During the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD, we had the opportunity to interview Antares catamaran owners Pete and Tracy Richmond. Pete and Tracy have been living aboard KAVU full-time since they took ownership. Pete is a commercial airline pilot and Tracy is a nurse.
To put this un-abridged interview into perspective, the whole Antares crew and friends were onboard KAVU for Canadian Thanksgiving dinner the previous night – all eleven of us – for succulent braised lamb chops with all the trimmings.
SF: I’m interested in learning about the liveaboard qualities of the Antares catamaran – in your own words.
Tracy Richmond: I love having my queen size bed and I enjoy how functional the galley is. As you’ve seen, we’ve done Canadian Thanksgiving for up to 15 people, and its not often on a boat that you see three or four people working easily in the galley.
SF: Yah, and that was very important to you.
TR: Yes, yes.
Pete Richmond: The galley has always been her thing. She wants a damn good galley. It’s just like anything else, the majority of the time she’s the cook, but I got to say that I like to have a good kitchen too because it’s a lot easier, it makes it a lot more functional.
A DAMN GOOD GALLEY
SF: How has the layout been done to suit your needs? You’ve got three cabins?
PR: Yah, the third cabin is underneath the forward berth, we had the office configuration put in.
TR: That was a priority. Whatever our next boat was going to be it was going to have an actual office where we could put files.
PR: Yes, and then the workshop was just a bonus. We really hadn’t thought about that. I don’t know if I’ve used it so much as a workshop – I have a little bit, but not very much. It’s a great place to store everything – if I need tools, parts, anything, that’s where they are.
SF: What about movement around the boat? How do you find it? Do you ever find that you get in each other’s way?
TR: Very comfortable.
PR: Actually, it’s pretty good. It depends on what you’re trying to compare it with. But even if you don’t compare it to any other boat – it doesn’t compare to a monohull, you just can’t make that comparison – getting around from one side to another, for whatever you need to do, there’s enough things to grab onto so when the boat does have motion you always have someplace to put your hand on and hold on.
SF: Galley down – that’s one of the biggest things I notice when people came onboard the boat during the boat shows. Most point out “Oh, it doesn’t have a galley up.” What is your response to that?
TR: We’ve looked at a lot of the catamarans where they have the galley up and not only does it dwarf your living area in the salon, you don’t have storage to put dishes, to put food, to put anything. Here, you know we’ve got a full pantry, and more than ample storage. So I mean, granted it is a boat so sometimes you have to use creativity, but there is ample room for everything that we need.
PR: I’ve seen a lot of people go “oh yeah, I’ve got to have galley up.” I think it’s something that’s taken from their houses because people always entertain in their family room, which is usually connected with their kitchen. But if you have the galley up, as Tracy said, you run out of room very quickly and there are your dishes right there.
TR: And also, if you are having a party, one of the nice things about having the galley down is your dishes can go down there and it’s out of sight. Whereas if you have your galley up, all your dirty dishes are there. It’s just nice having it in a separate area.
SF: And you’re a serious cook, Tracy.
TR: Yah, it’s a hobby, I enjoy it…last Thanksgiving I actually made a turkey in both the convection oven and the oven.
PR: It was a two turkey dinner night and I got stuck in Mexico City.
TR: We missed you. We toasted you.
PR: And I was sitting down there having tacos.
BIG DOG ON THE BLOCK
SF: Pete, I’ve heard a lot about your stereo system. Tell me a bit about that.
PR: You start looking at this and you go: “got the room”. I’ve always liked nice electronics but of course in a monohull you never have that opportunity and in a lot of the catamarans you can put your little LED flat-screen someplace, but here you have the ability to put in a 27″ TV or larger actually, if you went to a flat panel. And six channel, surround sound, subwoofer – the whole concept is actually outstanding. When I think about it, we’ve got the square footage, really, when you include this enclosure here. More square footage than many apartments in New York City.
TR: It’s about 800-850 square feet?
PR: We’ve got an awful lot of living space.
TR: Three bedrooms – there’s not an awful lot of boats that have three full bedrooms.
SF: And you typically have a lot of guests over.
PR: It’s well used. And it’s actually nice to be the big dog on the block, too. Got to admit, got to like that, got to like that. Another thing that’s enjoyable even as you walk in is the wood, the richness of the wood and the contrast with the fabrics. It’s just a nice warm inviting feeling. Like in a monohull, you have to climb down a ladder – you’re kind of like going and living in the basement. Where now, we’re not living in the basement anymore.
TR: Cherry is just a beautiful wood – it’s just so pretty and elegant.
SF: So what do you have to do with your stuff when you go sailing? What’s you’re routine?
