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 One of Two)
Throughout my years of cruising, one of
the recurring comments I get is, “I wish I could do
that.” Now while I will admit it is the only lifestyle I
can or would lead, it does require some serious
adjustments in attitude and expectations. Things
that are a huge problem ashore seem to
disappear, while many things you just take for
granted on land, become impossible underway.
It’s Not Like In The Brochure……
(Scene 1) A robin’s egg blue sea with a light chop, a
beautiful blond on the foredeck, palm trees in the
background, you’re sipping boat drinks, all while
making 7 knots in paradise.
(Scene 2) 6 to 8 foot confused seas blowing like stink, your crew (some dude in
dirty cutoffs and a 4 day beard) is cursing on the
foredeck while trying to douse the jib and you are
making 2 knots over the ground 400 miles
The first scenario is on the cover of
"Cruising Is A Wonderful Life" magazine. The second
is usually closer to the reality of making passage.
Those days of calm seas and light air can be found
on day trips between islands, or while making short
passages behind the reefs of Belize. But first you
have to get there. For instance, when and if I leave
the Savannah area this fall, I plan to head to Puerto
Rico. I could take “The Ditch” to South Florida; jump
over to the Bahamas on a good day, and island hop
down to the Mona Passage. That would be fun, but I would like to get there before
hurricane season arrives, and the money runs out,
so we will take the direct route.Pretty simple really,
head due east from Savannah for a hundred miles
or so, and then turn right. In 11 days or so, we
should be in the Mona Passage and then another
day or so, on to Salinas. Eleven days of sailing on
your ear in the open ocean. Interminable boredom
punctuated by moments of absolute terror.
If It Ain’t Broke, It Ain’t A Boat…..
Before we can make this wonderful
passage from Savannah to Puerto Rico the first
thing we have to do is get off the dock. Always the
most difficult part of the trip. Now a cruising sailboat
is always in a state of constant repair. Much worse
than a house, trust me. No matter how much time
or money you spend on maintaining your vessel
something will break every day. And that is just
while sitting still. Get underway where you can’t
get supplies, and the rig and gear are under
constant strain, it is not unusual to have something
break hourly. And remember, whatever spare
parts you bring will not be the ones you need.
Best you can do is spend all the money you can
(and some of what you can’t) on whatever you
think best, knowing that it won’t be enough
anyway. Remember, you might be a boat-bum if
you consider duct tape a long term investment.
Dear, We Need To Clean The Garage…..
Now that we have our huge cache of spare
parts, (none of which we will need, remember?) all
we have to do is find a place to stow them. “There
Is Never Enough Room” should be one of the laws
of the universe. Remember, we have to stuff
enough clothes, food, gear, spare parts, alcohol
(sailboat engines run on diesel, cruisers run on
alcohol), books, charts, instruments, tools, lines,
sails, life raft, propane tanks, spare water and fuel,
etc. etc. etc. to last a minimum of 6 months to a
year into a space the size of a one car garage
(with no attic).
It can be done, but you must
remember what ever you need will be at the very
bottom of the locker you stowed it in. Underway,
everything has to be stowed in a locker, rack, or
tied in (this includes you and the crew). Otherwise,
it will end up on the cabin sole, or over the side.
I Must Confess, I Need Some Rest……
Having outfitted your beautiful boat to
resemble a cross between a Grapes of Wrath
pickup truck and a gypsy wagon, we are off the
dock and underway (only two weeks late).
You are now ready to drop into the routine of day-to-day life
If you’re fortunate enough to have
another fool onboard, it means you can get at least
4 to 6 hours of sleep between your watches. Sure
you can, as long as nothing breaks, the weather
doesn’t change, and your crew remembers how to
check their position. So having had 2 hours of
sleep behind the lee-boards of the pilot berth (two
sail changes and a reef in 2 hours) you stagger
into the cockpit after having spent 10 minutes
making a pot of coffee and transferring it into a
thermos without spilling half of it down your pants
(always wear your oilies when making hot stuff)
and immediately sit down in a puddle of your
crewmate’s spilled beer.
After half an hour, deal with leaking autopilot
or other problem of your choice.
Keep constant watch for enormous ships
attempting to reduce you to flotsam. Check position
and work your way below decks to mark on chart.
Stay awake. Go below and thrash around in the
dark looking for peanut butter crackers without
waking crewmate. Put flying fish in pilot berth to see
expression on crewmate’s face.
Repeat for 4 to 6 hours, crawl into a damp pilot berth that smells like
feet. Awaken 1 hour later as crewmate returns
flying fish to berth. Repeat four to six times daily for
11 to 13 days.
Next Month... Mañana Doesn’t Mean Tomorrow, It Just Means Not Today……