There are many questions people ask when we speak of living aboard our sailboat with plans to sail to the South Pacific. Here is a list of the most commonly asked questions, along with popular assumptions and remarks. Over time, we will gradually post the answers, as well as correct the assumptions. And, don’t hesitate to send us a message if you have a question . . . we’d be happy to answer it!
When are you leaving?
Wil’s last day of work is June 1, 2012. On June 2nd, we plan to start spending 99.9% of our time on the final preparations before splashing back into the water. A boat is a boat, and it is difficult to pin point an exact departure date. Since we’re splashing in June, we’d like to be in the northeastern US, and out of hurricane territory, by the end of June. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that there won’t be any major projects that pop up to slow our departure.
How long will you go for?
We can’t really say how long we’ll be cruising. When you’re on a sailboat, a plan never goes according to plan. We’d love to be gone for at least 10 years, allowing for ample time to really experience various parts of the world. If we can figure out how to have a little monetary income along the way, then we can afford to keep going. At the same time, it’s possible we could get out there, have some unexpected happenings, and be back in the US within 6 months. Sticking to a good schedule with respect to weather & hurricane seasons, it takes about 4 years to circumnavigate the world. Our main goal is to make it through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific, eventually landing in New Zealand & Australia. If and when we make it that far, then we’ll decide where to go from there.
When you’re out in the ocean, where do you stop for night?
When we’re on an extended offshore passage, we do not stop for night. Even if we do stop for some reason, someone still has to keep an eye on our surroundings. This includes watching the weather, the position of our boat with respect to the wind & waves, as well as watching for ships & other passing boats. During a passage, we have a watch system where we take turns keeping an eye on things while we’re underway. In the past, we found a 4-hour watch system worked really well for us. For 24 hours a day, for as many days as the passage is long, we rotate 4 hours on & 4 hours off. Each person has their own individual needs. For myself, it takes some time to wind down and fall asleep after a watch. I do best when I can get a stretch of at least 3 hours of sleep and eat a small snack upon waking. Wil just plain ole likes to sleep! But we keep on moving until we reach our destination.
Do you anchor in the ocean?
No, we don’t anchor in the ocean. When we’re on a passage, we keep moving, using our watch system. For most passages we usually sail long distances from shore (up to 250 miles), so the water is too deep for anchoring. Although, sometimes we might arrive to a destination in the dark or when the seas are a bit bumpy, making it too dangerous to enter a harbor. When this happens, we stop the boat outside the entrance and do what’s called heaving to. Heaving to uses a specific sail combination and fixes the helm, so the boat slows its forward progress. This maneuver was very easy to do on our previous monohull. Sailing a catamaran is new to us, and it will take some time to figure out if Full Monty will heave to or not.
Do you get seasick?
Yes, we get seasick. It’s not uncommon to feel a bit queasy the first few days after having been ashore, or at anchor, for awhile. Wil always feels better once he throws up, so he’s good to go pretty quickly. If I let myself throw up, I can’t stop until there’s nothing more to give. Therefore, I pour crackers & ginger ale down my throat until the feeling goes away. That means I tend to feel badly a bit longer than Wil. Then our bodies adjust and we’re good for the rest of the trip. The next challenge is returning to land after several days on the ocean. There have been times when I actually felt seasick on land! As for the kids, all of this will be a whole new experience for them. We fully expect them to go through some seasickness, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that they too can get over it.
What about pirates?
Will you have a satellite phone? (This comes after the assumption that we’ll have cell phones)
No, we won’t have a satellite phone, nor will we have a cell phone. As long as we don’t have an income, we don’t have a way for paying for a monthly subscription on anything. I am a ham radio operator, as well as my dad. Therefore, my dad and I will have regularly scheduled contacts. If we can’t directly connect to each other, we will be able to relay through other ham radio operators. When we’re out of wifi range, we have the capability of doing text only email through the ham radio. Also just recently, Wil’s mom gave us a SPOT Connect, and as an annual Christmas present to us, she is paying for the annual subscription. The SPOT will allow us to send our GPS coordinates along with brief messages. When we find a phone shoreside, then we’ll do all the catching up that we can!
What about storms?
What do you do with your trash?
You’re soooo lucky! and Ahhh, it must be nice!