Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

You can click
here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Don't buy a Catamaran, you'll die!!


"Are you crazy? Don't you know catamarans are incredibly dangerous?"

That was one of the first things most folks said to us, when, about five years ago, we decided to start shopping for a catamaran. Not just your average, land lubber types who wouldn't know a dolphin striker from a poop deck, but lots and lots of real, honest to goodness sailors.

People who knew what they were talking about. People who owned boats (uh, monohulls, now that I come to think about it), and had been sailing around the world (in monohulls, they never actually did have any experience with production cruising cats); people who seemed very emotionally attached to their arguments (that the monohulls they'd just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in were better than any other possible solution) and were very adamant that they knew what they were talking about (that their decision to buy a monohull couldn't have been anything but the absolutely best choice), and took pains to point it out.

In fact, that attitude was so prevalent around the San Francisco bay area back in the early '90s [the first time I shopped for a boat] that, cowed by such consistently negative attitudes towards more than one hull, I abandoned my dream of a cat then and there, and ended up buying a monohull instead. By 2003 it was time to get another boat; by then there was a lot more data available, I had done extensive research, looked at all the options, made up my mind and decided they were wrong.

I'd explain this to friends. The typical conversation went something like: "Are you mad? Once they get any wind, those things flip over and stay that way. They're tits up faster than Anna Nicole Smith and you're trapped inside. You'd be safer driving a Pinto in a demolition derby with a full tank of gas!"

I'd say, "But according to insurance company data, production cats are actually safer than monohulls. In fact, there has never been a recorded instance of a production cruising cat operated by an owner that has turtled. Yes, delivery skippers and racers have managed this, but not consciensious sailors."

There would be a long pause as they waited for my lips to stop moving, then they'd say, "Dude...don't you know the most stable position for a cat is upside down at the surface?"

I'd say, "Yeah...but dude, don't you know the most stable position for a monohull is right side up, at the bottom?"

They'd look at me with that pitying look you reserve for someone who thinks they just got a great deal on a stereo they bought out of the trunk of some guy's car. "Robb, really, are you that suicidal? No one sails cats that wants to live! Look around the bay...see any catamarans? Ever wonder why? Its because they are all floating upside down in the Pacific."

"Yeah, but they're still floating!" I argue back, "The monohulls just sink to the bottom. If fact, it is damn near impossible to sink a modern cat, even if you hole'd every single bulkhead - they don't have thousands of pound of ballast trying to pull them to the bottom. And further more, the only way to flip them is by going way too fast in really bad conditions. That's like driving your car at seventy miles per hour down an off ramp rated for twenty, then flipping and claiming the car was unsafe. Besides, even if you could manage to flip one, which would you rather be in, a soggy cat or a soggy life raft?"

They would inevitably stare back at me, unfamiliar with logic and reason used in a discussion about boats. "Oh yeah, well how come you don't see any around here then?"

I'd have to admit that, yes, San Francisco did have a dearth of catamarans, but according to everything I'd read, investigated and researched, modern production cats were a significantly safer ride over all. Not to mention more comfortable, roomy and stable. But in all my sailing around the SF bay, and up and down the Pacific coast, I really hadn't seen that many catamarans; upside down or otherwise.

Well, we were going to go try a few out, maybe buy a cat and find out for ourselves...which is the tale that is about to unfold. In fact, we actually ended up doing just that. Here's a picture of the catamaran (i.e. hole in water into which I foolishly poured my life savings) as it sat at Shelter Bay Marina just before we took it through the Panama Canal.
And another shot of her sitting at anchor off Tabaga, just off the Western Panama Coast...

What follows is my best recollection of the process of purchasing our catamaran, formerly called "Terra Nova" and renamed by us to "Triton", of sailing it from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad, and then from Trinidad back to San Francisco, California. The posts may skip around a bit, as I've just started putting this blog together, and there may be large sections omitted, but I will continue to add to this as I find old notes, logs and the time.

Please bear with me: I'm new to blogging; my writing style suffers from a lethal dose of public school education; and I tend to use "too many notes" when writing. If you like what I've written, let me know. If it's grammatically incorrect, or confusing, or something is spelled wrong, let me know. If you disagree with what I say, shut up. I probably don't like you anyway.

Hoping you enjoy reading this as much as we did experiencing it!

Fair Seas,

Robb Triton