Sunday, June 29, 2008

Clever or Kludge?

Solar Panel Frame
Solar Panel Frame
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
My husband was never meant to be a doctor. He probably should have been a carpenter or a mechanic. Lately, I’ve come to believe he perhaps should have been a code monkey simply for his impressive ability to throw together a kludge. A kludge is “an ill-assorted collection of parts assembled to fulfill a particular purpose.” In the computer world I come from, a kludge is what you do when doing it right takes too long or involves rewriting fast sections of code. Apocryphally, a perusal of the Windows source code returned 100s of references to a hack or a kludge.

Dr C is either the King of Kluge or the most impressive improvisational cruising sailor on the high seas. His source of motivation for all these oddities which fill our boat is tax evasion -- in particular, Dr C is even more offended by the Marine Tax than I am. This is saying a great deal since I find the marine industry’s propensity to triple the price of even such prosaic items as deck brushes not simply offensive but actually the only instance in which I’ve seen the word usury appropriately applied. Dr C, however, takes his marine tax evasion one step farther than I. While I just buy the cheaper version at Home Depot ten times, Dr C actually invents entirely new contraptions to replace the marine solution.

This is how it happens. We determine that we need something Important... let’s say for example, a frame to hold the solar panels. We do some research, visit some folks who make or sell such things, and get a price. Then Dr C invents an alternative.

The only realistic place to put the panels was on or above the davits in the back for which we were quoted $1,000 to $3,000. Dr C didn’t like these answers. So he sat at the nav table with a glass of wine, a pencil, a scrap of paper, and a faraway look for several nights. Then he went to the hardware store. More sitting, more wine, more hardware. Pieces of PVC and bags marked True Value and Ace sprung up everywhere. Then one morning he emerged from his cabin and started putting all the miscellaneous pieces together. Forty bucks and a lot of elbow grease later, we have a solar panel frame mounted securely between the davits, our panels pumping out electricity with enthusiastically green abandon. Dr C assures me all the bits are UV resistant and anticipates the contraption will last at least two years after which he’ll build a new one. If and when it fails, there are safety straps all over everywhere to make sure we don’t lose anything important.

Now is this utterly brilliant or just a hack?

Boom Extender
Boom Extender
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.

It’s hard to say. Some of his creations undoubtedly enhance the market value of the boat. The beautiful shelves in the cabins, the way the salon table now drops to form an extra bed, and the new panels custom fit to accommodate the SSB and Pactor modem are clear improvements. Others DrCisms, like the solar panels and the helm locker, definitely exude a look of “loving hands made at home.” On the other hand, even his hacks work really well. Even the most annoying of the lot, the boom extender, is functional and replaces an otherwise very expensive piece of gear.

Time will tell. I’ll be fascinated to watch people walk past the solar panel frame in marinas or drive past in a dinghy to boggle. Either they will laugh and point and snicker, or they’ll be asking Dr C aboard for dinner to pick his brains on how he built it. Or both. You better believe Google runs on quite a few impromptu kludges. It’s amazing how frequently genius and madness coincide.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

TechTip - Skype

Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Short Story
Most cruisers budget $100 to $200 per month to communicate with friends and family back home. Charges go towards Internet, cell phones, land phones, and other Internet service charges. One major way to cut costs is to install and use Skype, particularly the International calling plans for SkypeOut.

Long Version
There is no cheap way to get Internet access everywhere, but you can get it often enough as a cruiser that investing some time and money into setting up services to take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer is worthwhile. For Don Quixote, our best move thus was to invest in a good head set and web cam to enable us to use Skype.

Skype is essentially telephone on the Internet. There are a million outstanding articles explaining how to install and use Skype. Google Skype. Read the Skype web site for that matter. If you’re a cruiser sitting on the fence on whether to invest in the extra hardware, here are a few more compelling reasons to spend time and energy getting yourself up and running on Skype:

Skype to Skype calls are free no matter where you are located. Get your family set up before you cut the lines. Macs come fully prepared with everything you need. You’ll probably need to purchase a head set or web cam for your family members still relegated to Windows. Experience with our family tells me that you want to do this yourself. They will never figure it out on their own. Make it your last birthday or Christmas presents before you leave.

Skype includes video. When you cruise, your parents are convinced your boat is in the middle of nowhere even when you’re on a dock in Victoria Harbor in the shadow of the Empress Hotel. Live action video of your children hamming it over over the web cam goes a long way to convincing them otherwise.

