Monday, May 16, 2011

Q & A, part I

Eliciting questions from you, dear readers, was an interesting exercise.  Most people want to know about the same things: our route planning, our kids, and above all, our safety.  Oh, boy, did I get questions about safety.  In contrast, Stylish’s best friend, a girl we will call Gemini as the two are practically twins, asked the best question of the crop: What good things have you done on your trip?  I leave it you to decide who is focused on the right things in this scenario.  I know where my vote goes.

I am going to split this into two posts.  First, we will deal with some nuts-and-bolts practical issues.  In a couple of days, we’ll look at the touchy-feely aspects of our trip.

Well, then.  On with the show!

Question the first: destinations
Are your plans secret?  Where are you going?  When are you going to get there?  How precise is your route?  Where do you cruise to stay comfortable? 

As a reminder, here is a quick look at where we have been:

Follow the red line.
Cool, right?  We’ve gone pretty far, considering we max out at about 8 knots.  (That is about 9 mph, or 15 kph, to you land-based types.)  But that is the past.  What is our future?

First of all, we do not have secret plans.  I find it difficult to believe that anyone is trolling the internet looking for sailing blogs so they can accost said sailors.  Seriously.  Desperate people are either a) too busy trying feed themselves or b) just generally have bigger fish to fry.  If we have trouble, it will be a crime of opportunity.  So, no secrets.  We just kind of don't know.

Some of the first advice we received when researching this trip was: when people want to visit, give them a place or a date, but not both.  Sailing is too uncertain.  I’ve repeated this so many times to so many people.  And everyone nods sagely, says they understand completely, and then asks where we are going to be on such-and-such a date.

I understand this is a difficult concept.  I clearly remember speaking to a woman last summer about our upcoming trip.  She shook her head and said, “I couldn’t deal with that much uncertainty.”  And she nailed it: cruising is all about uncertainty.  Sometimes we don’t know where we are going tomorrow, much less next week or next month.

That said, we have ideas.  When we leave Isla Mujeres, we will continue south along the coast.  Belize has beautiful reefs, so we’ll likely do a lot of daysailing with diving/snorkelling in between.  After that, we may go to Rio Dulce (Guatemala).  Or maybe not.  We are aiming for Cartagena in the medium term.  Long term, we want to hit the San Blas islands, and the Galapagos.  Maybe a Pacific crossing waits for us next spring.  In truth, all of that is so far away as to be almost imaginary.  In reality, when we wake up in the morning, we have a direction we want to go and we have the weather we’re given.  We work from there.

As for comfort, I'm not going to lie to you.  It's hot.  We deal with comfort by both toughening up, and swimming a lot.  We have a tiny a/c on board, but we don't use it as it is a power hog.  I'm more worried about the bugs that are to come.  In the end, I think we'll manage by leaving places that are too uncomfortable.

Question the second: kids
Do the girls spend much time with other kids?  Is the age gap an issue?  Has the boat become normal for the girls?  More normal than a house?

One of the tough things about this trip has been the lack of small fry.  Certainly, Stylish and Indy have made friends along the way.  But no one has been around for more than a week, which is tough.  We keep hoping to see more kids as we head further south.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.

The age gap is there, but isn’t too terrible.  The girls can play together, and although it isn’t the same as having a peer, a sibling is a pretty good substitute.  I feel for the solitary kids on boats; I don’t know how they manage.

As for “normal”, that is the big question.  Stylish is starting to forget what our house looked like.  I doubt Indy remembers much pre-boat; she was barely two when we moved aboard.  There are days when I worry the kids are becoming feral, but then again, mainly they seem happy and curious and interested in life.

Just to show how disgustingly wholesome and happy they are, here is a video Stylish riding a horse last week at the ranch we visited:

Question the third: the boat
Does the boat and its systems meet your needs?  Some systems must have performed flawlessly; the hull, for example.

As I feel underqualified to answer this question, we have a guest comment from His Nibs: “Based on the horror stories we have heard, Papillon is above average system-wise.  Happily, we managed to identify and rectify many of the flaws before leaving.  Currently we continue to be plagued by the complexity of a legacy electrical system.  But time and patience will surely get us there as well.”

Doesn’t that sound optimistic?  I know I feel better.

Question the fourth: safety
There are pirates out there!  There are so many pirates in the Caribbean, they made them into a Disney ride and series of terribly boring movies!  What are you doing about the pirates?  Ahhhhhh!

Lookity.  Pirates are no joke.  They are desperate people.  I know that.  But we are not going to the Gulf of Aden.  We talk to other cruisers to get local information.  Trust me, we don’t want to see Bad Guys either.  Seriously, people.  If you are choosy about where you go and use some common sense, the risk is low.  You don’t see me giving you grief about commuting to work along the 401, do you?  Your risk of a car accident is much higher than my risk of encountering pirates.  But cars feel familiar.  They are part of the background of urban life, so you just file Car Accidents in your brain in the Normal & Mundane Acceptable Risk box.  As you never have to think about pirates in your daily life, they get slotted into the Scary & Unfamiliar Excessive Risk box.  But that doesn’t mean they belong there.

But do you know what no one is talking about?  Whale attacks.  Check it out:

This whale attack occurred last summer near South Africa.  And only a few days ago some poor sods were attacked in Oregon.  But is anyone writing to me in a  panic about that?  No, sir.  Because whales are all cute and endangered.  And they didn’t mean to do it.  Ri-iiiiight.  Sure they didn’t.  You keep telling yourself that.

Question the fifth: medical roundup
So, how's about that broken finger?

Why, thank you for asking.  It has finally healed.  The new nail is almost fully grown in, and it looks pretty normal.  I still have a lump of scar tissue inside the finger; it feels like I have a pearl stuck in there when I press on it.  I notice that I don't type with it any longer.  But it works, and that is all that matters.

That about does it for today.  More is forthcoming!

1 comment:

bunny9 said...

Thank you & well written as usual. Now if I can only follow your excellent directions I will be seeing you on Wednesday. lol