Sailing Your Boat For the First Time Is Like Being An Old Time Cowboy
Spit In Your Hand And Shake
Like any classic American movie scene, sailing Miss Catana is as good as spitting and shaking to close the deal.
The deal is done.
Miss Catana is officially complete and our new home. Well complete with a few minor adjustments of course. No boat will come out of a building yard perfect, there are always little things to fix and adjust. This is the current process along with test sailing the boat.
(I wonder what the French would think if I did spit in my hand and put it out there for a good hard shake? It certainly would raise the bar from yogurt container glass jars.)
The Sailing Of Miss Catana
The day had arrived after years of planning and dreaming.
The agenda was to have four days of varying length with a professional skipper to show us the ropes, literally. The weather for those four days was perfect. Each day the wind was forecast to get progressively stronger. Ideal for learning as our skills increased.
Day one, minutes before we set off, Vivian arrived with the boat’s Registration Papers, in other words the boats passport from Australia. Perfect timing for an Australian flag on the maiden voyage!
Our first day was under the care of professional skipper Mathieu.
Mathieu is tall and slim with piercing blue eyes and designer stubble. He normally works full time on a 70 ft Catana for a Greek Tycoon but as a favour he was happy to take us out for our maiden voyage. He was Catana’s best before he left the company and we felt lucky to have him aboard.
Mathieu has a gentle calm quiet manner that is perfect for teaching. He only speaks when he needs to and everything he says is valuable and important. His teaching is about imparting the knowledge you need, in the steps that ensure your confidence grows along with your skill level. If only my experience in Melbourne had been as good!
Our first lesson was how to check the engines and then manoeuvre the boat around the docks without running into anything or anyone. Parking on a grand scale. Think larger than a tank and you get the idea of the size of what it is we are moving.
Turning this huge boat on it’s corner via the two engines was nothing short of remarkable. Both of us practiced going in, out, with and against the wind. I wouldn’t have thought the ease to move about as we did, possible. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have known it to be true. Two engines means you can do all sorts of clever things with your boat.
I was starting to realise that moving this large vessel will be possible and not as bad as I thought it would be, courtesy of two purring engines.
To The Sea We Must Go
Engines – Check
Parking – Check
Wind – Check
A Boat of Your Own – Check!
Unplug the shore power cable – Check or you have an unwanted umbilical cord following the boat.
The conditions were hot and calm, as was I.
Sailing Miss Catana Was Amazing
The First Day Out Verdict
First sailing by us was glorious.
It was a great success. Miss Catana was fast, comfortable and I felt safe but more importantly it felt like home.
I am in love.
The Last Day Of Commissioning
On our last day of test sailing we did a full day trip from Canet to Collioure.
The trip there was postcard perfect. Gently winds to start, blue sky, our boat doing 5 – 6 knots in the slightest of winds. Captain and I where starting to feel more comfort in the process of doing the tasks needed to make our girl fly across the water.
As we arrived closer to our destination you could see vast medieval stone walls and buildings. This is the type of experience which sells the Med to millions of tourists every year.
The building of note though was the castle sitting on top of the hill. Our skipper Mathieu told us the French King lives there.
Shut The Front Door
King of France?
Didn’t the French have a revolution with plenty of head chopping with bring your own guillotines. I thought the peasants got to remove the king of his head and the monarchy was gone for good? Matthew couldn’t give me much detail, but there you have it. The French have a king who has a castle in Collioure.
Back to sailing
Once we parked our boat on the mooring, a cute young man came in his dinghy came to the back of the boat to collect the parking fee, 10 euro for 1 hour. This allows you to park your boat safely while you have lunch and swim and watch the tourists on show. My first moment to feel like a tourist, jump from the front and back of the boat and prepare lunch to share after our swim.
I note that parking the boat involved the Captain jumping in to tie the ropes. Good One Captain!
Once we had finished lunch we went around the corner to practice anchoring.
I knew this was the stress end of the business.
If you don’t get it right your home floats away. NO Pressure!
I think it will take some practice before I am ready to leave our home on the end of a chain and feel comfortable. BUT (gotta love the but) Anchoring is an essential step in a sailors life. Marina’s are noisy, expensive and you are very up close and personal with your neighbours. We need to master this act sooner rather than later.
Currently we are benefiting from Catana’s hospitality, as we take daily baby steps to learn how to use our new boat. The yard still have a few little tasks but the huge bonus to us is we get to stay as guests in the Yard’s backyard.
It has been great fun getting to meet a few of the people who take great pride in building these beautiful cats. From employee to management all have been great ambasadors for the friendlness of the French. I am not sure why there is a perception that French are not friendly. Our experience tells us that there is no truth in this traveling myth.
The other major act of generosity on the yards behalf, is making available a car for us to use to do all that shopping that needs to be done. The green beast and driving on the wrong side is a tale to share, more on that later.
Back to sailing!
Friday’s Journey Home
The wind had picked up and was now around 26 knots which is pretty windy for those not in the know. It was agreed by all that this was the time with the professional on board to see what the Miss Catana could really do.
It was beautiful.
It was fast.
It was thrilling.
All sails up this baby was trying to fly.
It was riding and surfing waves as one would if you were on a sea kayak. You could feel the boat lift and slow for just a moment before the momentum of the wave took your boat and you where racing down.
I am chuffed to say that it was my time at the helm that the boat went the fastest. 12.1 knots. Luck more than skill but it was an exciting moment for all of us.
(Warning! sailing at speed could be addictive.)
WhoHoo !! Go You Good Thing Go!
It felt sooo good to go fast when you knew the boat was safe and you were with a skipper who knew his trade.
I have to admit when all the sails where up and I was first at the helm I was a little apprehensive and wanted someone close by. Then moment by moment I became more comfortable and then started to enjoy the process.
It was wonderful.
I have read a great deal about Catana yachts being pedigree boats.
I am now a believer.
I am witness to how well made, comfortable, and good quality these boats are. These are gorgeous boats that sail FAST.
The people who make them, know this.
The people who own them know this. Now I the Miss know the truth as well.
Catana Catamaran’s are Awe Inspiring & Freakin Fabulous
Beginning surround by the big ocean blue
Being able to travel to a super nice location without getting into a car
Just popping downstairs to put on my bathers in my own bathroom
Having lunch from our own kitchen while on the sea
Having an adventure and have my home with me at the same time
Knowing this was my future…
PS A little information regarding the harbour of Collioure.
An old place dating back to the Phocaean Greeks, around 600 bc, who set up shop here to trade with Ibero-Ligurians. Later the Romans took a liking to the place and changed the name of the harbour to Cocoliberu. It was in the 13 century the huge stone walls and buildings were built by Kings of Aragon and held by the Kingdom of Mallorca for some time. Then in the 15 century King Louis took Collioure and by all accounts didn’t have a happy time with the Spanish neighbours. Yet he liked the place and it seemed worth fighting for.
This is the fashion and art hot spot of the local area as well as being popular with the tourists yet this is not a new thing. The artist Matisse and his mates all loved spending time at Collioure as well.
For us Collioure was a like stepping into a movie set, I never knew there were Kings of Aragon for real. I am yet to find out more information about the current King in the House.