Skype audio works even with gimpy connections. We’ve had the opportunity to test Skype under a variety of really crappy conditions. While the video is sometimes lousy, the audio is just about always solid. For example, in Nanaimo when we were all the way across the harbor in Mark Bay with a 14% (one bar) signal, we could still conduct a conversation. I continue to be surprised by the sound quality.

SkypeOut international is extraordinarily cheap. SkypeOut is the features that enables you to use your computer to make a call to a land line telephone just about anywhere in the world. We routinely call mechanics, our chandlery, and our rigger in the United States from Canada. The cost is $.021a minute. It varies by country but the price never comes close to a comparable cell phone or land line charge. If you SkypeOut enough, you should seriously consider their subscription plans. Even their premium International SkypeOut unlimited is only $9.95/month.

Skype is no substitute for having a working cell phone. As much as I hate to do it, we’re going to keep a cell phone on our budget. We use the pay as you go, disposable “drug runner” phones you can get at any drug store or airport. But, with a little planning you can offload almost all of your calls to those times when you are also taking care of your Internet business, and thereby shift virtually all of your call time to the price point of “free”.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Itinerary - June 23 to mid-August

I've had a few requests that I post an itinerary to this blog as well as the ship log , so folks that don't subscribe to the later can still know where we plan to visit. This is a good time to get that done as Mom's visit and requirements that DrC be in Seattle for a few weeks have actually set some boundaries on our plans for the next six weeks.

June 23 to 26 Desolation Sound We arrived in Desolation Sound a few days ago, and the weather celebrated by introducing us to a big yellow orb in the sky, heretofore unseen by the crew of Don Quixote. Sometime during the next few days, we need to get a bit more fresh food and water, though honestly if we had to we could go another two weeks. I thought there wouldn't be any place to get provisions up here and set up the boat for three weeks when we touched down in Pender Harbor last week.

June 27 - July 6 More Desolation Sound We pick up my mother in Mink I Cove on June 27. She's with us for just over a week. We'll travel in Desolation area. We plan to take her up to Pendrall Sound as well as visit Prideaux Haven, Refuge Cove, etc. All the highlights. She flies out of Campbell River on the 7th.*

July 7 to July 10 Johnstone Strait I've worked through a VERY specific itinerary which will take us through this very rough section from Campbell River to Port McNeil during the neap tide. We have set some alternative anchorages and routes as well as extra days to allow for bad weather. However, we'd like to do this by heading straight up Discovery Passage, then taking the inside route over to Sunderland Channel. After that, we'll try to suck it up and push down Johnstone Strait for the rest of the journey. Fingers crossed we'll be late enough in the year to make this possible. If it gets ugly in Johnstone, we'll pop back up into the inside passage at Port Harvey. I'd rather not, if we can avoid it. Planning this leg is a lot about timing the tide and weather. Fortunately, the entire week is a permanent ebb in our favor. Now, if the winds just cooperate... If nothing else, the week should make for some interesting reading in the ship log.

July 12 to 26 - Port McNeil DrC is going to bus back to Campbell River and then fly to Seattle. He works for two weeks before returning to us. We'll be anchored in Port McNeil harbor for at least the first week. I'm going to see if we can make it the whole two weeks without going into the dock. We'll just use the dinghy. I hope to get some client work during this "down time." We also have a lot of maintenance and provisioning tasks that need to be accomplished in order to prepare us for the "outside."

July 26 - mid-August West Vancouver Island The hardest part of our first voyage will be Cape Scott as we round the north western tip of Vancouver I. After that, we just need to listen to the weather and sail downwind on the good days... duck into harbors and inlets the icky days. This is going to be a long slog with few services, but the scenery is supposed to be spectacular. We'll also get our first taste of "ocean." Except for Cape Scott, DrC and I are not particularly worried about the journey. Our only qualm is that we still haven't managed to get the SSB up and running. Hopefully, the last bits we need will come back from Seattle with DrC and we'll get then set up before we head out. A reassurance to the salty sailors out there (e.g. Behan and my FIL), we will NOT come back via the west side if we do not get the SSB running. If we're still having trouble and there's nothing we can do in Port McNeil, we'll come back via the inside passage. No ocean without SSB is a pretty basic and solid rule. Port McNeil is supposed to be a fairly good sized city with many services for boats, however, so I suspect that even if we're not able to do this ourselves, we'll be able to get help in town.

