28 February 2011

10 Questions for Shibui

shibui Brian & Mary Alice O’Neill have been cruising since 1987 aboard Shibui, a Norseman 447 (47’) hailing from Seattle, WA, USA. From 1987 – 1989 they sailed through the South Pacific to NZ (on different boat which they sold there). From 1992 to 1997 they completed a circumnavigation (Mexico to New Zealand via South Pacific: French Polynesia, Cook Is.; Niue; Tonga; Fiji, New Zealand. New Zealand to Mediterranean via the Red Sea: New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG, Indonesia, Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Eritrea, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain. Atlantic Crossing: Gibralter; Canary Is. to Caribbean. West Coast of Central and North America via the Panama Canal). Since August 2009 they have been cruising Hawaii; Palmyra Reef; Micronesia (Marshall Islands, Kwajalene, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap). I caught up with them via email at the end of 2010 in Palau. You can see some of their photos on their web album or contact them via email (svshibui@gmail.com).

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Can’t think of anything specific. One of the fun things about cruising is learning, whether it be about boat maintenance, navigation, cultures, geography, history.  It’s the best liberal arts education you can get.  Perhaps I would caution people to keep the boat systems simple and have a backup system for everything.

Is there a place you visited where you wish you could have stayed longer?
New Zealand, Turkey and now Palau.  After 7 months of cruising Palau it will be difficult to leave although we are looking forward to our next port of call in the Philippine Islands.

What is your most common sail combination on passage?
Current trip: Reef in main with poled out jib.  We had brisk NE tradewinds on this journey. Generally we have tried to plan voyages where the wind is behind the beam.  Going downwind if the winds are light we fly a traditional chute otherwise we use a poled out yankee.  Going to weather in light air we use a spectra 125 percent.  When the winds get to around 12 knots true, we switch to a 95 percent yankee.  If the winds get to around 20 knots (true) we rig our staysail and get rid of the headsail.  Because we have been in the trades on this voyage we have only had to motor for a few hours.

Over the time that you have been cruising, has the world of cruising changed?
YES!  There are more people out cruising with the advent of GPS and other electronic devices.  Mexico has become much more crowded with sailors and power yachts in the past 20 years.  The Mexican's have capitalized on the yacht boom by building many first class marinas, most of which are expensive.  However, they are fun to visit, we just try and limit how long we stay at a marina.  We hear that Central America is also getting somewhat crowded.  All this said, I think a person can still find many unspoiled parts of the world.  Our present voyage through Micronesia has given us wonderful opportunities to explore remote islands and learn their history and culture.Also, Sailmail and the internet make communication much easier.

shibui2 Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget
Hasn’t been necessary.

In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
A diverse variety of reasons from health, finances, family issues to looking for something else to do. 

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Learning how the boat performed in a variety of conditions. On our earlier voyages getting mail and staying in contact was very difficult.  Also getting money was a big issue.  With the advent of Sailmail, ATMs and other electronic media we can now stay in contact with family and friends.   Also, when we first started cruising we did not anticipate how much of our time would be spent doing boat maintenance.  Generally we find traveling on the ocean a wonderful experience and each new country a  great learning experience.

Have you found "trade goods" to be useful on your cruise? If so, what kinds?
We always carry school supplies and after visiting the chief the school is our next stop.  Also appreciated are t-shirts, food, candy, balloons, videos. Also willingness to assist them with any specific needs they may have such as outboard motor repair.

Which spares do you wish you had more of? Less of?
More of: Spare parts for the generator.
Less off – nothing  We don’t tend to overload the boat.

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 your future cruising plans? 

Philippines to Japan and home to Bainbridge Island, WA via Alaska. We will be happy to respond to any questions about our journey from readers via email.