Kiana Weltzien reads aloud from pages of her logbook. Life aboard is spent caring
for daily needs, preparing for the next leg and socializing. Seen here are Alizé Jireh
Fresh fish will be a welcome addition to their diet.
“I want to catch my first tuna,” says Kiana. “I
have caught one fish trolling; it was so little I had to
let it go.”
The unusual look of the catamaran garnered
quite a bit of attention. While the others were out
fishing, a passing boat shared its fresh catch with
Kiana learned to sail by sailing in tandem with
her mentor, a shipbuilder and wanderer whose boat
she was living aboard when she first saw the Mara
“We did quite a few tandem sails, all the way
from the Dominican Republic to Portugal,” Kiana
In 2020 she documented her first solo east-to-west
transatlantic sail from the Canary Islands to
Guadeloupe and posted it on her YouTube channel,
which has some 1,600 subscribers.
Her advice: “Just go do whatever it is you’re
thinking about that you want to do. Just go do it.”
The Mara Noka is a Wharram Narai, built in
Whitby, England, in 1974. It is believed to be the
oldest plywood catamaran still sailing. She is a
classic, primitive design by James Wharram, said to
be the founder of the modern catamaran.
A Wharram was the first to sail west to east
across the Atlantic. The boat is meant to be lashed
together, not screwed and bolted, allowing for
The Mara Noka is outfitted with a Portuguese
telephone pole mast, a hand-carved gaff spar, and
a 33-foot tree branch for a boom. Her sails are a
Gunter sail rig, a form of a gaff rig, and a roller
furling genoa and a hank-on steering sail. The gaff
goes up parallel to the mast, becoming an extension
of the mast. The bridge deck between the hulls is
covered with wide, thick planks, providing firm
Cooking can be below deck on a propane two-burner stove, or on
deck over an iron firepit with grill. The electrical is a combination
of two solar collectors that can pull in 260 watts and a 160-amp
battery bank to run the refrigerator and charge phones as well as a
2,000-watt Yamaha generator.
“I used to not have tools, now I have all the tools I could dream of,”
On June 22, 2022, with light wind, the women moved the boat to
Beaufort, N.C., as they waited on the wind.
“We’re going to Portugal. I’m going to aim east/southeast, and go
south of Bermuda. I don’t like how the storms roll off of Bermuda.
Once we are past Bermuda, we’ll be good,” says Kiana.
The Mara Noka spent almost a week in Beaufort, waiting for
favorable wind before finally setting sail on June 28. On day one the
women logged 91 nautical miles. By Day 3 the boat was 254 miles
out, off Nags Head as the wind finally picked up. The message from
the boat that day was “for the past two and a half days we have had
no wind, but our fair share of birds, sunshine, and TOO MUCH
plastic, and two dolphins.”
On July 3, Day 7, they sailed 138.4 nautical miles.
On July 12, Day 16 with a wind of 24 knots and wave height
of 3.7 meters, a low pressure that had been making life wet and
uncomfortable began passing them to the northeast. It had been a
ALLISON POTTER ALLISON POTTER