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Pionier and Senta

Sailing stories



Sailor's humor

Why do I prefer a multihull?

Most of my sailing friends are thinking I am becoming crazy. In Monohull land Multihull is almost a dirty word. I even heard about Monohull ego's considering Multihullers in general to be rather a low form of animal life.

When I explained my plans to one of my sailing friends, he replied:

"A multihull, that's a kind of thing with 2 hulls and a caravan on top. Plenty of room OK, but very ugly also. It can't be seaworthy. Those things are dangerous they flip. Don't you know about the risk of capsize of this type of vessel. You can't do this to your wife and kids. Much to dangerous. You don't want such a boat Henny. Look at your lovely SENTA. That is a real boat.

Indeed, but I didn't mention a so called catamaran. I am going to build a trimaran. My friend eyes became even bigger.

"A trimaran" he said. "That's a catamaran with three hulls? Yeah, a boat with training-wheels, as on the bicycle from my 4 years old daughter. You can't be serious !"

I am exaggerating though, but this is a frequently heard opinion from most monoslug sailors (as a novice multihuller I learnt some new words, like monoslug, leaner, leadslinger and leadmine).

I have stopped going in discussion with them. Wait and see!

I didn't make myself popular by telling the next story in our Yacht Club.

Proa with crabclaw sailAs we all know the first man who crossed the ocean was not Columbus, or the Vikings, or Brendan, but the Polynesians in their multihulls. These guys were sailing proas across vast distances while the "civilised" countries of the world were still trying to find the end of the English Channel. They understood the ocean and the forces involved with. Instead of viewing the sea as an enemy to be fought against with heavy ships, the Polynesians looked on the sea with respect and skimmed over her surface in light craft. Centuries before our forefathers invented the dugout canoe, the Polynesians were migrating through the Pacific with their pahi's and proa's. With their "crab claw" sail they were much more capable of sailing to windward then their discoverers 2000 years later in their heavy ballasted square rigged barques. Abel Tasman and Captain Cook were very surprised by the easy and fast moving of these Polynesian outriggers. 

Lucky enough, as in modern times, the conservative sailing bunch showed little interest in such a crude native contraption. Nathanael Herreshof knew better and with his 25ft. catamaran design he beat the entire fleet of the New York Yacht Club with ease. Here he touched a sensitive spot of the conservative establishment and they treated his catamaran as unsporting and unwanted. He returned to the monohulls and went on to become famous for his America's Cup designs. It wasn't the time yet, but for sure he was right !!

One of the most important secrets of the multihull is light weight. Why should you carry tons and tons of ballast in the keel with you? To keep her up and running? Quite a primitive solution, you have to carry this all the way long and don't estimate the risk of sinking with al that weight! Read the newspapers about these catastrophes!

By the way, there are only three types of sailboats anyway. As I explained before, the Polynesians have the rights on the real ?boat?, the catamaran or proa. Then there is a "boat and a half", the trimaran (that's why this type of vessel is more costly), and finally we can all feel sorry for those who sail " half boats ", the monomaran or monohull. I can't wait for the day I am sailing along pretty level and sure very fast and watching your "half-boats" with their rails in the water.

Kidding aside, the ideal boat probably doesn't exist, except in dreams. These dreams depend of our experiences and priorities in sailing. And these can be different through the years.

First I wanted to go sailing. It doesn't matter in what kind of boat as long as it was floating. Then I wanted to travel to foreign coasts. Year after year and with the increase of experience still further away. Then the challenge of long distance racing. And then ..... I wanted to sail faster ..... on a boat I can handle on my own without a bunch of gorilla's for winches and sail. 

Of course this is an over-simplification, but the enjoyment of sailing is in direct proportion to speed. Fast = fun, faster = more fun. This also applies to the cruising sailor or traditionalist. Think about it, it is true!

So I am bored sailing from A to B with an average of 5 to 6 kn. This sounds perhaps a little overdone, but I am ready for a new challenge. It has to do with the evolution in my (and my family) sailing experiences.

And then I went sailing in the prototype of the Trimax trimaran and was lost .............

How did it go so far?

