As I go back through my old posts each week as I pick out the next volume of Throwback Thursday, I get a little chuckle out of how much our lives, and we ourselves, change year to year. Our experiences, our expectations, and our thoughts on different aspects of cruising. What my opinion was a few years ago has definitely changed on a few things, yet sometimes I nod my head and say to myself, ‘Yes, exactly! I still feel that way!’.
Back in early 2014 I had done a question and answer post on some of the most popular question we get asked, and also a few specific ones posed to us on our Facebook page when I posted we were answering anything you wanted to ask. Just for fun one evening I was going through that post again and the statements above really hit me. Some things are so certain for us that they could be etched in stone, yet for other items we’ve either just had the opportunity to experience so much more since then, or our view as we’ve grown older has just shifted.
So, since I’ve been without my usual computer lately and I’ve needed a post to go up without the ability of editing new photos or the luxury of easily typing on a keyboard (this post comes to you after about a week of sticking my fingers at a touch pad), I thought I’d go back and revisit those questions from 30 months ago to see just how much has changed in that time.
You can find the original post and answers here.
What has been the most jaw dropping experience with an animal/fish/bird, ect?
Wow, it took a few years, but we’ve finally begun having our animal experiences. Now that I have a few to pick from, I’d have to say it was the time that Meinke whales were swimming right next to the boat a few hundred miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Literally within touching distance from us, this pod spent a good 30 minutes watching us in the cockpit as we watched them. Coming in a not too distant second was the escort of saddleback dolphins we had on our way into Madeira.
How long do you imagine you’ll cruise?
Our answer used to be ‘until the money runs out’, but now I think it has turned into ‘as long as we’re still enjoying it’. Sure, the money may run out before that happens, but I don’t think we have any plans of just up and leaving the lifestyle because of that.
Now that this time is actually coming upon us, we’ve had to give some serious consideration to how we’ll fill the kitty again. One thing we’ve both agreed on is we have spent way too long in Florida and we plan to make our escape the first chance we get. We thought crewing as deckhands or stewards on the mega yachts of the Caribbean could be a good source of money (as hard as the work is), but we doubt they would let us bring Georgie along for days or weeks at a time. So the plan at the moment (although its apt to change) is to get ourselves to the USVIs where a work visa is not required, and see what kind of work we can pick up there.
What’s your favorite island?
Madeira. Not only did this place become a front runner as our favorite island, but it now tops the charts as our favorite all over destination as well. We came upon it after one of the slowest and draining passages we’ve ever made, but even if it had only been a day hop over, I doubt we could have been disappointed. Arriving from the water are cliffs that plunge 700 directly to the water, yet terra cotta roofs line the hills between peaks and valleys. The town of Funchal we stayed in was incredibly well kept and just stunning. All of the sidewalks were patterned in black and white stone, while restaurants and bistros called out from each corner. Nothing about this area felt commercial, and even the chain grocery stores still had their little charms.
There are parks galore, filled with flowers and benches, perfect for overlooking the sea. Public transportation is very easy through their bus system, and even just sitting in the seat while staring at the views out your window as you circle the island is worth getting on alone. Although there are also many resorts that cater to the higher class, everything feels very open and accessible. There are black sand beaches for laying out and numerous trails for hiking mountains and greenery. Plus, it’s actually cheap! Cheaper than being in the US! We loved our time there and it was very hard for us to leave when we did eventually need to move on.
Do you feel your boat is big enough for the two of you to live on?
The last time I answered this question we were on Serendipity, and at that time, she was enough for us. And as I mentioned in the post where we purchased Daze Off, we were never openly searching for a new boat, we just came across a deal that was too good to pass up. Or so it seemed at the time. We never had any idea we’d be spending this long fixing her up.
With that being said, I’ll answer this question the best I can at the moment. Our new boat is obviously not done, which means we are not out cruising on her yet, and therefore don’t know exactly how she’ll suit all our needs. The extra space is already very apparent though, and I think she’ll be the perfect floating home for us when we’re finished. Fingers crossed that’s not too far down the road though!
What is your favorite thing about sailing?
Sailing or cruising? We’ve found over the years they are actually two very different things. We love crusing for the fact we get to bring our home with us, so wherever we find ourselves we always have everything we need. It also gives us a sense of stability to have this one constant in our lives no matter what part of the world we happen to be in. Imagine being in a new country every few weeks yet still getting to go home every night. It’s an amazing feeling.
As far as the sailing itself goes, I’m still going to stand by my old statement. (The sun on my face, a slight breeze through my hair, and getting into port. True blue sailors, we are not. I guess that’s just something you learn along the way. Or maybe it’s that passages are usually nothing like pleasure cruises on Lake Michigan.)
Passages are not always pleasurable, but sometimes you do get those perfect days. I do love sailing for those instances when the wind, waves, and current on your side. When you feel at one with nature and the empowerment of harnessing the wind to get you from one destination to the next.
