The Launching of Fata Morgana

Tuesday, May 27, the day of the launching of Fata Morgana.

The day doesn’t look good. During the 57 days we have spent in 3D Boatyard in Key West FL working on our boat, there were only two gloomy rainy days one of which Tuesday, May 27. The problem with the rain is that we still need to paint a couple of spots on the hulls where the boat has been perched on two wooden props, and this needs to be done when the hulls are dry and the boat is lifted in the air by  the boat crane, an hour before launching.

Cherri and Tyler keeping the hulls dry

Cherri and Tyler keeping the hulls dry

All day we wait for the rain to stop or just give us a few minutes brake, but it doesn’t. It rains persistently, hopelessly: a monotonous female rain, filling the puddles with grey waters. It’s trying to hold us back, to worry and discourage us, and it succeeds for a while. We consider postponing the splash for a dryer day but decide to go ahead and paint in the rain trying to keep the spots on the hulls dry by holding towels above them. This is Tyler’s idea. Tyler, Cherri, and Tony have been helping us with the final works for the last two days, great guys, and together we do a good enough job painting in the rain.

Tyler showing us his second favorite knot.

Tyler showing us his second favorite knot.

Around 4 pm we are pretty much ready to splash. Tony and I stay on the boat, all the others watching from beneath as the crane gently lifts Fata Morgana like a sedated exotic animal and makes its way among the rest of the boats who watch paralyzed with nostalgia from their places in the boatyard.

The end of the day

The end of the day

Afloat, after so many dry days, Fata Morgana awakens, slightly starts rocking back and forth, feeling content and happy. She doesn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean after being loaded with so many heavy things and that is reassuring for me. The two hulls are submerged exactly to the waterline. Altogether she looks beautiful. She is everything we have imagined.

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And then all sorts of miracles happen. The sun, glorious, makes its way beneath the thick clouds to the west and sets on fire both land and sky. With vengeance.

A rainbow appears in the ocean like a mountain of candies, and you could reach up and touch it.

Three frigate birds like slow kites descend from their usual heights and begin circling above us.

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All this time, a grey carrier pigeon in a cage not much bigger then a shoe box has been sitting on the deck, watching us with one paranoid eye.

Cher Ami.

It becomes evident that we need a ceremony. We are now a tribe of water people aching for a ritual.

Ivo with champagne and hummer

Ivo with champagne and hummer

So, we sacrifice a bottle of champagne (which like the rainbow, the frigate birds, and the caged pigeon, materializes out of thin air) spilling its foamy white blood with a violent explosion over the bow of the boat. Glass shatters, Fata Morgana is christened.

Christening Fata Morgana

Christening Fata Morgana

We decide to take her for a short sail. We motor in the night without stars, with no horizon, only red and green lights blinking in the blackness. We release the pigeon. A ball of feathers disappears in the dark.

In the times of Pharaohs, sailors used pigeons as a sole communication with the land world sending news to their families that they were on the point of returning home. We send a message to ourselves.

It’s time to return to shore and wait for the morning. Tomorrow, we are going to the anchorage near Key West, where Tyler’s boats Rocksteady and En Cavale are too. Tyler and Cherry stay for the night. We are all exhausted.

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Final Touch-Ups. Painting the Name

Last day in the boatyard. Our sufferings will soon be over. The adventures shall begin.

(By ‘sufferings‘ I mean living in a place full of dirt and toxic dust where people are constantly sanding and painting their boats; with one toilet and one shower for all, men and women; no beach near by, nothing much to do; constantly working on the boat, mosquitoes and noseeums every evening; no AC, etc.)

Tomorrow is the big splash, Fata Morgana will finally go back to her natural habitat: the sea. Today, we finished painting the bottom and some final touch-ups.

