Been reading all these, as I have been ashore for a few years now and am thinking it is time to go to sea again. So here are a few of my thoughts on circumnavigating and cruising:
I have been around twice. First time took three years second time two years. Both were too fast. Many side trips up north of Alaska, Baffin Island, and Disko Greenland. Not to far south, Stewart island probably the farthest south. I have sailed close to half a million miles, and I would go around again.
You can say “I want to go to Spain” or “I want to go to Fiji” But when you head west around the world it is a voyage, not a destination. And so many things to see along the way that you can not even imagine. We came through Panama one time and decided to head south to Easter Island instead of the normal route to the Marquises. What a great trip that was, stopped at the Galapagos, and Pitcarin Island. That is what it is all about.
But also I enjoy small trips as well, over to the med for a summer or more, then back across the Atlantic, it is a good trip and lots to see. Without exceptions every time we have made the crossing from the Canaries to the West Indies, when land finally hove into sight, everyone aboard would say “Do we have to stop? Can’t we just keep on sailing”. Admittedly it is one of the nicest, easiest ocean passages in the world, but many are like that.
We went across the Aleutians to Petropavlovsk, Bering island and the Kuril islands, then returned to Alaska. What a bunch of fun. A great side trip.
I stayed in Carins for a while, sailing up to PNG to do some great diving. Oz is such a great place to sail, so much in the north that is so beautiful yet few people spend the time there. The people in Gove welcomed us like old friends, let us a car and fed us in their homes.
We did a figure of eight around New Zealand. Few people get down to the south of the south island. The Fjords there are absolutely worth the trip. And all you have to do is point the bow in that direction.
Just going someplace, getting out of the anchorage or marina and going for an adventure. That is what cruising is about.
Just a few thoughts, I do love GPS, I have been using it since 1986 when we just had a few hours a day of fix, but it was so nice. I DR’d across the Atlantic once, so cloudy I could never get a sight. But it worked out. I think if I had only one item, it would be radar. Radar is very nice.
I like chutes, the run from the Canaries to Barbados or Antigua is one of the nicest in the world. I have carried a chute nearly every time I have made this crossing. I usually sail with just my wife, so having a Sock is a very nice thing. But you don’t need to carry a chute if you do not want to; Next to a chute, a 130 on a pole is my favorite. We have cranked out some high mileage days with the jib on a pole and the main on the other. Day after day after day. Beautiful days.
I probably should, but I have not used a harness in years, just seems cumbersome. Not suggesting anyone else get rid of theirs. I figure if I go over the side, I am dead anyway so I just hang on tight. I remember being hove to in a gale of wind heading down to the Canaries, middle of the night and the wind increased like crazy, the reef line chaffed through, lightening and rain all around, blowing like stink, I was trying to wrap a line around the main when a huge gust hit us and laid us down. I grabbed onto the shrouds and was flogging like a flag in the wind, but I never felt like I was going over the side. Lucky I guess.
I like roller headsails and jiffy reefing full battened mains. With all leads running to the base of the mast. These boats that have halyards and reef gear under the dodger are a pain to me. You can not see the sail as you crank a halyard or reef line so you have to guess what you are doing, you are not in a good position, if things hang up you have go square them away anyway, then come back. Just better at the base of the mast where you can deal with it and see it and crank it right there.
A requirement? A good autopilot or vane. I like Pacific Plus or Monitor vane, and Robertson autopilots.
For size, the first boat I sailed around the world was a Frerrs Pamer Johnson 80. 80 feet is fine for speed and room, but it is a bit much for two people to handle. Spinnaker poles were carbon fiber so they were not too heavy but it took both of us to set it. We put about 35000 miles on an Alden 54, that was a pretty good size for two people. We are at the moment about to close on a 46 foot cutter. She should be easy to single hand and a pleasure for two people.
I like digital charts, refrigeration, and watermakers, but if push came to shove I could do without them. I have grown to enjoy SSb with a Pactor for weather and cruising chat. Nice thing to have. And DVD’s.
What I like is the beauty of the ocean, the sight of dolphin on the bow, whales jumping, sunsets and sunrises that take your breath away. Snug anchorages and drinks in the cockpit with folks that are so different yet so much the same.
Everything is real at sea, nothing fake. You can pour a billion dollars into the sea and it will not calm it, you can tell the wind how important you are and it does not care. You can show a squall your credentials and your diplomas and it will just blow them out of your hands. Everything is real and you are totally responsible for yourself. You can not buy it. You have to go with it, let go and fly with things. You can’t sue the sea. At least not yet.
Mostly, circumnavigating is about meeting people and seeing things and places. A very good way to spend the short amount of time we are given on this earth.