KatieKat FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

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SECTIONTOPICUPDATED
SafetyPassagemaking Fears25 July 2004
BoatVentilation20 Oct. 2001
BoatSailing Suitability16 Jan. 2003
BoatSeawind Comfort and Visibility (Long)31 July 2004
BoatOutboard Motors15 August 2006
BoatBoat Size for Cruising10 Oct. 2002
BoatSafety Gear Weight10 Oct. 2002
BoatWhy Two Steering Wheels1 Sept. 2006
BoatWind Generator2 Aug. 2011
BoatSail Area15 Aug. 2006
BoatWhy No Bowsprit10 Oct. 2002
BoatAnchor Bridle10 Oct. 2002
LivingConnectivity25 July 2004
LivingTransportation7 April 2001

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This webpage addresses questions which we have been frequently asked. I would like to thank Ken Kidder for suggesting this approach. This is one long continuous page, and clicking on any of the underlined dates above should jump your screen to the appropriate section on this page (or you can use the scrollbar on the right to navigate up and down this page). Joe Siudzinski

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SAFETY

Question: When passagemaking, what are you afraid of?

After 2-1/2 years and almost 10,000 miles on KatieKat, I've now slightly modified my concerns outlook. The following is my personal prioritized list:

1. Lightning. Fear of the unknown probably best describes my posture, especially after witnessing lightning at sea closehand a number of times. After reading numerous articles and visiting many websites (some which try to sell particular products), I must confess to still being quite confused about the subject. A recent magazine article by an "expert" identified all sorts of grounding and bonding schemes, and yet concluded with a sidebar saying that their own boat was totally ungrounded. The stock Seawind 1000 is ungrounded (and only has two metal thru-hulls in the head) when the outboards are raised, and from a dc standpoint I retain that by isolating the HF-grounding of those thru-hulls with a simple switch which opens the groundpath when the HF is not being used (for electrolysis minimization and nothing to do with lightning which I'm sure would arc straight through that switch if it wanted to). I've fabricated an 8-ft 2AWG cable connected to a copper water pipe which I can strap onto the mast and throw into the water to offer a lightning strike a straight path to the water, but don't really know yet if I want to do that. Still gathering information, and suggestions are always welcome. In the meantime have the backup GPS, a handheld VHF, and a compass sitting inside a closed pressure cooker (Faraday cage) where they will hopefully survive when all the other electronics gets fried if and when we do get struck. Update July 2004. After our frightening 8-hour experience in the lightning storm last October, I further reiterate that lightning is my number-one fear. I now have five battery cables attached to copper pipes which I can clamp onto each shroud, the forestay, the mast, and the targa bar and then throw into the water in an attempt to provide a distributed ground. Praying hopefully helps also, and I'm still researching this area to see what further improvements I might make.

2. Fire. Subjectively, our most probable serious emergency on board. In order to mitigate this, I've put fire extinguishers and fire blankets in strategic locations, have battery cutoff switches and circuit breakers and fuses for all circuits, and we are very careful with the propane and petrol (gasoline) storage and use. Three smoke detectors (one behind the electrical panel) and a CO detector above the bunk are the current alarms, with a propane sniffer and remote propane shutoff on the ToDo list. Quickly-deployable liferaft and our SeaCycle tender and the ever-present fully-equipped emergency grab-bag are available if needed. Now if I could just quit burning the toast and thus stop testing that darn alarm every day!

3. Collision With Unseen Object. Tales abound of boats hitting shipping containers, logs, or whales. One can keep a reasonable lookout during the day (the panoramic windows on the Seawind are wonderful), but one essentially sails blindly at night. There is a small collision bulkhead in each bow and there are a number of partitioned compartments in the bows and sterns, but I wasn't able to obtain flooded waterline information from Seawind (besides, it's a function of payload). The onboard electric and manual pumps could contain a small leak, but anything really serious would flood a hull. Since purchasing the boat I've discovered a number of large dead spaces covered with panels which would be good candidates for flotation foam which could provide hundreds of pounds of additional buoyancy. I believe (but can't substantiate) that the boat will still float in the worst-case scenario of both hulls being torn open or the boat flipping.

4. Running into Another Boat. Miserable weather with poor visibility exacerbates this scenario. Being sure to do a 360-degree sweep of the horizon at least every ten minutes (or continuously in yukky weather) helps mitigate this possibility. This scenario is further diminished now that I've installed radar, but I'm constantly amazed at how invisible to radar small boats are! We pass quite a few during coastal passages. Ships really aren't a concern because they are highly visible.

5. Running Aground. The most common way of losing a boat is to put it on rocks or a reef, so hopefully paying careful attention to navigation (relying on the many inputs available) and the weather will minimize this possibility.

Other Fears

Mast Loss. Just helped another catamaran owner stabilize his mast - the forestay parted on his one-year-old boat and the jib halyard saved the rig! Periodic inspections and conservative sailing will hopefully minimize this possibility.

