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Old 10-09-1999
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Starting out in a Cat

How long does it take to get enough experience to live aboard a cat? I planned on taking lessons but don't know whether there are any cats to learn on. I have considered a 38 to 45-foot cat that is offered through the "Moorings program," a way to help pay for the boat as they charter it for the first five years. I have also wondered what is the life span of a well-kept boat?


Sue and Larry respond:

Dear David,

Anyone can live their dream with a little bit of good planning. Having taught sailing for many years, I would highly recommend learning in small boat first. Once you have gained skills sailing in a smaller boat (22 feet max.), you will be able to transfer your skills easily to a larger craft. Perhaps get some private lessons, one on one, in your chosen cruising boat from someone you trust after you've learned in a smaller boat. You'll get a feel for how many lessons you need yourself, as your confidence builds.

My experience with catamarans is limited. It is my belief that you won't get the same feel for the wind, the sea and boat handling learning in a catamaran as you will from a monohull, (and I'm sure that statement will prompt letters from cat sailors).

I don't personally know of any programs to learn on catamarans, but am sure they must exist. As for the life span of a well-kept boat, this depends on many factors. After being chartered most weeks of the year, there can be a lot of wear on a boat, but refitting and rejuvenating older boats is not out of the question. I would suggest looking at what is on the used market and comparing this to the boats you are considering in the Charter industry. Everyone has a different standard as to what they are looking for.

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