30 August 2010

10 Questions for Tamure

tamure4 Scott & Kitty Kuhner (along with Alex and Spencer on their 4 year circumnavigation) cruise aboard Tamure, a Valiant 40 hailing from Rowayon, CT, USA. From 1971 –1974 they completed their 1st circumnavigation via South Africa; from 1987-1991 their 2nd circumnavigation via the Red Sea;  and having been cruising again from 2001 – present including an Atlantic Circle from 2003-2005, spending winters in the Bahamas and the summers in Connecticut or Maine. You can view slideshows online of each of their big trips: first, second, third and reach them via email (kuhner@mail.com) is ideal).

Describe a "typical day" on passage on your boat
tamure2 With just the two of us on a passage every 10 minutes or so one of us goes on deck to take a look around. If either of us wants to take a nap, we let the other know and they agree and assume the watch. We do not sail Tamure as though we are in a race. We set the sail, let her settle into a groove and set the windvane self-steering gear. We usually have a SSB radio schedule with other boats on the same passage; one in the morning at 8am local and another in the evening at about 6pm local. A Typical day might be as follows: At 8 AM we do the morning radio sked. After the sked, Kitty makes breakfast either of eggs and toast or cold cereal. We then tuck into a book. At around 10:30 we have a mid morning snack of coffee and a donut or a similar treat. Lunch is usually a sandwich. After lunch one of us may take a nap while the other reads and keeps checking the compass heading and getting up to look around. We normally only attend to the sails if the wind has either changed direction or intensity. (Coming across the Atlantic from the Cape Verdes to St Maarten in the fall of 2004, it seemed as though a squall came through almost every day so we went with a polled out storm jib and a double reefed main. When the wind went up to 30+ knots we were barreling along at 6.5 kts, and after the squall, up and change the sails every time the wind dropped or increased because we were cruising and if it took an extra day to get to St Maarten, what the heck.) After the the wind would drop to 10 – 15 kts and we would do 4 to 4.5 kts. We did not get evening radio sked Kitty would cook dinner and I would wash the dishes. Then I would take the first watch from 8pm to midnight and Kitty would take it from Midnight to 4am; I would take it from 4 to 6 am and Kitty would take it from 6 to 8 am, when we would talk with our other cruising friends on the morning radio sked.

Share a piece of cruising etiquette
Don’t anchor too close to another boat, and if you do anchor close to someone else always ask them if they feel comfortable with your position. If they say no then we move. After all they were there first. When coming into a dinghy dock, always tie up with a long enough painter so that the next person can get his dinghy into the dock to unload. Also, if it is a crowded dock, do not raise your outboard motor up; because, then it may punch a hole in someone else’s dinghy.
tamure Whenever we see a boat flying a foreign flag in our home waters, we always go over and invite them for drinks because when we have been in foreign waters others have treated us very well and we want to return the hospitality; beside they are usually very interesting people to get to know. As they say, “Your next best friend is only an anchorage away”. Also always be quick to lend a helping hand.

