What is cruising?
For us it is living permanently on board for years and sailing to different places. The transformation from land life to boat life and vice-versa is hard and emotional. Sea life is our preferred way of living. You can be a cruiser for a month, six months, a year. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is to have a go and do what suits you, not what everyone else thinks you should be doing.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Can you spend weeks at a time with your partner in a confined space?
Can you monitor your fresh water supply and use it sparingly?
Can you fix things while out at sea?
Can you keep calm when all hell breaks loose in storm and do what needs to be done?
Of course, moving onto a vessel full time does take some adjustment; just as moving from a boat back into a house. You need to let it take the time it takes, in other words be patient. You will become an expert on stowing and managing with what you have. Space is a major factor initially but eventually you work and live within what you have without a second thought. You won’t be able to have all your possessions with you that you may have in a house. How many times have you heard and read about unloading what you don’t need. De-cluttering is very liberating and necessary for on board life.
If you have not sailed before it is an alien environment. When we were searching for our first boat Noel thought I was bored, I was simply over-whelmed with all the different boats, systems and new nautical language. I didn’t understand what I was viewing and when the broker and Noel discussed boats, I felt like they were speaking a foreign language, which to a degree, they were.
The movement of the vessel at sea is three-dimensional. You will learn how to move with co-ordination and balance – your balance will improve in other areas of your life too – most recently we have taken up horse riding (again) and our balance on horseback is natural and easy. (https://jackieparry.com/category/on-the-hoof/)
What is the difference between a live-aboard boat, blue water cruiser and a coastal boat?
They can be one and the same thing. A blue water cruiser means it is good for crossing oceans, so a sturdy, well-equipped, heavy displacement and self-sufficient boat are the key items here. A coastal sailboat is usually lighter, used at weekends and not fitted out for easy long distance miles.
In addition, a live-aboard boat allows you to carry your day-to-day living. But you will have to adapt some things, like not leaving all the lights on, TV in the background and maybe not dancing so vigorously (less space!). On a lighter boat, you will have less storage. Overloading a light displacement vessel has significant impact on her performance.
What is the difference between a monohull and a catamaran?
Basically, you can carry more on monohulls. On catamarans, you cannot load them down, you have to keep them light. Some people prefer catamarans as there is more room on board, they are faster (if not carrying too much), however if they are flipped, they do not right themselves. Monohulls are more forgiving with load (still watch your water line!) and will turn back upright if knocked over.
How do I find a good sea boat?
Do your research. Buy Cruising Helmsman magazine, Cruising World magazine and all boating magazines in your area. Read, read read. Walk around docks & marinas, ask cruisers, attend sail meetings, and join clubs. Generally, they are advertised as Blue Water sailing boats. They are normally heavy displacement. Strong hull, not necessarily fast, easy to handle. A boat that can handle ALL weather and allows you to carry more gear. Don’t rely on one person’s opinion – do your research.
What does it cost?
Firstly, an enormous quantity of money does not bring success at this lifestyle. This question is like asking how long is a piece of string. The amount of money you can spend on customising the boat for your needs, fitting out and maintaining a boat is totally limitless. On the flip side, we can live on far less than when we live on the land. Read our first conversation about buying a boat (and Noel’s brutal honesty!) in the Introduction to our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/sample??
I could spend weeks trawling through old bank statements to work out our costs. However, how we all live is different. What needs and necessities we want or crave are all different. The amount of money we spend on boat/equipment/repairs is different. I can only tell you how we lived cheaper on board than when we were in a house on land.
We cleared out our house, had no storage and no house to run therefore we did not have the regular bills to pay, such as rates, water, electric, phone, insurance and of course no mortgage or rent. We had no car to run and therefore no car insurance, registration, fuel, tyres, maintenance/repairs. Just add up the cost of running a house and a car and that is the first big saving you make. (Our land life is relatively simple to some, don’t forget to add in the sky TV and other luxuries you may have.)
- There are no household rates to pay – on a boat you can anchor for free 90% of the time.
- I calculated that to run a very small car (nearly new), was AUS$28 a day. Make that another saving.
- Entertainment becomes cultural treats, such as shopping in a market in Casablanca or Ecuador.
- Eating out is usually in very inexpensive restaurants at remote locations. (TIP: Don’t eat where the tourists eat, find where the locals eat – for more great tips see a sample of our Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
- With a good planning and research stocking up on food can be achieved at cost effective ports/countries.
- We completed one job a day on board, therefore our boat was always properly maintained. This can help avoid costs later down the line, if repairs have been left, they can snowball and end up costing a lot more.
Other considerations include:
- How good is the boat you started with?, how do you maintain your equipment/boat?
- Start with a good boat, maintain it, live simply and you can live very well on very little.
- Remember there are charges for entering countries and running repairs of your vessel.
- 99% of the time you do not pay for water (although if you are on a mooring or anchor you do have to carry every drop to your boat – unless you can catch water – (there are some great ideas on catching water in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
- LPG is relatively cheap. Kero and Metho are usually more expensive and harder to find.
- Food is relative to what you buy/eat, keep it simple and it is cheap.
- If you choose to stay in marinas, you will need more money.
- With a little effort and research, you can stay most places for nothing (on anchor). Therefore, invest in good anchor and rodes.
- Simplicity is the key: the fewer systems you have on board the fewer items that will need repair/maintenance.
- The simpler your diet the fewer dollars you spend.
- The less you ‘need’ the less you spend.
Basically, it is up to you.
However, living on board is certainly not free living in the monetary sense. You will always have maintenance and repair costs. If there is not a good anchor site available, you may have to use a marina. You will need fuel and you will find that some countries will charge you for water.
Clearing in charges
Repairs/maintenance, new equipment
Exchange rates and banks charges for international withdrawals
- Don’t rely on catching fish.
- Don’t think it is always cheap, easy or carefree – it can be, but it is a balance and compromises pop up everywhere.
- Maybe the novelty will wear off
- It’s not always easy – frightening experiences, boring experiences.
You soon learn not to sweat the small stuff, save the worry for when it’s really necessary!
Okay, I still hear you ask, well what does it cost?
It really does depend on your circumstances and your ability to manage money, your boat, lifestyle and contentedness.
It depends on:
- Where you are.
- Retired, retirement fund?
- Working as you go?
- Skills to use while sailing?
- Sold up?
What does the boat itself cost?
Again, how long is a bit of string?
The best advice here, is research, research, research. While sailboats vary dramatically in size, layout, design and price, after some in-depth researching you do create a ‘feel’ for the value presented. Sorry to harp on, but it is all about research. And to only consider the boat purchase cost on its own is foolhardy.
You can spend millions or a few thousand. Actually a few hundred, if you are willing to put in the hours to make it seaworthy! (plus many years!) It’s not just the initial purchase though. Boats have to be maintained constantly. The marine environment is extremely harsh. Without proper and frequent care, your boat can quickly become unseaworthy and the problems will spiral out of control – causing the costs to escalate out of control.
Everything that moves wears out and will need replacing eventually, this includes sails.
- Don’t forget you will want money for sightseeing. You may need to fly home. You may need insurance for hauling out if you don’t already have it (most marinas require insurance for using their facilities these days). Plus of course haul-out costs. In addition, health insurance or a contingency for medical emergencies is important too. You may need new sails, new steering gear . . (See Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ for great ideas on self steering gear).
How do I make a sailboat comfortable?
It all depends on what you consider is comfortable. Some people must have hot running water into their shower, an enormous bed and all mod cons in the galley. Others are happy with simple things like good lights (ie that work) and a stove that gets hot.
Most people like a fridge, but we’ve proven you can easily get along without one (on our first boat (Mariah II) we lived on board without a fridge for nine years). We’ve met people who wouldn’t leave port without a freezer.
Some might say a good engine is a comfort – it certainly is when you need it!
Then there is stability, size, layout, functionality, sailing ability. This list is endless.
- Make a list of what is important to you.
- Remember there will be at least one compromise.
- Of course, a boat is not like a house. But if you use your laptop a great deal, then you would want a comfortable chair and table that has considered ergonomics.
- Coupled with this you would want to think about powering the laptop (if you can’t use it, it will affect your comfort.)
- We like to be able to watch movies, so sitting comfortably for us in the evening is important.
- We like to have a good, solid table where we enjoy meals, good lighting. Likewise, a good bed is important. You need good rest, fatigue can become a safety issue.
- We don’t enjoy fretting over power, so we use good LEDs for power saving and have solar panels and wind generators. We still monitor power levels during the day.
- A functioning galley is important and heads that work well.
- Comfort, for me, means tidy. I feel bogged down when the boat is messy. “Comfort” is a personal choice.
What about space on board?
Yes, a boat is smaller but you do become accustomed to it. Think of your space as expanding not shrinking. LOA (length overall) means that your bed maybe smaller than the bed in a house and the galley has less worktop area. But really, your space is larger not smaller. With a good, seaworthy boat you have just opened up your space to endless possibilities. In marinas the dock space becomes an extension of your vessel. On anchor the space extends out to the dinghy, other boats, and your own personal swimming pool. At sea, your space is now the world.
