25 October 2010

10 Questions for Synchronicity

Synchronicity4 Dave, Mary, Leah & Jessica Kruger cruised from 1998 – 2002 aboard Synchronicity, a Fraser 41 hailing from Vancouver, BC, Canada that they bought as a hull & deck and on which Mark spent 1995-1998 finishing. They cruised in Mexico, S. Pacific, Australia, SE Asia, Red Sea, Med, Caribbean, Mexico, and the "Clipper Route" home to Vancouver. Mary (Mother) and Leah (daughter) completed the interview questions and are happy to be contacted by email (Mary - krugerfamily@shaw.ca & Leah - leah1@hotmail.com). Mary says: I would recommend cruising as a wonderful lifestyle for a family.

 Synchronicity5What advice would you give to parents thinking about taking their children cruising?
Mary: I would say DO IT! I think it is best to take kids once they are out of diapers, though I've seen folks do it with babies/toddlers. My kids were 6 and 10 when we left and that worked out great. It was tough when my oldest was 15 because she was so tired of having to say goodbye to friends that she had just met. Kids open the doors to all the countries and other cruisers. They are a universal language of their own!

Leah: I don't know if this is obvious but I would just say make sure each kid has their own personal space... my sister and I shared the v-berth, but thanks to the two cushions we each had our "own room" (my room was the port-side cushion, her's was the starboard). Sometimes when we were sick of each other we'd tape a sheet to the ceiling and literally "divide" the room in two... this never lasted long, but did a good job of giving that itsy bit of privacy I especially wanted sometimes!!

What is your biggest lesson learned?
Mary: That no matter where you are in the world people are really alike. They smile, they love, they enjoy life. Also, that you don't have to have money to be happy. Some of the poorest people we ever saw- Mexico, Indonesia, Africa - were also the most content and happiest.

Leah: Because I spent those years surrounded by adults who had given up the "typical 9-5" for a cruising lifestyle, the biggest lesson I learned was when friends of ours came to visit for a few weeks and then had to go back to work... I'd never realised that some adults actually have to go to work -- I just figured they must really love their jobs, or they'd be out sailing too :)

Synchronicity3What is the most difficult aspect of the cruising lifestyle?
Mary: Probably being away from family at home. Also laundry! I had calluses on my hands from all the wringing of laundry!

Leah: From the local kids who showed us their awesome local swimming hole, to the Omanian kids we spent two days playing non-stop with (through hand-signals only, since we didn't speak each other's languages!) to the four or five kid-boats that we developed life-long friendships with but had to leave eventually... Hands-down the hardest part is leaving behind the people you meet.

What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
Mary: I loved having my home with me, so that if we had a bad day I could retreat inside and feel like I was back in Canada. I disliked being seasick and sometimes the constant motion that wouldn't end when on a passage.

Leah: I dislike the (at times) fairly intense competition that can crop up -- "Oh you've only been to Mexico?" "You mean you don't have a watermaker??" etc etc etc... I recognize that we all want a chance to share our stories, but I think sometimes the jostling gets a little too serious. I like the immediate sense of community -- especially as a kid, if you saw another boat with kids on it you knew you were going to be instant best friends... there wasn't time for anything else!

What type of watch schedule do you normally use while offshore?
Mary: My husband and I always maintained a 2 hrs on, 2 hrs off schedule. During the day, it was a little more slack as both our daughters took a turn at a watch of an hour or two.

Leah: Mom and dad always did strict 2-hours on, 2-hours off, with me doing an afternoon watch so they could both have a break. The only time they broke from this schedule was when our windvane broke in a storm... then the three of us did 1 hour watches through the night.

Synchronicity2 When have you felt most in danger and what was the source?
Mary: Off the coast of Australia in a storm, where we had to hand steer, including my daughter (she was only 12) for an hour at a time. We had a gale, and lightening hitting everywhere.

Also during a storm off the coast of Columbia - self steering went again and we were dangerously close to losing our mast - in the end we tore a couple of wires in one stay. There were very large waves and 30-35 knots of wind. We tore a huge rip in our main sail. Of course, the worst always happens during the middle of the night in the very black dark.