When have you felt most in danger and what was the source?
On our first circumnavigation (1971-1974) in our 30 foot Seawind Ketch we were only five hundred miles from home when we got caught in an early July 70 + kt hurricane between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda and, while lying a-hull with no sail up, suffered a knockdown. As we fell off a huge wave in the middle of the night, we hit the trough of the wave and the impact blew off our main hatch, grab rails, dodger, and windvane, bent the main boom and ripped off half the main sail. When we righted, the water was up to the level of the bunks down below. But, as I say in our slide show of that trip, “we were fortunate enough to have the most efficient bilge pump in the world; a frightened woman with a bucket!!” Luckily we keep our life raft in the cockpit covered with a piece of plywood, so we hadn’t lost the life raft. Had it been on the cabin top it would not have survived. As I looked at the life raft, it calmed me down a bit. I then took the plywood, which conveniently fit over the open hatch, and bolted it down to keep more water from coming in. By mid morning the wind was back down to a mere 30 kts and we sailed the rest of the way to New York with the jib and mizzen. At the time it was all happening, we didn’t panic; we just did what we had to, to save the boat. It wasn’t until the storm was over that we began to realize what a dangerous position we had been in.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
On our first circumnavigation in the early 70s, No one told us what to do or what to expect. Our only knowledge came from a few books we had read. There were no cruising guides or anything like that. Consequently, we never knew what to expect when we got to a destination and as a result the sense of adventure and discovery was truly wonderful and exciting. My advice to others planning a long cruise is, “Get off the beaten path. As then you will experience the adventure of cruising.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
We had read “Around the World in Wander III” and “Beyond the West Horizon” by Eric and Susan Hiscock. They talked about running down wind by poling out two head sails. We adopted that strategy and had two spinnaker poles mounted on the mast that we used to poll out a set of twin jibs that we hanked on the head stay. We sailed 60% of both our circumnavigations with twin jibs polled out. Sten and Breta Homedahl on the boat Fijording, whom we met in St Thomas at the start of the first trip, gave us a great piece of advice. They asked us why we were off cruising and after hearing our answer, they said, “You are describing the Pacific. Don’t waste your time in the Caribbean. Head straight for Panama and do the Caribbean on the way back!” We took their advice and are very glad we did.

What has been the most affordable area to cruise and the most expensive? What was affordable or expensive about each area?
We never really thought about how expensive one area was over another. We just lived rather frugally everywhere. On our first trip we never ate out until we got to Bali and found it was cheaper to go to the little restaurant in Benoa harbor  than it was to open a can of Dinty Moore’s Beef Stew.

What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable?
tamure3 Relax! You are not in a race so don’t keep at your wife to trim the sails. If the wind picks up and your wife suggests reefing the sails, don’t argue with her, just do it. After all, you have all the time in the world so lay back and enjoy the trip. Besides, your boat will sail better and faster when she is upright rather than healed over 25 degrees. I always take the attitude that another day I have; but, another mast I don’t have.

If doing a long distance cruise like an Atlantic Circle or a circumnavigation, DO NOT make a pre planned itinerary and then arrange to have friends meet you at a specific place at a specific time. You will end up having to go to sea in bad weather or you may miss an invitation from a local family to join them in a feast. If friends want to meet you somewhere on your cruise, tell them that they can pick the time or the place; but, not both.

Don’t be afraid of leaving your old friends at home; because, as I mentioned above, “Your next best friend is only an anchorage away!” Also get to know the local people and make friends with them. After all one of the reasons we all go cruising is to meet people of other cultures and gain a better understanding of the rest of the world. And once again, “Get off the beaten path!”

What is difficult for the parents of cruising children and what is difficult for the children themselves?
tamure7On our second circumnavigation 1987-1991, we had our two sons on board with us and we home schooled them. There was nothing difficult about having them aboard. On the contrary, it was a blessing and they opened many doors for us in exotic villages. They always seemed to make friends with the local kids. For example, when we were in Marovo Lagoon in the Salomon Islands, we bought the kids a dugout canoe from a local family and then, after doing their home school every day, they would have canoe races with the local kids. In the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama, they made friends with a couple of local kids and had them on board to play with Legos. If you have children with you, you will undoubtedly meet other cruisers with kids you kids ages. Make friends with those families and if they suggest getting off the beaten path and going to some out of the way island, ask to join them; or if you decide to go off to another island, ask then to join you. Your kids will love the cruising life if they have friends to play with; just as you enjoy being with people you like. We knew one couple who always went off on their own and their kids never had the chance to make and be with their friends. Those kids were miserable and hated cruising.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?
tamure6 We made a plan. We said to ourselves, “OK, if we want to go cruising next year (or in x number of years) what do we have to do to be able to go?” Then we completed one step at a time always knowing that if things changed we didn’t have to go. As we accomplished each step, the momentum grew and before we knew it, we were casting off the lines! Also don’t have any debt. We never had any car loans, credit card or any other type of debt, including on the boat. We paid cash for everything and we always had savings and that gave us the freedom to leave.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

How much money does it cost to go cruising?