The other item sitting in the back of one's mind when offshore is health - either accident or unexpected illness. We exercise, eat healthy, and try not to do dumb things.

I guess that after the above there's always a possibility of flipping the boat - sailing conservatively should take care of this issue for most scenarios. The boat's 20' beam and para-anchor and drogue are great defenses for extreme conditions, not to mention paying very close attention to the weather before and during a passage.

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BOAT

Ventilation

I've received so many questions regarding the adequacy of the ventilation on the Seawind 1000, that I have created a separate writeup on the topic on the KatieKat The Cat webpage. Click here to go to it. No, we don't have air conditioning on KatieKat!

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Question: What kind of sailing is a Seawind suitable for?

One of the first steps in formulating the requirements when contemplating the purchase of a boat is to define its intended use.

We have -

The intended use is usually a combination of the above. When looking for a boat, it helps to assign percentages to each intended use to better focus the boat requirements.

Of course, there are significant additional factors which are part of the "requirements" equation (money (both to purchase and to maintain), trailerability, liveaboard capability, and crew count come to mind) - none of which I'll address here.

Before I start, let me just say that since much of our multihull racing is done on handicap, then virtually any boat can be raced. Two reasonably-matched boats have their own race-within-a-race, anyway. Seawinds participate in both round-the-buoys races as well as coastal races, and their success is simply based on a combination of crew performance and appropriate handicap/rating.

Now, matching hardware to the above definitions, here are my own prejudices:

Although I personally find pleasure day sailing quite boring, it can be good fun with a group of friends - anything that floats can do that and still bring a lot of enjoyment as the sailing is an adjunct to the cameraderie. Having said that, the Seawind 1000 is a terrific party boat (which is why they're so popular with day-charter companies). The amount of cockpit and deck space to comfortably accommodate guests is awesome!

For round-the-buoys racing I always liked to be first-to-finish and thus the progression from Shark cat (mid 60's and still own it) to Tornado (late 60's - 70's) to wing-sailed C-Class (70's to early 80's). Then I had a family...
In my opinion you can't beat athletic one-design racing for sailing fun, and virtually any cat class does this, with my own preference being the upgraded Tornado. As an aside, I'd love to try out a 49'er while I'm still in reasonable shape.
Can you race a Seawind round-the-buoys? Sure can, in comfort! (See "Comfort" discussion, below)

For coastal cruising with limited time available, my trailerable Telstar tri gets me to remote areas fast by land. My non-trailerable Seawind 1000 is where I put my money and am still very happy living aboard - it's simply a wonderful coastal cruiser.

For coastal racing I'd love to have something that would be first-to-finish, and the larger F-boats sure fit this bill nicely, combining class competitiveness with outright speed. This category is ripe for one-off developmental cats and tris (and proas?). Can a Seawind be used for coastal racing? Sure can, and undoubtedly will be more comfortable than most of the other boats (see "Comfort" discussion, below). Just remember, she doesn't have escape hatches, so don't go crazy.

For passagemaking, please recognize that I am consciously still exploring the Seawind's suitability. KatieKat has performed very nicely and safely on all of our passages to date. Update July 2004. We now have almost 16,000nm on KatieKat and I have also over 1000nm on other Seawinds. Other than the occasional discomfort in confused seas, our modified Seawind has continued to perform wonderfully - I personally have no qualms taking her anywhere.

Ocean racing on a Seawind 1000? I don't think so...

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How Comfortable is a Seawind 1000?

To answer to this question, three categories come to mind: Crew Protection, Boat Motion, and Accommodations. Update July 2004 - added a fourth category: Mental Comfort and Visibility.

CREW PROTECTION, updated July 2004. The Seawind offers superb crew protection from the elements - relative to other boats, one's exposure to sun, rain, and waves is minimal due to the high-visibility bridgedeck saloon which opens directly to the cockpit - one sails the boat very protected almost all the time. Unless racing, there is simply no reason to get behind the wheel - the autopilot (especially with a remote) does it just fine. Even behind the wheel, one is well-protected. On KatieKat, with my non-standard modification of placing the main halyard winch on the mast, there is the occasional need to go forward to reef/unreef; however, this is very quickly accomplished and the conditions must really be rough for one to even get wet - and then it's just a few splashes. Don't forget, we usually reef well before it's really needed. In the last four years I pulled out my foul-weather gear only once - while anchoring in a blinding rainstorm in Tasmania. The fabric main saloon aft closure works just fine - one of its attributes being the speed with which one can close and open this large "door", and the full-width rear window retains the 360-degree main saloon visibility. For me, having the zipper down the side is preferable to having it down the middle because the grab-handle is at hand in rough weather, especially at night.

