Well, the verdict is in.
Despite some initial reservations about the way a catamaran
handles (bows popping out when motoring into the wind), I can safely say that the Catalac
handles the rough slop *better* than my old Gulfstar
and any of my past boats.
Yesterday, we had a line of rain come through by Cape May, NJ. The wind
was strong (no instruments). My guess was 20-30knots, NOAA reported 30 knots with gusts to 40 in the small craft advisory statement.
I had the main up (no reef) and the 110% genoa
up before the winds increased to that level. Well, the winds quickly built to that level and overpowered the boat. Waaaaay overpowered the boat. I was nervous for the first time. They were coming at an angle of reach or broad reach.
Because of the strength of the wind
, the fact that it was coming from aft and filling the main and some commercial
traffic, I couldn't reduce anything but the genoa
for about 20 mins (main was full and under extreme pressure). I rolled in the 110 genoa and it created too much weather helm
, putting too much stress (IMO) on the steering gear
. So... I rolled half of it back out.
Meanwhile, I had to avoid the commercial
The force from the over-canvassed sails
got so strong, I heeled - a lot.
I actually heard a couple "thwack!"'s from the starboard hull
, as it was out of the water
enough to leave it a little when the waves were just right. This was dangerous, but I also know how to handle a boat under sail and was playing it a little bit... bearing off to keep the hull
from getting too high. Since I was in some extremely strong winds, I wanted to test out the boat a bit to understand her. Anyway, we were doing 10.7 knots at the fastest. WOW!
So the boat made a lot of leeway during this because it was overpowered and being pushed sideways quite a bit as it was being driven forward.
During all this craziness, I realized my wife didn't think anything of it. She went down to get some food
and we were basically comfortable.
Had we been in our Gulfstar
, we would have getting our butts kicked. The force loads on the sails
would have probably shredded them and the sheets
, something would have broke. Also, I would have struggled badly to control the boat.
But... the Catalac
was a dream to handle, and got more and more stable as the winds increased, much like a big, heavy full keel
I have to say... I now understand how you all have cruised the world in complete comfort and safety
on a well designed cruising cat!
Now, when you factor in that my boat is only 34' long, it's a no brainer. Most 34' monos would have struggled badly out there in those winds and steep (but small) seas I had. The cat performed very well - surprised the heck out of me!