By Glenn Brodie
My wife Linda and I own a Chris White designed Atlantic 42 called Indigo, but were unable to cruise south this winter. In January, due to a last minute cancellation, an opportunity became available to join a group of charters on three Moorings 4300 catamarans.
We immediately noticed some differences between our cat and the Moorings 4300. If you are looking for a 43’ cat that will sleep 8 people, the Moorings 4300 wins with four cabins and equal number of heads. On Indigo, we normally cruise with 2 - 6 people so that really is not an issue for us. However, if you are looking for performance sailing and a comfortable ride, an Atlantic 42 is your best alternative.
We arrived in Tortola, BVI and joined the group a day late. The next day, with winds blowing 30 from the East and a 6 foot Northerly swell, we sailed to Virgin Gorda on the North side of the Island (not my choice, but then I was not the Captain of the Day). As soon as we rounded the point, the confused seas started slapping under the wing – Bang. Linda was so startled by the intensity of the periodic loud bangs – she was sure we had hit something in the water.
Since we were sailing upwind to the east, we started close hauled on a north easterly course. With the large non-folding props and mini keels on the bottom, we found that progress and pointing were both a challenge. We then tacked over and motor sailed for the rest of the day until we were in the lee of some nearby islands to the southeast. I wished for the long dagger boards and folding props on Indigo.
Later when we arrived at Bitter End Yacht harbor in Virgin Gorda, I looked underneath the wing deck – sure enough, there was a low bridge deck and a number of under wing appendages to accommodate all those bunks. With a high bridge deck and streamlined hulls, Indigo would not have experienced those slaps and loud bangs.
The next day, we sailed northerly to Anegada with a 25 knot wind on the beam and no northerly swell. Fortunately the slapping stopped and we carried full sail. While the monohull sailors on board were pleased with our 8 knot speed I longed for Indigo’s reaching speed in these conditions in the low to mid teens.
Still at 8 knots, it only took us 3 hours to arrive at our mooring and we all wished for a longer distance to sail. After a great lobster diner, we all retired for the evening. At 2:00 am I woke up from a loud bang and started looking for the cause without success. Finally after hearing it a few more times I figured out what it was – a 1 foot chop had entered the anchorage and was hitting those under wing appendages again.
The winds died down a bit on the rest of the trip and every one enjoyed the sun, the sand, the wind and the warm water as we went from Island to Island. A week’s sail on any cat in the BVI sure beats a week in New England winter!