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Old 11-18-2009, 06:44 PM   #1
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The cruising life--its all about change and responding to the conditions around us. Weather, political, safety, and our own dreams. We may start out with one plan, but quickly end up in an entirely different cruising life. And, while those still embroiled in the rat-race may not "get it," when you're cruising, challenges arise and, well, things just change. You change, things change...and...if you're going with the flow, who knows where you'll be next.

For example, for many years, David and I have plotted and planned various voyages that we might undertake once we started cruising. With all expectations of beginning our adventures on the US East Coast, we had planned for jaunts up into the Canada, Labrador, Iceland, and, Scandinavia. With a sister-in-law from St. Petersburg, Russia and David having lived and sailed a bit in Sweden, we though we'd spend many years happily voyaging to-and-from the Baltic, the Northern Atlantic down into the Med, perhaps a trip or two or three or more down to the Caribbean. That was our "near term" view. The long-term was more adventuresome-perhaps the Panama Canal taking us down the west coast of South America to the deep waters of Patagonia and if we were really up to the task, around Cape Horn. Perhaps a Pacific perimeter trip with visits to places we'd both visited while he was in the US Navy--the Philippines and Japan, perhaps a trip up to Alaska and down the US West Coast. But, those trips would be many years in the future. After all, we were making our plans to depart from the US East Coast--right?

Many times we considered the wide expanses of the Indian Ocean and eastern Africa, David visited Kenya while aboard an aircraft carrier and spent many, many months--and years--at sea in the Indian Ocean supporting US interests in the Persian Gulf. Because he was deployed nearby, I flew from Japan to Abu Dhabi so we could spend our 10th wedding anniversary together in the UAE...visiting Oman for some adventure. Given the time he spent there on ship, and the constant threats to personal safety on small yachts, David has never had a desire to return to the Middle East--even the reportedly lovely diving in the Red Sea wasn't enough to entice "planning" for a trip to that part of the world. We talked about circumnavigation--we said, well, if we find that we're in-the-groove some day perhaps we'll find our way to the Cape of Good Hope and around. But then again, perhaps we'll spend a decade doing all that stuff that we've already dreamed about...and then contemplate the political conditions of the Middle East and hope that the governments with interest have taken care of the growing problems of piracy near the Red Sea and we'll re-evaluate where we are.

Well, we now find ourselves beginning our voyaging life here on the US West Coast, having moved cross-country to buy and rebuild a boat in sunny Southern California. Our romantic plans of Scandinavia will have to wait for sometime far in the future. Our new plans are of seeing the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada before "voyaging onwards" to other cruising destinations around the Pacific. Things change, don't they?

Well, that's the cruising life.

So many cruisers have it as their goal to "circumnavigate" and come what may, they're going to do it. David and I assume that if we voyage long enough we'll end up circumnavigating, by accident, but it is by no means a primary goal. We just don't see that, as a goal that is fitting of our view of the cruising lifestyle.

Good thing I'm thinking that way, and planning on years and years of sailing... since one would be pushed to put themselves at risk, at this particular time at least, going through the Red Sea just to be able to quickly complete the goal of circumnavigating. I do find it much more feasible, or reasonable, at this time if one were circumnavigating, to go round the Cape--but realize there are many risks there as well. I suppose that anyone wishing to circumnavigate at this time, would be evaluating the Cape and thinking about ways of making their circumnavigation work 'round the South of Africa rather than to the North.

Given that it's actually rather hard to have a truly interesting circumnavigation which is short (say less than 5 years) but there's so much to see in this world, I wonder why a cruiser--no longer married to the rat race and the arbitrary goals that race puts upon us--would do it when they can see the whole world up-down-and all over the place without ever actually circumnavigating? Yes, many new cruisers do have an expectation of circumnavigating. And, I must admit, one out of 3 people who query us about our voyaging plans ask if we will be circumnavigating. It seems to excite a lot of people. Our answer is "no, unless by accident." That doesn't excite anyone but us

The culture of cruising is put forth--and romanticized--in a certain way--laid back, go where you want to when you want to, don't be trying to meet the expectations of others, etc. Go your own way, make your own path, etc. The increasing dangers for circumnavigation of passage to the Red Sea point towards the need for cruisers to be more original and, yes, go their own way--another way rather than the beaten path of the fast circumnavigation "been there, done that" thing which requires close encounter with piracy if one chooses to get to the Red Sea.

It is unfortunate that we do see time-and-again (and not merely because of weather/tradewinds/etc) that many "cruisers" make the same (relatively) fast voyage around the world to achieve a circumnavigation...I often think that then they can happily go back to the rat-race life--having just turned the cruising life into its own little race of circumnavigation. It appears, to me at least, that a lot of people think its not worth cruising unless one completes a circumnavigation. Directly, that thought is one MUST circumnavigate to cruise. That is just silly, of course, but yet there is a whole group of people out there who have an underlying expectation that they will circumnavigate. Since they have planned a few short years of cruising, this forces them to contemplate the Red Sea at this time when passage through the area is an uncontrollably risky thing to do.

