Two hulls, One Engine, A Near Gale And Not A Bad Word Between Any Of Us
I have just got over my second cancer op and all I dreamed about was sailing my cat
for a couple of miles, and it really happened.
We had a great send off and then we were away down the Thames at 5-6 knots, my big
bell got rung as we went under each bridge; fantastic. Going down the Thames is not
a 5 minute trip it really is a long way.
After leaving the Swale it was time, engine off, genoa up, all ok. main up, we are
sailing, Mick and Tony alternately at the helm, Rodger totally engrossed in my ‘map
tech’ computer map and charts, calling out 10 degrees to starboard, now 5 degrees
to port and so on. ‘Saranchai’ sailed beautifully, and why not, she was based on
the Prout 37 and 50, two of the greatest catamarans ever built, my dream come true.
We should have gone further up the Swale, for if you have seen ‘three men in another
boat’ they moored overnight, but further up the Swale where there are mooring buoys
ready and waiting amongst the other yachts.
We must have picked up some sludge in the Swale as the engine soon started to overheat
and I had to quickly turn it off to avoid an emergency, much to Rodger’s annoyance
as he could see his well planned and executed track in ruins as we drifted while
I made repairs. I had a very large pool filter to protect the cooling pump, and its
final filter mesh was far too fine and was totally choked, once removed the Ford
1.8 engine stayed cool and just went on and on without a murmur doing 6 miles to
We all talk of needing a bigger engine but that Ford plodded us along at 4-5 knots
hour after hour. When wind and tide were in our face off Rye doing 1½ knots would
we all have loved a big v8 diesel even giving 1 mile to the gallon, but no, I would
have loved to have tacked into the wind to see what she would do, but it was too
early in her life, why be stupid and have an accident lets just go sideways into
Rye harbour. By the way, the Prout 50 normally had two 28hp engines, but we had one
I had a very robust steering system in the wheel house, but outside I had a very
light weight system with steering wheels on each side, they were a last minute design
and build. They were their own worst enemy, Rodger and Tony loved them, I could not
get them off especially Tony, even when the sea got rough and the waves were full
of white froth. The outer steering did take a bashing with those big waves, springs
broke loose wires got stretched, I had very badly burnt hand from the engine water
the previous day and dropped a replacement steering bar over the side which did not
help, never mind.
I was a little apprehensive when Tony insisted taking this big cat into Ramsgate
harbour, but he did it perfectly right up to the pontoon. He did not do so well going
in and out of Rye but it was more like landing a plane with only one wheel down,
he did his best, and what more could I ask, just a bit of scraped gel coat , what
I thought I might get to steer my cat for once, but no, Tony was back on the helm,
sails up, getting a bit rough, engine off, big waves , Beachy head in the distance,
wind behind us. Tony calling out ‘we are doing 10 knots, woops my GPS just went overboard,’
Yacht sailors do not understand cats. When going with the wind behind you the genoa
should be fully out but the main should be in tight acting as a stabilizer, but my
crew did not understand that, in fact the main made little or no difference to our
After Beachy Head we motor sailed, and got to Shoreham too early and waited for high
tide. I will let you guess who took us into to Shoreham and he did it very well.
The voyage was more about how we all got on together, and what each of us got out
of it, Tony most certainly enjoyed himself, Mick the same and he is pushing me to
take the cat out again, Rodger on the other hand took it all so very seriously, a
magnificent navigator taking up the challenge of getting us to Shoreham, all so serious
but perhaps that’s what he enjoys doing and I cannot thank him enough, I only hope
the stress levels I put upon him did not take away his enjoyment. I wish all my crew
with all my thanks and next time perhaps we can take up a more challenging trip,
perhaps the Azores and back.
Saranchai now sits happily at Shoreham Yacht club by the workshops and the foot bridge,
being on a river she spends most of her time on dry mud. Her bent centre rudder was
so successful that I am now making a new one and eBay has just provided me with a
64 sq metre genoa.