Driving Lessons on the Banana Boat

August 5, 2012

Marsden Cove, NZ

By: Kerry

Stern boring.

It’s not a term we’d ever heard before, and the mind does boggle somewhat at the thought of it. But in fact, it’s one of the traits apparently unique to catamarans.

The day of our sail delivery drama got better, fortunately. We went for a walk in the afternoon, saw three baby seals basking in the sun on the rocks along the way (I think they’d just been kicked out of home to fend for themselves – they were looking small, skinny and lonely) and got talking to a mother and son (human, not seal) who invited us home for a cuppa. The Kiwis are friendly like that!

Turns out son Paul is a harbour master and knows a thing or two about driving boats – catamarans in particular.

“Ah, I love cats – they’re so easy to drive, aren’t they?” says Paul.

“Ummmmm, well…” say the two muppets on the couch, looking sheepish.

Then Pilot Paul – nice man that he is – offered to give us driving lessons! Very generous of him and invaluable learning for us.

The first day we took out his boat – an eight-metre aluminium (read: virtually-indestructible) power cat, with 2x120HP outboards on the back. We spent several hours in the canal that enters the marina, spinning it around, parking it against pontoons and generally understanding how a catamaran handles.

Our party balloon mooring bouy

Our party balloon mooring bouy

The next day we took our boat out – heart palpitations – and headed out into the river. Paul had brought along a party balloon with a bit of string and a lead sinker attached, which he dropped overboard to act as a ‘buoy’.

Then for the next several hours he had us (both of us, separately) backing up on it, parking next to it, spinning around it…. all quite tricky given tide and wind, but by the end of it we were feeling a million times more confident.

We headed back into the marina and he made Damian park the boat on the dock. And then he made me do it. And then Damian again…. you get the picture!

Then the next day, we took the Banana boat out again and did donuts and wheelies (well, donuts, anyway) and did reverse parks and practiced putting it into a marina pen.

Piece of cake! (Well, kinda. It will be quite different, I’m sure, when we’re on our own with a bit of wind – we have so much windage being so high out of the water).

Amazing the difference in confidence in just a couple of days. We were astonished at what the boat can actually do: tremendous power (it’s turbo-charged, after all) and it can spin on its own axis at speed.

Not bad for a tennis court.

And it stern bores: basically, if you tip one engine into reverse gear, the boat will sashay around until that hull is pointing rear into the wind and then it will just hang there, motionless and in balance.

Who knew?

~~~ ><(((°>  ><(((°> ><(((°> ~~~


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