And, that, I don't think is the cruising life at all.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:49 PM   #2
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Could not put it better. Cruising is enjoying while seeing the world, slowly. It is not breaking any speed records.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:58 PM   #3
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:03 PM   #4
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Several years ago I took my first "cruise." I bought a 16 foot sit-on-top plastic kayak from Wilderness Systems. My friend bought one too. We took them to San Felipe (upper right corner of the Baja Peninsula) and then paddled them to Cabo San Lucas.

We took just over three months to get there, stopped in a lot of great places for up to a week at a time. Sometimes we took days off just because we liked where we were. It was the best thing I have ever done and is a piece of why I own a boat today.

What I found was that having the goal - San Felipe to Cabo San Lucas - got me up and moving in the morning, gave me something to write about in the evening, gave me something to talk about and to think about. I was always pretty clear on the fact that it was the journey rather than the destination, but just having the destination made the whole trip a lot more fun for me.

And we did very much take things as they came, modified our plans as we encountered the world. But we still had that goal every day to give focus to our days.

So while I am certainly NOT disagreeing with you, (how could I ever argue with Sand Diego and a Schooner?) I would point out that for some personalities having a goal to work toward provides some of the structure needed to maintain momentium when you give up all the corporate stuff. If "circumnavigating" or "rounding cape horn" or whatever else gives people a reason to get out of bed in the morning, then I say go with whatever works.

BTW - I want to quit and go cruising. I have no interest in racing around the world, but would love to make it around in 10 or 15 years.
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Old 11-19-2009, 02:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote View Post
I would point out that for some personalities having a goal to work toward provides some of the structure needed to maintain momentium when you give up all the corporate stuff. If "circumnavigating" or "rounding cape horn" or whatever else gives people a reason to get out of bed in the morning, then I say go with whatever works.
Umm...why does one have to maintain momentum? LOL. Isn't that what many cruisers are trying to get away from?

I do know that many of us get into a funk if we don't have goals or structure. Goals can be simple though. No need for grandiose endeavors which end up forcing us into danger that we'd most likely be best to avoid. I really do look upon those quick circumnavigations as a line someone can put on their resume when they get back to work.

Your trip down Baja sounds great. I hope your sailing adventures are just as fun.
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:52 PM   #6
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You've pretty much told my story to a T Brenda... when I first got into sailing I was all about the circumnavigation... as if it was some magical rare accomplishment... now that I've been on a boat, mine or others, pretty much day in day out for 2 years I've come to realize how very un-special a fast circumnavigation is... I figure I'll still eventually sail around the world but that is only because the world is round and the shortest route to one place to another will probably eventually take me all the way around.. not because it's something I care to do anymore. I'm now content to stay in one place until I'm tired of it and then wander around faily aimlessly (the main objective usually being to avoid bad weather...and fees and taxes) till I find someplace I like enough to stay for a while...
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:54 PM   #7
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Hi Brenda,

Aye once had a Japanese archery sensi, who often reminded me that the real Beauty of Archery is not about hitting the exact spot on the target... but in the brief flight of the arrow.

I couldn't agree more with you about allowing the wind to blow you as it may. We recently entertained the idea and planned to sail north, back to Hawaii from French Polynesia... and connect the dots on our globe (among MANY other good reasons to go to Hawaii)... but simply changed our minds in Moorea and continued downwind to see some new places. We may never go back to where we've been before. I really don't think it matters. The point in my mind is to Go Forward.

We left Phuket and steered for the Red Sea simply because we wanted to see the Pyramids... and Turkey...the Greek Isles... and Rome. When we cleared into Egypt at the port of Safaga, we found the following hand-written note that someone had left before us...

"On an Ancient Wall near Cairo

where a dusty Pharoh blinks

Deeply graven is the message -

It is later than you think.

The clock of life is wound but once

And no man has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop

at late or early hour.

Now is all the time you own,

the past a Golden Link,

go cruising now my brother -

It is Later than you Think".

The poem that launched a thousand ships? Perhaps you've seen the poem before but it moved me to transcribe it inside the fromt cover of my logbook.

At the moment, I'd really like to do another round of South East Asia again. The people are nice, the cruising is superb, the food is tasty, it's affordable and it's getting closer to us as time goes on. All we really have to do to get started - is raise our anchor.

And should we decide to go up the Red Sea... I'd like to slow down... and spend more time relaxing and diving the marsa passes. It's very humbling to stand in the gaze of the Sphinx.

I believe one should always have a set of goals to work toward but one should always be flexible and open to any changes the wind may suggest... because the real beauty is in the brief Flight of Life...

and Damn the Torpedos!

To Life!