An adjunct of Crew Protection is Safety. As noted elsewhere, I had added three vertical stainless handholds in the cockpit: one at each of the two steering bulkheads and one in the middle of the cockpit - these I consider indispensable for any heavier-weather sailing. Going out on deck to reef the mainsail in heavy conditions is easily done in relative safety as there are plenty of things to hang onto, the jackline is down the center of the cabintop, and the boat provides a non-heeling (although sometimes bouncy) platform to walk on. For open-water passages I usually also rig straps between the outside railings and shrouds and a tensioning line between the shrouds themselves - these act as secondary grab points. When working at the mast in nasty conditions it is comforting to know that there is almost ten feet of boat under you in all directions. As a safety reminder, a harness, tether, and jackline should be used on any boat when it's rough.

BOAT MOTION. The Seawind 1000 is a relatively short boat that is very wide. The boat's beam is most appreciated from the standpoint of stability; however, in confused seas the boat's motion can be uncomfortable. What you have with a wide catamaran in rough conditions is that each hull is affected by a different wave pattern, which can result in a sharp jerky motion that is very different from the deliberate slow pitching and rolling of a heavy monohull. In storm or gale conditions, or in seas after the storms, the uncomfortable bouncing washing-machine effect is accentuated, especially if the boat was kept light and the boat is beating or in beam seas. Happily, the overall percentage of time that this happens is very small and most of the time the boat's motion combined with the level (non-heeling) sailing of a catamaran are just great. As an aside, we've had a number of coastal passages in the company of similarly-sized monohulls after which, when comparing notes, we were surprised at their disgust at what they considered miserable sailing conditions and which we hadn't even noticed! Finally, at anchor, we are incredibly stable and free from the rolling motion that often afflicts monohulls.

ACCOMMODATIONS. The Seawind 1000 is not a condomaran (thank goodness). Nevertheless, KatieKat provides a good-sized bunk in the master cabin and a boudoir for Kathy in the port hull. On the starboard side, the customized aft cabin serves as my study and can be easily converted to a small stateroom with a closing door. The starboard forward area serves as our dinette if we want to eat down below and is also used as our primary guest cabin. The main saloon offers spacious sleeping quarters when one gets overloaded with guests. I've never tried it, but I'm told that the forward trampolines are great for sleeping on when anchored in the tropics. For the two of us living aboard, our modified SW1000 provides a spacious and comfortable home.

ACCOMMODATIONS, update July 2004. Let me emphasize the central location of three key areas on our Seawind 1000: our "bedroom", the main saloon table, and the galley. Because all three are located about the pitch axis of the boat, they truly experience minimal motion. A cup of coffee placed on a rubber mat in the main saloon or galley WILL NOT TOPPLE NOR SPILL, almost no matter what the conditions! Monohullers simply don't believe us, and we have to take them for a sail to prove it. The main bunk is really comfy with a negligible pitch motion irrespective of the outside conditions and the absence of roll obviates the need for lee cloths. The off-watch sleeps wonderfully in the main bunk which, if needbe in an emergency, is located very close to the main saloon. The pitching motion in the starboard forward bunk makes it uncomfortable when beating in rougher seas (just as do all forward bunks on any boat, be it monohull or multihull). When in rough water the starboard aft bunk unfortunately does experience an annoying thumping because the engine protective cowlings are so close to the water. Since the starboard aft cabin is also my study, when sailing in confused seas I usually don't run my computer down there since I am concerned with damage to my computer's hard drive because of that engine cowling thumping.

MENTAL COMFORT and VISIBILITY. I've added this category in July 2004 because it dawned on me that this element is very significant to the overall concept of "comfort". This is a broad subject, but what I specifically want to focus on is the ability to relax while the boat is moving. Let me try to explain...

When sailing we rely on multiple inputs to assure ourselves that all is well -

I started to dissect each of the above elements and see how they relate to us on KatieKat but decided to let you judge for yourself how we fare compared to virtually any other sailing boat, monohull or multihull. Suffice it to say that the boat's comfortable main saloon with 360-degree visibility while seated and with all communication and navigation and boat instrumentation right at one's fingertips allows for very relaxed sailing. On virtually every other boat one needs to get up to satisfy one's curiosity or concerns or execute a navigational task. Although good exercise, on a passage this can be a pain. Don't get me wrong, we still do go aft outside and stand up on the engine cover and do a 360-degree scan about every 10 minutes when passagemaking at night, but it sure is nice to be inside and not to have to move just to check wind direction or strength or water depth or answer a radio call or tweak the autopilot or even adjust the stereo ... (you get the idea - in this situation I like to be a couch potato).

