Sail Away - January 2006
Charter CatsThanks to the unusual nature of my job—I give thanks frequently—I’ve sailed on a lot of charterboats with (often) people I’d never met before in (sometimes) unusual weather patterns. It’s not unusual, however, that many of these boats have been catamarans, given the proliferation of cats in charter fleets worldwide. So I can claim a certain authority in saying that, in many circumstances in addition to shallow waters, cats make ideal platforms for charter vacations. This is because of three important characteristics: cats have lots of space, they sail level, and they offer more privacy than monohulls of similar length.
If you’re planning to charter with a crowd of friends, you can be sure that a cat that is said to sleep eight will in fact fit eight—in the cockpit, around the dining table (should you be forced to eat in), in the cabins, and on the decks. If not, there are other places to hang out. And there’s plenty of room for boat toys, too—windsurfers, kayaks, dive gear, what have you—and cameras and other fragile objects are likely to stay where you put them.
If you’re chartering with friends who have cruised for years on monohulls, they’ll be equally happy chartering on a monohull. But if you’re chartering with non- or not-very sailors, all three characteristics of cats come into play. Many nonsailors find it difficult to adjust to life at an angle and to the closeness of living on a boat, especially the concept of sharing a head; they’ll appreciate having their own cabin with ensuite head (readily available on charter cats), a level platform for sailing, and a choice of places on the boat where they can get away from you, their carefree experienced-sailor friends, for a while.
If you’re sailing with children young enough to need supervision, you’ll be glad you chartered a cat. If you restrict them to the cockpit while under way, they’ll have enough space to keep them happy (at least for most of the passage); when the boat is anchored, they’ll love playing on the trampoline and sitting in the seats in the bows or on the sterns. If your kids are toddler-age or under, you’ll find room in the cockpit for a safe container—car seat or portable crib—plus room on the boat for all the stuff you have to bring.
If any of your party finds it difficult to get around—I sailed shortly after knee surgery—it’s easier to move around a cat, and to get on and off via the sterns.