For months we’ve had our eye on a 38’ racing catamaran called Nice Pair. Besides the stellar name, Kirk was in love with its design and speed. I simply liked the existence of two hulls, which translates into a large outdoor living space, the ability to cook while under sail, and a bed that won’t pitch you onto the floor while you’re sleeping.

This one just looks pretty cool, too.

In addition to lots of space, more comfort at anchor and at sea, catamarans also have:

  • Shallow draft. This means the boat itself doesn’t extend very far under the water, and thus you can go places other boats can’t. Beautiful 3-4’ deep Bahamian waters, for example.
  • Speed. Catamarans more or less float on top of the water, whereas monohulls sink into it. This means cats can sail faster, getting you to your destination — or away from stormy weather — faster.

Kirk and I really like catamarans. Why Nice Pair?

Nice Pair, in her current condition, isn’t set up for cruising. She’s sleek and fast — a racing boat. She’s won quite a few races in the Great Lakes. She doesn’t have a kitchen, or much living space at all. But, the builder designed her so she could be converted into a cruiser. This was our plan.

Price was the ultimate deciding factor. As far as cats go, Nice Pair was sort of affordable. “Sort of” because her list price (in October 2016) was $63k — significantly higher than we were comfortable with. But, if we could talk the seller down, maybe we could make it work… And, compared to liveaboard catamarans of the same size, anything at or below the price of Nice Pair was begging to be scuttled.

Our rationalization was this: buying a well-designed minimalist racer and adding only what we needed to it was preferable to buying a cruiser that possessed live-aboard features but needed serious repairs, sailed slower, drafted more, and was overbuilt for our needs.

We made the journey to see Nice Pair in September 2016. From San Diego we traveled nearly 2,500 miles round trip via train, plane, taxi, ferry, foot and paddle board (<- yup!) to get to northwest Washington where the cat was moored in the San Juan Islands. It was quite an undertaking just to spend a few hours with one boat.

But oh, this boat felt right. It exuded adventure from its hulls, bled excitement out the top of its 55’ carbon mast. It was capable of some wild rides. Too wild, if we weren’t very careful. If a Hobie Cat was a Mazda 3, Nice Pair was a Ferrari.

“Just think,” said Kirk, hopping from one trampoline to the other. “This could be our ultimate exploration boat. We could pull up the daggerboards and sail her right up onto the beach in the Bahamas.”

“Imagine at night, grabbing a pillow and lying up front, looking up at the stars,” I said.

“There’s plenty of space for a kayak and a surfboard, or two.”

“Replace some of this trampoline with deck–” I visualized with my hands. “–and I could practice yoga right here.”

“You could teach a class on the boat!” Kirk was giddy.

“A two-person class.” I said, laughing.

“We could be skimming over turquoise waters at 20 knots…” Kirk looked at me. “We could challenge La Vagabonde to a race.”

“Oh yeah?”

“And smoke ‘em.”

We were head over heels.

* * *

(Read Part 2!)