Multihulls – Part 1, Jim Brown – original

“A Different Attitude Toward The Seas Distinguishes The
Modern Multi-huller”

Highlights from this Segment

– Three basic multihull configurations available today

– Material used to make multihulls three or four millennia ago

– How long multihulls will be with us

– Two dependencies multimariners found necessary in using multihulls

(transcript for this segment)

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Here’s what you’ll discover in this presentation…

  • What you need to know about modern day multihulls
  • The monster advantages and disadvantages that set
    catamarans and trimarans apart
  • Why multihulls and pack rats are not suited for one another
  • The one thing that the multihull has that cannot be approached in a monohull
  • The truth about trimarans with hydrofoils
  • Which multihull can provide a habitat for the castaway sailors after an offshore capsize
  • How multihulls behave in heavy weather
  • The history of the modern multihull
  • What’s driving up the costs of multihulls
  • The real Achilles heel of the boat

About Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a marine architect and boat builder He is best known for his trimarans, but has also designed and sailed many catamarans. The New England Multihull Association has honored him for “Outstanding Achievement.” He is also the owner of, a project to collect, preserve, and disseminate the history and lore of modern seafaring.


Robin: So Jim where do modern multihulls come from, what made them happen?

Jim: Well, of course, we know that three basic multihull configurations that are available today that is the catamaran, the trimaran and the proa all come to us from the ancient people of the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean and even as far as west as the East Coast of Africa that’s all multihull territory and there are still literally hundreds of thousands of these boats in daily service on a stone age level and when I say that I mean no metal parts.  The ancient multihulls which go back well some say as much as three or four millennia where made entirely of vegetable fiber Robin.  There was nothing in them that wouldn’t go away with time and so there’s not a whole lot known about the really ancient multihulls.  But there’s no doubt that they’ve been around for a long time and they it looks now, they‘re going to be with us for another two or three millennium, no doubt.

Robin: Oh, that’s good.

Jim: And the thing about these boats that a lot of people don’t realized today is that they were probably the first real seafaring vessels known to mankind.  We think a multihull today as being something new.  In fact, most people think of them as just happening yesterday but the truth is if you think about tradition, well if tradition means old and time tested. The multihull watercraft is probably the most traditional of all surface vessels types in the world. They are an Asiatic concept. They began in what we would call island Asian now. They were used in all three types in order to explore and eventually could populate the entire Pacific basin as far north as Hawaii.  It’s just quite something when you think about it that these boats were doing things and making planned ocean voyages out one year, and back the next of thousands of miles offshore, at about the same time that the Venetians were just beginning to fiddle their way down around the hump of Africa always with inside of land.  And so the ability to use the multihull was very much dependent on the early multimariners being able to you know lie on deck and look up at the sky and almost empirically locate themselves …        


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