I can answer that to the penny: however much money you have!! When we did our circumnavigation with our kids back in 1987 – 1991, we spent on average about $1,800 per month. We were friends with another family on a 72 foot boat who had a little girl about our kids’ age and they told us they had spent close to $3 million on a four year circumnavigation. We were also friends with a couple who had a son our son’s age and they spent on average $800 per month. We all sailed to most of the same places and had many of the same adventures; except, the $3million family would fly from a port to visit some exotic place inland, and had very expensive wine on board, and the $800/month family walked or took buses everywhere, while we would sometimes rent a car to travel inland. We all had the same amount of fun and adventures and all three families loved the cruising life.
In closing, let me pass on what I say to friends who are about to go off cruising, “You may think you are going to have a good time; but, you really don’t know. You have no idea how GREAT a time you WILL have.”

23 August 2010

10 Questions for Slapdash

slapdash1 With zero sailing experience prior to departure, Seth and Jaime have been cruising since 2007 aboard Slapdash, a Gemini 105mc 34ft (10.5m) hailing from Vancouver BC Canada. Over those years they have cruised the Altlantic Ocean, Caribbean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. You can find out more about them, their trip and contact details on their website.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Besides next weeks winning lotto numbers, nothing. We had more than enough advice, and the more we got the more biased information and personal slants we had to sort though. A lot of time was wasted second guessing our plans based on this kind of thing. We even made the mistake of paying for information from a so called expert in hopes of finding objective grounded information which turned out to be a complete waste of money. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting that we knew better, far from it, in fact we knew nothing at all. The thing is nobody cares about you and your trip more than you do. Nobody will research harder on your behalf, nobody will really know what you are capable of, or what you value or don’t value better than you will. Do your homework, trust your judgment and get going. There will be plenty of opportunities to do your fine tuning along the way. If we had listened to all of the unsolicited advice we received at the beginning we would still be in Vancouver participating in a debate with others in an online chatroom about which boat hook is most suitable to take offshore, no doubt.

Tell me your least favorite thing about your boat
It doesn’t have an ATM on board. It’s not indestructible. We can’t just do 30 knots when we’re sick of a passage. Sadly a dishwasher and helicopter were not standard features either. There’s really no end to this list, but we have learned that it’s all irrelevant anyway. No matter what boat you are in there’s a bigger one in the next anchorage. There’s a smaller one. There’s a cheaper one, a more expensive one, one that’s better equipped, one that’s worse equipped. There’s a whiter one, a bluer one, a shinier one, and plenty that are in worse condition than yours. We helped deliver a 100 foot luxury yacht to New Caledonia and had boat envy when a 150 foot yacht that was even luxery’er pulled up in front of us. We also met a single hander that has since completed his circumnavigation via all 3 stormy capes in a 26 foot monohull with no fridge using an old rope he found on the beach for an anchor rode.  You know what? He’s probably the happiest dude we’ve met on the whole trip. Glass, concrete, wood and steel. You will see it all, so don’t sweat it. The best boat in the world is the one you’ve got so get used to it, and whatever you do don’t listen to the snobs that insist crossing an ocean in anything less than a hand built top of the line custom finished blah-bah-dee-blah is lunacy. A millennium of history says they’re wrong.

What piece of gear seems to break the most often?
My flip flops. Seriously, I’ve gone through at least ten pairs. Other than that we haven’t really broken the same thing twice. We’ve had things that have taken more than one crack at fixing, but otherwise the Slapdash has held up her end of the bargain extremely well. We took a simple approach to things with the idea that the less stuff we had on board the less time we would have to spend fixing it. So we don’t have a water maker, a microwave, a windlass, a radar, a wind generator, jet ski or a few other things like that and so far we’re doing really well without them. There’s a lot of miles between Bali and North America though so stay tuned.

