One of the best things about this whole “cruising” lifestyle is the awesome folks you meet along the way. The boating community in general seems to be a pretty friendly group, but there are some folks who you just have an immediate connection with beyond just having “the whole cruising thing” in common. Ryan and Chris on s/v Firefly definitely fall into this category! At 30′ Elara is very often the smallest boat in the anchorage/marina, so when we were on the free docks in Elizabeth City, NC and we saw an even smaller boat than us pull in, we knew we had to meet the intrepid souls aboard. Not only are Chris & Ryan awesome folks, but we have thoroughly enjoyed catching up on their adventures restoring and sailing their 26′ Pearson Ariel, Firefly (yes after the show – woohoo browncoats!)
Chris & Ryan nominated us for this Leibster-award-thingy, so here goes!
- Why are you sailing, where are you going?
- Ed – I just love being on the water. Instead of going to school like normal children, I grew up spending most of my time in the ocean. Ever since I was young I dreamed of living on a boat and sailing off into the sunset. There is just something magical about being on a boat. The destination is almost irrelevant, although following the warm weather seems like a good idea.
- Vicky – the idea of exploring in a way that’s not as conventional is very appealing to me. Traveling on a boat allows you to get to places you otherwise could not get to. For example the islands we visited in Belize are unreachable by anything but a boat! And being able to watch a sunset in an idyllic remote anchorage that’s not accessible by car is just amazing!
- How do you get your mojo back after a major setback like you guys experienced in Charleston? (the setback in question is losing our rudder while getting pulled off a shoal near Charleston)
- Ed – To be honest we are still working on that. The experience definitely made us a bit gun-shy about the ICW & shoaling. At this point we’re seriously considering offshore passages rather than facing more shoaling. A big thing is to just keep it in perspective: While the whole experience was pretty disheartening, in the end no one was hurt & the boat is all put back together better than new! Plus the time in the yard gave me the chance to put in a lot of hours working & bank some funds as well as getting some boat projects done. Really the biggest bummer of the whole thing was watching all our friends make it south while we were still stuck on the hard.
- Vicky – not sure we have our mojo back and perhaps that’s ok. This is forcing us to be overly cautious for each passage. The grounding experience certainly reminded me that we are still very much novices at this and have to take it one day at a time. And with time, slowly, hopefully we will begin feeling more confident.
- What has made you poo your pants in fear, and poo your pants in happiness?
- Ed – Fortunately (knock on teak) we haven’t had any truly terrifying experiences. We saw some bad weather in the Chesapeake but that was more just unpleasant than scary. We call them the “washing machine days” because the boat got tossed around in the chop like we were in a washing machine. One kind of scary thing just happened recently pulling into Beaufort, SC. We were coming to the entry channel for the marina off the ICW, which was a fairly tight channel with shoals on both sides. I was at the helm and as we approached I pulled back the throttle to reduce speed and navigate the entrance carefully. The boat did not slow down! I tried again, nothing. I simply could not bring the engine down from cruising RPMs. That definitely made my heart skip a beat. I gave Vicky the helm and told her to simply circle the boat around in the deep water while I checked the engine. Fortunately the issue was simple – the engines idle set screw had vibrated loose and worked itself all the way up, meaning that it was blocking the throttle from going down. Unthreading the screw a bit allowed us to throttle back and we made it in without incident.As for the latter, while I generally try to avoid soiling myself out of happiness :-P , I’d say the best experiences have really been hanging out with all the awesome folks we’ve met along the way, watching sunrises/sunsets from beautiful anchorages, and dolphins. Seriously, no matter how many times we see dolphins dancing around the boat, it *never* gets old.
- Vicky – from the first time I went out on a boat and up to now I still get very nervous around other boat traffic. Add to that the gigantic powerboats that pass us and create major wakes and it has me on the edge of my seat. Of course now I also get extremely nervous through the shallow areas. It doesn’t take much to make me happy (though I’m probably fooling myself) but I love tasting a unique and creative dish at a great restaurant. And what Ed said, meeting awesome people as we travel and getting so see things we wouldn’t have otherwise.
- What do you guys do while not underway?
- Ed – Unfortunately, when not underway I have to spend most of my time working. Make no mistake, I am super grateful to have a job I can do remotely, but it has been quite shocking how much this cruising thing costs. I think we’re actually spending more per month than we did on land with two full-time incomes. So basically I have to put in as many hours as possible to try and keep our heads above water. Between the work-work and boat-work there isn’t much time for anything else. I’m still hoping to be able to find some time to do some painting though!
- Vicky – when we left Philly I had taken some macrame supplies but it wasn’t until we were in a boatyard in Charleston that I finally started doing something with it. Now I spend my free time learning new macrame techniques and patterns and making all kinds of jewelry. I’ve also tried to do more of the cooking than I used to at home. I even learned how to make plov, the traditional Uzbek disk of meat and rice, which Ed loves. A big pot of it last us for quite a few days.
- How do you divided responsibilities on the boat?
- Ed – Vicky and I have always been a good team when it comes to getting stuff done. I really dislike the whole “pink jobs/blue jobs” paradigm that many folks seem to adopt. Usually we work on most projects in tandem where 4 hands are better than two. Anything from electrical to fiberglass to hardware bedding. Even the sewing projects. In terms of everyday chores, it kind of just happens organically. For example, on land I did 99% of the cooking but on the boat Vicky has been doing a lot more since I am often busy working. We trade off doing dishes, and we both do cleaning.
- Vicky – what Ed said!
(Vicky using the decal stripper to remove the old striping while I buff the hull. We are an equal-opportunity power-tool sharing boat)
Now, by the power vested in us by the sacrament of Leibster-fication, we hereby nominate Lauren & Brian of S/V Nightengale Tune. Lauren & Brian are another awesome couple we met way back in Annapolis, and have a great blog of their own over at the SeaBiscuit Blog! We love reading about their adventures, so here goes:
- Did you have any misconceptions/expectations about this whole lifestyle going in? What have you learned since?
- Best experience? Scariest experience?
- How long do you think you’ll keep cruising? And how far?
- Your galley is known for amazing food. What are you the proudest of your galley cooking so far and what else are you hoping to attempt?
- How do you think your cat is enjoying this vagabond lifestyle and any advice for others hoping to cruise with their cat?
So Lauren & Brian – BAM you’ve been Leibster’d :-)