One of the biggest problems with catamaran
s is that, when tacking
, it is difficult to get close to the wind
. As a result, when tacking in a catamaran, it's not rare at all for even fairly experienced sailors to find themselves in irons
After having done this several times, I have found a (somewhat dubious) advantage to sailing a catamaran. I call it dubious because it is dependent on the wide profile that makes tacking so hard in the first place. The shape and low displacement of small, double-hulled boats makes it possible for them to catch a large amount of wind without use of the sail, and can in effect, be sailed backwards.
This makes it quite easy to get out of irons. One need only throw the tiller in the direction in which the helmsman desires the boat to point, and the catamaran will perform a deft-looking rearward maneuver. Just be sure to swing the tiller back when the wind catches, or one will find himself once again in irons.
Another possible application, which I have not yet tested, is backing neatly into a berth into which the wind is blowing directly. Since it is appropriate to dock in irons in the first place, this may solve many of the problems of those with limited dock space.
Note: this is not recommended for single hulls. I doubt it would work at all, and the problem it solves isn't very applicable to single hulls in the first place.