Sea Life is a Beneteau Oceanis 393 (39 feet/ 11.62 meters) captained by Mark Jensen and hailing from Sydney, Australia. Nicolle Jean completed the first 25,000nm and has since returned home. Sea Life was purchased in April 2008 in the Caribbean and has since cruised from the Caribbean, through the Pacific, Australia,. Asia, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Mediterranean, and Atlantic. Mark will complete Sea Life’s circumnavigation at the end of 2010 in the Caribbean and then plans to do it again – slowly. More information and contact details can be found on the website.
With the benefit of hindsight, what are the boat selection criteria you would use to purchase a boat for long term cruising?
We were extremely lucky to be able to buy a production boat ex-charter. Production boats have put good cruising boats at a price-point low enough so many people can set off, and ex-charter boats are even cheaper.
We love our long ocean passages and I have just finished my first 1,500nms solo and have a 3,000nm single hander coming up so cruising boats need a great emphasis on the living attributes. Our boat has a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, headroom and storage. We didn’t want some ‘sailors’ boat with galley, heads, bilges and black holes.
So look to lifestyle and how the boat will let you achieve it. The only major thing that would be truly wonderful would be a big watermaker.
Cruising is about visiting exotic places, but there is a sheer enjoyment to be had when on a voyage with more than a thousand miles to go and a thousand already covered. Every moment at sea is a wonder we are so lucky to experience in comfort, dryness and with great hot food and ice cool drinks.
What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
I love the comradeship and the help given by the cruising folks. What goes around comes around so you better be willing to help everyone else too.
There are very few grumble bunnies on boats. Pretty well anyone will ask you aboard for a cup of tea and have an interesting story to tell.
Describe a "typical day" at anchor on your boat
I have a set work roster. Only one hour per day boat work. Lots of days off too! The rest is for leisure. If I can’t maintain my boat in 365 hours per year then I need to work smarter, faster and harder within the time given.
What else happens is dependant on location. If it’s a good provisioning port then stock up and get out. If the transports good we just jump on a bus to anywhere – and hope we can find the one back…
What did you do to make your dream a reality?
By stopping dreaming and setting achievable goals.
After the goal was set we were on our own boat cruising within 14 months.
If you set a goal and associated deadline the things that can hinder it will fall by the wayside. I just keep my eye on the goal.
Describe a perfect cruising moment that will make cruisers-to-be drool with anticipation
We had arrived at an anchorage 2 days previous and this morning I woke early stretching as I climbed the companionway into the cockpit I thought I heard a snuffling sound. Wiping my sleepy eyes I quietly went aft and looked over onto the swim platform to be greeted by two eyes! Big, soft eyes of our very own Sea Lion pup! Quickly waking Nicolle we went and watched our Sea Lion. A few weeks later as we pulled up the anchor and motored out our pup swam after us imploring us to stay just a little longer. The Galapagos Islands captured our hearts forever.
Can you think of a sailing tip (e.g., sail trim, sail combination) specific to offshore passages (e.g., related to swells)?
The Red Sea is a notorious 1,000 nms with a strong wind right on the nose. When headwinds get too strong just pinch the boat a bit far to windward. The boat speed falls off, the motion becomes more comfortable and it’s a bit more relaxing. The leeway increases but that’s OK. You’re not hove to and still headed in the right direction.
What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Any piece of paper that appears to look like a chart. Go electronic with backups. We have 3 plotters with 3 GPS units on 3 battery systems.
Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?
Funny you should ask that because Nicolle has just gone home to take a ‘normal’ job to achieve some of her other goals.
I think our 2 ½ years cruising through some difficult situations such as Cyclone Hamish ( a Category 5 Cyclone/Hurricane) and the Gulf of Aden ‘Pirate Alley’ past Somalia, has given her the courage to know she can do anything in life. One thing she wants is a farm – with lots of animals. We can have that together in 10 or 15 years time, but this way she can achieve it herself in the next 2 or 3 years.
Being on watch alone and at night guiding us and protecting us with courage and tenacity has earned her the right to say: “I need to leave Sea Life to achieve my other goals”.
One thing younger people should take note is that most cruisers are retirees and to find people of different age groups is not easy. Nic was 25 when we started 27 at the end and her cruising friends were splattered across the oceans and not close enough to give her ‘girl time’ - the simple ability to go shopping or having coffee and a natter with another girl her age.
For many our brains need more than a boat supplies, perhaps prior to cruising taking course in history, geography, biology or photography would be good. Even keep a study regime and do courses while aboard.
Even now I sail past a bird or dolphin and I don’t know what type it is, where its from, how it breeds…. I’m cruising, but I need to be learning more.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
Yes, almost everything we hear from cruisers is wrong! “Your boat will be crushed in the Panama Canal!” ,“You can’t visit the Galapagos unless your engine has broken down” , “There’s no free anchorages near Cannes in France!”
Don’t be afraid, just have faith that you’ll receive better information as you get closer. Or just arrive – you will find someone happily there before you.
What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
Why have you done your circumnavigation so quickly? Only 2 ½ years you must have missed a lot?
Our plan was to do one fast one and one slow one. The first lap gives an overview of the world and the second can be spent lingering in the really great places.
Many cruisers have been on their voyage for 10 years or more but I can’t wait a decade to see everything. I want it all and I want it now! The first one is nearly completed there is so much more to see and I better not slow down too much – there’s all South America, North America and a few more Mediterranean visits in the next few years. Then a slow one through the Pacific…. Then…. Southern Africa?