I think there are several reasons a catamaran would have been easier for me and my wife to start out with. My wife too, was somewhat apprehensive about sailing and it certainly wasn't her dream to go off into the wild wet yonder. It was mine. I learned very quickly that if I was to live my dream with my wife along side me, then my number one concern was her comfort. Although she is quite adventuresome and always up for a challenge, I knew that one or two bad experiences on the boat would be the end of her participating in my dream and the beginning of our nightmare.. "To love, honor and obey" be damned. She would leave me or the boat or both if push came to shove.
There are a total of four situations in which your wife may become close to being outside her comfort zone. These include, in no specific order: docking
the boat, anchoring
the boat, sailing the boat, and living on the boat. Pretty much anything to do with the boat. I'm not trying to be facetious or a sexist pig, I'm just telling you what I know from experience.
THE BOAT. I understand that you are a pilot, so you will soon learn that docking a boat is child's play compared to landing a plane. However, your first mate, soul mate, and chief line wrangler is going to be terrified coming into the dock
. She has an important job to do and doesn't want to screw up. She is also relying on your piloting skills and does not have total control of the situation. To complicate matters even further, there is always a crowd of onlookers present, silently judging your seamanship and the happiness of your marriage, so the pressure is on.
A catamaran with two engines 20 feet apart is probably the easiest type of boat to dock
. It doesn't need any speed to maintain steerage like a monohull and it can literally pivot 360 degrees in it's own foot print. No more roaring up to the slip like Captain
THE BOAT. Anchorages
can be quite rolly due to divergent wind
, waves, and boat traffic. There is nothing that will kill the romance of your first night anchored out in your new boat than "anchor sickness". Catamarans don't roll as bad as monohulls and because of their shallow draft
, you may be able to tuck up closer to shore away from the waves.
3. SAILING THE BOAT. Catamarans don't heel over like monohulls, and their wide beam and high freeboard give the neccessary illusion of total safety
to an anxious crew member
. Also, avoid at all costs discussing the two stable positions of a catamaran in your wife's presence. In other words don't talk to any monohull sailors while in the company of your wife.
4. LIVING ON THE BOAT. Does your wife love camping in a cramped tent, boiling freeze dried MRE (meals ready to eat) over a sputtering alcohol stove for weeks at a time? I didn't think so. Neither do I. A catamaran gives you the luxury of SPACE! And because of that additional space not found in a monohull of the same length, you can fill it with every nick nac, paddy wac, washer/dryer, shave ice maker, stairmaster, etc. you can imagine. Now some cats can't take the added weight well and their water
line disappears along with their sailing performance. I won't name brand names, but all I know is that our catamaran could probably carry the space shuttle without a problem.
As to your inquiries about big waves, rough weather, and corresponding extreme offshore
, this is all I have to say about that: DON"T BE A TALKING ABOUT THAT STUFF IN FRONT OF YOUR WIFE! ARE YOU CRAZY?
Seriously, I have'nt had or do I plan to have the (pleasure?) of being in really rough weather in the catamaran. The largest seas she has been in were 6-8 footers in the Florida
Strait. The boat handled them well but the captain
did get sea sick. My wife and our dogs
were fine, however.
In short: The key to a successful long term, loving relationship with your wife and boat is this: For your first adventures, go short distance island hopping preferably some place warm with plenty of islands like the Bahamas
. Wait for calm seas even if you end up motoring a lot. Absolutely no extended off shore or over nights. And most of all: WATCH THE WEATHER! Invest in a weather fax, XM receiver, SSB
, whatever. They are worth their weight in gold. And, DON'T BE IN A HURRY! The most asked question I get from non sailers besides the "Pirates of the Caribbean" inquiry, is: How big of boat do you need to go sailing in the Caribbean
? I always answer this way: You can sail the Caribbean in a 10 foot dinghy
as long as you wait for good weather, it will eventually come. . Good luck to you, your wife, and new life. Erik