Maya Painting

Maya Painting

Still, a boat will always look unfinished until you put the name on. Also, that is the most artistic and heroic of all jobs done on the boat (in this case, by me, of course). I am totally being sarcastic here. First, you spend months choosing a font and a design for the boat’s name. Next, you measure and decide how big will the letters be, what color, and where to place them. Usually, you place them on both sides of the hull(s), port and starboard, and on the back of the boat, where the name of the home port has to appear as well. Next, you go to a vinyl shop and you order your signs: big stickers which you stick to the boat.

This is one way of doing it. The guy in the vinyl shop told us it would cost us somewhere between a few hundred and over a thousand dollars, depending on the size and color of the letters. More than a thousand dollars for a name?!!!

Plan B

We went and bought special boat paint, couple of brushes and a clear-coat spray (all for under $80.00, black paint for the name, red and blue for the stripes on the sides) and I painted the name and the stripes myself. Took me a few hours for the two sides.

Here is the whole process of how you can (and should) do that yourself with pictures and all.

1. Design your letters or just choose a font and print them as big as they have to be on paper. I designed mine combining two fonts. I started with the letter A, because there are four A-s in Fata Morgana. Next, I based the letters O and G on the A and used the A again to create the T and the R. The capital F and M were hardest to come up with. I drew them with a pen on paper and I cut them out one by one.

Step 1: Design, Draw, Cut.

Step 1: Design, Draw, Cut.

2. Next, I measured the place where the name will appear on the hull and  Ivo sanded it lightly to prep it. Then, I drew with a pencil contours around the paper letters on the hulls.

Step 2: Measure, Draw contours.

Step 2: Measure, Draw contours.

3.Then, with a tiny brush, I colored the letters. I used tape around all straight edges, but mostly I just held my breath and, with as steady hand as possible, just painted directly on the boat.

Step 3: Tape, Paint

Step 3: Tape

Step 4: Paint

Step 4: Paint

Step 4: Paint

Step 4.5: Ponder

Step 5: Step back and admire your work

Step 5: Step back and admire your work

Note: Have you noticed the red and blue stripes on the boat? Same technique. I used tape to make them as straight as possible and I painted them on.

Also, if you wonder about the name Fata Morgana, please read on here.

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How We Survived Our First Storm

It has been exactly one month since we are in 3D Boatyard in Key West, Florida working on our newly acquired catamaran Fata Morgana, getting her ready for liveaboard and cruising. Since one month, we are hearing people talking about “hurricane season”. Our neighbor  Dale in the wooden boat on our starboard side said that the hurricane season officially starts May 1. It started a day later.

On Thursday, May2, a storm hit us, totally unexpected, unpredicted, and unannounced. Our first ever Tropical Storm.

Around 10 in the morning the sky became dark and thick with mean hefty clouds like a herd of buffalos galloping from the northeast at 40 miles per hour, coming straight at us. We closed all hatches and doors. Suddenly massive sheet of rain and fierce winds swooped over the boatyard. The few trees next to the fence almost let go of the ground and flew away. Hell, our catamaran Fata Morgana gently perched on four wooden crates almost flew away, shaking and jerking like a freight train. At times I thought we were airborne, it felt like it. There were lightening followed by impressive explosions so loud and so near us it seemed we were caught under cross artillery fire. Small rivers formed quickly around the boats, puddles transformed into lakes. The earth became liquid. “Good thing we are in a boat”, I kept thinking, “We might as well float away.”

Then the winds calmed down, the rain almost stopped, and we thought the storm was over. Lasted just about a few minutes, we thought. But the clouds kept moving above us, darker and fuller, lower and faster, and it hit us again. And again. And again… Every time: heavier rains and stronger winds from a different direction. The monster kept roaring, attacking, retreating, and coming back again more ferocious and bloodthirsty. It swirled around and hit us five times in five interminable hours, giving us a few false hopes during the short calm intervals of a minute or two. “Please stop, that’s enough”, I pleaded whoever was in charge of the storm. “I am scared”. I get an electric flash of blinding blue light in the face and a mighty thunder for a response.

