In today’s interview we talk to Amy who sailed around the world with her family on their 2001 Catana 431 “S/V” Morning Glory from 2009 to 2016. Her enthusiasm for not just cruising but pure sailing comes through so clearly in this interview, and it is a wonderful thing to see. She tells us about what she likes, dislikes, and what surprised her about the Catana 431. Thank you so much to Amy for taking her time to sit down with us and share her experiences.
- Loves the exposed helm position because of visibility and lack of clutter in cockpit. Was surprised because the helm position worried her pre-purchase.
- Loves the owner version with kids in one hull and parents in the other with large master suite and separate stall shower.
- Size was perfect, and she would not want any larger catamaran.
- Kevlar skin underwater is great protection for offshore collision
- Daggerboards are great for not only windward performance but also safety in rough conditions and sail trim at many points of sail.
- No hatches are great because it minimizes solar heat, and hatches on the side give plenty of air flow. Also less to trip over on deck.
- Excellent sailing boat at all points of sail.
Problems with Catana 431
- Holding tanks are in wrong place with long stupid runs of hose which make waste system problematic.
- Highly recommend on any catamaran sailing around the world whisker poles to keep sails from flapping downwind.
- Headroom could be an issue if you are over 6 feet tall in certain areas in side. It may not be a boat for the especially tall sailor, and Amy recommends you look at larger Catana models.
- Budget may restrict your purchase. Current (2021) prices for Catana 431’s are around $350,000.
Tell us some of the things that appealed to you when you first walked aboard and knew that the Catana 431 was the right boat.
Well we got the owner’s version. We were looking for an owner’s version because we have two children, and we wanted bunks for each of the kids.
And we wanted a master suite. We have a nice shower – a full-size shower where the charter versions will have kind of the shower head combination. We wanted the big full full-size shower which is really nice for living.
Catanas have a big cockpit that’s not cluttered by any sort of helm station, and it gives you great visibility. You can see the sail, all the sail trim. You can see around, so you don’t have to worry about running into people which is nice.
It is the perfect size for us. So many people want bigger boats, but it worked well for us.
Were there certain aspects of the Catana 431 that made you choose that boat over other boats that you looked?
We were looking for around the world sailing, so we wanted a cruising catamaran. We wanted a a boat that was strong and the Catana has a Kevlar skin under the waterline, so that’s extra protection for in case you hit a container. You won’t have punctures and problems.
We also wanted dagger boards which are great for pointing into the wind performance and not just down wind.
When you’re going into the wind for storm conditions too, you can raise them up and then when the waves come that gives you leeway so that you can go down the wave. It’s just for safety’s sake. It’s great for that.
Also for downwind you can trim with your dagger boards not just with your sails. You can raise one up and down, and just get the perfect trim along with the sails and with the dagger boards by fiddling with them.
It’s always fun to do on a long passage when you’re kind of bored.
It sounds like the Catana 431 is a boat for somebody who really enjoys sailing? I get that impression that you’re a sailor as opposed to somebody who just happened to travel by boat.
It’s great. It’s an excellent boat even if you aren’t that performance driven. It’s still a great boat because it’s comfortable.
The outdoor space is wonderful. It has a big cockpit great for entertaining and it. Also doesn’t have deck hatches. Many of the boats have deck hatches which you would think that would be great to get wind air flow. Ours are on the side instead, and we get plenty of airflow on the side. But we don’t get that solar radiation to heat things up. So we really like having a solid deck.
Also there’s not things to trip over when you’re you know running up and down the sides. It’s just a nice smooth flush deck.
What are some of the things that you would change about the boat or that you might have changed over time?
One thing about a Catana 431 that we are changing currently with this refit are the holding tanks. Our holding tanks are stupid. It’s a really stupid long run from the head to the holding tanks which are under the bunk and then to pump it out she’s got to go further back up. It’s just unnecessary, so we’re changing the holding tanks. We are moving it closer to the head. That’s the main thing.
You went around the world. Obviously you were in a lot of different conditions. Were there any conditions the boat really excelled in that you really felt like this was what the Catana 431 was built for?
