Tuesday, March 20

Things we learned from our shake down cruise

Remind the dock master that you are a catamaran when they try to change the slip from what was assigned during the initial reservation.
We made this mistake right out of the gate upon our arrival at Bahia Mar marina. We assumed the dock master knew who we were (a catamaran) by the name of our boat.  Don’t they have that information handy??  Guess not!  They tried to put us in a slip that was too narrow!  DAH!   We played musical slips that day.  Not fun when you are learning how to drive a 42 ft. long and 21 ft. wide boat.
Craig is a quick learner, especially in terms of docking a catamaran.  Being a farm boy and all, he equates driving a catamaran to driving a bulldozer on ice!  He did a stellar job, no question.   
How to use manual toilets on board.  Every one is a little different.  The girls were quick learners on how to “flush” with 10-20 pumps and “dry” with 5+ pumps.  We all remembered the “NO TOILET PAPER IN THE HEAD!” rule (put it in the trash).  It clogs up the boat plumbing.
Having guests on board within the first few days of your (very first ever) shake down cruise is probably not the best idea.  Sorry mom and Paul if we seemed disorganized and a little bit crazed.  We thoroughly enjoyed your visit regardless and wouldn’t have wanted to miss it!
Don’t disregard Mother Nature.  Our first trip out to the Atlantic was an adventure.  This goes with the above-mentioned lesson.  We thought it would be okay!  How bad could it be?
Give seasick medicine an hour before you go for a rough ride.  Do you see a common thread here?  Our bad judgments lead to Olivia throwing up over board and the need for Dramamine in a jiffy.
Getting dinner on the table takes longer than you think.  The stove on the boat is small and is run on propane.  It works great but is much slower than at home.  Just something we have to get used to.
The grill needs to be fixed or replaced.  It’s great to have a grill on board so the galley doesn’t get heated up (or smelly) from using the stove or oven.  This one needs a little TLC or we just need to get a new one.
Glassware and bowls break easily.  This is not unique to a boat.  I broke a glass and the kids broke a bowl.  The previous owners didn’t have kids and while mistakes happen to the best of us, we need to bring our plastic ware on board.
Straps on sunglasses are a good idea.  Kate’s first pair of sunglasses broke on the plane to Florida.  We bought a new (cheap) pair at the souvenir shop.  They proceeded to fall off her head when she was peering down at the water in the dinghy!  She needs a pair of croakies.
Planning ahead when you leave is a good thing.  We were so excited to be taking the boat up the ICW, that we failed to look at the chart and figure out where we were going exactly!  How hard could it be, head north, right!?.  Well there were about 47 drawbridges with all different timing.  We got the hang of it very quickly.  Even the girls got a kick out of saying thank you to the bridge master on the VHF radio as we passed through.
It’s so nice to have a catamaran with a shallow draft.  After spending all our time on monohulls worrying about clearance under the keel, it sure was nice to have a shallow draft on a catamaran.  We only draw 3’11” where most monohulls draw 6 feet or more.  This will be great in the shallow parts of the Bahamas.  We will be able to get into places that monohulls wouldn't dare.
We touched bottom regardless.  Even with a shallow draft, we touched bottom (sandy) leaving our anchorage at low tide.  No biggie.   This won’t be the first time.
A big anchor is awesome.  The first time we anchored in Lake Worth, it was blowing pretty hard and we were not in a very protected area.  Craig set the anchor and we literally felt the boat stop.  It was awesome not wondering if we were dragging anchor and worrying all night.  We have a big anchor on our boat.  They say to get the biggest anchor you can afford!
The hammock must be taken down while underway.  The girls asked many times if they could sit in the hammock while we were motoring up the ICW.  As if the answer was going to change!  Taking it down solved that problem.
Never follow a boat on the ICW when you are trying to reach a bridge opening on time.  Especially when you can motor faster than he can.  We took the polite high road and decided not to pass a boat we had been following up the ICW.  We missed a drawbridge opening by 1 minute because of it.  Boy, our captain wasn’t happy about that!  We had to wait 30 minutes for the next opening.  
Don’t go in waves bigger than you.  We don’t spend much time at the beach with surf.  Olivia got tumbled around a bit in the surf thinking she could handle it (dad was close by for the rescue).  All was fine after she spit out the salt water!
Sand removal on the swim platform after a day at the beach is a bit of a challenge.  Trying to avoid sand in the boat might turn out to be futile.  But I will die in the attempt.  Sand is a harsh abrasive on a boat.  We have a fresh water hose on our swim platform that works great for such occasions.  However, hosing off 5 people, flip-flops, life jackets etc. in a tiny space is quite a task!
Make sure the boat first aid kit is current and in working order.  Or rather it has one to start with.  We didn’t come prepared on our shake down cruise with a first aid kit.  There happened to be one but it was pretty decrepit.  When you need a Band-Aid, you just need a Band-Aid.  What can I say?  We didn’t have any.  In addition, we didn't have Benadryl for Maggie when she broke out in a rash of some sort.  We will, however, have a super mega medical kit on board for our trip.  
“Take your posts” when big boat wakes hit at anchor.  Kate quoted Mary Poppins when we were anchored in a nice quiet spot on Peck Lake when a huge yacht passed by at top speed.  Behind it was a ginormous wake that one could surf on!  “HOLD ON!  GRAB THE GLASS!”  Need I say more?
Don’t anchor during construction on the beach.  The nice quiet anchorage I spoke of above was great until it was bedtime and they were still working with heavy machinery on the ocean side of the beach.  Peace and quiet, not so much!
Get fuel and pump out BEFORE you dock for 3 months.  This was a rookie mistake that we won’t make again.  We were so preoccupied trying to get to the boat yard that we didn’t top off our fuel or pump out the heads.   We assumed the boat yard would have this available.  After 3 months of being closed up tight, you don’t want to come back to a stinky boat.  Nor do you want water in your fuel.  Topping off the tanks helps prevent water build up from condensation.  Water and fuel don’t mix and causes poor engine performance.
Cleaning and decommissioning the boat takes longer than expected.  Having never done it before, we didn’t really know how time consuming it was.  In addition, we had to deal with the previous point, which only added to our total time.  This was coupled with:
Don’t arrive at the dock, clean the boat and try to be somewhere on the same day.  Need I say more?
Flip flops don’t work for everyone.  Craig has decided that his feet were not made for flip-flops.  They make his toes hurt and he will not be wearing them on our trip.  The same goes for Olivia.  She dropped a flip-flop, by accident, on her way to the hammock on the back of the boat.  Luckily for her, it floated to the next boat down and he plucked it out of the water.  She also fell down while running in her flip-flops, hence the need for the Band Aids.
Braids are best for Olivia’s hair.  For those that are not familiar with Liv’s hair, her tight curls can turn into a rat’s nest with no effort at all.  I braided her (freshly washed and wet) hair this week and it worked beautifully.  This will be our go-to hair-do from now on!


  1. We had a great time on the shake down. All in all I thought it went very well while we were there, but then we don't know any thing about sailing. Thanks for having us join you. Love Mom

  2. Wendy, Craig et al: Way to go!!! I am so proud of you guys!