Cat Calls and Summer Squalls

Part I

Captain Jack here…
It’s been noted on our blog before or should I say Nicole, my wife wrote before, that our CSY 44 cutter rigged sloop Kitty Hawk, was the perfect size boat for a family of four. Or so we thought then. Please note the following quote:
Aussie says: (Here’s the link: )
May 17, 2012 at 12:27 am
what is the boat? – ketch – single pole – made by? – have a 45 foot french built ketch
• Oh, the Places We’ve Been! says:
May 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm
Hi there, thanks for reading our blog. Our boat is a 44 foot CSY sailboat, 1 mast. Great size for a family of 4!
There, the record has been duly noted. So what happened? Why are we cruising around in a catamaran? Let me explain. First of all, that was just after Jack Benjamin was born. We had not yet gone cruising with an infant and a toddler when she wrote that. In fact, we had not left the dock since the baby was born and would not do so for another four months, when it became time to head south to Florida and The Bahamas for the winter. That year we made it to Melbourne, Florida, attended the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) Gam and then decided to stay there for the winter. Nicole was not having an easy go of it with two babies in diapers and was not happy at the thought of continuing to The Bahamas. On her birthday, while she took the kids for a stroller ride on shore, I remembered a dock where some friends on another CSY had tied up the previous year and saw that it was available. I promptly went over there and met Joan Olszewski and arranged to stay at her dock for the winter.  photo(2)Nicole was pleasantly surprised and thanked me that I had given up the plans to sail to the Bahamas that year. We have always agreed that we would do this as long as it was still fun. When it is no longer fun, we sell the boat and move on. I think that is when we began to experience the “cat calls” even though we didn’t quite know what it was it yet.

Before I go on, I want to say that we loved our time with Joan, a former cruiser herself.  We all grew very fond of her and her easy going style, especially Marietta who loved to go over for a visit to water her plants, so and we adopted her as a surrogate grandmother.  We will always love her and hope she might join us on board our new boat one day.  Maybe for her third Pacific crossing.

As many folks out there know already, there is a great debate as to what constitutes the best cruising boat and the camps are especially divided when it comes to monohulls and multihulls. Some folks are pretty adamant about defending their choices. I have found most surveys on the matter give inconclusive results because most boat owners love their boats and think theirs is the best, and that is as you might expect. Since there are many factors to consider in making that sort of assessment and since different skippers weigh them or prioritize them differently, the jury is still out on that one. However, considering all the specifics of boats, I have never seen such passionate disparity as there is in the Catamaran vs. Monohull debate.
While moored in Ensenada, Baja California, working on several projects on Let it Be, our Bahia 46 catamaran, we happened to be there for the finish of the world renown Newport to Ensenada Race. Wow! Now that I have mentioned “race”, I can already feel the monohull camp getting uneasy.



To that I’ll say, COOL IT! I’m not here to add to the ongoing debate, although, one cannot ignore that the first boats to come in were Orion and Mighty Merloe, two huge and very fast multihulls, the first, of America’s Cup fame.  However fast, these boats can hardly be considered cruising boats.  After the race, while conversing with the skipper of catamaran “Tomahawk”, being very proud of

Mighty Merloe

Mighty Merloe

his homebuilt boat and her performance in the race, he said, “A monohull is only half a boat.” There, that should incense the monohull camp, but hey, sorry, I did not say it, that is one man’s opinion.
Now I will say something in favor of the Monohull camp.

After working on the Kitty Hawk and sailing her for over ten years, all the while preparing her for a circumnavigation, or better said, to sail anywhere about the world (except the bitterrrr cold places), we got to the place where we felt she was pretty much ready. She is a stout well founded boat with a heavy built hull, a stable cruising platform in big seas. With the engine replaced, the rig refurbished, the fridge and freezer rebuilt, with equipment and systems to make her safe and the creature comforts to make her a nice home, we were finally glad to be basically done with projects and happy and thankful for a nice home.

Kitty Hawk the day she sold.

Kitty Hawk the day she sold.

Bow Roller

Pivoting Bow Roller

With a cutaway keel and a skeg-hung rudder, she was more maneuverable than a full keel boat and still had a well supported rudder. I would always say, “I’ll never go to sea with a bolted-on keel or a spade rudder.” At 22 tons, fully loaded with 400 gallons of water and 100 gallons of fuel I was happy with my hefty “coral cruncher”. Coral cruncher? Yes, I once met a guy who salvaged a CSY off a reef days after it was abandoned by a couple who had run her hard aground during a charter. He pulled it off the reef and then sailed the boat from Mexico up to Florida. She was heavily scarred, but not holed.
Essentially, with a cutter rig and a self-tending staysail, a bow roller pivot to handle our Delta 88 anchor and a powerful windlass to handle our G4 all-chain rode, I felt I would never need or want another boat. A bigger boat would be harder to single hand; it would mean bigger everything, a bigger rig, more expensive to maintain, deeper draft, making it harder to reach some of our favorite places. After sailing her successfully for over 20.000 nautical miles through many a tropical squall including getting caught by Tropical Storm Gama who back tracked down on top of us while near the Bay Islands of Honduras, with winds of 55 knots gusting to 65 and 25 foot seas, feeling safe and in control with three reefs in the main and one in the staysail, why would I ever want another boat? After investing so much blood, sweat and tears into this boat, why would I ever want to begin the process of preparing another boat for the task. I am ready to go, the boat is ready to go, so let’s go. There a places to go, things to do, people to meet, let’s go, let’s go! “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”

“Hold your horses! captain, you know too well we’ve got to grow the crew”,  Nicole kindly reminds me.

…Stay tuned for Part II!

About Oh, the Places We've Been!

In 2008 I married Jack, the love of my life and the only man that could ever keep up with me. Instead of the nice little French Colonial with a white picket fence, we opted to make our home on the 46-foot catamaran "Let it Be". Since living on a sailboat we've had two kids and sailed thousands of miles along the coast of Central America, the United States, the Bahamas and currently Baja California. Our family of four is always ready for the next adventure and we’re never quite sure where it will take us next. Oh, the places we still have yet to go!
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