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Making the Switch from Heeling to “Flat” Cat By Diane Fowler

fortable, and you could see f you are an avid reader of everything. But—the Gemini has SOUTHWINDS as I am, you probmuch more cockpit seating, and ably remember my boat we added a floor chair that gives review about our Catalina 36. greater back support. The Between the time I wrote the Gemini also has a double helm article (December 2009) and seat that lets you steer from when it was published (June under the protection of the hard2010), we had actually bought a top—or sit outside on the bench 2008 Gemini 34 catamaran and seat and feel the wind. It also had lived aboard her for five provides a place for our dog, weeks. We named her Windy Breeze, to get comfy. The cockpit City, same as the Catalina. of the Gem also has enough room This is the story of transifor a party! tioning; From living in “the At the Miami boat show basement”—as my husband in February 2008, we spent time referred to the Catalina—to livaboard the Gem and even saved ing “upstairs” with panoramic the brochure. Two couples were windows and the fridge just two aboard who already owned a steps from the helm. Gem, and they were singing her Do I miss the Catalina? Very praises. When I asked what kind much so! But—there are benefits of boat they owned before, they to both situations. In May 2005, I both answered “none.” Conseconvinced my non-racing husquently, their opinions counted band to accompany myself and for zero in my book. When Ray three crewmembers to do the brought up the notion of buying Naples to Key West race. He dida catamaran, we did a lot of n’t have any assignment—just research. I love to race and love enjoy himself! Well, Mother speed. He loves comfort. We Nature kicked up some east 20found a Gem in charter with to 24-knot winds all night long. Sleeping in the V-berth and aft The Gemini 34 catamaran that replaced their monohull. Yachting Vacations in Burnt Store cabin became an annoying Walking to the head while under way is easy on the knees. Marina and chartered her for match of your body versus grav- And using the head under way…well, we’ve all been three days in February 2010. I ity. Gravity won. It was indeed tossed off the head on a monohull, right? “Flat” does was not about to give up a boat I hard to sleep “on the walls” have some advantages. You can even read the charts loved for a “maybe-we’ll-likethis-one” boat. The weather unless you were alone in the without swaying. turned cold and rainy, but we bunk. I ended up sleeping on the took her out in Charlotte Harbor floor with my lower back braced in 22- to 24-knot winds and screamed past a Manta cat and with the game table leg. Every time a crewmember wanted three monohulls. I thought, “Maybe I could live with this!” to use the head—they tripped on me! So, yes—having a flat Ray enjoyed sitting atop the air conditioner cushion in the sail at 24 knots in the catamaran is very comfortable for us comfy salon area with the autopilot’s remote control in his “baby boomers.” I truly see this as the “next step.” Much hand while looking out the side windows and huge better than that nasty “T” word (trawler). panoramic glass-facing front. Hmm... we could be on to Then, there were the other cruises we went on in the something here. The Gemini really fit the bill for both of us. Catalina. After four or five days of me running up and She is a true performance cruiser. In November, I sailed her down the stairs for drinks and supplies in the galley, my down to Marco for a regatta. Alongside me, on the run legs and knees would ache. Since my husband Ray already down, was a Jeanneau 35 that wins all our club races. The had back surgery, he helmed a lot, and I did the running. We skipper is most experienced and wise. With a beam reach in don’t miss that. 14- to 16-knot winds, we overtook him! Our boat speed was We miss the stern rail seats on the Catalina that we so consistently 8 to 8.5 knots, with an occasional nine. I was in lovingly dubbed “the princess seats.” They were super com-


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