In the Beginning
14 March 2012
It was quite the whirlwind buying Palarran. My friend Brian and I flew down to St. Maarten for the sea trial and survey two weeks after my first visit. Our plane was canceled in Miami so we missed the sea trial, which is a short sail and testing of the mechanical systems. Then the boat was hauled out of the water and inspected. I had agreed to purchase Palarran on a "as is, where is" basis, so the only thing the survey would tell me was to walk or not. No deal breakers where found so we closed the sale about 5 weeks after my initial visit, which is lightning fast for boat transactions.
While Palarran was out of the water I had a new coating of bottom paint applied. Bottom paint keeps barnacles from growing on the hull below the water. The boat yard also fixed some cosmetic scratches and buffed out the hull. A week after we closed, Jeanne, Elaina, and I flew down for our first family visit. Nick had Lacrosse and couldn't come. Palarran was substantially larger than any catamaran I had sailed previously so I arranged for a Captain to go with us. Christophe Yven is a French sailor who has done 15 Atlantic crossings, 3 Pacific crossings, and so many inter-island deliveries you couldn't count them. We were very lucky to have him take us out of the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
There are two bridges that allow boats to enter and leave the Lagoon. The Dutch bridge is the main one and is fairly large and busy. The French one is smaller and not used by big boats. As luck would have it, the starter motor on the port engine failed and by the time a mechanic repaired it, we had missed the Dutch bridge opening. Christophe believed we could fit through the French bridge and started to head for it. I advised him of two things, the chart said the bridge was 28' wide and the boat was 26, and that we didn't have insurance yet. "I think we do" says Christophe as he calmly lit a cigarette.
In golf you sometimes hear the quote "Better to be lucky than good". In sailing it's really better to be good than lucky. Christophe is very, very good. We sailed around the island to Palarran's new home, Oyster Pond. Captain Oliver's Marina has been our Caribbean home for over two years now. It is a charter base for Sunsail and the Moorings, two of the largest sailboat charter companies in the world. So there are a lot of sailors and a few sailor's bars. Christophe had arranged a slip for us right in front of the crowded bar - front row, center stage seating to see David attempt his first docking maneuver. We did a couple practice circles and then I started to back her in. 200 people are watching as we close in on the dock. Anyway, my leg starts pumping up and down like a jackhammer, pressure started to build in my head, and right before I rammed my brand new boat into the dock I abandoned the wheel so Christophe could save her. It was pretty bad in hind sight. But Christophe didn't actually dock the boat. He pulled it back out turned her around, and told me to do it again. And again, and again, right in front of the - ok it was more like 20 - people watching. It was a good first lesson.