23 May 2011

10 Questions for Exit Only

DadPirateSnake2 Dave, Donna, David, Sarah, & Wendy have been cruising since 1997 aboard Exit Only, a 1993 Privilege 39 Catamaran. They have completed a trade wind circumnavigation with two trips to New Zealand, two trips to Australia, and a passage through pirate alley and up the Red Sea. You can read more about their travels on their website including information about a DVD of their voyage up the Red Sea, or contact them via email (email@maxingout.com).

What do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
  1. Winds will be less than 30 knots 99% of the time.
  2. Watch out for squash zones because they can contain hurricane force winds in a fairly localized area.
  3. Watch out for black holes on weather faxes where there is incomplete and possibly inaccurate weather information. The zone between Fiji and New Zealand is an example of such a black hole. Neither Fiji nor New Zealand weather faxes may adequately tell what’s happening in that region.
  4. Hurricanes are not a worry as long as you move with the seasons.
  5. A seventy pound Beugel anchor sticks to the seabed like superglue and guarantees a good night’s sleep.
  6. Motoring will make up a large portion of your time at sea.
  7. Motoring extends cruising range and increases safety.
  8. Bigger fuel tanks are better.
  9. Watermakers are nice, but not necessary.
  10. Mast steps are an awesome way to inspect the rigging before sailing offshore.
    Exit Only Describe a typical day at anchor?
    There is no typical day at anchor because each destination places different demands on the crew of Exit Only. Different things need to happen in each port around the world. Each day is unique. Some days are for checking in or checking out. Other days are for cleaning the boat, scrubbing the bottom, engine maintenance, checking the rigging, doing laundry, provisioning, and then there are those chilling out days where you snorkel, write correspondence, update websites and mostly relax. Daily activities usually center on fixing what broke while sailing to our destination, and preparing for the next passage. There are no boring days at anchor. And if the boat work is done, then it’s time to explore ashore.

    What spares do you wish you had more of/less of?
    The only spares we used on Exit Only were alternator belts, impellers, back up alternators, water pumps, and a complete backup autopilot. I also had spare Sta-Lok rigging terminals. I carried plenty of fuel filters and oil filters and used them freely. The rest of our spares were never used.

    Downwind-1 Can you think of a sailing tip specific to offshore passages?
    Get two spinnaker poles and double headsails for downwind sailing. The double headsail downwind rig with two spinnaker poles carried the crew of Exit Only around the world on a trade wind circumnavigation. Life is good when the mainsail is furled, and spinnaker poles are out to port and starboard with double headsail rig pulling us along at a comfortable eight knots. It’s no bruising cruising at its best.

    Is there something from your land life that you brought cruising and feel silly about bringing now?
    We didn’t bring many unnecessary things from land life to Exit Only. We had done extensive camping in the Empty Quarter of Arabia and had a good understanding of what is needed to survive in a reasonably comfortable fashion. I left my job in Arabia and flew to Fort Lauderdale to get on board Exit Only. We didn’t have a house in the USA, and so there was no temptation to take things from a house and put it on a yacht. We were not trying to create a floating condominium with all the amenities of shore side existence. We were going cruising around the world, and the shore side stuff stayed behind. We had no sense of loss about moving on board because we were not giving anything up. Instead we were getting something better. We were going sailing, and sailing isn’t about stuff.

    Privilege 39 BahamasWhat do you miss about living on land?
    Very little. The biggest advantage of a land-based existence is that weather does not affect your life nearly as much. Houses don’t have anchors that drag. Although a house may suck you dry financially, the weather outside rarely is important like it is on a yacht. When it’s storming outside, I don’t even think about it when I am in a house. On a yacht, I need to check the anchor and make sure there is no problem with chafe in the bridle. And then there are other yachts that may drag down on me in bad weather. Bad weather is a hassle on a yacht, and isn’t too much of a problem when living on land.

    What are your impressions of the cruising community?
    Cruisers come in two major flavors. The first type of cruisers is hard core expatriates, and their boat is their home. No matter where they are in the world, they are comfortable and happy to be there. They don’t long for the time that they will be able to return to the place of birth listed in their passport. The second type of cruisers is adventurers on a trip. They are not hard core expatriates, and they never develop an expatriate mind set. For them, things are better, nicer, safer, and cleaner back home. Although their yacht may be in Bongo Congo, there heart is someplace else – from whence they came. Home is where their heart is, and their heart frequently is not on their yacht. Hard core cruisers feel at home on their yacht because that is where their heart is.

    Bahamas 3 What is a common cruising myth?
    It’s dangerous out there! There are pirates, storms, tsunamis, floating containers and lots of other nasty things that threaten your daily existence. The truth is just the opposite. There are more guns and homegrown violence in my own city than anything I encountered during our circumnavigation. Common sense and kindness carry 99% of sailors safely round the world. If you don’t do stupid things, cruising is safer than living in major metropolitan areas. Drug abuse and violence are simply not tolerated in most desirable cruising destinations.

    What did you do to make your dream a reality?
    I worked as an eye surgeon for eleven years in Saudi Arabia to earn my Freedom Chips to pay for my voyage around the world on our Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only.

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

    Privilege 39 Turkey 4 How do you manage storms at sea?

    Storm management for cruisers is mostly common sense and is within the ability of ordinary people who venture offshore in seaworthy yachts. (Editor’s note: Exit Only has an article on storm management on their website.)

    Storm management is all about energy management.  Large storms have lots of energy, and you need to learn how to deal safely with all that energy if you want to stay out of harm’s way.  Storm management is actually energy management.  If the energy in a storm gets transferred to your yacht - coupled to your sailboat - then you have to safely dissipate all that energy so that nothing bad happens.

    Most people don't understand the physics of storms and how they couple energy to your yacht.  The basic concept is this:  A storm contains massive amounts of energy, but if you don't let that energy climb on board your yacht, you will fare well during a storm.  Conversely, if you sail in an uncontrolled and dangerous manner allowing the storm to couple its destructive energy to your yacht, then don't be surprised if you or your yacht are hurt.