Skip to main content

Learning New Sailing Skills

Multihull sailing requires a skill set all its own

Multihull sailing requires a skill set all its own

The other day I was thinking about the very first time I sailed a multihull. It was in New Zealand, of all places, on the Bay of Islands, midway through Christmas break at the school where I was then teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa. Stranger still, I was already 29 years old.

Granted, save for the occasional trip to New England, I was, at the time, almost exclusively a Great Lakes sailor, and the Great Lakes, especially back then, were hardly what you would call a hotbed of multihull sailing. Nonetheless, it still strikes me as incredible to think that as a lifelong sailor it took me that long to get aboard any kind of yacht with more than one hull. Cat and tris, both large and small, seem to be everywhere these days. The idea of nearly reaching the ripe old age of 30 before having an opportunity to try one out, whether on charter or just for a daysail, now strikes me as almost inconceivable.

Multihulls also make great diving platforms!

Multihulls also make great diving platforms!

Similarly, I am struck by how little I knew about multihulls back then, not only their pros and cons but how best to sail the darn things, period. How deep was my ignorance? Well, the boat in question was some little-known beach cat, and it was blowing stink. Good times! I thought, as my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I shoved off.

Then came our first tack.

I’m guessing more than a few of you may have already guessed how that went. Alas, it didn’t. And the next thing I knew, we were trapped in irons, sailcloth slatting like mad, and my then-girlfriend (now wife) looking at me like, “Who is this idiot?” It’s a good thing she’s such a strong swimmer or I suspect there would have been more than a touch of fear in her eyes as well!

Happily, I soon figured out how to get our boat moving again and even succeeded in throwing in a few not-too-shabby tacks afterward. Still, that first lesson in handling a multihull is not only something that comes to mind with every new cat or tri I sail but a memory that will undoubtedly live with me to my dying day.

Other lessons I’ve learned in the years since include the wisdom of reefing early (especially when on charter with your family; heavens, but those big, full-roached mains sure do load up quick!); knowing how to work your port and starboard engines with or against one another like tractor treads when maneuvering in a tight space; the joys of thin-water sailing; lounging up on the forward tramp at sundown; and of course, the thrill of power-reaching aboard a well-found multihull, whether it be a lightweight carbon-fiber speedster or a burlier cruising cat with, nothing but blue skies and even bluer water up ahead.

Best of all, in learning these and many other lessons my various crews and I have also had a heck of a good time and created any number of other lifelong memories to boot. Here’s to creating just as many more memories (and never again getting caught in irons) in the years to come! 

MHS Winter 2020

Related

00LEAD-Thomas-on-%22Melody%22-2004

The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Thor Tangvald

The first boat Thomas Tangvald ever owned was just 22 feet long. She was an odd craft, a narrow plywood scow with a flat bottom, leeboards on either side, and square ends—little more than a daysailer with a rotting deck and tiny cabinhouse tacked on. Thomas paid just $200 for ...read more

VIPCAshowbynight

USVI Charter Yacht Show Showcases a Flourishing Industry

As the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to attract sailors seeking to charter and explore the pristine territory on their own, the immense growth and expanded options for a crewed yacht or term charters have exploded here over the past five years. Last week, the USVI Charter ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-11-21-at-9.48.33-AM

Personal Locator Beacon Wins Top Design Award

The Ocean Signal RescueME PLB3 AIS Personal Locator took top honors at the 2022 DAME Design Awards, while Aceleron Essential, a cobalt-free lithium-iron phosphate battery with replaceable and upgradeable parts, won the first DAME Environmental Design Award. Announced each year ...read more

tracker

EPIRB in the Golden Globe Race

Tapio Lehtinen’s boat sank early this morning southeast of South Africa while racing the Golden Globe Race, a faithfully low-tech reproduction of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe. The boat went down quickly and stern-first according to the skipper’s emergency transmissions. ...read more

99640-victoire-de-charles-caudrelier-a-bord-du-maxi-edmond-de-rothschild-r-1200-900

Victory, Tragedy in the Route du Rhum

The 2022 Route du Rhum was a highly anticipated event in the ocean racing calendar, but few could have predicted exactly how challenging, dramatic, and tragic it would ultimately prove. French yachtsman Charles Caudrelier took home gold aboard the Ultim maxi trimaran Maxi Edmond ...read more

DSC_1879

Boat Review: Lyman-Morse LM46

Lyman-Morse has been building fine yachts in Thomaston, Maine, ever since Cabot Lyman first joined forces with Roger Morse back in 1978. With experience creating and modifying boats built of various materials, backed by its own in-house fabrication facility, the firm has ...read more

01-LEAD-SPICA-Forest_3

Know-how: All-new Battery Tech

Until very recently, the batteries in sailboats used some form of lead-acid chemistry to store energy. Different manufacturers used different techniques and materials, but in the end, the chemistry and the process by which the batteries charge and discharge electricity remained ...read more

01-LEAD-Bill-Sailing2

At the Helm: When Things Go Sideways

I don’t like sea stories. My number one goal on every passage is to get the crew back in one piece. My number two goal is to get the boat back in one piece as well. If I can’t do both, I’ll take the former. Do this long enough, though, and things are going to happen, no matter ...read more