Leah: As a kid, I looked to my parents for their reactions. So long as dad didn't look worried, I wasn't worried. The one time this failed was when dad got a serious staph infection in his leg (in the middle of the Indian Ocean while we were on passage)... he wasn't able to stand, and mom had to take complete control of the boat. To see dad (our Captain) completely unable to do anything was incredibly scary. Luckily for us we were travelling with friends who used to be doctors... they were about 50 miles ahead of us, but they turned around and did a "house-call", where they scraped out the rotting flesh from his leg and put him on strong antibiotics.

Share a piece of cruising etiquette
Mary: When you are in an anchorage and a new boat comes in call them on the radio or drop by in a dinghy and offer them to come over for coffee or a drink.

Leah: If there's a shared dinghy dock, put really long ties on your dinghy so lots of boats can get in and share. "If you're out sailing and there's another sailboat in good-photo-range, I think it's excellent cruising etiquette to radio them and offer to take their picture and email it to them. It's so hard to get great shots of your boat under sail, this is an offer that is generally very well received!!

Tell me your favorite thing about your boat
Mary: My galley, I can make cakes, buns and a pretty nice dinner from it. It's huge for a boat. They called me the Martha Stewart of the sea!!

Leah: Now that I sail without mom and dad, I appreciate many more things about her... I guess my favourite is that since Dad built her things are very well thought out... such as easy access to the engine & bilge, cupboards that fit our dishes, storage in every possible nook you can imagine, etc etc etc..

Synchronicity6What was the most affordable area to cruise and the most expensive? What was affordable or cheap about each area?
Mary: Indonesia and Turkey by far were the cheapest for food and great anchorages. Lots of ruins in Turkey to see and no cost unlike Greece. Italy's food was outrageously expensive - we ate out once.

Leah: Most affordable was probably Turkey -- we anchored everywhere, ate out for about $1 / person, and hauled the boat (in a boatyard strewn with ancient Turkish ruins and gorgeous flowering bougainvillea) for about $200.  Most expensive I would say Israel -- my perspective is skewed a bit since I wasn't really in charge of finances, but I do remember that a McDonald's hamburger cost $12 and we did not eat out at all while we were there!

What question do you wish I would have asked and how would you have answered?


Why did we do it?
We wanted a simpler life, and a life where we could spend more time with our two daughters. We got both. It was a very cheap way travel in relative comfort. I loved seeing all the countries and loved doing it with my family.

We are a very close knit family and I believe it is because of the trip. Plus our girls got to see how fortunate they were compared to so many poor people out there. Our girls are mature and very independent, I'm sure because of the trip.

What equipment do you wish you had?
A water maker and a washing machine.

Biggest fear?
I was terrified that my husband or one of the girls would go overboard. I always feared that when I came back on watch during the night, that he would be gone.

Synchronicity1 Leah:

What do you think about sailing to places that are in "strife" (ie Israel, Sri Lanka, "Pirate-Alley" etc)?
Again, this is from my younger perspective, but when I think about the times that we went places other people were warning us not to, we often had the best experiences. Where we were moored in Israel was 7 miles from Gaza Strip... we could hear the bombs going off day & night. Ditto Sri Lanka -- we could hear the depth-charges being fired every evening. But what I realised is that no matter what the political situation, there are always people who continue their daily lives... the butchers continue to sell meat and the restaurants continue to offer meals... and I think the upside to visiting some of the more "dangerous" places is that as a tourist you are much more of a novelty, and people are often very anxious to show you that their country is still beautiful and wonderful, and that there is more to the Red Sea than pirates and more to Israel than war.

24 October 2010

Where boaters congregate

If you know of a posting board in a marina, a sailing club, or even a laundromat by a marina, take a moment to print this snazzy flyer ((link fixed)) and post it somewhere that boaters congregate.

Alternatively, if you know of somewhere online where boaters congregate, please share this site with them and/or post a link to your favorite interview on your own blog/facebook/twitter.

Finally, don't forget all of the other ways to help.

18 October 2010

10 Questions For Eventide

IMG_5144Phil and Pat cruise aboard Eventide, a Custom 50 foot unpainted aluminum motor vessel hailing from Kingston, WA, USA. Phil has cruised since 1969, over 80,000 miles under power and under sail including Alaska to La Paz Mexico, Maine to Florida, Windward Islands from Virgins to Grenada, Venezuela, Panama, Galapagos, Marquesas, Societies, and Hawaii. He can be reached by email (swigard@centurytel.net).

