Can I Charter a Catamaran with Only Monohull Experience?

Sailing a catamaran on a sailing vacation is an awesome experience. Most of us are monohull sailors at home; so, when it comes to a sailing vacation, it becomes a mind struggle – monohull or catamaran – catamaran or monohull – monohull or catamaran? The choice may pose a challenge, but when weighing the pros and cons, the catamaran typically emerges as the winner, thanks to its high scores in terms of comfort and the social experience of spending a week together on board

But we sail monohulls at home. So now comes the dilemma – how the heck can I get catamaran experience if I can’t yet rent a catamaran?   Classic chicken/egg problem- right?

To charter a catamaran, one must have the knowledge, skills, and experience to do fun things like the below video shows.

Chicken and Egg Problem Solved

The Resume

Charter companies may decline to rent you a boat if they perceive a risk that you might not return the vessel intact, with all passengers kicking and still in good health.   What makes them comfortable is your resume. Just like getting hired for a job, your resume is a summation of your experience, knowledge, and skills. And again, just like a job, if you were hiring for a senior-level position, you would not hire a person fresh out of university – and for good reason.  Rather, you’d want someone with experience; a degree would be nice but not required. One last point on this – if you had an applicant with vast cross-level experience, but no experience specifically on point for the job, you may still consider hiring them.  Why?  Because they have the skills and they could adapt quickly to the new position.

All of this is similar to what charter companies look for in a  sailing resume. This is why “zero to hero” programs do not work. No charter company will give a boat to someone who all they have done is a three-day bareboat or catamaran certification program. That is just profiteering by the school to the ultimate disappointment of the students when they find out the reality. See  “The Biggest Lie in Sailing” article.  A certification is “nice” but not required.  What counts is experience–whether specifically on point or similar experience. One important caveat is that for the Mediterranean, you need a sailing license (certification does not equal license) but regardless, even if you have a license, the charter company will want you to have adequate experience.

See our fun video of sailing in Greece on a catamaran.

Do I Need Catamaran Experience?

Yes and No!

Let’s start with the “No”.  No, you do not need catamaran experience specifically if you have lots and lots of large monohull skippering experience (over 50 days) and feel confident and competent with your sailing and maneuvering abilities.  A client like this will likely have no problem sailing and handling a catamaran and the charter companies know this!   Sure there are a few nuances, but they can be learned in a few hours or half a day. The charter company, after reviewing your experience monohull resume, will likely only require that you do a 2-hour ‘skipper check out ‘ in the marina prior to your charter. They will want to ensure that you can maneuver the catamaran effectively and know how to get the sails up and down and when to reef.  The charter company will assume that you can figure out all the other aspects of sailing a catamaran because of your vast monohull experience.

And now to the “Yes”.  Yes, you will need some catamaran experience if you don’t have a lot of large monohull skippering experience. But be careful here — if you don’t have a lot of experience, just going out and getting a Catamaran certification will not suffice to bareboat charter a catamaran.  Nor should it.  A catamaran certificate, when not paired with experience or standards,  has too many variables for a charter company to assume the risk (for example and probably  the most important of which is: did the instructor have the student behind the helm doing lots of maneuvering exercises or was it a watch-and-learn 3-day program.)  That’s why it is important to have actual skipper/crew/helm time listed in the resume and have training from a company that has standards and a competence culture NOT a certificate of attendance culture.

NauticEd Competence Culture

If I Don’t Have the Experience, How Can I Get It?

If you’re starting with no or little experience (monohull OR catamaran), you’re probably asking:  “How do I gain that experience needed?”

While there are lots of ways to get experience (see our article on “Nineteen Ways to Go Sailing If You Don’t Own a Sailboat“)   we think that one of the best ways to gain rel catamaran experience is to charter a catamaran on a sailing vacation with a professional skipper.

Wait–get experience with a professional skipper on charter?  Before jumping to the instant:  “No way you say I don’t want to do that– I want to bareboat”, read this article about “Hiring a Skipper on a Sailing Vacation”.  The benefits of hiring a skipper outweigh the perceived negative thoughts. We know this because every time our charter clients have done this they have always reported back a highly positive experience. Read the article!

Why Hire a Skipper on a Sailing Vacation

With a professional skipper, by the end of a week charter, you will have made a new friend, and learned so much about yacht chartering, catamarans, how to be a good skipper yourself, and the local area. Additionally, the next time you request to bareboat charter a catamaran, the charter company will more than likely permit such because your updated resume now shows your newly gained catamaran experience (all depending still on the ultimate amount of experience you have).

Here is another pertinent article that discusses getting a sailing training certificate on a sailing vacation.

Getting a Sailing Qualification While on a Sailing Vacation

Where Can I Get Catamaran Knowledge, Skills, and Experience?

Knowledge: NauticEd has a Catamaran Sailing Confidence online course that will impart all the knowledge needed for switching to sailing a large catamaran. The course is designed to teach the differences between sailing a catamaran and a monohull including maneuvering in the marina. It is not a course that teaches how to sail. The how-to-sail course is our online Skipper Course which teaches how to sail a large keelboat course.

Skills:  NauticEd has a network of practical sailing schools that will teach the on-water requirements. For catamaran skills training, look for the CAT icon associated with a school – it means they have catamaran training.

Experience: For catamaran experience training, as noted above, charter a catamaran for a week on vacation with your friends and family with a skipper. Skippers are always amenable to teaching. Speak with a NauticEd charter agent about this to ensure you’re getting the right experience… we have several Instructional Skippers throughout the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

Can I Get a Catamaran Certification from NauticEd?

Yes of course – NauticEd is an American National Standards recognized sailing education company. We issue certification – BUT we only issue competency-based certifications.

To gain the NauticEd Catamaran Qualification or the Catamaran Endorsement, you need to have reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank which means you have completed all the Breboat Charter Master courses as well as have logged 50 days of sailing experience – 25 at least as master of the vessel and 25 at least on a vessel greater than 28 feet. To gain the Catamaran Qualification, you must have logged an appropriate amount of time on a catamaran. To gain the Catamaran Endorsement you must have had a  passing competence grade of an assessment on a catamaran by a NauticEd Catamaran Instructor/Assessor.

See the support article regarding catamaran qualification and endorsement for details

Given the above requirements, yacht charter companies gladly accept the NauticEd Catamaran certification.

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My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
Last updated on May 10th, 2024