* * *

Obviously, we face quite a few sections with few services and no Internet. I've been working hard these past weeks to get a lot of articles prepped and in the queue. My apologies if some of these do not feel timely or immediate when they go to press. While it would be more interesting to hear about Don Quixote riding the rapids of Wellbore and Seymour Narrows, I can't see any way to tell you about it while it's happening. Hopefully, I'll still be able to drop a line to my twitter feed, though, so folks will know we're still alive and kicking.

* Patricia of R-Tyme, I believe you said you lived in Campbell River?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Get a Cat* - Children

Two men stand on a field of white. The one on the left is a handsome white man, about 50, distinguished, knowledgeable, and stylishly dressed for dinner at a seaside restaurant. A three-year-old boy is on his shoulders with legs wrapped tightly around the man’s neck. The child is yelling and waving his arms as the Monohull man desperately tries to maintain his balance.

Use Cake
Use Cake
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
On the right is a much younger man, casually attired in Bermuda shorts, Crocs, an open T-shirt, and hailing from some mixed Pan-Pacific ancestry. A pleasant jingle plays in the background unobtrusively.

The younger man speaks first, glancing over at his colleague, shouting to be heard over the screaming child, “Hello, I’m a Catamaran!!”

Panting and barely heard over the bellowing toddler, Monohull bellows out “And I’m a Monohull!”

Catamaran looks concerned and puts ups his hands to try to help prevent the boy from falling, “Monohull, are you okay? What's with the kid?”

Monohull tries to capture the boy’s flailing hands and gasps, “Oh, it’s just my nephew. He’s visiting today. I'm trying to keep him busy while my wife gets dinner together.”

“How about I take him for a bit? Give you a breather…” Catamaran offers, holding out his arms for the child.

Monohull happily pulls the child off his shoulders and passes him over, “Will you? That would be great. Just give me a chance to…”

Monohull stops talking as the child in Catamaran’s arms disappears and a peaceful silence descends over the white set. Gradually, the sounds of ocean combined with the musical background can once again be heard. Monohull’s mouth gapes for a moment before he says, “Wha… whh… what did you just do? What happened? What did you do with my nephew?”

Catamaran puts up both hands, smiles and placates his friend, “No worries, dude. I got him. I just put him in my other hull.”

Monohull numbly repeats, “Your other hull.”

Catamaran nods complacently while pulling a rum drink out of thin air, “Like a drink while the kids play?”

Monohull grudgingly accepts the drink and mutters, “Just don’t lose him in there. My sister would kill me.”
* * *

Tale Tales
Tale Tales
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Monohulls are often spacious with pleasant, comfortable interiors. However, the bottom line is that it’s one long tube in the water through which sound carries with mind-boggling efficiency. With children aboard, it’s hard to escape their presence as they tromp through, over and around you while you serve drinks, prep dinner, or just relax with a good book.

In a catamaran, on the other hand, you can simply hand over a hull to the younger set. Kids can convert a bow locker into a playroom, the cockpit into a jungle gym, and the tramp into… well… a trampoline. They string net and float toys underneath the salon for a neat, shady and comfortable swim dock, and they build pup tent forts into their cabins.

But seriously. Be careful. They do occasionally get lost when playing hide ‘n seek.

* Author’s Note: All credit to the Apple Get a Mac marketing team whose incredibly clever work inspired this series.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

That Which Doesn't Kill Us

Dodd Narrows
Dodd Narrows
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
We passed a semi-insignificant milestone this week -- we’ve officially been “cruising” for one month. The girls remarked on the anniversary at dinner last night. We shared a familial moment of “huh?” as we contemplated the impossible notion that we had only been out and about for a single month. The consensus reached was that we had been cruising since roughly the dawn of time. Proof was found in the smell of Mera and Aeron’s cabin, and the fact that we had already run out of peanut butter.

The purpose of this summer’s cruising has always been to “break stuff and learn a lot” while still in relatively familiar territory. You’ll be happy to know that Dr C and I are succeeding admirably. A short, incomplete list of what we’ve broken includes: the alternator, the chart plotter, the jib furler, the camera, the starboard head, the sail cover, the hinges on the cabinet door under the sink, the pencil sharpener, the oven solenoid, the wind direction indicator, the forestay, starboard hatch latch #2, Dr C’s back, the port jib line, all of my nails, and the broom. With the exception of my nails and the B&G electronic wind indicator, to date we’ve fixed everything we’ve broken.

