Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Ugly

Copy of a Facebook post about the cruising life.
Final thoughts on this thread offered after 8 years, around 30,000 nm (I stopped counting years ago,) and three ocean crossings (Atlantic solo, Atlantic crew, Pacific 1/2 solo, 1/2 crew):

1. What you read in the classic sailing books is very dated. The Caribbean has been destroyed by the cruise ship industry. Most islands are only interested in your money. The nightlife is gone. Cruise ships leave, everyone closes their stores and restaurants. I have never been in the Med (yet) but the Portuguese and Spanish coasts are not cheap.
2. Sailing is a very slow way to get anywhere. One hundred (100) nm per 24 hour day is a good average. If you are going to anchor between sunset and sunrise realize in the winter that is only 8 hours. At 5 knots average that is 40 nm. You need to plan. You can easily get "closed out." The Med in winter. The Caribbean and parts of the Pacific in hurricane season. Once there (wherever there is) you should have time to explore and have fun.
3. There is a tradeoff between safety/security and cost. Anchoring out is free. Except during the unexpected thunderstorm when your boat drags and you feel like you lost 5 years of your life. On a mooring or a dock you are more secure but burning money.
4. Everything about sailing is physical. Not only sailing the boat but carrying groceries from the store, carrying fuel and water back to the boat, launching and retrieving the dinghy, getting your laundry done etc. Again unless you have a nice budget you will be using mass transit and lugging everything back.
5. Stuff breaks. You need reasonable spares, a reasonable set of tools, but most of all a bunch of creativity. We lost the lower shrouds 1,200 nm from land and 5 days from help. We got very creative keeping the mast sticking up! (BTW it took 12 additional days to make landfall. Things were a little tense. Good thing we keep a dry boat during passages. But our chain smoking rate doubled.)
6. Cruising is worse than camping. You are "outside" 100% of the time. You may need to trim or steer in heavy rain. Or when it is freezing cold. Or burning hot. When it gets humid so does the boat. Drawers stick. You sweat. The interior temperature of the boat is going to be the temperature of the water (as I was reminded every day in Newfoundland. - summer water temperature was 35 degrees Fahrenheit) Not to mention the bugs. When in Martinique we had cockroaches you could saddle and ride and rats the size of small dogs on the dock in the marina. You are either dragging in dirt or salt.
7. It can be very boring. There is little to do on a long passage and less to see. Sometimes the hardest part is staying awake.
8. The boat will try to kill you. Always. If it can't kill you it will try to hurt you. Safety always has to come first.
8a. The boat always moves (unless you are in a very sheltered spot. That doesn't happen often.) Walking, carrying things, sleeping are all done on a moving platform. You might be in light winds and tiny waves but the impact of wind against current can have you rolling 20 degrees from vertical i.e. 40 degrees overall or more. Which is exactly what Reboot is doing as I write this. And strangely the anchor chain is slack. Not to mention the idiots who will "wake" you in their powerboat when you are 65 feet in the air working on the top of your mast. Or just trying to carry dinner into the cockpit. I can't talk about the imbeciles who anchor 1/2 boat length from you on 10 feet of rope with a 5 pound anchor and a 1 to 1 scope. And immediately leave their boat. My doctor tells me high blood pressure is not good.
9. Exploration more than a few miles inland from shore is expensive. You have all the same expenses that any other tourist has, plus the cost of storing the boat.
10. Some of the things you don't budget for can be very expensive. If you are moving around the cost of charts can be high. I am guessing that the average cost to clear into a new country was $350. I had rig parts shipped to the Society Islands. Cost to ship inside the USA. About $100 USD. Shipping and customs duties including the cost of a customs broker to Nuku Hiva was $1,500 USD and took 3 weeks. Things wear out quickly. I need to buy new pillows. The old ones I bought 6 months ago. The constant movement has worn them out.
OK. Why do I do it? Because the people I meet are some of the neatest people on earth. That is enough for me.

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