Reality of a cruiser way of life.
29 January 2011 | Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Sunny and humid
Here is a stab at the reality of life as a cruiser. Especially if you live on a sailboat.
1. You are not really a sailboat. You are a power boat with a different form of auxiliary propulsion. We have found that we have to motor about 75% of the time as the wind is either non existent or it's from the wrong direction. When you buy a sailboat--check the engine before you buy it. New sails are loads less money than a new engine.
2. Everything cost twice as much as what you think it should cost. Once you stamp "marine" on the label, it may not be any better but since it goes on a boat and everyone knows that all boater are rich, the price doubles. An air horn at West Marine used to cost about $20.00(no longer available). At Walmart, the same horn that was non marine was about $10.00. It's that marine thing.
3. Planning does no good as most plans go right out the window as you cruise. Weather changes and so does the date. Things break as you get ready to leave and so does the date. S__t happens and the date changes. Everything out here is written in either sand or jello. What you plan rarely happens.
4. Get as big a tank on board your boat as possible. Both water and fuel. I should have said diesel as no smart person uses gas on any kind of big boat. They go boom in the night. The bigger the tanks, the farther you can go and the fewer stops you have to make. Many modern boats come with a small 40 gallon tank. If you make 6 knots per gallon, your range is limited. We carry 215 gallons at 1 gallon for each 6.5 nautical mile. I can get to Hawaii from here on a full tank(and a prayer). The more water you have the better unless you have a spare $5,000 for a water maker. And then you have to hope they don't break down. Out here, bigger tanks are what separate the cruisers from the wantabees. They carry lots of jerry cans on their decks. We do, but only for the gas we need for the generator and outboard motor. We carry about 26 gallons plus 5 extra gallons of diesel incase I have to change out the fuel filters along the way.
5. Learn the language of where you are going. At least give it a try. The locals love to hear us struggling with their language. We've learned a lot of Spanish since we got here. A few more years and we might be able to speak it. Well, maybe not.
6. Don't overload your boat. People have to eat everywhere. It might not be your favorite food, but learn to eat what the locals eat and where they eat. It's cheaper and probably tastes better. Look for a local food vendor along the road or a small restaurant along the road. How crowded are they? If busy, it's got to be good. You can eat at these little food carts lots cheaper than in a fancy restaurant.
7. Take the time to learn your boat. Inside and out. A little knowledge is good but a lot is LOTS better. Take classes if you can on electrical(12 volt especially) as well as a GOOD diesel class. Not one that just shows you parts of your engine. One that shows you and allows you to take an engine apart so when something fails, you might have a better understanding of what it takes to fix it.
8. Take as many spare parts as you can for just about every system on board. We carry spare water pump, fresh water pumps, starters, alternators, fuel pumps(2), and lots more that I won't list here.
Be prepared for what is to come and it will be less of a surprise when(not if) it happens.