Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 7, 2014.

I've noticed a disturbing new trend. It's not really new but it has taken off lately. Catamarans. There has always been a few couples out and about on their cruising catamarans. Usually they've been cats around 40 feet or less. These smaller cats have to worry about weight distribution so overloading the boat is a legitimate concern. They're usually a little bit underpowered so sailing opportunities are cherished. What they lack in power they make up for with a shallow draft and livability while anchored.

This week we had 4 catamarans show up in the anchorage. A 50 footer followed by a 48 and a pair of 42's. Can you imagine how much crap you could bring along if you had two 50 foot hulls. The salon space alone is more square footage than our entire boat.

Thirty years ago only the truly committed diehard went cruising. No creature comforts, it was survival and the trip was a true adventure. Then along came GPS and the chartplotter and any idiot could do it. Even people like me.

The wind generator enabled people to make their own power without running an engine. More power meant creature comforts like Edison’s new fangled incandescent lighting and maybe a tiny fridge. Technology advanced and soon there were affordable solar panels and small generators available to the masses. With even more power came the onset of more toys. Stereos, televisions, mood lighting, huge refrigerators, microwaves, freezers, water makers, electric winches and much more. More toys = more room and now I'm looking at a 50 foot cat.

You can only fit so much stuff on a boat but people keep right on cramming shit aboard. We, like most cruising boats that have had to raise their waterlines as their boat becomes more loaded down. I've even seen 2 boats that had to install macerators on their galley sink drain to keep the water from sitting in the bottom of the sink now that its below the waterline.

This week when these big cats arrived it really drove it home how many creature comforts they bring with them. Three of the boats had been traveling together and when they arrived they all planned to have a gathering on one of the cats. Then the next night one of the other boats felt they had to return the hospitality. Finally on the third night the last guy got to play host.

Three days here and they never got off their boats. They launched their dinghies and only went from boat to boat. They never hit the beach, never walked the trails, never came up to socialize at the firepit, nothing, they just stayed in their boats all day.

Whats the point of traveling this far if you're not going to do a little exploring. Isn't getting some sand between your toes something you signed up for? Isn't meeting new people part of the experience. We've had different buddy boats over the years and even though we spent the bulk of our time with these couples nobody ever shied away from meeting new peeps. Traveling by sailboat is an adventure, but it's the people you meet along the way that make it all that much sweeter.

P.S. This post was over and done with but the 3 cats left this morning for Cuba and there was some hijinks so I thought that I'd lump it in here.

We were all hiding between Hog Cay and Ragged Island to allow a cold front to clock its way through. At dawn the wind was from the north northwest at 15 to 20 so 2 of the cats pulled their hooks and headed out. The route into this hiding spot is a little convoluted and they had come in that way while following others. This morning when they left they headed straight west between the wrong 2 rocks.
You have to sneak in from the north.  You definitely wanna go West

They never got on the radio but I watched as they took over an hour to grope their way a mile to deep water. They dodged this way and that while trying not to run aground on the hard bar that is clearly marked on the charts. It was ridiculous as they played touchy feely with the bottom in what is a charted area with a safe route laid out for them.

I couldn't figure out why they had decided to head straight for the shallows that we've been hiding behind when it was time to leave. Then the third cat, Gone With The Wind pulled his hook and like the previous two and headed straight west! He ran straight aground and after backing off he called the only other Aussie boat around. Maybe he hates US and Canadian flagged vessels, I dunno. It turned out that all 3 of the cats were using Raymarine gear with Navionics charting. Shane on Gem advised him to use the Explorer Charts and even read him off the list of waypoints that he would need to get safely out to sea.

Just so we're all clear here. Navionics sucks in the Bahamas. The Explorer Charts are the Bible. You can use your Navionics but you really ought to cross reference it to the Explorer Charts before going anywhere. If there’s a conflict, BELIEVE the Explorer Charts.

But the thing that really confused me about the whole situation was.....If they thought there was deep water to the west, why in Gods name would they spend 2 nights hiding here with the rest of us as the wind blew from the west. We were here hiding behind the shallows. You'd think that might have been a clue. Maybe if they had come ashore the topic might have come up and some bottom paint could have been saved.

I guess I could stretch it a bit and say that the moral of the story is that if you don't socialize with us you will run aground...


S/V MutulFun said...

It's like the same thing I listened to January of 2013 in G town. A brand new 40 ft plus cat came in the wrong cut and sank. Using Navionics charts. It goes to show you may have money to buy a big cat but you need to know what your doing.

S/V Veranda said...

I remember that. I can't believe that even though its common knowledge that their charting sucks Raymarine hasn't changed to Explorer Charts for the Bahamas....