Story by Pamela A. Keene | Photos courtesy SunRise Sail
There’s a new stay-cation on Lake Lanier. SunRise Sail, based at Sunrise Cove Marina in Gainesville, just added a cruising catamaran to its fleet. But there’s more; learn to sail on Lanier then picture yourself cruising in blue water anywhere on the planet.
SunRise Sail’s 2014 Gemini Legacy Cruising Catamaran is the latest addition to the membership program that also includes five Hunter sailboats, ranging in size from 31 to 41 feet.
The boat, named the Nancy E. III, is suitable for overnights, weekends or week long cruising. At 35 feet, it is air-conditioned, heated, has full instrumentation, GPS, TV/DVD, three cabins, two heads (bathrooms) and a roller-
furling jib. It’s one of 12 boats offered through SunRise Sail and FreeTime Sailing Fleet.
“It’s the only cruising catamaran on Lake Lanier that we know of,” says SunRise Sail owner Dan Kingery. “Just like the ones you would charter in the Bahamas or the British Virgin Islands, it’s got plenty of room for six — the perfect stay-cation without having to pay airfare or take your passport.”
Kingery, an avid sailor who has logged many hours in blue water, knows about people’s passion for the sailing life. That’s why he started SunRise Sail fractional sailboat ownership and the FreeTime Sailing Fleet. Both offer opportunities to enjoy time on the water without the expense of boat ownership.
“With fractional membership, a half-dozen people share the boat and we work out all the details to give them plenty of on-the-water time convenient to their schedules,” Dan says. “The concept has been around for a number of years, but it’s really catching on at Lanier where people who are busy can see the benefits of fractional ownership.”
SunRise Sailing Academy offers American Sailing Association training including Basic Keelboat, Basic Coastal Cruising, Bare Boat Cruising and Basic Coastal Navigation, as well as Cruising Catamaran certification in classes taught on Lanier. After basic certification, members can join FreeTime Sailing and have access to the fleet’s seven boats from 27 to 28.5 feet long. The 31- to 41-foot yachts and the cruising catamaran in the SunRise Sailing Club’s Fractional Fleet include all the training and certifications needed to use and sail the big boats.
“It’s worry-free sailing,” Dan says. “We pay all the insurance, fuel and slip fees. Through online reservations, members can book their times to sail on specific boats based on their membership tier, show up and enjoy.”
The addition of a cruising catamaran to the Lanier fleet was a deliberate strategy on his part.
“So many people dream about cruising in the Caribbean and, by far, chartering a bare-boat catamaran is the best option, but reputable companies require certification to rent any cruising sailboat,” he says. “We teach people how to handle a catamaran, and when you become a fractional member of the Gemini, your training is included.”
Catamarans have advantages over monohull sailing vessels, especially for cruisers who want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
“They’re roomy, comfortable and very stable,” Dan says. “The heel of a monohull puts some people off, but on a catamaran, the cruising is much more level. It’s perfect for families, even with young children, because of the extra space. And the cockpit can hold six people comfortably, so everyone can spend their days together enjoying the wind and the water.”
Dan opened the SunRise Sailing Academy in partnership with the American Sailing Association several years ago. He also brokers sailboats, yachts and sailing catamarans.
“Sailing can open a whole new world. And with SunRise Sail, you can learn to sail a cruising catamaran in your own back yard, get comfortable and confident, and become certified,” he says. “Then you’ll have the skills to be able to bare-boat charter your own catamaran anywhere around the world. Think of the vacation possibilities.”
To find out more, call 770-271-7444 or visit www.sunrisesailingclub.com.