In your experience, how much does cruising cost?
How much does a house cost? This is a lot like the boat question, but to give you a straight answer for a change our first couple of years averaged out at about 2 grand CAD per month. That includes everything; our fuel, our fun, our repairs and our booze. We pretty much do whatever we want and have never felt the least bit impoverished, except maybe in Bora Bora where chicken wings were 5 bucks a piece and the bungalow we had our eye on was 1500 a night (that’s 300 chicken wings!). We’ve met people out there that spend our monthly budget on a good night out, and others that would stretch it out over a whole year. It’s all what your into and what kind of lifestyle you want to have. If you drive a Lexus and dine out on hookers and blow then you will probably need to save up a little more than that. If you take the bus and prefer a tent to an RV you could probably do it with less. We consider ourselves to be pretty much middle of the road. We do most of our own boat work, only hire the occasional hooker, and spend plenty of nights out eating and drinking.

slapdash2 Share a piece of cruising etiquette
Don’t creepily ogle the neighbors through your binoculars, unless they’re really hot and you can live with the shame of being caught. In turn, if you anchor too close to somebody else you should either be really hot and prepared to live with the shame of being ogled or just move. A good rule of thumb to use here is that if you are anchored close enough to your neighbors for them to ogle you without having to use binoculars then you should move. If they could ogle you without binoculars but choose not to because you are overweight and hairy like me, that's no loophole. It's a lopsided arrangement and you should definitely move. What we are trying to say here is that if you anchor too close to us you had better have something to offer in return. And don’t take the last cold beer, unless it’s offered. And try not to crash into another boat, if you can help it.

What is something that you read or heard about cruisers, that you didn't find to be true?
It turns out that garlic cloves and a crucifix are powerless against them. We left expecting to find out where all the radicals, the crazies, and the free thinkers had gone and instead we often find floating suburbs in foreign lands. Lots of recipe swapping, fanny packs and discussions about the weather. Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff, it’s just not really our scene. We get along with most people that we meet, but tend to avoid some of the hard core fanny pack crowd. You know, the judgy stand up dinghy drivers, condescending khaki short wearing women with no nonsense lesbian style haircuts? Those guys. We’re really nice to them though because if you get into a scrape they are usually the first ones with the tools and know-how to offer their help, just bite your tongue during the I-told-you-so portion of the evening.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?
Jaime tried pimping me out in East Van but there weren’t many takers so we had to try something else. Common question actually, and I wish there was a sexier answer but in the end we just decided. After that it’s hard work but easy. How dedicated are you? Can you save up for something? Willing to put it on the line and take a chance? Our dream really had nothing to do with sailing though. Yes, that was how it manifested itself this time around but the dream (if we have to call it that) it was more about travel, life experience and challenge. There were a few different things that would have met the criteria but we had to start somewhere. We'll get around to the other stuff eventually but once we had decided on this iteration, it was a simple matter of selling everything we owned, buying a boat and learning how to keep it pointed in a westerly direction. Oh and pick a date and stick to it, that was important too.

Where was your favorite place to visit and why?
Kind of a toss up between Cuba and Vanuatu. If you don’t see Cuba before they throw the doors open you probably won’t see the Cuba that we did, and maybe that’s just fine but in our opinion you should see it before that happens unless you are into seeing a Starbucks, TGIF’s and McDonalds on every block. Vanuatu was the kind of country that you leave feeling grateful that there’s still places like that left in the world. Vanuatu, the last cannibals. Volcanoes, magic, human skulls and widespread drug use (kava). What's not to like? Check out our website for full write-ups on each of these awesome countries.

slapdash3 What is your biggest lesson learned?
It is surprising what you are capable of when you have no choice, and doing something like this will change you in ways that you didn't expect. Maybe change is the wrong word because if you are reading this you are probably already thinking about your own version of adventure and are probably already infected with that pesky bit already. It will nurture and encourage the bit though and one day it will flourish and you may find yourself unfit for civilized life. Don't let this hold you back though, in our experience civilized life isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

I wish you had asked me what I would have done if the bus I was traveling in suddenly swerved to miss a Seaworld truck transporting a bottle nosed dolphin causing us to careen over a cliff leaving me to decide which of the only other two remaining survivors to save; an albino named Mitch, or a madman carrying a mysterious box.  Either that or what next weeks winning lotto numbers are. Either would have been fine, but you didn't so now I can't tell you.

