A Discussion of the Philosophies of Cruising and Circumnavigating
, to navigate a circumference, such as an island, a continent, or the Earth, is to travel all the way around the edge, particularly when in control of the route taken.
I think that circumnavigating is a subset or maybe speciality of cruising, just is the Great Loop, European Canals, gunkholing the Gulf of Mexico or the Bahamas, or any other mode of travel that requires passage over portions of water. Each has its challenges, rewards, and proponents and you, the cruiser, cruise as you want.
I'm planning on a circumnavigation primarily because I've done the Med, Caribbean, Atlantic crossing, and have no desire to cruise the US East Coast. For me, the places I want to see are west and that seems to fit in with a circumnavigation. I've visited a good part of the Pacific just not on my boat, long enough, or to the locations I'd prefer. So, if I sail the Pacific and cross my outbound track (I'm leaving from the East Coast of the US), I can say with pride that somehow I did a circumnavigation.
Philosophy of my vessel -
I suppose I can be described as a dyslexic investor - I bought high and sold low.
As a result, I don't have significant resources to buy new or custom or top shelf. I also don't seen to have any luck with lotteries, getting struck by lightning, or finding the right boat, perfectly prepared, for $1.98.
A lot of boats have made the loop around and I'd be willing to bet that if it's been made for water travel, it's either gone around or across. The vessels may not have been "blue water" designed and some have barely made it, but cruising can be done in almost anything that floats.
I'm looking for an early 80's 40' +/- sloop/cutter with a better than average build and reputation. My research indicates that during this time fiberglass boats were generally overbuilt and while slower than today's similar sized vessels can take the weight penalties of long distances. 40' seems to me to be the dividing line between "fine to live aboard" and "this is really camping, not cruising".
40' seems about the max length for single or shorthanded sailing, a good compromise between cost of maintenance and performance, and small enough to be hauled most anywhere. I sailed for 9 years on a 37' Endeavour that was a fine boat on the hook but took more than a puff to get rolling.
I want a simple sail plan and for me that's (1) cutter or (2) sloop rigged. I'd like a hard dodger but will probably set sail with a fabric dodger and bimini. I prefer solar panels to the real dangers of a wind generator but know that both are the way to go. I want a simple interior and a well thought out suite of gear.
well thought out navigation gear with single point failure duplicates (DGPS, autopilot, windvane, AIS, depth and speed instruments, binoculars, sextant, cruising guides, books, barometer, charts, SSCA bulletins)
laptop - 2 (primary navcomp, navcomp backup and data digestion) for navigation charts, WEFAX, GRIB files, email, Skype, articles, photos,
good tankage ratio (diesel to fresh water)
Manual fresh water pump for sink, electric for shower
SSB/Ham - really want this but I've gotten by with a shortwave/general coverage receiver and good external antenna
Stereo - iPod interface, CD inteface, AM/FM
Medical kit with "Where there is no..." books
well thought out tool kit
well thought out spares and consumables provisioning
Intelligent food and beverage provisioning
Dinghy and outboard
Solar panels - 2
Wind Generator - 1
Large battery bank w monitor
Wind scoops, dorades, fans, LED lighting
Spare line, blocks, cars, rebuild kit for winches and windlass, sail repair kit
all chain primary rode, 100' chain w 3-strand for secondary rode, kedge anchor
deflatable fenders or rectangular foam fenders
Inflatable PFD/harness w jacklines
Life raft or means to quickly inflate dinghy
Stove - x burners with oven, propane with 2x 20# tanks
Fridge and maybe Freezer
Proposed plan (subject to constant change)
I'm looking to get the boat fairly well prepared. There are a lot of threads with details elsewhere but suffice to say I have 3 priorities: (1) keep the water on the outside; (2) keep the mast up; and (3) avoid, at all cost, hitting any of the hard stuff out there. For some reason, I never get the punch list completely done so when I think I've got the top 3 covered well, I'm heading out.
"Cruising is doing menial labor in exotic locations". As I sail, things will either need repair, modification or replacement. If I do one simple thing a day and a couple toughies a week it shouldn't get in the way of cruising. I'll work my way down the Bahamas then the Caribbean chain to Trinidad/Tobago to wait out the hurricane season, do any big repairs, and prepare for the run to Panama and through the Canal. The idea is to be on the hook in Panama City around the start of the prime time to make the Pacific crossing.
It seems to me that in order to cross the Pacific, having a Pacific Puddle Jump (kudos to Latitude 38) or Coconut Milk Run philosophy is a good way to avoid trouble. Chances are I won't be going the same route as these but crossing the Pacific takes planning, timing, and preparation. Hopefully, by the time I get to the Canal, the systems will be in top shape, the vessel and I will be in good communications, and I'll be ready and able to do cross the Big "O".
I plan to do a lot of cruising, anchoring, exploring, and traveling. And somehow, through the magic of cruising, all those day cruises can magically add up to a Pacific Loop, circumnavigation of South America, Great Circle Route, or Canals of Europe. But first and last, I'm a cruiser who just happens to have stumbled on an interesting collection of cruises that are something bigger.
I'm sailing solo or shorthanded, so it's probably easier for me to do this.
There are a lot of cruisers who head out, find a magical spot, get involved with the community, and spend significant time there. There are cruisers that come in broke, hump butt to refill the kitty, and take off. There are folks that cruise with family, kids, friends, or solo. There are cruisers who devote considerable time and expertise to helping out the community where they are anchored. There are cruisers who come in, stay quiet, and sail out.
Every one of them is a cruiser, not entirely because of their mode of transportation, but possibly as a result of their outlook. A lot of them are circumnavigators; sometimes multiple times, who've not written one word about their exploits. And "circumnavigator" can have a lot of meanings.