So many catamaran owners we talk to tell us that they have "good all-round visibility" but when we get on their boats we immediately realize that they're blind when sitting down and one has to stand up in their main saloon in order to see outside, and usually with bulkheads or cabinetry obscuring huge chunks of their all-round view. That's not the same thing as the picture windows we enjoy on KatieKat! A second aspect of visibility is the vertical-field-of-view. The windows on the Seawind 1000 are large vertically and, in my opinion, perfectly positioned. While comfortably sitting at the main saloon table we can look down right in front of the boat as well as upwards to check the jib sailshape. While standing up we can look down to just a few feet in front of the bows but can also see the horizon to check for traffic. Try both of these scenarios on any other cat! That little bit of extra downward visibility for me is significant and will be of importance in our future travels in British Columbia and Alaska where keeping a lookout for logs in the water is mandatory.

Although close to it, all-round seated visibility is still not perfect on KatieKat because the jib obscures a portion of the view forward. I had tried to get a window put into the jib when I purchased the boat, but was told that the stresses in the sail are too great to put one in that low. I guess I could get a high-cut jib, but I don't want to sacrifice the sail area. With the jib obscuring part of the view it does mean that you have to get up and look around it often when sailing in congested areas unless there's someone with you in the main saloon. Another consideration of the large boat windows is that one sometimes feels like being in a goldfish-bowl, with everyone walking by in the marina able to look in - to us this is not a big deal and usually results in a friendly wave and a "hi"; also, we're rarely located in high-traffic areas in marinas. Some Seawinds have rigged snap-on shade covers over the windows which simultaneously solve that issue.

[Navigation Setup] (Discussion below)

This is close to the view seen by the person "on watch". In addition to the fully-sheltered seated 360-degree visibility, all the boat's instruments are visible, both transceivers (VHF and SSB and HF modem) and autopilot control and radar and GPS and computer and table lamp are at one's fingertips, and there's plenty of room for reference books and chart plotting. All without moving! Note, especially, the boat's instrument panel which is held down with Velcro and can be rotated back to its normal position in one second. If needbe, the steering is instantly accessible just a couple of steps away. Now, compare this setup to just about any other boat (monohull or multihull) and try to imagine yourself being on watch...

[Main Saloon View Looking Forward] [Battery Monitoring Panel]

View forward as seen by the person on watch. The apparent blind spot between the windows is easily negated by simply leaning from side to side. The newly-added battery monitoring panel gives a complete status of the onboard power situation.

[Main Saloon Underway Night View] [Main Saloon Underway Night View] [Main Saloon Underway Night View]

These photos were taken as we were ending our last passage from New Caledonia to Australia and demonstrate the usability of all the boat toys. Sorry for the mess. All the tabletop instruments sit on wooden bases with rubber non-skid glued under them and which can be interlocked together. They don't move! As soon as we end the passage, all this instrumentation and gadgetry and wiring gets put away within a few minutes and we revert to liveaboard mode.

If we're just going out for a daysail with friends, I set up the instruments differently: no need for the radar or HF or lamp or computers and they're left stowed below. The VHF sits under the window next to the instrument pod and the GPS sits on the pod. If needed, the autopilot remote is the only thing that might sit on the table, with its wire unobtrusively coming straight down from the overhead. Basically, the table is completely clear for sitting around and entertaining. I've very consciously setup all the instrumentation with this flexibility in mind.

I don't recall rain or waves significantly obscuring visibility for long so there's no need for the windshield wiper I had once contemplated before buying the boat. In a colder climate window fogging (on the inside) will undoubtedly be a problem. When we went for our midwinter cruise in Tasmania I rigged an oscillating fan on the forward edge of the table which worked out quite well.

[Defogging Fan]This oscillating fan (shown here soon after I turned it on) which I simply clamped to the table was sufficient at keeping the windows clear during our Tasmania winter cruise.

The alternative romantic notion of clinging to the wheel outside fully exposed to the elements and being in touch with nature while steering the boat through stormy seas over the bounding main is one best reserved for novels or scary heavy-weather sailing books. Been there - done that, thank you, but no thanks.

Summarizing, I guess I have to say that having the visibility and all this stuff and information at my sheltered fingertips results in a general peace-of-mind that greatly contributes to my onboard comfort. Sorry to be belaboring this point, but it didn't happen by accident and was one of the major reasons that I chose the Seawind 1000 and subsequently customized the instrumentation setup.

End-July 2004 Follow-Up Question: How can you have peace-of-mind when your boat can turn over?

(sigh) - the age-old monohull vs. multihull issue with the standard retort: "... and your monohull can sink!". Quite frankly, in the 16,000nm we've now sailed, this only crossed my mind once (and then, only fleetingly): when we left Fiji and had some very large beam seas and winds for a few hours with significant waves crashing onto the boat. At no time has our cruising cat even slightly experienced a situation which I felt pushed it anywhere even remotely close to a capsize situation - don't forget, from my catamaran racing days I'm VERY familiar with what the limits of stability feel like, since when racing a beach cat one purposely flies a hull! The absence of a raising daggerboard concerned me before I bought the boat because in a large beam sea one would want to raise it to allow the boat to slip sideways if whapped. My impression to date is that the Seawind's fin keel is too shallow to trip the boat in that situation. Pitchpoling is also not an issue - the forward hull shape I believe helps significantly, I don't carry much of a mainsail when running in heavy conditions, and, ultimately, can deploy a drogue to slow down. Understanding the weather, sailing conservatively and especially reefing early, and having a wide, strong, and reliable sailing platform buries this concern to the point where it simply is not an issue. Believe me, I sleep very well during passages!

