Knotty Cat at 1 Month

Read this interview as originally published on Knotty Cat Tales.
Hans (who has been sailing since he was a teenager) and I (who had never been on a sail boat until I met Hans 7 years ago) bought our Island Packet Cat in January of 2008 and moved her from Massachusetts to Maryland with the intention of eventually moving aboard full time. We moved on board for what we hope is for good in January of this year and finally arrived in Florida a couple of weeks ago.

We both sold our houses so now instead of wondering when we'll have to replace a roof, or the furnace etc... we now spend our time replacing water pumps that break down just before company is due to arrive, leaky hoses that give up the ghost and saturate the contents of our lockers, and "Oh God! that's not the head I smell is it"!?

Of course when I do something I go whole hog and we ended up bringing a pit bull puppy with us.

Wilbur is our rescue project and we couldn't ask for a better companion. He learned to use his potty patch within a week and as you can see here, he also helps navigate.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising? 

Actually, I read so many blogs before hand that I think we had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However traveling the ICW has been an eye opener for us both. We didn't realize how much the tides affect the currents and even though we think we've tried to time ourselves perfectly it doesn't always turn out that way and we end up with the current on our nose half the time.

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult? 

Nothing major but trying to get our mail is a pain. Even in this electronic age I'm surprised by how much paper stuff we still need. Right now my daughter sends it on when we finally know we'll be somewhere to actually receive it.

I also don't like not being able to wash my hair more often, but when we're at anchor I can't use a hair dryer. If the weather is warm it's not a big deal but if it's cold out, my hair, which is really thick, won't dry. Hans doesn't have that problem!

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising? 

Trying to keep a schedule and biting off way more than we could chew. This summer we bought a new dinghy and motor, picked up our newly repaired sail, a new bimini, brought a dog and cat with us, and then tried to fully provision our boat. All of this in one weekend!

It was a nightmare and of course since the marina wanted us out of there we took off towing our dinghy complete with huge motor attached and ended up sailing in horrible seas!

What do you enjoy about cruising that you didn't expect to enjoy?
I'm surprised that I don't miss TV. We do have one on board but we only use it when we're at marinas. We have a digital converter and a good antenna so it's free and we can always pick up something if we want to. And not that it had a good ending (we're from Pittsburgh!) but we were able to watch the Superbowl in the comfort of our boat and the beer was cheap.
At first when things broke down it would drive Hans crazy but he's really learning a lot. He's done oil and impeller changes, replaced our water pump when it quit on us one too many times, and he loves to come up with too many ideas on how to get our dinghy up on the stern sans dinghy davits!
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Being at the mercy of Mother Nature. In the old days if the weather was nice, we went sailing. if it wasn't, we didn't. Now it doesn't matter whether we like it or not, we're in it. Period. Getting up in the middle of the night when a 40 knot storm blows through because we want to be prepared for the anchor to drag. Having thunder hit overhead so hard the fillings in my teeth rattle. Trying to stay warm. Trying to stay cool!!!
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
We were both laughing the other day about how everyone perceives our sailing life. Everyone thinks our life is like the covers of all the sailing and boating magazines. The weather is always nice, the sun is always shining, the ladies don't have filthy hair, and we lie around and drink Margaritas all day long. If the magazines showed how glamorous sailing really is; bruises, dirty fingernails, no makeup; I have a feeling boat sales would be lower than they already are!
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
I'd read (via Windtravelers blog) that your working systems are usually going to be 80/20. 80% working and 20% not. Very true and there have been times when 80% would have been heaven!
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?
Dinghy davits for sure!!!! There have been a lot of times I would have loved going ashore but messing with the dinghy and its motor both before and after an excursion just wasn't worth it to me. We also don't have a generator and we'd love to get a diesel one but we hate to spend money on a gasoline one right now. We have gas on board for the dinghy motor but Hans hates to have to have large quantities of gas and diesel if we can get by with just one fuel.
What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Right now we think we're okay. We learned last summer that we really don't need tons of clothes and I don't really need five pairs of sandals.
I also ditched the microwave since I don't use it. I did buy a portable ice maker for $150.00 and it's already paid for itself. It starts making ice within ten minutes and if it gets left at the dock, I'm going with it!
What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.
For now we'll continue on South and hopefully head to the Bahamas. After that we'll probably come back over and sail back up the Atlantic coast. Having a dog on board limits your destinations a bit as they are not allowed in the BVI because of rabies. But that's okay, we found out last summer when we were in the Chesapeake and Potomac that there are tons of places to see and go and I have no problem with limiting myself to this hemisphere!
What has been the scariest event you've experienced so far?
We've gone through some heavy seas that probably weren't dangerous but certainly weren't fun and a couple of times our anchor dragged but the scariest event for me was when Hans fell off the boat at 4 AM while we were at a marina. He wanted to adjust our dock lines due to the strong currents and because of the frosty surface he slipped and fell in between the boat and the dock. He also broke our rule that no one goes aboveboard at night without notifying anyone and the huge bang he made when he went in is what woke me up. I had to lower our swim ladder (we've rigged it now so that it can be lowered by someone in the water) and he was able to get out. He did end up with seven stitches in the palm of his hand and I think he got off very lucky!

