24 April 2017

10 Questions for Pitufa

Birgit, Christian and ship's cat Leeloo have been cruising since 2011 aboard Pitufa, an S&S 41 hailing from Vienna, Austria.

They quickly sailed through the Med, Atlantic, Caribbean, Panama Canal and now have been cruising for 4 years in the South Pacific.

You can read more about their voyage on their website.

How did you (or did you) gain offshore experience prior to leaving?
We had no experience at all before we bought our boat. We simply wanted to travel to remote places and a sailing boat seemed like the perfect means of transport with accommodation attached. We bought the boat in Mallorca and took her through the Med to Croatia. We had plenty of opportunity during these 3 weeks and 1.500 nm to try out our theoretical book-knowledge.

Having been in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, how do they compare?

We didn't spend much time in the Atlantic/Caribbean, but the trades seemed much more stable than in the Pacific.

Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?

There's no general recipe, some couples need lots of space and independent activities, we are lucky and just don't grow tired of being/working with each other 24/7.

What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn't fear?

Many people ask how we pass the time. Potential cruisers shouldn't be worried about getting bored on a boat--there are usually too many things on the ever growing to-do list anyway.

And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should?

We see many boats with insufficient equipment. Don't set out without a proper anchor and alternative energy sources (we kept buying new solar panels during our first years).

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

We like the sense of companionship, especially in remote places neighbours help each other out with bits and pieces and of course know-how.

We dislike cruisers who think it's cool to 'live off the land' in remote places and hunt everything that's moving. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

With the benefit of hindsight, what are the boat selection criteria you would use to purchase a boat for long term cruising?

We bought a sturdy, reliable aluminium boat and we're happy with our choice. With Pitufa's classic lines and tumblehome she's usually the prettiest boat in the anchorage (at least for us ;-)), but these features also give her a tendency to roll in anchorages and on downwind passages. Pitufa's heavy and slow, a longer waterline would help with the boat speed.

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

I can't think of anything. We carry way too much gear, but we need all of it.

Are you attracted more to sailing itself or cruising-as-travel and has that changed over time?   

We're definitely travelers. We don't enjoy sailing (and despise+avoid motoring), but it's a way of getting to a new place.

Finish this sentence “One thing I’ve learned about navigating is…”

... that sailing 'in the wrong direction' (against the prevailing trade winds) isn't as hard as most cruisers think. We sailed from Tonga back to Tahiti last year and it was quite an enjoyable trip.

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

What are the most important pieces of equipment for you?

Our windvane, because the hydrovane steers Pitufa in all conditions without drawing any electricity.

The watermaker, because it gives us the freedom to stay in remote places as long as we want.

Our 'B├╝gelanker' (similar to a Rocna), because it gives us the piece of mind to sleep without the need of an anchor watch and to leave the boat unattended while exploring ashore.