How did you (or did you) gain offshore experience prior to leaving?
I acquired experience very gradually, sailing San Francisco Bay, the Delta, and then short trips up and down the coast to Drakes Bay and Monterey.  Then I took a three month trip from San Francisco to Mexico to be sure that this was for us.  It was, and so I moved aboard and over the next 40 years, did more and more.

When I talk to people who have never been offshore and they say they are going to circumnavigate, I tend to think that they never will.  Crossing oceans is very, very different than any inland or coastal cruising from port to port.  There are just too many stories of people who have set off from the West Coast to Hawaii, get there, and sell their boat vowing never to go to sea again.  It is a financial and personal tragedy.

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Dealing with officialdom in all the foreign ports – clearing was almost always a hassle, and I did not find it fun.  I guess this is partly an attitude problem, but I understand that it has not gotten any better.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
That it is a good idea to leave the boat somewhere for a few months each year if you are planning to be gone for a very long time.  I didn’t do this, and after 4 years out of the country, we were pretty well burned out when I got back to Seattle.  Today there are more places that you can safely leave your boat and go do something else for a couple of months.  If I had done that, I feel sure that I would have been good for another 4 years.

With the benefit of hindsight, what are the boat selection criteria you would use to purchase a boat for long term cruising?
eventide2 What a good question.  I think that the major thing I have learned after almost 50 years of cruising is that there is no perfect boat.  And the less experience you have, the more sure you are that only certain boats and rigging details will do.  Actually lots of very different boats will do.

Probably the other thing that I think I knew from the beginning is that “bigger is not better”, especially as applied to sailboats.  And that a crew of one is not enough for crossing oceans (I believe in a constant watch and am of the controversial opinion that single handing is by definition unseamanlike) – a crew of two is perfect – and any more than two is too many.  Conflicts at sea become exaggerated, and I do not remember any boat that that I met that cruised for years at a time with more than two with the possible exception of a couple with kids.  If there is any doubt about this point, there won’t be if you hung around a port like Saint Thomas and talked to crews of more than two after an ocean passage.  It is like a real life soap opera.

So you want a boat comfortably handled by two – which, again controversially, means no bigger than around 42 feet.  Smaller is ok, mine was a 35 foot cutter, but the amount of food, clothes, spare parts, and so on is the same for any size boat – you get too small and storage becomes a major issue.

Also, as a “Lin and Larry Pardey” fan, the simpler the better.  The mantra should be “stuff breaks, and if you do not have it aboard, it won’t break.”

And I have to say that I hate bowsprits – not only are they a weak point in the rigging, but working on them in serious conditions is not for the faint hearted.  I am among the faint hearted.  So I like an all inboard rig – preferably a cutter for offshore.

What piece of gear seems to break the most often?
This is an easy question – it all breaks! In the tropics, I think that critical parts just dissolve. But a list of the most common gear failures most seem to have starts with autopilots, refrigerators, and watermakers.  We cleverly solved part of this problem by not having refrigerators or watermakers.  Tanks, after all, seldom break.  However, had four autopilots (three spares) plus a Aires Windvane.  After four years in the tropics, all four failed on the way to Hawaii from Tahiti.  Only the windvane was left.

Autopilots, I think, come under the heading of essential equipment.  So buy the best, and buy two of them.  Keep one in a box for spares.  You will need them.

Which spares do you wish you had more of? Less of?
I carried a huge amount of spares.  This adds weight, cost, and takes space.  I never had a major failure that I could not fix.  I would not carry less – and if I had room and thought of more, I would carry them too.  We even had a EMT quality medical kit – which we ended up needing by the way.  Maybe I would just tow a spare identical boat and have all the spare parts.

Are you attracted more to sailing itself or cruising-as-travel and has that changed over time?
For me, at first it was sailing first and travel a far second.  There is nothing like a good day at sea with the wind abaft the beam, reasonable wind speed and mild seas.  And no land in sight or expected for weeks.  Of course, it is far from always like that.  At this stage of my life, where we cruise from Seattle to Alaska in a powerboat, there is no sailing.  But I think I would rate our underway time as 30% of the experience, and the travel and meeting people 70%.  There is no more beautiful place in the world, I think, to cruise than the Pacific Northwest.

