by Sven and Sabine Seren continued from page 2
Atlantic Crossing with a Catalac 10M Part 3
What a difference it makes to sail downwind!! As we drew closer to the island, we had the current with us and made 7 to 10 kn consistantly over ground with the mainsail still in the second reef and the Genoa only half out. Our new destination would be St. Laurent du Maroni. This small city is located on the French side of the border river Maroni between French Guayana and Suriname. In all rivers on this side of the Atlantic strong tidal currents occur and it makes no sense to enter the river with the water flowing out. In addition, the buoyage is not reliable and in most cases unlit. All calculation couldn’t change it, we would arrive at the river entry in the middle of the night and the tidal current would stand against us. Thus, we decided to anchor in front of the river entry and enter the river in the first daylight and with inflowing water.
From the moment on, we decided for our new destination, sailing was smooth and relaxed again and the sea, which changed in the meanwhile the color from deep blue to dirty brown, was quite calm again and so we thought we could expect a quiet night and could sleep for a few hours when anchoring. When anchoring, normally I am on the foreboat and operate the electric windlass while Sven is at the helm. As soon as I prepared the anchor and the first meters of chain were released to the sea weather changed rapidly. The foreboat jumped up and down and I had trouble to hold on. We anchored on 9 m and let over 40 m chain out. Unfortunately, I got seasick again. Sven cleaned up a little and we both laid down on our couch and tried to sleep for a short while. The anchor held without problems, what we always check with an app for our smartphone which records the GPS position. But the weather got more and more uncomfortable, it was pitch dark and the wind reached over 30 kt. Besides, it rained cats and dogs and the sky was illuminated every 30 seconds by lightning. Anyhow, we slept a few hours. Eight hours later, in the early morning of the 31st of Mai 2014 it had enough light again to lift the anchor and motor towards the river entry.
On course, we had the wind from astern again and the movements of the boat was smooth again and not comparable to the hard smashing of the bow into the 1.5 m high waves in the night at anchor. During the entire Atlantic crossing absolutely nothing fell off the table but in the short time of anchoring it happened for the first time. Finally, we could identify the flat land against the background of the cloudy sky. Land, ho! The first fairway buoy was soon visible and we sailed under Genoa only and with the tidal current with us into the calm water of the Maroni River. Our instruments showed us now a sea temperature of 34°C, which increased continuously during the Atlantic crossing from 21°C in Las Palmas.
The scenery was awesome. We had the tropical rain forest to both sides. The rich green colors were fascinating, especially after two weeks of only blue. Already while cruising along the river I was able to clean up the boat a little bit and to clean the interior from the salt film which was on every surface. In addition, I prepared dough for pizza as we had a great deal of hunger. In the next rain shower we took a shower by ourselves and were very lucky to get rid of the salt on our skin. From far we then saw already 3 yachts on the anchorage right before the town. There we dropped our anchor as well. Finally, we did arrive!
We enjoyed our pizza and slept long in the next few days on the calm anchorage without waves and much wind. For the Atlantic crossing we needed 14 days, which translates in a mean velocity over ground of 5.7 kt. We consumed 35 l diesel, most of it for the long passage into the river as we could sail inside the river only the first few miles. We now already got used to the tropical climate. We collect the rainwater using the short bimini of our boat and keep our water tanks full although we make extended use of our deck shower.
From here we plan to go to Suriname and at the end of the hurricane season in late November to Tobago and then Grenada. From there we head north and are going to visit the Caribbean Islands step by step. We plan to spend the next hurricane season in Trinidad and after we are going to head north again to the Caribbean. We are planning to spend the next years on the boat and then most probably we will have to sell it and go back to Germany. However, we will see what happens in real life! To conclude, we are very satisfied with our Felix. He is built very strong and can handle a whole lot, by all means more than we can, as we think. We had gained a lot of weight before the Atlantic crossing, although Felix sailed still very well. Anyhow, we did notice that he is more agile and goes lighter over the waves on courses close to the wind when water and diesel tanks are not too full and not too much loading is on board. But this is generally the case for catamarans. But, as already mentioned, what we like most is the space the boat provides for its size and especially the high amount of light and ventilation.
Even here in the tropical climate the boat is never muggy. For our understanding the vessel is well designed and has optimum conditions for a small crew, especially for a couple, particularly the version with the extended kitchen and not the dog berth in the starboard hull. The guest room with its two separate beds allows easily accommodating guests. There is stowage more than necessary and still things are in reach easily. After 6000 miles, over one year living aboard and an Atlantic crossing us both agree that this vessel fits us very well and we would buy a Catalac 10M again at anytime. However, one should spell out that this boat is not a racing machine but a solid cruiser which is easy to handle even by a small crew. Its main advantage, however, is his comfort of living and we all know how much time a cruiser spends on sailing and how much time at anchor or in the marina.