Cap’n Jack here…
It was now spring 2013 and we were planning to cruise up to and spend the hurricane season in New England. We were looking forward to the cooler weather remembering the sweltering summers spent in the Chesapeake Bay and Washington D.C. area the last couple of years. In preparation for crossing oceans
downwind we had rigged a second roller furled head sail on a wire and carried two spinnaker poles so that we could sail downwind effectively. That spring we had also bought an asymmetrical spinnaker to complement our light-air sailing strategy to keep the boat moving in all conditions.
We were pleased to have had to opportunity to learn how to use it and then fly it on our longer passages up the coast. It made a world of difference in family cruising comfort sailing at a good speed in 10 to 12 knots of wind as opposed to waiting for 15 to 20 knots that such a heavy boat likes. On our northward migration, Jack Benjamin turned one the day we reached Elizabeth City, NC, coincidentally the same place where Marietta Grace had her first birthday in October 2012 as we headed south that year.
We made it to Block Island under spinnaker sail from Cape May, NJ returning to the Kitty Hawk’s hailing port after ten years and then settled into Newport Harbor for the summer. That summer was a chilly one in New England and the kids ended being cooped up in the main salon for many a chilly morning in the fog.
Pretty soon it seemed like cabin fever was setting in, as the mysterious cat calls got louder in the background. The kids, more active now as they got older required more exercise and more space to move about.
They began a routine of running back and forth the aisle-way from the main salon to the front cabin. It reminded me of those caged tigers you see in the zoo pacing back and forth in their cage.
When the drizzle quit they were quick to go on deck for a romp but someone had to go on deck with them because they could not be seen from the main salon and even though we had netting all around, those little climbers could easily fall overboard. Notice them on top of the bicycle below; well above the life-line. They do require constant attention and supervision. One cruiser once said, “The greatest thing about cruising is that we get to be with our kids all the time. The worst part of cruising is that we rarely have any time away from our kids. ” We find this to be so true.
The cat calls then grew louder. One day Mama, Nicole, was in tears all of a sudden. Even though it’s nice to have a washing machine on board (a rare luxury on a sailboat) with diapers hanging
everywhere in the main salon, two booster chairs, two car seats the kids doing their tiger pacing routine among all the toys strewn about and the dreary weather keeping us all inside and cold made those inaudible cat calls even louder.
On the passage up we visited our friends Jim and Ofa Erb and they had just bought an Amel Mango 52’ on the Chesapeake Bay which got us talking about the possibility of a bigger boat, but we were reluctant to make a change for the reasons explained before. We were both in agreement about not changing horses in midstream; however hysteria is a powerful motivator. In 2012, when we were in The Bahamas, we came across a family sailing in a catamaran. We envied their boat, but we felt catamarans were too expensive but more importantly I was an ardent monohull sailor with the “perfect” boat, of course, so we could admire those roomy “condos on the water” but that’s as far as it went. That morning things would begin to change.
One afternoon in Newport a really nice looking catamaran anchored next to us and it got us talking about the niceties of its design. It was a Fontaine Pajot Orana 44 we later found out.
Even then we were oblivious of the cats calling because that territory was in fact taboo. A good friend of mine once told me his secrete for happiness. He used to say, “Happy wife happy life.” With Nicole in tears that morning I decided to stay behind at the Maritime Center and do some research while she, the kids and tia (auntie) Megan went for groceries. Oh, I had forgotten to mention, that during that time Megan was a guest on board and although we love her dearly, is always welcome and is always great help and joy to have around, none the less, she was one more body with which to do the famous boat dance. (The boat dance is similar to a Dosey Doe in Square Dancing when one party has to move out of the way to let the other pass.) That day I began to do some research on catamarans. I wanted to find the maker of that one we had seen in the anchorage the other day. As I did my research not only did I come up with the manufacturer and model but also learned much about modern cruising catamaran design and about the myths (myths that most monohull sailors hang their hats on) perpetuated against their safety and seaworthiness. The more I read the more I liked the design philosophy behind the Fontaine
Pajot (FP) catamarans. In fact, what I noted is that it was very similar to the design philosophy that went into the CSY’s. The Orana 44 looked like it might fit the bill.
Philosophically I was impressed, but there were still many objections firmly rooted in me.
Later, as we dinghied back to the anchorage there was an FP anchored behind us. From a distance I remarked to Nicole, “Look, there is an FP cat.” She was astounded that I would recognize a cat and the maker from such a distance. She was even more amazed
when I told her I had spent all morning researching cats and that I was partial to the FP’s. Having gazed at pictures of the many makes and models all morning long I was sure it was an FP we were looking at. As we passed by it, ever so slowly, looking at her intently, the owner came out and greeted us and then invited us on board.
With three adults two kids and our bikes and kid gear in the dinghy we agreed to come by later while Megan looked after the little ones. And so, the cat calls grew louder and louder.
Stay tuned for Part III…..