Cap’n Jack here…
I last left you in Newport harbor where we spotted the Fontaine Pajot (FP) Mahe catamaran as we dinghied back to the Kitty Hawk. The story continues.
We became friends with Mike Cote and his wife as they showed us their Mahe 36. Mark was very well known on the multihull forums and respected for being very knowledgeable, we later found out. As it turns out, he was a great resource with whom to discuss the technical and seaworthiness issues about cats that plagued me. It helped me that he is an engineer also; we therefore shared the way we look at things and he spoke about things in a way I could relate to. Of course we were impressed by the design and the layout. As the tour went on, my many questions were answered. As my objections were being dispelled, I noticed the gloom begin to lift from Nicole and a glimmer hope as to the possibilities began to break through the clouds. At that moment the cat calls became as a purring. Like that comforting sound of a kitten as it warms up to you. Teeming with excitement, Nicole got all giddy on the ride back to our boat. She was all smiles and was quite chatty, carrying on about the possibilities, but was mostly just rejoicing and thankful that I “might” be willing to break the bond which had me firmly tied to the Kitty Hawk. At that point I felt I had made a mistake in taking her to tour that boat. The kitten, to me, was not purring, instead it was a like roaring lion, something to be feared and a danger to be reckoned with. I rubbed my scruffy chin nervously wondering what I had gotten myself into. My mind drifted back to my previous life, remembering when I decided to stop buy a farm to check out some Labrador puppies they were advertizing. As it turned out they were asking way too much money for them, but I made the mistake of bringing my older set of kids along. They had recently lost their chocolate lab Sophie due to poisoning and they got all emotional about these chubby chocolate colored pups. Of course they had to have one. Guess what happened next? Dad forked out the big bucks. I had never in my life paid for a dog. I was now reliving that mistake. I had opened Pandora’s Box and there was no turning back. I my mind I kept chanting the mantra, “Happy wife, happy life” over and over again, while inside I was freaking out about more than just paying for it.
Catamarans are expensive and our boat even at top dollar would barely cover half the cost of the cats we were looking at, albeit, five year-olds coming out of the charter fleet, fairly bare and a little beat up. Nicole chimed in, “If we sell the house in Honduras then we can afford it. We plan to live on a boat for at least 10 years, our kids will be able to enjoy growing up in it? . A catamaran will give them a lot of space to run around and I can watch them bounce on the trampoline while I’m busy in the galley instead of stressing down below in the galley of the Kitty Hawk wondering what danger they risk on deck”.
Then a funny thing happened. We came across a blog from a couple who had circumnavigated on an Orana 44, Isle De Grace, a serious accomplishment and a credit in favor of this boat and her crew of course. I read their entire blog to learn more about these boats and what setbacks may be lurking behind the scenes. Amazingly enough, as far as the usual setbacks that all cruising boats experience from time to time, this boat had nothing unusual. I contacted the owners and having followed the link to our blog, they then contacted us and invited us to visit them at the Magothy River near Annapolis where they lived. We had planned
to have a closer look and ask many questions about long term voyaging, storms and storm tactics, technical issues etc. Then one day an Orana named Joia came into the anchorage. Curiously enough they circled our boat and then decided to anchor next to us. Imagine that! Of course we had to have a look at the Orana and went over to say hello. There were two families cruising on her for the summer and we remarked how uncrowded the boat seemed with all of us and all of them aboard. After a tour of the cat and a bottle of wine shared, we were hooked. Marietta then began asking me every day, “Papa, are you going to buy me a boat with a twampoline?” Later that summer, when we arrive in New Rochelle, NY, Captain Jamie invited us to go for a sail on Joia. We flew the Parasailor spinnaker on a downwind run and then tacked back upwind. I was surprised by her sailing ability. Certainly my boat could not point that high nor sail that fast on those points of sail. We were really hooked now, but we had to sell our boat and the house first and that would not be an easy thing. Somehow I felt secure in the thought that if this was not meant to be then one thing or another would make it impossible for us to make the switch from a monohull and at that point I could chalk it up to fate (therefore I would not be the one to blame for raining on her parade) we would have to resign ourselves to the good blessed boat we had and continue as we were. The good thing is that Nicole was cool with that, but she was full of faith that she would one day have her cat. However, we both agreed that we would not stop cruising if it a cat was not in our cards.
At night the cat calls kept us wake. I awoke at about 3:00 am one morning only to find Nicole fully awake and both of us thinking about catamarans. We could not stop thinking of the possibilities. I could not stop thinking of the drawbacks of cats. The Kitty Hawk was like a part of me. Breaking that bond would be like cutting my arm off. Could I do it? Would I do it? Could I dash all of Nicole’s hopes and now dreams? This was one summer squall that messed up my head and became a maelstrom in my heart.
Stay tuned for the rivetting end to this tale, part IV, next…