I recently purchased a Hobie 18 and it took me over three months to re-rig everything and also learned how to properly put it together. I have never owned or even sailed a catamaran before and I quickly found that documentation on the web is scarce on how to properly setup and sail one.
With a lot of hard work and dedication I finally have the boat ready to sail. I decide to take it out on its madden voyage in Lake Pontchartrain. There is no beach access to the lake so I decide to launch from a local boat launch. This seems like an easy task, except that the dock has two levees that stretch out into the water about 200 yards on each side. The lane is only about 100 yards wide and to make matters worse, there is another levee at the end that forces you to make a sharp right turn that is only 50 yards wide. It essentially is shaped like a L.
This is the first time I have ever tried to launch from a dock. I quickly realize that I need bumpers on the hull to keep the dock from beating the hell out of it. I finally get the sails up and the boat in position and we jump on. I zig zag back and forth to get out of the channel and into open water.
Once free of the small channel of the dock, I can relax. We quickly launch the jib and away we go. The wind is pretty good and we are able to make good progress. After about three hours we are feeling confident and we see a buoy a long ways out……..I tell my girl friend at the time, “hey, let’s sail out there around that buoy”……..so we are on our way. When we got close I laided back on the tramp not paying attention and suddenly the wind gets on the wrong side the sail and before you know it, all I see is the boat turning over. I only have time to say “HOLD ON” and splash!!!!!!!!!!!
One minute I am on the boat, the next I am under the water. One of my biggest fears is that I will fall off and the boat will leave me, so I hold on to the main with a death grip. I quickly pop up and try to make sense out of where I am and what happened to the boat. I see that it is turned over, so I call out to my girl friend to see if she is ok. She calls back to me and I find that she is about 50 feet behind me and neither of us have our life jackets on. She shouts out to me that she has lost her glasses…….and I reply back that we have bigger problems. Luckily she was not injured and could swim back to the boat to put her life jacket on. Since this was the first time I have sailed this boat, I have very limited knowledge of how to right it. I have seen video clips on youtube, but I never tried it.
We both are now standing on the boat wondering what to do. I remember seeing something about tying a rope to the dolphin striker that goes across the pontoon. So I quickly find a rope and tie it off. I then lean back, however the boat does not move. I then tell my girl friend to lean on me and hold on. Slowly the boat starts to move and It looks like the boat is going to land on top of us. My girl friends eyes got as big as hub caps and I told her it was ok, just hold on and grab the dolphin striker just as soon as you hit the water. The boat splashes down and we both grab the dolphin striker, however no one told me I was suppose to disconnect the main sail and lower the jib. Just as soon as the boat hits the water it takes off. She and I are holding on to the bottom of the boat while being dragged. I quickly pull myself up on the front of the boat and try to get control, but I cannot figure out what to do. Mean while my girl friend is still under the boat dragging away. I tell her to work her way back to the back of the boat where it was lower and she could pull herself up. She manages to get to the back of the boat, but was not strong enough to pull herself up while being dragged. By now my adrenaline is kicked in so I grab her by the back of the paints and pick her completely out of the water and drop her on the tramp. It happened so fast that she did not know what to do.
Once she was on board I sat down and tried to figure out what to do. I was not aware that I was suppose to turn the boat up wind to stop, but I quickly figured it out. Once we were stopped we started to look around and determine what we lost. I immediately realize that my crocks were gone.……and she lost her glasses……..I also lost my paddle……and a few other things that were not tied down. After a few minutes to calm down and catch our breath, I then started to sail around in circles to find my lost crock but then my girl friend ask me what I was doing and when she realized that I was looking for my crock instead of heading back to the dock, she quickly chewed my ***** and said let’s get home NOW!
Every time we sail by buoy “G” we always laugh. I now jokingly called it “Mr G” because he and I have had several run ins since then. I think it is cursed so I try my best to avoid it.