At one point the jib of the boat behind us, a big fifty feet sloop, unfurled with much noise and started thrashing about. Looked like some maniac in a bridal dress dancing before a sacrifice. Ivo and Jessie, the young guy from the boat next to the sloop, run aboard, as the owners were not there, to furl the jib. The whole boat shaking, and with the wind pushing the open sail, she would surely tip over and crash to the ground. But they saved her.

Ivo and Jessie furling the jib

Ivo and Jessie furling the jib

The storm lasted so long, that after a while I stopped being so afraid and accepted the future, whatever it was. I even started enjoying this uncontrollable display of energy and might. Nature at her best: raging, exploding, attacking, devouring.

Then the sky brightened, the wind calmed down and life was beautiful again. Even more beautiful than usual; it was perfect.

The Boatyard after the Storm

The Boatyard after the Storm

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Our First Sponsor: The Foam Factory

Fata Morgana sailed into our lives almost a month ago. But she came with her little caprices and peculiarities (no one is perfect).

No mattresses.

Big white cabins with big berths and lots of space and storage, but no mattresses. What happened to them? Did they get wet and rotted away? Did someone stole them one night when the boat was alone? Did they burn or evaporated or flew away like flying carpets do, but in a more clumsy corpulent manner? We will never know for sure.

We concluded: we had to get new mattresses.

So we asked around:

–  Who can help us? Who has what we need?

The Foam Factory, they said.

We Googled The Foam Factory and we found them!

The assortment of different products they offer baffled us: seven varieties of mattresses; eleven types of cushions; thirteen different sorts of open cell foams; an array of closed cell foams, nine variations of acoustic foams, outdoor foams, foams for pillows, for seats, for basements, for children, for pets (each coming in tens of different sizes and thicknesses)! How to choose, how to decide?

So we sent messages to The Foam Factory, and we called them, and we pleaded for help. We were a child lost in Marrakesh, and they saved us. They took us by the hand, and they led us through the whole process of choosing and ordering.

First, they helped us decide which is the best foam for Fata Morgana, for the conditions we will be living in, for our personal preferences of mattress hardness and thickness.

Second, they sent us the foam: two big round packages more carefully wrapped and exciting than birthday presents. They came after two days only all the way from Michigan right here in the boatyard in Key West, where Fata Morgana was waiting for them. Shipping and handling: FREE!

Third, as we opened the rounded packages a miracle happened: they did the opposite of what balloons do when you let them free in the air: they gasped and they grew big and they stretched, and out of their plastic cocoons, thick sparkling blue sheets of foam spread in front of our gazes. We admired them for a wile with tenderness, then we measured, we cut, and we placed them in the boat cabins’ berths with much care and satisfaction.

And this is not the end of the story about our new mattress. Here is the most important part:

The Foam Factory was the first company to believe in our journey, in us. They became our first sponsor by giving us a pleasant discount!

Thank you, The Foam Factory, for all your professional help and your generosity, you are the best!

 This is the foam: before and after we opened the package.

This is the foam: before and after we opened the package.

This is one of the cabins: before the Foam and after the Foam.

This is one of the cabins: before the Foam and after the Foam.

Maya is trying the foam. She likes it!

Maya is trying the foam. She likes it!

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The Ubuntu Family

Not only Viktor made a new friend here at 3D Boatyard. We all did. Dylan’s family came in a package of four: a dad, a mom, a brother, and a sister. The package: a catamaran a lot like ours.

Well, our family’s configuration is pretty much the same, and so we all got a friend each, or, at times, two friends each, or even four friends each!

Viktor and Dylan

Viktor and Dylan

While Viktor and Dylan go fishing after the work for the day is done, or playing soccer, or videogaming; Maya and Kashara go to the park for a walk, or draw, or polish each other’s nails, or watch movies while eating pop-tarts.

Maya and Kashara

Maya and Kashara

Boatyard Feet Close-up

Boatyard Feet Close-up

During that time, Ivo and David talk about boats and repairs, sailing and navigating, David patiently explaining things and giving Ivo invaluable information like: how to clear customs in some island of the Bahamas for example, or which VHF channel to use to talk between boats.

