps; many sailors adorn their boats with them.  However, a long-term liveaboard boat should feature safe and reliable electric lighting.

  • Toilet with plumbing

Sanitation facilities are vital on board a sailboat, especially if you live on it.  Improper human waste storage and disposal will spread awful diseases.  Plus, nobody wants to live on a stinky boat or use a porta-potty all year long.  We required each of our ten boats to have built-in and properly outfitted toilets, plus safe storage tanks for pumping out later.

Bathing facilities are also a must on most liveaboard sailboats.  However, many liveaboards opt not to use their on-board showers in favor of marina or gym facilities.  That being said, it is very convenient to have a shower on your boat.  Keep in mind, some boat showers drain directly into the bilge.  If you use your onboard shower, be sure to keep the bilge pump in working order and remember that anything you put in the drain ends up below your floor.

  • Separate seating spaces

We think a liveaboard sailboat should have extra sitting spaces on board, apart from the main bed.  A place for sitting, eating, working, and navigating is essential when living aboard long-term, and the added convenience of a separate space will make day-to-day activities much more enjoyable.

  • Ventilation

Last but not least, we believe ventilation is essential for any liveaboard sailboat.  This is the simplest of requirements, as a passive solar roof vent or opening porthole should be sufficient.  In short, there should be a way to let fresh air in without opening a main hatch.

Top 10 Liveaboard Sailboats

Here’s a list of the top ten liveaboard sailboats that you can purchase used today.

These are in no particular order, but each boat meets or exceeds the requirements of a great liveaboard sailboat.

Remember, the features listed for each of these boats could vary based on age or trim, so be sure to check back to this list when inspecting a boat.

Without further ado, here’s ten of the greatest liveaboard sailboats ever produced.

1. Catalina 30

{{boat-info="/boats/catalina-30"}}

The Catalina 30 is one of the most common production cruising sailboats ever.

Thousands of these reliable and robust fiberglass boats still sail, despite the fact that they first entered the market in 1972.

This 30-foot boat features a modern and spacious interior, with all the accommodations you’d expect on a boat its size.

Most models feature a large and useful galley, along with running water supplied by electric pumps.

The Catalina 30 also featured a ‘suite’ layout, with a master bedroom V-Berth closed off to the rest of the cabin by a door.

An enclosed shower and head make it a pleasant boat to live on.

The layout of the Catalina 30 also featured a dinette, which serves as an excellent chart table or workspace as well.

2. Islander 36

{{boat-info="/boats/islander-36"}}

The Islander 36 is a well-rounded liveaboard sailboat which also has impressive cruising capabilities.

While manufacturing ceased in the 1980s, the I-36 was the company’s best-selling model with nearly a thousand built.

Islander boats are known for some well-adorned cabins, and many featured elegant wooden interior trim.

Like the Catalina 30, the Islander 36 includes an enclosed head with a shower and flush toilet.

The interior layout of the I-36 is spacious and well-designed, featuring a long port and starboard settee which folds out into a double-berth for sleeping.

An enclosed shower and spacious master berth make it a very well-rounded option for cruising and living aboard.

3. Contessa 32

{{boat-info="/boats/contessa-32"}}

Contessa Yachts produced their venerable 32-foot cruising and racing sailboat from 1970 until 1990, but custom boatbuilders still manufacture the yacht today.

It’s well-known for cruising capabilities, but it has a lot to offer as a liveaboard as well.

The traditional cabin is thoughtfully designed, featuring a fold-up table in the center of the cabin floor.

The spatially conscious design of the Contessa 32 makes it an excellent option for the no-frills and organized sailor.

This vessel features a separate master bedroom, along with a head and shower in the hallway between the compartments.

4. Pearson 34

{{boat-info="/boats/pearson-34"}}

Pearson produced their excellent 34-foot sailboat during the 1980s. This medium-sized cruising yacht features an extremely spacious interior with plenty of floor space to move around.

The layout is complex, but not overwhelming. The galley nook is functional and features convenient overhead storage for utensils giving it a ‘home-y’ feeling.

The head is enclosed and spacious, including a bathroom sink and mirror.

The separate master bedroom is also enclosed with ample clothing storage throughout.

Out of all the boats listed so far, the Pearson 34 should feel most like a traditional living space to most people.

If the Pearson 34 seems a little too compact, be sure to read on and check out the next two boats on the list.

5. Nordic 40

{{boat-info="/boats/nordic-40"}}

So far the largest boat on our list, the Nordic 40 is a super-capable offshore cruiser with excellent liveaboard facilities.

This relatively rare boat features an extremely spacious interior, which is more than ample for a couple to live comfortably.

Standing headroom throughout, a spacious master bedroom, along with a nearly full galley allows for superbly comfortable living in any climate or region.

The extra storage aboard makes remote living possible, so owners can anchor out for weeks or months at a time with enough provisions to last.

While this boat isn’t very common, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for it while searching for a liveaboard sailboat .

6. Peterson 44

{{boat-info="/boats/kelly-peterson-44"}}

The Peterson 44 is what’s known as a ‘center-cockpit cruiser,’ featuring a split-cabin both fore and aft.

This spacious interior layout maximizes living space without decreasing sailing capabilities.