What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
eventide3 I guess that depends on how you define "cruising" - If you mean serious offshore cruising, power or sail, then I cannot think of any one general characteristic of the people who cross oceans that I do not like.  Of course, this group comprises all kinds of people, ages, boats, etc.  It is inevitable that some of these people may have less than appealing personalities individually, but, as a "culture", as a group of people focused and driven, and even fanatic enough to do something as difficult as crossing oceans, I find all of them fascinating.  If you cross an ocean on a small boat, there has to be a lot to admire in the crew.

Was there anywhere you visited that you thought was underrated (better than you had heard)?
Yes, I think I would say that Maine, although rated very high, was still underrated – except for all the lobster Pot buoys.  They are a nightmare!  I thought the weather, scenery, ports, people, accents, and culture along the coast were unbeatable!

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
I cannot think of one – and if I do, I will let you know.  In the meantime, I have to go change the oil on Eventide.

11 October 2010

10 Questions for Solstice

solstice2 John Forbes and Shirlee Smith have been cruising since 2006 aboard Solstice, a Sceptre 41 cutter-rigged sloop hailing from San Francisco, CA. Since 2006, they have traveled the Pacific coast of North and Central America from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska, and south to the Panama Canal; the Western Caribbean to Florida; the Atlantic to the Azores and Azores to French side of English Channel; the southern North Sea; the Dutch inland seas and Frisian canals; the Baltic Sea as far as southeast Sweden and the top of Denmark; Portugal and Atlantic Spain; the western and central Mediterranean into the Adriatic and as far as the Ionian islands of Greece. They are in their last year of cruising, at least for now. You can find more information or contact them via their website including links to their blogs and John’s YouTube channel.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
We did quite a lot of research before we started cruising and can’t think of anything someone hadn’t already told us. Some things people told us turned out to be truer for us than others, of course.  One bit of wisdom we got at the very beginning was that if you can make it the first 100 days together, the worst is over. We kept that in mind as we started out and experienced all of the things that we assume everyone does: break-downs and melt-downs. There were several points after that when it wasn’t too late to change our minds about what we were doing, and we discussed whether we wanted to continue, but during the first 100 days, we just kept on keeping on.

Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?
We added an AIS receiver last year, and we’re really glad we have it. When you’re bouncing around on the waves at night, radar doesn’t give you a very good idea what that big ship is really doing. AIS is better. Plus, if you’re still not sure, you can call the ship by name. That’s a good feeling, but we hardly ever call ships, and so far, they’ve all answered.

We would both like to add solar panels if we can find a place for them before we cross back. It’s a shame to waste all the good sun we’ve been having. I still wish we had a water-maker, but John disagrees. If we were crossing the Pacific, I’d insist. Where we’ve been water is available even if it’s sometimes a hassle to have to worry about it. I also wish we had the generator hooked up so that it would heat water while it’s running.

What is your most common sail combination on passage?
Main sail and jib. Our genoa blew out in Johnstone Strait in British Columbia our first year out, and we decided to replace it with a 90% jib since we have an asymmetrical spinnaker to use as a light-air big foresail. Although we sometimes wish we had a bigger jib, we’re usually happy with our decision. We haven’t done much downwind sailing yet, and twin foresails poled out to either side would be really nice for that, but we’ll manage without. We’ve also been in enough gales (five so far) to be very fond of our staysail, either alone or with our main double-reefed.

solstice3 What piece of gear seems to break the most often?
We’ve had a lot of trouble with three pieces of equipment: our diesel generator, our tow-behind generator, and our diesel furnace. The last two of these we no longer use. Our diesel generator wasn’t installed properly, and it was more reliable when we replaced the fuel pump with a larger (correct) size. But then we had to have the generator rebuilt in the Netherlands. There we learned that we needed to shut the raw water off when stopping the generator and not turn it back on until after starting again. Some sort of valve could probably be added to the system to avoid the water flooding the system so that we could skip this step, but it’s easy enough to do this, and the generator is working great now.

Our tow-behind generator kept getting itself twisted up when we reached speeds of over five knots, so we’d have to bring it in and untwist it. It also fouled continually in the floating seaweed in the beginning of our Atlantic passage. Finally, in the middle of the Atlantic the line chafed so badly that we had to retire it until we could replace it. At that time, we also bought weights to keep it from jumping out of the water at speed and twisting. It was working fine then until an accidental gibe during a gale crossing the Bay of Biscay (that was caused by a broken reef outhaul that caused a rip in the mainsail). During all the excitement, the line for the tow-behind generator fouled on the skeg and went crazily whipping about, breaking some non-essential bits attached to the stern before it chafed itself off and sank.

