Cruising around on Catamarans
In the trying weeks between Black Friday and Santa’s ballyhooed visit, where else would you want to be but in the Caribbean and sailing?
A postcard-perfect morning of blue skies, glittering emerald waters, and steady easterly trades embraced Shrek, a Lagoon 420 anchored at Cooper Island, in the British Virgin Islands, as its crewmates prepared to raise the main and head up Sir Francis Drake Channel to North Sound, at Virgin Gorda.
“You wanna sail?” asks skipper Ken Rollins. “We’re headed right into the wind, and we got 15 knots.”
It seemed the natural thing to do. With that, another installment in the long-running series of CW’s successful Sail-a-Cat Adventure Charters really got its game on. Sail-a-Cat is but one of an array of trips offered through the magazine’s Adventure Charter program, which for more than 25 years has guided sailors through organized flotillas to destinations all over the globe.
This particular flotilla, hosted in December 2010 by yours truly and my partner, Captain Rick Martell, was billed as a chance for participants to try out multihulls while hearing tales from our years spent sailing and living in the Caribbean; in fact, the stories from my fellow sailors, heard while we gunkholed our way through the popular archipelago, are what made the experience so appealing to us.
The Rollinses’ sailing story hooked me in, pronto. These folks, who sail Sea Karma IV, a Catalina 35, from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, aren’t only vets of Sail-a-Cat; they’re vets of Shrek, as well. Change has come to both boat and crew over time, and the family—Ken; his wife, Trudy; their son, Chad; and his wife, Chris—possessed ample doses of good humor about how time makes an impression on humans and hulls.
So did other crewmates aboard the eight-pack cat, who found their patience tested by the boat’s systems and hardware. “But all the water’s on the outside,” says crew William “Denny” Clinton. “So that’s a good thing.”
Once under way, the Lagoon ingratiated itself by making short work of the hop northeast to Virgin Gorda. “We’re gonna tack!” Ken calls out to the ladies sunning themselves on the foredeck. “You’ll have a sheet come across your head.”
So we rolled over a bit—there’s so much room on the foredeck of a cat that shifting from starboard to port involved no serious climbing, as it can aboard a monohull. Ours was more a move away from the heat of the sun. “When they tack, we tack,” says Chris.
As we slid past Spanishtown, on Virgin Gorda, Chris told me that she was enjoying the post-exam break from her position on the faculty of the St. Louis University School of Law. The trip, she explained, was a birthday present for Chad. “We decided that this is where we’d be,” she says.
Chad’s mom, Trudy, who’s sailed since 1983, prefers line-of-sight sailing to ocean crossings. While Ken, Denny, my Rick, and Shrek crewmate Rick Flack sailed the boat, she relaxed and reminisced about their first Sail-a-Cat, which circumnavigator and CW contributor Tania Aebi hosted. “We talked a lot about the responsibility of sailing,” Trudy says. “And I always remember her saying, ‘Why do something if you don’t have to?’ This is great sailing.”