26 September 2011

10 Questions for Hotspur

hotspur2 Jim & Meri Faulkner have been cruising since 2008 with their children Tim (16) & Carolyne (11) on Hotspur, a 41' Tartan TOCK (Tartan Offshore Cruising Ketch) hailing from Olathe, Colorado, USA. You can learn more about their voyage on their website.

They say: We went from San Diego down the Baja peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez. We loved the Sea of Cortez so much that we spent 2 summers cruising there. We headed off to mainland Mexico and are preparing our trip south to Central America this fall. Our sailboat is our home and we are taking our time to get the most out of our travels and enjoying the people we meet.

We left Colorado and began our cruise on a 35' Cal Cruiser, Windfall. We upgraded to a 41' Tartan TOCK mid cruise when the kids began getting too big to share the V-berth divided down the middle.

Our trip south to Central America was postponed in 2011 due to failing equipment. We're currently waiting out hurricane season in Mazatlan, and plan to head to El Salvador in November after replacing the SSB & HAM radio and VHF radio.

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?
Our biggest mistake was not upgrading our watermaker. It made only 1 gallon every 45 minutes. It simply did not provide enough fresh water for 4 people and a dog. Our children, however, disagree with us. They will tell you that having them share the V-berth was the worst mistake we made.

hotspur4Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget.
We began with a budget divided into categories and soon realized it was unrealistic to try and stick to the confines within each category. We now follow a simple annual budget. This allows us freedom and alleviates stress. We can purchase boat parts for repairs or go to special events or travel inland when it strikes our fancy. We then pull back - anchoring out for longer periods of time if needed and spending no money whatsoever - enjoying nature - when we want to conserve.

What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn't fear?
Though we aren't personally fearful of pirates, that seems to be the biggest question we get from non-cruisers anymore. Aren't we afraid of pirates? No, we are not. The dangerous areas are well publicized and represent a minuscule percent of the world.

The second question we get a lot: "Why are you in Mexico? Aren't you afraid you're going to die?"  No. We've cruised all over Mexico and it will be hard to leave this country. The people and marine life have been exceptional. Our encounters have been rich and the loveliness of the culture and terrain is forever etched in our minds and in our hearts. Cruising Mexico is wonderful.

My personal fears were very different - more general and seem silly to me now. An online article I wrote called FEAR ON THE WAY describes my feelings at the beginning of our cruise.

hotspur1 And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should?
A floating dinghy with an outboard motor bobbing up and down in the water when the crew is asleep is an easy opportunity. Dinghy and outboard theft is common everywhere in the world and most times it happens when cruisers leave their dinks in the drink at night. Raise your dinghy out of the water each night and lock them up - the same as you would probably lock your car every night on a dark street.

hotspur6 What are some of your favorite pieces of gear on your boat and why?

**These answers are from a family poll**

Solar panels: We watch movies at night, use the computer, run our watermaker, sewing machine, shop vac - and, enjoy cold beverages from the fridge on hot days.

Watermaker: Fresh water showers make such a difference in crew morale. We can do laundry aboard if needed, dishes, wash the decks - and no running back and forth to land with jerryjugs. Our watermaker aboard Hotspur makes 6 gallons an hour and is sufficient for our crew.

Engel Freezer: Can you say 'ice'? That may not mean much now, but being at anchor in the tropics with 95% humidity - ice is so nice! Our Engel uses only 3 amps when running. We make ourselves smoothies, enjoy ice cream and frozen yogurt and have a place to put that 40 lb. fish we landed that we can't eat in one day.

SSB/HAM/Pactor modem: Our connection to the outside world is important to us. Ham and SSB Nets, emails and weather faxes are wonderful when you are at anchor and don't have internet capabilities.

Autopilot: Though we have to hand steer at times if weather conditions are rough, the auto pilot does the work 95% of the time. We carry spare parts for our autopilot and our passages are more relaxing because of it.

hotspur5 In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
Because so many cruisers we've encountered are retired, many of them have to abandon cruising due to health problems or aging parents.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?

"Cruising is easy".

I find myself saying mind over matter frequently. Boat equipment breaks in the harsh conditions or from constant use, weather can produce sleepless nights, spending 24/7 with your loved one(s) can make you cross eyed, and doing laundry in a bucket with a toilet plunger sounds quaint - but isn't. It's hard work and sometimes it's frustrating.

For example, I was feeling very pleased with myself for finishing up a new outdoor shade cover my husband designed and I constructed. The day I scratched it off the list felt so rewarding - until on the very same day we added to the list: repair outboard handle, repair leaky porthole, and termite alert. Scratch one item off the list - add three more.

Do you have any specific advice for couples cruising?
Plans are good, but let your plans be loosely woven. Go with the flow - be as flexible as possible. I think that is a good recipe for this kind of lifestyle - because it is ever changing and moving, just like the tide.

hotspur3What is your most common sail combination on passage?
Our 16 year old son has been doing watches since he was 13. We have 2 hours on and 4 hours off at night between three people. Super nice! During the daytime hours, we give our 11 year old daughter an hour watch every so often, supervised. She still daydreams and gets distracted easily, playing mean homeschool teacher with a bag of clothespin "students".

What piece of gear seems to break the most often?

Outboard motor: In fact, we've spent 4 days looking for a part in Mazatlan as I write this. The part is obsolete - no longer made. We'll either luck out and discover an old engine that can be parted out or we'll find a machinist to build us one... I hope.

Head: We always have spare head rebuild kits aboard. Our head seems to need something every few months - clogged hose, joker valve, new hose clamp, stuck Y valve... endless! We use vinegar regularly to clean and de-calcify. And, we learned early on that the captain gets cranky when working on the head. Now, the crew leaves the boat when the head needs servicing.

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

What is a clever tip that you have learned while cruising to help solve a problem?

An Australian sailor told us you can use honey in a pinch if you have a slipping belt on the engine. We tried it and it works better than belt dressing!