16 August 2010

10 Questions for Kalaerin

Jim Carey and Joy Carey have been cruising on and off since 1979 aboard Kelaerin, an Omega 45 (Cutter) hailing from Bellingham, Washington, USA. Their travels so far include the West Coast of the US, Mexico (Baja), more W. Coast US, Canada (Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound), Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Azores, Med, Red Sea, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan. They can be reached by email (Kelaerin@yahoo.com). They have sailed with their children when they were infants, then again when they were 6 and 8, and again when they were 11 and 13. They add: It’s been a good life so far. Joy is partially disabled.

Of the changes, choices and compromises you had to make along the way, which were you happiest and most satisfied about, which do you wish you had chosen otherwise and why?
On the one hand, I wish we had started our world cruise while we were younger and the girls were still with us. Although they got to do a lot, still, this circumnavigation would have been a load of fun with them along. On the other hand, if we had started younger, we might still be having to work to fund our cruising. As it stands now, we do not have to if we watch our pennies. Also at first, we were looking at a 40 foot bare hull back in 1978. The mantra that got started around then was “go small, go now” (I think the Pardeys are responsible for that one) so we dropped the size down to a 32 foot model. We realized within a few years that we had outgrown the boat and had we built the 40 footer to begin with we would probably still have it to this day.

Describe a "typical day" on passage on your boat
Jim and I have a loose watch schedule that works for us. One of us takes approximately 2100 to midnight shift, then the swing from midnight to 3 or 4 a.m. and then the 3 or 4 to 7 or 8. I get breakfast, Jim checks over the boat a little and then we spend a good part of the day napping and reading. Not too exciting but mother nature usually provides the excitement for us anyway.

When have you felt most in danger and what was the source?
When we made a quick stop at Swan Island off the Honduras, we were hailed on the radio by the young military men ashore. We anchored in a small harbor and the men beckoned us to come up and tie to the quay wall, but it was too surgy and we didn’t think deep enough anyway. Jim rowed over to explain that to them. In the meantime our two young daughters were topside and the men noticed the girls. Pretty soon after that the radio was a constant chatter of them making randy and lewd comments about the girls. This was followed by them firing their rifles over the top of Kelaerin. We quickly put the girls down below and into the walk through area while Jim got the anchor up (no electric windlass for us in those days) and I put the boat in gear and motored over the top of a reef to get out of there as fast as possible. Jim says that was the scariest part of that ordeal!!

Can you think of a sailing tip (e.g., sail trim, sail combination) specific to offshore passages (e.g., related to swells)?
Keep the shiny side up J!! Sorry, we can’t think of anything in particular at this moment that would be general enough to suit everyone.

Where was your favorite place to visit and why?
This is always asked and it is so hard to answer. Truthfully, my favorite place is usually where I’m moored at the moment. I always fall in love with a new place for a little while, at least, and then the wanderlust hits again and it’s time to move on. One of the most exciting places we’ve visited has to be Yemen. We had such bi-polar experiences there and it was like being back in the medieval ages.

Across a year, what do you spend the most money on while cruising?
Maintenance, for sure.

Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..."
There just simply isn’t enough room for all the chocolate ;). I usually overdo it if anything on the provisions. Until now we really have not needed to provision for a long period as we are in ports so often. Of course, now that we are moving into the South Pacific, that will change.

Are you attracted more to sailing itself or cruising-as-travel and has that changed over time?
To be truthful, I love the cruising as travel more than the sailing. In the beginning (now, that goes way back 30 years or more) I used to hate it when the sails went up as the feeling was so foreign to me. But now I’m anxious to get the motor shut off and the sails up as soon as possible.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
Someone once said that you pack way too many clothes and never enough money.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would you answer it?

How about “Has the character of cruising/cruisers changed over the years you’ve been out?

