So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser.......(Part Two of Two)
Need a couple of more posts so I can include the occassional photo and/or link. Several years ago I wrote a few articles for a friend who wouldn't leave me alone till I did, and I as they were somewhat well received at the time I thought I would repost them here. If a mod feels they would be more appropriate in another location... move 'em.
So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser?
(Part Two of Two)
So last month we decided we wanted to go cruising
and went through all the necessaries to make
repairs, get loaded (take that how you want), get off
the dock, and spend 11-14 days of wonderful open
ocean passage. According to the charts, the GPS, a
little dead reckoning, and some old fashion luck we
are approaching our planned destination, or
somewhere like it.
Land Ho! or Mañana Doesn’t Mean Tomorrow, It Just Means Not Today……
Having reached our destination or at least where we
think we are, its time to prepare for landfall.
First thing is, no matter how much you try to time your
landfall for first light when it’s easy to see where you
are, that is not going to happen. Usually you will
arrive around midnight in a nice 4-foot swell. Of
course the channel markers (if there are any) are
not going to be exactly where it shows on the chart,
the light house at the end of the harbor is dark or
has flat disappeared, and there is no moon to help
Now we could just take our chances and
go for it, but as I am somewhat averse to leaving
large important chunks of the hull behind on a reef,
we will just wait it out until dawn. Time passes quickly
when you’re having fun, right? Besides, it will give
you time to make sure you can get the diesel
started, dig out the courtesy flag for whatever
country you are arriving in (you did remember that
one, didn’t you?) get together the ships papers,
crew lists, passports and other miscellaneous and
sundry that you won’t have enough of anyway.
Six hours later and the sun comes up to show you
you’re right where you thought you were all along.
Good deal!! Sail on into the harbor, raise the
courtesy flag and the quarantine flag and drop the
hook. Hop in the dink and head for shore to find
customs and immigration.
Depending on where you are, you may also have to find the Office of Public
Health, the Dept of Agriculture and who knows what
other offices and officials. Of course, these will all be
within a block or two of each other, right? Wrong!
You will be lucky if they are in the same town. Having
located where you need to go, be prepared for the
fact that at least one or possibly all of the officials will
not be available today but will be there mañana.
Remember, no matter what they taught you in high
school Spanish, mañana does not mean tomorrow.
It just means not today. Eventually you will get
where you need to be, and having provided all the
necessary documentation you will be free to return
to your ship, release the crew dogs from bondage
and head ashore for that cold beer and hot shower.
¿Dónde Es Baño?…..
Having arrived in paradise looking for that cold beer
and hot shower, you may find that language is a bit
of a barrier. After cruising for a while, your language
skills will improve but having a bit of knowledge
ahead of time is an immense help. My Spanish isn’t
too bad, my French is rusty but understandable
(usually) and I know enough Dutch to find a beer
and the bathroom.
It helps to learn the essentials. If
you can find a beer, the customs house and a
bathroom, you are pretty well set up. Most of the
locals will speak more English than you speak
whatever, and will be glad to try to help you out. Of
course, this is after they get off the ground from
laughing when you explain you want to buy the
Mayor’s underwear, rather than the cold beer you
were really looking for.
Wheedle Mooch and Connive….
Having spent some time in town, caught up on our
rest, and decided what we want to see and what
needs to be repaired and restocked on the boat, it
is time to find our taxi driver.
A good taxi driver is essential to any
arrival in a strange port. If possible
get a recommendation from a cruiser who has been
there a while, but if not, get a taxi driver anyway.
This guy can get anything and knows where
everything and everyone is. Need a machine shop?
No problem mon. Need a sail repaired? No
problem mon. Need a left-handed thingamabob?
No problem mon, my cousin make you one
mañana. Remember, you’re not in Kansas anymore
Dorothy and you may need to be a bit resourceful in
obtaining parts and supplies. Lots of trades and
such will come to pass in order to find what you
need. And the guy driving around in a 1952 Ford
sedan with a John Deer tractor motor will probably
be able to help you out.
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish……
So we have been here for six weeks now, been to
most of the bars at least twice, and have the boat in
as good as shape as we think we need to for the
next passage. Have met the people, seen the
sights, and it is time to move on.
One last round of officials (easier now that we have a good driver), pay
off our tab at the local cantina, and head out. Get
ready to do the whole thing over again.
And after reading all the reasons why not to do it, why would
we do it again anyway? Because after all the
inconveniences, there is nothing else like it in the
world. The freedom to sail to strange places, meet
new people and explore new ways of looking at the
world, without the restrictions of just being a tourist.
Being able to live within, and enjoy the local
economy and customs. Just the sheer joy of being
alive in a new and different situation and location.
Some say, “Attitude is the difference between ordeal
and adventure.” I believe they are right. If you have
the attitude, it is one heck of an adventure.
Fair Winds and Safe Passage
"If the wind will not serve, lay to the oars"
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