04 July 2011

10 Questions for Freya

freya2 Barb Peck and Bjarne Hansen cruise aboard Freya, a  Vogel-Hunter 30 ft, fibreglass double-ender, hailing from Victoria, Canada and built in Vancouver in 1976. They cruised outside of Canada from 2004 – 2006 and will go again. During their cruise, their route was: Victoria - Hawaii - Marquesas - Cook Is - Nuie - New Zealand - Tonga - Fiji - Samoa - Kiribati - Hawaii - Victoria. Readers can learn more on their website. They say: We quit our jobs to go sailing for two years whilst in our 30's, and have no regrets about the experience. We're back at our old jobs, sailing coastally when time permits, and intend to cruise again in a few years.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
"Sailing all the time is hard work."  Actually, someone (Tony Gooch) did say exactly that but it didn't really sink in until we were out there ourselves, covering 8400 miles in 4 months.  Happily we were able to slow down and really enjoy the scenery the following 20 months.
Routing also seemed more straightforward when reading about it than in reality.  Unpredictable details like weather and currents made some of our choices more challenging than we had intended.

Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?
We decided early on in our preparations to Keep It Simple, for the good reasons of reducing costs, shortening prep-time, and minimizing failures at sea. No fridge, no watermaker, no shortwave transmitting
radio. We were generally very happy with that decision.  The only item I (Bjarne) really missed was roller-furling on the genoa. We had removed Freya's antiquated and undersized furling before leaving, opting instead for the bulletproof hank-on method.  Sometimes, during the 13th sail change on a given day, I could be heard over the sound of the sea cussing my failure to embrace this marvel of modern sailing: roller-furling.

Can you think of a sailing tip (e.g., sail trim, sail combination) specific to offshore passages (e.g., related to swells)?
Spinnakers on dark nights can be tricky - the swell can wrap one around the forestay in a jiffy when you aren't able to keep an eye on it. Like most folks we tended to be more conservative about sail area at night; it allows the off-watch person longer sleeps with fewer interruptions to assist with sail changes. Of course, had we had roller-furling...

Share a piece of cruising etiquette.
Go introduce yourself to the villagers ashore (if there is a village). You are, after all, anchoring in their front/back yard.  It's also a great way to meet new friends and perhaps get some fresher provisions.

What do you miss about living on land?
The expansive room of a house, where you don't need to put away all your hobby/tool/writing/repair items before making dinner. I suspect now that had we taken a break from cruising midway through the two years
I might have suffered less from cockpit-fever.

How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?
Take enough courses (CPSS, CYA, BCA all put on good ones) to be competent; outfit your boat to be safe; and then GO!  You can always add more gear later if you decide you need it. There are also aspects of mental and emotional preparation - what are your reasons for going cruising, what do you hope to get out of it, and are they compatible with your partner's goals?  We had embarked on shorter sailing vacations before
going cruising so we were pretty sure we'd get along fine.

What was the most affordable area you have cruised and the most expensive? What was affordable or cheap about each area?
I'd say Fiji was the most affordable.  It has an excellent mix of remote islands and villages where you can't spend any money if you tried, though you might part with a few boat supplies in trade.  Fiji has decent medical and dental services at low cost, which we needed to avail ourselves of (though nothing too serious). We had our liferaft repacked/certified at 1/4 what it would have cost in New Zealand, and the service work was competent (as confirmed by the Victoria Zodiac dealer who bought our raft when we returned).

The most expensive was Hawaii.  We stayed at the Ala Wai Harbor for several months, and while the dock fees themselves were not outrageous (especially considering that Waikiki beach is mere footsteps away),
Honolulu has hordes of shops, entertainments, and tourist-traps making it easy to empty the wallet.  We did have medical insurance while in the USA, but happily didn't need to use it.

Throughout the S. Pacific one can spend plenty of money buying imported foods - we generally tried to avoid that except for the occasional treat, like broccoli at Kiritimati Is.

What are your impressions of the cruising community?
It's an entertaining mélange of people: young, old, loners, stoners, carefree, careful, rich, poor, etc, etc. Most everyone is helpful, and many exhibit the cruisers' disdain of schedules: this makes it easy to get together for impromptu beach parties and potlucks. Because of the transient nature of cruising, people tend not to get too deep/serious in their relationships with other cruisers, at least not at first. You can usually find someone you click with in an anchorage, and if you are lucky you will remain friends through many miles.

freya1 What did you do to make your dream a reality?
Pointed our boat west.

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

What non-essential gear do you get the most happiness from having on board?

An underwater camera (Olympus with housing rated to 30m, but there are other models too).  We also brought our dive gear and two small scuba tanks. The underwater scenery is so fascinating! Whether you snorkel or dive, there's life of all sizes and colours to behold. Our favourite experiences include a moonlit snorkel at Minerva Reef, a red & yellow coral wall in Fiji, and Mariner's Cave in Tonga.