Chartering Life in the Slow Lane

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Slow can also be good: yeah, that’s a couple of rolls you see taken up on the headsail furler!

Slow can also be good: yeah, that’s a couple of rolls you see taken up on the headsail furler!

The multihull world is a funny one in that it pays lip service to speed under sail to the point where any other kind of sailing is almost considered a sin. It’s like the sailing style that dare not speak its name. If you’re not doing your utmost to throw up a pair of dramatic rooster tails astern (or flying through the air a foot or two above the water on a pair of lifting foils) you ain't-a real sailor.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I, for one, have absolutely no problem slowing things down a little aboard a well-found cruising cat. Granted, there have also been plenty of times when I’ve striven as mightily as anyone out there after the aforementioned rooster-tail effect. However, I also love just lazing along with the autopilot on, watching the watery world go by, often with a wholly unnecessary reef in the main in case things should suddenly pick up again.

Apologists justify the existence of those multihulls not optimized for speed by pointing out the scads of lounging space they possess. They also draw attention to the fact that even the slowest multihull out there doesn’t heel. Fair enough. But I’m not looking for justifications. When I’m out on charter or sailing coastal I’m out to have a good time, and I make no apologies sailing on a reach at 6 knots—or less!

02-anchored

I found myself thinking these kinds of thoughts a few months back while on charter in Belize aboard a Sunsail 404 catamaran by the name of Hamako. Making our way from Hatchet Cay to Wippari Cay over flat-calm waters, we did all of about 3 knots, gybing back and forth among the shallows. Fine by me. My wife and daughter read or napped in the cockpit, while I alternated between relaxing up in the helm station, getting cold drinks in the saloon and taking the occasional leisurely stroll up to the bow.

It was the same thing the next day en route to the charter base in Placencia. With around 10 knots coming from directly astern, I didn’t even bother with the main, just moseyed along down the Inner Channel like I was the king of the world, thinking how cool we must look from onshore. I imagined this must have been what it was like for the ancient Polynesians with their wooden hulls and woven, claw-like sails in search of specs of land: day after day of leisurely sailing across a truly “pacific” ocean. I knew full well that within the next couple of hours, the sea breeze would kick in, the same as it had done every other day thus far. I also figured that when it did, I’d maybe throw out some more sail and let Hamako show her stuff, the way I knew she could. But then again, what was the hurry? Placencia wasn’t going anywhere…

So, here’s to life in the slow lane! Here’s to having plenty of room to stretch out in and watch the world go by. Fast is fun. But there’s also nothing wrong with throttling back a little. So long as you’re aboard a well-found boat (and not a stink pot!) what’s the rush? Taking your time or building a boat that allows others to do the same, even at the sacrifice of some boatspeed, is as legitimate a kind of sailing or boatbuilding as any—period. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. 

Ed Note: For more on chartering out of Belize, visit sunsail.com

MHS Winter 2018

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