Over the Christmas/New Year week (end of 2015), we chartered a 41 foot Lipari Evolution catamaran for a week, with a captain. This had several purposes. The obvious one: a much needed vacation from the Minnesota cold. Two: a chance to see how we'd do as a family on a catamaran. Three: a chance to take some more sailing lessons. This time, it was the ASA catamaran class.
The captain/instructor was, surprisingly, not a fan of catamarans. He spent much of the time telling us why catamarans were inferior to monohulls. In the end, that worked out well, I think. I didn't want a week of someone telling me how wonderful everything will be if we get boat X; I want to know what to watch out for.
The boat was about a year old, and just beautifully designed. It was very nice, everything was in good shape and well laid out.
We left out of St. Petersburg, FL. The first day was classroom stuff for the ASA class, and then motoring around the marina, seeing how tight of conditions we could maneuver through.
Day two was sailing south out of Tampa Bay, down the gulf to Longboat Key, where we anchored just inside the inlet.
Day three: motoring down the ICW to Venice, where we stayed at Crow's Nest marina. I hadn't expected any time on the ICW, but it turned out to be a valuable experience, with the traffic, the narrow channels, and the bridges. We had learned about how to sail in tight quarters in the various classes, but it really only makes sense when you do it.
Day four: motoring in the gulf down to Charlotte Harbor, where we anchored off Cayo Costa State Park, an amazingly beautiful, peaceful place, with dolphins playing nearby.
Day five: doing some sailing drills for man overboard, then we went back and anchored near the state park again. Then we spent the afternoon at the park, and at the beach, collecting shells and stretching our legs..
Day 6: Motor sailing back to Crow's Nest where we restocked a few supplies and had a nice meal out.
Day 7: Motor to the Manatee River, where we anchored out. It was a busy place, made busier by some speedboat races that were going by for what seemed like an hour.
Day 8: Heavy rain for the first half of the day, making a cold, miserable trip back up to St Petersburg. We heard on the radio that a sailboat had sunk in the area and 4 people were in the water. By the time we could get the exact coordinates, it was clear we were far away, and the people were all rescued safely.
Overall, it was a wonderful time. The boat did not feel small at all, and we learned a lot about how to sail.