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Cruising vs. Passages

I've been reading different posts on SailNet and think I see a pattern...most of the cruising life is not about crossing the 7 seas or a global navigation, though there are some who do, but rather short hops between islands or ports. The "big hops" seem to be a necessity to move to a different part of the world so that you can do more short hops between islands or ports.

My question to the forum is how often do you do passages to get to different cruising grounds? And what influences your decision to do a passage? Did the length and type of sailboat you purchased affect that decision? Was the length and type of sailboat you purchased based on the idea that at some point you will do passages or not?

For clarity I am defining passages as ocean crossings and cruising as remaining within a day or two of some land.

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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

We bought a 55 ft blue-water boat so that we could cross oceans. We usually stayed in a location for months until the insurance policy said we had to move to avoid hurricanes.

An example was 6 months in French Polynesia and then a 2,700 nm trip to New Zealand to avoid cyclones and then a year in NZ.

40,000nm in 11 years
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

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Originally Posted by Yorksailor View Post
We bought a 55 ft blue-water boat so that we could cross oceans. We usually stayed in a location for months until the insurance policy said we had to move to avoid hurricanes.

An example was 6 months in French Polynesia and then a 2,700 nm trip to New Zealand to avoid cyclones and then a year in NZ.

40,000nm in 11 years
Impressive!!! So insurance was your driving influence. Interesting.
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

We haven't crossed an ocean yet, but do regularly take 4-8 day passages to get to where we want to spend more time. Some of these are more than a day or two from land (and land isn't necessarily safety for many areas). So I don't know if that is considered cruising or passaging by your definition.

What motivates us to move is varied - insurance requirements, weather, boredom, carefully made plans.

We do the bigger 4-8 day jumps every 2-3 years, and smaller 2-4 day jumps a couple of times each year.

We planned our boat for this type of cruising, as well as ocean crossing in the future.

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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

Guess I don’t really qualify to speak here, but I will anyway and the OP can ignore. I’ve yet to cross an ocean, and our “passages” have been mostly close to land, although there have been a couple where land is more than a day away. I don’t see the proximity to land as being much of tipping point really.

In any case, to me a passage is just that — a distance one travels to get somewhere. Some live for the passage, some for the destination. I suspect most cruisers are somewhere in the middle, or rather embrace both as part of the whole.

Our pattern is to travel large distances every few years (many hundreds to a few thousands). Then we stay in that area and explore the physical and human geography. We’ve done this four times so far, and each time we stay about four years.

In fact we just completed a “passage” where we sailed around the northern peninsula of Newfoundland so as to relocate from the west side to the east side. This was probably our shortest “passage” (~600 nm), but possibly our hardest one from a sailing/anchoring perspective.
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

I have never heard this definition of passages. I have always understood passages to mean any voyage where the primary purpose was traveling between two distinct locations while a tansoceanic passage was exactly that, a transoceanic passage.

Any way, yes I bought my boat with passage making in mind. I like cruising in different areas, but get bored on multi day passages. So I bought a trailer sailer, which allows me to cover big distances on the highway, train or ship (yet todo this, but would like to visit UK, for example one day, by shipping my boat).

So basically, my boat was selected, specifically to avoid the necessity of long passages.

In my former career as a navigator, my working life was pretty much continuos passage making, whoch is how I know it isn't really my thing. Its a big wet desert out there.

I don't think I am alone either, because even many cruisers who claim to love passage making insist on the importance of having the biggest fastest boat possible so they can get the experience over with as quickly and in the most possible comfort and isolation from the sea as they can manage.
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

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I have never heard this definition of passages. I have always understood passages to mean any voyage where the primary purpose was traveling between two distinct locations while a tansoceanic passage was exactly that, a transoceanic passage.

I don't think I am alone either, because even many cruisers who claim to love passage making insist on the importance of having the biggest fastest boat possible so they can get the experience over with as quickly and in the most possible comfort and isolation from the sea as they can manage.
Perhaps "passage" wasn't the correct word to use in this circumstance, but you got exactly what I was meaning by it.
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

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In any case, to me a passage is just that — a distance one travels to get somewhere. Some live for the passage, some for the destination. I suspect most cruisers are somewhere in the middle, or rather embrace both as part of the whole.

Our pattern is to travel large distances every few years (many hundreds to a few thousands). Then we stay in that area and explore the physical and human geography. We’ve done this four times so far, and each time we stay about four years.
Mike, I believe you are fully qualified to answer my original question, and I appreciate your input. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. My personal definition of a "passage" at this point in my sailing career is to take my little Catalina 22 to the far end of the lake and camping out for the weekend. Not exactly pushing the limits of cruising, but I do try and unplug from the dock life by hitting my nav marks, making my meals, filtering water, and utilizing my solar system (Read baby-steps).
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

It was my dream to circumnavigate ever since I read Slocum's book @ around 12, but I knew I was going to be a seafarer in one form or another since I was about 6.
I bought my first big boat (49') @ 22 and set off to cross oceans. But it was the wrong boat. A TransPac racer did not a cruising boat make, especially when one had to stow 22 bags of racing sails and have a bunk to sleep in. So we traded her for a 65' gaffer, slowed down and got comfortable at sea.
What I enjoyed the most about the long ocean crossings was the safety and security I felt at sea. We had everything we needed and were usually a tight knit crew, all with the same motivation, within a few days. Rarely did we reach the end of a crossing and we didn't feel like continuing on instead of stopping. This went on for 30 some odd years, doing deliveries and operating vessels for owners across oceans, but it became more and more tiring as I grew older, though GPS, roller furling and other advances made it all so much easier.
These days I'm perfectly happy to sit on the pick at night and get a complete night's rest. Skipping Stone can usually do around 80 miles in daylight, so there are few runs in the eastern Caribbean we can't manage in daylight. We do overnights now and then (to Trinidad and back mostly), and really enjoy them, but I really do not desire to do another ocean crossing. Not today, anyway.
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Re: Cruising vs. Passages

Good topic!

Obviously you're get a range of responses. Here's mine.

Because of work etc... cruising ie time on the boat is "time limited"... mostly weekends... extended weekends/holidays and vacations. How far you can get depends on the usual factors including getting back to your car/life on dirt. You can move the boat quite a distance in hops... but for me the problem was ground transportation back to my car.

So find a homeport with a lot of great places reachable in a weekend or extended weekend. Maine for me was 400 miles... a vacation length trip. Did it multiple times but not enough.

I decided to take a sabbatical from my profession so the time was no longer a problem. I used the opportunity to sail south from NY/LIS to the Caribbean... live aboard full time and cruise from "locally" from island to Island. I was fortunate to meet a GF who kept a lovely Swedish built 36' boat in the Canaies. Flew off to cruise there. I dodged hurricanes by sailing back to LIS and cruising locally then back down to the Caribe. I've down a few deliveries which were ocean passages.

I am now quite familiar with all the LI harbors and many in southern NE... Not as much "discovery" fun... but we have our favorites for different reasons.
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