Estrellita 5.10b at 12 months

Livia and Carol began cruising in 2010 and have spent the last year exploring British Columbia in their Wauquiez Pretorien 35. They leave this August for California, then Mexico and beyond.

Read this interview as originally posted on The Giddyup Plan.
What do you love about cruising?

Carol:  The sense of adventure.

Livia: I love that I spend most of my days in nature. I used to camp or hike to be near nature but, at least in the regions we have been traveling in, I am in nature rather than towns most of the time. There is something calming and centering about being in the wild.

What do you dislike about cruising?

Carol: Having no control over mother nature and not being fast enough to divert somewhere else to avoid incoming weather.

Livia:  When the weather is crappy, our options for fun are limited compared to the options we had when living in a city. I no longer feel cramped in the space we have except when it is very cold and/or rainy. It's like camping in the rain except of course we have DVDs and popcorn.

Being alone in an anchorage too often. We dreamed of that kind of solitude, and we still look forward to it, but after so many days of solitude we start craving people. A boat finally comes in and we have the binoculars out trying to see if they might be new friend material. I call it the ?misanthrope wannabe syndrome?.

What do you worry about?

Carol: The boat or gear breaking. Anything necessary breaking at a bad time ? something like the heat exchanger in the engine, the head, our heater ? things that if they break we need to alter our plans to fix so our life isn't miserable.

Livia: I worry some about money in the future. I worry about hitting debris in the ocean like containers from ships. I worry that the demands of this lifestyle will overwhelm the fun factor. I worry about what we'll do if we don't love the tropical portions of our travels.

What are you looking forward to?

Carol: Warm places, sandy beaches, morning swim.

Livia: Jumping off of the boat into warm water after coffee and before breakfast. Snorkeling.

Favorite place recently was

Carol: Hecate Strait ? the wildlife surrounding us that we could see and the sense of adventure of a multi-day passage.

Livia: We just spent a few hours soaking in the pools at Hot Springs Island in Gwaii Haanas Marine Park in the Haida Gwaii. That was fantastic.

Least favorite place recently was

Carol: Kostan Inlet ? nothing to look at, full of bugs, prisoner because of a bar at the entrance.

Livia: We haven't visited anywhere that I actively didn't like lately. A few places fell short of our expectations (Blind Channel Resort, Octopus Islands Marine Park) but they weren't bad.

A lesson learned is that

Carol: The sound of the wind in the rigging is scarier than it actually is.

Livia:  If we are in light air and there is a swell running, we quickly learned to use our preventer on our boom on almost every point of sail, not just when reaching and running. It minimizes the popping of the sail.

Best gear award goes to...

Carol: Wallas. For keeping us warm and dry.

Livia: I have to say our solar panels. It is so amazing to have power silently charging our batteries all day. Our new clutch for the main halyard is also a big improvement.

Worst gear award goes to...

Carol: Wallas. For being a high maintenance heater.

Livia: Our Wallas diesel heater. Any unit that requires regular maintenance by a factory rep in order to run properly is bull in my opinion.

Newly Salted questions:

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

Livia: At least in the areas that we've traveled, most of the horror stories we've heard about various Capes and various Straits seem to be from people who don't pay attention to the direction of the wind and the direction of the tide. If you align those two in your favor, and pick a wind strength you are comfortable with, the Capes and Straits in BC are lovely sailing, no sweat.

Carol:  That there is no perfect boat. Who you are (do you *really* like to sail?) makes a difference in what boat is right for you. But even knowing yourself, nothing is clear. The same make/model of boat can be good or crap depending on the specifics (wiring, gear, etc) and there is no hard and fast rules about any of the specifics (how thick of fiberglass does a ?solid? boat have?).

As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

Livia: Once we were completely in charge of our own schedule, we had to find a balance between comfort and stability (staying in one anchorage for a bit) and novelty (moving frequently). We still often err on the side of novelty. A problem with erring on the side of novelty is that there are always times when we intended to stay a few days but were chased out by winds etc. If we are already exhausted and were counting on a few days of down time, a surprise move is exhaustion on top of exhaustion. We need to keep some emotional and physical reserves so the unexpected can still be fun rather than a slog.

Carol:  Losing my identity, but I got over it pretty quickly. Not having a hamburger when I want one.

What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

Livia: I felt tied to the boat. Last winter we should have moored the boat somewhere cheap and flown somewhere sunny and cheap. It would have cost the same as mooring in a city in BC and been a lot more pleasant. I try to think of us as vagabonds now, not cruisers, because I feel it leaves a lot more options open.

Carol:  Rushing when it was not needed.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?

Livia: Most of what I have read that I didn't find to be true were things that were specific to one region or one style of cruising or things that were outdated. Once you figure out which type of cruiser the advice giver is, or which region they have traveled in, their suggestions are often good information. It's usually the case that bad advice comes when the person giving it fails to realize that we aren't the same as them and/or aren't in the same place as them.

We've heard some odd things from individual boaters lately. I've been told that if we don't have netting on our lifelines we'll be swept overboard (um, jacklines much?). We've also had a number of people who seem to think we are too relaxed and that we need to be more afraid so they tell us all kinds of things we should be afraid of.

Carol:  I didn't read much.

A lot of places are described as ?wow, yay, beautiful? but when you get there they aren't for you. If you are a certain kind of person you would love it, like if you like hiking the Gulf Islands are fantastic or the Haida Gwaii might be fantastic but if you don't like the grey you could end up feeling pretty lukewarm about the area because a rainy, grey anchorage is a rainy, grey anchorage.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

Livia: A number of long distance cruisers we met have emphasized the importance of people (cruisers and local residents) in their enjoyment of cruising. Although we are very social, we love the outdoors and solitude so much that I didn't take that advice to heart but I'm finding it very true. Also, being blown away by the generosity of people you meet ? that's something I glazed over but is striking to me now.

