30 May 2011

10 Questions for Barbara Marrett

marrett Barbara Marrett cruised from 1986 to 1990 and has conducted sail training since 1994. Based in Friday Harbor, WA, USA, her vessels have included a 31’ Hallberg Rassy Monson Sloop, 42’ Hallberg-Rassy Ketch, 65’ Sparkman Stephens Sloop,  and a 45’ Cavalier Sloop. Her cruising days were in the South Pacific but she is now skippering vacation and learn trips in the San Juan Islands. She can be reached by email (bmarrett@rockisland.com) and says: I teach Vacation and Learn cruises in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, aboard a comfortable 45’ Cavalier sloop through Orange Coast College (949-645-9412). I am a contributing editor for Cruising World Magazine and Port Commissioner.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
That it would be difficult to re-enter the materialistic and fast paced American culture after cruising to the exotic islands and remote villages of the North and South Pacific. I found it refreshing to be among cruisers from other countries who had an adventurous spirit one doesn’t find among most folks ashore. Remote cultures that are welcoming and family-oriented, were a joy to get to know.
I wish I’d been told it would be difficult to find work outside the sailing world for someone who had gotten used to living in a world without walls.

Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?
Have an area of the boat that is yours, keep what you want there and don’t let your spouse mess with it. Bring a few items that have emotional significance for you.

Connecting with other women was something I took for granted on land. Cruising, I had to make a point to share time with women. When I did, I realized the validation and depth of sharing I was missing.
Take mini vacations from each other. I flew home alone for a family reunion – an extravagance. To be among family without spouse pressure and to take a break from the boat was truly a vacation. Don’t lose track of who you are. Tell yourself, “I am the master of my ship, the captain of my destiny.”

Are you attracted more to sailing itself or cruising-as-travel and has that changed over time?
A boat is like a magic carpet to exotic places. I love to travel and appreciate the simplicity of living aboard (an uncomplicated easy to maintain boat). Being able to bring your home with you as you travel and share it with others can’t be beat. Having said that, I definitely am more into the cruising lifestyle than sailing for sailing sake.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
I didn’t want to jump ship after my first passage. I was like a bird let out of a cage…wanting to fly further and freer.

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
I am someone who gains satisfaction from accomplishment. I found it hard to not feel guilty about just being instead of doing. I got over this by writing articles for sailing magazines…which eventually became a cruising book: Mahina Tiare Pacific Passages. Using my graphics background, I self published the book and sold 8,000 copies. This was tremendously satisfying.

What did you find most exciting about your cruising life?
Feeling really alive and aware of my surroundings, all my senses were engaged in managing the boat, in meeting new people, trying new foods, seeing everything from the giant statues of Easter Island to the volcanoes of Vanuatu.

With the benefit of hindsight, what are the boat selection criteria you would use to purchase a boat for long term cruising?
A boat with solid fiberglass construction below the waterline, built for rugged offshore sailing, easily steered by hand or wind vane; sails that are easily managed by the weakest person on board. I prefer hank on sails for offshore. Ketch rigs are great because the sail area is broken up and the sails are easier to manage than on a similar sized sloop. A good windlass and sturdy dodger are a must. For offshore, a 36-40 boat is good for two people. Much bigger and it gets harder to handle, more costly and more effort to maintain. Much smaller, and the passage will seem rougher and there is less space for everything!

Share a piece of cruising etiquette
When in a bay with only one other boat, don’t anchor next to them.

What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn't fear?
Not being able to socialize or find food in remote places.

And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should?
Missing the validation you received from your former career.

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

Is cruising worth it? Absolutely!

23 May 2011

10 Questions for Exit Only

DadPirateSnake2 Dave, Donna, David, Sarah, & Wendy have been cruising since 1997 aboard Exit Only, a 1993 Privilege 39 Catamaran. They have completed a trade wind circumnavigation with two trips to New Zealand, two trips to Australia, and a passage through pirate alley and up the Red Sea. You can read more about their travels on their website including information about a DVD of their voyage up the Red Sea, or contact them via email (email@maxingout.com).