31 July 2004 elaboration. Some subsequent correspondence has led me to believe that I didn't make myself clear: when passagemaking, I very consciously sacrifice boatspeed for comfort (both physical and mental). In the open ocean, with changing winds in the high-teens and 20's, it's not unusual for us to reach along at night with just the jib up, with boatspeed still in the 6-knot range - there simply is no apprehension that a squall which we missed seeing might unexpectedly whap us and result in a fire drill. Of course we could go faster, but when cruising - who cares? In those conditions, usually accompanied by confused seas, the physical comfort of reducing the bouncing by slowing down and the mental peace-of-mind knowing that we simply ain't gonna tip over just makes it nice. Mind you, this is such a completely different approach to sailing than if we were racing - after a lifetime of sailing to maximize boatspeed, it took me a long time to get over that mental hurdle and learn to relax!

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Question: Could you discuss the suitability of your outboard motors for cruising?

15 August 2006. I have received many queries about this topic, many questioning the suitability of outboards and gasoline on a cruising boat. My Seawind 1000 has two Yamaha 9.9 high-thrust long-shaft outboards. In a nutshell, I love them dearly! I personally like diesels, but in my opinion for this boat both inboard and outboard diesels would simply be too heavy and too noisy. The following is a discussion of this topic based on my biased assessment after six years and 20,000nm and accumulating almost 1800 hours on each engine.

Before I start the discussion of their merits, let me tell you how I use these outboards:

Maneuvering around marinas and anchorages, I use both motors - usually at idle speed. Two-engine maneuverability has to be experienced to be appreciated: I can spin the boat in place, stop it exactly where I want it, and can even drive it sideways up to the dock if there's a current.

Whenever the wind drops and we need to motorsail, I normally use only one engine and cruise at around 4.5 - 5.0 knots.

If there is a time urgency and we are beating very hard on the wind in large waves or confused seas, I will motorsail to gain both speed and pointing ability to windward. The significance here is that the motor keeps the boat moving continuously instead of it being slowed or stopped by waves - both this and the resulting uninterrupted lift by the fin keels results in an appreciable improvement in average VMG to windward. I use only one motor at fairly low revs. Whereas it would make sense for that one motor to be the leeward one (for better prop immersion), I've found that running the windward one works better as it nicely assists keeping the boat moving in the headers by helping it fall off.

Maximum speed with both engines wide-open is 7.8 knots in zero wind if the bottom is not fouled. I almost never run the engines wide-open and usually only do so briefly in reverse when I'm digging-in the anchor.

[Photo of engine with engine cover lifted] This photo shows the engine in its down position. The excellent factory-stock auxiliary filter/water-separator is clearly visible next to the motor. The handle for the line for lifting the motor is close to the aft beam (I changed the block/tackle from 2:1 to 3:1 to make lifting easier). Some of the sound insulation additions I made are shown glued to the cover and aft housing wall. The green bungie is used to keep the motor release latch retracted while passagemaking so the motor can tilt up if it hits anything (and it keeps the latch from rattling). The engine controls on this starboard side are also visible.

Here are my reasons for liking these motors -

1. Thrust - these Yamahas are the HiThrust models which means they have large three-bladed propellers and a 3:1 gear ratio. These are true "pushers", and their thrust in reverse also extremely good. Here are some thrust measurements I performed (outboard manufacturers simply do not publish this kind of data), and and if you're interested you might compare it to some small diesel/prop combinations.

2. Economy - my six-year average, presently at around 1800 hours/engine, is 1.2 litres/hour at an average speed of around 4.5 knots. Remember, I normally only use one engine when motoring.

3. Low noise level - certainly compared to some of the diesels I've experienced on monohulls, but not as low (in the main saloon) as on some of the newer modern multihulls. When motoring for many hours on end the drone does get a little bothersome and I'm in the process of adding some sound insulation to the motor enclosures.

4. Reliability - aside from regular maintenance, the only problem I've had was when I picked up some very badly-fouled gasoline in Alaska which overwhelmed the port engine external filter/water-separator. Simply disassembling the carburettor (with the engine in place on the boat) and cleaning it solved this.

