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A power catamaran is a motorized boat that is designed with two hulls instead of one. This type of vessel is based on the more traditional, non-motorized catamarans that use geometry rather than weight distribution to provide stability in the water. While the design has been in use for centuries, it has only been used for a motor-powered vehicle for a relatively short period of time, especially in the United States and other western countries, as the more traditional, single-hull design was favored instead.
In many cases, the power catamaran is designed as a luxury vessel, though in other instances, it is likely to be used for transport of heavy cargo or people. Ferries are often designed as power catamarans, since the design offers higher speeds and more stability, even on rough waters. Research vessels may also use this design, since speed and stability are of the utmost importance for timeliness and the ability to load and unload other research vessels without compromising the stability of the catamaran itself. The boats can be made quite large as well without adding significant weight, further adding to the ship's versatility and handling abilities.
A platform or trampoline is mounted between the two hulls. This broad space is useful on larger ships for hauling cargo or personnel, again without adding significant weight to the ship. Smaller boats generally use trampolines, or fabric decks tied to each hull. Rigid stays are mounted between the hulls to provide stability and rigidity, and the trampoline can be tied to these stays as well to provide a taut surface. The design of the hulls themselves can vary depending on the size and function of the ship, though all hulls are designed for buoyancy and stability. They also have a tendency to displace less water than a single hull design, leaving less of a wake behind the vessel.
More recently, the power catamaran design has been used on luxury vessels. The design and features of such vessels can vary drastically, and even the hull design can differ from model to model. Such vessels are faster and often provide a smoother ride than single hull designs, so they have become the preferred design among luxury boaters. Such vessels come with a hefty price tag in most cases, less as a result of the hull design and more as a result of the added features included with the vessel.