07 March 2011

10 Questions for Cherokee 2

cherokee3 Peter and Renate Zedalis began cruising in April 2004 and say they plan to continue into the distant future. Cherokee 2 is a 1973 Morgan Out Island 41 hailing from Miami, Florida, USA. They say “We have lived aboard for over 15 years in the Florida Keys and love being on the water. My husband Pete worked many years as a professional captain, and spend many years cruising Florida waters whether it was teaching sailing, learning to live a board or fully crewed charters, which we enjoyed doing together. We also managed a charter company together as well. Our retirement dream was to cruise farther a field. In April 2004 we sailed from our homeport of Marathon Florida for Key West to wait for weather conditions for our first leg which would take us to Isla Mujeres Mexico. From there we cruised down the Mexican coast to Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and the Bay Islands, around Cabo Gracia a Dios down to Isla Providencia and Isla San Andres, then on to Bocas del Toro in Panama. After that with stops in between at Colon, Portobelo, and Linton Panama came the fabulous San Blas Islands and Cartagena Colombia.”

Where was your favorite place to visit and why?
cherokee4 Our favorite places to cruise so far are the San Blas Island of Panama. They are still remote with beautiful coconut palm covered islands and sandy beaches. The waters of the San Blas are wonderful for snorkeling and diving. There are two seasons here; dry season and rainy season. Dry season brings predominant NE winds with higher sea states. During rainy season the winds vary and at times will be very light and the seas at this time are flat calm making it possible to snorkel the out side of the reef. This is our favorite time of year even so it does get a lot warmer with out the breeze.

One of the best things about this area is that it is a land with out hurricanes. The local Kuna people inhabit many of the islands. They are small in stature, are great sailors and fishermen. So we never have a shortage of lobster or crab. We also enjoy the fishing here and have caught large Wahoo offshore and big Grouper near the many reefs that can be found here in these beautiful waters. For provisioning civilization is 43NM to 75NM away. Depending on whether we choose to provision from Linton by bus or go all the way to Shelter Bay Marina in Colon. Panama City also is not far, and we can get almost anything we need there.

So, we are still here and have not yet decided where we want to cruise to next.

What is something about the cruising culture you like and what is something you dislike?
The cruising community is wonderful. Fellow cruisers are always willing to land hand or even offer up their spare parts to some one in need. We are always making new friends and enjoy potlucks, book and dvd exchanges or hosting a small gathering on our own vessel. Even getting together for games. It is like living in a small community and knowing all your neighbors.

The only thing that I dislike is the fact that we are all on the move, so there fore we have to say goodbye to some truly wonderful people and friends. Some we see again with others we are only able to stay in touch via e-mail.

What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable?
We think the key to making the cruising life enjoyable is the same as anything else in life. You have got to want to do it and give yourself a few amenities. Living like you are camping out is not the answer.
If a small thing like a microwave oven is important then that is what should be on the boat. Good refrigeration is very important to us. Whether it is that or some other item the secret is to be comfortable and feel safe on your boat.

How do you recommend securing your vessel while going ashore, and your dinghy?
cherokee2 First of all we make sure that the boat is securely anchored. There is nothing like coming back from shore and discovering that your vessel is no longer where she had been left. Than before going ashore we close and lock all hatches and companionways.

Some people use alarms such as motion detectors. We do not have either since we cruise with our cat Sam, and he would set them off constantly.

As for the dinghy, we have a special bar that locks the motor on to the dinghy. We had ours made out of stainless but thy are available in most marine stores. We also have a cable to lock the dinghy to the dock. Most places we have left the dinghy we have not had to cable it to the dock. If we do not feel comfortable with a certain anchorage or dinghy dock we try to avoid it and look for an alternative.

Can you think of a sailing tip (e.g., sail trim, sail combination) specific to offshore passages (e.g., related to swells)?
We really can’t give a sailing tip because each passage is different and each vessel sails and handles differently. We use the main sail at all times because it gives stability to the boat. We also have a staysail, which is used more than the genoa. It is better for going to weather, and it is self- tending. But what sail combination works best depends on the boat and weather and sea condition.

The most important thing is to pay attention to the weather. If conditions are not right, wait. We are cruising we are not in a hurry. As for swells; if they are far apart and the boat is moving well they can be comfortable even if large.

Describe a "typical day" at anchor on your boat.
Our day begins with on or two radio nets that keep us in touch with the cruising community. I am also a net controller for the Panama connection net one day a week.

cherokee1 We are early riser and usually have our breakfast before the net starts at 08:30 hrs. After the net there is always boat maintenance. After maintenance and cleaning it might be a laundry day. I am lucky to have a washing machine now at that makes that little chore a lot easier.

When we are in San Blas I spend a lot of time baking. We like fresh bread. There is always something to do, and some item that needs fixing.

After the chores are done we like to go for a dive, and rest of the day is for reading, relaxing or spending time with friends. I can honestly say we are never bored.

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
The transition was an easy one since we already lived aboard for several years on a mooring, and went to the dock only to install new rigging, new engine, generator and a new refrigeration system. We actually prefer living away from the dock. At times it is necessary to be in a marina for a while.

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?
I can think of three things.

The first - we should have bought a new mainsail before we left. Our main blew out on our first passage from Key West, Fl. to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Which made last few miles a lot harder with deteriorating weather conditions.

The second thing is not being security conscious enough. We had left our dinghy with the motor on in the water overnight and it was stolen. We were lucky to find the dinghy the next day but the bow compartment had been punctured with an ice pick in an attempt to sink it. It had 50 holes. We were able to patch and did use it until last year but it never really did hold air well after that and of course we had the expense of another motor.

The third is having purchased inadequate davits. We removed them in Guatemala, and had an arch built. It is very strong and we can carry the dinghy on the arch even in heavy seas.

Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget.
We have not had to make any compromises, because when we decided to go cruising we sold our house and car so that we would not have the extra expense of maintaining them. We are full time cruisers, and that simplifies our lifestyle and budget.

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

In your opinion what is the most important piece of equipment on your boat?

Personally that would be the engine. Any cruising boat should have good, reliable strong engine. It can get you out of trouble in adverse wind direction or trying to claw of a lee shore. With a high output alternator it will also give your batteries a good charge. Even with today’s wind generators and solar panels is this part of the world we have many day where there is no wind and no sunshine. So invariably the engine has to be run to supply the vessel with power.