5. World-wide parts availability.

6. I can easily remove these motors if serious service is required (I've never had to do this - knock on wood).

The two-motor advantage: I already identified the incredible maneuverability resulting from having two widely-spaced motors. Now, consider the economy associated with using only one motor for passagemaking, yet having the two-motor thrust capability when needed - significantly better than running one larger motor more slowly. A more subtle benefit is reliability through redundancy: if you've ever been in a dicey situation (e.g., running a bar) where a suddenly-dead motor could have serious consequences, you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Having outboards means having much more storage space at the aft end of each hull, not to mention not having to sleep above a running motor. If someone is sleeping in the starboard aft cabin during a passage and we have to motor then we simply run the portside engine.

On the Seawind the mounting bracket for the motor is unique in that the motor is bolted to the bracket and when retracting the motor the entire bracket with motor swings up - in contrast to the normal outboard technique of the motor swinging up on its own pivot. This allows the motor to swing up higher and consequently swing down lower than on a fixed mount and thus provides for deeper propeller immersion while retaining excellent retracted clearance. There is a separate locking latch to hold the bracket down (needed when one goes into reverse).

The motors sit low enough that I very rarely have the props ventilate, even in rough conditions. The secret is to keep weight out of the bows of the boat and to motorsail instead of simply powering with the sails down - the sail stabilizes the boat and both minimize pitching. It's as simple as that!!

Each motor is very well protected by a cowling - really, a nacelle that the motor hides behind. Unfortunately, the bottom of the nacelle is very close to the water and whaps the water when sailing in choppy waters - this can be somewhat annoying on very long passages. On my personal wish list is a cowling which would retract together with the motor. Neither motor has ever "drowned", no matter how horrible the conditions.

Engine oil changes are simple as I use a manual pump to remove oil through the dipstick hole. Everything else is easily accessible from above and the only problem is inspecting and changing the lower unit oil: that simply waits until boat haulout (or a nice beach when the tide runs out). In the past year I've started using Mobile1 synthetic oil ... we'll see.

Regarding the issue of gasoline vs. diesel - gasoline has a bad image because of inboard engines and unventilated compartments. The outboards on the Seawind are external to our living space and fully ventilated. The stock Seawind has aluminum tanks underneath the main saloon sole. On KatieKat I specified the tanks to be in the large cavities underneath the mast which allows for easier refueling, frees up two (wet) storage lockers in the main saloon, and eliminates even the slightest whiff of gasoline in the main saloon. Having endured challenges by cruisers with diesels as to the suitability of our setup, I couldn't help pointing out the often appalling stowage locations of the gasoline tanks for their dinghies!

To summarize, I love my Yammies and even if I had a much larger multihull I would consider these outboards a very viable configuration - I'd stick with the 9.9's and merely add more of them.

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Question: Do you really need two steering stations and wheels? You said you spend very little time at the wheel, so why have two?

The Seawind 1000 is a production boat and it came with two steering wheels. To my mind, there is a very good reason for this configuration: reliability through redundancy. If something happens to one rudder, the connecting cable is easily disconnected and the other rudder with its steering wheel gets you home. In Queensland I had talked with the owner of one Seawind which had limped home using just that technique - a charterer had bent the rudder shaft and jammed the rudder after hitting a breakwater. The motor controls are by the starboard wheel. I rarely use the port wheel - close-in maneuvering at night in a harbor comes to mind, or convenience when racing and/or tacking. My starboard-wheel Raytheon 4000+ autopilot (independent Simrad backup autopilot on port wheel) steers the boat 99.9% of the time, using a nice handheld remote while I'm comfortably seated in my 360-degree visibility main saloon! This is the first boat I've owned with wheel steering and I personally still prefer tiller steering for racing, as I have never developed a feel for the boat through the wheels. In 20,000nm, never had a problem with that dual-wheel steering system (knock on wood). I had specified and have two emergency tillers which I had lugged around with me for all those 20,000 miles. I recently took them off the boat as a weight-saving measure, now figuring that the redundant wheel system offers sufficient safety backup.

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Question: Is the Seawind 1000 large enough for myself, my wife, my five kids, and my dog to cruise around the world on?

No! Well, maybe for you and the dog... for true ocean voyaging on a catamaran, one really should have something over 40-ft long and large-displacement hulls in order to carry the anticipated payload without sacrificing performance (keeping at least 15 feet of that length completely empty at the ends). For example, the difference in size between a Seawind 1000 and 1200 is dramatic when one places them next to each other on dry land. Read Chris White's excellent book The Cruising Multihull. Having said that, we are very happily and comfortably cruising on KatieKat, and there are many examples of people cruising and circumnavigating on much smaller (and narrower) cats. Try reading Multihull Voyaging by Thomas Firth Jones, and I'm sure there is lots written about people cruising on small Wharram cats. There was a small Prout in Manly with a singlehander on his third circumnavigation! We do have to constantly restrain ourselves from adding "stuff" even though we still have lots of empty spaces on board. Even so, it's a losing battle (as witnessed by the additions of radar, wind generator, bicycles, and (gasp) 12v microwave oven). Books, tools, safety gear, and fluids are the worst culprits (I laugh and say the weight of all my safety gear is making my boat unsafe!). One of the main reasons multihulls add watermakers is to save weight. The Seawind's performance doesn't appear to be as sensitive to weight as other cats I've sailed on and we still have a few inches left below our anti-fouling waterline mark. For the two of us, recognizing its load-carrying limitations, I feel that our modified Seawind 1000 is a wonderful coastal cruiser and acceptable ocean passagemaker.

