The Perfect Family Sunset Cruise on Catamaran Old Glory
No matter how many times I've been out sailing with Skipper Bud on the Old Glory catamaran (160+ cruises and counting!), I always find something unique to cherish.
Sometimes it's a spectacular sunset, or seeing a dolphin jump clear of the water...other times it's the wind, blowing hard enough from just the right direction to give us perfect sailing conditions.
On this occasion a few weeks ago, it was the very special treat of being joined by my new son, Benson, for his first sunset cruise.
Though he's only 6 months old, and still too young to enjoy it for himself, having him out with us instantly became one of my life's best memories.
Skipper Bud knows how much I love a sunset cruise, and on this day, he happened to have the chance to offer the boat to me and my family for the afternoon. And we jumped at it!
My wife Liz and her parents, who are visiting from Holland, have all been out with Skipper Bud before. But this was the first chance we had to bring Benson along for his first sail.
He even took a turn at the helm with daddy!
Admittedly, it was A LOT for him to take in...but as they say, you gotta start 'em off young!
There was some initial trepidation on my wife's part about taking him offshore and keeping him awake so long. We weren't really sure how he'd do out there.
The wind that day was out of the northwest at around 10 knots, but since the channel we sail out of (Matanzas Pass) is behind Sanibel Island, the wind and waves closer to shore were almost calm.
Once we got about 3 nautical miles offshore though, we cleared the lee of the island (the side opposite the wind direction) and got into a really nice breeze. Skipper Bud had our sails trimmed nicely and we were able to sail to within 40 degrees of the apparent wind, on a wonderful close reach.
Wave height and period were no issue at all — it was a comfortable ride on the catamaran for sure, and truly, the kind of conditions where our boat really shines.
I should point out; if we had been sailing on a traditional sailboat (a "monohull"), the breeze would have had us heeling over sharply. Which can be fun, for some. But we would have been hanging on for balance when going forward or aft, and bracing ourselves to remain seated upright in the cockpit.
Instead, our catamaran stays upright when the wind picks up. This means you can do things like sit a drink down on the table in the stern lounge without it tipping over and spilling. And you can relax without any effort whatsoever.
That's certainly how I like my sailing when I'm with my wife and family.
It took us about an hour and a half to reach the Three Nautical Mile line out in the Gulf and little Benson was doing great but starting to get fussy from a missed nap time.
This was our coming-about point.
With me at the helm, Skipper Bud handled the jib sheets like a pro and together we managed to execute a fairly flawless 180 degree tacking maneuver. With the boat now headed on a reciprocal course in the exact opposite direction from whence we had come, we started our journey back to the marina.
Mother Nature saved the best part of the cruise for last.
Just as we began making our way back up the channel, the sunset was setting astern over our shoulders and putting on the most magnificent display of light and color.
At the mouth of the Pass, we encountered about a dozen boats of all descriptions gathered for the show. Everyone had their cameras out, capturing the magic of the moment:
The sunset, sinking between two daybeacons marking the boundaries of the channel and the Sanibel Island Light rising from Pt. Ybel in the distance made for the perfect picture.
The perfect ending to a perfect cruise.
I'll never forget it. And I'll cherish this special memory for the rest of my life.
Thanks Skipper Bud!!!
— Capt. Kris