Cruising Catamaran - Multihull Sailing

Published by Swain Sailing School and Yacht Charters on Tuesday, 26th July 2016 - 12:12PM


Multihull Sailing - BVI Cruising Catamaran Course

Catamaran Sailing Instruction and Certification

Contact Us to register for sailing courses on Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Prerequisites: Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and Bareboat Cruising/Bareboat Charter.

For recreational sailors interested in sailing as a family activity, or for sailors that just prefer the feel of sailing on multihulls, cats are the growing boat of choice for many. Catamarans offer spaciousness, comfort and no heeling. The cruising catamaran course covers terminology and hardware identification specific to cats; identifying the differences between multihulls and monohulls, including systems, boat handling under power and under sail, person overboard, heavy weather sailing, anchoring and docking the boat.

This certification course should provide you with a strong foundation for multihull sailing and is achievable in 1-2 days if your Bareboat Cruising pre-requisite has been met. Alternatively we do offer this course in our group course offerings (4 student maximum) in our 6 day/5 night Live Aboard Cruising format. To view a sample itinerary.

Private courses are also available. To schedule private instruction, charter your catamaran through RSSS for 5 days or longer and book your cruising cat course instructor for five days and then continue on to bareboat charter. If you have achieved your Bareboat Cruising certification prior to this course, you have the option to schedule your instructor for the first two days and then continue on to bareboat charter.

Contact us to register for a group course, or to request a quote for private training.

Catamaran multihull - Swain Sailing

Sailing Knowledge

A Certified Sailor has successfully demonstrated his or her ability to:

1. Identify and describe the following hardware/terms:

  • Bridgedeck Cabin Three point rig
  • Bridle-line Catamaran Crossarms
  • Float Full wing deck Open wing deck
  • Partial wing deck Galley down Galley up
  • Hull(s) Main hull Multihull
  • Safety nets Seagull Striker Dolphin striker
  • Stability Stability Curves Trimaran
  • Wing deck Bridgedeck Cabin

2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages to operating a multihull sailboat.

3. Describe the weight carrying characteristics of 30-50 foot cruising multihulls and how weight distribution affects safety and performance.

4. Describe the differences in performance between multihullls and monohulls of about the same size.

5. Describe the accommodations of a typical 30-50 foot multihull and how comfort and safety will differ from a monohull.

6. Identify differences in ships systems between multihulls and monohulls.

7. Describe shoal draft and its effect on planning ahead and sailing.

8. Describe the danger of capsizing, how to recognize the danger and how to prevent it.

9. Discuss the characteristics of a multihull which determine windage and the effects of windage on course and speed.

10. Discuss how multihull design affects turning radius.

11. Describe a typical center/daggerboard installation on a multihull and how they affect performance.

12. Describe options for gear stowage and proper stowing procedures.

13. Describe how and where a safety harness tether would attach to a multihull.

14. Discuss the various sail combinations and how they affect balance of a multihull.

15. Discuss the differences of multihull heavy weather sailing practices (advantages and disadvantages) including the following:

  • Lying ahull
  • Running off and standing on
  • Heaving-to *Sea anchors
  • Speed controls

16. Describe and discuss the methods of rafting multihulls and the limitations involved.

17. Discuss the limitations of a multihull galley and methods of working safely in the galley.

18. Discuss auxiliary power options on a multihull.

19. Discuss engine placement on a multihull and its affect on performance and comport.

20. Discuss common mechanical maintenance on a multihull.

21. Discuss common mechanical repairs on a multihull.

22. Describe and discuss what to do if one or both engines fail.

23. Describe options for carrying and towing a dinghy.

24. Describe the method of tying a multihull securely to a dock in areas of varying tidal range.

Sailing Skills

A certified Sailor has successfully demonstrated his or her ability to:

Boat Handling Under Power

25. Cast off and safely leave a dock with at least two different wind directions relative to the bow (i.e., wind across the stern and wind across the beam).

26. Stop the bow of the boat within four feet of a marker while maneuvering under power. Perform the exercise upwind, downwind and with the wind across the beam.

27. Maneuver the boat under power in a confined space, noting the effects of wind and current.

28. Maneuver the boat within 2 feet of, and parallel to a dock. Define and carry out a bail-out plan.

29. Turn the boat in the tightest possible circle to determine its turning radius. Twin screw boats will perform the exercise with screws turning in opposite directions and again with screws turning in the same direction.

30. Repeat item 29 turning the boat in the opposite direction and compare the differences between both turns.

31. Repeat items 29 and 30 while making stern way (going backwards).

32. Steer a straight course of at least 10 boat lengths in reverse using moderate speed.

33. If the boat used for certification is equipped with tow engines, repeat items 30-31 using one engine then the other.

34. Steer a multihull using an emergency steering device.

  • Moving forward on a steady bearing
  • Moving backward on a steady bearing
  • Moving forward on a figure 8 course

Person Overboard

35. Demonstrate a skippers actions and commands while under power from the time a member of the crew falls overboard without warning until the crew is safely recovered.

36. Describe at least two methods of getting a person out of the water and back on board a multihull.

Boat Handling Under Sail

Points of Sail

37. Function as helmsman and crew giving correct commands and proper responses while demonstrating the proper techniques of close hauled sailing, reaching (all three points), running, tacking and jibing, heading up, bearing away and luffing while noting the differences and likenesses of sailing a multihull vs. monohull.

38. Sail an ordered compass course for 5 minutes without varying more than 10 degrees from the heading.

39. Sail a figure 8 course between two buoys noting acceleration/deceleration times and momentum during turns.

40. While sailing at full power, luff sails and observe how long it takes for a multihull to come to rest.

41. Trim luffing sails noting how long it takes to accelerate to full power.

Person Overboard

42. Demonstrate a skippers actions and commands while under sail from the time a member of the crew falls overboard without warning until the crew is safely recovered.

  • Use two different return techniques including the quick-stop method

Heavy Weather

Points of Sail

43. Reduce sail by reefing and shale out a reef while keeping the vessel under control and on course.

44. Heave-to and get underway again, noting the vessels motion at different angles to the wind.

45. Sail with mainsail only, then headsail only noting performance characteristics and limitations.


46. Use proper anchoring techniques to anchor using the following methods:

  • Two anchors off the bow or stern (Bahamian style)
  • Single bow anchor and bridle
  • Single bow anchor and stern to the beach (Med style)
  • Bow to permanent mooring with bridle (if available)
  • Beaching with consideration of daggerboard/centerboard, rudder and hull mounted electronics. (optional)

Making fast and Snugging Down

47. Secure a boat to various dock configurations so as to provide limited movement and set out fenders correctly. Take extra precautions to secure a vessel for the night at a dock and at a mooring.

Contact Us to register for sailing courses on Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

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