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.