"Arctracer" Letters

Deposit on Catamaran, May 2001

Today, Friday, May 25th Jerry has driven to Brisbane to put a deposit on a catamaran. I'm here in Coffs Harbour recovering rapidly from my knee surgery. I'm walking quite well (not normal yet) and staying awake today. Yesterday (the day after the operation) I slept half the day and didn't accomplish much, but today I feel great! Since Jerry is hoping to get a trial sail on the "cat" and to find a surveyor to survey it before we buy it, I decided to stay on "Arctracer" and relax. It is a 5- hour drive to Brisbane from here and he has a lot to do, he probably won't be back until tomorrow night.

Can you believe that we're going from a schooner to a catamaran? Apparently it sails at 12 knots with no problem and has reached much higher speeds! We've always felt good if we could average 120 nautical miles a day on "Arctracer." We'll be making over 200 miles a day with the catamaran it seems!

The present name of the catamaran is "Purpose" for "Purr Puss" and it has a silhouette of a cat on each bow of the hulls. Since we are known to our cruising friends as Jerry and Nina on "Arctracer" we'll probably rename her "Arctracer" or "Arctracer II." And we'll take the silhouettes off. We know it's superstitious to rename sailing vessels, but "Arctracer" used to be "Charlotte Jean" and we've had no problem with that change. We think that "Arctracer" is still a good name since we'll still be tracing arcs as we sail on the oceans.

With 27 h.p. Yanmar engines in each hull we'll now have the choice of going up through the Red Sea instead of going around the bottom of South Africa. With the schooner's 12 horsepower engine we would only have considered going around the Cape of Good Hope. Who knows, perhaps we'll get to Turkey and the Mediterranean more quickly than we'd planned (that could be a few years however).

One of the most amazing things to me was learning that Jerry's poem "Electric Fever" was for real! The last stanza says: "I must go down to the seas again, how can I get away? Must I be locked in low-tech boats until my dying day? Is there no cure for my complaint, no technologic fix? Oh I fear electric fever is a habit I can't kick." Previously I thought he felt fine about our schooner with very few electronics. I thought he was poking fun at all our friends on boats that we used to call "loaded."

Anyway, the catamaran has a refrigerator and two freezers, a shower, a CD player (we only own CD's for the computer), a TV and VCR, radar, two dinghies each with their own engines (we've never had a dinghy engine), and three bedrooms! Of course there's a big dance floor on the front deck too! And, we just bought a second laptop to get weather faxes when we're sailing. I think we should get a microwave too and an Iridium phone to be able to send and receive email on board too!?

We discovered that there were a lot of catamarans for sale here in Australia, but most of them are for coastal cruising. This cat is a "Fastback 43" built by the Australian John Gross. We spent three hours last weekend with him and his wife learning about the construction of it and many other things. He is a VERY conscientious man! The hulls are heavy, made of solid fiberglass. This design was the best one we saw for crossing oceans. As with my request for a boat to go cruising in 1994 I still wanted a seaworthy boat with good ground tackle. We've found it! The large deck is made with a balsa core so it will float and we may not even get a life raft since it would be safer to stay with the ship as she floats. This catamaran won't sink if it is holed, while our monohull could have. Of course that's why our monohull was steel so that she was unlikely to get holed.

There are a lot of boats moving up the coast now that cyclone season is over. We're really looking forward to cruising again! We'll be cruising along the coast of Australia as we learn to sail a catamaran.