Copyright 2022 - Woods Designs, 16 King St, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 2AT UK
  • production Strider 24

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

My trailable catamarans fall into two styles. Those that fold (Wizard, Sango and the Skootas) and those that demount completely.

The Wizard and Sango hulls fold under the central cuddy for trailering. To assemble, the trailer is simply backed into the water and then, as the hull sterns begin to immerse, so they open out. The more the trailer goes into the water the more the boat opens until it is completely assembled. Let the water do the work, no lifting or jacking! Even my mother could assemble a Wizard (assuming she could back a trailer in a straight line!). Retrieval is the opposite, again no lifting is required, gravity does it all.

The Wizard and Sango masts are stepped into a deep mastfoot so will stay up without shrouds attached, simplifying things enormously. It is also possible to lower the boat from the trailer onto the ground. Incidentally, most trailerable boats (eg Farriers) must either stay on the trailer or in the water and it is very difficult to get them off a trailer when on-shore. That can often make life difficult when making repairs or even when antifouling the hull.

The major disadvantage of the folding boats is that the hulls have to be under 4ft (1.2m) high so they can fold under the central cuddy for transport yet still be a legal width - typically 2.5m (8ft6in). To help offset that problem I have drawn optional removable hull cabins which clamp in place after opening out and which store in the cockpit when on the trailer.

I suggest using a telescopic trailer if you want to assemble the other designs the quickest. 2 people (who had done it before) once assembled a Strider from trailer to sailing in 40 minutes, watched by a magazine reporter.

Many other trailable catamaran designs also use telescopic beams. But that means that the overall beam is restricted as otherwise, when opened out, there is not much crossbeam left in the hull, compromising strength. Furthermore, to allow the hulls to be pulled apart, the beams have to have some slack, so they rattle and squeak when sailing. You know how hard it is to pull out a sticking drawer, imagine two of them 5m (16ft) apart, each weighing 200kgs (450lbs)! And that is when they are new, add in sand and general salt corrosion and you can see why I don't like telescoping beams. Instead I prefer beams that drop in place and are held by metal straps over them. No holes in the beams and a system proven over the last 35 years.

If you don't have a telescopic trailer then it is quite feasible to assemble the boat on the foreshore as each hull can be manhandled individually. For a drawback to the telescopic boat is that it can only be moved as one unit, which of course is going to be much harder as its more than twice the weight.

Before deciding on your trailer there are several basic things to consider. First - how often will you trail? If you only trail once or twice a year (as we normally do) then a flat bed trailer (maybe hired for the occasion) and launching trollies work well. They also are good if you are launching on a beach (like I do in Cornwall and also in Canada).

The trollies that came with our last trailable catamaran (a second hand Merlin above) were very basic and I modified them by fitting turning front castors (when we got them they were fixed which made steering almost impossible). Even so, I wasn't able to get suitable big tyres so it didn't work too well in sand.

As always, a twin axle trailer is better when driving. Different countries have different towing regulations, the US is much stricter than the UK regarding towing capacity. Not sure why, probably from truck makers input trying to make people buy oversize cars. So I can only discuss trailers in general terms. Neither can I really draw a specific trailer as a) I am not a trailer designer/manufacturer and b) every country is different. So all I can do is make sketch suggestions. The photos should give you some ideas. I found this site had some useful comments (no association with me) about pontoon boats, which are of course similar to catamarans.

I have also used a telescoping trailer with Striders and Gwahir. That does allow one person to assemble the boat and is best suited for those who trail often as it is obviously more expensive than a flat bed. However overall boat beam is a problem (the Turbo Striders were marginal) as the trailer had to be road legal with the arms in and yet have enough arm remaining for support when they were out. The inner hull supports are removed (as in the photo) before launching to allow the forestay bridle to clear them. Chocks on the trailers take the crossbeams, low down to save lifting and lower the CofG.

To simplify final assembly and reduce weight the original Strider and Janus had part tramp/part solid cockpit floors. However many people didn't like the "soft world" and prefered a solid cockpit. Those classic designs (and the Gwahir, Merlin, Skua) also had small mast beams. But in practice a deep beam, as used on the Shadow, Eagle etc is more reassuring and results in a drier boat. So many people prefer it. I do, and I accept the extra weight and trailering compromise.

Lilian and I did once assemble a Strider Club by ourselves. However the one piece grp cockpit/mastbeam (originally designed to keep costs down) was challenging to lift in place. Few owners actually trailed theirs (although we did).

The last time I assembled a Strider Club from a trailer it was on launching trollies on a slipway. Three of us did it no problem. 2 men and one pregnant woman. The Shadow, like the Eagle, has a separate mast beam and two part cockpit floor. The mastbeam is similar to that used on the Merlin. Jetti and I could fit that ourselves, but the offset CofG (because of the anchor lockers) made it awkward, just a warning.

Assembling a standard Strider/Merlin/Gwahir is easier as there are more parts, so each is lighter. So I expect an Eagle to be between a standard Strider and a Strider Club/Shadow.

Having said all that, the quickest I have ever got a Laser rigged and in the water is 10 minutes (I arrived very late for a race), my brother who has sailed one 3 times a week for 30 years usually takes 20 minutes. For remember most of the time taken is not assembling the hulls but raising the mast, attaching nets, sheets, rudders etc. Boats with bigger rigs take longer to raise the mast - one reason why I prefer smaller boats for trailering. A standard Strider mast can be raised without using the boom as a lifting pole which saves a lot of time. So see this page for a safe mast lowering system. I have also helped assemble Farrier 24/28's. They aren't as quick as Farrier implies, in part because the mast raising is harder with a tall mast.

Even big boats can be trailed. A bit extreme, but 40 similar boats went down this road!

And we had our Skoota 28 trailed, fully assembled, 2700 miles from Seattle to Texas on a flat bed trailer fitted with temporary 6in x 6in timber cross braces, all pulled by a pickup truck.