Last Updated 01/21/08
Frequently Asked Questions
Over the years, we've been asked a lot of questions about our trips. Some seem obvious to us, but probably not to people who don't sail. Others are hard to answer because there are so many different ways of thinking about a topic. The ones we've heard the most are answered below.
How did you start sailing?
Paul took sailing lessons at a summer camp, and later became a sailing instructor. Nancy's folks had a cottage on a lake, and she sailed with friends. Geoff and Jennifer grew up sailing, so it came naturally for them, plus Geoff sailed on the University of Michigan Sailing Team. Our first cruising experience was helping a friend sail his family's C&C 35 sailboat back from Mackinac Island in 1976. The next year we bought our first cruising boat, and we've enjoyed the lifestyle and experience ever since.
What's the worst storm you've been in?
The only really heavy weather was the first week of the Expo 98 Rally, as we sailed to Panama. We had 40-50 knot winds and 20-30 foot seas for about three days. Sailing downwind in these conditions is not too difficult during the day, in fact Geoff compared it to his downhill skiing. At night, it was harder, because you want to avoid having the waves break over the boat or cause you to turn sideways. We learned a lot from this experience and would be more comfortable in the same conditions in Encore II compared to Encore I.
The weather and sailing in general has been better and easier on the open ocean than in the Great Lakes. Of course, we stay in the tropics, and avoid the hurricane seasons.
What do you do during night passages?
First, it is too deep to anchor, and we always want to have someone looking out for other ships, so that means someone is always on watch. We typically stand 3 hour watches alone, unless it is really bad weather, in which case a second person will stay in the cockpit and try to sleep. We think that night passages are one of the best parts of cruising, especially when the sky is clear and you can see all the stars and planets. We'll listen to music, talk on the radio to other boats, and keep track of our position in our logbook.
What is the favorite place we've been to?
This is tough to answer. The most scenic spots were probably in French Polynesia. The most exotic would have to be Bali. The most rewarding experience we've had was probably our visit to the Outback in Australia. The Galapagos would get the award for most fascinating wildlife (Komodo being the runner up), the Red Sea for SCUBA diving, and Israel for religious history. Egypt had the most unique historical wonders, although Greece, Turkey and Italy were pretty amazing as well.
At the same time, Angel Falls, in Venezuela, the highest in the world, was the most interesting side trip, perhaps in part due to flying in a small twin engine plane between the 9000 foot flat top mountains (tepuis) and over miles of uninhabited rain forest.
For pure cruising and scenery, we still think the North Channel of Lake Huron is perhaps the best, although Va'vau in Tonga comes close, and the water is a lot warmer.
What are the least favorite spots we've visited?
Unfortunately, Al Mukallah in Yemen is not really a tourist destination. Everything is some shade of brown, and we didn't feel very welcome. Plus, this is one of the few regions where we had concerns about piracy. Djibouti was a disappointment. We thought that as a former French colony, it would be more like the French islands in the Caribbean or the Pacific. It was perhaps a step up from Yemen, but not by much.
What about pirates?
We've included a link to a website that reports weekly on piracy, but for nearly everywhere we went, piracy and crime in general was rare. Dinghy motors are a favorite target in many places, including the Caribbean, and we lock ours up. Perhaps 95% of all piracy targets are commercial freighters because of their cargo and payroll. Along with this question is the one about guns on board. We don't carry any guns, and have only met one cruiser out the hundreds we know, that has (and he was a bit strange). If you do have them and declare them as you are supposed to when you clear into a country, the bureaucracy is a hassle. If you don't declare them, and get caught, the penalties are severe.
Are we traveling with a Rally again?
We enjoyed being part of the Rally, but now, we want to travel slower and have the freedom to change our itinerary as our interests change. We do expect to meet up with many other cruisers that are headed in the same general direction as we are, and are likely to be sailing in company with others for many of our passages.
What do you do to keep from being bored on long passages?
There are always projects to do on the boat, with the best days being those where none of them are critical and have to be done. We read a lot, troll for fish, Nancy bakes bread, study the stars, and simply enjoy being outdoors in the tropics. With the exception of the 18 to 20 day leg from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, the longest passage out of sight of land we have made, most passages are 3-7 days, and these go pretty quickly once we are in a routine.
If you have other questions, please send us an email, and we'll post some more answers.
This site was last updated 01/04/06