15 March 2009
So, Bob Gamble and I were idly chatting the other day about the difference between sailing and cruising and Bob, in his usual sage way said the difference really is between sailing and yacht management. This resonated with me and caused me to reflect on our life on this cruise compared to our previous boating life on the Saint John River/
Sailing in Bob's definition is making your boat go as fast and efficiently as possible,, minimizing the amount of engine time and keeping the gear optimized for going as fast as possible. I heard many stories about racing sailboats/ On real serious boats, the crew break off the handles of their tooth brushes to save weight???? They'll leave overboard crew members fend for themselves rather than turn back to pick them up????? Some I know will take their cushions off their boats and empty their water tanks in preparation for a race. And so it goes....
Cruising is a whole different deal. The time we spend sailing is sparse but precious; We spend our time keeping our boats in good shape, well provisioned and weather ready. I don't want this to sound laborious but there's a lot to do in keeping a boat safe and sound. And compound this challenge with the harsh sun and salt air elements in somewhat remote places. Get the picture?
I've used as a rule of thumb that one year in the near tropics cruising does as much degradation to a boat as five years of sailing in good ole New Brunswick.
So, think about keeping a boat going......
Salt water and wind take their toll; everything is encrusted in salt and it's corrosive nature is incipient. Fresh water is precious so you cannot simply rise it off. You've got to do your best to keep the rust at bay/
Fresh water is challenging. As you know we have a small scale water-maker but it only makes about a gallon and a half an hour so it won't keep up with our daily demands so we have to be parsimonious with our consumption.
We have to ensure we have enough fuel; both gas and diesel. And in the Islands, sometimes fuel is scarce and dirty. Boaters and mechanics will agree that diesel engines will run forever so long and the fuel is clean. Dirty fuel can be like leprosy
Provisioning is another challenge. Many of our stops have absolutely no places to buy anything Those which do are supplied by the proverbial "mailboat". This is the large boat usually coming from Nassau supplying the islands with necessities. So the common expression when you ask for something in a small store which is unavailable is "da mail boat she come tomorrow"/
Rum evaporates. While it is cheap, the rum bottle tends to empty on its own. I don't know if it is the proximity to the equator or the heat but there' s some phenomenon which empties rum bottles way quicker than other latitudes.
Personal appearance is another challenge. I spent thirty some years well groomed, suit-clad and respectable. Judy, as you know is very appearance conscious. On a boat, things are different. There is virtually no class distinction. Everyone , regardless of the size of boat wears the same thing: t-shirt, faded shorts and either sandals, crocs or barefoot. Having said this, clothes do get grimy, hair grows (and gets grey) and we have to keep some semblance of respectability. Laundry is a bit deal and usually takes a whole day. Cutting hair is catch as catch can but some of you'll be glad to know that I've resisted the urge to grow a pony. Judy is still well coiffed but I'm a bit scruffy. Poor old Chopin looks the same save for his one dog-eared (sorry should have said "cat-eared) ear which for some reason has become somewhat ragged (note his right ear in this picture).