What do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
  1. Winds will be less than 30 knots 99% of the time.
  2. Watch out for squash zones because they can contain hurricane force winds in a fairly localized area.
  3. Watch out for black holes on weather faxes where there is incomplete and possibly inaccurate weather information. The zone between Fiji and New Zealand is an example of such a black hole. Neither Fiji nor New Zealand weather faxes may adequately tell what’s happening in that region.
  4. Hurricanes are not a worry as long as you move with the seasons.
  5. A seventy pound Beugel anchor sticks to the seabed like superglue and guarantees a good night’s sleep.
  6. Motoring will make up a large portion of your time at sea.
  7. Motoring extends cruising range and increases safety.
  8. Bigger fuel tanks are better.
  9. Watermakers are nice, but not necessary.
  10. Mast steps are an awesome way to inspect the rigging before sailing offshore.
    Exit Only Describe a typical day at anchor?
    There is no typical day at anchor because each destination places different demands on the crew of Exit Only. Different things need to happen in each port around the world. Each day is unique. Some days are for checking in or checking out. Other days are for cleaning the boat, scrubbing the bottom, engine maintenance, checking the rigging, doing laundry, provisioning, and then there are those chilling out days where you snorkel, write correspondence, update websites and mostly relax. Daily activities usually center on fixing what broke while sailing to our destination, and preparing for the next passage. There are no boring days at anchor. And if the boat work is done, then it’s time to explore ashore.

    What spares do you wish you had more of/less of?
    The only spares we used on Exit Only were alternator belts, impellers, back up alternators, water pumps, and a complete backup autopilot. I also had spare Sta-Lok rigging terminals. I carried plenty of fuel filters and oil filters and used them freely. The rest of our spares were never used.

    Downwind-1 Can you think of a sailing tip specific to offshore passages?
    Get two spinnaker poles and double headsails for downwind sailing. The double headsail downwind rig with two spinnaker poles carried the crew of Exit Only around the world on a trade wind circumnavigation. Life is good when the mainsail is furled, and spinnaker poles are out to port and starboard with double headsail rig pulling us along at a comfortable eight knots. It’s no bruising cruising at its best.

    Is there something from your land life that you brought cruising and feel silly about bringing now?
    We didn’t bring many unnecessary things from land life to Exit Only. We had done extensive camping in the Empty Quarter of Arabia and had a good understanding of what is needed to survive in a reasonably comfortable fashion. I left my job in Arabia and flew to Fort Lauderdale to get on board Exit Only. We didn’t have a house in the USA, and so there was no temptation to take things from a house and put it on a yacht. We were not trying to create a floating condominium with all the amenities of shore side existence. We were going cruising around the world, and the shore side stuff stayed behind. We had no sense of loss about moving on board because we were not giving anything up. Instead we were getting something better. We were going sailing, and sailing isn’t about stuff.

    Privilege 39 BahamasWhat do you miss about living on land?
    Very little. The biggest advantage of a land-based existence is that weather does not affect your life nearly as much. Houses don’t have anchors that drag. Although a house may suck you dry financially, the weather outside rarely is important like it is on a yacht. When it’s storming outside, I don’t even think about it when I am in a house. On a yacht, I need to check the anchor and make sure there is no problem with chafe in the bridle. And then there are other yachts that may drag down on me in bad weather. Bad weather is a hassle on a yacht, and isn’t too much of a problem when living on land.

    What are your impressions of the cruising community?
    Cruisers come in two major flavors. The first type of cruisers is hard core expatriates, and their boat is their home. No matter where they are in the world, they are comfortable and happy to be there. They don’t long for the time that they will be able to return to the place of birth listed in their passport. The second type of cruisers is adventurers on a trip. They are not hard core expatriates, and they never develop an expatriate mind set. For them, things are better, nicer, safer, and cleaner back home. Although their yacht may be in Bongo Congo, there heart is someplace else – from whence they came. Home is where their heart is, and their heart frequently is not on their yacht. Hard core cruisers feel at home on their yacht because that is where their heart is.

