Miss Fe at 3 months

Welcome Miss Fe to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.

Paul & Lindsey

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?
Paul: YouTube gave us the impression that there are a lot of young people cruising. In reality, we don’t see very many people our age doing this sort of thing. Most people we see cruising are either retirement or early retirement age. When we do see young people they typically started cruising before establishing their careers. We haven’t really met anybody that has taken a break from traditional career paths like we have. Everybody we have met has been extremely nice though. Some people go cruising for the isolation but we really enjoy meeting new people, so if you see us out there stop by and say hi!

Lindsey: I had read a lot of stories that made it sound like every anchorage turned into a party or a potluck – as if you’d show up and instantly get a call over the radio to come join whatever is going on.  I have no doubt that these anchorages and people are out there, but like in normal life, most of the time you either end up chatting with the people you run into when you’re out and about (in the dinghy, on the beach or in the bar), or you really need to make the effort if you want to meet people other ways.

What is your biggest lesson learned? 
Paul: Can’t honestly say I’ve learned this lesson cause I will probably test it from time to time but it would be not to go to windward in bad weather. The sea is stronger than we are and it will win every time.  What’s comfortable on a down wind run can be downright treacherous close hauled. And motoring to weather, forget about it. Motoring is for when it’s calm, not for bashing into big seas. Sailboats just don’t have big enough engines to motor into weather.

Lindsey: What seems difficult or impossible now won’t stay that way. I mean this both physically and mentally. Like using the manual windlass – it’s amazing how quickly your body goes from feeling that pulling up 100 ft of chain is exhausting to feeling like it was barely a workout. On the mental side, things like route planning and navigation were overwhelming when added into everything else we had to think about as newbies, but now those things take a lot less time and we have a better awareness of the details without it feeling like a mental overload.

What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable? 

Paul: I had a job out of college sampling people’s water prior to natural gas drilling. One cold day in December I was in the house of this super nice elderly couple. While chatting the lady mentioned it was their 70th wedding anniversary. “Wow,” I remarked, “Whats your secret?” She leaned in real close and said,”If you’re gonna make it work, it takes a lot of give on both sides.”  I think this is the key is to both marriage and cruising; it takes a lotta give. The cruising lifestyle has no room for rigid and stubborn people; flexibility and balance are key to enjoying things.

Lindsey: A balance of enjoying the place you’re visiting and doing normal at-home things. It’s hard to remember sometimes this isn’t a normal “vacation” where I only have a few days to see and do everything. It’s ok to stay on the boat for the day and just read, or do boat projects, or watch a movie – so make sure you are prepared to keep yourself busy (or not busy if you prefer) on these days. Recharge and then go hiking and snorkeling the next day.

What’s the most challenging thing about living on a sailboat? 
Paul: For me its the weather. On the whole, the weather has been spectacular, but there are some thunderstorms that come through on a fairly regular basis that can pack a real wallop. A lot of people stay at a dock or pick up a mooring for most of their season, but that’s not us. We like exploring, so to get to the best beaches, fishing and diving we are often times anchoring in less protected areas. We drew the short straw the other night when our anchor came loose. It was pitch black, the rain was horizontal, the anchorage was tight and there were lots of other boats around. There was also crazy thunder and lightning everywhere around us. We had no choice but to go on deck and reset the anchor in our underwear.

Lindsey: Hitting my head on things, knocking objects onto my feet, having to climb over another person to get into bed. As a short and small person, I’ve never had to be all that cognizant of my overhead and surrounding space, but now that I am living in a much smaller area, I am constantly finding the main hatch with my head and whatever is on the counter with my elbows. I’ve gotten a lot better than when we first bought the boat, but self-inflicted injuries are still a near-daily occurrence.

Whats the best thing about living on a sailboat?
Paul: For me, without a doubt, it’s the people we get to meet.  From the moment we bought the boat we have been surrounded by nice people with great stories. There is a real sense of community in the boating world. If you see us out and about say hi, we don’t bite.

Lindsey: Getting to sail! I’ve really liked sailing since the first time we took lessons, and now that we’re in the Bahamas, we’ve had some really great sails on windy days with easy routes. And since this is a full-time gig, for now, we don’t have to play the awful game where we count how many boat weekends are left before winter and divide those up between boat project days and sailing days.