What do I take?
Well, food and water obviously, but just as important is navigational equipment, don’t scrimp on charts, cruising guides, spare parts, sails, communication equipment including a VHF and SSB radio, Radar, Radar reflectors, flares, a 406 EPIRB, and of course a life raft and emergency ‘grab’ or ‘ditch’ bag.
Spare parts – could be endless, but think of all breakable parts. Impellors, motor belts, parts for pumps, steering equipment, sails, anchors, lines, medications, glasses, first aid, etc.
What works for one cruiser may not work for the next, the key is to research and match the functions to your requirements. (Our book, Cruisers’ AA lists lots of good ideas https://jackieparry.com/book/)
What nobody tells you
Saying goodbye to other cruisers regularly is hard
Life is different than land-life . . . but you still have to live with yourself!
Small confined space
Fraction of possessions
Forget a good night’s sleep when sailing – someone has to be on watch 24 hours a day (fatigue management for everyone on board is imperative).
More organised – can’t pop to the shops
More creative – become aware of how to keep food for longer and make different meals with same ingredients!
How wasteful you were when living on land!
Scary at times
Cruise long enough, bad weather will get you somewhere
Personal habits on view in a small boat
Pumping out at anchorage is illegal, but people will do it – not much fun if you are swimming at the time
Sex – Quiet sex if in quiet anchorage – sound carries fabulously on water!
You may have a shower on board, but underway you won’t be able to use it often!
You will make many sacrifices (leaving behind endless hot running water, friends, family, stability, knowing where the bank is.)
You will learn a multitude of good skills, mechanic, cook, electrician, cleaner, painter, carpenter, machinist . . . etc, (the list is endless!)
Your geography improves
Join an amazing community
Helps you find who you are and the cruising life shows you how to take time to live
You are in command of your time, not someone else
You are at the helm of your life, not someone else
You meet incredible people
What do I wear?
When sailing – in the tropics I wear nothing. Noel always covers up, his skin has had enough sun over the years. I am always in the shade or apply lots of sun-cream.
When in public I wear anything comfortable. Noel lives in cotton shirts with long sleeves and more often than not long pants, which he rolls up from time to time (mostly one leg is up and one down). He is very strict at protecting his skin. On the boat, unless I am fixing something or working in the engine room I live in bikinis, (always have the sarong ready for visitors), swimming costumes, t-shirts and shorts Anything cool, comfortable and loose fitting.
In colder climates I find layers important. Close knit wool jumpers, t-shirts, good socks, beanies (woolly hats) and sometimes gloves. Scarfs are important too. If you have your head and feet snug, the rest is easy. Many, thinner layers makes it easier to move around, change clothing and put weather gear over the top.
Of course you can experience extreme weather conditions within 24 hours. We always have extra warm clothes to hand when doing night watches. Other than that if we are in the tropics I put the ‘winter’ clothes in bags in the bottom of the wardrobe and vice versa. Learn to mix and match, you don’t have enough room for full wardrobe.
I do have some light dresses, which can be screwed up in a ball in the bottom of the wardrobe, simply shaken out when desired (I do actually hang them up). I do like to feel feminine sometimes so keep a small selection – always just casual and comfortable.
Footwear. Avoid high heels (why would you want to anyway?), blackened soles on deck and dirty shoes. TIP: Shoe selection is not just about comfort, you need a good pair of smart shoes for when you are invited out for that “special” event. Over time when cruising your feet may spread (you’ll have to read the book to find out why) Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ – 1,800 great tips, ideas and advice.
What women want (how do I convince my wife to go sailing?).
Think of her needs, too, as a woman. Comfort and safety come first. Buy Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ – this book has lots of help, guidance and ideas, much of which is aimed at women. If you want your partner to go sailing with you listen and address her concerns – even if they are not your concerns! Don’t scare her on the first few sails – take it steady!
What men want?
I asked Noel “what men want” and his answer was – “Peace and quiet”!!
When to leave?
NOW! Once your boat is seaworthy and you have all you need for a safe and comfortable voyage, don’t wait. You could spend your entire life and life’s savings buying and fitting equipment from marine shops, you’ve got to figure out when it is safe to go, what is necessary and what is just nice to have. To help make the right decision read our book – Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
There are plenty of books on the subject. We reckon 10ft per decade. So if you are 10 you want a sailing dinghy of ten feet. In your 20’s you can get by on a 27 ft, when you reach 30 you may want a bit more comfort and so on. It’s almost like a foot for every year of your life (up to about 50). However, larger boats can be more expensive (longer length=longer bill at marina), you may need more gear (longer rigging, larger sails).
We lived on board Mariah II for around nine years, she was 34ft. At the time she was plenty for us (in handling and space) and people would ask “you’ve been around the world in THAT boat?” It always made us feel better that we were the smallest at all the anchorages, we always thought bigger boats were too big to handle for two, more expensive etc. Now, several years on we have leapt up to 51’ (by accident really). Experience has altered our opinion. Pyewacket handles better than Mariah under sail and motor . . far easier to dock. As for reefing there is no difference, it is just as easy on Pyewacket as it was on Mariah . . . in fact in some cases it is less dangerous as Pyewacket has a kinder motion and bum bars to lean on (next to the mast). Costs, well of course marina fees (which we avoid where possible) are more, as is hauling out. But with hard work and constant maintenance, Pyewacket has not been significantly more expensive . . all in all an eye opener for us. I can manage all the reefing and even pole out on my own and we actually save in some areas. Pyewacket sails so much better to windward so we use far less diesel than we did on Mariah*. We have far more storage and we can carry incredible amounts of water, so it doesn’t matter that we don’t have a water-maker or will not see land for months. (I know, I know – it’s a sailboat, why do we run the engine? Well, at times there is no wind (or very little) and swells in the ocean, this can create a horrid motion on board, which is not only uncomfortable but damaging. As the boat rolls, the sails ‘slat’, or ‘bang’ from side to side as there is not enough wind to keep them full. This stress on the sails is very damaging and ultimately could end up costing you more than the diesel you use to counteract the rolling motion. At these times we would run the engine in very low revs, just enough to help keep the sails full and prevent the awkward motion).
Reviews of new boats in magazines look fantastic – lots of cabins, seats, galley benches, dining table, etc. All very nice, but think about what you have in your house and what you will fit on your boat. Yes, you do turf out a heap of stuff you simply don’t need (or learn to live without) when moving from house to boat. BUT you do need good storage space. Consider where the dinghy is going, the outboards. What about the Dive gear, the spares, the food, the linen, towels, toilet rolls, sails, ropes, clothes, beer, books, laptops and printers, charts, fenders, sewing machine, vacuum, cleaning gear, bathroom gear, shoes, dirty laundry . . . . . .
I can easily victualise the boat for 6 months. We spent a lot of money in Panama on food and drink and we had plenty left over when we reached Australia. We hardly spent any money in the Pacific Islands unless it was sightseeing, a treat or fresh food.
It works for spare parts too. For example when we found cheaper fuel filters, we could stock right up (prices can vary by 50 bucks each!). Any item we knew that we needed (or there was a good chance of us needing it), we stocked up, and down the line make great savings.
There is no ‘right’ kind or size of boat. Our preference is on the heavier side. As well as type, design, materials, think ‘layout’ as you are going to be living on this boat for some time. At times you simply cannot get off at sea and sometimes at port too! Think about when you are going to be on watch, one of our personal preferences is being able to lay down in the cockpit comfortably. If we are very tired during our night watch we take catnaps (with alarm set! – Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ contains great advice on this.
Which boat building material is better?
With a plethora of different boat materials, design, layout, length etc., Our best suggestion for which material to buy is to buy a boat built of material you like, or can handle working with. They all have their pros and cons (see boat build material in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/). There are used boats out there to suit any budget. Your boat becomes your world, town, village, home, sanctuary. There is no such thing as a perfect boat, you will always make at the very minimum one or two compromises when you make your purchase.
You do become accustomed to what you have. Our 34 footer was our world for nine years and we had no desire for a larger vessel. After a break from sailing (completing much commercial boat work) we wanted another sailboat and we did want something bigger – just to have something different. We had no notion of ending up with a 51 footer. We thought in the region of 40 foot was perfect, and for two people it probably is. However, Pyewacket came along, was priced right and she won our hearts.
When looking at boats you obviously see what needs doing, but start asking pertinent questions or thinking along the lines of what you don’t see. There are always hidden surprises! If you see a lot of work, that will only be a part of what actually is required.
All jobs on the boat take much more time than you think. Give a job a time, double it, then treble it and then you are nearly half way to estimating the time the job will take.
Rig – Different types of rig are linked with different types of boat. For example a schooner and a ketch have different aerodynamic properties, which make them more suitable to certain types of boating. A racing boat will have different aerodynamics than a cruiser. Ensure the rig is fitted according to the design of the boat.
Again, research and read. But think about how many people will be on board, can you handle the rig, what can you do to make it easier (see reefing downwind in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/). If there are two of you on board, when you are on watch alone, you are single-handing in effect. What if something happens to your partner?, can you handle the rig? Not just when there is a 15-knot breeze, your partner may be incapacitated in a storm (more likely for injuries), can you handle everything then?