What we’ve learned would fill a cruising book. Depressingly, what we’ve learned actually does fill a cruising book. I suspect now that reading all those tomes was a serious waste of time. It didn’t just go in one ear and out the other. The information apparently went whistling through our heads stripping brain cells like a pin ball run amuck in the machinery of our cruising expectations. Had we read nothing whatsoever, we would at least have gone out scared spitless. We probably should be scared spitless. We’re really bad at this.

Here’s the problem. Fundamentally, the cruising life involves a rather short list of repetitive behaviors that are so deeply steeped into the very fiber, fabric and essence of your soul that you replicate them each and every time. Unfortunately, Dr C and I have all the memory retention capacity of a terrier on anti-depressant doggy dopers.

Let’s take, for example, leaving an anchorage. It shouldn’t be hard. Engines on, pull up anchor, drive off. Not so fast! Did you fly the dinghy on the davits? Release the boom swing preventer? Shut the salon windows so the jib sheets don’t rip them off? Bring in all the blue clothes and towels from the lifelines? Stow the inflatable alligator in the forward locker? Is the swim ladder up? The dinghy painter carefully stowed so it can’t tangle the props? The nav and autopilot instruments turned on? Do you have Mera?

Before pulling anchor, you also need to know where you’re going, check charts, weather, and cruising guide then plan a route and program it into the nav station. Woo, there skipper. You forgot to check the tide tables and the current tables. It wouldn’t hurt to stow the computers, get the kids settled for school, and put on some decent music as well. If this is going to be a long slog, make sure you get your socks on, grab the iPod and a book of Sudoku, and throw some sewing supplies on the helm so there’s something to do. If you fail to do even one of these tasks, something bad will happen. The highest probability is that something will involve breaking something expensive.

Man at Work
Man at Work
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
I can’t remember all that crap. I can barely remember how to count to 10 in Spanish. Like an airplane pilot, each and every time we pull out our “Leaving Anchor” to do list and run through it ticking off all the details. And each and every time, we add at least one more item as we find yet another creative way to break something.

What is the most important thing we’ve learned during our first month of cruising? It is possible to survive as a cruiser even in the face of seemingly insurmountable incompetence.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Somebody Likes Me

Don Quixote in Port Madison
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Schmap, an online travel brochure for the Pacific Northwest, selected one of our photos of Don Quixote for their web site. It's one of my favorites -- a snapshot I took on an overnight in Port Madison for the Seattle Yacht Club Halloween Non-Event Event. That was a fabulous weekend, enjoyed tremendously by the entire family. Note the uber pumpkins on the deck.

Cooking Idea - Melted S'Mores

Melted S'Mores
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Cooking is not my thing. I’m not as well trained as my mother or as highly competent as my mother in law. And god knows I do not want to try to enter the highly competitive market of Galley Chef authors. However, I do reasonably well at Improv Cooking which actually proves rather useful to cruisers. When something works on Don Quixote, I’ll share it.

So in this case, I have a firepit tip which originated with Dr C -- a man I am convinced was an engineer in a former life.

According to my husband, the problem with s’mores is that the chocolate is solid and cold. The contrast to the hot, fluffy marshmallow isn’t right. Therefore, Dr C used a combination of unburnt wood and flat stones to create a platform practically in the fire on which we could melt the chocolate. A secondary benefit is that the position also smokes the graham cracker, if you can believe it. Takes s'mores to a completely new level.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Battle of the Bulge

Oozing Out the Sides
Oozing Out the Sides
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
They say cruisers lose about twenty pounds of land lubber fat when they leave the shore. God, I sure hope so. I could stand to lose at least one, possibly two, cruiser loads. I’m not seeing it happen. Yet. Ever the optimist, I’ll point out that we cut the lines less than a month ago. Losing weight any faster than a pound per week is not healthy in any case, no matter how much I’d like to do so.

I have a new reason to lose weight, however. Boat trim.

