Sailing with friends aboard a buddy boat is fun and useful
Thinking of doing a bareboat charter with your family or a few friends? If you gather up another family or a few more sailing friends, you can bareboat charter with a buddy boat. Buddy-boat sailing is popular with cruisers, but it is also useful when bareboat chartering for just a week or two.
I recently spent two weeks sailing from Athens, Greece, down to Mykonos and back with a group from the other Bay, the San Francisco Bay. The group was organized by a sailing school in Oakland, CA, where the two skippers were instructors. We had two boats for 14 folks: six on a 50-foot monohull and eight on a 42-foot catamaran. Having two boats working together greatly improved our voyage.
Even before throwing off our docking lines, we learned the importance of having a buddy boat. Each boat did its own provisioning. The monohull shoppers, of which I was a part, forgot to get dish soap. We were saved from having to take another trip to the grocery store. All we had to do was walk across the dock to our buddy boat with an empty soda bottle and fill it with a couple inches of dish soap from the cat’s galley. Problem solved. Three quarters of the way through the cruise, the catamaran crew feared that they were running low on potable water. We handed off one of our 10-liter bottles, as we still had plenty of water. The monohull crew must have been drinking more beer and wine than water.
The meltemi, the strong, steady northly winds that last for about six or more days, made for some great and exciting sailing. One morning, while anchored in a small protective bay on the Island of Kea, the crew on the monohull woke up to find that the normally steady north wind had shifted a bit causing the boat to swing near dangerously shallow water. To make matters worse, the anchor had lodged between two layers of the rock. The monohull drew about nine feet, while the cat only drew three and half. The cat was able to pull the monohull’s stern out of trouble before the wind shifted back to the northly predicted direction.
The next job for the crew of the cat was to pull the anchor in the opposite direction to dislodge it. The skipper of the monohull dove down into the clear Aegean Sea and attached a line to the anchor rode. That line was attached to the bow of the cat. The catamaran was to back up to hopefully dislodge the anchor. It worked! The monohull was able to weigh the anchor and head out to sea.
Another morning, the monohull came to the rescue of the cat. The crews of both boats were enjoying breakfast when the crew of the monohull heard a few shouts from another boat anchored nearby. At that moment, the crew of the cat noticed that their dinghy was no longer tied astern (a single bowline will not hold when wet!). Two of the crew from the monohull jumped in their dinghy and rescued the wayward dinghy. Another crisis averted with the help of the buddy boat.
The meltemi stirred up the seas quite a bit. The five- to six-foot waves at times did not make for a comfortable ride on a catamaran. Three of the crew on the cat were novice sailors, so there was some crew swapping a couple of mornings to give them a calmer ride on the monohull. Crew swapping allowed me to experience taking the helm of two vastly different boats.
The more the merrier
The more, the merrier, and that is true with sailors. The two boats had a potluck dinner the last night of the charter. The delicious spread of dishes using refrigerator-clearing ingredients was followed by drinking, dancing, and karaoke on the deck of the cat. Hopefully, we weren’t too loud to bother the others in the anchorage.
Getting great photos while under sail is another advantage. No drone nor chasing along in a dinghy is required. All that is needed is to sail alongside. A crew member on the cat got a great shot of the monohull sailing under the Temple of Poseidon.
It was fun to try to keep track of our buddy while under sail. As is often said, two boats going in the same direction is a race. That was our case even if the two boats were so different. At the end of a day of sailing, happy hour conversations often involved sailing tactics. Once again having a buddy helped to make the whole charter experience even more enjoyable.
by Anne Kaiser