Another easy day of motoring northward through the shallow waterways finds us approaching a Manta Convergence Zone. No, it’s not an underwater wonderworld of giant rays, but rather the homeports of three other Manta catamarans. Our boats enjoy a near cult-like following and our owners website with a private technical forum means we mostly know each other, if not personally then at least by boat name and often boat history. We share repair tips, upgrades and mods, and a general appreciation for our unique vessels.
Most Mantas are concentrated on the US East Coast and in the Caribbean, but there’s a growing South Pacific fleet and we’re hoping to meet up with a few of them here in the greater Brisbane area.
Our initial idea was to get the boats together for a weekend at some beautiful anchorage but we have an unpredictable cruising schedule and the crews of two of the other boats are still part of the working world. We hoped at least for a visit with Maggie and Peter of Shamara III. We met in Florida back in 2012 just after Jack and I bought Escape Velocity, and again a year later in Grenada. Six months ago they opened their home to us for an entire day of good eating and drinking, and of course admiring their late model Manta and all the beautiful and practical touches Maggie and Peter have added.
We made contact when we knew where we’d be and when, and to our delight not only were they home and up for a visit, but they convinced the others to drop what they were doing and join us. That’s what Manta owners are like.
Raby Bay is not the best of anchorages depending on conditions, but we were lucky the weather was settled and the holding is good. At the appointed hour we dinghied into the canals right to their house, admiring the shiny and pampered Shamara as we tied up.
Peter is an amazing chef and they’re both wonderful hosts. Soon we were joined by Terry and Coralie of Catalina and Glenn and Carol of Speakeasy, and we enjoyed non-stop bubbly, delicious food, and lots of Manta talk.
All three of these Aussie boats are a decade newer than our humble abode but all share the same basic design and layout, with the differences being in more subtle evolutionary tweaks during the production years, and interior finishes that were upgraded in later boats. Mechanical systems remained more or less consistent in all the boats so we can still share tips and tricks among us, even though our boat is hull #30 and theirs are #110, 111 and 114. Mostly we all learn from Maggie and Peter, who’ve owned their Manta the longest and are a treasure trove of experience and ideas.
The next day we motored a quick seven miles to Manly for a couple of days at a marina to do a provisioning top-up and knock a few more things off the list. The harbor is the home port of Speakeasy and we were wined and dined by Carol and Glenn at their club. After work the following day Carol drove us to Ikea so we could stock up on cheese (yes, cheese. Don’t judge) and gave us good tips on where to buy a few items we were having trouble sourcing. It’s good to have a concierge!
As reluctant as we are to leave the company of our Manta friends, it’s time to move on. We have a long way to go and the wind is in our favor. For now.