Saturday, October 11, 2014 Cruising


Woke up: Ripper’s Cove, Santa Catalina Island, California

Went to sleep: Ripper’s Cove, Santa Catalina Island, California

I often wondered what “cruising” would look like for Peter and me. Every couple does it differently.  Some couples limit their passages to 50 +/- miles to avoid overnighters.  Some couples always tie up to the dock to avoid having to inflate and deflate their dinghy.  Some couples have more amenities, such as a washer and dryer on board, while some couples live comfortably on a 30-foot boat without a water maker or power generation.  The various configurations and approaches are endless.

When our friends, Dan and Tammy, take their boat, Anjuili, for a week’s vacation, they find a quiet little inlet, drop anchor, hike, read and explore. In the past, when Peter and I have taken Penelope for a week’s vacation we have tended to drive directly to the marina, tie up, plug-in, do laundry, take showers, go to town, eat out, spend money.

Our favorite place to eat in Astoria - The Wet Dog

Our favorite place to eat in Astoria – The Wet Dog

I often wondered how we would choreograph our life underway. After nearly 2 months on the water, I have a glimmer of insight.

We’re not afraid of the overnight passages. We’ve established our watch schedules and our roles and we move into them easily.  The boat is self-sufficient in terms of energy and water production.  We only need to visit a town or marina for food and/or fuel.  We’re committed to living on a limited budget so marinas and towns are not even appealing.

Rather than move from place to place every couple of days, we tend to find a place we like and stay there. We usually spend the first day exploring our surroundings and investigating our options.  We then quickly establish our routine.  Our routine always starts with coffee in the morning.  We sit together on the settee and outline our day.  Our days typically start with some form of exercise, either running on the beach or climbing the closest hill.  After exercise and lunch we do our chores.  I may have laundry or housework while Peter has home repairs or home improvements.

Later in the afternoon, I read and Peter goes fishing in the dinghy. While he’s away we communicate via the VHF radio.  I’ll hear, “Penelope. Penelope. Penelope.  This is Zodiac.  Do you copy?” I’ll answer with, “This is Penelope.  Come back, Zodiac.”  He usually calls to tell me he caught a fish or almost caught a fish or saw a fish.  Mostly he just likes to call me on the radio.  And usually I discover if I should start dinner or plan on a fish fry.  Before dark, the dinghy motors up alongside Penelope and he hollers, “Honey, I’m home.”

We eat dinner between 6:00 and 6:30. I clean up the galley.  After dinner we look to our power status to decide if we want to read or watch a movie.    If power generation was high this day and we’re down less than 100 Amp-hours we’ll watch a movie.  If power generation was low this day, we’ll usually choose to read instead.  No wind?  No solar?  No movie!

I just finished Bernard Moitessier’s, The Long Way.  Now, that guy had it rough.  No furnace, no GPS, no autopilot, no water maker, no wind generator, no solar panels, no engine, no cell phone, no text messaging.  No thank you.

In many ways he was far better off, though. He used his sextant to determine his location.  The only time the sextant failed is when cloud cover obstructed his ability to site a celestial body.  He used his monitor wind vane to steer his course.  A monitor wind vane will steer as well as an auto pilot and uses no power.  He used tarps and buckets to collect rain water – again, no power consumption.

What I admire the most was his ability to predict the weather using his observation of the clouds, the color of the sky, the intensity of the stars, the behavior of the animals, the swell, the presence or lack of a halo around the sun/moon and his barometer. I go crazy when I listen to the weather forecaster.  Ten knots, fifteen knots, increasing, diminishing, two-foot swell, six-foot swell, wind from the north, wind from the west, this location, that location.  It’s enough to push me right over the edge.  Certainly in that regard, Bernard had it right.

About Susan M. Gierga

Everyone already knows everything there is to know about me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. To learn current details. Visit my blog, CruisingwithCaptainPeterandtheAdmiral.
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