25 April 2011

10 Questions for Arctracer

arctracer1 Jerry & Nina are currently cruising on Arctracer, a Fastback 43 (Catamaran) hailing from Norwich, Vermont, USA. Since 1994, they have cruised through the East Coast USA, Caribbean, Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, & Southeast Asia. They sailed a traditional 45' steel gaff-rigged schooner from Maine to Australia, and then traded it in 2001 for their catamaran. Readers can learn more about their voyage on their website or through email (ninajerry@arctracer.com).

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Most difficult was being away from our families and out of contact with them, especially on our first Thanksgiving aboard. We got together with other cruisers for a pig roast, but that wasn't as good as a family reunion. In those days we had no mobile phone and no email aboard. Now it is much easier to keep in touch with friends and families, so this transition should not be as difficult for new cruisers today.

How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?
Read everything, talk to cruisers, join SSCA and sail as much as possible. Once you move aboard you are still learning and preparing so take easy steps at first. Don't plan big adventures until you have adjusted to
cruising.  Make your lifestyle fun. You are cruising so don't adopt racing attitudes. Reduce sail in rough seas to keep things comfortable for everyone aboard. Don't get trapped into doing something you'd rather not
just to meet a deadline. (For example, sailing into weather you don't like in order to meet someone on a particular date.) We spent three years along the East Coast and in the Caribbean learning to cruise before we did any long-distance sailing.

arctracer2 Describe a positive experience you have had with local people somewhere you have visited?
Getting to know local people, their customs and beliefs has given us great pleasure in almost every place we have visited. We've had many positive experiences, especially on Pacific islands where we got to know the people and could help them in various ways.
Here are some examples: We shared meals ashore and on our boat in the Marshall Islands, drank kava with groups on several islands in Fiji, played with children, sang with locals, taught school children in Indonesia, picnicked with locals in the Cook Islands,  learned how to collect shellfish and prepare them the local way  in Kiribati, traded clothes for local produce in Guadalcanal, sponsored a model outrigger canoe race in the Louisiades, and repaired a solar power system and other equipment in Tikopia. We took locals aboard from several islands for overnight fishing trips, to visit their ancestral atoll in New Caledonia, took a family for two weeks to a Melanesian Arts Festival in Vanuatu and slept on crowded ferryboat decks on the Irrawaddy River in Burma.

In your own experience and your experience meeting cruising couples, can you convince a reluctant partner to go cruising and if so, how?
Most people are reluctant because they do not understand the risks of cruising and are afraid of unknowns. Education and experience are needed to change their minds. Don't push too hard. Think long-term. Read about people who have gone cruising and discuss their experiences. Gather cruising information of all sorts and make it available to your partner too. Take tiny steps if that is all your partner can handle. For example, rent a rowboat on a lake for an afternoon and you will be essentially learning to use a dinghy. Take sailing lessons in a school where everything is safe. As your partner gains skills and knowledge you can take bigger steps such as chartering a boat for a few days with more experienced friends. The key is to proceed slowly enough for you both to be comfortable with what you are doing. Consider everything to be a trial. Don't commit yourselves to doing anything for a long time until you've actually tried it for a while. Getting a really solid cruising boat can be a big factor in relieving a partner's fears.

arctracer3 Across a year, what do you spend the most money on while cruising?
Boat maintenance. That includes haulouts for antifouling, new equipment, new rigging and new sails.

How has cruising affected your personal relationships?
This life has greatly strengthened the relationship between the two of us. One cruiser expressed it as one brain in two bodies. We often know what the other is thinking before a word is spoken. We know we can depend on each other completely, and know how we will each react in almost any situation.

What are some of your favorite pieces of gear on your boat and why?
The electric windlass has made pulling up the anchor quick and easy, compared to the manual windlass we once had.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
That it is very dangerous. We feel cruising is less dangerous than driving on Interstate highways. We also found more food available in more places than we expected.

arctracer4Where was your favorite place to visit and why?
This is impossible to answer. Almost every place where we have stayed for a while has some favorite aspect such as weather, scenery, wildlife, local people, culture, history, food, and the other cruisers who were there. We especially liked small places in the Pacific which were off the beaten path, but also liked the modern facilities of countries such as New Zealand and Australia.

18 April 2011

10 Questions for Moorea

Kelly & Kelly cruised from 2005 to 2009 aboard Moorea, a Dufour, 35’ hailing from Everett, WA, USA. They completed a circumnavigation including 31 countries and 35,000 nautical miles (West Coast USA, Mexico, South Pacific, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Red Sea, Turkey, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, then back to Washington). You can read more about them on their website, via email (kk_moorea@hotmail.com), or their site Yachtie Track.

How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?

• Know your boat
• Equip with essentials (extra sails, spare parts) and safety gear
• Tie up all loose ends that would keep you ashore

There was always a list of equipment we wanted, like a water maker and a long list of maintenance “to do’s”. We realized we could take care of those things along the way and decided to that these lists should not keep us at the dock

Share a piece of cruising etiquette

This occurs in over crowded anchorages….
When hailing another vessel, if they do not respond, stop calling every ten minutes (even every fifteen or twenty minutes). The friends that are not answering are doing what cruisers are supposed to be doing, getting away from it all and they may not be back on to the boat for hours. Or they may have turned off their radio since they were tired of hearing to many boats needlessly hailing each other.

