Transatlantic Day 9

Last night was one of our most productive sails. We’ve really entered the tradewinds now with a 15-20 knot breeze at our back. And that is a blessing and a curse for catamarans. You see, we don’t have a backstay. On a monohull the backstay is 1 of 4 steel wires that pulls the mast back. A catamaran has only the forestay and the sidestays, offset to be slightly behind the mast. Think of a table with 4 legs and a table with 3. 4 legs has a bit more stability.

So a catamaran has a hard time running downwind because the wind is coming from an area that has the weakest support. With so much force from this point the boat sort of squirrels around in the water, unable to point in a straight direction. To avoid this you hoist a sail that hangs out over the front. Usually a spinnaker, gennaker, parasailor, etc. We blew our gennaker the day before in heavy winds so we only have the main and genoa. The 2 are much more efficient on a broad or beam reach. That is, when the wind is coming from side or slightly offside (75-115°) it can sail quicker than a monohull.

After many quick changes in sail trim and heading we finally found a configuration that worked well. And using it we recorded our best time this passage 150 miles/day.

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