Double mast rigs allow different sail plans
Schooner has beauty, but is it manageable?
Popular choices are sloop and cutter. Both our boats were cutter-rigged sloops which worked for us (furling jib, hanked-on staysail and full battened main).
Keel’s – Full keel: less manoeuvrability (wider turning circle, when applying astern propulsion it could go anywhere – probably into the wind), more stable. Take grounding better, can help protect prop from debris. Don’t point very well.
Fin keels: more on performance boats, more efficient, point better, less structurally sound, grounding could result in major damage.
And all that is in between: study, research and figure out what you want to do. If you just want to do bay sailing on a weekend you would want a fin keel. If you are serious about blue water cruising, think full keel, or something close to it.
There is plenty of advice around and a lot of heart and personal desires mix the information to a bundle of confusion. To see how we tackled it, incorporating our requirements, read our article “This Is It” in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/, this provides the details as to what we were looking for when buying Pyewacket II and how we did it.
Cockpit: as we said before, we like a cockpit we can lie down in for a brief rest (with alarm set if on watch). It also allows us both to be in the cockpit in bad weather or when towing and one of us can easily rest/sleep and be at hand. This provides comfort to us both. The one off-watch, knows what is going on all the time and can rest easier. The one on watch has the comfort of instant assistance. In hard weather, a person right with you is very reassuring.
Who does what on board?
Noel and I share most tasks. But in some areas we have different skills. Noel has a more technical mind in maintenance and repairs, for me it was a huge learning curve, but now I can hold my own. We share fuel and oil filter changes, repairing heads, hoses. He does more engine work (although I muscle in to learn more when I can), I do more painting, I have a very steady hand. I do more cooking although Noel does his share, washing up is shared, I do more cleaning, but that is more choice than anything – I am quite fussy at tidiness.
I do more computer work, technical stuff (being a technophobe it is quite a struggle!), I do all paperwork and communication for businesses. We both do navigation, reading, preparing etc and both do about the same amount of radio work and research on destinations.
‘Why didn’t you go there?’/’do that?’/’get this?’ And ‘that’s impossible’
Kindred spirits in our watery world make the trip. However, we all want different things. It is impossible to see everything. Visit what/where you want to visit. It doesn’t matter whether you circumnavigate the planet or not – just get out there and do something!
Why do it?
The answer you receive will depend on whom you ask. It could be any number of reasons, for example:
A more simplistic and peaceful way of life
The camaraderie of the boating community
The advantage of combining home with pleasure/travel
The escape from everyday stress and pressures
Cost savings over living in a house
For Noel and I it is all of the above, but more so freedom. We are in control of our lives, where we go and when (to a degree with visa limitations). We are working for ourselves, putting together a good boat that will carry us across oceans safely and with a degree of comfort. The challenge of pulling everything together, and working and running well is a big task. The challenges never cease, we both become bored with routine and once a task or challenge is conquered, it can hold little interest for us. With boats, it is never the same and a new challenge will always present itself.
Getting safely into port is one of the best things about cruising and is a celebration of achievement, which never diminishes in intensity.
Cruising draws out our creativity and gives us a reason to indulge in a bit of ignorance! Ignorance is bliss – not watching or listening to the news every day, week or even monthly, is a relief. It never changes, it is depressing and the same things are occurring, only the names change. When on land, we had a TV and inevitably became caught up in watching the news. The first time (after several years cruising) that we watched the entire news, I watched the deaths, devastation and political lies it nearly reduced me to tears. Of course we get the news when we log onto the net for email. But it is brief and we select what we click on to read about.
But mostly, the why, can be summed up by a New Zealand sailing friend (thank you Judy). One pleasant evening I asked her what she liked about sailing and her response: “I can lie back here on this bunk (as she did), put my feet up on the wall (bulkhead) and relax and no one, not even visitors, think it is strange, I couldn’t do this at home”.
How do I arrange visas, etc.
Google is your friend – research, become well acquainted with www.noonsite.com.
Talk to other cruisers (have good radio equipment), joining cruising forums.
See our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ for pages of useful resources and recommended reading.
How do I earn money along the way?
Nurture a skill that you already have, other cruisers will need electricians, radio technicians, plumbers, sail-makers, etc. Or develop new skills, writing, photography, drawing. Whatever you wish to do to make money along the way will be hard work. Noel and I have house renovation skills, I am a good all-round house fixer-upper (nothing too technical please), and Noel is a builder and carpenter – we have renovated friends’ apartments in different places (most notable Puerto Rico). However, over the years we have both developed our writing and photography skills. It has taken a long time to become known as a writer and to achieve good contacts together with a good name. The money isn’t great but it helps and I find it incredibly rewarding. I find it easy to write about stuff I like. The two key skills, I think you would need, is passion and tenacity. It is pointless writing about something you are not interested in and you need buckets of tenacity. Your writing will get better over time, if you keep at it; photography too. But it all takes work. I have had two different cruisers ask to work with me, they supply the photos (had lovely camera equipment) and I would supply the text. I had to explain that it just wouldn’t work. How would you split the earnings? Which has more value? How do you agree on which photos? How would the photos match the text? Who spends all the time captioning the pictures, putting them in order, emailing them?
We’ve met cruisers making money out of designing and making jewellery, repairing fridges, repairing/installing electronics, cleaning boats, repairing sails and other writers and photographers.
Should I rent or sell my house when I leave?
Whether to rent or sell (or board up and leave) your house is a very individual decision.
The first house we rented out in England was rented to strangers via an agent. This was fantastic for two years, however as soon as we acquired rotten tenants it was extremely stressful and eventuated in a trip to England (we were in the States at the time), even though we had an Estate Agent ‘fully managing’ the property. (They did such a bad job they didn’t even tell us there had been a fire in the house, we eventually received compensation). Many years later, our house in Australia was rented to friends, and for us, this worked well. They were happy and settled and we trusted them implicitly. The rent was reduced as we valued peace of mind more than financial gain. In renting to friends, ensure that all parties involved realise and understand that circumstances can change for any one at any time.
We do realise that things can turn bad between friends, it is a risk we were willing to take. We had an agreement with our friends, that whatever happened we all promised to remember that our friendship was far more important than material items. Admittedly, there were a couple of bumps along the road, but we have all remained great friends.
How do you get to other countries?
This was the big question; we were completely daunted by this thought and wondered how other people had managed it. For two years we traversed the east coast of Australia and on our first off shore trip towards Fiji we were struck by a severe storm. We had limped back home. On our next overseas attempt we followed the trades – we went the other way around the planet to reach Fiji! Once we had decided to turn in the other direction and follow the most assured trade winds we understood how it was done!
When coastal sailing you have the (possible) luxury of reaching a sheltered port to avoid bad weather and that is a comfort. However, we think that sailing oceans is generally easier than coasts. Land has a big effect on winds and currents, whereas following trades in the ocean you may set your sails for days, possibly weeks on end, without having to alter them (TIP: regularly check for chafing! (Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/).
We heard many international cruisers exclaim that they found the east coast of Australia one of the hardest areas they had ever sailed. Any land mass can make things a bit tricky – with onshore and offshore breezes as the land mass cools during the night and warms up during the day. And the proof was in the pudding, as soon as we got away from land and just got going, it became much easier. That applies to all aspects related to cruising too. Once you are underway, with good preparation and a seaworthy boat, everything is simplified.
How do you make it happen?
Best advice is “just go”. But that could be irresponsible. That advice would be to someone who knew a bit about what they are doing, with a sea worthy boat (watertight integrity!) and has lived on board fulltime for a good period of time.
If you live on board you will know your boat much better and you will be able to make small improvements to enhance life on board before you go (far easier then when at sea).
- You will rid processions easier.
- You’ll be familiar with all the systems, quirks and best ways of managing the entire boat.
- You should regularly sail, even in less than ideal weather. It’s a great test.
- Be in reasonable shape. You can be reading on watch for hours, but other times you could be awake and working hard for 24 hours battling mother nature.
- Just moving yourself around the boat can be incredibly difficult and exhausting, let alone having to trim or reef sails.
- Leaving your homeport can be done too soon or too late. Leaving before you are ready is too soon, leaving when everything is done is too late. Where is the middle ground?
****own and maintain a seaworthy boat****
****carry out plenty of research****
****learn good seamanship skills****
Read Cruising Logistics in the FAQ tab
Read our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
What about living on board but not cruising?
Depending where you are you may need to find a marina. You might have the option of a mooring or even anchoring. Maintenance should still be a priority, boats will deteriorate even quicker if they are left static, especially the equipment. When equipment is not used regularly, it tends to develop problems.
Many marinas these days do not like live-a-boards and most do not like you working on your boat (preferring you to hire their professionals). Much research is needed before taking this option. If you can be on a mooring or on anchor, power will be an important consideration.
What do you do all day?
