Skip to main content

Windshifts: When Two's a Crowd

If I’m racing, I sail to win. If I’m cruising, I sail to relax. The sailing bug bit me 20 years ago, and I’ve never recovered.

I confess to being a bit of a planner. According to psychometric profiles, I’m a “maximizer,” who focuses on details and lives in the future. To balance all of those issues, I sail. If I’m racing, I sail to win. If I’m cruising, I sail to relax. The sailing bug bit me 20 years ago, and I’ve never recovered.

We were, and still are, lake sailors in South Dakota. Plagued with two-foot-itis, we’ve owned several sailboats, starting with a 26-foot Chrysler and eventually moving up to our Catalina 387, Equilibrium. But during our 23-plus years of boat ownership, we never kept and maintained two boats—until now. 

The plan was simple. When I semi-retired, we wanted a boat to sail in South Dakota during the summer and a boat in the Caribbean to spend winters aboard as snowbirds. (As a side note, we’ve also co-owned Equilibrium with some great friends the last seven years. We do most of the maintenance, but we also have more time to sail her, so it works well.) 

So far, so good. What a great plan.

Then, two years ago some friends from Omaha told us they were ready to sell their Bavaria 39 in the British Virgin Islands. They’d bought her new in 2006 and lavished her with air conditioning, a generator, a washer and dryer, a watermaker and even a bow-thruster. They had been living aboard for six months a year. 

So now, as you’ve probably surmised, we maintain two 39-foot sailboats. As I write this, we are between Virgin Gorda and St. Croix on Asylum midway through our second winter with her. Come May, my wife and I will go back to South Dakota to work and enjoy weekends sailing Equilibrium with family and friends.

On paper, this looks like a perfect arrangement: I get my sailing fix year- round, and still work six months a year. Trouble is, I forgot to weigh in one very important fact in all of that planning. It was easy to miss, since I’d never faced it before. Sailboats are, by nature, jealous. 

My brain has one compartment for boating stuff. Granted, it is a big compartment, but both boats are competing for it. They each try to confuse me and force stupid boating mistakes on the other. Seriously. Some areas of confusion are easy to identify. For example, the aft water tank fill on Equilibrium and the diesel tank fill on Asylum are in the same place on each of the two boats. It’s only a matter of time before Equilibrium leverages her seven years of familiarity and makes me fill Asylum’s diesel tank with water. 

This familiarity also haunts me at Asylum’s chart table: all of the 12v circuit breakers are in the wrong spot and are labeled with arcane German symbols instead of words. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve adapted and learned the layout of many a circuit breaker panel. It’s the going back and forth between the two that makes have to me stop and think each time I flick a switch. 

Thanks to the loose-footed, full-battened main and a big genoa that we equipped her with, Equilibrium is lighter on her feet than Asylum with her in-mast furling mainsail. This is especially true since she carries less water, less fuel, less gear and no generator. Frankly, she is friskier and more fun to sail. She reminds me of that every chance she gets. 

Equilibrium also likes to play the “I’m easier to love” card, since she lacks the many systems that are aboard Asylum that always needs attention. Living in salt water, Asylum also needs her stainless cleaned way more often, and more upkeep of her watermaker and generator. 

However, Asylum rewards all that attention with some really great sailing and tropical island-hopping. She reminds me that she represents what a sailboat really is. As Capt. Jack Sparrow so aptly put it, she is “Freedom.” She has enabled us to meet some amazing people wherever we’ve steered her—St. Martin, St. Lucia and any number of islands we’ve visited. 

Both boats know how to get under my skin when I’m looking for the right tool or the obscure spare part that’s tucked away under the v-berth. Oh wait, on Asylum it’s tucked under the aft berth. It’s amazing how two boats can compete for brain cells. 

The only real solution is to return to one-boat ownership, and at this time Equilibrium is for sale. But don’t tell her. She will make me remember all of the great times we had aboard her as a family: my wife, our boat and our two now-grown girls—priceless memories.

Rats. Maybe two is a good number after all.

Related

AdobeStock_15671180

Orca Encounters in Spain

The waters off the Atlantic coast of the southern Iberian Peninsula can be tough enough as it is, but in recent months resident pods of orcas have created a whole new kind of challenge, ramming boats and chewing off rudders. Though initially confined to smaller vessels, larger ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster-EP-2048

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more