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What is a Monohull?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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A monohull boat is the typical design that most people imagine when thinking of a boat. The single-hull boat is called a monohull, while boats with two hulls are known as catamarans, and three-hulled or tri-hulled boats are known as a trimaran. The monohull or single-hull boat is perhaps the most common boat design in use today. Used in every type of boat design from small sailing boats to the super tankers and freighters on the open ocean, the monohull design is a tested and very successful boat type.

The advantages of a monohull is that the boat is able to cut through heavy waves with ease. By slicing through the waves as opposed to running on top of the waves, the boat is able to ride much more smoothly through the water. Having a single hull in which to load freight allows the monohull to distribute the weight where it will provide the most stable ballast while en route to the ship's destination. Most monohull ships have segregated cargo holds within the ships hull which can be loaded and closed off from the rest of the ship by the use of heavy locking doors.

One of the disadvantages of the monohull design is that it must use ballast for stability. The ballast can be made up of virtually anything that might weigh the vessel down and offset any wind or wave that might attempt to capsize the boat. The downside, however, lies in the fact that unless the ballast is made up of a product that will float, the boat is liable to sink if it happens to take on too much water.

Some monohull designs actually have two hulls. Ships such as tankers which carry oil and liquid cargo often have a dual hull design. This design consists of a hull inside of a hull that allows a hollow space to exist between the two hulls. This helps protect the ship from punctures if it should encounter an object, thus preventing dangerous and expensive leaks.

While not as stable as a multi-hulled boat, the single hull design has stood the test of time in relation to being a safe, sturdy and efficient design. Used in racing as well as pleasure boating, the single hull design is fairly easy to operate and is the traditional design used to teach a novice to sail. While some seamen move onto multi-hulled boats to practice their craft, most will return to a single hull design to enjoy the sport in its most pure and traditional form.

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