Setting off to sail around the world
has required a lot of boat and personal preparations - we will try to share some
of the more important ones below.
Besides preparing our own skills, this was the most important step, since the
boat has affected our cruising experiences in many ways. Our most
important criteria were:
- A good reputation
- Big enough for us to feel comfortable
- Small enough for us to feel we could handle comfortably
- Affordable (around $80,000 in 1988)
Based on that, we found a 1975 Shannon 38' ketch that, with the addition of
various items, satisfied all of our criteria. Look at Lessons
Learned to see what else we should have considered!
Having read many of the cruising guides and books available at the time we insisted
on installation of several items when we bought the boat, and then added
equipment as we got ready to leave the US. Getting Ready summarizes how our trusty yacht was equipped when we left the USA in
Bob had reached a plateau as a Senior Engineer with IBM and was offered an
early-out package as part of their early 90's downsizing - he took it. It meant
no income for 5 years, and then retirement pension payments.
Judi was at the peak of her earning power as a Consultant with a defense
contractor. She resigned, but they gave her a year's leave of absence in
case she changed her mind.
So, we left with no steady income and adequate savings for 3
years of cruising.
Besides preparing the boat, we attempted to prepare ourselves, in terms of
knowledge and skills. What we did and how worthwhile it was includes:
- Shake-down cruise to Bermuda - Judi sailed to Bermuda as crew in
the Marion-Bermuda race and Bob followed, on Long Passages, with crew. We returned
with 3 additional crew members. We practiced heavy weather tactics in
30-40 knots in the Gulf Stream, learned to NOT try to motor into strong
winds, and countless other factoids.
trip for people contemplating extended off-shore cruising.
- Shake-down Cruise Around DelMarVa - 1 year before leaving the US we
joined a 4-day 'race' from Annapolis to the C&D Canal, down the Delaware
river, around to the south end of the Chesapeake and back to Annapolis.
This was our first 2-handed trip in the ocean
- PADI training - We both obtained our PADI scuba diving certificates
from Sea Colony in Annapolis
worthwhile for pleasure and boat chores
- Coast Guard License - Bob obtained his 10-ton '6-pack' license from
Coast Guard Baltimore. This has proved of marginal utility, and based
on expense and value
Not necessary unless a person plans to
operate charter craft.
- Off-shore Course - John Neal and
Mahina Productions offers a
2-day course which covers all topics from equipment purchases to first aid.
The notebook they provided has
become dog-eared from use.
- Safety-at-Sea - These seminars offered at the US Naval Academy in
Annapolis were great for raising awareness of safety issues and equipment.
would never have believed the amount of time, energy, and money we would spend
on receiving and sending mail while cruising. We signed up with St Brendan's
Isle (www.boatmail.net) in Florida and have been very happy with their service, with only an occasional
hiccup. Based on discussions with other cruisers we believe that using a
professional outfit is the way to go, unless one is going for a very
short period. This is a typical monthly haul, recently received in Singapore. We
pay $US14/month plus shipping costs, which typically is $25-40 for a monthly
batch of mail in the Americas, $50-80 in Europe/Asia, see lessons learned.
We prepared ourselves by leaving completely debt-free and
with enough in the bank for 3 years of cruising at $US25,000/year. Take a peek
at our cruising costs to see what it REALLY cost.