David and Ivo

David and Ivo

Lori and I, we might go for a walk and talk about literature, homeschooling, life on the boat, and life in general.

Lori and me

Lori and me

We also spent many evenings together, the four kids in Baba Ganoush having fun gaming or watching films, the four adults in the cockpit of our boat drinking beer and getting to know each other better, the way new instant friends do, discovering, with pleasant bursts of surprise, more and more common interests, worldviews, and passions. For me, two such moments of joy were finding out that David is an artist, and that Lori is an English and Icelandic Language major who, like me, has a great passion for reading and writing.

Viktor, Dylan, Maya, and Kashara aboard Fata Morgana

Viktor, Dylan, Maya, and Kashara aboard Fata Morgana

There was also a lot of exchanging and lending of instruments and machinery going on between our two catamarans on a daily basis, as well as a constant flow of little dishes and boxes full of home-made exquisites like David’s famous banana muffins or my eggplant stew, Kashara’s  macaroni salad, or Maya’s potato salad.

And this is happening in a boatyard while working ten hours a day to fix the boats, no beach nearby! Imagine when our two catamarans meet again near some tropical Caribbean island with nothing to do, but snorkel, fish, and explore the local villages…

I long for that moment.

Ubuntu, sanded and painted all shiny and new, left the Boatyard yesterday, everyone waiving goodbye. Floating away, the boat left a big space in the boatyard and in our hearts incomprehensibly empty.

Looks unnatural.

Feels sad.

Ubuntu Tango with Lori and Me

Ubuntu Tango with Lori and Me

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Engine Room Chipmunk

Two weeks on the hard in 3D Boatyard, Key West. We are trying to repair and fit our catamaran Fata Morgana for cruising and off-grid livaboard.

Ivo has been working like crazy from dawn till dusk, me and the kids helping from time to time.

First, he spent a week grinding the hulls, then he took care of the engines.

One morning, he moved in the engine rooms and lived there for many hot days like a chipmunk, emerging on rare occasions to gather food and beer, or to jump from one engine room to the other. Out of compassion, many people in the boatyard suggested we should install a small hammock in one of the compartments of one of the engine rooms, so that he could sleep there and wouldn’t have to come out at night.

For the fibreglass works and repairs we hired Ed, a fibreglass specialist. He turned out to be Ivo’s soul mate  working in a similar fashion, never resting, never stopping, grinding all day, covered in thick white dust. When Ivo and Ed work together, they never talk, but telepathically exchange thoughts: two yogis working in perfect Krishna harmony.

Here are the results of their joint efforts so far:

April 1 to April 17

Repairs&projects already done:

1.  Engines Westerbeke 44 a (there are two engines on a catamaran)

  • cleaned the engine rooms and engines from nasty oils
  • changed all hoses and clamps
  • fixed the alternator
  • changed oil filters and oil

(All the work on the engines has been done by Ivo. After the work was finished, some people in the boatyard who saw the sparkling results, suffered mildly from an engine-room envy.)

2. Stanchions

  • unscrewed all stanchions
  • replaced all stanchion’s aluminium bases with stainless steel bases.

(All the work on the stanchins as been done by Ivo, Maya and Mira helped a bit)

3. Hulls (there are two hulls on a catamaran….)

  • sanded 
  • repaired a few spots with fibreglass
  • repaired starboard bow badly repaired previously

(Ivo, Viktor, and Mira did the sanding, most of it Ivo, Ed did the fibreglass repairs)

4. Keels (guess how many keels there are on a catamaran?)

  • sanded
  • ground
  • still waiting to dry
  • will repair them with six layers of fibreglass

(All work on the keels has been done by Ed)

5. Bimini

  • removed the bimini and frame
  • building a hard-top bimini (in progress)

(Ed is in charge of the hard-top bimini, working together with Ivo. I will publish a separate post entitled The Making of The Hard Top Bimini with pictures of all stages as soon as it is finished.)

Next, we will be painting the hulls, installing a water-maker, and will order foam and make mattresses for two of the three cabins ( there was only one mattress in the boat). We will also be doing many other things, but we can do them in the water, so I think for the boatyard, that’s pretty much it.

