Fiji, July 2022
Yes the (miss)spelling is deliberate, and I know it won’t win me any fans, but then thats never been what my writing is about.
I would like to start by saying that I have friends who have catamarans, and they’re very responsible, knowledgable sailors, considerate of the sea life and coral reefs. It just always seems that whenever I witness some ridiculous or irresponsible behavior, 9 times out of 10 it’s from a catamaran, why is that?.
In over 20 years of sailing, the most dangerous, reckless and idiotic behavior I’ve had the misfortune to witness, has been almost exclusively from people on catamarans, admittedly they’re mostly ‘credit card captains’ who rent a catamaran for a vacation, with no maritime knowledge or experience, zero regard for regulations or safety, and then proceed to drive (yes drive, not sail) the cat around as they would a car in a parking lot, dropping the anchor wherever they please, with no thought of the damage they’re inflicting upon our precious coral reefs and sea life, it makes my blood boil.
This morning, for example; Bob and I are anchored in a beautiful secluded bay nestled between two islands here in Fiji. The bay is quite large, with plenty of room for many boats to anchor safely, but it shallows very quickly toward the beaches, and has tremendous coral reefs that reach a good distance out into the bay, the safe anchorages are not difficult to locate if one pays attention to the charts. That being said, one does actually require the knowledge to read and understand a chart!
Bob is always very careful to drop our anchor far enough out away from any coral, not just for our safety and the safety of the boat, but in consideration of the coral reefs. The majority of damage to coral reefs is not from the actual anchor itself, but from the chain dragging, as the boat swings, sometimes 360 degrees it drags the chain over the coral, and this is what does all the damage, many people (mostly the credit card captains) fail to understand this.
We’re the only boat in the bay here today; the sky is clear blue, the sun is blisteringly hot and the wind is blowing about 25 knots, which helps to keep us and the boat cool. It’s all peaceful and lovely.
I’m sitting up on deck reading when I hear engine noise, at first I thought it was a sea plane approaching; but I look up to see a catamaran flying past us heading straight for the coral reef at about 6 – 7 knots, unbelievable! They were going so fast I didn’t even have time to stand up and shout a warning. I honestly thought they planned to ride the cat up onto the beach!
There was a woman on the bow, doing a very plausible impersonation of Boadicea, I watched in disbelief as the cat proceeded to plough straight into the coral, with Boadicea almost toppling over the bow from the abrupt halt; if it all wasn’t so tragic it would have been amusing.
Then it was all panic on deck as they both rushed to lean over and detect any damage, as if they could see anything from the deck anyway, (idiots) I can only imagine the damage to the reef.
A quick reverse and turn around followed, before they dropped the anchor almost immediately, I’m sure they were still over the coral.
If only the companies who rented these catamarans could insist upon some sort of sailing qualification or experience, our beautiful reefs might stand a chance of survival.