A week to Key West

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Last week I helped teach ASA 101 - 106 and Catamaran Cruising, with a long time friend, Captain Teri, on a trip from Miami to Key West. We sailed aboard a 35' 1999 Fortuna Island Spirit ( S/V Fat Cat) that Teri runs and lives aboard on. It is a sloop rigged cat, with two electric twin engines.

Our students came from wintry weather and enjoyed the sun that we had all week. During the course of the trip they got to practice sailing and reefing in mid to heavy March winds, night sailing, and setting up jack-lines, tethers, and harnesses.

Fat Cat sailed very well downwind, and was comfortable to teach and live-aboard. We had almost exclusively broad reaches as we navigated the ICW and gulf south to Key West in 26 to 34 knot winds. Teri and I had a great time working together and thought we made a pretty good team as we taught and sailed south.

Before the trip I had never sailed with electric engines and learned a ton of the ins and outs of the system. After a few days of using the engines, however, I came to the conclusion that I will never have anything beside a diesel if I had to install a new engine. Its horse power didn't have the torque that a similar diesel engine could supply in heavier winds and currents. It also interfered with the silence I love and associate while only under sail, as we had to run the generator considerably more to compensate for the draw the electric engines took on its battery banks. Recreationally as a boat that is only used on weekends or for day sails, it would be great, but for cruising or traveling long distances, it can be a bit of a hassle.  Teri has tons of patience and is well on her way to becoming a marine electrical engineer after trouble shooting this unique system all winter.

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