Oh all points of sales were great of course. Everyone likes a nice beam reach, but downwind was great on a catamaran. Downwind on any catamaran is great compared to a monohull because you don’t have that flopping back and forth that that monohulls do. It’s much more stable of a ride
We did get a whisker pull when we were in South Africa, and that is one thing I would have loved to have had from the very beginning – one or two whisker poles. Because when you are going downwind sailing (which sailing around the world is mainly downwind), it helps the sails from flopping around when there’s light air. The sail just opens and closes and open and closes.
With the whisker pole, it just keeps it open. It’s a lot less wear on the sail and on your nerves. You don’t have to listen to that flapping and snapping.
You’re not a very tall person. You’re quite petite, so how did you find reaching everything on the boat? Are you able to reach the boom comfortably? Can you do all the handling of everything all right?
Absolutely yeah that’s another reason why we like the Catana. All the lines are run to the cockpit, so I can reef myself. I can shake out a reef. I can raise the sail, lower it, everything from the cockpit.
Easy to get to. If i would need to get to the boom, we have a hard bimini, and i just walk on top and between the solar panels. I can make sure everything’s tucked in and zip up the the the bag, the sail bag and everything.
It’s easy to get to no problem with that.
It might be a problem for taller people. If you’re six feet plus you would probably want to go up to a bigger size Catana because of the headroom.
But for us it was great nice.
So you had two kids who started off relatively little when you started off and ended up as pretty much full-sized people. How was the liveaboard space for the four of you?
It was great. They had their own bunk. Many people on monohulls didn’t have their own. The kids had to share beds, and i guess they also had more kids too.
But yeah it was great to have my our hull, and the children’s hull. It was wonderful that they could go and get their privacy. We could go to our side and get our privacy which was fabulous.
How did you come to choosing a catamaran over a monohull?
We we originally were looking for monohulls from the very beginning. We went shopping for years looking at monohulls, and it was hard to find the three bunks. It was difficult to find until you started getting to great big boats and that at the time was out of our price range
We would go chartering at each winter and just to try out some boats and a family vacation. Instead of going to Disney World, we’d go to the Caribbean and take a boat. One year we sailed out of St Martin, and there was a horrible ground swell and the anchorages were just awful. They were rolly and hard to sleep.
One night my husband got knocked out of bed from the roll, and you’re on a charter boat which is wobbly anyway. There’s no weight to it because there’s no gear. We were just having a hard time sleeping.
We went and climbed the volcano, and we looked out at the anchorage. There was our boat with the mast going back and forth and back and forth and beside us was a catamaran and the mast was just barely going around.
The owners of the catamaran happened to be up there hiking also and so we had a conversation with them. They were telling us all the wonderful benefits of catamarans.
They really got us thinking. We weren’t quite sold yet but it got us thinking about catamarans and then the next year we chartered a catamaran we chartered a St Francis 44. And we really enjoyed it.
It was great for the family. It was comfortable. We could really see the benefits, and you do spend most of your time when you’re cruising at anchor which is a really nice solid platform with a lot of living space. It’s great.
You may not get the same feel as a monohull sometimes. You don’t get that heel which some people just absolutely love, but I find it difficult. We’re trying to cook dinner at a heel and trying to to live your life at an angle.
So if you were to run into yourself from 10 years ago when you were first looking at boats what advice would you offer when looking at your the Catana specifically?
Just go for it. It’s a great, safe boat. If it’s in your budget and lots of times with catamarans, it has to do with budgets. You just want to find the right fit and safety and good construction is very important especially if you’re doing round the world sailing.
If you’re doing a calmer sailing area like the Bahamas or coastal sailing or small crossings, any catamaran would are fine, but we were very happy with our Catana. We always felt very safe with it.
That’s a great place to start or stop. I could ask you a million more questions because it’s fun talking about sailing with you, but thank you so much Amy. It’s really nice to talk about Morning Glory and reminisce a little bit.
Thanks. You’re welcome. Nice talking with you Diane.