When all is said and done though, living on a boat is different. It's not for the weak at heart or those who live for the Midnight Buffet (not when you're asleep by 9 PM!). Showers (and I'm not talking rain) are sometimes few and far between, and thank God I've never had a manicure so I don't have to worry about missing them. But nothing beats watching a sunset or a full moon rising... sitting in the cockpit and being surrounded by the lights of a new city...grilling a steak in a secluded anchorage and then enjoying a Bloody Mary the next morning... need I say more?
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2011 by  and tagged   |  

Vicarious at 10 months

Read this interview as originally published on Sail Vicarious.
We (Kathleen & Spencer) have been cruising since April 2010 and first went up the coast to Maine, as far as Somes Sound and then we sailed back down taking the ICW at Norfolk, through the beautiful Dismal Swamp, grounded a couple of times in NC, and SC, jumped from Miami to Gun Cay, checking in at Chubb Cay, Christmas at Georgetown, NYE at Rum Cay, sailing to Caicos then onto Luperon DR, bashed our brains out along the north coast and then through the Mona to Boqueron. Now we are in Salinas provisioning until Panama. We are reading Jimmy Cornell's books to make sure we will be going at the right time, taking the right route from Panama to the Marquesas. From there we don't know yet...

Here are the questions and very brief answers from Kathleen.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
That is is as difficult as an outward bound course and it will test the bonds of love in a relationship, even the strongest!!

Is there a place you visited wish you could have stayed longer? Big Sand Key, Turks and Caicos.

Tell me your favorite thing about your boat. It is verrrrrrrry tough. Much tougher than I!

Tell me your least favorite thing about your boat. Not enough storage space for a year of provisioning!

How often have you faced bad weather in your cruising? How bad? In the Gulf of Maine skirting hurricanes and then going to windward through the Bahamas, the DR, Mona Passage and PR we faced a lot of uncomfortable seas, BUT it was all under a schedule!!! It is like everyone says, a schedule is the only dangerous thing when cruising! 10-12 ft seas, confused with 20 knot winds were the worst and I hope that is as bad as it gets. I know people face 25 ft seas, but I'm not ready for that!

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you? The bug bites!

What is something that you were dreading about cruising when you were dreaming, that is as bad or worse than imagined? The bugs!

Is there something from your land life that you weren't sure about bringing and are very happy about having brought now? I am so glad I kept some nice clothes, I like to look nice and not look like a cruiser. It makes me look less like a tourist!

When have you felt most in danger and what was the source? During rough passages, but now that I am safely out of them and have more experience I think it was just in my own mind!

Share a piece of cruising etiquette. ALWAYS say "hello and how are you" in the language of whatever country you are in. You never know if the guy leaning back in the chair with a tee shirt on is the customs guy who needs to check you in and give you all the days you want! Make it a habit to ask everyone!!

Bright Eyes at 1 month

You can read more about SV Bright Eyes and crew on their blog.
We were 23 year old office workers when we decided we wanted to live in the Caribbean. We searched online and found cruising. Our first day sailing was at survey to purchase our 1985 Seidelmann 37. After almost 2 years of learning to sail and outfitting the boat we have finally left Maryland! We have two cats, Nomy and Nala. We have been cruising for 4 weeks now and have made it to Florida. Our goal is the Bahamas, after that who knows.

10. What piece of gear seems to break the most often?

Joey: Engine. No doubt.

9. What do you enjoy about cruising that you didn’t expect to enjoy

Joey: Fixing things. There is a sense of accomplishment when it’s fixed.

8. What spares do you wish you had more of? Less of?:

Christine: Less life jackets. We have 5 inflatable ones and about 10 orange puffy ones, in case you know… we have a giant party …. Sike.

Joey: There is a whole section behind one of our couches dedicated to things that we do not know what they are.

7. What do you miss about living on land?

Christine: long showers and the ability to stop by the store to pick up something essential like bread.

Joey: Eating out at restaurants and flushing toilets.

6. What is your watch schedule/ describe a typical day underway on your boat:

Christine: We spend 15 minutes layering up, during which time Nomy, our oldest cat, realizes we are about to start the engine and he starts barking (yes) and jumps into the v berth to hide until we anchor. Joey pulls the anchor up, and from then out its two hours on and off. If it’s a hard day, 8 ish hours, we will spend our off time relaxing to music or warming up inside. I am the designated cook, it’s the least I can do since he does the anchor everyday so I spend some of my offtime cooking. You would not believe how hungry being underway makes you, unless you have been there. SERIOUSLY where does all that energy go?

5. What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable

Joey: Not getting upset about things that go wrong. It happens.

4. What is the hardest thing about cruising

Joey and Christine: Missing our family, and not being there for important events.

3. What is something you read or heard about cruising that you find to be particularly true

Joey: Its not all easy street, it is just a different lifestyle.

2. What was your scariest moment cruising:

Christine: We hit a shoal, which didn’t particularly worry me, since we have done it plenty of times before. In fact, I started cooking since tow boat was an hour away they said. By the end of the hour my meal was sliding off the pan we were so sideways. Tow boat arrived and yelled and screamed at us and I couldn’t wait to blog about how vicious he was until I realized (after he left) that the tide was quickly and seriously leaving and if we didn’t hurry the heck up we were stuck there all day (we were). The moment he told us there was nothing he could do and to hand him back his line, my fist tightened around it and I looked in terror at Joey. High and dry. Something we didn’t know even existed until it happened.

Joey: The Chesapeake Bay when huge waves were crashing on our boat and everything below was getting tossed and I had to keep steering in the right direction and I was seasick.

1. Tell me your favorite thing about your boat?

Christine: Our V berth is huge. We looked at a lot of boats and they all had us kicking each other at the V, but ours is the most spacious v berth we’ve seen.

Joey: I love how fast our boat is (in the sailing world), our 9 ft wide 11 ft long v berth, and also our drop down living room table.