Lauri cruised from 1998, joined by Annina since 2008, aboard Aliisa, a John Pugh Moonwind, backyard built steel sloop 32 ft / 9.75 m hailing from Cairns, QLD, Australia. Aliisa cruised locally until 2000, around Papua New Guinea in 2001, and world cruising from 2004 until they recently returned home on November 2010. You can learn more about their travels on their website.
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Nothing. I always wanted to find out for myself. Nobody can tell me what my experience will be.
Can you think of a sailing tip (e.g., sail trim, sail combination) specific to offshore passages (e.g., related to swells)?
These things are always specific to the yacht in question as well as to the style of sailing. On long tradewind passages I often keep the mainsail double reefed and let the genoa (on furler) to do most of the work. Squalls are easy to deal with as you only need to pull in some of the genoa and not touch the main. This also takes a lot of pressure off the helm which in a small budget is an important way to extend the life of the autopilot. It’s not the fastest combination, but lazy and comfortable.
What is the most difficult aspect of the cruising lifestyle?
For me it was always money. Everything else is easy.
Departure from home port is probably the most difficult aspect of the entire cruising life. After that the only difficult aspect for me was money. There is no long version of this answer. Apart from financing the lifestyle, I found everything in the cruising lifestyle easy. Stress and the sense of difficulty comes from the inside, not outside. Someone might suggest that dealing with tens of corrupt officials during a three-day battle with red tape in order to clear into some third world country is “difficult”. I would call it an adventure and a fantastic opportunity to meet local people and learn about their customs and culture.
What are some of your favorite pieces of gear on your boat and why?
Fridge – because life is too short not to enjoy cold drinks, cheese and butter.
One line reefing – because I mosly single hand the passages.
SSB + Pactor – ‘cause I like to communicate and I love studying the weather.
Autopilot – Any type of self-steering will do, as long as it’s not myself.
In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
Everyone would have their own reasons and it’s not an important question to others. It is a private decision. Whether the reason is family, money, career, kids, old age or whatever, the important thing is that we all make our own decisions.
That’s called FREEDOM. Cruising is only one way to express freedom. Stopping it is another.
In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Learning to fix things and learning about tools, materials, electrics, electronics, mechanics, paints ... the list is almost endless.
Becoming self-sufficient is a long road.
What do you miss about living on land?
Seeing friends face to face, not just on facebook. Being part of a community where your existence matters, knowing that your friends are not far away.
Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget
Every imaginable compromise whenever needed. Generally it has come down to departing with what you have and not worry too much about what you don’t have.
I find it difficult to answer this question. In a sense I feel that I have been a very uncompromising person. I spend until it’s all gone and then go to work to get more. I left Australia 2004 and ran out of money in South Africa, 18 months later. My old man bailed me out and I arrived in Finland late 2006 with 36 bucks in my pocket. Obviously I have always struggled to even HAVE a budget, let alone stick to one. So my answer to the question is: “I didn’t stay in any budget and if I ever had any, I broke them all.” Compromises I made? Well, to stop for 20 months in Finland and working 2 jobs while doing a complete refit before and after work, that surely was a compromise but not the first one.
Departing Australia without insurance, without a life raft, without a radar, without a log, without SSB radio and without much money was also a compromise. I went with what I had. Not spending 10 or 15 years cruising but instead returning to Australia by the end of 2010 order to find work again was also a compromise. We’ll be living on land for some time now – probably several years – but we haven’t stopped cruising, we’re just compromising for a while.
“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” (Michael Leboeuf)
What do you find most exciting about your cruising life?
I’m a xenophile, so the answer must be the different people, different cultures and flavours. The chance to learn a little more about the world and to understand why it is what it is and why people are what they are.
Local people in the destination have always been more interesting to me than other cruisers in the anchorage.
What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
What’s your favourite animal