Our Wallas diesel furnace had problems with soot build-up that we learned to deal with our first year. During our winter in Amsterdam, though, it quit and we couldn’t get it going again. The Wallas-authorized service people fixed it once, but it quit again. They told us it wasn’t meant to be used full-time, so we haven’t repaired it.

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
The things we dislike about cruising didn’t surprise us; we were told in advance. They are the incessant repair and maintenance of the boat and its systems. The tasks are always complicated by the inconvenience of having to tear the boat apart to fix anything and having to dig through our lockers to get the spare parts stored at the bottom. This is a simple fact of life when cruising, but we don’t have to like it. It may not bother people who enjoy tinkering with engines and plumbing, but that isn’t us.

Do friends visit and how often?
We have had visitors, but not as many as we had expected or hoped. John’s folks sailed the inside passage to Alaska with us the first year, and my mom and sister joined us in Puget Sound when we got back. The next year my sister and brother-in-law sailed with us in Desolation Sound, and a friend and John’s dad went with us on the passage back to San Francisco. We had one friend with us on the 2007 Baja Ha-Ha, and another joined us for a few weeks in Mexico after that. In Florida my mom and uncle came to visit. Then nothing until sailing friends stopped by in Amsterdam. And, of course, we had Dutch friends visiting there. In Cartagena my nephew and niece visited at different times, and our Amsterdam harbormaster spent a few days with us to escape the frozen north. Other friends talked about meeting us at different places, but with the economic crisis, it didn’t work out. It’s very difficult to connect with guests when you’re cruising. It often means sailing to a schedule, and that isn’t a good thing. We have met up with other friends in Sweden and Croatia by sailing to them, but they were there for extended periods, so their schedules were flexible.

When have you felt most in danger and what was the source?
The gale in the Bay of Biscay was pretty scary, what with things breaking and the sail tearing, but we didn’t feel our lives were threatened. This is John’s top one because we also had a near-broach. I wasn’t aware of it, or I would have been more afraid too.

 solstice1Share a piece of cruising etiquette
I just read this out to John, and he promptly replied, “Port to port.”  We’ve just spent the summer in the Mediterranean amongst all the bareboat charter boats.

Seriously, one thing I didn’t know is applicable in situations when boats are rafted up at the dock. This happens regularly in the Baltic. It’s that you never cross the neighbors’ boats through their cockpits to get to shore. You always go across the bow, no matter how cluttered and awkward it is.

What do you miss about living on land?
For me it’s always-on, high-speed, broadband Internet. John agrees.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
I’m just glad you didn’t ask what place we like best so far. We wouldn’t know how to answer that one.

04 October 2010

10 Questions for Velella

velella4 Wendy Hinman and Garth Wilcox have been cruising aboard Velella, a 31 foot Tom Wylie design made with cold molded wood, hailing from Seattle, Washington, USA. They cruised together from 2000-2007. Their cruise included Mexico, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Nuie, Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomons, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Pohnpei, Saipan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and Canada. They bought a boat that fit their budget better than it fit Garth's large frame and left with a loose plan of voyaging for as long as they were enjoying ourselves – not imagining that they would be gone for seven years.  They managed to stay sane and married after 34,000 miles.  Wendy is writing a book about some of their (mis)adventures along the way. Prior to their cruise, Garth circumnavigated via the Suez and Panama Canals from 1973-1978 on a 40 foot double Ender Pinky named Vela in the days of celestial navigation when hardly anyone thought of doing such a crazy thing as sailing velella7around the world. They have tips for prospective cruisers on their blog which focus on sailing a small and simple boat.  They can also be reached by email (wendyhinman@gmail.com).

Is there a place you visited where you wish you could have stayed longer? 
We fell in love with most every place we visited. We would love to have stayed longer nearly everywhere except the Philippines and the Solomon Islands, mostly because we felt like walking wallets and that got old quickly.    That said, the diving there was fantastic.

