This past weekend Mel took a day off from work so that she and Greg could finally learn to operate the best kind of boat: the cruising catamaran! Mel tried to not psych herself out about the obvious fact that it was awfully crazy to think she could steer a 38 foot catamaran when her previous experience with large vehicles was limited to driving an automatic transmission, 18 foot Penske truck filled with her late mother’s massive collection of antique glassware 12 hours across the Ozarks, panicking all the way. Sure, she got pretty good at parallel parking her two-door Saturn in tiny spaces on the steep hills of San Francisco 10 years ago, but she was unclear if the same “I ding you, you can ding me” karma that transpired between all San Franciscan car owners would be so readily accepted by the yachties of the North Woods, whose glistening boats with undersized rubber fenders she was soon to be careening near.
Nevertheless, loving grandparents spoiling our kids this time down in Northfield while we again made the trek up to northern Wisconsin, we arrived at our temporary home on Friday night and met our noble Captain Steve. We settled in to his lovely 38 foot Fountaine-Pajot, met our fellow trainees Dick and Marlin, and then began a couple of intense days of education. Mel had to revive all of her medical school learning skills to absorb everything, but in the end she and Greg passed the weird-ass ASA catamaran test. Why weird, one may ask? To paraphrase: “Place this in order of priority should the ship capsize: locate flares, locate people, stay with the ship, operate EPIRB, put on lifevest, locate lifeboat, gather supplies, eat the weakest ones.” I added a few in there, but you get the picture. My answer of: ALL OF THE ABOVE AS FAST AS YOU CAN did not count.
In the end, we heard many colorful “sea stories” from Captain Steve, who has a long sailing history. We also had a few adventures of our own. We managed to snag the most bizarre and twisted piece of driftwood when we anchored, which was the best picture that I never took the whole time. We also got to see an experienced diagnostician in action. My differential for why we couldn’t tack once was basically limited to: broken rudder, or the new entity I had learned about and decided to blame for everything: Driftwood Problems. With a quick and thorough exam, however, in which Greg had to actually stick a head outside of the bimini to look at the sails, the problem was diagnosed: Jib Caught on the Spreaders. Jibs and jibsheets are quite the troublemakers!
Always do a thorough exam!