    Bahamas 3 What is a common cruising myth?
    It’s dangerous out there! There are pirates, storms, tsunamis, floating containers and lots of other nasty things that threaten your daily existence. The truth is just the opposite. There are more guns and homegrown violence in my own city than anything I encountered during our circumnavigation. Common sense and kindness carry 99% of sailors safely round the world. If you don’t do stupid things, cruising is safer than living in major metropolitan areas. Drug abuse and violence are simply not tolerated in most desirable cruising destinations.

    What did you do to make your dream a reality?
    I worked as an eye surgeon for eleven years in Saudi Arabia to earn my Freedom Chips to pay for my voyage around the world on our Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only.

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

    Privilege 39 Turkey 4 How do you manage storms at sea?

    Storm management for cruisers is mostly common sense and is within the ability of ordinary people who venture offshore in seaworthy yachts. (Editor’s note: Exit Only has an article on storm management on their website.)

    Storm management is all about energy management.  Large storms have lots of energy, and you need to learn how to deal safely with all that energy if you want to stay out of harm’s way.  Storm management is actually energy management.  If the energy in a storm gets transferred to your yacht - coupled to your sailboat - then you have to safely dissipate all that energy so that nothing bad happens.

    Most people don't understand the physics of storms and how they couple energy to your yacht.  The basic concept is this:  A storm contains massive amounts of energy, but if you don't let that energy climb on board your yacht, you will fare well during a storm.  Conversely, if you sail in an uncontrolled and dangerous manner allowing the storm to couple its destructive energy to your yacht, then don't be surprised if you or your yacht are hurt.

    19 May 2011

    10 Questions for Om Shanti

    omshanti Heather Bansmer and Shawn Breeding have been cruising since 2003 aboard Om Shanti, a Westsail 32 (LOA 40) hailing from Bellingham, WA. They sailed around Vancouver Island then south down the US coast and Baja peninsula. They have been cruising on the Pacific coast of Mexico and Sea of Cortez ever since. You can learn more about their cruising and publications on their two websites: Blue Latitude Press and Exploring the Sea of Cortez. (Editors note: Heather and Shawn have written several cruising guidebooks for the West Coast of Mexico.)

    What do you think is a common cruising myth
    I think the most common myth is that there is a only one type of "real" cruiser out there - a hard core old salt of a sailor with a truly minimalist boat sailing the oceans of the world, in which constant hardship is a badge of honor. I think the stereotype can probably be traced back to a time when we didn't have the luxuries that we do today. While getting from point A to point B has not changed greatly over the years in terms of boats, sails, engines, etc., the amenities that provide us comfort and safety have changed dramatically. GPS systems, autopilots, refrigerators, satellite phones, email, water makers, weather routers, EPIRBs, and even laundry machines are all available and widely used by boaters today. I have come to believe that cruising and being a cruiser is more of a state of mind and less about the gear you use. Whether I make lengthy ocean passages, send emails from a marina slip, chill beer next to an evaporator plate, or take daily fixes with a sextant matters less to me over the years as I think of what constitutes a "cruiser" to me today. To me, being a cruiser is about self reliance, being part of a wonderful and helpful community, being intimately in touch with the surrounding natural world, having an appreciation and acceptance for everything new - whether good or bad, and recognizing what truly has value in life. Some get caught in trying to live up to a stereotype of cruiser who existed years ago, thinking that they need to withhold some of today's modern amenities or travel the ends of the world in order to be considered part of the "club" but in truth cruising is whatever you want to make it.

    Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget
    We are what we like to call "commuter cruisers" - we cruise Mexico for approximately four to six months out of the year and return home to Washington to work and replenish the cruising kitty. Because we continue to work each year, we tend to not pay too much attention to a fixed cruising budget. We live pretty simply by nature and much of the cruising we do is in remote areas of the Sea of Cortez where spending money or staying in marinas is not really even an option. I would say more of our actual budgeting comes into play when we are back at home in the US working. The less we eat out, the fewer bands we see, the fewer road trips we take, etc., the more we save and therefore the quicker we can stop working and get back to Mexico. If we have expensive maintenance or gear items on our boat project list, we usually end up working a little longer in the states in order to finance the items.

