Kintala at 6 months
|Photo courtesy of our good friend and fellow cruiser, John Dakins|
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?
Deb: Solar Panels. Since Tim's company closed his department before we were quite done with the boat, some things had to wait due to limited funds and the solar panels was one of them. We do OK with the Honda generator, but it would be nice to have a quiet source of power that would allow sitting in the cockpit without the generator noise. Don't get me wrong – as far as generators go, the Honda is the best and the quietest, but I'd still rather have less noise.
Tim: Inverter and WiFi extender. Being “off the grid” is better when it is a choice of just hitting the “off” switch and using “cruising” as the excuse for not bothering with email.
How often have you faced bad weather in your cruising? How bad?
Deb: We've had a couple days of 5+ft waves and not quite 30 knots of wind which isn't much, but it's still more than I would like to have on a routine basis. Most of our bad experiences have been due to a lack of planning.
Tim: We have tried to be very conservative with weather so “bad” is a relative term. Still, as careful as we try to be we have taken a couple of serious poundings to windward with apparent winds of 30+ knots in steep and short period waves. Weather forecasting is often not specific or detailed enough to know exactly what is lurking “out there”. Two similar weather forecasts can lead to two very different experiences depending on the direction of the boat, the sail set, and just the emotional state of the crew at that particular moment. Also, turning around (except for bailing out of a Gulf Stream passage early) is usually not much of an option. Once gone one simply has to take whatever weather comes along. For us it has often been worse than expected.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?
Deb: I was worried about the culture of excess drinking. We drink, but not as much as a lot of people, and never to the point of being drunk. I was worried that we wouldn't fit in if we didn't drink as much as everyone else. We haven't been to any of the big hotspots yet like Georgetown or Marathon which might be different, but so far I've found the cruisers we've met to be careful, attentive, dedicated sailors that limit their intake. In six months I have yet to see a drunk cruiser.
Tim: This is not, ultimately, a more relaxed way to live than on land. It can be some of the time, but one is very exposed to the weather on a boat. Wind and rain barely noticed on land will make for long days on the water, and even longer nights. Everything takes more effort, shopping, laundry, routine maintenance, launching the dink, keeping track of consumables. Cruisers don't often work for anyone else, but keeping this little floating house livable is a full time job.
What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Deb: The SSB. We bought a used one from a friend but it will never be installed. It's a very large and complex piece of equipment that would require major installation dollars on our boat and everyone I know who owns one has a terrible time with it. We will be buying a small, portable SSB receiver so we can listen to the weather and do weather faxes. With the new HF Weather Fax app on the iPad, and the Delorme InReach for emergency communication, we just don't see any reason to have it on the boat.
Tim: We brought too many sails (6) and have yet to make a sail change. A perfect rig to me would be jib and stay sail on rollers, a main with 3 reef points (We only have two.) and a bullet proof storm stay sail that would go over the inner stay sail.
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Deb: I've been struggling with seasickness a lot more than I expected. Our boat rolls a lot at anchorages and that pendulum motion just does me in. I never get nauseated, I'm just tired and have a headache and feel dizzy a lot.
Tim: A lack of creature comforts; a comfortable chair, an occasional movie on a big screen, a bit of AC once in a while. Some heat now and then would sure be nice as well.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
Deb: That you will motor more than you think. We still motor way less than most people because we're rarely in a hurry to get anywhere but we motored almost the whole way down the ICW which I hated.
Tim: Cruisers spend way more time sitting still than we do moving.
What gear do you love the most?
Deb: Our iPads hands down. We use the for our primary navigation with both the Garmin Bluechart Mobile and the Navionics apps on both iPads. We also have Sailgrib and Weather Bug and Marine Weather on both of them. We keep one in the cockpit and the other one plugged in charging at all times. We still have the chart plotter on the helm, a GPS down below, and backup GPS navigation on both our phones as well as on both our laptops. A very close tie for best gear though is our Honda generator. It's our main source of charging and we simply love it!
Tim: Navigation on iPads.
Tell me your favorite and least favorite thing about your boat.
Deb: My favorite thing is the way the light plays off the teak inside in the morning sunshine. I love the inside of our boat. It feels like our home, something that's important to me since it's our full time home. I also love my galley. It fits me and everything is in the right place (bet you don't hear that often!) My least favorite is the cockpit. Our boat has a very narrow stern which is a good thing for large following seas, but it limits the cockpit storage and the size of the seats. We only have one locker in the cockpit which is taken up with cushions, cords, hoses, etc., and there's no room for sails. This means the aft berth is full of sails and I hate clutter so it bugs me. We also do not have any seat long enough to stretch out on which is a problem on overnight passages because we like to stay in the cockpit together, even when off watch.
Tim: Favorite? It sails well, and looks good. (Life is too short to live on an ugly boat.) My least favorite is the 30 year old WesterBeast motor. The boat is underpowered and the engine hard to service.
What is your biggest lesson learned?
Deb: I'm conflicted on this one. I want to say buy the boat for coastal cruising and living aboard at anchor because you will do that more than 99% of the time, but we listened to the experts and bought a bluewater cruiser and the 1% of the time that we end up offshore in bad weather I'll be glad we did. We do compromise on comfort and utility because we're in a bluewater cruiser. When we did our offshore training passages I loved being out there, but I've found I like it less now. I've been thinking a lot about why this is and I think the reason for the difference is that we had many hands to help on those passages and now we only have the two of us. Extra hands to spread the work makes a huge difference. Had I the chance to do it again, I would probably buy a coastal cruiser and not plan on any passages more than one night.
Tim: That this was probably not the best choice of a boat.
How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?
Deb: This is something we did right. Being in aviation, we're over-planners. Since we had no sailing experience prior to deciding on our retirement plans, we took ASA 101, 103, 104, 105, 114 sailing classes and bought a Compac 27 early on to practice on our home lake, Carlyle Lake in Illinois outside of St. Louis. We learned about living on a boat and maintaining a boat the four years we sailed the Compac. When we realize we were ready to begin to look for our cruising boat, we took the summer/fall of 2010 and scheduled 3 training voyages to help us decide what boat to buy. We did a circumnavigation of Long Island in a Pearson 35 leaving Tom's River, NJ and sailing around Block Island, down Long Island Sound, through the city of New York, past Sandy Hook and back to Tom's River in 7 days. We chose that one because we felt a 35 footer was the smallest boat we could live on full time without killing each other. Next we took our ASA 114 catamaran course in Pensacola Beach, FL because we still hadn't resolved the monohull-catamaran debate. We found out that we love catamarans but simply can't afford one. Last we took a training voyage with John Kretschmer on Quetzal, a Kaufman 47, because we thought that would be about the largest boat we could comfortably handle with just the two of us. Those three trips were expensive for us, but they were priceless in the knowledge we gained.
In your own experience and your experience meeting cruising couples, can you convince a reluctant partner to go cruising and if so, how?
Deb: I would say categorically no. Our relationship is a little different because the cruising thing was my dream and Tim was willing to go along, but I've met a lot of women who were reluctant spouses and they are pretty unhappy. I guess if you had a spouse that was sensitive to your needs it might work, but my experience is that it's just not worth it if both members of the couple are not eager to succeed. It's just too hard of a change unless you're 100% behind it.
Tim: You can, but both will likely regret it.
Deb: That anchorages everywhere are little communities. I've found that unless I get in the dinghy and go to meet other people, we won't meet. For the most part I find people stay to themselves on their own boats unless they're traveling with someone. When we do go introduce ourselves they're always glad that we came, but it's as if everyone is sitting there waiting for someone else to go first.