12 September 2011

10 Questions for Alianna

alianna2 Sim and Rosie Hoggarth began cruising in June 2004 aboard Alianna, a Corbin 39 hailing from Falmouth, United Kingdom. They bought Alianna in Antigua and sailed the loop, down the Caribbean chain, across to South America, up Central America and North American as far as Washington DC and back down the Bahamas to the East Caribbean. You can learn more about their journey on their website.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
I had very limited sailing experience but my husband had been sailing for years.  I had complete faith in him and everything we learnt we learnt together.  Ignorance is bliss they say and we have enjoyed the whole learning experience.  I don't think there is anything we wished someone had told us before we got here, otherwise we might never have got here.

Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?
We are a pretty basic sailing boat - we have all the necessary safety and navigational equipment but we don't have radar and I have always felt that it would help when we are on passage to check which way storm heads are moving.  We have managed 7 years without a water maker and other items that some cruisers feel essential - its all a matter of personal comfort.  Sim wishes that we had built a bigger frame to house more solar panels, we physically can't carry any more, while there is always a need for more power.

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?
We were very very cautious the first year of cruising, getting to know the boat and living together in a small space.  I don't think that we made any major mistakes, except in perhaps spending money on items thinking we were going to sail around the world that we now don't need - maybe we shouldn't have been so hasty in that respect.

What is the next piece of gear you would add to your boat if it were free and why?
That's a tough one, I would be torn between a radar for reasons explained above, new sails as ours are very old and baggy or a freezer for ice at cocktail hour - can I have them all?  Sim says an extra 10ft but I don't think it matters how big your boat is you will always need more space for something. If an extra 10ft is unrealistic he would like furling gear for the inner staysail as at the moment it sits on deck and hardly ever gets used.

What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn't fear?
We both agree that the fear the unknown whether it be weather related, country related or boat related most of the time its never as bad as it seems and the cruising community is a tight knit of people who are always willing to help.

And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should?
Obviously that same can be said if you don't have any concerns about the above either. Have some respect for everything from the sea, to your boat and the countries you are visiting. Also you need to be able to do a lot of your own maintenance, everyone has to call in some help sometime but unless you have bottomless pockets the ability to do the majority of your own maintenance makes the lifestyle much more affordable to people who are on a budget.

alianna In your experience, how much does cruising cost?
Cruising can cost as little or as much as you want it to.  We consider ourselves to be at the lower end of the scale - we try to live on a US$1000 a month with additional expenses of about $5000 per annum accounting for overspend or haulouts or insurance etc.  We know people that live on less and many that live on more.

How did you (or did you) gain offshore experience prior to leaving?
I had very little experience sailing on a yachts although I had clocked up a few sea miles of off shore sailing on Tall Ships as deck hand and watch leader, I joined a dinghy club before we left and took my day skipper course.  Sim has been sailing his whole life, racing Hobie cats, working on the Tallships as a marine engineer and doing deliveries.  He had his own 20ft sailboat in Cornwall and an RYA Off Shore yachtmaster certificate.

What is a tip or a trick you have picked up along the way?
This is not a tip or trick, its just sensible.  Get the best and biggest anchor you can afford. Buy good quality.  You will have many peaceful nights if you have confidence in your ground tackle.

Where was your favourite place to visit and why?
I don't think I could choose a favourite place and why - The reason we love cruising is that each place tickles a different spot, that's the beauty of being able to move your whole home from one place to another.  But in general terms the East Caribbean offers the easiest sailing with short hops between islands and beautiful comfortable anchorages for most of the time. I do love the Western Caribbean for its different cultures and life styles.

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

How do you decide when you are ready to go cruising? 

Sim felt that at the time he was young enough to go away cruising for 5 years and still be able to get work when he returned. Rather then wait until has was at retirement age.  I was at a time when I was ready for a change of lifestyle.  Once we made the decision to go sailing we sold up and shipped out within 6 months. Best decision we ever made.