Multihull Seamanship

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Sailing is an Art and there are no defining right or wrong ways to perform maneuvers on a boat. Polynesian seafarers who plowed across the Pacific already knew this thousands of years ago. Their knowledge of navigation and seamanship was handed down by the leaders to their heirs and treated like a closely guarded mystic treasure of knowledge. Their expertise in navigation and sailing giant oceangoing multihulls was responsible for the successful colonization of distant islands. Polynesian mariners did not have the advantage of today's hightech materials, electronics and sailhandling systems. All they could rely upon was their ability to handle their multihulls in any weather. So let's remember, however well designed, constructed and equipped your cat is, the one thing that will ensure its safety are experience, understanding and above all good seamanship.

It is my firm belief that every sailor should be able to singlehand his multihull unless the boat is set up as a fully crewed yacht. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough. Most cruising catamarans are manned by a husband and wife team with occasional guests, who are usually novices. If one of the principal operators becomes incapacitated, it is up to the remaining crewmember to navigate and return to a safe harbor. If sailing is an art, single-handing is its highest manifestation.

I have sailed close to 80,000 miles on different types of vessels, monohulls and multihulls alike, and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to share the adventure of the open ocean with people who have become my closest friends. If you are able to sail for a week with a stranger you will get to know him better than knowing anyone on land for a year. Getting along with your crew on ocean passages and weathering storms with them will bond you in a special way - unknown to people on terra firma.

In my many Atlantic crossings on different types of catamarans I have experienced days of calms but most of the time, moderate conditions, which did not test our skills. However, I remember very well, and so does my crew, the three days of a Force 10 storm that intercepted us in the middle of the Atlantic in winter. At the end we got through it because of our efforts as a team and by applying the art of seamanship.

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