On land you have everything provided for you, on board we do too, except we run our small on board city ourselves:
Carrying water (ie ferrying from shore)
Emailing (for boat parts and family/friend communications)
Fix, repair, improve, clean, paint, varnish, write, communicate, constantly put things away (always ready to move), housework, research. Certainly on our last boat we had less to do, because after a few years of owning her everything was how we wanted it to be, so that was a good start. In addition, the systems (on Mariah, our first boat) were far simpler. On board Pyewacket the systems were far more complex. On Mariah II there was no fridge and I noticed that a lot of my time was taken on Pyewacket in managing the food supplies, whereas it seemed so much simpler, easier and quicker without a fridge. For example, fridges on board boats tend to be narrow and deep. Therefore, you are constantly rotating food and checking/digging around the bottom. If you do not have a fridge, you don’t have to do this, your fresh food is eaten straight away. I would always vote for a fridge now, now I am a bit older I like a few more comforts, for that reason I like the fridge.
There is much more housework to do on a bigger boat, which does make a difference. Also more maintenance, bigger deck, hull, ropes to clean . . . and on it goes. However, the comfort and speed of a bigger boat is nice to have. One way or another there is always a compromise!
Writing Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ , took a tremendous amount of time to compile while on board (and that wasn’t the hardest part!). Then there are photographs to file and label. I am constantly researching, checking facts in books or on the internet. Without this work I would have much more time – which is how I remember it on Mariah II, when I was only writing articles for magazines (as well as helping maintain the boat).
What does it cost?
The following is a short story excerpt from our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
We bought hundreds of dollars worth of food and alcohol in Panama, knowing we were going to the remotest part of the South Pacific. Pitcairn, Easter Island and Gambiers. We were able to purchase fresh produce at Pitcairn and Easter Island. At Gambiers they had just decided to stop offering the facility to withdraw money through credit card. So, we lived on supplies on board, in addition to purchased French bread and chicken which was subsidised. Therefore, for three months we spent a total of US$300, including checking in costs.
Below we have detailed a few weeks expenditure on board Pyewacket in Ecuador, coupled with our daily life. As mentioned previously, individual needs and desires, diet, budget, size of boat, condition of boat, income (pension?/working as cruising?) affect expenditure. In addition, major repairs e.g. engine, new sails etc, all make what we individually spend so completely different. Here’s an insight in to what you should consider, which will provide you with an idea of what you may spend.
This information should help you gauge our situation and what we spent. Even with this information, expenditure could vary wildly at any stage. However, you need to consider the following:
We’d been reasonably healthy, just a couple of hundred dollars medical costs over the year.
We ate out less than once a week on average (unless we were sightseeing).
On sightseeing, we mainly used busses.
We turned on our engine when sailing got below 3 knots, so we were not particularly conservative with fuel, preferring comfort rather than savings on this point (and preventing our sails damaging when they flap).
We did a lot of cooking on board.
99% of repairs we did ourselves.
Any personal gear we purchased, such as clothes, was from charity/recycling shops in America.
In buying Pyewacket II, even though we didn’t have our personal belongings to transfer from house to boat, the boat came packed full of linens, kitchenware, hand tools, power tools, books and cushions, as well as the usual equipment of GPSs, radar, TV, stereo, radios.
While calculating these costs we had (to begin with):
A fridge and larder full of supplies.
We had 5 kilos of lentils 3 kilos of rice and 50 different tinned foods.
5 kilos of flour still on board.
We had enough shampoo, conditioner, talcum powder, moisturiser, sun cream and medical supplies for at least another 6 months.
We had enough toilet rolls for at least six weeks and enough cleaning products for approximately 3 months.
We had about 2 kilos of laundry powder on board.
We had over 100 movies, 20 music CDs, numerous books (fiction and non-fiction).
Spare parts filled our workshop, including enough oil for several oil changes.
Two large bottles of oil for the outboards.
Both our fuel tanks were full and we have 3 full gas bottles (2 x 20 Kg, 1 x 10 Kg)
Our solar panels and wind generators (2 of each) kept our batteries fully charged most of the time. Therefore, we did not run our engine to generate power.
We did make our own bread, but had been buying a lot, due to us both having flu!
This included everything we did. Including communications, mostly emailing but sometimes calling (via Skype so no big cost).
Life on board (diary)
No two days are the same, no two weeks, months or years . . . here is a snapshot of our life on board, and an idea of regular expenditure. Written at the conclusion of each day . . .
We start at Monday 21st November 2010. We have two and a half weeks before we leave for Panama. Currently we are in Bahia De Caraquez, Ecuador (Panama is about 580 nautical miles north). We have been here since May. Two days ago, we used our dive hookah to clean the hull. The hull wasn’t too bad, but the prop looked like an enormous football of barnacles. Noel put a new anode on the prop shaft. We also filled up with diesel, which cost a couple of hundred dollars.
After tea and toast in the morning, we both spend at least an hour studying and writing. Noel studies celestial navigation, I study Spanish and/or write.
These tasks are all stitched together with regular items such as washing up, taking photos, chatting to other cruisers, arranging check out, hanging up washing, folding washing, making beds, sweeping the floor, monitoring power supplies, testing SSB (listening to the radio net each morning), the odd coffee break, refilling water jugs, hoisting/lowering the dinghy, . . . etc.
The time listed here is the actual time we spend doing the work. In addition, not included is time to find and replace tools/equipment, time in the dinghy, writing lists, collecting/carrying water, walking to the shops and everyday tasks such as these.
Lastly, we both exercise every morning for between 30 minutes to an hour.
Costs – on average we use one gas (LPG) bottle every two to three months.
Monday 22nd November
After breakfast/study, we tidied the boat, Noel put the old mainsail back up and I helped him with the batons. We have ordered new sails, which we will pick up in Panama in January.
At 10 am I went ashore with Margueritta from SV Cynosure; first we went to the market for recipe ingredients. She makes fabulous granola. She and Phil are leaving for Panama in five days. We made 5 pounds worth of granola for their supplies and I noted the recipe as we cooked. After cooking lesson, I went to the market again to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and ingredients for sweet pickle relish.
Before returning to the boat I hooked up to the internet. Puerto Amistad is the owner of the mooring buoys and dinghy dock. We are on anchor and pay $6 a day for use of a secure dinghy dock, internet and showers on shore. I had to proof read an article for a magazine, answer some emails from friends and projects (both wind generators need new circuit boards, which is annoying as there is not much sun here for the solar panels – we will collect them in Panama, there is too much import tax in Ecuador). The internet was on/off and highly frustrating. After a couple of hours Noel came ashore. Throughout the day he had changed the oil in the engine and put the mainsail back on (it was off for measuring). He also did some stitching to keep it together for one last journey! He answered emails re: sail measurements (ordering sails in an enormously complex process) and we both showered and returned to the boat for dinner. Most evenings, in port, we like to watch movies, we have a growing selection of about 100. Luckily we have little memory and can watch the same movies regularly and still be entertained!
$2.00 on oats
$1.00 on vanilla essence
$2.50 on linseeds
$2.50 on almonds
$2.50 on brown sugar (2 x bags)
$4.00 on 6 cucumbers, 3 red peppers, 6 onions, 6 carrots, large bag of green beans
.50 on large bunch of bananas
$3.70 on half a chicken (uncooked)
$3.60 12 eggs, 4 plastic containers
$6.00 dinghy dock/shower/internet fee
This is a big shop for us at the moment. I made 8 medium sized jars of sweet pickle relish which will last a good few months (I hope!). I made about 3 pounds of granola (1.35 kilos). I have enough ingredients to make at least another 9 pounds of granola which means it costs approximately .85 cents per pound (.45 kilogram or 450 grams).
I was given some sesame seeds for the recipe, so I didn’t have to purchase any, these seeds are not very expensive.
I have plenty of sugar to make sweet pickle relish again too. Cost of the relish is total: $4.46, approximately .56 cents a jar.
Total = $29.80
|Writing – 1 hourBoat jobs (cleaning/mainsail – 30 minsMarket (twice) – 1.5 hoursCooking granola – 3 hoursInternet – 2 hours
Breakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hour
Movie and/or reading
Total: 9 hours
|Study – 1 hourBoat jobs (mainsail, stitching, oil change) – 6 hoursInternet – 1 hourBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hourShower/beer
Movie and/or reading
Total: 9 hours
Tuesday 23rd November
We finished the oil change together. Being smaller than Noel I can get under the engine to catch the dribbles. I rinsed the laundry that had soaked overnight and hung it out to dry. The aft fuel gauge has stopped working (quick panic to check bilges!) it was working fine yesterday – another job (new gauge). To check the tank connections we lift a floor board in the aft cabin, it is stuck fast. Next job for Noel is to file this down to fit better. Noel then spent the rest of the day working on swapping two winches on the mast. One works better than the other, we want the best one for the main halyard. Noel has to re-drill and tap into mast. Someone had the brains to put sealer on the stainless steel bolt, so the screws came out easily much to Noel’s delight.
I cooked 3 pounds of granola and 8 jars of sweet pickle relish. It never seems enough for me, just to do one thing at a time in the galley. There wasn’t much breeze today, so I got a bit hot and bothered. With good music blaring through our enormous speakers the day vanished swiftly – as usual.
