Muskoka at 11 months

Welcome Muskoka to the ranks of the Newly Salted!

Hello, we are Laurie and Scott, a Canadian couple from Vancouver Island, Canada. We are cruising on S/V Muskoka, a 2013 Lagoon 400 S2 catamaran. We left Parksville, BC July 21, 2016, so have been out for almost a year. We have cruised down the west coast, joined the Baja Ha-Ha to Cabo San Lucas and then entered the Sea of Cortez in November, which we have explored extensively, including the North Sea with it's extreme tides and fast currents. We are presently in San Carlos during hurricane season and will explore the Mexican mainland next season with plans to cross to the Marquesas March of 2018. Our long term plans are a circumnavigation at a very leisurely pace of 10 years (9 to go!). We can be contacted on our YouTube channel "Off the Starboard Hull" or Facebook .

Tell me your favourite thing about your boat.

Space, room to move, comfort. We have 620 square feet of living space with plenty of storage. Since we both have sold our houses with no storage, we carry everything we own. When sailing, we only heel a maximum of 5 degrees so we do not have to tie things down. There is occasional "hobby horsing" with large swell with short intervals between waves, but generally, the comfort level is high. The washer/spin dryer is a close second.

Tell me your least favourite thing about your boat. 

The cost. As we bought our boat new 3 years ago, the initial investment including taxes and transport was huge. However, return on investment for this type of boat on resale is expected to be good.

What do you enjoy about cruising that you didn't expect to enjoy? 

The people. Fellow cruisers are unfailingly friendly but the warmth, helpfulness and kindness of the Mexican people surprised us. We have had a stereo system and air conditioning installed and bottom painted in La Paz. In all cases, the work was clean, high quality and timely. Early payment and tips were discouraged and the pleasant disposition of these people was universal in all instances. Even an encounter with the police when a one way street sign was missed was handled politely with a "precaution", the officer had only the intent to inform, not reprimand.

What did you dislike about cruising that surprised you? 

Humidity, bugs, poor or absent internet. We were not so surprised about the heat as much as the humidity. There is a good reason that a siesta is observed here mid day. Air conditioning on the dock and a pleasant wind at anchor are both welcome. Biting insects are present in some anchorages with the surprise presence of bees seeking fresh water in others. The Sea of Cortez has intermittent internet at best with a total lack of cell service in the northwest part of the Sea. Posting our video blogs became impossible for months at a time.

How did you gain offshore experience prior to leaving? 

VICE. We are members of the Bluewater Cruising Association with chapters in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Calgary. This included a group called Fleet, people with the intention of leaving to go offshore within 2 years. They meet twice a month with informative topics, presentations and courses presented by Doners - those that have already been offshore. One event was called VICE - Vancouver Island Cruising Experience. It is an organized yearly event in June (longest days of the year) with 5 boats in 2016 which headed out from Victoria BC to sail 2 days out into the Pacific Ocean and then return. It was an invaluable experience in getting used to the Pacific Ocean swells, experimenting with crew, a watch schedule and seasickness remedies.

What type of watch schedule do you normally use while offshore? 

4-5 hour shifts at night. Since we prefer to sail without crew, we have developed a schedule that works for the two of us. However, the longest passage that we have done so far is 3 nights, so on longer passages, we may switch it up. We find 3 hour shifts do not allow enough quality sleep time. After dinner, Scott takes a shift until midnight while Laurie takes a nap. Then Laurie takes charge until 4-5 am. During the day, Scott is usually in charge unless he asks Laurie to take over, as needed.

What are your impressions of the cruising community? 

Very social. We have found  the cruising community to be friendly, fun, active, inclusive and helpful. We were surprised to have a very active social life with dinners, hikes, runs, walks, workouts, bike rides and shopping expeditions with other like minded cruisers. We spent the majority of our time in the Sea of Cortez with 1-2 buddy boats - a great way to share our experience.

What is the hardest thing about cruising? 

Relationship 24/7. The most challenging thing about the cruising lifestyle is being in relatively close quarters with your partner 24 hours a day. When we are at anchor, getting off the boat requires a Dinghy, SUP or Hobie ride (or in warmer waters, a swim) to shore. When at the dock, it is easier to leave to do separate activities or errands. Laurie runs every morning - a great way to explore the area and get much needed exercise. Scott immerses himself with boat projects. We have an extensive library of books on our ereaders. At night, movies and games are a welcome distraction. With a larger boat, sometimes we do not see each other for several hours. Patience, tolerance, positive communication, quickly forgiving and forgetting any heated words and being grateful for the precious moments we share helps keep things at an even keel.

What is the next piece of gear you would add for free? 

Parasailor. However, at $10,000, this easy to use downwind sail with a vent is not one we have chosen to purchase yet.

What are the most common misconceptions about catamarans? 

Point of sail into weather and dock availability. We are commonly asked if we need to take a wider tack into weather compared to our monohull counterparts. In our experience, if the wind is over 10 knots, we can match most other boats at 38-39 degrees into the wind without losing speed. However, with light winds, performance suffers. Our boat is heavily loaded (35,000 pounds) so acceleration is not as snappy as when she was unloaded. For our trip so far, we have had absolutely no trouble finding dock space and only have prebooked once - for Marina La Paz. Most of the time we are charged only for our length as shallower areas, end ties and side ties are the best spots for a catamaran. At most, we were charged 1.5 times a monohull, but that was only once on our trip. Another note, the increased cost of a catamaran is largely compensated by the high resale value which is a great return on our investment. It is definitely the right choice for us.
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 by  and tagged   |