High Latitude Sailing


Can you confirm how stable your catamarans are in high latitude sailing? It has been made clear that the 44i is capable of blue water sailing and has a high bridge deck; however, safety of catamarans in high latitude conditions is a big concern for me.



Dear K,

‘How stable’ is impossible to quantify beyond the abstraction of the
hydrostatic curves. You have to presume that those values, honestly and
conservatively presented, are at the foundation of the CE Category A
approval for ocean voyaging. I believe Antares is unique in making its
hydrostatics numbers readily available to the owners; other
manufacturer’s information is not generally viewable. Regardless, the best
you can do with a number value is employ it to make an educated guess as to
how it may measure up against the very complex and unquantifiable forces of
wind and sea.

Relative to the similar size catamaran fleet, the Antares 44 has a
conservative sailplan and robust spar/rig but only a portion of the fleet is
represented as Category A and many of those display glaring discrepancies in
regard to the required standards and design foolishness. Their stability
qualification is hopefully of greater integrity.

In any case, safety at sea is not confined to stability or the measurement
numbers. The quality of the decisions you make will be proportional to your
physical stress, so comfort, protection and good ergonomics are at least as
critical to survival. Lots of boats have ‘Approval’ and are still less than
ideal to take care of you in extreme conditions.

‘Safety of catamarans in high latitude conditions’ suggests a comparison
with monohull sailboats? This topic has been beaten to death but in extreme
situations I would prefer a vessel that naturally carries reserve buoyancy
over one that is burdened with several tons of lead and spends extended
periods of time with the decks and accommodations tilted at fun house angles.
If you imagine getting really crazy; ice (both floating and depositing) have
to be considered. I’d rather hit a chunk of ice with a multi-compartmented
cat than a ballasted monohull and the weight of deposited ice will rapidly
change the stability of a monohull vessel but have relatively a lot less
effect on the stability of a cat. (Academic speculations like this
shouldn’t factor into just about everyone’s cruising plans.)

The exercise of selecting a boat for your particular satisfaction is not the
same as consulting Consumer Reports to select a kitchen appliance, look to
the vessel as whole and do not get mislead by simplistic comparison factors
and abstract values. No Antares has been in dire straights or capsized,
though ‘cruising’ in the Roaring 40’s isn’t routine activity for this boat
or any other.