Carol:  A lot of things I read were true but I expected them to be true ? like boats break and this isn't a problem free adventure. I had heard that cruising was hard on your body and I am surprised to find how true that is.

Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?

Livia: No. Many people start cruising by immediately heading to remote locations. We didn't and for that reason we saved half of our purchases and installs for our first year in order to get some experience before we made decisions. So, there isn't anything we wish we already have because we can still get anything we want. We are going to California next, not a remote island atoll, so we can still buy anything our heart desires.

Carol:  No, it's the opposite in a way. The problem is that we cruised but we didn't go for Mexico and the S Pacific right away so it was easier to start with nothing and install as we go.

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

Livia: Carol's guitar? JUST JOKING. I probably wouldn't have purchased a navigation program and would use OpenCPN if I could do it all over. I don't have enough experience with OpenCPN (because we have a fancy program) to make a firm call on that though.

Carol:  Nothing. Usually I make a list of what I need and install it right away, but with boats I did the opposite, worked with what we had and then figured out if we needed more or less based on experience rather than loading up with crap that we may not need. We use everything we have on the boat.

What are your plans now?

Livia: California this August-ish and then Mexico this Fall. After that, it could be West, or South, or East?just not North.

Carol:  Continue. Continue until it's not fun or until I'm too scared.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

Livia: Please ask us a question in the comments of our blog. We love comments.

Sarabande at 30 months

Alicia and Brian of SV Sarabande (Pearson 45) have been cruising since October 2008*. You can learn more about their travels on their website.

sb1 Q:  What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

A:  We wish someone had just calmly sat us down and said, "Throw out all your preconceived notions about how you’re going to feel, where you’re going to go, and how long you’re going to take."  There are going to be surprises and curveballs coming at you all along the way, and you’ll make the most of these if you stay loose.  It's been a good philosophy for us to apply to life in general as well!

Q:  As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

A:  Spending 24 hours a day together takes it toll, and it took a while for us to figure out how to work “alone time” for each of us into the plan.  So important!  Also, coming from New York City, a place where, given the proper amount of effort, you can make a lot of things happen in a day, it was a little difficult to adjust to how much time it can take to accomplish things in other places.

Q:  What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

A:  We provisioned as if preparing for the aftermath of WWIII, and didn’t know nearly enough about weather.  Turns out people eat food all over the world, and the weather is the single most important variable in a sailor’s life!  Cruising makes you interact with weather in such an intimate way.  It teaches you to respect, and to pay attention to nature in a way that many people in affluent countries, who spend much of their day indoors, no longer need to do.  So after years of living in the city at a dock, sort of oblivious to weather patterns, we made some weather-predicting blunders during our first year.

sb2 Q: What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?

A:  We love that this way of living is the antithesis to the modern trend of moving too fast and not paying attention to all the little details and small moments that make life  richer.  Our style may be simpler and slower than it once was, but we're much more relaxed and aware of simple pleasures than we were before we started.  That's exciting, in a  quiet way.  You only get X amount of days in your life, after all, and we know we'll never regret the way we're spending these.  We also love that there are so many beautiful places that can only be seen from the water, and we get to take our whole home with us when we visit them!

Q:  What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?

A:  The holiday season just isn't the same.  It's the time of year we miss our families the most, and feel nostalgic for cold weather.  Then we remember what it's like to live aboard in a New York winter, and we feel better.  Also, Alicia hates potlucks and it seems they are inescapable.

Q:  What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?

A lot of the cruising literature that we read made cruisers, as a group, sound like some sort of utopian community, where everyone can be trusted and nothing bad ever  happens.  While it’s true most members of the cruising community are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, a few of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  We've  learned to be friendly, but not relax our guard too quickly.  Just like in any group of people, there are a few thieves and crooks looking to abuse the trust of others.

Q:  What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

A:  That it takes about 6 months to a year after you’ve left to truly calm down from the pace of the rat race.  I think we read that in Beth Leonard’s cruising handbook (which is excellent).  Also, that it takes as much money as you have, meaning you don't have to be a trust fund baby or retired to sail off.  There are lots of ways to make it work.

Q: Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?

A:  Yes:  a good RIB dinghy and reliable outboard!  We left on our cruise with a very sub-par dinghy setup.  When you live at the dock, it’s easy to overlook the importance of how you're going to get to shore when you're at anchor.  But when you’re out cruising, your dinghy is so crucial!  We now finally have a great RIB dinghy, an outboard engine that consistently works (knock wood), and a small rowing dinghy for those times that it doesn't, or those times where we simply feel like rowing.  Also, solar panels.  Our boat came with a wind generator, which has been great, but many times the wind completely dies.  Likewise, people with only solar panels bemoan cloudy days, which are often windy.  Diesel costs are higher than ever these days, not to mention you don't want to pollute, so definitely consider both wind AND solar power - they will pay for themselves quickly.

Q:  What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why

A:  We plan to continue doing this until it's not fun anymore.  Since we've had our baby boy, we're wondering how we'll feel when it comes almost time for him to go to school, but we have a few years to go before then, so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  We'll know when it's time for us to stop.

Q:  What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

A:  Well, one question we have for the world in general is where are all the younger cruisers?  Not that we don't love all the older friends that we've made, but the people we meet that are closer to our age (early thirties) are few and far between.  We hear that this wasn't the case 30, 40 years ago, that there were lots of lots of young people cruising then.  The same generation that was out cruising back then are the ones still out there doing it now!  What's up with our age group?  Where are they?! 

*Editor’s Note: Through my error SV Sarabande was asked to give a Newly Salted interview rather than an IWAC interview.