At 16:30 we went in for a shower and internet. The internet gets addictive, we try to use it only every other day and not weekends. At the moment we are failing because we need to finalise the sail measurements and problems with the wind generators. We rarely run our engine for power on board, but at the moment we have to, it is cloudy most days so the solar panels don’t get quite enough sun. Both Airex wind generators are lashed down. (We have 2 x 120 watt solar panels).
I felt ill in the evening. Since August we have both had bad spates of flu and stomach upsets. I am winning this race at the moment, having been ill two more times than Noel. It is very depressing, I am rarely ill, but having a real bad run. After my shower my limbs started to ache and I felt sick, I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and the thought of food turned my stomach. Noel downed his beer as I thought I was going to be ill and wanted to go home. I had had these symptoms before and became incredibly sick for 24 hours. So at 18:00 I went to bed and after an hour the ache in my limbs lessened. I took some painkillers that also aided sleep. I slept from 21:00 to 08:00!
Today we spent:
$1.50 on one beer
$6.00 dinghy dock, shower and internet fee
$4.00 Petrol (Gas) for outboard.
Total = $13.00
|Cooking – 4 hoursBoat jobs – 1 hourInternet – 1 hourBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hourShower
In bed early – felt ill.
Total: 7 hours
|Study – 2 hoursBoat jobs (mainsail, stitching, oil change) – 5 hoursInternet – 1 hourBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hourShower/beer
Movie and/or reading
Total: 9 hours
Wednesday 24th November
Slow start, I feel much better, just a little washed out and very thankful my lethargy didn’t develop into something hideous. Noel completed two hours of study this morning (celestial navigation), I wrote for most of the day, slowly, not using much energy, still feel a bit achy and dizzy, (I was writing Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/).
For twenty minutes I made up a gift for Margueritta. She leaves with Phil on SV Cynosure this Saturday for Panama. It is her very first voyage. On a jar of pickle I tied on ribbons and made up labels with suitable messages for good luck. I am rather pleased with the result.
I spent the rest of the day writing and installing a new chart program (SEACLEAR – free chart software) and printing out the manual. I tried to eat some lunch (rice salad) but really struggled, so still not up to par. A week ago, for a week, I had an upset stomach – it really is getting boring now.
Noel is still working on the winches on the mast, tapping holes etc. It is thanksgiving tomorrow, so we have to go to town to buy some more ingredients for the pasta dish we are contributing to the feast.
In the evening we spent two hours on the internet and went to the small supermarket to buy ingredients for the pasta dish we are taking to the Thanksgiving lunch.
$15.30 Ingredients (butter, cheese, chocolate, pork chops for dinner)
$11.00 2 x litres of wine
$6.00 dinghy, security, shower, internet
|Writing/ research – 6 hoursBoat jobs (cleaning) – 30 minsInternet – 2 hoursBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hourMovie and/or reading
Total: 9 hours
|Study – 2 hoursBoat jobs (winches) – 6 hoursInternet – 2 hourBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hourShower/beer
Movie and/or reading
Total: 9 hours
Thursday 25th November
Unintentionally I wrote a destination piece for Cruising Helmsman on Ecuador. It seemed ready to come out of me so I let it flow. Then I cooked the pasta dish.
Noel finished swapping the two winches, which included taking one apart, cleaning, repairing and reassembling.
We were late, as usual, to the Thanksgiving lunch and other cruisers had kindly saved us seats. There was a mountain of food and it was incredible as are all potlucks. It was like the Cruiser’s Revenge when going to queue for food. We were fairly near the food tables and once we saw the locals coming up for food (about 100 people), all the cruisers jumped up first. With not much room, polite, jumping of queues ensued. We are not normally like this, but Ecuadorian’s have no sense of waiting in line and for all of us it has become tiring while we waited patiently for our turn in queues while locals just barged in front of us. It wasn’t going to happen here – it was all in good humour and lots of fun – certainly the food wasn’t going to run out.
We got back on board about 17:00 and spent a couple of hours discussing and planning our route and leaving date. We were leaving on the 10th December, but will change it for the 9th. There is a slightly higher tide on this day.
$3.00 on two beers at the bar
|Writing/ research – 3 hoursBoat jobs (cleaning) – 30 minsCooking – 1 hourShowerLong lunch and walk
Planning – 2 hours
Total: 6:30 hours
|Study – 1 hourBoat jobs (winches) – 3:30 hoursShower/beerLong lunch and walkPlanning – 2 hours
Total: 6:30 hours
Friday 26th November
We leave in two weeks time.
I had a lousy night, too much rich food I couldn’t digest and a mozzie eating me alive, have to do some work on the mozzies nets.
I got up late, Noel had spent several hours studying. I updated this diary then cleaned and painted the stern ready to paint on the new name. Lots of attachments to paint around and an 8-inch platform to stand on – steady, steady. (Pyewacket is now Pyewacket II with Australian registration). I tidied up the boat and installed charts on the new software. The GPS is not working on one laptop and is upsetting the mouse on the other – very frustrating.
Noel cut out the template for Pyewacket II, Jervis Bay which will be stencilled onto the boat (stern and each side of the bow and then I will paint the name on). He tried to repair the backup depth sounder – looks like it has opted for early retirement.
Dinner with friends (Lene and Henrique on board Dana – Danish), Chinese restaurant – very nice. $10.50 for an enormous bowl of soup (1), two mains of chicken and rice (delicious and I took half home) and a beer each.
$9.69 on a few staples at the small supermarket
$10.50 dinner in Chinese with friends
$6 dinghy/security/internet/shower fee
$3.00 2 x beers
Total = $30.69
|Stern – prep, painting – 2.5 hoursBoat jobs (cleaning) – 1 hourComputer/charts – 2 hoursInternet – 2 hoursBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hour
Total: 8.5 hours
|Study – 3 hoursDepth sounder fault finding – 1 hourMaking cupboard template for name – 2 hoursInternet – 1 hourBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hour
Total: 8 hours
Saturday 27th November
I was up early to wave off Cynosure, felt slightly seasick(!), then excited and then marvelled at the way we can just sail from country to country – can’t wait to get going. I can’t wait to catch up with them in Panama. Margueritta is becoming a lovely friend (we study Spanish/English together).
I did 4 large buckets of laundry. Went ashore, got more water. Had to clean the washing line as I had left it out and it is very dirty here!
Cleaned the port and starboard bow topsides ready for another coat of white paint in prep for name to be painted on.
Noel’s now ready to climb the mast. I winch him up using the anchor winch – nice and easy. (Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ will show you how). Between us we fixed the furler (which was stuck) and the starboard spreader side light. We took it in turns to go up the mast as it is so easy to go up and down and when one got tired we swapped. The whole process took about three hours – very fiddly. While up the mast, I noticed there was an enormous amount of bird poop on the solar panels!
$6 on dinghy dock/security/showers/internet
$1.50 on LPG
|Washing – 1 hour (wash, rinse, hang)Cleaning for prep paint – 30 minsMast work – 3 hoursCleaning up boat – 30 minsInternet – 2 hours
Breakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hour
Total: 8 hours
|Little more stencilling template – 1.5 minsMast work – 3 hoursInternet – 2 hoursBreakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hourTotal: 7.5 hours|
Sunday 28th November
No one is allowed into town today, they are doing a census. Normally this would suit us, but we forgot and were going to go shopping this morning! Still it is always nice to have a reason not to spend money.
Slow start – it is Sunday. I re-hung the washing out, had take it in last night as it was blowing too hard and I thought it might blow off the lines!. This morning it is still not quite dry.
I managed to get all the chart software running properly and fixed a ‘mad mouse’ problem (when I plugged the GPS into the computer the mouse ran amuck). And miracles upon miracles got the GPS working on the new computer. I feel quite clever as I am not very technically minded! I cleaned the bird poop off the solar panels, before it got too hard.
I made a lentil and tuna loaf (as in meat loaf with no meat). I also made bread (the bread in Bahia is not very nice, regular sponge like stuff). I spent a good few hours putting masking tape around the name “Pyewacket”. Still have the II to do plus Jervis Bay on the stern and then Pyewacket II on each side at the bow. It is a slow process and I am conscious that we only have 12 days before we leave.
Noel stencilled the letters onto the stern (the ones I put masking tape around later). He worked on the furler, it had been jamming and the connection piece was around the wrong way. He checked the absolute final sails plan and finally got the order completed. Cost $6.5k
Later (after census complete) he picked up four DVD movies we had ordered and we both spent about an hour on the internet.
$6 internet/showers, security, dinghy dock
$1.50 on LPG
$6,500 on sails
Grand expenditure for this week = $6,640.79
The next two weeks, prior to leaving, we are going to spend a lot on a large grocery shop and checking out fees. This is more than I thought it would be, considering we bought nothing for the boat!