[Two Cats]This photo, taken at Southport, vividly contrasts the size of the Seawind 1000 with that of a 50' cruising cat. That's probably a million-dollar boat.

[Noumea Cats]This shot, taken in Noumea, shows the head-on differences.

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Question: What do you mean weight of all your safety gear?

Going to have to weigh this stuff, but consider: two anchors (one with 100' 5/16" chain and 200' line, and the other anchor - a lightweight Fortress but with 50' chain), a 4-person liferaft, two para-anchors (themselves light but with 60' bridles and 300' rode for each), drogue with bridle and rode, backup 150' 5/8" 12-strand nylon line with stainless thimbles in each end, 75' 5/8" three-strand nylon anchor line extension, and the emergency grab-bag which now weighs about 50lbs (yes, it floats), and this does not include the six fenders and mooring lines normally used to tie the boat up to the dock. Add to that the heavy-weather headsails and auxiliary forestay, emergency tillers, a very heavy box with many stainless shackles and assorted hardware, not to mention the box with all the nuts and bolts, and let's not forget the toolbox which keeps expanding... you get the idea by now. Haven't yet splurged for the hydraulic rigging cutter, but have a hatchet and two hacksaws with lots of blades ...

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Question: Why did you add a wind generator?

Simple: because I added radar. The existing two 120-watt solar panels are more than sufficient to keep the three batteries charged and take care of the boat's refrigeration and all the usual power consumers. Nevertheless, for extended passagemaking, if one gets a few days without sun, then continuous use of the radar, autopilot, and navigation lights contributes to a gradual depletion of those batteries. In normal everyday use, the relatively low-power wind generator is unnecessary, even with radar. It simply gives us another backup and excess capacity - and has now also rationalized our adding a 12v microwave oven (sigh). Don't forget, each of the two outboard motors also has an alternator - to date I have never run the motors simply because I needed to charge the batteries.

Update, July 2004. Finally got rid of the microwave oven - it was used mostly for reheating a cup of coffee, anyway. For an in-depth discussion of KatieKat's electrical system and how the WindGen fits in, go to the May 2004 KatieKat Power System webpage.

[Wind Gen]The Aero4Gen wind generator. It is absolutely silent up to a wind speed of about 20 knots, and after that produces a quiet unobtrusive whoosh in the background (unlike some other brands of windgens!).

August 2011 Windgen Reflections

The Aero4Gen wind generator, which I installed in February 2001, served us wonderfully for six years until it stopped producing during our Baja Bash up the coast from Mexico. The reason the Aero4Gen stopped working was simple: a wire inside its mounting tube had broken, and this had nothing to do with the windgen itself. I think our windgen's greatest contribution was during the ocean passage from New Zealand to Fiji, where at least one of the solar panels was invariably blanketed by the mainsail from the northern sun and the significant overcast during the first part of our passage further diminished the solar panels' effectiveness.

I had rigged a switch to place a short across the output of the windgen (and simultaneously open up its connection to the boat 12v) to act as a motor brake, which was very handy as it kept us from having to immobilize the spinning blades physically when wanting to stop the output when the batteries were fully charged. Although I bought a shunt regulator in New Zealand for the windgen to control it's output, I never installed it as in those days we could use all the power we generated.

When the windgen conked out, I took it off completely and have no plans to reinstall it. Overall, I do not consider the windgen to have been a significant source of power during our cruising years, and would only recommend it for cruising higher latitudes. Additional solar panels (such as the two we added for our Mexico trip because of the added watermaker), coupled with a larger battery pack, I consider a far better solution.

A few comments about the windgen - the main problem is that we choose our passages to be downwind, and thus for much of the time the apparent wind is barely enough to get the windgen to put anything out. Another problem that I hadn't realized with my mounting is the shadowing effect of the windgen on the solar panels (despite being mpounted off to the side) - the panels' output drops off very disproportionately with respect to the amount of shaded area. Also, our windgen added some drag and was a significant weight fairly high up off the aft end of the boat - not desirable. The fact that this Aero4Gen was absolutely silent was a blessing compared with other brands of windgens on other boats.

Overall, I'd consider the windgen a nice experiment for us, but wouldn't reinstall it unless we were to sail in high latitudes in areas of significant wind.

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Question: Do you find the sail area adequate, especially for light airs?

