After about a half hour things had calmed down and the large cat and I exited our refuge from the blow. We both were heading for Wilson and interestingly we shared the same cruise speed capability – about 24 mph. No big deal for a little 18’ wooden boat but impressive for a yacht of that size.
Once finished with the 92’ drop in Wilson Lock we both continued down stream. But now the wind had again kicked up and was inducing some choppy conditions. I cruised along behind Star 7 for a few miles but decided it was just too rough and eased back on the throttle. In a few minutes she disappeared in the mist kicked up by the twin jet drives.
I proceeded slowly for about 45 minutes but then the wind and waves seemed to show me a little mercy and subsided. Back to cruise speed I continued on to Pickwick State Park where I decided to stop for an evening meal. I was in the lodge restaurant and approaching the buffet tables when I thought I recognized a couple of people in front of me as occupants of Star 7. I asked and they said they were. I explained I was in the small craft at their stern during the storm and in Wilson Lock. As we discussed the experience they ask if I would like to join them at their table and I agreed.
The owner of the catamaran, wearing a pair of camouflaged shorts and well-worn polo shirt, directed me to sit between he and his wife. Also at the table were four other friends that were traveling with them. Naturally, I was dying to ask him about his boat and he was clearly very proud of her (as well he should be) and gave me the rundown.
First, there was the size – it was 100 ft long with a 25’ beam driven by twin turbo diesels spinning jet drives. He explained that for several years he was looking for “just the right boat” to explore rivers and the Intracoastal Waterway. He wanted something his wife would feel very safe on. He said he looked at a lot of designs but it wasn’t until he was in Alaska on a vacation that they rode on a catamaran ferry. He was amazed with its stability and fell in love with the wide roomy layout. He decided that was the format he wanted.
He stated that there were only two builders of larger Cats in the US and although he called both numerous times it seemed as if they didn’t take him seriously. Finally, he gave up on them but discovered a builder in Australia that stated he could and would build the custom Cat. The deal was struck and the boat built and delivered - but not without a major problem. During transport to the US, exhaust emissions from a new pollution reduction system on the transporter spewed sulfuric acid all over Star 7’s exterior severely damaging the finish and all exposed metal. The repair was covered by the transports insurance but cause a six-month haul-out for the work to be complete. But now all was well and they were spending time enjoying its afforded comforts while cruising the waterways.
I commented that during the storm I was very impress with the seamanship exhibited holding Star 7 in place. I asked if it had bow thrusters? The answer was no. Well then how you managed it, I asked. “It was easy,” he replied, “Just hire a captain that knows Cats inside and out!” He explained that he had hired a very skilled young captain that had grown-up handing large catamarans. Question answered!
He asked about my boat and I gave him a little history. He mentioned it appeared that our cruise speeds were about the same and asked about my fuel burn. I offered it was about 2.6 or 2.7 gph. He then asked while following if I saw the hundred dollar bills flying over his transom. At first I didn’t catch on and I am sure I looked puzzled. He laughed and added that his fuel burn at cruise was 100 gph and at top speed was 200 gph. “The hundred dollar bills just fly out the exhaust,” he chuckled.
He then asked about my travels and was particularly interested when I mentioned I had been on both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers several times. He had heard warnings about the Missouri and peppered me with questions about its navigation. I must say that during the conversation I was aware of the irony of owner of a 100’ multi-million dollar boat asking me about navigating rivers. Therapy would hardly qualify as a decent dingy for Star 7!
After a very enjoyable dinner we parted and I continued on though Pickwick Lock and downstream before holing up in a small creek’s mouth for the night. The next morning the wind was again calm and the ride back up Kentucky Lake was both enjoyable and uneventful.
Since I was back ahead of schedule I considered cutting over to the Cumberland River and making a two-day run to Nashville, TN and back, but ultimately I decided that 812 miles I had traveled in four days was enough for this trip. Since it was late in the day I made the decision to spend the night on the lake and head for home about noon the next day. There was no big hurry to get home so why not just kick back and enjoy a few more hours in Therapy.