spent some time on a Gemini 105 catamaran this week
Saturday, July 23, 2011 at 12:54
Eric in catamaran, charters, professional maritime

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.

Article originally appeared on Rebel Heart (http://www.therebelheart.com/).
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