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Old 04-10-2013, 06:35   #1
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So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Well uhh, not really..... Just sort of ended up that way after I found there were usually big stretches of blue water in between where I was and where I wanted to be. Once I got started, it just seemed natural to keep moving onto the next adventure. After close to 30 years and 30,000 miles I decided to hang it up get rid of the Tripp 45 and swallow the anchor. Doesn't seem to have worked out too well as I am now refitting a recently acquired C-25 as a single hander sail far. As usual, (just like I want on my tombstone) "It seemed like a good idea at the time". And I do not want to spend another winter north of 27 degrees.

I am not really fond of the realities of long offshore passages. For me being there is way more fun than getting there. Not the 50 mile hop but the 1000 mile haul is the one that makes it a little tough to get off the dock sometimes. That being said, it's always worth it, and I don't seem to be able to hang it up.

Anyway, with that in mind I am posting a couple of articles I wrote several years ago. Friend of mine was editing a local (non-sailing) magazine, and bugged me about the "cruising life" until I gave up and wrote a two part series just to shut him up.

Please remember these articles were written to be humorous, but in my opinion do reflect some of the aspects of cruising that are not always covered in the mainstream articles. As Mr. Buffett said, "none of this is true, but I didn't have to make much up"

The articles follow as two separate posts to avoid the Great Wall of Text syndrome.

Fair winds and safe passage,

Cap' Couillon
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:38   #2
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So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser... (Part 1)

So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser?
(Part One of Two)


Throughout my years of cruising, one of
the recurring comments I get is, “I wish I could do
that.” Now while I will admit it is the only lifestyle I
can or would lead, it does require some serious
adjustments in attitude and expectations. Things
that are a huge problem ashore seem to
disappear, while many things you just take for
granted on land, become impossible underway.


It’s Not Like In The Brochure……


(Scene 1) A robin’s egg blue sea with a light chop, a
beautiful blond on the foredeck, palm trees in the
background, you’re sipping boat drinks, all while
making 7 knots in paradise.

(Scene 2) 6 to 8 foot confused seas blowing like stink, your crew (some dude in
dirty cutoffs and a 4 day beard) is cursing on the
foredeck while trying to douse the jib and you are
making 2 knots over the ground 400 miles offshore.

The first scenario is on the cover of
"Cruising Is A Wonderful Life" magazine. The second
is usually closer to the reality of making passage.
Those days of calm seas and light air can be found
on day trips between islands, or while making short
passages behind the reefs of Belize. But first you
have to get there. For instance, when and if I leave
the Savannah area this fall, I plan to head to Puerto
Rico. I could take “The Ditch” to South Florida; jump
over to the Bahamas on a good day, and island hop
down to the Mona Passage. That would be fun, but I would like to get there before
hurricane season arrives, and the money runs out,
so we will take the direct route.Pretty simple really,
head due east from Savannah for a hundred miles
or so, and then turn right. In 11 days or so, we
should be in the Mona Passage and then another
day or so, on to Salinas. Eleven days of sailing on
your ear in the open ocean. Interminable boredom
punctuated by moments of absolute terror.


If It Ain’t Broke, It Ain’t A Boat…..

Before we can make this wonderful
passage from Savannah to Puerto Rico the first
thing we have to do is get off the dock. Always the
most difficult part of the trip. Now a cruising sailboat
is always in a state of constant repair. Much worse
than a house, trust me. No matter how much time
or money you spend on maintaining your vessel
something will break every day. And that is just
while sitting still. Get underway where you can’t
get supplies, and the rig and gear are under
constant strain, it is not unusual to have something
break hourly. And remember, whatever spare
parts you bring will not be the ones you need.

Best you can do is spend all the money you can
(and some of what you can’t) on whatever you
think best, knowing that it won’t be enough
anyway. Remember, you might be a boat-bum if
you consider duct tape a long term investment.


Dear, We Need To Clean The Garage…..

Now that we have our huge cache of spare
parts, (none of which we will need, remember?) all
we have to do is find a place to stow them. “There
Is Never Enough Room” should be one of the laws
of the universe. Remember, we have to stuff
enough clothes, food, gear, spare parts, alcohol
(sailboat engines run on diesel, cruisers run on
alcohol), books, charts, instruments, tools, lines,
sails, life raft, propane tanks, spare water and fuel,
etc. etc. etc. to last a minimum of 6 months to a
year into a space the size of a one car garage
(with no attic).

