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What Is the Difference between a Catamaran and a Yacht?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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A catamaran and a yacht are two types of boats that can be used for either recreational or commercial purposes. The word yacht is derived from Jacht, the Dutch word for hunt, because the first yachts were high-speed boats that were used as patrol boats by the Dutch Navy. In Malaysia, people use the word kattamaram to describe a boat with two hulls, and Tamil people in Sri Lanka have traditionally used the word kattumaram to describe the same type of vessel. The word catamaran is an Anglicized version of these variants of the same name.

King Charles II of England used a Dutch yacht to return to his kingdom when the crown was restored in 1658. Having been given two yachts as a gift from the Dutch government, King Charles II commissioned the construction of a fleet of 24 more yachts shortly after his return. Thereafter, yacht racing developed as a popular past time among aristocrats in the British Isles. The first known catamarans were used by the Greeks between 300 and 200 B.C., but similar boats were also used by Polynesians and Tamils. Catamarans first came to Western Europe in 1662, when an English sailor named William Petty constructed one.

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A catamaran and a yacht have certain similarities. Both are used for racing because both types of craft allow for easy maneuverability. Catamarans have two hulls that are connected, making these crafts less likely to capsize than yachts, which have just one hull. A catamaran has a faster average speed than a yacht, but the lightweight structure means that they are more difficult to turn than yachts.

Sails or engines can be used to propel both a catamaran and a yacht. For racing purposes, sales are normally used. Vessels that are used as commercial passenger boats tend to be operated by engines. Yachts are broken down into groups based on size, and day sailing yachts are the smallest, followed by weekender yachts, cruising yachts, and luxury yachts. Some people refer to catamarans as two-hull yachts, and three-hulled yachts are also being developed.

Sailing yachts are normally between six meters and 30 meters (19.69 to 98.43 feet) in length. Larger but similar types of vessels are commonly referred to as ships. No size limits apply to catamarans, although most are similarly sized to yachts. Both a catamaran and a yacht can be used as a passenger vessel, and some boat construction firms have developed mega yachts and catamarans that can carry significant numbers of passengers over large distances.

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