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@20:29 GMT

Position: 38° 26.860 N x 33° 43.559 W

Speed: 7.8 kts

Course: 89° True

Guest blog by 1st Mate Rudy

Rudy! It is going to happen: we are sailing X-Atlantic! Are you joining?”

When Phil called me, I had answered “yes” before I knew it. This passage is on the bucket list of many sailors. After having tried to organise this twice in vain with our sailboat Kalue, this seemed an unique opportunity. However, being passionate about (classic) monohulls – the Kalue is a German Frers sr. designed, 43′ wooden ketch from 1947 – I had to swallow at the idea to sail the + 3,000 miles to the Azores with a 51′ Leopard catamaran. But, hey, you cannot always have it all. I was thrilled to join the crew of the Ingwe on May 11th and did not spent any further thoughts on the catamaran. 

Rudy swabbing the deck

I knew catamarans from sailing Hobie cats at sunny places like southern France, Italy and the Caribbean. And what a fun playthings they were! Somewhere in the nineties bigger catamarans started to dominate the charter industry. For me these large catamarans also seemed like playthings, this time for folks that value comfort at their cruises. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, all this comfort – such as high freeboard and huge deckhouses – came at the cost of their esthetics. And what is the fun of sailing if you are sitting high, dry (and upright) above the water? Does that not in fact defeat the purpose? Well, let’s reconsider now that we are in the 3rd week of our adventure….

I learned that – notwithstanding all bravado about long, wet and cold voyages, I am not immune for creature comforts…. Having the luxury of my own bathroom with a hot shower after a night watch is simply priceless. Whilst writing this, the deckhouse is becoming warm and humid and I can just restrain myself from asking “Phil can you turn the air-conditioning on?”

But let’s get serious. Is sailing not especially about speed? Well, double digits are not rare and our current 24-h record is 235 miles (which is almost 10kts speed) and we hit stretches of 14 kts. Well that is fun! But of course even more important is the feel of the boat and its seaworthiness. You won’t enjoy the speed 1,500 miles offshore if you don’t trust the boat. And I have been pleasantly surprised. The way the bow of the Ingwe slices through the water and how she glides over the waves brought back those old memories from sailing with beach catamarans. I know, it sounds almost too good to be true, but you can have all this fun even without having to deal with any significant heel thanks to the great stability of catamarans (their righting moment at a 2% heel equals that of a 20% heel of a monohull). Finally, whereas we are overall having fair conditions during our passage, there have been stretches with 30+ kts of wind and confused seas. We even had to heave-to for a day. That is where the Ingwe proved to me that she is fit for doing ocean crossings. In hindsight, the seaworthiness should not have come as a surprise: did the Pacific navigators not already travel thousands of miles with their multihulls?

Have I now been converted to Catamaranism? Mhh, although I have now certainly more appreciation for the multihull, I think that I will stay with the occasional rental of a Hobie cat on a sunny beach.

Rudy enjoying the moment offshore

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