Yes, but... I remember being pleasantly surprised by the Seawind's light-air performance when we first raced it in the Bay Area. Someone told me that there were three mainsail options available (I'll have to ask the factory): oversize with a large roach, standard, and undersize for the charter market. The boat I initially sailed on in San Francisco had the oversized sail and I felt it was too big. I have the normal mainsail and consider it just fine - in fact, spent most of the time offshore sailing with the sail reefed. As it is, I consider this boat overpowered as a cruiser - which is very nice in winds under about 18kts when the full sail area can be comfortably carried. The blade jib balances the boat well and I rarely miss having an overlapping genoa or reacher. If someone wants to play with a large sail, then a huge asymmetrical spinnaker is available as an option (plus bowsprit) - I raced with it on the boat in SF and we used it even in apparent wind angles that were well ahead of abeam. I did not want a bowsprit on my boat and instead have three symmetrical chutes on board which I normally simply fly off the bows (and usually lower the main). There is a different mentality when cruising rather than racing or day-sailing: practically speaking when passagemaking, whenever the wind gets down below about five knots, one of the iron gennies (motor) comes out. Finally, have to remember that multihull sailing performance is significantly affected by weight, and any boat with a fouled bottom is just an awful dog.

Update 15 August 2006: Six years of cruising and I found the stock sails and our symmetrical spinnakers quite sufficient for our needs; however, after our return to San Francisco Bay I started racing KatieKat and immediately wanted more sail area - specifically, a larger headsail. I've resisted the urge to buy one, but see the discussion below.

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Question: Why didn't you want a bowsprit on your boat?

A bowsprit juts out from the forward beam and is restrained by a wire bridle which attaches to eyes located just above the waterline on the inside of each bow. The purpose of a bowsprit is to move the tack of an auxiliary headsail (screacher and/or asymmetrical spinnaker) forward away from the boat for cleaner air and better sailshape.

There are three reasons why I did not want to install a bowsprit:
1. I do not like the concept of having an eye sticking out from the bow just above the waterline. If that eye were damaged, its securing hardware is virtually unreachable from inside the boat.
2. The bowsprit bridle interferes with an anchor bridle in a tideway. Amazing how often the boat rides over the anchor and actually has the anchor line streaming backwards underneath the boat.
3. Hey, I consciously have a short boat - I can squeeze into some otherwise marginal marina slots and marinas charge me for the honest 10 meters that I take up.

Update July 2004: Now, after saying all that, let me offer another perspective: if I were racing or day-sailing instead of cruising, then I'd want a bowsprit (demountable) and a huge asymmetrical chute and screacher just for fun!

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Question: What do you mean by anchor bridle?

When anchoring, I always attach a bridle to the anchor chain/rode. The bridle's legs are 5/8" dia three-strand nylon and each 22' long, with a galvanized thimble in the middle and spliced loops in each end. The loops attach to the bow cleats and the thimble is shackled onto the anchor chain.

I've found that the bridle keeps the boat from weaving side-to-side when anchored, as was often the case when simply running a single anchor chain off the bow roller. An added benefit is the absence of anchor chain noise.

I was surprised at the relatively low breaking strength of the Australian "Silverline" polypro line which came with the boat and is spliced onto the end of the 100' 5/16" anchor chain. Whenever I anchor in deeper water then I shackle a (thimbled) nylon line onto the end of the chain and form a bridle using the polypro line as one leg and the nylon line as the other. In our 'interesting' anchoring experience in Skeleton Bay in Tasmania (facing open seas and 30+knot winds with a rocky lee shore just behind us) I extended the full chain and about 75'-long bridle legs using this scheme, in only about 12' of water.

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LIVING

Question: How do you stay connected?

I finally did an in-depth update of this topic which deals with telephone, cellphone, HF, and computer connectivity issues both during coastal cruising as well as offshore. It's covered in the July 2004 webpage.

Question: How do you get around when you pull into a strange town?

If we're at anchor, we use the SeaCycle pedal-powered catamaran as our dinghy to get us to shore. It's wonderful, but I haven't tried putting the bicycles on it yet. When at a marina, we've been hoofing it a lot, but now have the bicycles as well. These full-size folding mountain bikes (old used DaHon) are really getting a workout! Public transportation in Australia is excellent (compared to what we have in the San Francisco Bay Area), with ferry, bus, and train service plentiful. Taxis are extremely cheap when compared to the US, but we've only used them a couple of times when we had monster grocery loads just before a passage. Auto rentals are also very inexpensive, with rates less than $US20/day for brand-new air-conditioned cars.

[BeanBag Stuffing]Kathy coming back loaded down from a shopping trip - some malls even provide docks!

[Surf Statue]Heavily-used bikes on a shoreside trail by Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. In the background is a statue dedicated to surf lifeguards. Note Kathy's streamlined high-tech cycling garb - Queensland has the highest skin-cancer rate in the world (a fellow cruiser just had a part of his ear lopped off last week).


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