11 July 2011

10 Questions for Scream

Scream in SuwarrowDarusha Wehm and Steven Ensslen began cruising in 2008 aboard Scream, a Huntingford custom 45' hailing from Victoria, BC, Canada. They left British Columbia heading down the Pacific coast of the Americas to Ecuador, over to the Gal├ípagos, then across the Pacific to the Marquesas.  From there, they sailed to New Zealand via French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. You can read more about their voyage on their website.

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
It was tough leaving people and places so quickly.  At the time it seemed like we'd never see folks we'd really gotten to like again.  It also took us a long time to settle into a watch schedule that worked for us.  We kept following the advice of other cruisers and trying to do what worked for them, even though we thought there was a better way for us, but no one was doing it.  Eventually, we just tried it anyway, and it turned out to be the most successful.

Steven found leaving his job difficult.  Our society expects everyone to be busy making money, and looks down on those who aren't.

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Scream is a generously sized boat.  We have lots of stuff on board that we rarely use, like our folding bicycles and inflatable kayaks. So while there are things that we have never used, I'm not sure that I'd leave anything behind.  That having been said, there are cruisers trying to sell storm anchors and drogues everywhere and I don't know of any experienced cruiser who doesn’t sail high latitudes who thinks that they are worth the space they take up.

Tell me your favorite thing about your boat.
Darusha — Scream is a heavy double ender, very stable in a sea.  We've never been pooped and with our enclosed cockpit we almost always stay dry.  I love that we have a cockpit that is comfortable enough to live in at sea (and anchor) and that the boat feels secure.

Steven — The enclosed cockpit.  When you're taking waves and spray all the way to the stern while you're trying to talk to the coasties on the VHF, it really helps not to be covered in salt water.  More typically, it is nice to be out of the rain.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
We heard a lot of warnings about theft, especially in Costa Rica.  I think we might have had a better experience If we'd been less wary and actually been robbed.  As it was we were overly careful with the boat and suspicious of the locals and never experienced any theft issues.

We also prepared a lot for heavy weather and have thankfully seen no more than 35 knots at sea since passing Cape Mendocino.

What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
Darusha — I love that we are a floating small town that dissipates and reforms constantly. You keep meeting up with your neighbours all over the world, and there's nothing like the feeling of seeing good friends pull into an anchorage unexpectedly.  However, all small communities have problems with gossip and we all can get too much in each others pockets.

Also, there's a fine line between the wealth of information and help you can get from other cruisers and nosy neighbours trying to tell you what to do.

Steven — We enjoy the camaraderie and community spirit.  I'm not sure I dislike anything.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Darusha — It’s not that hard. Just go.

Steven — Go as soon as you can.  Don't wait for everything to be perfect.  Incidentally, many people gave us this message.

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 spent two months in an anchorage we’d planned to spend a couple of weeks in, and we often talk of going back.  Being free to change your plan when you find a place you love is one of the highlights of cruising.
I wish that we had visited Panama, rather than mainland Ecuador.  The Ecuadorian government makes cruising almost impossible and Panama has better anchorages as well.

What is your biggest lesson learned?
Cruising is hard work.  Boats need a lot of maintenance.  Cleaning and cooking and provisioning are more difficult than they are on land.  Watches need to be kept on passage.  Living on land is easier, and for many people more relaxing.  It’s not all mai-tais in the hammock.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?
We arranged our entire lives to make this happen.  We have no children, no pets, no cars, and went years between minimal vacations.  We skimped and saved, and sailed as much as we could.  I can't exaggerate how much we did for this as we did everything we could.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
One thing that I have noticed is that many people outfit boats for long ocean passages when their interest is to cruise in a specific foreign territory.  I recommend that people who want to sail in a specific place to buy a coastal cruising boat in that location rather than outfitting a boat for offshore passages.  Boats are cheaper in Mexico or Tahiti or New Zealand than they are in California.  And you need less of a boat with less gear aboard than you would for ocean crossings or sailing in higher latitudes.