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Sailing a Gemini Catamaran

Last month we finally got to sail our 1993 Gemini Catamaran here in San Carlos. Wind conditions range from very light to about 20kn in San Francisco bay just south of bahia San Carlos due to the mountain effect blocking the wind.

We day sailed four times and are learning how to effectively sail the boat. Sailing a catamaran FEELS tremendously different than sailing a mono hull. Its certainly more stable. But unlike a mono hull that starts to cut through the water when the sails are up, our Gemini feels like a 4×4 running over rough ground on a beam or beating into the wind.

The Gemini is such a light boat. At 8,000 lbs, we can match wind speed up to about 5 knots and then get about 60% up to about 18 knots. A far cry from mono’s that would by bobbing in the swell under 4 knots of wind.

The autopilot is essential on the Gemini. It’s remarkable how two degrees makes such a big difference in wind speed. There’s little chance of me keeping such a fine course on the catamaran. I could feel the wind on the mono buy the heel and speed of the boat but I can’t get the same response on the flat cat.

We had a couple with us on our last day sail that raced sailboats and they were a big help in showing me how to fine tune the trim. We had 5 adults and two kids aboard the boat and we were running at wind speed and beating at about 6 knots in 10 knots of true wind.

With the drop keels the boat goes to wind surprisingly well. The racer was amazed how close we could get to the wind. Comparatively, we could tack as close to the wind in our CSY 33 as we can in the Gemini. We slip about 3-4 degrees to leeward with the lee keel down. If I have the windward keel down going to wind we slip about 10 degrees. If I don’t have any keels down going to wind- forget about it! We slip tremendously and I can’t tack.

I didn’t mind beating in the mono but it’s loud and jarring in the cat. It’s not dangerous just uncomfortable. Sailing on the beam is fast but not fun in the trough of the waves. The waves slap the bridge deck and splash against the leeward hull making it a rocky ride. We have two cockpit drains that spew water like a geyser that we affectionately call, “sea kisses”.

We can still walk about and even cook in the galley under way. The kids can play in the cockpit floor and the salon is warm and comfortable away from the wind. Moving around deck is easier than on the mono at heel but I still plan on running safety lines to the mast back to the cockpit and tie in points in the cockpits for peace of mind under way.

Because we use propane for the fridge and cooking, the boat doesn’t use much electrical juice. We generally avoid the interior lights in favor of the handheld LED’s at night and the main power suck is the autopilot and instruments. We have a 15 watt panel that works great to minimize the draw. With the 15 amp alternator on the outboard we can charge the two batteries or use our Honda 2kw generator to power the 15 amp battery charger.

Were planning on crossing the 75 miles of the Sea of Cortez to the Baja in the spring. I need to get some of the mast and nav lights working and get our Honda Outboard tuned before we plan on leaving but the Gemini is a very comfortable coastal cruiser and live aboard sailboat. Apparently they upgraded the boat to a blue water capable sailboat as of 1997 when the made some major changes to the mold. But we can live with that for a few years or more exploring the Sea of Cortez.

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1 comment to Sailing a Gemini Catamaran

  • Great update!
    All I need now is another ferrocement boat and some planks!
    I am still stuck here, waiting on paperwork for bank card.
    Being ‘free’ is made very difficult by the powers that be. Deserving of an entire chapter itself.
    Once back in Mexico (unless I decide to go back to Japan for a year to teach), I won’t be going anywhere but places on my boat for a few months – I’ll have new chain and batteries.
    I hope to be back in about a week.
    I really miss my life on the water.
    If there’s a lesson been learned from this trip north, it’s that life on the water is a trillion times richer than life on land.