Do you ever get seasick?
Paul: I have in the past but not on Miss Fe. The first line of defense is picking good weather windows and staying hydrated. Though we didn’t have enough wind to sail the Gulf Stream, putting the sails up makes the boat much more smooth and easy on the stomach. We do carry a number of OTC and prescription drugs to help combat it. I personally take scopolamine patches as a preventative, but it’s a very unusual drug with some weird side effects.  Mahina Expeditions has a great article on seasickness worth a read. We apply most of their advice and have had good luck so far.

Lindsey:  I felt queasy on the Gulf Stream crossing, I think because it was rockiest at night, with no moon so I couldn’t concentrate on any visuals. There are always moments down below, if the boat is rocking, where I suddenly feel off if I’m trying to do too much while facing different ways (like digging through the bottom of the fridge, then facing the opposite way at the stove, then facing backward at the sink).

Do you catch a lot of fish?

Paul: I wouldn’t say the fishing has been great but we always seem to catch something when we go out. Haven’t had very good luck locating good-sized fish as they seem to be in deeper water and the geography here makes it very hard for us to get out far enough offshore in our dinghy to catch them.

Lindsey: I’m usually rigged up for smaller fish than Paul, so I tend to catch more. Ha! We’ve caught a bunch of little snappers and bait fish.

Are you running low on sunscreen?
Paul: Lindsey goes through the stuff like water. Thankfully we found a reasonable source that sells it by the gallon, no joke. In 3 months we have gone through a half gallon of this stuff Rocky Mountain Sunscreen – Kids, Gallon, SPF 50, Spray. We do take sun protection seriously and always have sunblock with us as well hats, buffs, and UPF rated clothing.

Lindsey: There’s probably not enough sunscreen in the world for me. There’s a reason my nickname is “pants-on-the-beach!”

As you started cruising, what transitions did you find most difficult?
Paul: Due to the location of the boat and its proximity to our jobs, I spent a lot of long nights away from Lindsey working on the boat. It wasn’t easy and isn’t something I would want to do again, but it got us here. Downsizing and moving out of our apartment was also particularly challenging. The best thing we did was move out of our apartment and downsize to move in with family 6 months ahead of living on the boat. Still rough but it was less of a shock to our systems.

Lindsey: I think it’s hard to always be around people who don’t really know you. It’s fun to meet new people, but since it’s our first season out and we’re constantly moving, it’s ONLY meeting new people. We are meeting people we will stay in touch with and will see again, but until then, I miss the experience of having enough time to bond with people.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?  
Lindsey: I’ll let Paul answer this one, but I just want to say that Paul generally does what he says he’s going to do, and whenever he gets into something, he really gets into it. If you think what he is saying sounds crazy and like he’ll never do it, you don’t know Paul.

Paul: I’m going to leave financials out of this because I feel that's its own post but I got the idea while watching the documentary Maidentrip on Netflix one night in August a few years back. After watching I looked and Lindsey and said, “This girl did it right! If a 16-year-old girl can go around the world, we can at least make it to the Bahamas on a boat. Besides we can take the ICW and not even have to sail most of the way!” I  next did some more research and scoured the internet to find out how much it would cost. Lindsey is naturally suspicious of everything, so I knew I would need to make a strong case that this was financially feasible. That’s when I found the Bumfuzzle blog. Lindsey and I both read every entry for their circumnavigation, which gave us a big confidence boost. Probably about 3 months had gone by and Lindsey, while somewhat onboard with the idea, was not very sure about it since she had never actually sailed before. Logically thinking, I said we could take some ASA (American Sailing Association) courses in the summer. Over the winter I read every how-to boat book I could find and by spring we were on the Delaware River learning to sail in ASA 101. After the first 2 day course, Lindsey wanted a small boat of her own, so we searched Craigslist on the drive home and two days later we were proud owners of an AMF Alcort 14 catamaran. We sailed the cat in a nearby state park over the summer.  We took ASA 103 later in the summer, and in the fall we stumbled upon Miss Fe. She was the first big boat we seriously looked at and seemed to fit the bill for what we wanted at a price we could afford so we bought her. Those ASA courses didn’t do a very good job of preparing us, especially since there was no wind during either course but we managed to move the boat up the bay. Thankfully after re-rigging the boat we hired our riggers Walden Rigging to take us out and show us how to sail our boat in some proper wind. Additionally, I raced a summer on the Chesapeake with the totally awesome crew of Split Decision. To sum it all up, we set our minds to the dream and just refused to quit.
Posted on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 by  |