    What did you do to make your dream a reality?
    Shawn was turned on to the cruising lifestyle when he crewed on a handful of boats throughout the South Pacific and New Zealand. During his travels he realized that he wanted to get out cruising on a boat of his own, and began asking the fellow blue water cruisers he was running into, what they thought were the most important qualities in a cruising sailboat. Returning from New Zealand, he was armed with a new a found passion, and moved from landlocked Kentucky to Washington state to begin his search for a boat. At 28 years of age, the most obvious restrictions to his cruising dream were finances. He determined through his research that his goals were 1) a good solid, safe boat, and 2) cruise sooner than later, therefore affordable to a single 28 year old. The result was a clean, stout, although fairly spartan, Westsail 32 named Om Shanti. Over the next five years, the boat loan was paid off and gear was added with the thought that safety comes first with comfort and cosmetics somewhere down the line. New rigging, sails, windvane and engine came before refrigeration, new cushions, shower, hot running water, etc. (we're actually still waiting for several of those comfort items to work their way up the list!).

    Two years after Shawn's purchasing Om Shanti, we met and I was drawn to this new form of world travel that included taking your home with you. With no sailing experience behind me, we spent most weekends out on the water, while I learned a whole new language for boat terminology and the physics behind getting a boat to move under sail power. Shawn continued gaining offshore experience with multiple trips up and down the west coast of the US and a trip from the east coast to the Virgin Islands. We read every magazine and book that had the slightest bit to do with cruising (this was before the age of sail blogs). We attended boat shows and seminars, listening to talks on rig tuning, engine maintenance, heavy weather sailing, provisioning, etc. We lived simply and narrowed our budget by moving aboard the boat, downsizing to one vehicle, vastly curbing our entertainment dollars, and limiting travel to boat-based adventures in the nearby San Juan Islands. We sold all our household items, which at first was a bit upsetting, but in the end turned out to be liberating and furthered our excitement toward the "vagabond" lifestyle.

    Having a fairly bare boat and being budget conscious, we installed and fixed everything that we could ourselves. We browsed swap meets and want ads in order to save on buying the more expensive new gear. As a result, we received intimate and invaluable knowledge of each working system on the boat. This knowledge ultimately helped us easily and inexpensively repair systems down the road when we were in remote cruising locations and outside help was not available, as well as building a thorough spare parts inventory.

    With the boat nearly paid for, all important systems nearly complete, and a cruising kitty growing, we set an official "dock line cutting" date. We knew we could only be gone for a year or two at the most, but we decided we would deal with our "future" day by day and let life lead us where it may - not necessarily the career path mindset our parents had probably envisioned for us, but it was a lot more fun!

    In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
    I would think the most common reasons people stop cruising is due to a lack of finances, completing their cruising goals, and missing family and friends back at home.

    What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?
    I can't think of any real mistakes that we made during our first year of cruising. Being our first time cruising on our own boat, we were entering unknown territory and took every experience as a learning tool. Without really knowing what to expect during our first year, I suppose we remained blissfully ignorant.

    Do you have advice for having visitors?
    We love to have visitors down to the boat as it is a great way to share our "mysterious" lifestyle with friends and family. Over the years, we have found that visitors are either most comfortable sharing our lifestyle via the comfort of one of our settees or via the comfort of an air conditioned hotel room. Figuring out which category of guest you have visiting before they arrive is very important to keeping everyone on board happy! For our friends who like to stay on the boat and cruise with us, we usually carry a tent and thermarest cushions for camping on a remote white sand beach if they would like (or we would like!) to have their own space for a night or two. For guests who prefer to visit Mexico via the comfort of a hotel room, we usually bring the boat into a marina in a city like La Paz or Puerto Vallarta where there are more shoreside tourist activities. In a marina slip, our guests can come and go from the boat as they wish while enjoying the privacy of their own bathroom and bed in a hotel room. We generally head out for day sails from the marina and anchor for the afternoon at a nice beach for swimming and lunch. That way they can still get a sense of the beauty of the cruising lifestyle and area, without having to abandon the creature comforts of shore.

    What is the next piece of gear you would add to your boat if it were free?
    The responsible, safety-first cruiser in me would say AIS, but the comfort-seeking cruiser in me would say a custom built v-berth mattress.