PR: Not much, we tried in our monohull to live by the 15-minute rule. 15-minute rule is within 15 minutes of deciding to go sail, everything is stored and ready to go. That doesn’t happen on a monohull very often if you’re a live-aboard. This boat comes very close. Really the only things we have to generally do is put the dishes away out of the drying rack. That’s the major thing that has to be done generally.
SF: You guys must really like it when it’s away from the dock.
PR: You get a much better night’s sleep swinging on the hook than you do tied up to a dock, there’s no question about that.
TR: But even tied up to a dock, maybe it’s just the peace of mind, it’s much more enjoyablebeing here than being in a house.
PR: You got a community going, much more so than you find a real community, in just a housing development. The sense of community seems to be something that’s of a lost art…everybody looks out for one another. When something goes wrong there’s usually ten people there to tell you and help you how to fix it. Then you’ve got to figure out who you’re going to believe.
TR: And when there’s any sort of storms, everybody is out looking – if someone is not there, they’ll re-adjust the line to make sure there’s no damage.
BEST WATERFRONT PROPERTY
SF: Do you ever feel that there’s something missing? That you’re not living in a house? Do you feel that you’re making too many sacrifices?
TR: Best waterfront property I’ve ever had.
PR: You think about stuff a lot more seriously before you buy it. So you find when you buy stuff you think about it a lot more before you purchase it. Because really, is it going to be something that you need or is it something that you’re just adding weight and that you use once a year?
TR: But, at the same time, you know, it is our life, it is our home. So we’re going to have our daily ware, we’re going to have our glasses we want. You know a lot of people have plastic plates, but you know, it’s not a sacrifice, it’s our home. And my third anchor makes wonderful meals for you.
PR: Third anchor is a Kitchen Aide mixer – the turbo-charged one.
TR: It was used last night.
PR: I didn’t have time, but if I’d gotten it when we had the hurricane, that would have held us beautifully.
TR: What is nice about living aboard, I believe, is you just keep life simple. You know like Pete was saying you don’t get extraneous things that you don’t need, where as if you had a closet room, if you bought another sweater or something else, if you never use it you wouldn’t think anything of it. Well, you just don’t get to do that here… And the bathrooms, or the head, excuse me. The shower is wonderful. We lived on a monohull for seven and a half years prior to this.
SF: How big was the monohull?
TR: It was 40 feet. But it was maybe a third of this size. You have such a small area that you’re in. The first time I took a shower here I actually almost slipped because I put my hand where I thought the bulkhead was going to be and it was like a foot behind it. It’s a very comfortable shower. — you know, living here full time, between dishes and showers and whatever other requirements for water. The two full tanks will last two or three weeks.
PR: Depends how many parties we have.
TR: I also enjoy the table. I think Antares did a really good job, how it slides out and how you put the end pieces in. Again, it’s just going to allow more space when needed. You know, just one of those added touches that are definitely appreciated. I also love the closets. I love the full length closets. Not only can I hang my uniform up without it wrinkling, I can hang dresses and Pete’s slacks and there’s enough room for shoes and all of the clothes. In fact Peter’s closet, in fact the top part is the wiring for his stereo system.
PR: Our stereo system.
TR: Our stereo system.
SF: Another big question is about performance? How does this boat perform?
PR: That’s an interesting question. And depends on how you define performance. But in the raw numbers, with this boat fully loaded, as we’ve said, with several cases of wine, a lot of food, full water, fuel, TV, surround sound, yadda, yadda, yadda, we’ll generally do half the wind speed – at least – if there’s at least 8 knots or so blowing. We’ve had the boat up to 15 knots with winds blowing about 25 knots. We had a spinnaker and our mainsail up that was rather exhilarating. We didn’t know what to expect. It was the first catamaran I’ve ever sailed.
TR: And the first spinnaker I’ve ever used.
PR: So it was all kind of a learning curve and so forth, but it worked. Somebody said we flew a hull, but I don’t buy it. There’s too much crap in the boat.
SF: Tracy, how do you find handling this boat?
TR: It’s much easier than the Valiant, believe it or not. The twin engines are still a little bit awkward, that’s because I still haven’t played with it as much as I should, but it is very convenient. Backing into this slip is by far easier than the Valiant ever was.
PR: You can’t really back it up [Valiant] Its kind of like put it in reverse and see where we end up.
TR: Or even nosing in, it’s a much easier boat to maneuver.
PR: People next to me were asking me if we needed a bow thruster, of course, they said don’t laugh, and of course, I laughed. But I wasn’t laughing at the question, I was laughing more at the point that I had asked the same question. I wondered if it was necessary.
TR: Essentially we do have bow thrusters, with the twin engines.
PR: With those engines beams 18 feet apart, you get a remarkable amount of control. Yes, there would be a small advantage in certain rare cases to have a bow thruster but then you’re talking about six thousand dollars, another hole, another piece of equipment, you’ve got weight right where you don’t want it, the bow, you’ve got a hole that’s going all the way across and now you’re creating drag. So now you’re going to cost yourself serious performance. There’s no call for that. Once you learn how to drive your boat it’s phenomenal. We’ve docked in some pretty wild conditions.