The boat features a master bedroom and bathroom, along with another cabin, berth, and head behind the cockpit.

In addition to two bathrooms, it features a full galley, booth dinette, and settee.

All these extras combined with excellent storage make it an excellent liveaboard option.

Pearson is well-renowned for building excellent boats, and their interior quality is above average.

7. Nor’Sea 27

{{boat-info="/boats/norsea-27"}}

The Nor’Sea 27 is a classic compact sailboat, which is ideal for minimalist or single people living aboard.

The interior is surprisingly spacious for its size, featuring all the amenities you’d expect on a larger boat.

This beautiful little boat likely mimics the comfort of a Catalina 30, and should cost less in slip fees.

The interior features a toilet, shower, and galley.

The forward berth converts into a dinette but features two other bunks underneath the cockpit.

Production of the Nor’Sea 27 began in 1976, and it’s still produced today.

And the best part—you can legally tow it on a trailer. It’s arguably the ultimate compact cruiser/liveaboard available today.

{{boat-info="/boats/cal-34"}}

The Cal 34 is very typical of mid-range sailboats of the 1970s. Produced between 1968 and 1975, this basic but comfortable yacht has a lot of potential as a liveaboard.

The interior is simple and spacious, without much luxury or adorning. However, less features make for less maintnence, and everything you’d need is available in the Cal 34.

A master bedroom, shower, and toilet are all standard, along with a well-arranged galley and comfortable sitting area.

The boat features ample storage for clothes, food, and gear.

All mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems aboard are easy to maintain, plus the cabin is well-designed.

9. Catalina 38

{{boat-info="/boats/catalina-38"}}

Another classic Catalina sailboat makes the list, with a well-thought-out interior that’s spacious enough for a couple to live comfortably.

Catalina produced their 38-foot sloop between 1977 and 1990, and it came standard with many excellent liveaboard features such as electrical outlets throughout the cabin.

Also, the head is spacious and includes a sink, which is always very convenient.

With plenty of places to sleep, there’s no need to fold away the galley table to get some rest.

The Catalina 38 is another fantastic mid-sized sailboat for living aboard, especially if you aren’t quite comfortable inside a Catalina 30.

10. Hunter 33

{{boat-info="/boats/hunter-33"}}

The last boat on our list is also one of the longest-lived in its category. Hunter produced their 33-foot sailboat starting in 1977, and it’s still in production today.

This handy mid-sized boat features excellent interior accommodations, with plenty of sitting and sleeping areas to choose from.

In addition to a full dinette, it features a toilet and shower aft away from the master bedroom.  Such an arrangement is a great option for sailors, as it allows the use of the head without moving too far away from the controls.

Standing headroom throughout the long cabin makes for a very comfortable long-term living arrangement.

The galley has plenty of storage space and the L-shaped layout allows for easy and efficient use.

At the end of the day, you’ll get to choose the liveaboard sailboat that works best for you. Check out some of the boats we mentioned and get an idea of what they offer.

Use this list to help identify features that you need, and perhaps avoid features that you don’t want.

When it comes to living aboard, there’s a lot more to consider than just your boat. As long as the boat you choose is in good condition, you’ll likely end up falling in love with it.

Either way, consider these top-ten liveaboard sailboats when you’re on the hunt for your boat.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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  1. Best Liveaboard Catamaran Sailboats

    In this article, we'll cover five of the best liveaboard catamarans available on the new and used market today. We'll also cover how to choose the best and most comfortable catamaran to live aboard. The best liveaboard catamarans are the Manta 42, the Nautitech 44, the Voyage 44, the Privilege 435, the Elba 35, and the Lagoon 380.

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    Helia 44. Leopard 48. Nautitech 46 Fly. Catana 50. Lagoon 52. If you're on a tight budget but still want to enjoy the liveaboard lifestyle, the Leopard 40, Lucia 40, and Lagoon 400 are some of your best options. If you have a slightly higher budget to live up to your dream life aboard, let's see which of these catamarans will suit your needs best.

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  5. How We Chose the Best Liveaboard Catamaran

    2. The Fixer-Upper Catamaran Sailboat. Learning the ins and outs of our first boat, including learning to sail a catamaran, was already overwhelming. Considering also needing to fix many major working parts made my eyes cross. We would have our hands full even with almost everything in working order.

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    Best Live Aboard Sailboats Brands. Catalina Yachts (the Cataline 30 is the most popular) Beneteau Boats. Pearson Sailboats. Islander 36 / I36 Boat Models. Leopard. Manta. Fountaine Pajot. Nautitech.

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  15. The 80 Best Liveaboard Boats

    Draft: 3'5". Beam: 15'4". The Carver 4207 is one of the best-selling motor yachts in her class from the 80s. It has a 350 hp gas engine with a cruising speed of 13-14 knots and a 22-knot top speed. The Carver 4207 has two staterooms, a decent-sized head, a dinette, a linear galley and a large cockpit with a hardtop.

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    The interior layout of the I-36 is spacious and well-designed, featuring a long port and starboard settee which folds out into a double-berth for sleeping. An enclosed shower and spacious master berth make it a very well-rounded option for cruising and living aboard. 3. Contessa 32.