It can be done, but you must
remember what ever you need will be at the very
bottom of the locker you stowed it in. Underway,
everything has to be stowed in a locker, rack, or
tied in (this includes you and the crew). Otherwise,
it will end up on the cabin sole, or over the side.


I Must Confess, I Need Some Rest……

Having outfitted your beautiful boat to
resemble a cross between a Grapes of Wrath
pickup truck and a gypsy wagon, we are off the
dock and underway (only two weeks late).
You are now ready to drop into the routine of day-to-day life
underway.

If you’re fortunate enough to have
another fool onboard, it means you can get at least
4 to 6 hours of sleep between your watches. Sure
you can, as long as nothing breaks, the weather
doesn’t change, and your crew remembers how to
check their position. So having had 2 hours of
sleep behind the lee-boards of the pilot berth (two
sail changes and a reef in 2 hours) you stagger
into the cockpit after having spent 10 minutes
making a pot of coffee and transferring it into a
thermos without spilling half of it down your pants
(always wear your oilies when making hot stuff)
and immediately sit down in a puddle of your
crewmate’s spilled beer.

After half an hour, deal with leaking autopilot
or other problem of your choice.
Keep constant watch for enormous ships
attempting to reduce you to flotsam. Check position
and work your way below decks to mark on chart.
Stay awake. Go below and thrash around in the
dark looking for peanut butter crackers without
waking crewmate. Put flying fish in pilot berth to see
expression on crewmate’s face.

Repeat for 4 to 6 hours, crawl into a damp pilot berth that smells like
feet. Awaken 1 hour later as crewmate returns
flying fish to berth. Repeat four to six times daily for
11 to 13 days.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:40   #3
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So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser... (Part 2)

So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser?
(Part Two of Two)

So last month we decided we wanted to go cruising
and went through all the necessaries to make
repairs, get loaded (take that how you want), get off
the dock, and spend 11-14 days of wonderful open
ocean passage. According to the charts, the GPS, a
little dead reckoning, and some old fashion luck we
are approaching our planned destination, or
somewhere like it.

Land Ho! or Mañana Doesn’t Mean Tomorrow, It Just Means Not Today…

Having reached our destination or at least where we
think we are, its time to prepare for landfall.

First thing is, no matter how much you try to time your
landfall for first light when it’s easy to see where you
are, that is not going to happen. Usually you will
arrive around midnight in a nice 4-foot swell. Of
course the channel markers (if there are any) are
not going to be exactly where it shows on the chart,
the light house at the end of the harbor is dark or
has flat disappeared, and there is no moon to help
out either.

Now we could just take our chances and
go for it, but as I am somewhat averse to leaving
large important chunks of the hull behind on a reef,
we will just wait it out until dawn. Time passes quickly
when you’re having fun, right? Besides, it will give
you time to make sure you can get the diesel
started, dig out the courtesy flag for whatever
country you are arriving in (you did remember that
one, didn’t you?) get together the ships papers,
crew lists, passports and other miscellaneous and
sundry that you won’t have enough of anyway.

Six hours later and the sun comes up to show you
you’re right where you thought you were all along.
Good deal!! Sail on into the harbor, raise the
courtesy flag and the quarantine flag and drop the
hook. Hop in the dink and head for shore to find
customs and immigration.

Depending on where you are, you may also have to find the Office of Public
Health, the Dept of Agriculture and who knows what
other offices and officials. Of course, these will all be
within a block or two of each other, right? Wrong!
You will be lucky if they are in the same town. Having
located where you need to go, be prepared for the
fact that at least one or possibly all of the officials will
not be available today but will be there mañana.

Remember, no matter what they taught you in high
school Spanish, mañana does not mean tomorrow.
It just means not today. Eventually you will get
where you need to be, and having provided all the
necessary documentation you will be free to return
to your ship, release the crew dogs from bondage
and head ashore for that cold beer and hot shower.


¿Dónde Es Baño?…..

Having arrived in paradise looking for that cold beer
and hot shower, you may find that language is a bit
of a barrier. After cruising for a while, your language
skills will improve but having a bit of knowledge
ahead of time is an immense help. My Spanish isn’t
too bad, my French is rusty but understandable
(usually) and I know enough Dutch to find a beer
and the bathroom.

