The trampoline on a catamaran serves a multitude of purposes, both practical and pleasure related.
Primarily a trampoline’s purpose is to allow water to pass through when the bow enters waves, helping to prevent the catamaran from flipping over. A trampoline also serves a range of additional purposes, from reducing weight to providing a relaxation spot.
Trampolines come in a variety of materials and designs and require regular inspection and proper maintenance to ensure their safety and functionality.
The main purposes of a catamaran trampoline
The trampoline on a catamaran serves a variety of purposes. Firstly, it provides a way to reduce the weight of the catamaran compared to having a solid deck, while still providing usable deck space that enables access to various parts of the vessel.
Secondly, and most importantly, a trampoline enables water to pass through it, maximizing drainage on the catamaran. Catamarans are at risk of pitchpoling, which means that the bow of the vessel goes down into the waves and is held down by the water, which causes the catamaran to be flipped as the stern is lifted by the waves.
The trampoline allows water to quickly pass through it, allowing the bow to rise and preventing the vessel from flipping.
Thirdly, trampolines are a surface that can be walked on but also lain on for relaxing in the sun or taking in the sights of the sea.
Variations in trampolines
There are different kinds of trampolines available that offer various pros and cons. For instance, a catamaran may have an open weave trampoline or a close-mesh trampoline.
The open weave trampoline is a safer option for use on open seas in rougher conditions as it drains quickly. A close-mesh type of trampoline doesn’t drain water as quickly, though it is more comfortable to walk across or lie on, making it an appealing option for catamarans that will be used in sheltered water.
Trampolines may be constructed from a variety of materials such as webbing, a range of mesh materials, Dyneema netting, polyethylene netting, or polyester netting.
Dyneema netting offers great durability and resistance to UV rays but does not stretch, so it’s important to install it correctly (such as ensuring it’s not too tight in a particular spot) in order to avoid potentially damaging the catamaran’s structure. Dyneema netting is expensive and not particularly comfortable to walk or lie on, so it’s usually reserved for racing vessels or boats prioritizing performance.
While other materials may not be as durable, they can be a less expensive option and a more comfortable option.
Maintaining a catamaran trampoline
Trampolines will wear at different rates depending on how many people use them and how much exposure they get to the elements. While a quality trampoline that is properly installed can last for around five to seven years, it’s important to do regular maintenance on a trampoline and eventually replace it.
Trampolines will sustain damage from a variety of sources, such as pressure from waves pushing up below them which can break or fray the trampoline ties. Exposure to the sun will also cause damage to trampolines.
The further south a catamaran is, the more exposure it will have to the sun and since trampolines are horizontal, this increases the exposure even more, leading to faster deterioration. The tropics are areas of maximum exposure to UV rays and these rays will enhance the rate at which the trampoline materials deteriorate.
Additionally, salt can damage trampolines, as can sustained wear and tear from people walking back and forth on them. Therefore, it’s important to regularly inspect the trampoline as well as its lashings and attachment points.
As trampolines age, they will become stiffer and look duller. It’s also important to inspect the thread if a trampoline is made of webbing with sewn seams.
Poor-quality thread will deteriorate faster than the webbing, but a good-quality trampoline will use quality PTFE thread (also known as Teflon thread) for its long-lasting durability. It’s also important to inspect any ropes used with the trampoline to check for fraying, or wear and tear around any eyelets that may be in the trampoline.
A crucial element for maintenance is to ensure the trampoline is installed properly. A loosely installed trampoline has more opportunity to sustain damage through chafing from movement at various parts.
The tighter a trampoline is installed, the slower it will usually deteriorate as it is exposed to less damage from wear and tear through movement.
In general, heavier materials and thicker ropes will last longer as well, not just in terms of their breaking strength but also how long they will resist damage from chafing and UV rays.