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By Alan Lucas, SY “Soleares”

Unless your head has been buried in the bilge these past couple of decades, you cannot help but have noticed the disturbing shift in the sailor's psyche away from healthy xenophobia about almost everything to an acceptance of other influences and cultures. Nowhere is this more evident than in his or her irrational acceptance of multi-hulls.

Don't believe me? Look out your porthole, there's a plague out there.

Being an honest-to-goodness, fair dinkum tar-and-canvas Ocker, I reject this merciless invasion of all that is right and decent in Australian boating and make no apology for railing against the erosion of our true maritime values. Multiculturalism is one thing, but multihulturism is quite another.

As a dedicated monohulturist, bitter and twisted about not being able to afford a vessel that holds its value and goes twice as fast, I maintain that multihulturism is divisive and discriminatory and should be stamped out. Catamarans, especially, are everywhere, clogging up our waterways and popping out from behind headlands and islands to frighten the life out of decent, traditional sailors who they zoom past with haughty indifference to claim the best position at the next anchorage: and it's not as if they need to be first because their shallow draft gives them the best anchorage anyway!

And once at anchor, some multihulturist are so indifferent to their more sensitive, traditional cousins that they make no attempt to counsel them with refreshments in their obscenely oversize, undercover cockpits. They just leave us sitting miserably in our open cockpits rolling our gunwales under and glowering at them as we curse a trend that is destroying our cherished values.

Having always owned boats that are slower than my willingness to accept change, I have seen more than my fair share of transoms disappearing over the horizon ahead, but in those days there was just one transom per boat, now I am obliged to watch helplessly as two and even three transoms per boat disappear at a much faster rate. This is serious in-your-face stuff that would never have been tolerated with the old One-Hull Australia Policy of my boyhood. In those days multi-hull designers mysteriously disappeared, almost certainly as a result of covert operations run by responsible single-minded and single-hulled maritime authorities.

Sadly, despite our government's earlier and entirely admirable attempt to discourage this un-Australian trend, radical, free-thinking designers prevailed and eventually won the hearts of a spiritually impoverished, but cashed up segment of society, presumably because of the superior speed of their creations and their customers' love of going somewhere quickly for no apparent reason. Why? Isn't cruising all about getting there, not being there? What's so wrong with plodding along at five knots, revelling in those sickening death rolls as every watery hill and valley is explored along the way? We experience nature at her best from which
cascading lockers, gear failure and technicolour yawns cannot detract.

When the always-rushing multihulurist reaches anchorage, he or she completely fails to understand the purity of spirit that is the reward of real achievement. While monohulturists put in quality time searching for lost objects in the bilge, wiping food off the deck-head and praying that they got the tide heights right before anchoring, multihulturists relax in a state of luxury, insulated from reality aboard a stable platform that can take the bottom at low tide where it doesn't even have the decency to lie down to an impossible angle and deny food, drink, and sleep to its crew for up to a fortnight.

So insensitive are some multihulturists (on those rare occasions when they invite us true believers aboard), they make a point of confronting us with the fact that nothing falls over at sea and they have never heard of gimballed stoves or fiddled shelves. Worse, they actually enjoy watching us squirm with their stories of total stability in the worst of weather when nothing catastrophic whatsoever happens!

If that's not intolerable confrontation, then I don't know what is.

Multihulturists not only have faster, more stable and spacious craft with which to outrage our sensibilities, they also have an aircraft carrier-sized deck to romp on and enough space on the cabin top to power a small city with solar panels. How can these blatant excesses leave such people with any sense of true-blue Australian values when the reality is they are aliens on alien craft, unable to face the real world? They are a lost race pathetically hammering at the door of common sense and decency, unable to understand how they lost their mono-way in the first place.

The frightening growth of multihulturism seems unstoppable, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for us true believers. Signs of erosion are becoming evident enough to raise the spirits of those for a little malicious pleasure. Look at an example or two:

For starters, Australian marinas are upping their rates for excessively beamy boats, which, with a little luck, may eventually reach the double and sometimes triple rates of overseas countries.

And then there is the fear of being damaged. Remember, lightweight craft are built of lightweight materials and this fact has many multihulurists paranoid about collision with our old fashioned, built-like-a-brick dunny, monos. This, if nothing else, allows us to muscle in at crowded anchorages and enjoy a little serious intimidation towards those expensive behemoths of the multi-hull variety.

And if you want a real buzz a deliciously unbeatable form of one-upmanship, mention how naturally cool your monohull is in the hottest weather thanks to her natural flow of air from stem to stern. Multihulturists hate this one because their vessels are so hard to ventilate properly that on hot days they will actually accept invitations aboard monohulls! Indeed, some become so fascinated by the notion of being on a boat that is not like a Turkish bath they commonly outstay their welcome to the extent of actually expecting a second cup of coffee!

Finally, there is the Achilles Heel of all multihulturists: this is their fear of turning upside-down. This is a card that can be played to enormous advantage as long as you control the conversation. Steer it away from irritatingly petty observations like, “Well, at least multi-hulls stay afloat whilst monohulls plummet to the bottom.”

Whatever is done to prevent multihulturism splitting our society in “haves” and “wish we haves”, it should be diligently pursued to prevent further erosion of a once happy and exclusive monohulturist society. For goodness sake, some boat builders have even started making a good living something that never happened in the good old days, and if we're not very careful multi-hulls may even become growth assets. This lamentable turn of events could go on to destroy boating's proudest tradition: that of guaranteed financial ruin. Furthermore, it could destroy the most outstanding character trait of all traditional sailors, which is a rich and boundless optimism underscored by a sense of utter futility.

 Alan is a man of many talents. The name of his boat, "Soleares" is the name for a type of Flamenco.