Hull after sanding

Hull after sanding

Starboard bow repair in progress.

Starboard bow repair in progress.

Ground keels drying

Ground keels drying

Stainless steel stanchions

Stainless steel stanchions

Sparkling engine and engine room.

Sparkling engine and engine room.

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Not Sad Viktor

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

― Anaïs Nin

For the first time since we started this journey five months ago Viktor is truly happy.

Until now he was closed in his shell, playing video games or listening to music on his iPod , reluctant to participate in most of the family activities, in a state of denial. You see, leaving everything behind, friends included, is not easy, especially for a fifteen-year-old.

But all this suddenly changed about a week ago.

Let me tell you, he is all over the place: he wakes up in the morning, puts on his working pants and starts working: grinding, sanding, helping to fix the boat. Then he eats dinner. After the work is finished around 5 pm,  he goes to the park near the boat yard and he plays soccer until his pants are damp with his own sweat. Then he takes a shower and he eats supper. After supper, he might go fishing from the docks or he plays video games and listens to music in Baba Ganoush until late at night.

Why this huge change, you might ask.

The answer is simple: he met a new friend, Dylan.

Dylan is seventeen. For five years now, he’s been living on a catamaran much like ours with his mother Lori, his dad David and his sister Kashara who is sixteen. They have been cruising in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region, and sometimes come to Florida. They have come to 3D boat yard in Key West to work on their boat Ubuntu, sanding and painting her. So now, we are two catamarans here in 3D, two families with too many things in common.

This is why Viktor is all over the place. He is working hard, sanding Ubuntu, with Dylan beside him; playing soccer with Dylan; going fishing with Dylan; or playing video games and listening to music in Baba Ganoush until late at night.

With Dylan.

Viktor and Dylan working on Ubuntu.

Viktor and Dylan working on Ubuntu.

Viktor and Dylan playing soccer.

Viktor and Dylan (and Humphrey), fishing.

Viktor and Dylan (and Bogart), fishing.

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Planet 3D

Planet 3D.

A place of perpetual noise and toxic dust.

Nothing to do with the rest of the world.

The soil on planet 3D has a dull-blue colored crust a small sample of which, examined under a microscope, will reveal a complex composition: a mixture of hazardous  substances such as: cyanide, copper, epoxy, and tributyltin. These same chemicals are also found floating in the atmosphere and occasionally form dense clouds resembling desert storms on planet Earth, but toxic. Breathing this air is precarious.

As a precaution and only remedy, it is recommended to drink beer.

The first creatures we meet here remind us of people. Only, they have non-organic otherworldly faces. Their eyes- hidden behind dirty goggles; instead of mouths and noses- breathing masks; instead of hands, grinders. They wake up at 8 am. I don’t know what wakes them up, it can’t be the roosters. Like huge insects, they start buzzing and screeching grinding all day. Some, like sick animals, moan in long plaintive moans interrupted by short pauses, others monotonously growl, creating constant background industrial noise. You get used to it.

They wear strange suits like out-of-space people that are plasticky and cover their bodies and heads. These suits were once white like the clouds but then turned blue, grey, or brown, leaving a trail of colored dust in the air when moving. But they don’t move much. They stay up all day for many days, each facing a boat with a diseased skin, operating on it. Like pigmies operating on dying whales. Very gently, very concentrated, with love.

The boats out of the water resemble sad stuffed birds who once flew in the skies their wings spread in the wind. Now wounded, immobile, no wings, no direction, no space. No two boats are the same.

Late in the afternoon, the creatures get tired and one by one stop buzzing. Something to do with the sun, I guess, makes them retire. When there is no sun, the creatures sleep, dreaming of other blue worlds to come.

3D at night

3D is the name of a boat yard in Key West Stock Island where we are currently working on our boat, fixing her, getting her ready for cruising and livaboard. It is truly a different world, much like the planet I am describing. But there is a lot more to it, and I will write soon again.