In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
1. Money runs out
2. A spouse or the kid(s) want to stop
3. Only wanted to cruise for a short time (1 - 1 ½ years)
4. Responsibilities back home call them back

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

Fortunately living on the hook wasn’t a big issue since we lived on our boat at the dock for a few years and were accustomed to living in a small space. But learning to live without a vehicle and getting around without one can be a challenge at times.

What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?

Cruisers have a great way of spreading information. But like the old child’s game of “telephone” the stories become exaggerated or distorted. Keep in mind that the experience of one cruiser will not always be yours and sometimes you need to discover the truth yourself.

How do you fund your cruise?

Sold the house to buy our older and affordable boat then lived frugally on her for over two years to save for the cruising kitty.

Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?

Even with the freedoms found with cruising. It is easy to get caught up in the group mentality or stay in a pack. Break away from time to time and explore areas on your own.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?

Researched the life then decided to live it.

Describe a perfect cruising moment that will make cruisers-to-be drool with anticipation.

We were anchored at the atoll Makemo in the Tuamotus. The bay was so clear we could see our anchor 40 feet below. The coral popped with color as vibrant fish darted in and out of the reef. This island had some of the best snorkeling.

The small village contained a couple of one room stores selling canned goods and simple trinkets. Kids were fishing on the pier and some were hunting hermit crabs. I spoke with a few, but my French was as bad as their English.

Later that day, a man I had briefly said hello to on shore motored up to our boat. He was holding a Mahi Mahi, about 4 feet long, which he gave to us. Didn’t ask for money or a trade…just simply gave us a gift. This is one example of the many positive experiences we had with locals.

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

What is life like after cruising?

We have been back for a year and a half. We don’t mention our experience much to other people. When we have they are interested in it for five minutes, then tire of the conversation. It’s a life we love and plan to get back into when we “really” retire. Next time I can see spending six to eight months on the sea and three months on land.

14 April 2011

10 Questions for Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne Annika & Björn began cruising part time in 2002 and full time in 2005 on Lindisfarne a Forgus 37 sloop hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden (Göteborg, Sverige). They have cruised the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, South Atlantic, Antarctica and the South Pacific. You can read more about their travels on their website.

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?

We have now learned to change plans. We used to include to much in too short time. It took us long time to relax and stay at an anchorage more than two nights.

We also learned to change plans and to always have a second plan somewhere behind. On our trip to Island we had some severe weather and change course just 100 miles from Island. Instead of sailing to New Foundland (to follow the American east coast south) via Greenland, we changed to plan B which took us to Antarctica via Portugal and South America.

What is the next piece of gear you would add to your boat if it were free?

This question must be very difficult to value for the reader because it's completely depending on the existing gear on our boat, but an active radar reflector and a sat phone would fit in.

How often have you faced bad weather in your cruising? How bad?

Bad weather is "bad planning" and we have most of the time patience enough to wait for the right weather.

But sailing in high latitudes gives of course a lot of greater risk to experience tough weather. We have quite often been sailing downwind in 40-60 kn without any difficulties, but headwind is something quite different! We keep away from headwinds above 40 kn.

How did you (or did you) gain offshore experience prior to leaving?

Several trips from Sweden to Scotland, Shetland and Faroe Island.

Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?

Get heavy ground tackle and practice anchoring in exposed places to gain confidence in your procedures and gear. To be able to rest safe at night means a lot, much more than you can imagine when living ashore

Over the years, how much time do you think you spend at anchor, at marinas, sailing and motoring?

About one third each. Wintering in marinas are included.

Where was your favorite place to visit and why?

So far Antarctica. The wildlife and the ice makes it a very special place.

How do you fund your cruise?

We sold our house, and now after six years one of us has reach the age to qualify for "normal" retirement compensation.

What do you find most exciting about your cruising life?

To be able to plan the day, only having to consider the weather, experience interesting places and cultures.

But most of all, we do something together, completely diverted from our previous "9-5" life situation.

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 miss something from "your previous life"?

Yes, we miss the possibility to meet our friends from back home now and then. Of course we have got a lot of new friends but still we try to keep in touch by means of e-mail and fly back home at least every two years.

Also, what is your most surprising cruising experience?

When we understood how to avoid the boats rolly behavior sailing downwind, using our selftacker/cutter sheeted close to the mast behind the main. An absolutely fantastic experience. One knot faster and 2-6 degrees heeling and stable run.

Our website includes much more detailed "answers" about our trip and our minds around cruising, but the answers above are what it all boils down to when you really try to make it concentrated.

11 April 2011

10 Questions for Infini

Infini 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.

infini2 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....

04 April 2011

10 Questions for Aliisa

aliisa1 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.

aliisa3 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.

aliisa2 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)

aliisa4What 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

Homo sapiens