Monday, September 26, 2016

Cruising isn't all sunshine and pretty fishes

Virginia takes advantage of windy Nishamura Bay on the
Island of Hawaii to dry a batch of laundry.
We often have people tell us, “you are living my dream!” Sometimes it feels like we are living a nightmare.

Blogs abound about the glorious sunsets, islands and fabulous experiences of cruising. No wonder it is a dream of so many – sailors and non-sailors alike – to sail away. But we want to tell the truth. What is it really like?

There is a saying that cruising can be defined as fixing your boat in exotic places. Things break... all the time. While most things we can fix, we have been frustrated for nearly two months with an engine that has stubbornly refused to work. Each time we thought we had it figured out, the fix didn't work. Our mechanic friend, Henry, did his best to analyze the problem over the phone. We appreciated his effort and knowledge, still, nothing worked. At one point we would have traded the boat for two one-way tickets home. Stuck in bouncy, murky anchorages is discouraging and not what we signed up for. (The engine saga continues in future posts. We think we've almost got it fixed.)

We have to fix things no matter how hot it is or how much the boat is bouncing around. We have lots of bruises most of the time. They look great with our tan.
Virginia sews a zipper on the bimini so we can put up our cockpit cover. The zipper was ripped off by the wind during tropical storm Darby. Note the seasick bands. Even at anchor she sometimes gets seasick.

Filth. There is a whole new degree of filth you need to accept. Water is scarce, so showers are usually limited to about a gallon and we use our solar shower almost exclusively now we are in a warm climate. Laundry either is done by hand (which takes hours) or toted a mile or more to the laundromat. We often find ourselves smelling our clothes to see if we can get away with wearing it one more day!

Two six-gallon jugs of water weigh nearly
100 pounds.
Water is an almost daily chore. In Hawaii, at least it's free and easy to find. We often anchor off beach parks. They usually have water. We drag a couple of our six-gallon jugs to the beach in the dinghy, fill them up, then row them back to the boat and lift and pull the 48 pounds of water onto the boat. Then we siphon the water from the jugs into our water tank.

Daily life doesn't stop just because we are “livin' the dream.” Floors still get dirty, cupboards still need to be cleaned, engine oil needs to be changed, composting head needs attention. On a boat all these tasks are a little more difficult. No room for broom and mop closets means sweeping the floor with a whisk broom on your hands and knees. Same when its time to mop. Cupboards are replaced by lockers on a boat and they are usually deep, inaccessible and awkward to clean. The “engine room” is tiny, cramped and very hot most of the time. Food needs to be cooked no matter how much the boat is moving.

Years ago at the Seattle Boat Show we saw shirts for sale: The woman's shirt said “Quit Yelling At Me!” the man's shirt said “I'm Not Yelling!” That sums up bad days.

Boredom is a problem sometimes. What! In Hawaii!? Some days the wind and waves make it difficult and even unsafe to go ashore. So we are stuck on the boat. We are currently in a murky, tiger-shark-infested anchorage and can't snorkel. So we read, or pace, or read, or go crazy. This is harder on Virginia (think border collie) than Brandon (think tree sloth).

We have to (get to?) walk everywhere, usually lugging something like laundry, groceries, gas or diesel jugs. I don't think we would recognize each other if we weren't carrying something. We are to the point where if our destination is only a mile away we think "Score! That's close." The upside is that we've both lost 30 pounds since we left Newport in February.

A friend traveling from Oregon to the tip of South America on a motorbike told us that traveling is not the same as vacationing. We try to remember that.

It's hard work, this sailboat life. Would we do it again if we knew then what we know now? You bet!
A rainbow over Lahaina. Sometimes the view is so beautiful it takes your breath away.