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Wunderkammer. Things We Found on the Boat.

In Renaissance Europe, Wunderkammers or a Cabinets of Curiosities were extravagant encyclopaedic collections of objects of all kinds, (precursors to museums),  such as objects belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), archaeology, ethnography, geology, religious or historical relics, works of art, and antiquities. They were also known as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer („art-room“) or Wunderkammer („wonder-room“), and later as Theatre of the World or Memory Theatre. Their purpose: to convey symbolically the owner’s control of the world through its indoor miniature reproduction. A typical cabinet of curiosities would include: an Indian deerskin mantle that had belonged to Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, a stuffed Dodo bird from Mauritius, the upper jaw of an armadillo, wampum belts, lathe turned ivory, Oriental footwear, carved alabaster panelsa mermaid’s hand, a dragon’s egg, two feathers of a phoenix’s tail, a piece of the True Cross, a vial of blood that rained in the Isle of Wight, and other rarities.

Although we have already been on the boat during survey and sea-trial, as we started exploring her more boldly now as owners, we found a cosmos of stuff: all kinds of things, in all kinds of hidden places. I was planning to write a list of the objects, which would be an impressive list in length and variety almost as the Wunderkammer collections, but I have no time for such a thing, so I will just give you an idea by mentioning a few.

In the galley there were all sorts of pots and pans, dishes, cups and glasses, electrical appliances  such as a toaster, an electrical one-burner stove, ice-maker, small heater, and other such contraptions, some of which I don’t even know what they are for, and anyway, I will not be using them much, as they require electricity. I am planning to give them away to Cuban people (in Cuba). In the cabins, there were more such appliances, as well as a whole cabinet full of thousands of cleaning products, dehumidifiers, filters, gloves, sponges, and a cool little plastic hanger for drying clothes. Under the deck we dug up harnesses, life-jackets, buckets, flippers, goggles and snorkels, a pirate towel, some spare parts and instruments.  And last, but not least, as I opened the storage under the bench in the salon, there they were, nice and cosy, forgotten, lonely, waiting to be rediscovered: two opened bottles of rum, one white and one dark, a bottle of French champaign, and two cases of beer! Who in their right mind will leave behind such a stash? Don’t worry, little stash, we’ll take good care of you, you won’t be forgotten never again.

We are still looking for hidden treasures, fumbling through the previous owner’s Memory Theatre.

"Home is where our boat is"- a beautiful clishe door sign, we are keeping it!

„Home is where our boat is“- a beautiful clishe door sign, we are keeping it!

Two wine glasses, we will probably get reed of these.

Two wine glasses, we will probably get reed of these.

A nice fishing book and a postcard (one of many)

A nice fishing book and a postcard (one of many)

A fraction of the thousands cleaning products aboard.

A fraction of the thousands cleaning products aboard.

A strange cool-looking sponge. Purpose- unknown.

A strange cool-looking sponge. Purpose- unknown.

Little plastic laundry hanger, made in China. My favorite find! I use it every day, washing a few clothes at a time and letting them dry in the sun.

Little plastic laundry hanger, made in China. My favorite find! I use it every day, washing a few clothes at a time and letting them dry in the sun.

An unidentified object. If someone knows what it is and what is its purpose, please let me know.

An unidentified object. If someone knows what it is and what is its purpose, please let me know.

Our finest find

Our finest find

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Why a Catamaran?

There is no such thing as a “perfect boat”, everyone will tell you. No matter the performance, layout, space, there are always a couple of things that bug you and you wish they were done differently. But there is no such thing as a “bad boat” either. Monohull or a catamaran, Beneteau or Island Packet, they can all sail and take you places if you know what you are doing. It’s a question of preference and budget. Compromises are made every time.

