Join Date: Feb 2017
Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Rep Power: 3
Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island
I don't think it had much to do with shallow water, and the Gemini isn't really a tippy boat. It probably was more about not appreciating just how fast and severe the line squalls are around Florida, and then a bit of bad luck. I'm guessing from the description that they had begun to reef, the sail was a bit bagged as they let the halyard down, and the line front was upon them. This just slammed the sail, turned the boat around (or the wind came from 180*), and started to drive the bows under. Wave height probably didn't matter much here, and they didn't appear to tip sideways. Instead, it was all about a short waterline - not enough lever arm or buoyancy forward to overcome that big, high force driving them down. I suspect a Prout 34, or any other 34' catamaran would have been caught similarly. I also suspect if they had a full hoisted sail, it might have spilled wind better and be more recoverable.
The partially lowered main is just my guess - the description in the article was vague at this point about whether they had begun to take a reef or not.
I think sometimes seeing or hearing of an oncoming squall actually can in the minds of some create problems because basic instinct in the mind of the inexperienced is to move to safety quickly which is exactly the wrong way to think on the water. Still it is often I believe why people are slow to reduce sail. They equate reduced sail to slower speed which is true but in the case of hard hitting squalls this is the exact right thing to do. It is counter-intuitive and only becomes intuitive with training and experience.