Why Buy a Multihull? – A Story
Once upon a time, in a parallel universe, lived a pleasant, happy, seafaring race, which was slowly populating the island regions of the Pacific Ocean. Like their parallel universe mirror image, the Polynesians, they all sailed across the ocean on catamarans, the universal design for these offshore navigators.
In fact, no-one had even thought of anything else but catamarans for voyaging, (they did the job very well), except for the small fishing proas, which were used inside the lagoons.
One day, a clever young boat Designer, made application to the Sailing Elders to explain a wonderful new design, which had unusual features. ‘These features are unique and cannot be found in our fleets of catamarans’ the Designer wrote to the Elders (they decided upon all the details needed on the exploration voyages).
They invited him to come to a pond, where they all could meet and he could describe his new design. In due course he stood before the committee with a model of this design and placed it in the water, where it gaily floated, bobbing away, with its’ mast and sails upright.
“But it only has one hull”, said an Elder.
“Yes, I call it a monomaran”, said the Designer.
“But it looks, er.. incomplete”, said the Elder.
“Please look at these special features”, said the nonplussed Designer, “you will see underneath the hull of the monomaran, there is a long, Dangling Down Part with a heavy weight attached to it”.
“What is the purpose of all this extra equipment?”, asked another Elder.
“If a very large wave were to hit this boat on the side, thus” illustrated the Designer, by holding the model monomaran over on its’ side, so the mast and sails were in the water, “it would come back upright, like this...” The model rolled back upright, until the rig was once again vertical.
The Elders were intrigued by this and one of them asked “Where would we find such a large wave to do this?”.
“I believe there are such waves down in the Southern Ocean”, proposed the Designer.
“Oh, but we never sail down there”, said an Elder,
”We don’t have to” said another,
“We would not want to” said one other,
The Chairman of the Elders decided this needed more investigation, so he asked the First Question: “Tell us please, this monomaran design of yours, is it faster?”
“Well no”, replied the fidgeting Designer, “it is quite a bit slower, because of the Dangling Down Part and the weight at the end of it”
The Second Question from the Elders was “Is there more room on deck for our people?”
“Well no, because there is only one deck and no connecting area”, said the squirming Designer.
The Elder’s Third Question: “Is there more room down below for our chickens, pigs, copra, fruit and so on..?”
“Well no, because there is only one hull for storage”, groaned the Designer
The Fourth Question quickly followed: “Now is it lighter than our catamarans, for carrying up the beach when storms are coming, or to work upon?”
“Well no,” said the miserable Designer “it is heavier because of the Dangling Down Part and its’ extra weight”.
“Tell us”, asked the Elders, trying to help with a Fifth Question, “is it shallower, so we can safely sail inside the reef?”.
“Well... no!. That is because the Dangling Down Part must be long enough for the extra weight to be effective”, gesticulated the Designer, hair awry.
“Can you assure us”, asked the Committee, encouraging with a Sixth Question, “that this monomaran is as stable as our catamarans so our people will not get sick?”
“Well... no!. It does roll about and lean over a lot in order to balance the press of air in the sails”, said the Designer, looking distinctly unwell himself.
Then came the Final Question and Most Important Question:
“Is there anything in the safety of this design you think we should know about”, asked the Chairman, each Elder leaning forward anxiously.
“Well, yes”, wailed the Designer “they SINK “.
“Hmmm”, said the Elders in unison, “We don’t think we should build too many of these, do you?”
It is better to be safely upside-down on the surface, than the right way up on the bottom.