Break down of costs:
$42 on dinghy dock/security/internet/showers
$47.29 on food* (includes weekly food consumed, plus several weeks worth of granola and several months worth of relish
$18.50 on alcohol
$18.50 entertainment, including one meal out and movies
$10.50 on LPG
$4 on petrol (gas) for outboard
$6,500 on sails
*We have the usual staples on board already, plus some canned food, a good supply of milk and dry foods (rice, pasta and lentils). We also have a good supply of shampoo, soaps, moisturizers and sun cream. We will be topping these supplies up prior to leaving. We are heading for Panama, but before going to the mainland, we intend to spend two to three weeks at the Perlas group of Islands. So with the four or five days to cover the 580 nautical miles, we will need to victualise for at least three to four weeks.
|Cooking bread and tuna loaf – 2 hours (including clean up – I am a very messy cook)Masking tape, paint prep – 3 hoursComputer repair – 2 hoursCleaning up boat and cleaned poop of solar panels– 30 minsInternet – 2 hours
Breakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hour
Total: 10.5 hours
|Stencilling template on stern – 1 hoursFurler – 2 hoursSails – 1.5 hoursHelped with bread – 30 mins (extra kneading required as flour very fine)Internet – 2 hours
Breakfast/lunch/dinner – 1 hour
Total: 8 hours
Break down of time spent during one week:
|All Boat tasks||9.5||31.5||41|
Breakfast/lunch/dinner – Approx time, probably more much more.
Cooking – this is for additional cooking of relish, granola and bread – this does not included time for making breakfast lunch and dinner. We share these tasks (preparation and clearing up) – all these tasks plus eating are included in the 1 hour per day.
Noel spends an hour most mornings exercising and stretching, I do this from time to time. Usually I study Spanish but haven’t this week.
Cleaning – Noel often helps with sweeping the floor and washing floors and deck
Shopping – this only includes one big shop to the market. Not the small “popping” to the shops that happens every couple of days. Which we both do.
In the evening we usually watch a movie or read for a few hours.
Monday 29th November
Woke up to drizzly, gray day. Can’t do any painting, frustrating.
Cleaned up boat, we have friends Michael and Suzanne from Namaste coming over for lunch.
Noel worked on the furler.
I spent an hour doing a breakdown of our costs for the week before, quite happy with our spending so far. We have much more to spend this week, leading up to leaving and water and council rates are due for our house.
After cleaning, I put masking tape around the remainder of the stencilling on the stern. Then we had friends to visit.
Noel felt unwell today. He made a brace for the fridge door, so it doesn’t slam shut at sea, when we are using it (big heavy door). He put a new bolt in the furler. Then he had a rest before our friends came over.
In the evening we checked the internet, walked to the shops and showered. I slept like a log!
$7 on medication (panadol, Sturgeron, anti-acids)
$1.50 on a beer
$6 dinghy dock, security, internet, showers.
|Writing – 1 hourCleaning up (full, thorough) – 2 hours)Masking tape – 1.5 minsInternet/Research – 2 hoursLunch with friends – 3 hours
Total: 9.5 hours
|Fridge door – 1.5 hourFurler bolt – .5 hourInternet – 1 hourLunch with friends – 3 hoursTotal: 6 hours|
Tuesday 30th November
I did an hour writing over breakfast.
It was calm this morning so Noel went up the mast to finish fixing the furler and arrangement to put the furler back up. We worked together for a couple of hours, finally getting the furler up and furled.
The calm winds continued, so I painted one white rectangle on port bow side, which was tricky, in the dinghy, with many Panagas (local boats), stirring up the water. I then painted the letters on the back, which took some time, free handing the curves.
During this time, Noel carved in our official number. A local fisherman had just returned from the sea and offered us some prawns, which we bought for $10. Noel peeled half and I carried on after the painting. They are marinading in garlic and oil for tomorrow. Tonight we are going out for a pizza with Buzz and Maureen from SV Encore.
I did a quick hour scraping barnacles off the lines and managed to lose the hammer! I needed a hammer to knock off the big knots of barnacles and then a metal paint scraper for scraping along the line.
Noel put a coat of white paint on the official number carving and pulled the spinnaker pole down that was holding out the flopper stopper.
We both inspected the water tanks, to confirm they were isolating properly. Calculated quantities/needs. We have 860 litres all up in two tanks, almost three times what we had on our last boat, Mariah II!
On our way to the pizza place, we saw Tripp (owner of Puerto Amistad and Agent for checking in/out). We discussed going on the mooring Wednesday or Thursday and checking out. He knows how it works, explained the process and put our minds at ease. I also so Giovanni, who runs a taxi to Manta and back. I booked him for Tuesday for our big shop prior to leaving.
$15 on pizza and beers
$6 dinghy, security, showers, internet
|Writing – 1 hourWater tanks – .5 of an hourFurler/mast – 2 hoursPainting – 3 hoursScraping barnacles – 1 hour
Planning with agent/taxi – 30 mins
Total: 8 hours
|Furler/Mast – 3 hoursWater tanks – .5 hourOfficial Number carving/painting – 3 hoursSpinnaker pole (cleaning ropes) – 1 hourPlanning with agent/taxi – 30 mins
Total: 8 hours
Wednesday 1st December
We are both a bit slow this morning, a couple of beers took its toll, we really are lightweights at the moment!
I got the white paint on starboard, ready for the name, we decided we are going to try spray paint, it is a far bigger and harder job than we both anticipated. The only time it is flat enough to paint properly is about 2 am.
Noel pulled up the main to finish putting the reefing lines back in and double check it is ready to go. The boat and lines are filthy, not sure where the dirt comes from, it is only a small town and the ocean is so close . . . but the boat (and everyone’s boat) is continuously filthy. After I finished with the white paint, Noel used it to put another coat on the Official Number – it looks good.
Had breakfast mid morning of garlic prawns on toast, both needed something naughty to get going. Absolutely delicious. We are very organised and have crossed most jobs off the list. During the second coffee I updated this diary.
I scraped more barnacles off the lines. Some of them have to be smashed with a stainless steel bar – they ought to make houses out of this stuff. I was destroying a whole world, alien like, slimy creatures ran for cover and small fishes flapped away. Hard work.
Noel transferred diesel from jerry cans into our tanks and into our jerry cans. It is tricky to buy diesel ourselves here, we are told we are not allowed to, but if you get the right person you can! Raymondo at Puerto Amistad got what we needed to top up. Noel started cleaning up the deck, putting tarps away etc.
Spray can of paint – $2.75
Pipe cutter – $4.50
Seasick tablets – $2.60
Plastic sieve – .66 cents
Gloves x 2 – $6.00 ($3.00 each)
Printer ink x 3 = $9.45 (3.15 each)
Cheese – $2 for 1lb
2 x biscuity cakes – $1.80
1 whole cooked chicken – $10
Dinghy dock/security/internet/showers – $6
|Writing – 1.5 hourPainting – 1.5 hourScraping barnacles – 2.5 hoursShopping – 1.5 hourInternet – .30 mins
Total: 7.5 hours
|Diesel – 1 hourReefing lines, sails, etc – 2 hoursTidy decks/tarps/lines etc – 2.5 hoursPainting – .5 hourShopping – 1.5 hours
Total: 7.5 hours
Thursday 2nd December
I was up at dawn, painting the last coat of the name and port on our stern, one part done at last! Looks good. It was low tide and still calm. Noel got the float on the after anchor lines, so we could drop them when we move. I pulled in some anchor chain and started scrubbing. The anchor chain only had weed on it, but the snubber lines were thick with barnacles – hard work. I thoroughly cleaned about 10 metres.
Noel tidied up the workshop, got equipment ready to move, tidied up and stowed some gear. We commenced pulling up our 3 anchors (2 on the stern, 1 off the bow). We released the aft lines and pulled in the bow anchor. Only a little more weed on it, then it is clean. We used the boat to get it out of the mud (powered over it). Once inboard, we went back to retrieve the other two anchors. They are joined together by 18 metres of heavy chain. Then a rope rode comes back to the boat. The ropes were covered with barnacles (got a lot off yesterday, but there were still more). Very heavy to haul in, smashed off most barnacles as they came up. We then swapped positions and I went onto the helm while Noel used our anchor winch to haul up the two, smaller, aft anchors. It was all very heavy, dirty lifting. But in our usual style we worked with hand signals, took our time and kept calm. While hauling the two stern anchors, we were sideways between two boats anchored for/aft, but comfortable, Pyewacket is very manoeuvrable. We turned two circles to align our new steering compass (so it could pick up the points of the compass) and then moved onto the mooring. I stayed on the wheel (my back had done enough work) and Noel picked up the mooring. Nice to know we are still a good team. I washed down the decks, (we have a great deck wash pump), but there are still a lot of ropes to clean, at least they are on deck now and I don’t have to try and hang out of the dinghy to do the cleaning.
We had left over porridge for lunch, skipped breakfast, was too busy. I checked the internet, have a connection on the boat now (sometimes). Noel cleaned up the galley and we both caught up on some sleep for an hour. We are pretty exhausted, this morning took a lot of heavy lifting.
|Writing – 1 hourPainting – 1 hourAnchors up, cleaning chain, etc – 3 hoursSleep – 1 hourTotal: 6 hours
|Organising equipment – 1 hourStowing – 1 hourAnchors up, etc, 3 hoursSleep – 1 hourTotal: 6 hours|
The next few days were a blur. We managed to leave on the 10th Dec. Prior to this we finished painting, serviced the engine, bought $500 food/supplies, prepared our route, checked the sails and completed all pre-departure checks, topped up with water, cleaned and dismantled and stowed the dinghy. Checking out cost $180 (US). (Our book Cruisers’ AA contains detailed pre-departure checks https://jackieparry.com/book/
The day before departure. I made 4 small loaves of bread, which usually we usually consume in 7 days, so it keeps for at least this time. I also made a lentil and mince stew with 5 different vegetables. I made enough for 2-3 days. We had our first serving on the Thursday night.