The last thing, which I think hits both lists, is the opportunity to visit those rarely explored places that most people don’t see because they’re only accessible by water.
So far, is there anyplace you’ve visited that is a must to go back to sometime?
The list keeps growing and growing. We’ve found we tend to leave a piece of our hearts in so many of the places we visit. We’d love to go back to Cuba for it’s beauty and authenticity. Guatemala had it’s rolling green mountains, friendly locals, and very affordable pricing. Bermuda was as picturesque as a postcard, and Horta had it’s European feel with stunning views overlooking Pico.
Maderia was still the most breathtaking landfall we’ve ever made and gave us the perfect mixture of city living and striking vistas. The Canary Islands held infinite amounts of diversity, and the Virgin Islands contain perfect tradewinds and quick and easy hops from island to island.
It would be hard for me to leave any of these of the list because I truly want to visit each and every one again in my future. I’m also looking forward to adding
What are some of the things that annoy you most about living on a 34 ft boat?
No longer in 34 feet! And boy what a difference 3 ft in length and 12 inches in beam will do for space. Since we did spend another year on Serendipity after writing the original answer though, I’ll add on to it.
(Old) Surprisingly, not as much as there used to be. I’ve even made peace with the fact that all the contents of my chill box will. make their way to the companionway steps while I’m rooting around for items in there, since when the chillbox is open, I have 50 sq inches of available counter space. There’s still little things that get on my nerves, like having to shower in the cockpit when it’s anything but hot out, finding a necessary tool in our completely unorganized tool bag, or pulling out 15 items first to get to my can of diced tomatoes lodged near the bilge.
Once I made peace with (most) of those qualms though, here were a few other things that still bothered me until we sold her. This is a silly one, and I know I’m being girly about it, but the fact that all my clothes were shoved up in the v-berth in a couple of zippered camping bags used to drive me mad. Not only would I have to wedge myself into the space behind the door just to access that area, but I would have to unload so many things that were jammed into that open locker space just to get a bag out. And if it happened to be dark out? Forget about it. Problems with water finding it’s way to the light on that side of the boat meant it was never on, and I’d have to literally use a head lamp just to rummage through my bag of clothes just to find the item I was looking for.
On the new boat I looooove that I have a clothing cabinet out in the middle of the salon which is always flooded in daylight, and even if I have to pull out a few layers of clothes to reach what is in the back, it’s still a much easier job than I used to have.
How often are you at anchor vs in a marina?
We anchor out whenever and wherever we can, but after leaving the Caribbean we found out that isn’t always possible. Upon arriving in Bermuda for our 10 day stay there on our Atlantic crossing we were so happy there were spots to anchor out as we thought we’d be forced into an expensive marina. Once we got to the Azores though, there were literally no spots for us to anchor in the towns we were visiting because the island groups is an archipelago in the middle of the ocean with no reefs, and water depths plunging from 30 ft to 600 ft in just a few seconds. Because of that we were forced into a marina during our entire stays in Horta and Ponta Delgada, about 7 weeks total. We thought we’d have the ability to anchor once we arrived to Madeira, but it turns out that charter boats take up the entire anchorage, and even though we tried our best, we couldn’t manage to find a spot that would keep us from swinging into them. Another 3 weeks spent in a slip.
Arriving to the Canaries was our first sources of anchorages on that side of the pond, although from what we’ve read and heard, they’re quickly disappearing or being turned into mooring fields. Luckily the only time we had to head into a slip there was to wait out a terrible storm where we needed the break walls of the marina to keep out the heavy swell.
Our entire time over there we longed for the wide availability of anchorages the Caribbean holds, and truth be told, is part of the reason that crossing an ocean, again, was so tolerable to me after just having done it. I knew what was waiting at the other end. Crystal clear waters over shallow sandy bottoms that allowed us the peace of swinging on the hook.
How’s Georgie doing?
This question originally came about because we almost got rid of Georgie in Guatemala because she couldn’t seem to stand living on the boat. Once she had a taste of land life and freedom, it was like a prison sentence to get her back on the boat each night. After a stint of us leaving her to be watched for six weeks in Guatemala by a friend, and beginning to travel on the boat once more, she was as happy as could be and it was like we had a brand new, cheerful cat in our lives.
Since we’ve been living on the hard for the past 15 months though, you can tell Georgie misses life on the water. We let her outside every day on her leash and harness, where she’ll watch all the happenings in the work yard from the shade of the trees outlining us, and occasionally chase a random gecko that crosses her path. Whenever we’re leaving for a few days though, we bring her to our friend Ellen’s boat in the water where she can not run fast enough to get on deck. In short, I think she’s tolerating this pseudo life on land, but she’s just as excited to get back to the water as we are.