Michael, Susan, and presently their son, Matt cruise aboard Infini, a Westsail 43, hailing from Tampa, FL, USA. They moved aboard and began full time cruising in 2007 leaving Florida and traveling through: Belize, Rio Dulce, Guatemala, Honduras, various Columbian offshore islands, Caribbean side of Panama and the San Blas Islands, Cartagena, Panama, transiting the Panama Canal in 2009, Balboa and the the Perlas Islands, Galapagos Islands, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, Gambier Islands, central Tuamotus, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas and Hawaii. You can read their travelogue for more information. Michael is the author of "Your Offshore Doctor - A Manual of Medical Self-Sufficiency At Sea" published by Sheridan House Publishers. Although presently out of print (and Michael says it's in sore need of a revision), much of its information is still relevant and informative.
Why did you decide to cruise?
Michael & Susan: Full time cruising has been a long-time dream of ours for many years. We've always "messed around" with boats, and have worked hard to make our circumnavigation plans become reality. Staying focused and keeping that goal in mind has been paramount to finally casting off the docklines. We were sort of brought up in the old fashioned age of sextant navigation (before GPS - can you imagine!?) and read many books about those initial cruisers who, to us, were true adventurers, and find it interesting and a challenge to integrate our more traditional marine upbringing with the realities of modern live aboard cruising. We hope to inspire others to follow in our path and explore the world by small boat.
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?
Michael & Susan: Well, that's actually a difficult question. We felt we were very well equipped when we departed Florida, but we find the comfort items aboard do, to us, make a difference. Example: a large capacity watermaker. Of course, with complex boat systems comes expense and maintenance, so keeping things relatively (lol!) simple allows more days sailing and exploring rather than repairing and hunting down boat parts.
Tell me your least favorite thing about your boat.
Michael: That would have to be the engine compartment. Bill Crealock designed the Westsail 43 and we find she handles quite well and is comfortable with a kindly motion, but when it's time to do any sort of engine maintenance, it's a hassle. The engine compartment is not a stand up one, it's located under the cockpit floor, access is designed for a very small person, and to service it I have to crawl in on my side and frequently work one-handed. We are definitely envious of walk-in engine rooms!
Share a piece of cruising etiquette
Susan: We bring our own glasses, dishes and silverware, drinks and a dish to share with others when we're invited for Happy Hour or Cruisers Potluck.
How did you secure your valuables (in and on your vessel) while going ashore?
Michael & Susan: We have a steel combination safe aboard. And your dinghy? In those areas known for theft, "Lock it or lose it" is the cruiser's motto. Also, we hip our dinghy at night, and use a steel tether and good quality lock thru the outboard motor handle to attach to a point ashore or to the boat at night. It's a discipline that needs rigid adherence to, but we feel it's a theft deterrent.
When asked to clarify "hip the dinghy": Hipping the dinghy is a method for those of us who don't have davits on the stern of the boat which would allow the dinghy to be lifted out of the water. It is an anti-theft deterrent, as well as keeping the bottom of the dinghy clean and not as readily fouled. Hipping is done by lifting the dinghy on a bridle which is usually attached to three lifting points in the dinghy (one bow and two transom), thereby triangulating the load, and lift is most commonly done by the spinnaker halyard. The dinghy typically ends up resting alongside the boat, a few feet out of the water thereby above the reach of casual thieves, and forward of the beam, and is prevented from moving around by fore and aft lines from the dinghy to the vessel.
Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..."
Susan: We tend to carry too many stores...it's like Michael thinks nobody else in the world uses toilet paper or eats snacks!!....
What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
Michael & Susan: Like: camaraderie of fellow cruisers, exploring and meeting new people who live in those areas we're visiting... Dislike: cruisers who assume too much (the few folks who assume unexpected stuff would never happen to them, so are totally unprepared when it does) and take other cruiser's generosity for granted; the "herd instinct" of cruising.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
Michael & Susan: We haven't read it in these terms, but we call it "TDP" - which to us means "Two Different People." A boat is a small, controlled environment, and an effort has to be made to consider other opinions, respect other's privacy and react accordingly. Also, we feel cruising should be done slowly; that's why we mosey along, giving ourselves plenty of time to enjoy the local people, explore the area, and attempt to learn a bit of the language and culture of those places we visit.
What was the most affordable area you have cruised and the most expensive? What was affordable or expensive about each area?
Michael & Susan: Many of the less populated islands we've been to are places where it's very difficult to spend any money other than buying basic necessities. On the other hand, many of the metropolitan areas we've visited are "sticky," and it's easy to spend money on dining out, shopping, and incidentals while we're having such a good time.
What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
Michael & Susan: What drives us to continue cruising?
What literally drives us along is local and regional weather patterns; cyclone season in the southern hemisphere being a prime example. We feel that as long as we're in good health and having a good time, we'll continue cruising. Our hope is that ours will be one of the slower circumnavigations recorded and others will find value in sharing our experiences and perspectives....