16 October 2017

10 Questions for Georgia

Paul Lever and Chris Hunter have been cruising since 2010 aboard Georgia, an Outbound 44 hailing from Seattle, WA, USA.

They left the Seattle area and traveled down the west coast of the US, Mexico and Central America to Panama. After transiting the Panama Canal and visiting the San Blas Islands, then went to Florida and up the ICW of the US to the Chesapeake and then on to the Canadian Maritimes. They then went to the Bahamas and back up the East Coast of the US. Then they traversed the eastern Caribbean, ending in Bonaire and Curacao. They left the ABCs and went back through the Panama Canal to the Pacific. Most recently they have transited the S Pacific and spent last cyclone season in New Zealand. They have just completed the passage out of NZ and are currently in Fiji.

You can learn more about their cruise on their blog.

Why did you change boats and what do you see as the major pros and cons of your changeover? 

The short answer is so that I could stay married:) I'm a big fan of taking the boat you have to cruise in. We had a nice J/37 that was easy to handle offshore, fast and reasonably comfortable. After a couple of years of cruising we decided we were going to be out for a long time and we wanted some more creature comforts, not the least of which a larger galley. The Outbound is a really well thought out offshore vessel with a decent turn of speed. Con is having more money tied up in a boat-- a depreciating investment.

Having cruised both the Atlantic and the Pacific, how do they compare?

The Atlantic side is so much more crowded than the areas we've traveled in Pacific. The Pacific islands and island people are very interesting and generally extremely friendly. The distances you have to travel are much greater in the Pacific, but the coral reefs make it all worthwhile. On the Atlantic side, outside the US, you tend to see boats that are redoing their passages - like in this is the 5th time we've done XYZ. On the Pacific passages it is often the first time for everyone, making it easier to develop a cruising community.

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?

Every cruiser needs to work out what cruising style is best for them. Are they commuter cruisers who spend 6 months on the boat and 6 months back home? Do they get to an ex-pat hangout and just want to enjoy the ease of being in the tropics and forget sailing? Do they want to get in as many stops, anchorages and ports as is possible, collecting all the t-shirts on the way? Is making distance and passages what it is all about? Are short jaunts from home the way to go?

I think we started out moving too quickly and trying to make distance. Our cruising style has worked into making significant jumps to get to a cruising ground and spending more time in one area rather than trying to see it all.

What is the most important attribute for successful cruising?

Its all in the attitude. The attitude you have with your partner. The attitude you have toward officials. The attitude toward locals. The attitude and respect you have for the weather. And the attitude to working through all of the repeated maintenance items and jobs of daily living that are never ending on boat. If you are going to let these items get you down, then cruising is just not for you.

I am pretty good at fixing things quickly on the boat. I'm even OK with doing the same job over again. I do tend to get a bit down when its the third time on the same 'fix'.

Share a piece of cruising etiquette 

That's just too easy a question. Use a long painter when you tie up your dinghy at a dock and leave the outboard down. A far more difficult one to answer would be proper anchoring etiquette. As far as I can tell, that totally depends on what your nationality is.

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

We left with one of those large, Conestoga Wagon covers for the boom. Although it's important to have shade in the tropics, that cover was too much effort to put up, take down, store and deal with when the winds got crazy.

How did you (or did you) gain offshore experience prior to leaving?  

I've done the early retirement thing a few times and took an Alberg 35 from Annapolis to Venezuela in my younger days. Chris and I have done the Inside Passage to Alaska and back down the outside. Also, while we were waiting to get our finances in order and sell a house we helped friends bring their Cal 40 down the Pacific coast from Washington to San Francisco.

Everyone who plans on taking up long distance cruising should take the opportunities available to crew on a few offshore passages. You'll learn a ton and be much better at setting your own expectations.

What do you enjoy about cruising that you didn't expect to enjoy?

The first thing that pops into my mind is not killing or being killed by my spouse while living in such a close 24/7 environment. The second is Gin and Tonics.

Cruiser rant: What is something that drives you crazy?

Cruisers that start the blame game and yelling when an anchoring situation occurs. Its amazing how a tiny bit of courtesy and cooperation can make what looks like a bad situation calm down and work out for everyone. Being told that I dragged upwind with a string of F-bombs at 3am just doesn't help the situation get better.

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

How long do you plan to cruise?

We left with an open time frame. After a couple of years it was clear that we were going for the long run. Its now been 7 years and we are half way around the world having covered about 33,000 miles (more than enough to make it all the way around). We still take it one year or one season at a time. Its important to us to have the boat out of the Cyclone and Hurricane belts during the season as we are not one to tempt Mother Nature. We started out as full time cruisers, but now try to spend a few months each year back in Washington with our new, above average granddaughter. We'll keep going as long as its still an adventure and our health holds out.