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Old 04-11-2011, 21:59   #1
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Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

Hi everyone - my first post here!

We're thinking about bareboating with a Lagoon 380 in the BVI.
Years ago we did this with a 37 monohull and had a great time.

The extent of my cat experience is with some Hobie Cats around 20', so I understand the basics of how cats perform and tack, but these seem like mere toys in comparison.

We have decades of experience with various monohull sail and power boats (all single engine)

After watching some Youtube video's of larger cats docking, I am impressed with how maneuverable they can be. But will a few hours with a check out captain be adequate to prep us for docking at say Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor?

The videos make it look easy to spin the boat around etc, but my experience tells me a little gust or current can make docking go sour real quick, and a little training is no substitute for Experience. I want to make sure we're not taking on more than we should.

So - can people with monohull and small cat experience take on the larger cats for bareboating after only a few hours with a check out captain?


I would rather not get down there, and at the last minute have them tell me we need to take a captain for the whole trip, or end up in over our heads.


On the plus side - I've been to the BVI a bunch of times, and am familiar with the waters down there. It's mostly the thought of docking this big, expensive cat that is causing me some trepidation... On the other hand - you gotta start somewhere...
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Old 04-11-2011, 22:07   #2
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Re: Am I ready for bareboating w/ a 38' Cat?

You should have no problem with a cat, i believe they are much easier to dock than a mono even with windage. You will have much more control with two engines than one.
I had the same thoughts when I went from a single engine to twins and i was supprised how much easier two engines were.
I have since went back to a single engine......
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Old 04-11-2011, 22:42   #3
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Re: Am I ready for bareboating w/ a 38' Cat?

Welcome JDR.
Cats are easy - the biggest challenge when docking is knowing where the other side is if she has only one helm station but no big deal if slow and easy and more than one pair of eyes. Your mono experience will be fine.
Our 55 footer is our first cat bigger than our Hobie 16 of years ago - just go for it !!
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Old 04-11-2011, 23:19   #4
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Re: Am I ready for bareboating w/ a 38' Cat?

Thanks Shaun and DH - this is very encouraging.

In seeing how these boats maneuver, the many hours I spent playing Battle Zone as a kid might help too - lol.
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:22   #5
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Re: Am I ready for bareboating w/ a 38' Cat?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, jdr01930.

I expect that most people with monohull and small cat experience can take on the larger cats for bareboating, after only a few hours with a check out captain.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:34   #6
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

The first time you go to dock a larger cat,you'll most likely screw the pooch,but you should catch on very quickly. Having engines 20+ feet apart gives you tremendous torque and most folks find it very easy to manuver the boat. Don't bother with the steering wheel at all, just use the engines. Take your time, think at least a step ahead and watch the results of each move.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:48   #7
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

If you have ever sailed before in your life, even once, you are way ahead of some of the charterers out there in the BVI
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:50   #8
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

We did just that a year ago. Lots of monohull experience and happily sailed away on a Lagoon 380 (Antigua to St Vincent).
Biggest 'problem' is that it is hard to judge (I felt) when you need to reef. We followed the manufactures manual but learned (later) that we should have reefed sooner than we did; no harm done.

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Old 05-11-2011, 10:19   #9
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

I had never sailed on a catamaran either, other than a small Hobie Cat, before a bareboat on a Moorings 4300 several years ago in the BVI. I found the 4300 to be much easier to dock than my 30' monohull. We literally had no problems all week and docked 3 times - North Sound, Soper's Hole and back at the Moorings base. I don't recall any current or wind challenges however and all 3 dockings were probably better than 75% of the dockings I'd ever made on my boat.

I also agree that using the engines and locking the wheel is a good idea, but only after some practice. I never tried it in the BVI, but used that method on a FP Bahia (46'-48') in Greece a couple of years ago. Because of the tight harbors and Med-mooring I did some serious practicing the first day using the engines only with the wheel locked. It was a bit nerve racking in the harbors because space is so limited and I had never Med-moored before. After a good amount of practice I had my wife hold the wheel (intead of locking it) the first 3 or 4 times we moored - I wanted to be able to steer if I got confused using engines only. I did have to bail out using the wheel twice. After our 3rd or 4th successful docking I locked the wheel and let my wife back away and everything went fine. We spent 10 days on the boat and did lots of very, very close-quarters maneuvering. Maneuvering using only the engines was not intuitive for me, it took some practice; however, once it became a little more instinctive it was actually easier.

I think you will have very little trouble at all, but practice using only the engines before you try it for real. When someone does it with lots of experience it really looks easy (and cool), but I think it's a little harder than it first appears.
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Old 05-11-2011, 16:31   #10
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

Thanks for the replies everyone - I went ahead an booked the boat!

As I was researching this stuff, I came across the NauticalEd.org web site.
They have an online "Catamaran Sailing Confidence Clinic" for $27.
Is this worthwhile?
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Old 05-11-2011, 17:10   #11
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We did just the same last year. Loved it and now live onboard a cat we bought!
We got a pair of headsets called "marriage savers" which means we can talk easily to each other when docking/ picking up a mooring/ pulling up anchor. Makes a HUGE difference to stress levels when you can quietly say "stern 2 meters from dock" or "forward on starboard" or "bow line on" to the helmsperson.
They are available through "Latts and Atts" magazine as a mail order, and are fantastic and are actually listed as "marriage savers".
Have a ball.
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Old 05-11-2011, 23:48   #12
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

I always leave my rudder amidship while docking. I sometime will use hard rudder toward the dock when leaving the dock to kick my stern away with the dockside engine in forward and the outside engine in reverse. That takes a little practice but it will help the boat "walk" sideways from the dock. That is how the big tugs do it without a bow thruster. I spent quite a few years in the dredging industry around twin screw tugs and crew boats. You have to vary the engine speeds while doing this for it to work

Speaking of practice, get close to a point of reference ( mooring buoy) out in the open away from other boats and practice your twin engine maneuvering skills. You will be fine and have a great time
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Old 06-11-2011, 17:49   #13
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

Save your $27.00 for better things..like rum.

Dave L38 #38
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Old 06-11-2011, 17:54   #14
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

If you dock a mono well, you will have no issue with the cat with no charter skipper training.
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Old 06-11-2011, 18:07   #15
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Re: Am I Ready for Bareboating with a 38' Cat ?

the 380s are nice boat and easy to handle, I do caution though, you won't want to sail a mono again!!!!!
Have a good time and remember it's not your boat, and everybody there has seen worst than you, you actually ask for advice, most just go with no thought about it at all
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