Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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spent some time on a Gemini 105 catamaran this week

Thursday and Friday of this week was my first time working for West Coast Sailing, being a captain for some folks from out of town who chartered a Gemini 105 catamaran. 

Cutting right to the meat of it, the handling of such a light displacement vessel was both convenient and slightly alarming, having spent most of my time on heavier displacement vessels (both sail and power). 

With wind on the beam, after our bow cleared the dock by 5-10' the wind immediately grabbed the bow and started sending her skittering sideways. In fact, the wind's very pronounced impact on the Gemini, and the near complete lack of inertia are second place for handling tips I could offer. 

The first tip though is related to the vessel's single outdrive. Armed with a Westerbeke diesel that barely sips any fuel at all, the outdrive essentially negates propwalk (for better and for worse). In close quarters maneuvering, a helmsman is left with a propulsion system that best resembles a dinghy/outboard combination, a lightweight dinghy in regards to displacement (or lack thereof), and a highfreeboard low draft vessel as far as tracking is concerned. 

Once you get used to the lack of inertia and learn that your typical maneuvering tricks will not work well in the single-outdrive-on-a-catamaran setup, you can learn some valuable tips:

1) She wants water going past the rudders. If you stop moving her (either in forward or reverse), the wind will take her. This was evident even with <10 knots blowing.

2) Don't count on propwalk. When you apply rudder, the outdrive moves as well. Backing to starboard may theoretically be harder than backing to port on a Gemini (or any outdrive), but in practice they operate nearly the same.

3) With the light inertia and small displacement, she will *almost* stop on a dime. If you're moving 1-2 knots, full reverse will probably stop your forward progress within a couple of seconds. The propulsion response is very quick, especially in reverse. 

4) Going bow in with a catamaran seems easier than backing down, but your visibility is pretty terrible up front, as where when backing down you can more accurately see the distance to objects and speed.

I might get a couple more updates out there in the future related to sailing the vessel and ship's functions, but these were the most pronounced things I learned. As is typical, the biggest challenges for most boat owners happen in the very beginning and end of a trip when leaving and picking up your mooring lines.

Reader Comments (3)

I read this with some interest Eric since Kelli and I are looking at one of these as a liveaboard. What are your thoughts on this? Could you see it?

August 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Davey

Hey Chris!

The only thing that was a little sketchy for me was the light displacement and "skittishness" of her. It's built for performance and you can tell that she can probably hold her own doing some races and making quick work of sailing in fresh winds. Not sure how she'd hold up if it was banging around a lot, although the twin hulls smoothed out the ride a bit in the 10-15 knots we were dealing with on all points of sail.

It's got decent space for the size, and it's certainly comfortable as all heck when not underway or even just in regular conditions. I'd really like (or maybe I wouldn't?) to take her out in some heavier conditions to see how she holds up. The problem is that a lot of the charter boats aren't equipped with the sails or modifications you'd want for heavy weather, nor would the charter companies even want anyone taking it out in a storm.

The outdrive was nice though. A bit heavier displacement with one of those would be really dreamy. You can also hike the drive out of the water with a little hydraulic pump, again orienting the boat towards the performance end of the scale bu letting you get the prop out of the water when under sail.

August 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterEric

Thanks Eric. Nothing beats displacement as they say and I guess that applies to both motors and sail craft.

Given her skittishness, in large swells ( > 15 ft), I guess you'd want to drag a drogue to keep her happy?

I think one of the appeals as a live aboard is her reasonable LOA and beam while remaining pretty spacious. Someone suggested she's narrow enough for a single slip rather than the double most cats require. Would you agree?


August 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Davey

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