Departed Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. We are not in any great routine for our first few days out and we tend not to get caught up in precision. Funnily enough we were both instantly happy and able to do 6 hours on, 6 hours off. We usually work up to this, starting at 4 on, 4 off. We were zigzagging with meals though. We tended to graze, which was perfect as some of the bananas needed eating. Lots of bananas on biscuits. We also had the stew and tend to eat little and often.
Sadly the stew is fermenting. It has become really hot and we couldn’t fit it in the fridge, only had it for 2 days and threw away about 1/3. Annoying, but not worth the risk, even though it smelt all right, something wasn’t quite right with it. We carried on grazing, lots of bananas on biscuits and simple tea and toast, especially at night. Part of our snacking was on homemade granola (now named Granola de Margueritta) in memory of my friend who gave me this recipe (see the sad story at the end of this section). I made some yoghurt and the mangoes and bananas were ripening one or two a day, so this mixture (sometimes with honey) was a big favourite. We have long life milk, which lasts for months, opened it lasts about 4-5 days in the fridge, all very easy.
We are still in contact with Dana, our Danish friends on VHF. We downloaded a weather fax, everything looked fine for our area, much of the same thing, SW winds 15 knots – perfect sailing while heading north.
- Each day, I inspected the fruit and vegetables (Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/ details great way to keep food fresh for long periods).
Whatever needed eating that day dictated our dinner. Still early days yet, nothing crying out to be eaten, except bananas!
I did find a tomato that was ready to eat, so I boiled up half a dozen eggs, mixed in herbs and mayonnaise, lemon and pepper, had tomatoes and egg on bread. Delicious.
Our SSB radio locked up it is flashing “unlock” and we cannot receive or transmit. Really annoying, this is how we receive our weather, into our laptop, via weather fax. Also Dana are getting further and further away (they are doing a more westerly route in view of possible NE winds in Gulf of Panama), so soon we will be out of touch via VHF with them. Nothing in the two manuals to say how to correct this problem. This is the first time we have ever been at sea without being able to get weather.
140 nautical mile day.
Bread has gone moldy. Normally in our larder, it is fine. But is quite hot and humid, obviously it didn’t like it, threw it out! About half was eaten only – really annoying. Instead of bread we have dry biscuits, found some we really like. These are a great replacement for bread, cheap and keep for ages. (TIP: Experiment with different brands before stocking up – see our book Cruisers’ AA for many more great ideas https://jackieparry.com/book/).
No contact with Dana any longer, a shame, we were enjoying the small chats we had throughout the day. Still no luck with the radio.
Noel made sausages and mashed potato for dinner. It was delicious.
135 nautical mile days.
We had potato cakes for breakfast to finish up the potatoes.
Squalls, squalls and more squalls. Much of the time visibility down to zero. Lots of traffic too, heavily relying on radar – not fun at all.
Tuesday am – early hours
After one squall the wind did not abate and revealed itself to be gale force winds – NE of course, our direction. With no idea of what it could turn into, how long it would last, etc we had to make some decisions. We tried to get weather reports off ships (via VHF). The best we got was “it is going to be a little bit good and a little bit bad”!! We were where all the ships bottle neck to leave/head for the canal and therefore decided not to hove to and run with it with a tiny handkerchief of sail until it abates. It did not abate for over 24 hours, so we simply sailed to western panama. It was hard, forward of the beam, 40-45 knots consistently, but Pyewacket did us proud.
Early hours of the morning we made it to western panama, Ensenada de naranjo. Beautiful, calm and peaceful. Noel had cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast.
En route we had continued to graze. At one time we had a tin of ravioli, which was easy to open and plonk in a pan. It’s important to have “easy” food in bad weather (hasty tasties! – see https://jackieparry.com/book/ for more galley ideas.).
Wednesday during the day, we slept most of the morning, as we anchored at 3 am. In the afternoon we cleared up the boat, with continual squalls the rain was phenomenal, in addition to huge waves over the boat, water was everywhere.
We did have one drama during the sail to western Panama. One of the cockpit drains was not draining. We were worried about taking on a big wave so we needed to clear it. Keeping scuppers and freeing ports clear is very important. Noel put the high-pressure deck wash hose down the drain and it cleared it. A plastic bag had been shoved in the hole and over the years smaller bits and pieces had finally bunged it up!. Unfortunately, the pressure from the deck wash hose, pushed all the crap that had been trapped for years, down into the sinks in the galley. The sinks became full of filthy water and of course, in 45-knot winds at some point you will lean the wrong way. All of a sudden we had revolting stinky water all over the galley floor, which continued to slosh around. It’s not much fun, on the galley floor, cleaning the water and stink, in rough seas.
So now we were in protected waters the potatoes and onions needed drying. All okay except the carrots, they took the brunt of the drain water, and spoiled – annoying, but I think we got of lightly.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Decisions, decisions. Do we try to get to Perlas, we have the new sails to collect and quite a list of things we want to get from Panama. Do we stay here, hire a car to Balboa to get what we need?
It looks too nice here to miss out on. So we move to Island to Cebeloa, 20 miles NE. We don’t feel we can leave the boat and drive to Balboa, unless we have good friends taking care of Pyewacket. We haven’t see another boat yet (except in the first anchorage, it left at 8 am in the first morning we were there, I only happened to see it while getting some water). We figure, do some exploring and then try our luck with Perlas. We have no SSB still and are hoping our friends are not worrying about us too much. We are hoping they are okay – sure they are, they are very seasoned cruisers, but we cannot contact them, or them us. There is no internet here, it is very remote. We are keeping our eyes open for another boat who may have SSB, so we can get the message out that we are okay and will join all our friends in Perlas for Christmas – with a bit of luck!
Being in such ugly weather had its good and bad points. After two fantastic days of sailing, having to deal with 2 days of gale force winds is frustrating, scary and exhausting. On the plus side, it confirmed our teamwork efforts. Noel and I are a great team on board, supporting each other fully and working hard together to make sure we are doing the right, safe thing. In addition, it re-confirmed that we have a good boat.
So it is Thursday and we are puttering up to another anchorage. Last night I made my potato, cheese and onion pie, delicious and easy, now in fridge, will last for lunch and dinner too. Had homemade yoghurt, homemade Granola de Margueritta, fresh mangoes, banana and milk for breakfast. Simply delicious – we always eat well on board. The mangoes are ripening at 1 or 2 per day. We only have 3 left. Bananas are doing well – see the galley section in our book Cruisers’ AA – https://jackieparry.com/book/
We stopped on the north side of a small island just for lunch. We both felt uncomfortable with being exposed to northerlies, predominant winds this time of year. After lunch (left over potato/cheese/vege pie) we puttered up to Isle de Verdes, anchoring on the south side. Tranquil, still, perfect. We played music in the cockpit and slept under the stars. No bugs – a perfect evening. For dinner we had the remainder of the potato/vege/cheese pie and a couple of sausages (vacuum packed).
When on board you start to notice small changes. You become in tune with your vessel. It is just you and your vessel – that is your world, small changes in sound, on gauges on feeling are detected instantly. I noticed the temperature of the engine was 155, instead of 150. It stayed this way and we put it down to warmer water. Constant checking of every part of your vessel is very important and does, actually become second nature.
By 8:30 am I am up the mast, retrieving a lost halyard. Also looping through the lazy jacks on starboard that had come off the pulley. There is a beautiful view at 68 feet high. Noel checked oil and water in engine, I finished washing out some material bags that the carrots were in and were spoiled. We tidied up, washed up from last night and upped anchor to explore up a nearby river en route to Boco de la Trinidad. It’s a very hot day. On the way we had homemade yoghurt, homemade granola de Margueritta, shared a mango and had a banana each, topped off with milk. We used up the yoghurt, saving a couple of spoonfuls for the next batch – details of how to make your own yoghurt without special equipment, see our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
Anchored surrounded by mangroves with a nice breeze, thankfully, as it is a very hot day. Both had afternoon nap, not a soul in sight. At 15:00 we had some lunch. Olives, cheese, biscuits and cucumber (see galley section on how to stow/keep all these ingredients fresh for many weeks).
Extra shade up today, will be buying more canvas in Panama, our decks get hot and we both do not fare well when overheated. Easy day today, we plan to be up at dawn tomorrow, and putter down the coast east towards Isla de Perlas. Still no luck with the radio.
Noel cooked up a batch of rice last night, tonight is egg-fried rice and stir fried chicken (tinned) and some new salami, cabbage, green beans, onions and peppers. All our fruit and vegetables are doing really well, even in all this heat. We still have some green tomatoes and we bought them 8 days ago.