How often have you faced bad weather in your cruising? How bad?  
velella1 On the whole, we experienced more light winds than heavy winds, and had to beat more often than we might have liked.  We are really glad our boat sails well in light winds because we HATE to motor.  It's hot, noisy, smelly, expensive and it's bad for the environment.   Plus we're on a sailboat for God's sake!  The wind comes up eventually.  The point of our lifestyle was to slow down, right?  But seriously in seven years we faced some of everything, including typhoons and gales/storms.   Fortunately we gradually worked our way up to higher winds rather than getting our asses kicked from the start.  We never had to deploy a drogue, a sea anchor or the storm trisail, though we carried them.  We'd had good practice racing boats for years and that was helpful experience.  The toughest part of bad weather is when it comes up unexpectedly, especially when things aren't stowed or you're asleep.  On many occasions while anchored, the wind shifted radically, putting us uncomfortably close to a lee shore when our engine was acting up. We got good at sailing in and out of anchorages.  I think the most useful preparation for cruising we did was to live and cruise our boat locally before we left.  That gave us a good feel for what worked and what didn't before we left behind the convenience of local resources, a car and a paycheck.  Once we knew how our boat handled, bad weather didn't seem nearly as intimidating.

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you? 
velella5 I learned that Mother Nature was my new boss and that her favorite time of day for shenanigans is 3am.  There's something tremendously unpleasant about reanchoring the "house" at 3am.   I didn't mind doing laundry by hand, except for sheets; one sheet took up the entire bucket and that's more hand-wringing than I'm capable of.  Another thing I found annoying is the perpetually wet butt I had after any dinghy ride, at least until Garth built a two part nesting/sailing dinghy.   Take some diaper rash cream!  Shorter passages are sometimes just as hard or harder than longer ones because it takes the first few days to get into the rhythm and after that it gets easier.

What is your favorite piece of boating related new technology?  
LED tricolors and anchor lights take almost no electricity.  The anchor lights are solar sensitive so automatically come on when it gets dark.  Makes it easy to find home on a dark night.  And they fit into regular aqua-signal lenses.  Call us luddites, but we love our two part nesting/sailing dinghy.  There's nothing like a peaceful row back to the boat under the stars.

In your experience, how much does cruising cost?  
velella2 Cruising costs depend on where you are and how extravagant you want to live.  Ask a Hollywood celebrity how much it costs to live and then a welfare mother and you'll get radically different answers. We tried to live on the amount our house rent brought in, which was $1000 per month, or about $33/day.  That's not much for groceries, charts, communications costs, boat maintenance, government check in fees, etc. and we weren't always successful.  Occasionally we splurged for special tours and dinners out. When we hung out with other boats living on the cheap or stayed in remote anchorages where there was nothing to spend money on, it was much easier to stay within our budget.  And after we'd spent time in places where we'd done lots of boat maintenance/upgrades or where "yachtie inflation" has distorted the cost of things, sometimes we didn't have much choice.  But we learned you can be miserable with everything or happy with nothing. 

Share a piece of cruising etiquette.  
When you tie up your dinghy at the dinghy dock, leave a long painter so other dinghies can get in close to the dock to drop off passengers.  You can loop a bowline through under other people's lines onto a cleat so that others (who may not be able to tie a knot) won't have to untie you to leave.  Don't fill your dive tanks at 7am!

velella6 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 didn't try to replicate the complex luxuries of our life ashore and that left us more open to the adventure that we set out to have.  We kept our expectations small and our program simple so we could afford to just go and not worry about leaving and losing the boat.  On the other hand, we wish we'd selected a boat on which Garth could stand up properly, so we might never have had to come back!

Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..." 
Generally when I am provisioning I immediately decant everything I can into Snapware airtight containers and remove all cardboard from the boat to avoid critters and other uninvited guests aboard.  If I can ditch the cardboard before getting back to the boat, all the better.

velella3 What is your biggest lesson learned?  
To live in the moment and appreciate the wonder of the world and the incredibly lucky situation we're in.  Living simply helps us appreciate the small, most important things in life that all the clutter in our lives can make us forget.  And to keep in mind that the hardest times make some of the best stories.  Oh, and boats don't like to keep schedules.

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

How do you think cruising has changed over the years?

In many ways people are trying to recreate their lives onshore and that introduces the same pressures to cruising life that we're looking to escape.  They find they must turn into expert mechanics or carry a lot of money to keep up with all the complex systems aboard that often keep them from enjoying life's simple pleasures and the places where they are.