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Date: 01 Jun 2008 21:33:36
Title: All Questions Answered Here

Hello Friends                                     "16:13.3N 61:31.8W"
 
With the hope of answering all those questions, let's have a different sort of blog ...
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sail Cruising, but were Afraid To Ask.
 
1    Is it Fun ?
 
You bet ! We're still having a great time out here and there are always new things to see, new places to visit and new friends to meet - and we've only sailed about 150 miles up the islands and 250 miles down the islands from our arrival here in Guadeloupe nearly 18 months ago, so there's lots more to do just here in the Caribbean. Thereagain, if you don't like swimming or can't cope with the heat, then I guess you might not have too much fun.
 
2    Don't you miss the Routine ?
 
Unbelievably, people really do ask this question, but hopefully they aren't let out too often !
I suppose if you call waiting in the drizzle on Greenwich station platform for a cancelled 0812 train to Charing Cross each morning, then yes, I guess we do miss the routine, thank goodness.
 
3    Do you get on OK, being cooped up in such a small space together ?
 
Amazingly we manage just fine (probably due to George's tolerance). Though it depends on the personalities it is important to respect other people's space and wish to be quiet sometimes, even more than if you are land based. We think that you adapt to living in a relatively small space, though our living space on Blue Sky is a lot bigger than the average cruising yacht. We spend a lot of time in the cockpit which is a bit like being on your terrace all Summer.
 
4    Do you need to be a very experienced sailor ?
 
Well being relatively competent gives you an advantage, though there appear to be plenty of sailors out here who don't know the first thing about sailing (see "Charter Boats ?") Of course you never stop learning more about seamanship, but hopefully after the first 10,000 miles you begin to get the hang of the basics.
 
5    Is it All Frightfully Expensive ?
 
Not really. We tend to live within our budget which offers us a bit more flexibility than what we guess is the average. But we do know a number of cruisers who live well on a modest budget of less than £10,000 a year and some manage on a microscopic budget of less than £2,000 per year, including doing all your own work on the boat and fishing a lot.
 
6    Do you miss anything that you can't get at home on land?
 
A delicious pint of Youngs ordinary in the Tolly, though an ice cold bottle of Carib with a slice of lime does fairly well. Broadband internet 24 hours a day would be nice and we suppose a normal toilet which flushes without being pumped, though you do get used to it.
 
7    Do you ever want a break and go and stay in a hotel ?
 
No names will be mentioned on this one, but no, of course not unless the boat is out of action for maintenance. Many people live on the boat when it's hauled out for work, though our budget allows us a little more comfort.
 
8    What's the scariest thing that happens ?
 
Settling down with your sundowners after another glorious day and seeing a charter boat racing in as the light fades. They attempt to park (let's face it, their miserable attempt could hardly be graced with the title 'anchor' ) just in front of you. They glance over the bow at the anchor chain just to check that it's slightly wet and then all jump in the tender to go out to dinner. No thought at all for what happens if the wind gets up etc. etc. (and see below)
 
Or at least they would if they were not enthusiastically discouraged by our repertoire of charter boat repelling techniques ....
 
9    Anything else a bit scary ?
 
Catching a really large fish would be scary, and we'll report in full if it happens !
 
10    OK, so what is all this about 'setting the anchor' ?
 
Yes, of course no one has actually asked this, but we're going to tell you anyway!
- if there's a fresh breeze, then the other boats will be lying to their anchors, rather than just a bit of their anchor chain - so you can estimate where the other boats' anchors are and can move in closer than if there is no breeze.
- approach your anchorage slowly so you get a feel of the spacing between the other boats - what you want to see is the view from the clouds but what you get is the view from a few degrees above the horizontal, so take your time and circle about if you want.
- drop the anchor upwind of where you want the boat to lie to allow for the chain paying out.
- use enough chain ! never less than 3 times depth and preferably 4 times; though 6 or 7 times works well in the hurricane season in case of violent squalls.
- twiddle your thumbs peacefully while the boat falls back and lies bow to wind.
- put the engine into idle astern, then slowly increase revs astern over a minute or so until you have, say, 1500 revs astern and your propeller wash is making waves against the breeze.
- if you're staying put then you're anchor is looking good.
- but if you are really keen like us and there is enough light and water clarity, go snorkel the anchor so you can see it's set nicely.
 
11    Charter Boats ?
 
Sunsail = 'Scumsail'
Dream Yacht Charter = 'Nightmare Yacht Charter'
Moorings = 'Draggings'
Sparkling Charter = 'Fizzy Hire'
 
Yes, we know it's terribly unfair, but for every charter boat that seems to be well managed, there are ten which are worryingly incompetent.
 
12    What do you do for food ?
 
We visit a supermarket or shop just like anyone else. It's true to say that the choice of food available in Martinique is better than that in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent (blog 6 Dec 07) but you adapt to what is available. Delicious ripe mangoes are about 5p each in Dominica, nutmeg is free on the ground in many islands and fresh fruit and veg are plentiful and generally inexpensive.
 
But you do have to tolerate that sometimes there will be no tomatoes and that avocadoes do have a season (just starting now !) and so on. So I guess it would suit those who whinge about Tesco stocking everything 12 months of the year.
 
Whilst on the subject of food, it's worth mentioning that wine is readily available at fair prices almost everywhere, though St Vincent seems more expensive. The French islands are obviously well-stocked.
 
13    and Laundry ?
 
There are plenty of laundries which wash, dry and fold in all the islands. Most of the laundry is just the bedding and towels as there's not the need to wear a huge number of clothes !
 
14    What's your Carbon Footprint ?
 
Well, it's a bare footprint most of the time. Our power comes almost entirely from sun and wind, which must get gold stars from the eco warriors. We do use a certain amount of diesel, but not more than 400 litres a year. Generally we try to eat locally produced food and George is expert at new ways with yam, plantain and dasheen which is cheap and delicious.
 
Probably manufacturing the yacht in the first place is not very eco friendly, but once you've got going it's easy to be quite green.
 
15    And where's the blog photo this week?
 
OK OK - this could just as easily illustrate Q5.
 
 
On the left a racing trimaran, the sort of thing that gets here from the English Channel in less than 10 days. On the right, the strangest thing we've seen out here well under 2 metres long it has the URL www.stern-global.com on the side which may shed some light (site not checked by us) and it looks like a bathtub with a mast.
 

 
So that's all for this week folks. Our new crew, Federico, joins in an hour or so and the next blog will report on how he's settling in.
 
And if you have further questions, you know the email address.
 
Best Wishes
 
George & Michael
 

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