Tuesday 10 December 2019

Guest blog written by Andrew

Crossing the Atlantic by Catamaran, by Andrew

In 2012 I was one of Paul's crew who crossed the Atlantic on Juno, a mono hull. I was very happy to be invited to make the same crossing in a catamaran("cat") so that I could experience a cat and make a judgement as to what I preferred. As prep for this I re-read Steven's 2012 guest blog on life on a mono hull – I would recommend digging it out and having a read.

I also have the experience of spending seven months on Juno in 2015
crossing the Pacific from Panama to Australia in the company of some
cats. It was notable from that trip that we only sailed for 2 months out
of the seven, most of the time Juno was a stationery caravan – albeit much
prettier. Cats being wider have more accommodation than a similar length
mono hull. Also having two hulls they do not roll around in anchorages as
mono hulls tend to do. I have been interested in cats for a few years and
have read many articles on the pros and cons.So with this background
what's it like?

We are 14 days into the crossing with 3 days to go and have had a mixture
of weather from almost no wind and waves to 40 knots with 4 metre waves. I
must say it has been a breeze! The motion of a cat is totally different to
a mono hull. A mono hull rolls around, heels over and is more
predictable. Whereas a cat is smoother, does not heel, but on the
negative side is jerky and less predictable. We have been running before
the wind with two foresails and no main, hitting 17 knots when we surf
down the right wave, but most of the time going along between 7 and 10
knots and it has been relaxing. The unpredictability I mentioned relates
to the fact that a cat is much lighter and does not have a deep keel, so
is more susceptible to being pushed around by the waves and so it is
essential in big seas to follow the adage of having one hand for the boat
– never risk carrying anything with both hands, always hang on to the boat
with one hand!

The result of all this is that everything is easier and in particular
cooking is a breeze. On Juno we would have plates and their contents
sliding off tables and every meal as a result took twice as long to cook.
Opening the fridge was a challenge as everything tried to fly out etc
etc. On this trip almost nothing has fallen off and we have not had to
secure cupboard doors and we can leave items on shelves and tables. I
estimate the most heel we have had is less than ten percent whereas on
Juno thirty percent was possible.

As a result, the crew are much less tired. As you will have read in the
blog the captain has had a few serious matters to deal with and so it has
not been so relaxing for him, but he also is less tired due to sleeping
better in the more stable environment.
On the sailing side we normally let the auto pilot do the steering but one
day I manually helmed for three hours, as a test, and was pleasantly
surprised how responsive I found her. It was good fun helming Hera with
the sun shining, big waves coming up the chuff and wind of 15 – 20 knots!

There are of course disadvantages of cats, for example, they sail less
well up wind, if they turn over they stay upside down and they are too
wide to be accommodated in some marinas, but they don't sink! If you like
trade winds sailing, as I do, it is a cat for me! If you like flogging
around in the Solent then I expect a mono hull is preferable and if you
are a vain dog then again a mono hull has to be for you!

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