SF: Did you have a checklist of what you wanted on a boat before you bought this one? What was the live-aboard checklist like?
PR: Our lists were two different things. Our original list was more of a technical list than it was a functional list, or a live-aboard list… a must was to have normal drive shafts, not those sail drives – big pieces of aluminum stuck down in salt water with complicated parts. They will break. By the way there’s a big hole you have to put in the boat to put these things in. The reason we went to a bigger boat – a catamaran – was we wanted more room, better performance and if you were to do that on a monohull, you’re going to be spending a whole hell of a lot of money and you have to have electronic or hydraulic winches, you have to have bigger, more complicated parts – and then if it fails, you’re screwed. One person can handle this boat sailing, including a reef. No fatigue. By sailing flat, the fatigue factor drops immensely, it’s huge, it’s huge.
SF: In other words, you can go further for longer.
PR: Yes, exactly. You’re not tripping over people. It’s much more comfortable. We’ve gone up to Block Island and the autopilot took care of it the entire way. Of course we made sail adjustments as necessary. What was funny about it is we got up there, we were all just fresh as a daisy for the most part, and we ran into another couple who had been out in the same type of wind, 38 or 40 foot monohull, the entire family was sick, the husband and the kids were down below sick. The wife was left to handle the boat, but she couldn’t turn on the autopilot because the autopilot couldn’t handle the type of seas they were in, and she was having a hard time herself.
TR: 10 foot? 10 – 12 foot seas?
PR: Yes, swells. We felt really bad for them, we told them we were sitting back having a cold beer because it’s no big deal. That was our first sail off shore. We were out before motoring, so we kind of knew what to expect in this boat, but it was our first offshore sailing. And we’d never sailed in winds like that, we didn’t know how she was going to react in the swells, and it was easy, it was ridiculously easy.
KAVUING IS A LIFESTYLE
PR: I tell you what, it was intimidating as hell to start driving this thing. I mean, look I fly airplanes, multi-million dollar airplanes that weigh up to 170,000 pounds with 130 plus people on board. This was more intimidating than learning how to fly that airplane, initially. But, I had built it up more in my mind than I had anything else. But it maneuvers so much easier than anything I’ve ever used. It’s incredible, even in winds.
TR: In the Valiant there was no way that we could point as close as we need to point to get to a dock. I remember the first time I was driving up to a dock I was about a yard away, which is normally what you do on a monohull. And Pete kept on telling me: “no, you have to move in, you have to get closer.” I’m like I’m about a yard away and he goes, yes, I know, but you have to be within 6 to 8 inches.
PR: You can do it. You just have to learn a whole new perspective of where everything is. And I mean Tracy does great just driving the boat out and about and stuff. When we’re doing the anchoring dance – or un-anchoring, or are anchoring – which is what is known as the anchoring dance – all the other boats in the area put down their fenders – Tracy is at the helm doing that and we use hand signals for whatever.
TR: Yes, I also maneuver the anchor pretty well, too. Taking it up and putting it down.
PR: It’s really not a big deal. One of the key things in owning a boat, is when you’re at anchor, especially when you’re at anchor, you get in your dinghy, and you motor away from your boat and all you can do is look back at your gorgeous boat. I mean you just sit there, and dam. If you don’t have that then you don’t have the right boat. There’s no way of describing it. I guess if I was a writer I could come up with all sorts of descriptives. It’s just one of those things…you just feel it in the pit of your stomach.
TR: You know you’ve made the right decision with everything. We love everything about the boat. We love the name. You know it took us two years to come up with the name. And it just seems perfect.
SF: Just one last question. Can you explain the meaning of KAVU?
TR: Its an airline term with a ‘C’. It’s Clear Above Visibility Unlimited. And when we were originally trying to find names for the boat, we wanted to go with a Polynesian myth, with the amas, you know, the separate hulls. And Kavu just sounds Polynesian and I just like the sound of it and I think pretty much at the same time we wanted it with a ‘K’.
PR: – you know CAVU, that’s a neat aviation term but it also kind of a Zen thing as well, if you look at it in that arena – picking a name is probably one of the hardest things we did on this boat – now what’s funny is that it’s now into a whole new things for our friends and us because now when we go out we say: “hey, lets go Kavuing”. That’s because everything we’ve ever done on this boat has always been fun – when we decide we’re going to do something fun, we just say we’re going to go Kavuing.
TR: It’s a boat, it’s an action, it’s a verb. It’s a lifestyle. Kavuing is a lifestyle.
PR: It’s a great lifestyle – and thank god it’s not for everybody.