23 August 2010

10 Questions for Slapdash

slapdash1 With zero sailing experience prior to departure, Seth and Jaime have been cruising since 2007 aboard Slapdash, a Gemini 105mc 34ft (10.5m) hailing from Vancouver BC Canada. Over those years they have cruised the Altlantic Ocean, Caribbean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. You can find out more about them, their trip and contact details on their website.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Besides next weeks winning lotto numbers, nothing. We had more than enough advice, and the more we got the more biased information and personal slants we had to sort though. A lot of time was wasted second guessing our plans based on this kind of thing. We even made the mistake of paying for information from a so called expert in hopes of finding objective grounded information which turned out to be a complete waste of money. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting that we knew better, far from it, in fact we knew nothing at all. The thing is nobody cares about you and your trip more than you do. Nobody will research harder on your behalf, nobody will really know what you are capable of, or what you value or don’t value better than you will. Do your homework, trust your judgment and get going. There will be plenty of opportunities to do your fine tuning along the way. If we had listened to all of the unsolicited advice we received at the beginning we would still be in Vancouver participating in a debate with others in an online chatroom about which boat hook is most suitable to take offshore, no doubt.

Tell me your least favorite thing about your boat
It doesn’t have an ATM on board. It’s not indestructible. We can’t just do 30 knots when we’re sick of a passage. Sadly a dishwasher and helicopter were not standard features either. There’s really no end to this list, but we have learned that it’s all irrelevant anyway. No matter what boat you are in there’s a bigger one in the next anchorage. There’s a smaller one. There’s a cheaper one, a more expensive one, one that’s better equipped, one that’s worse equipped. There’s a whiter one, a bluer one, a shinier one, and plenty that are in worse condition than yours. We helped deliver a 100 foot luxury yacht to New Caledonia and had boat envy when a 150 foot yacht that was even luxery’er pulled up in front of us. We also met a single hander that has since completed his circumnavigation via all 3 stormy capes in a 26 foot monohull with no fridge using an old rope he found on the beach for an anchor rode.  You know what? He’s probably the happiest dude we’ve met on the whole trip. Glass, concrete, wood and steel. You will see it all, so don’t sweat it. The best boat in the world is the one you’ve got so get used to it, and whatever you do don’t listen to the snobs that insist crossing an ocean in anything less than a hand built top of the line custom finished blah-bah-dee-blah is lunacy. A millennium of history says they’re wrong.

What piece of gear seems to break the most often?
My flip flops. Seriously, I’ve gone through at least ten pairs. Other than that we haven’t really broken the same thing twice. We’ve had things that have taken more than one crack at fixing, but otherwise the Slapdash has held up her end of the bargain extremely well. We took a simple approach to things with the idea that the less stuff we had on board the less time we would have to spend fixing it. So we don’t have a water maker, a microwave, a windlass, a radar, a wind generator, jet ski or a few other things like that and so far we’re doing really well without them. There’s a lot of miles between Bali and North America though so stay tuned.

In your experience, how much does cruising cost?
How much does a house cost? This is a lot like the boat question, but to give you a straight answer for a change our first couple of years averaged out at about 2 grand CAD per month. That includes everything; our fuel, our fun, our repairs and our booze. We pretty much do whatever we want and have never felt the least bit impoverished, except maybe in Bora Bora where chicken wings were 5 bucks a piece and the bungalow we had our eye on was 1500 a night (that’s 300 chicken wings!). We’ve met people out there that spend our monthly budget on a good night out, and others that would stretch it out over a whole year. It’s all what your into and what kind of lifestyle you want to have. If you drive a Lexus and dine out on hookers and blow then you will probably need to save up a little more than that. If you take the bus and prefer a tent to an RV you could probably do it with less. We consider ourselves to be pretty much middle of the road. We do most of our own boat work, only hire the occasional hooker, and spend plenty of nights out eating and drinking.

slapdash2 Share a piece of cruising etiquette
Don’t creepily ogle the neighbors through your binoculars, unless they’re really hot and you can live with the shame of being caught. In turn, if you anchor too close to somebody else you should either be really hot and prepared to live with the shame of being ogled or just move. A good rule of thumb to use here is that if you are anchored close enough to your neighbors for them to ogle you without having to use binoculars then you should move. If they could ogle you without binoculars but choose not to because you are overweight and hairy like me, that's no loophole. It's a lopsided arrangement and you should definitely move. What we are trying to say here is that if you anchor too close to us you had better have something to offer in return. And don’t take the last cold beer, unless it’s offered. And try not to crash into another boat, if you can help it.

What is something that you read or heard about cruisers, that you didn't find to be true?
It turns out that garlic cloves and a crucifix are powerless against them. We left expecting to find out where all the radicals, the crazies, and the free thinkers had gone and instead we often find floating suburbs in foreign lands. Lots of recipe swapping, fanny packs and discussions about the weather. Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff, it’s just not really our scene. We get along with most people that we meet, but tend to avoid some of the hard core fanny pack crowd. You know, the judgy stand up dinghy drivers, condescending khaki short wearing women with no nonsense lesbian style haircuts? Those guys. We’re really nice to them though because if you get into a scrape they are usually the first ones with the tools and know-how to offer their help, just bite your tongue during the I-told-you-so portion of the evening.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?
Jaime tried pimping me out in East Van but there weren’t many takers so we had to try something else. Common question actually, and I wish there was a sexier answer but in the end we just decided. After that it’s hard work but easy. How dedicated are you? Can you save up for something? Willing to put it on the line and take a chance? Our dream really had nothing to do with sailing though. Yes, that was how it manifested itself this time around but the dream (if we have to call it that) it was more about travel, life experience and challenge. There were a few different things that would have met the criteria but we had to start somewhere. We'll get around to the other stuff eventually but once we had decided on this iteration, it was a simple matter of selling everything we owned, buying a boat and learning how to keep it pointed in a westerly direction. Oh and pick a date and stick to it, that was important too.

Where was your favorite place to visit and why?
Kind of a toss up between Cuba and Vanuatu. If you don’t see Cuba before they throw the doors open you probably won’t see the Cuba that we did, and maybe that’s just fine but in our opinion you should see it before that happens unless you are into seeing a Starbucks, TGIF’s and McDonalds on every block. Vanuatu was the kind of country that you leave feeling grateful that there’s still places like that left in the world. Vanuatu, the last cannibals. Volcanoes, magic, human skulls and widespread drug use (kava). What's not to like? Check out our website for full write-ups on each of these awesome countries.

slapdash3 What is your biggest lesson learned?
It is surprising what you are capable of when you have no choice, and doing something like this will change you in ways that you didn't expect. Maybe change is the wrong word because if you are reading this you are probably already thinking about your own version of adventure and are probably already infected with that pesky bit already. It will nurture and encourage the bit though and one day it will flourish and you may find yourself unfit for civilized life. Don't let this hold you back though, in our experience civilized life isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

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

I wish you had asked me what I would have done if the bus I was traveling in suddenly swerved to miss a Seaworld truck transporting a bottle nosed dolphin causing us to careen over a cliff leaving me to decide which of the only other two remaining survivors to save; an albino named Mitch, or a madman carrying a mysterious box.  Either that or what next weeks winning lotto numbers are. Either would have been fine, but you didn't so now I can't tell you.