    What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
    I wish someone had told me how difficult passages can be in colder, wetter climates for women in foul weather gear. It seems like a silly thing, but I can't say that I heard much mention of this topic in sailing magazines or cruising guides. Maybe it didn't bother others like it did me, but I remember having enough frustrating moments that I would seriously consider altering my foul weather pants for our next trip down that cold, wet coast. My ensemble included the following: numerous layers of thermal clothing, foul weather pants with suspenders that did not breathe or leaked resulting in damp clothing, foul weather jacket, combo life jacket and harness. Coupled with lots of hot coffee to keep you awake during late night watches and ramen soup for late night munchies, trips to the head seemed frequent and cumbersome. In the middle of a rolling ocean, one hand is always needed to secure yourself, the other is left having to tackle the removal of the life harness in order to remove the jacket in order to removal the suspender pants in order to pull down the tight fitting, somewhat damp thermal pants. This ultimately puts you in a compromising position: your pants down around your ankles on a pitching and rolling boat trying to reverse the cycle to dress once again. After enough times of bursting through our head doors with my pants down, I can say that next time I'll be looking for better suited non-suspender foul weather pants.

    What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
    Dislike might not be the correct term, but I was surprised to be so sad each time I had to say goodbye to cruising friends we had really connected with due to different cruising schedules or destinations. Even though you know that you're both going to continue on with wonderful future adventures ahead, it is many times difficult to say goodbye after sharing many exciting adventures together. I did not realize the close friendships you can form over a fairly short period of time in the cruising world that would make it so difficult to say "until next time."

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

    Having left earlier in life and being forced to cruise simply, would you prolong your departure date in order to have a better boat/bigger kitty?

    No. Too many people end up not going because they think they have to recreate their land lives on the boat and it becomes prohibitively expensive. We tend to think of our lifestyle on the boat as luxury camping instead of trying to recreate the life we are leaving. A safe and seaworthy boat is all that is needed to go. It's amazing all of the gadgets that seem so necessary when armchair sailing are so quickly forgotten when the first dolphins appear under the wake of the bow.

    The most common thing we hear from many of our retirement age cruising peers, is that we are "Doing it right... experiencing the cruising  world before life gets in the way and before you know it, it's too late". We have taken this wisdom to heart and have no regrets at all.

    16 May 2011

    10 Questions for Kavenga

    kav2 Steve & Kay Van Slyke cruised from 1990-1993 and 2004-2006 aboard Kavenga a Lord Nelson 41, cutter hailing from Gig Harbor, WA, USA. From 1990-1993, they traveled around the Pacific Rim -- from Puget Sound, harbor hopping to Mexico, and then on to French Polynesia, American Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomons, Pohnpei, Truk/Chuuk, Guam, Japan and across the North Pacific to Vancouver Island.  They left for Mexico again in 2004. You can read more about them on their website. They say: “Steve is the author of “Sex, Lies & Spinnakers” a murder mystery wrapped in a sea adventure available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.  He was the navigation officer aboard a US Navy ammunition ship in combat areas of the South China Sea during the Vietnam War.  He taught celestial navigation in community college and still tutors cruisers passing through Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  Kay had never sailed before meeting and marrying Steve.  She learned to cruise during the seven years they owned Kavenga prior to heading south.  She was a member of Tacoma Women’s Sailing Club, which was a big help in raising her skills and confidence. Kay’s first love is horses and it was difficult for her to leave her quarter horse behind. His stable board was the most unusual line item in our cruising budget.  Fortunately she was able to do a little riding every now and then along the way, for example in Mexico and New Zealand.  Together Steve & Kay are the Seven Seas Cruising Station hosts for Banderas Bay, Mexico, which includes Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  They offer a free paper chart lending library containing charts for virtually all of the Pacific and Caribbean areas.  Steve is one of the net controllers for the daily VHF radio net in Banderas Bay.”

    What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
    It’s not necessary to carry three years worth of TP and paper towels.

    kav3What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn't fear?
    Don’t stress over the Marquesas passage.  Of all the long ocean passages we have done it was the most pleasant even though the ITCZ was wider than normal.  The weather is warm, the seas (relatively speaking) are small, the winds usually reliable.