6 am we left the anchorage heading for Las Perlas, again! It’s a still day with a bit more cloud, good for some shade. We saw 4 pangas, it’s the most people we have seen for 4 days – all of them well over half a mile away! It is so nice to be ignored and nothing quite like being at a completely isolated anchorage. No one in the world knows we are here but us. On that note, the radio still isn’t working and I guess our friends are wondering where the hell we are!
This morning there was a lot of dew, everything was damp. A sign of a north easterly in NSW, Australia! We are praying it means something different here as we are in the northern hemisphere.
We flew along the coast, perfect sailing at 8 knots. We are way ahead of schedule and if this keeps up we will be there tomorrow morning. Of course it didn’t keep up. We got headed by northerlies again, BUT, light northerlies, around 10 knots, not 45 knots – big difference.
We powered up and pushed our way in – time of writing it is 21 miles to go – we think we will make it to Las Perlas this time. We will try to reach our buddies on VHF radio soon.
Last night while underway, I made pizza as it was such an easy motion. But the way I make the base is a lengthy process – but worthwhile! It kept us fed all night – we did 2 hours on 2 off, as the traffic was so busy. There was so many navigation lights it was like playing space invaders! So, no time for sitting down, there was lots of sail changes too, good job it is only one night.
For the last few hours into Las Perlas we were headed by a northeaster, but it was light, around 10 knots. We used the engine and finally made it to the Perlas. As we coasted alongside Isle de Rey, the first anchorage we had chosen, another sailboat followed us in. They kindly radioed the Pan Pacific Net to let them know where we were, that we were okay and currently had no functioning SSB radio. The anchorage was a little rolly, but we both slept many hours. The following morning SV Dana came up on VHF radio and told us they were 15 miles around the corner in a much more protected anchorage. We hauled anchor and managed to get there before a strong north easter came in again.
21st December already!
It is Noel’s birthday and we are in a perfect anchorage; completely protected, clean beaches, clear water and peaceful. Just SV Dana and SV Pyewacket, it was lots of fun catching up. Our birthday celebrations will happen on the mainland, a decent meal and some clothes shopping for us both, our wardrobe is getting a bit threadbare.
I made Noel eggs and bacon for breakfast. Yesterday while baking bread, I slipped in a packaged chocolate cake (very hand), added the two brown bananas we had left. So we also had coffee and cake.
Lunch was pickled vegetables (homemade), cheese, olives, biscuits, relish (homemade), tomatoes and cucumber – easy to prepare and keep on board for many weeks/months and all fresh and crunchy and so simple to prepare.
We had a lovely walk on the deserted beach, accompanied by crabs and birds. Lene and Henrique found a fresh water stream that pools at low tide. We collected some water to wash down the boat, to get some of the salt off.
Food shopping – fresh and non-fresh
Everything is lasting very well. The tomatoes and limes are in dark cupboards, right next to the water tanks. There is some ventilation in these cupboards but not much. They are very cool and dark – this seems to be the trick. Two weeks later I still have some green-ish tomatoes, crunchy green peppers, a whole cucumber (already eaten two) and potatoes and onions which look the same as the day we bought them.
All the fruit has gone, but only just. We found some tinned fruit that we like, peaches and mangoes, so that is good enough to have on our cereal.
The homemade granola has been a huge success with homemade yoghurt. Having long-life milk in a regular cupboard and refrigerated when opened works well.
The preservation of vegetables, relish, olives, beetroot and cheese has been a resounding success. (See the galley section in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
The Salami grows mold every few days on the outside of the skin. I simply wipe it down with vinegar. Once opened it doesn’t get any mold on the actual meat, just the skin. It is fine to eat once skinned.
We have one packet of bacon left, one large packet of sausages, plenty of cheese, olives, 1 large stick of salami and four dozen eggs.
On the fresh side we have around 20 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 25 potatoes, 25 onions, 2 green peppers, 3 garlic cloves, 30 limes and three quarters of large, white cabbage.
In addition we have cheese biscuits, fresh bread, cereal, margarine, tea, coffee, cocoa, cake mixture, various sauces, condiments, crisps (chips), chocolate, 18 litres of milk, yoghurt, beer, wine and spirits. We also have some carton juice left and some gassed water. Of course, we have the pickled vegetables and beetroot too.
We have several kilos of lentils, rice and oats and about half a dozen packets of pasta. Aside from all this, we have over 100 tins of canned food. We have used some tuna, chicken and mango and that is all, probably about six tins all up. We eat incredibly well, both healthy foods and tasty foods.
We put up some tarps, it’s very hot. SV Dana told us about the weather report they had received. Gale force winds predicted this weekend. We decide to add a weight to the anchor chain to help maintain the ‘catenary’ (see anchoring in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/). We tested the process as currently we don’t have an anchor buddy. Noel made one for our last boat, he’s yet to do it for Pyewacket. So we used a smaller anchor. It is cumbersome, but we rigged it so I could haul it in easily. We thoroughly tested the process while it was calm.
Then I organised the laundry and buckets and ferried everything to shore. Noel and I spent a delightful time sitting in the shade, washing our clothes in the fresh water. It’s really nice to use as much water as we like.
After we hung the washing around the boat, we had lunch (salami, pickles, bread) and slept for an hour. It is so tranquil here, a good place to catch up on rest.
Later we unpacked the dive hookah, we want to take the opportunity of calm and clear water to check on the hull and anchor. There are a lot of parts to the hookah (petrol engine) and a quite a process with un packing it all and putting it together. It was 3:30 by the time we were ready to go in the water. We decided it was too near dusk – shark-feeding time! Also, it is rumoured that there are crocodiles here, we have not seen any. We want the sun high in the sky when we dive, so we decided to dive tomorrow. Henrique will ‘spot’ for us when we go in and when we lend Dana the equipment, we will do the same – just in case. Dana have dive tanks but are thinking of buying a hookah, so they are trying out ours first. We find the hookah to be a fabulous piece of equipment, once set up it is easy to use. It cost about US$800. (See our book Cruisers’ AA for many more equipment ideas https://jackieparry.com/book/).
In the evening I made my potato/cheese pie, with cabbage and a mixture of sauces we are hording and 4 bits of bacon left over from one packet.
We had a divine breakfast, granola, mangoes (tinned), yoghurt, milk, a sprinkle of cornflakes. Noel is exchanging steel screws for stainless steel on some bolts on the cockpit doors. I poured the newly made yoghurt into its container, cleared up the galley, and caught up on a bit of writing. Dolphins sigh around the boat, frigates swoop – it is bliss. (Our book, Cruisers’ AA, details how to make homemade yoghurt with just milk and two spoonfuls of yoghurt https://jackieparry.com/book/).
I have some bites today from nosee’ems. I put the port window screens in too late and noticed that there is a tear in one of the panels. It’s time for some repairs. Also, the boat is neat and tidy, but not clean. I am working myself up for a good spring clean.
There are a list of other jobs to do but we are taking our time gearing up to do them, we are desperate for a bit of a rest. People think we are “swanning off” around the world, but anyone who has owned a boat and done some miles knows that it is one of the hardest job you could ever have. We never have a whole day off – lunch breaks are seldom. Everything we do is geared to maintain this lifestyle – no complaints though, this is our choice and we enjoy the challenge, the rewards are immense.
By lunchtime I had made up a better mozzie net for one of the hatches, Noel had done some bolt repairs and we had both dived using the dive hookah. There was only a couple of metres vision, but was a great temperature. The hull looked good, there was only a couple of barnacles. Dolphins were nearby, but they didn’t come close. I took some good pictures of Noel underwater.
Leftover food from US$500 shop, 4 weeks ago.
None of the fresh items were refrigerated unless where indicated
3 inches of cucumber (only refrigerated once cut)
We were able to trade some limes for some bananas with another boat.
We consumed approximately 12 tins of food, so we still have an enormous supply on board.
Dried foods, rice, pasta and lentils, we used, about two meals each. So supplies on board are still excellent.
We used all the vacuum-packed sausages and bacon. We used all the salami. It all lasted very well.
Our cabbage finished yesterday, (TIP: never slice cabbage, always peel leaves off, it will lasts for weeks, see more great tips in our book Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/)
We still have 15 eggs left and a kilo of the vacuumed cheese.
We have 20 onions left and 25 small potatoes, all without problems and will last us another week or two easily.
The cheese in olive oil, olives, beetroot, pickled vegetables etc have been an enormous hit on board and we have consumed approximately one third of supplies (same with homemade relish) – how to keep cheese for months, see Cruisers’ AA https://jackieparry.com/book/
We have 10 bulbs of garlic left and 20 limes.
Homemade Granola and homemade yoghurt a huge hit, we have about 4 days of granola left and yoghurt supply has been kept going the entire time.
We used our fresh water for drinking and wash off from saltwater showers only (1 cup or thereabout) and wash up with salt water. We opened our inspection holes to check 4 weeks use of water and was amazed and delighted to see that one tank was still full, the other about 25% less than full.
I never do any laundry when underway, I always save it for when we are in port.