Downwind Sailing on a Cruising Catamaran

Although sailing downwind in the trades in a cruising boat has its challenges, it is a relatively pleasant and fairly easy experience on a catamaran.

There is a more-or-less continuous flow of air across the Atlantic called the trade winds. Because the Earth is warmer at the equator and colder at the poles, and because of Earth’s rotation, this flow is generally westerly (from the west) near the poles and easterly nearer the equator.

Every season there is a migration of cruising boats that follow the trades when the trade winds are steady. One such migration is from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean across the Atlantic Ocean in November / December every year from east to west. It is the same downwind route that we took when we sailed our own boat back from France to the Caribbean in November 2019.

Although sailing downwind in the trades in a cruising boat has its challenges, it is a relatively pleasant and fairly easy experience on a catamaran. Assuming that your catamaran is a regular production cat like a Leopard, Bali or Lagoon, well equipped with cruising gear, you’ll perform much the same way as an equivalent monohull with either a conventional symmetrical spinnaker or asymmetric sail. Like on monohulls, you will pretty much sail to hull speed provided your catamaran is not overloaded. Performance cats are a different animal of course.

Read more: Downwind Sailing on a Cruising Catamaran

Safety At Sea: Man Overboard Rescue

ais beacons family large"London businesswoman Sarah Young has been laid to rest at sea after dying during a global yacht race." This man overboard headline from the Guardian newspaper caught my eye yesterday and made me think about safety at sea, especially after our own recent yacht delivery from Guadeloupe to Miami. 

Ms. Young died after being washed overboard by a large wave while competing in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race. Ms. Young was not tethered and did not seem to be wearing a personal Man Overboard (MOB) beacon. While we don’t know the exact circumstances of Ms. Young’s tragic death, I have to wonder that perhaps if she was tethered, perhaps she would be alive today. 

Unfortunately, few of us actually heed the most basic safety rules and we become somewhat complacent.

Read more: Safety At Sea: Man Overboard Rescue

Boat Docking Simulator: Dock Your Boat by Sfinx-It

boat docking simulator dock your boat sfinx itA boat docking simulator like Dock Your Boat by sfinx-it helps beginners or experienced sailors hone their skills in the harbor. including catamaran sailors!

Docking a sailboat is, for most "newbies",  the most difficult maneuver to make. It is also where there are the most critical eyes watching you and sometimes worrying about their own boats sitting nearby and most of our buyers and students, always fret about docking a big catamaran.

They always seem to be intimidated by the high freeboard and wide beam but by understanding the procedures and the theory behind the docking manuevres allows you to quickly master the techniques and build the skills to do a perfect docking. If you can handle docking, you can handle any other maneuver situation.

The sfinx-it team are avid sailors themselves so they have a passion for helping other sailing enthusiasts learn safer, more confident docking. 

Read more: Boat Docking Simulator App for iOS or Android

Tips For Ocean Passage Making

we make ocean passages aboard our catamaran zuriStephen and I have made numerous ocean passages, some lasting only a few days and others several weeks at a time. The longest passage that we have done is from Cape Town, South Africa via St. Helena Island to Fortaleza, South America and then Miami. It was a total of 42 days at sea. It took some real planning on our part. Not only did we have to plan the usual things like navigation, provisions, fuel etc. but we were also actively working while we were doing the crossing, so we needed to have good communication. We used a software called OCENS with our Iridium Satelite phone to send and receive email and for making calls, as well as getting the weather forecast. That was back in 2005, today it is much easier and cheaper to do. As we all know, good ocean passage making preparations are crucial for success and safety. Stephen and I, each have our own dedicated areas of responsibility to prepare the boat and the crew. That way we know what is expected of each crew member and there is no confusion about who did what. We then double check to make sure all items have been taken care of before we cast off.

Read more: Tips For Ocean Passage Making

How to Read Water Buoys and Markers

Watch this video to learn to safely and confidently navigate inland waterways and rivers.

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