I would answer yes to that. We’ve discussed this with other long time cruisers and we agree that GPS has gotten a lot more people out there who maybe would never have considered this before and that combined with rallies, we think, has provided a false sense of security for a lot of people. There are so many people we meet now who go from rally to rally and in between have a secure pod of friends they cruise with. A lot of these people can’t be bothered to mix with the locals or go off the beaten path. Which in a way is good for us, as when we go off the beaten path, which we do often, we have the place to ourselves. We recently gave advice to a cruising couple who were going up the Red Sea from Thailand. They were with a large group and we suggested to them to take it slower, enjoy the Red Sea, there were loads of places to explore. Instead, they did what a lot of people do when transiting the Red Sea, go as fast as possible and take advantage of every weather window to make more progress. To explore at all meant they would have had to break away and they obviously weren’t comfortable doing that.

11 August 2010

Facebook and other news

The Interview With A Cruiser Project is now on Facebook making it easier to get your Monday morning fix. Join us there and start your work week out on a dreamy note.

I've made a minor design change to the site. The Interview With A Cruiser project is now easier to SHARE. Click on the buttons at the bottom of each interview to email the interview to someone, tweet it, post it on your facebook page or add to your Google buzz. Share a favorite/interesting/controversial interview with your friends!

In other news:
  • The discussions posts are pretty ghostlike so I'm eliminating them. 
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  • I have interviews formatted through September 20th.

09 August 2010

10 Questions for Patron

Ted & Honey have cruised aboard Patron, a Whitby 42 hailing from Vancouver, since 1999. Over those years they have sailed through the Pacific Ocean, Asia, South Indian Ocean, Across the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. They say: Cruising is of course hard work & some bad weather but it is mostly fun & rewarding!

Why did you decide to cruise?
Seemed like a good idea at the time

Describe a "typical day" at anchor on your boat.
Breakfast, listen to BBC shortwave, a couple of hours of matenance chores, a couple of hours of snorkeling or walking, a trip to town for fruit veg supplies

How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?
No comment

Describe a negative experience you have had with local people somewhere you have visited?
Robbed by 6 men at knifepoint in South Africa

Have you found "trade goods" to be useful on your cruise? If so, what kinds?
No but other boats have

With the benefit of hindsight, what are the boat selection criteria you would use to purchase a boat for long term cruising?
Nothing less than 42 ft, with lots of fuel and water

Was there anywhere you visited that you thought was overrated (not as good as you had heard)?

How did you secure your valuables (in and on your vessel) while going ashore? And your dinghy?
We have done nothing, in most places we have not even locked up. Exception is the Caribbean, lock everything.

Of the changes, choices and compromises you had to make along the way, which were you happiest and most satisfied about, which do you wish you had chosen otherwise and why?
We have really enjoyed our trip so far (12 years).

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
Something about equipment. A good autopilot and a high output wind generator to run it. AIS is a must have. We do not have, but would recommend a Pactor modem and sailmail.

05 August 2010

02 August 2010

10 Questions for Saga

Nancy Birnbaum, former editor of the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s Commodores’ Bulletin and Jann Hedrick cruised for five years from 1999 to 2004 aboard Saga, a 1965 Alberg 35 hailing from Point Richmond, California. She left from San Francisco Bay and ended up in Fort Lauderdale, covering West Coast of the U.S. from Northern California south to Panama, Las Perlas Islands, San Blas Islands, Providencia, Columbia, Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Mexico and Florida Keys. Nancy is a licensed Captain, freelance editor and writer for sailing/cruising magazines and is Online Editor for Blue Water Sailing Magazine. She publishes her weekly e-newsletter, The Cruising Compass, keeping cruisers and sailors up-to-date on all the latest news and events and has recently begun writing boat reviews for MadMariner.com. They are building their cruising kitty and looking for their next boat. You can read about their travels on their website and catch up on Nancy's blog, and of course, the Cruising Compass. You can also reach Nancy by email (cruisingeditor@gmail.com)