Our boat is fat. Don Quixote has a weight problem. All cats have a weight problem. Cruising cats have a particularly unhealthy obsession with their weight. To stay safe, speedy, and strong, a cat should stay well above her water line and balance fore and aft, hull to hull. We know of cruising cats who raise their water line. This is a form of letting out your belt buckle by stretching thin, worn, cotton tank top over crucial parts such as your belly roll and butt cheeks. Yeah, you can do it. But as I tell my children repeatedly, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Yet for all our fine words, Don Quixote lists in an obvious and distressing fashion to the forward starboard side. This is tantamount to trying to run uphill with your right leg bent and a backpack perched precariously over your right ear. Her starboard bow is at or just a hair below the water line. In contrast, she’s got her left ass cheek flying up in the air on the port side nearly 3 inches above the water line.

Easy problem to fix, neh? Just move everything in the forward starboard bow locker (a.k.a. kid’s rumpus room) to somewhere under Mera and Aeron in the aft port cabin. Not so fast. First, the idiots who designed and built this boat decided to put the only water tank and the anchor rode on the starboard side. We have 250 of heavy gauge chain up there. When they say heavy gauge, that means it weighs a metric buttload per foot. Moving either item is basically a feat of extreme nautical engineering and not something we can easily undertake at the moment physically or financially.

Another problem is the holding tanks. We’re currently only using the starboard tank -- which of course is up near the bow. Dumb dumb dumb. So next time we’re at anchor for a few days, guess who gets to tear apart and fix the port holding tank. Time to pee only on the left.

More weight? The office, shower, and pantry are on the starboard side. We’ve been using those spaces to store all sorts of crucial, need-to-get-your-hands-on-in-a-hurry items as well as all kinds of useless crap. Also, most of the galley supplies somehow ended up starboard of mid-line. It’s feels as if in a vain effort to recover from the excessively liberal left-leaning, politically correct mind set of our home port, our crew decided to put all our eggs in the Right basket.

Inventory or Insanity
Inventory or Insanity
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
In a fit of parental homeschoolyness, I thought it would be a great math lesson for Mera and Aeron to conduct an inventory. This consisted first of pulling everything we own out of the salon seats and pantry cupboards and spreading it all over hell’s breakfast. Then, they wrote all the items down and counted them. At this point, I pretty much despaired for the survival of my family. We somehow shipped out without cinnamon, red wine vinegar, or sugar, but we did stock six bottles of rum, three bottles of tequila, 13 packages of MacNCheese, 24 cans of tuna (in springwater), and four tubes of high quality wasabi.

The good news is we remembered to pack three jars of pickled ginger. The bad news is there is no soy sauce.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm Having a Really Bad Day

My cruising life does not feel it is getting off to a great start if today is an indicator species. Today... well today sucked.

We can start with the Big F*up which is that I hit a rock. Hard. We were on our way into Nanaimo Harbor, DrC called me up to take the helm while he dropped sail, and I promptly ran into a known hazard. In my defense, he’d pointed us at it. To my shame, it took me too long to figure out where the hell we were going before we hit.

We hit hard. Not hard enough to cause a leak, hard enough to hear scraping sounds that could well require a haul out to fix. The rudders are fine, and nothing appears broken. It’s probably a gel coat nightmare and an expensive, ugly few days on the hard. The question is whether or not we’ll have to do it now or if it’s cosmetic enough to do later. Given the rest of our luck lately, I’d guess for whichever option is more expensive.

Moving on to a lesser issue, we parked in the wrong spot. Apparently, we dropped anchor in the middle of a flight path. This isn’t surprising when you take in the whole rock issue. We were all in a flipping uproar, and I for one was shaking so bad I could barely draw breath. While it has all the same aspects of stupidity as the rock (e.g. we shouldn’t have done it, we should have known better), it was more understandably a by-product of post-smack-into-underwater-obstacleness than a true verbal flip of the finger at port authority. In this case, it was only moderately well marked and, as I said, we were not in the best frame of mind.

Let’s see... moving back from there we had a tense moment going through Dodd Narrows at mid-flood. That’s a wild ride, let me tell you. Up here they have currents that rival any river for speed and trickiness. At one point, we were swept along at plus 8 knots. Weeee!!! Of course, to create that current, the pass narrows to about 50 feet. Threading our 21 foot beam through that was like trying to get my ass into a pair of my high school jeans.

