What is a catamaran?
A catamaran (informally, a "cat") is a multi-hulled watercraft featuring two parallel hulls of equal size. It is a geometry-stabilized craft, deriving its stability from its wide beam, rather than from a ballasted keel as with a monohull sailboat. Catamaran is from a Tamil word "Kattumaram" which means logs tied together.
Catamarans typically have less hull volume, higher displacement, and shallower draft (draught) than monohulls of comparable length. The two hulls combined also often have a smaller hydrodynamic resistance than comparable monohulls, requiring less propulsive power from either sails or motors. The catamaran's wider stance on the water can reduce both heeling and wave-induced motion, as compared with a monohull, and can give reduced wakes.
Catamarans range in size from small (sailing or rowing vessels) to large (naval ships and car ferries). The structure connecting a catamaran's two hulls ranges from a simple frame strung with webbing to support the crew to a bridging superstructure incorporating extensive cabin and/or cargo space.
Catamarans have two distinct primary performance characteristics that distinguish them from displacement monohull vessels: lower resistance to passage through the water and greater stability (initial resistance to capsize). Choosing between a monohull and catamaran configuration includes considerations of carrying capacity, speed, and efficiency.
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