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
When we first sailed away from the U.S. and into Mexican waters, we heard many cruisers tell us to be wary of approaching pangas, coming up fast from behind us. The first time this happened, we were sailing offshore not far from Turtle Bay, about halfway down the Baja coast. We saw a fast panga headed straight for us. We were a little nervous, and our Spanish wasn't as good as it is now. But we sat in the cockpit and watched as the panga came up along side. The guys in the boat starting rattling off in Spanish so fast that all I could make out was "No Heladora" and "Tomar estas langosta, por favor!" I thought they wanted ice or water or something. But then they started throwing spiny lobster into our boat! It turned out that their refrigeration had broken and they didn't want to throw the lobster they had caught back! We were the only boat around, so they decided to bless us with fresh lobster! I had to yell, "No Mas!" because they kept on throwing us lobster. We didn't yet have our own refrigeration, so we kindly accepted only those we could eat over the next couple of days! This became sort of a theme on our cruise. We were often approached by fishermen who wanted to give us their catch! Sometimes they asked for cookies, tobacco or alcohol, but since we didn't smoke and only kept a few beers onboard, we usually resorted to giving them sweets or home-baked bread.

What else did you do besides sail?
We often got together with fellow cruisers in anchorages where we spent a few months, rented cars and explored our surroundings. We covered almost all of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. We spent almost a year in Panama and loved it! While anchored in The Costa del Sol of El Salvador, I traveled by bus with another cruising gal to Antigua, Guatemala for a week of Spanish Language Immersion. We lived with a local family, spent days with our private instructors, toured the Highlands and learned to converse in Spanish. After our classes were over, the guys rented a car, drove to meet us and together we toured far and wide for another week.

We also traded various skills to help other cruisers. We had a Sailrite sewing machine onboard and would often set it up in unusual places like a cow pasture behind a boatyard in La Paz or on the foredeck of an anchored yacht in San Blas, Mexico to do repairs on sails or canvas.

What is your biggest lesson learned?
Two Big Lessons:
1. Cruising is stressful; long passages, cramped quarters, lack of exercise, little or no showers (depending on how much water-making capacity you have). Add, equipment failures, mechanical breakdowns or accidents and it won’t be long before you can find yourselves snipping at each other about something ridiculous, like who forgot to put something back where we think it was supposed to go! Men especially have a hard time dealing with the loss of identity they had in their "working life." They tend to get more stressed out when they are new to cruising than women.
2. We take our relationship with us wherever we go. Whatever communication skills we have before we let go of the dock lines, we have onboard our floating home. No matter where we are in relationship, cruising and spending long periods of time together in a small (or not-so-small) boat, takes its toll on that relationship. You have to learn how to communicate if you're not used to doing it. A small boat is no place to bottle up your emotions. Explosions can be very dangerous!

Across a year, what do you spend the most money on while cruising?
A couple of times we had to return to the States for ill parents. That put a big dent in the kitty. Engine repairs to our old Westerbeke 40 were costly even though Jann did much of it himself. But, I'd have to say that we spent most of our money on enjoying ourselves; Eating, touring and otherwise experiencing the cultures, peoples and places we visited!

Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..."
I try to find the best open-air market in the area, even if it means walking a couple of miles there and back!

Over the years, how much time do you think you spend at anchor, at marinas, sailing and motoring?
95% at anchor vs 5% in marinas, 40% motoring, 35% sailing and 25% Motor-sailing

Was there anywhere you visited that you thought was underrated (better than you had heard)?
Most of the out-of-the-way places we visited were underrated, probably because they were less traveled. We preferred off-the-beaten-path, natural areas rather than heavily populated, touristy ones. Those that come to mind are the San Blas Islands of Panama, Panamas' northern islands and the Sea of Cortez.

What is your favorite piece of boating related new technology?
The iPhone loaded with some of the great new apps for sailors like Charts&Tides with ActiveCaptain overlay.

Share a piece of cruising etiquette.
Leave a Clean Wake! That means both physically and mentally. Make sure those that sail in your wake are as welcomed as you were.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

What was the strangest critter that boarded your vessel?

While anchored in the San Blas Islands, I was reading in the v-berth after dark with a light on and the hatch open. When suddenly I heard a very loud bang followed by a flopping sound right over my head! I quickly shut the hatch and ran up the companion way steps where Jann was sleeping. He jumped up, switched on the deck lights and we both ran forward to find that a Leopard Ray had flown up onto the bow. It literally had landed just inches from the open hatch over my head! We managed to flip it off and back into the water with our boat pole.