It helps to learn the essentials. If
you can find a beer, the customs house and a
bathroom, you are pretty well set up. Most of the
locals will speak more English than you speak
whatever, and will be glad to try to help you out. Of
course, this is after they get off the ground from
laughing when you explain you want to buy the
Mayor’s underwear, rather than the cold beer you
were really looking for.


Wheedle Mooch and Connive….

Having spent some time in town, caught up on our
rest, and decided what we want to see and what
needs to be repaired and restocked on the boat, it
is time to find our taxi driver.

A good taxi driver is essential to any
arrival in a strange port. If possible
get a recommendation from a cruiser who has been
there a while, but if not, get a taxi driver anyway.

This guy can get anything and knows where
everything and everyone is. Need a machine shop?
No problem mon. Need a sail repaired? No
problem mon. Need a left-handed thingamabob?
No problem mon, my cousin make you one
mañana. Remember, you’re not in Kansas anymore
Dorothy and you may need to be a bit resourceful in
obtaining parts and supplies. Lots of trades and
such will come to pass in order to find what you
need. And the guy driving around in a 1952 Ford
sedan with a John Deer tractor motor will probably
be able to help you out.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish……

So we have been here for six weeks now, been to
most of the bars at least twice, and have the boat in
as good as shape as we think we need to for the
next passage. Have met the people, seen the
sights, and it is time to move on.

One last round of officials (easier now that we have a good driver), pay
off our tab at the local cantina, and head out. Get
ready to do the whole thing over again.

And after reading all the reasons why not to do it, why would
we do it again anyway? Because after all the
inconveniences, there is nothing else like it in the
world. The freedom to sail to strange places, meet
new people and explore new ways of looking at the
world, without the restrictions of just being a tourist.
Being able to live within, and enjoy the local
economy and customs. Just the sheer joy of being
alive in a new and different situation and location.
Some say, “Attitude is the difference between ordeal
and adventure.” I believe they are right. If you have
the attitude, it is one heck of an adventure.


Fair Winds and Safe Passage
Cap' Couillon
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:11   #4
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Thanks for posting a story about "real cruising!"

No wine and cheese huh.............?

Part one was great....I'll get to Part 2 in a bit.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:32   #5
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Awsome!! I really enjoyed it. You should put together a blog or web site. You've got a way with words. -Tom
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:42   #6
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Great stuff. I'll be "borrowing" that mañana definition
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:04   #7
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

you forgot the part about fuel and/or water only being available every third Tuesday form someone's cousin, only he can't do it this week.....and you want to leave when????????

but I loved it!
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:10   #8
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Thumbs up on the Awesome and Great.....:-)
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:34   #9
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Glad y'all enjoyed it.. Planning a site to follow the refit and subsequent voyages of the Solitare.

I am starting it mañana.

Cap' Couillon
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Old 06-10-2013, 22:43   #10
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Good stuff!
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Old 06-10-2013, 23:16   #11
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

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Old 07-10-2013, 03:07   #12
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

not at all like sailing in Essex!
and the locals even speak the same language..........

just to go sailing one must first navigate a drying muddy creek for 5 miles at the top of the tide,then face 4-5 knot tidal currents,overfalls,bitter cold winds,drying shoals,fog and lots of traffic!

your account sounds like bliss personified!
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:40   #13
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pirate Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
not at all like sailing in Essex!
and the locals even speak the same language..........

just to go sailing one must first navigate a drying muddy creek for 5 miles at the top of the tide,then face 4-5 knot tidal currents,overfalls,bitter cold winds,drying shoals,fog and lots of traffic!

your account sounds like bliss personified!
Yup... some guys don't know when their well off...
Try finding a bar in Essex that'll stay open as long as your spending...
Sounded good fun tho'...
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:49   #14
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Yup... some guys don't know when their well off...
Try finding a bar in Essex that'll stay open as long as your spending...
Sounded good fun tho'...
they still remember the war there!,though essex girls are something else
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:34   #15
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Re: So Ya Wanna Be A Cruiser...

That's the reason I'd rather fly to a destination, then locally enjoy it, rather than spend much of my vacation time getting there and back. Sailing vast oceans is not for me; flying is.

Mauritz
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