Again, moving back in time we get to this morning’s absurdity. We motored over from Telegraph Harbor to Chamainish to see the sights and found no place to park. Little microdot of a public dock and we couldn’t stop. I’m sorry we didn’t get to see the famed murals of that small town. On the other hand, it was kind of sweet just moving our tennis court into the middle of Stuart Channel, turning everything off, throwing up the main mostly so that power boats would be required to go around us, and drifting through school and morning chores.

And if we really want to push ourselves backwards, we can even talk about two nights ago in Maple Bay when we broke anchor and started drifting out of the harbor. Jaime caught us.

In fact, there is my light at the end of the tunnel, my raison d’etre, my cause celebre, my entire reason for doing this trip. Because Jaime has been magnificent through the past 48 hours. Jaime was the first to spot us break anchor in Maple Bay. Jaime was the first to volunteer for anchor watch last night when the wind was blowing like snot, and we all felt some one should be at the helm paying attention. Jaime was the smart crew who called off the watch at one in the morning when it became clear the wind was dying and the weather report called for it to stay down till tonight. She leaped to help with the sheets while we sailed, stood on the bow and took pictures through the Narrows, and dove into the port bilge to check for leaks after we hit the rock.

I always said I thought this trip would benefit her spirit the most. Because I am typically a blow-hard, it is probable that in my innermost, icky self, I didn’t really believe that but just said it. Now, I am a believer. My daughter is shining even while I collapse in the cockpit this evening with a Stormy Sunset*, completely shot nerves, and a strong desire to crawl home with my tail between my legs.

I should have said this before. Let me say it now. My eldest daughter is something very special.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Get a Cat - History

Editor's Note: I first wrote this series – a spoof of the Apple “Get a Mac” ads, over a year ago. The multi vs mono debate is comparable to paper vs plastic, snowboard vs skiier, tastes great vs. less filling debates. There is no right answer, but of course, I'm a multihull girl. So to my many monohull friends, please be patient with my prejudice and silliness. I also happen to be a Mac Fan Girl, so I'm probably hopeless.

* * *

Nick? A Sailor?
Nick? A Sailor?
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Two men stand on a field of white. The one on the left is a handsome white man, about 50, distinguished, knowledgeable, and stylishly dressed for dinner at a seaside restaurant. The one on the right is much younger, casually attired in Bermuda shorts, Crocs, an open T-shirt, and hailing from some mixed Pan-Pacific ancestry. A pleasant jingle plays unobtrusively in the background. The younger man speaks first:

Catamaran: “Hello, I’m a Catamaran.”

Monohull: “And I’m a Sailboat.”

Catamaran (turning to Monohull,gently reproachful): “Now, Monohull. I thought we agreed to do this together. “

Monohull (attempting to look innocent): “Of course of course. Yes… I’m a … a Monohull. I am the original sail boat, that’s all I’m saying. I just thought we should start off familiarizing the audience with my long and august history.”

Catamaran (thoughtful and slightly apologetic): “Well you know, Monohull, catamarans and trimarans were sailing the Pacific before the Vikings ever left Europe.”

Monohull: “Perhaps. But you didn’t write it down.”

Catamaran (taken aback): “What does that have to do with sailing?”

Monohull (smug): “If you didn’t write it down it didn’t happen.”

Catamaran: “But there is ample evidence…”

Monohull (interrupts with a hand up to stop the flow of words from Catamaran): “Didn’t happen… no paper, no history.”

Catamaran: “But Monohull…”

Monohull (covers his ears): “Lalala! I can’t hear you.”


History as taught in the schools of Europe and the United States is full of the great ships of the discoverers. Literally billions of words have been written about monohull sailing vessels and the men who crewed them. The modern cruising community as we know it started with monohulls, and these single-keeled craft still dominate the cruising landscape. Certainly, most of the major authors writing in the trade magazines, publishing their work and delivering seminars at boat shows, began in monohulls and largely remain convinced of their superiority.

However, the truth is that multi-hulled vessels have been around just as many years and with arguably just as much success. The problem is that these craft were primarily traveling the waters of the Pacific, out of the vision and interest of European historians. And to date, the contributions of catamaran cruisers to modern cruising literature represents only a small, albeit fast growing, fraction of that genre.

Don’t let the lack of documentation, however, slow you down. You probably didn’t read the manual for the computer you are reading this on either. It doesn’t make the computer less useful than a book.

* All credit to the Get a Mac marketing team whose incredibly clever work inspired this series.