    And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should?
    What they’ll do if the GPS system (not their units--the whole system) goes down while they’re making a passage.  Do they know celestial?  Do they have paper charts as back ups?  GPS can go down as a result of solar flares, wars, etc, and of course a lightning strike can take out all of your electronics. 

    In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
    #1 Starting too late in life and discovering their bodies and spirits are not up to the challenges the sea can throw at them.
    #2 Crew issues.  Boats at sea are crucibles.  If you barely get along at the dock, things won’t get better at sea, guaranteed.

    In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
    Since we both left stressful jobs the transition was far from difficult.  Layers of stress peeled away like layers of clothing as we sailed into the warmth of the tropics.  For Kay, leaving her elderly mother and her beloved horse was difficult. 

    kav1What are some of your favorite pieces of gear on your boat and why?
    #1 Folding bikes, because they allowed us to get our errands done quicker and to see much more of the places we worked so hard to get to.  With a cart towed behind Steve’s bike we could haul 3 jerry cans of diesel, or 2 propane tanks, or 6 bags of groceries.  At Palikulo Bay, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu it was 8 miles via gravel road to the nearest grocery store and no regular transportation.  #2 Ham/SSB radio because it allowed us to stay in touch with friends and family, as well as get weather and port information.  #3 TV and a huge stock of movies.   #4 steering vane & autopilot (we barely steered 1% of the time).  #5 electric anchor windlass.

    Across a year, what do you spend the most money on while cruising?
    Food and boat maintenance.

    Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?
    Go as soon as you can.  The longer you wait the harder it becomes.  Like us, take a piece of your retirement “out of the middle” and then return to the workplace.  In other words, try to go while still in your 30s or 40s.  If you’re already in your 50s, 60s or beyond, get in shape--everything takes more energy at sea.

    How did you recommend securing your vessel while going ashore? And your dinghy?
    In most of the Pacific Ocean your boat is relatively safe.  You will likely hear about places that are having problems via the cruiser grapevine as you go.  For example, outboard theft is currently a particular problem in San Blas, Mexico.  If we are in an area where we are concerned about the dinghy we either haul it aboard at night, or at least out of the water, alongside.  Of course you have to use common sense.  The only thing we had stolen anywhere in the Pacific was a pair of binoculars that we left on deck while anchored off a large city with a lot of fishing boat traffic.  Dumb.  Most of the time we did not lock up the boat unless we were going to be gone overnight or not return until after dark.  Again, the best rule is to check with the other boats that arrived ahead of you.

    kav4 What did you do to make your dream a reality?
    We set a five-year goal (that took seven years) with specific financial goals as well as a list of projects to be completed that included specific kinds of training needed; e.g., medical, diving, radio, etc.  Having a specific goal causes you to sacrifice other wants and needs in order to meet your goal and it spurs you on as you see yourself getting closer to it.

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

    What pieces of gear did you buy that turned out not to be necessary? 

    Watermaker.  They may be nice to have in dry countries like Mexico, but even in Mexico good water is now available.  Watermakers are expensive, finicky, and require lots of TLC.  You can buy a heck of a lot of water for $3,000 and not be spending your time changing filters, pickling membranes, and waiting in port for that critical part to arrive.  Water catching is easy in the Pacific.  After our water maker failed en route to the Marquesas, we started catching water and never came close to having empty tanks for the next two years.  We later sold the watermaker and have not replaced it.

    09 May 2011

    10 Questions for Berlin Express

    be4 Stefan and Chloe plus about 50 other crew over 3 years have been cruising since 2007 in Berlin Express (or BE for short), a small boatyard Folkes in Canada, 39ft hailing from Berlin, Germany although they have never been there by boat. Since 2007 they have cruised from Melbourne, Australia to Fiji (eastwards) then to Europe (westwards, of course). You can read more about their travels in their website or contact them by email (stefan_huebbe@hotmail.com).

    In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
    To stop spending money. I was so used to earning money and my cruising kitty seemed kind of endless that I still hit the club bar and went far to often to these money-traps called ship chandleries. Thousands of shiny stainless shackles later, I slowly realized what is really important and I probably sailed for the last 2 years on the same money I spent in the first 6 months.