I have learned sailing with the girl next door. She had a little sailboat (Flits) and we learned each other how to sail and how to do all other things that teenager boys and girls are dreaming of. This Flits had a centerboard case which divided the cockpit floor in two parts. Besides it was the first time, making love on that narrow floor wasn't very satisfying.

A 16m2 (typical Dutch open sailing boat, also called BM after the builder Mr. Bulthuis and his Bulthuis Building Method) became the next ultimate dream. This boat had a fixed keel and therefore a great open cockpit floor without any obstructions. Perfect suitable for my planned holidays. The cockpit could be sheltered with a "boom-tent" and the floor is wide enough to sleep with two.

Unfortunately the girl next door preferred another boyfriend, but the biggest problem was money, to be exact the lack of it. And then, for a teenager boy there are more things to do then sailing alone.

The little money I earned with lots of small jobs disappeared in the fuel tank of first the motorcycle and later the old beetle car. At high school I choose friends who had parents with boats, I built a GRP kayak and another 16 of them for the business, and keep close to the water as often I could be.

My brother build his own 18ft. Kolibri sailing yacht in his garage. This boat was the real beginning of my boating fever. My brothers family became always seasick and strictly speaking he was more interested in aircrafts. Flying was his first love and the nice yellow painted Kolibri was called "SECOND LOVE" (and what about his wife?).

When he obtained his pilot's licence his love for the yellow bird was definitely over, in spite of her name. This was my chance! In exchange for maintaining and repainting the yacht I could use it for a year. I went offshore with this little yacht and almost drowned in heavy weather. That was quite a treat. It was real and it was what I wanted.

The day after I got my first real job, I went to the bank for a loan. After a quick search on the second hand boat market I realised that the only way I could get a suitable boat was building her by myself. Like my brother I bought a kit version of a 24 ft. wooden Waarschip (named after the little place 't Waar in the very North of the Netherlands, where the designer lives). This boat was advertised in 1980 as made of synthetic wood. It was build in marine ply and preserved with West system. I named her PIONIER and have sailed this incredible yacht for 12 years, mostly offshore, and sold her for almost double the money I spend on building and equipment (not counting all the labour).

She became to small, or better said, every next year the horizon was further away. 24 ft. isn't very much offshore and sometimes it is very inconvenient. The new owner is sailing her on a inner lake, preparing himself for the blue water. PIONIER won't disappoint him.

I thought of building a 34ft. Van de Stadt sloop or even a Woods catamaran and bought both study plans. By then my preconceived opinion about multihulls was rapidly changing. On one of our sailing trips we met a family with a home built 38 ft. catamaran named THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (what's in a name) without the caravan on top and only small accommodation in the two hulls. For the first time in my live I saw (and realized) the benefits of a multihull.

Our first child was born and the home-building-boat-plans were parked in the freezer. I rebuild our house with a bigger garage, suitable for building a boat in the future. As always I studied the second hand boat market in the Saturday newspaper and there she was, SENTA , a beautiful and famous old lady. A lot of water all over the world had passed her long keel since her building by the Royal Huisman shipyard in 1970 (a yard nowadays only reserved for the happy few on earth). She is a one-off design by D. Koopmans and special made for a single-handed circum navigation by her original owner, Dr. Cees den Hartoog.

It was love at first sight. A beautiful 36ft. S-shaped aluminium hull, made for the ocean. 

This was the yacht that could bring us everywhere we want ................
and she did ..................... and how!

We sailed her to the North and to the South. With the exception of Finland and Polen we have visit all the sea-located countries of Europe and the North of Africa. We won prices. She never disappointed us and was safe in extreme heavy weather.

We had  a wonderful time with her .................

It goes to my heart but she has been sold lately to a lucky new owner, who will continue her adventures.

But knowing that we are starting with a complete new sailing experience ..................
with a very high tech and lightweight high performance sailing craft .................
and even future horizons still further away .............
makes it a good feeling.



  "Believe me, my young friend (said the water rat, solemnly),   there is nothing -absolutely nothing-half as much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing about. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away or whether you don't, whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular."  

from The Wind in the Willows
Words to Live By