As we were shopping for a boat in the past five months, we learned that the boat has to suit your individual needs. What are you planning to do? Where are you planning to go? How many people will be on board? You may want a boat to have some fun day sailing around the shore twice a year with a girlfriend, or you may live aboard permanently docked at a marina most of the time, or you may go racing, or go around the world, alone or with your family. In order to get a prescription, you got to be diagnosed first. A family of four, two kids: a boy and a girl, one 15 the other 9, planning to live aboard and cruise extensively, eventually crossing oceans, anchoring most of the time as opposed to docking at marinas; these were our symptoms. We were thus diagnosed with a catamaran and even second and third opinions confirmed it. A catamaran it is.

Fata Morgana is a catamaran, or a multihull sailboat made in South Africa in 2001 by Robertson&Caine Leopard. She is 38 feet in length and 21.3 feet wide.

The draft is 3.7 feet. The draft basically indicates at what depth she will touch the bottom. Catamarans are notorious with their shallow draft. A monohull with the same amount of space inside will have at least two times bigger draft of 7-8 feet. This is a big advantage for the catamaran, as often there are shallow waters around reefs and islands which can be accessed only by boats with such shallow drafts. A monohull cannot go everywhere a cat can.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

The space. Our boat of 38 feet has two cabins in one hull and one cabin and a big shower in the other, three cabins total. The beds (berths) are enormous. Guests can be easily accommodated. A monohull with the same space inside will be about 50 feet long or more, instead of 38, and thus haul out, dockage, and marina fees will be higher as they are usually calculated by the foot (a catamaran 38 feet, even though it has two hulls, is not charged double in most places.) And of course, in the bridge between the two hulls there is a large salon and a big galley (here ‘big’ is a relative and subjective term), but most exciting is the cockpit, or ‘the porch’, as I call it, covered with a blue bimini. There is a big (‘big’) triangular table surrounded by benches with space for 8 people. This, I predict, shall be my favorite spot on the boat.

Robertson&Caine Leopard 38 layout

Robertson&Caine Leopard 38 layout

Stability, safety. Two hulls mean not only lots of room, but also stability and virtually no heeling, we’ve been told. Where a monohull needs its heavy keel for balance, the cat has its two legs spread. Try standing on a skate on one foot and have someone (maybe the wind?) push you from a side. Oh my god, you might fall! At least, you will lose balance and shake a bit. But what are the chances of losing balance or falling if you are standing on both your feet spread wide apart? Not huge. Of course, if the wind is strong enough and you are stupid enough to have your sails out in such a wind, you will defiantly flip the boat. But it won’t sink! Even if it ‘turtles’ upside-down, God forbids, the catamaran will stay afloat. Its hulls are divided in watertight compartments making the catamaran unsinkable. Not so are the mono hulls, unfortunately…They sink in minutes after impact, sometimes even seconds.

Heeling. I already mentioned that the cat does not heel like the mono. As the wind blows nicely, the sails fill tightly, and the boat silently gallops over the waves, but not quite in a straight up position if it has only one hull. As the wind pushes from one side, the boat inclines to the other. Imagine having to cook, eat, walk, sleep, or anything else with the boat leaning to one side. You will be annoyed and maybe even injured pretty soon. Not so with the cat. The cat has two feet, remember? And its mast stays vertical most of the time. You can now cook, eat, walk, sleep, and even drink leaving your beer bottle on the table and finding it pretty much on the same spot while on a beam reach. Some will place this advantage on the top of their list.

Breezing Up by Winslow Homer(you see what I mean?)

Breezing Up by Winslow Homer
(you see what I mean?)

The sole disadvantage of the cat is its higher price. (Usually, when something costs more it is better, isn’t it?) Well, in our case, we found a good catamaran for cruising, made in 2001, at a surprisingly low price. Almost half of the market price and less than all mono hulls we have been considering. Maybe there is something wrong with the boat? we asked ourselves. It’s too good to be true… But it is true. The survey showed: there is nothing wrong with the boat except a few small things we are working on already. Like any boat, used or new, there are things to do before setting off into the sunset.

You can find many articles about the catamaran’s advantages vs. monohull. Here is one, not too long:

http://www.westcoastmultihulls.com/why-a-catamaran/multihull-vs-monohull.htm

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