    In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
    be1Speaking for myself, it was the need for money and the desire to discover something other than empty beaches.  I also wanted some new challenges. However well knowing that this will just make me miss cruising again, which is kind of good, because otherwise over time I may not appreciate anymore how amazing the sailing life can be.

    Hard to say about others. Reckon there are many who see cruising more as sight seeing and as a proving ground. They haste around the world in flash boats, take photos for the web page and then are happy to return home with some adventures stories. And this is more than fine, too. Only a few find a sustainable long term-stimulating lifestyle in cruising, I guess... looking into any anchorage you will also see these two groups of sailors.

    Is there a place you visited where you wish you could have stayed longer?
    The Pacific! Leaving Australia, I sailed there first and had no idea what I had there until I left 6 months later. I am looking forward to the day I'll be back there with heaps of time sailing all they way east to west.

    Why did you decide to cruise?
    I always sailed and loved the sea. I just needed to do it 100% to fully be one with this amazing energy. Especially passages and remote places are my thing because they give you something you can never experience on charters or weekend sails. I believe cruising is the only way how you can actually
    find real freedom.

    Describe a "typical day" at anchor on your boat
    Sleeping-in avoiding any thoughts about a dragging anchor. Long breakfast ignoring the long list of maintenance needing to be done. Just doing nothing and ignoring the clouds that could make this peaceful anchorage very uncomfortable. Finally arriving at the happy hour and realizing that this is actually heaven! maybe a little occasional scream of joy depending on if we are alone in the anchorage or not.

    be2What did you do to make your dream a reality?
    Saved like there is no tomorrow.

    Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget
    I always did everything myself on the boat which really helps to save money but in the beginning I still treated myself to some upgrades here and there like a newish Spinaker, a Pactor-modem, new chain when the old one was still doing the job or overpriced 'International' paint, etc. Later I discovered so many alternative ways to get these things much cheaper. A sail can mostly be fixed even and there are good second hand ones, there is an alternative to Pactor and Satellite-phone, chain doesn't fail just because it starts slightly to corrode and the fishermen always know where to get the cheapest and best paint.

    be5 Describe a perfect cruising moment that will make cruisers-to-be drool with anticipation
    When you feel that the boat is perfectly balanced and running fast with great easy in a fresh breeze with an unobstructed horizon around you. Playful in tune with the nature's forces, cutting through the water like a dolphin. You feel the movements through your whole body and know that this is very special. (Again maybe a small scream of joy as there is no one around for hundreds or thousands of miles other than your friends...)

    Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..."
    I think the huge pile of Asia-noodles and cookies will last at least for half a year... only to find them all gone in a month.

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

    Do you think cruising has changed over the decades?

    Yes! I can only envy the pioneers who sailed when most islands had no resorts and another boat in an anchorage was a pleasant surprise. Working with essentials on a small boat and being closer to the real thing looking at the barometer and not Navtex. But on the other hand,  I am still out with the sextant by over 50miles, so I will quietly sit down and just be grateful for what we still can experience out there.

    02 May 2011

    10 Questions for Sarana

    sarana1 Eric & Sherrell have been cruising since 2003 aboard Sarana, a Pacific Seacraft / Mariah 31hailing from Seattle, WA, USA. Over that time they have traveled through Alaska, Canada, from the US down to Ecuador and everywhere in between. You can read more about their journey on their website. They say: We write electronic cruising guides for Central America that covers dozens of areas that have been completely unexplored by previous guide books.  Our Central American guide books are here and we have some free guides including the first guide ever written to Pacific Colombia. Also we forgot to mention our two cats (Jezebel and Jordan) as part of the crew...but they don't really crew very much.

    What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn't fear? And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should?
    We were at first worried about finding fresh food and water when we left developed areas for more remote locations.  Even if you don't have refrigeration or a watermaker (like us) you'll always find at least basic produce and fresh purified water.  And we've been surprised how much water we can catch during a rainstorm.  Naturally you'll need to practice conserving water use if you don't have a watermaker to extend your range.  We average 1 gallon per day per person.