Kirk

PS - which boat did Dave serve on? Mine was the USS Kitty Hawk. SMALL World - BIG Yacht Club! Hope to see you soon.
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:21 PM   #8
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Were you also an aviator? Since you say "boat" rather than "ship" I figure that is the case.

Dave flew F14's from the Constellation (San Diego) and the Independence (forward deployed Japan replacing the Midway).
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:32 PM   #9
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Some good posts here. I am new so I have a lot of reading to do to catch up. Will be heading North out of Bellingham WA. again this spring. Myself and a few other guys all on our own boats. We usually get up to Desolation Sound at least. We are talking about a trip around Vancouver Island will see how that shakes out. Probably not interesting to most of you world travelers but there are some good times to be had in BC. In my limited experience it is world class cruising with a lot of history. Looking forward to your comments and experiences.
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Old 11-19-2009, 11:18 PM   #10
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funny my plan is to stay as far away from land for as long as my lady will let me. if i was just to head out to the middle for ten months a year i would be happy. land is a loony bin with the looniest on guard. Cant wait to get away from it again.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:01 PM   #11
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When we started cruising back in '86, we told everyone that we were going for a couple years, maybe as far as the Caribbean (from the East coast US), "who knows?" When asked if we were planning on circumnavigating, our answer was usually, "I doubt it, but who knows?"

Two years after we left, we were back in the States for a visit, including with Peter's former employer and his fellow workers. His former boss told Peter that they were almost finished constructing the building that would house their new division, and when was Peter going to be back to run that division? ????

Peter kindly replied that he wasn't coming back, that we liked what we were doing and were going to continue. Funny, they could believe that we would be away for two years, but they couldn't believe we could stay away for an indefinite period of time. It took them another five years to realize that Peter meant it.

We had a huge world map on our bulkhead, and we would occasionally look at it and think - "where now? Gee, that island is only about two inches away, let's go."

We didn't get all the way around because we found so much of interest "just down the road a ways." For us cruising was about seeing as much as we could of a place. We didn't limit ourselves to the coastline of a country, we took bus trips inland, we took trains, we flew to some places. We met many, many nice people wherever we found ourselves.

We've met several circumnavigators who have done it more than once. One boat we met was on their fourth circumnavigation, and when I asked why, their answer was "well, we missed such-and-such place last time, and decided to go around again to see what we missed the last time." Another fellow said he liked it so much the first time he decided to do it again. The people on these two boats were not bragging about their "accomplishment", but rather acknowledging that their first time around was too fast and they had set out again to correct that.

We are still just cruising for a few years, and we are still cruising to see new places, meet new people, learn something new. We love our power catamaran for its accomodation to our age and the kind of cruising we now do, and we are still not too proud to get off the boat to do some of our travel, such as last year's cross-country trip of the US on AMTRAK.

Just as people asked us why we were traveling so far in our boat, people asked us why we were traveling across the US by train. For some people voyaging is not part of their dreams or their psyche, so we see no need to do anything that might impress others - because it won't. We have only ourselves to please, we aren't impressed by ourselves (we know full well our many faults and missteps) and so have no need to pursue any goal other than that which amuses us at the moment.

It works for us.

Fair winds,

J
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:55 PM   #12
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Worth examining is the UK Hydrographic Office's Anti-Piracy chart.. In PDF format, it is freely downloadable.

Well done UKHO!

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:13 PM   #13
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Stephen-- Nice! Thanks for the link.

JeanneP-- You continue to inspire me as being the type of cruiser that I think of when I think "cruiser"
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:49 PM   #14
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Brenda, thank you. Though I show my feet of clay more often than I would like.

I started working after college when they still had "help wanted - male" and "help wanted - female" job ads and I am still prickly if I feel that I'm being unnecessarily patronized by some man too busy to find out what I already know. When this happens, I have sometimes gotten a bit pompous about what we've done. And usually within 5 minutes I'm really, really ready to bite down hard on my big toe. Somebody once told me to count to five before rising to the bait, which I think is a great idea, but I still have a hard time following such good advice.

Anyway, some people tell me that I must be brave to do what we have done, but I don't think that's true at all. We have been to many places that other cruisers have said were "dangerous" but which we learned after a bit of research were not. We have avoided places for which we had received first-hand reports of serious problems or dangers. Even most of those reports were one-time encounters with the bad guys that were not repeated but which we felt weren't worth the potential risk. It was easy to find a safer place to visit in the general direction. There are some places that are simply too dangerous to visit.

From all the news reports, Somalia and that section of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea is the current place where it is too dangerous for reasonable people to even sail past. Since these pirates have high power guns and very fast boats, there is no sailboat or cruising power boat that can evade them. To me, that's more risk than I have ever been prepared to take.

How unfortunate, but I have hopes that eventually they will go the same way as the pirates of the Barbary Coast.

J
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