    Also we worried about breaking something important.  As it turns out things always break.  Worrying about it doesn't help.  We try to keep everything as simple as possible so that we can make our replacements and keep going.  There are a lot of talented mechanics and machine shops out there to help you in a pinch.

    What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
    Don't read all those sea disaster books.  They scare you more than help you.

    What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
    On a small boat this isn't usually a problem.  You don't have much space for “extra” stuff.  But if we weren't sure about something we would try to bring it as you can easily trade or sell it to other people along the way.

    In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
    Common reasons the people we know who quit:
    1. Don't like cruising.  It can be laborious, uncomfortable and lacking stimulation provided by the rat-race.
    2. Need money.  Big expensive boats, poor budgeting, expensive equipment failures, too much partying, providing for kids are some of the reasons cruises have a limited duration.
    3. Family needs.  Aging parents who need care.  Pull of new grand children draw grandparents home.
    4. Ego collapse.  The work environment provided immediate feedback for your work.  After decades of work=rewards it can be difficult to adapt to work=nothing.  Whether people liked their jobs or not, the sudden
    lack of any type of acknowledgment (money) can be difficult.  Many people return to their careers.
    5. Medical problems.  Sometimes people have physical issues that develop during their travels and they can no longer cruise.

    We were shocked to discover that in this age of jet travel few people live on their boat year round.  The majority of people we know fly “home” once a year.  Perhaps this helps relieve some of problems that
    has caused others to quit.  There are a lot of cruisers that only live on their boats for part of the year.

    In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
    Training our family that we can not always be available took many months if not years.  The internet has helped make us more available however this is still an on-going problem.
    Sadly we lost a few friends because they were unwilling to accept our new lifestyle whether through lack of understanding or envy or whatever.  They quickly drifted away.

    Are you attracted more to sailing itself or cruising-as-travel and has that changed over time?
    Eric:  I started off racing.  So I love sailing especially in a competitive fashion.  However I wouldn't want to just sail round and round like Benard Motissier.  I love going new places, learning new languages, and experiencing different cultures.  In a way I'm a xenophile.  I am much less interested to go someplace I've been than to go somewhere new.

    Sherrell:  I love traveling and experiencing new cultures especially through the small local villages that I would otherwise never experience without a sailboat.  Sailing between these places is an added bonus.

    What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
    Sherrell:  I like the independent minded and spirited individuals who make up this culture and the unique things they bring to my life's experience.  What I don't like about the cruising culture is in large cruising populations such as in Mexico there tends to be cliques with group activities.  They tend to create an insular world and don't mix with locals or learn the language beyond “Una mas cerveza por favor.”

    Eric:  There are a lot of knowledgeable people who are willing to help out if you are stuck on a problem.  The downside is there are a lot of knowledgeable people who are too willing to help out if you are stuck
    on a problem.

    sarana2 What has been the most affordable area to cruise and the most expensive? What was affordable or expensive about each area?
    We've been able to stick to our budget even in the USA, but you have to make sacrifices like not eating out or staying in marinas.  This goes true for other countries too.  You can spend lots of money even in the cheapest countries.  A better strategy for controlling your budget is to just live within your means and spoil yourself once in a while.  Saying that, we have found all of Latin America in general to be inexpensive with some variations between countries.

    Have you found "trade goods" to be useful on your cruise? If so, what kinds?
    We haven't traded anything other than technical skills for services. However there are some very remote villages where gasoline, d-batteries, school supplies and some clothing are appreciated more than currency.  These places are very few as most of Latin America is fairly well industrialized.

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

    EricWhat is one piece of advice you have to people who want to go cruising?

    Stop making to-do lists.  Go use your boat as if you are cruising.  Use the crap out of it.  Your priorities will do a 180 degree flip as you find more important things to worry about than the color of your sail covers.  Practice staying on a budget, anchoring out, repairing everything yourself, using your alternative energy, using your navigation gear, your running rigging and all the little things of living on a boat that you can't do while sitting at a dock. Forget the books, websites, forums, etc. and get some personal time with your boat.  It will do a world of good to help you filter out the noise and find the important things in your life – even if that answer is that you don't like cruising.