Frequently Asked Questions …
We’ve received lots of questions about what we’re doing and how. Here’s answers to several of the most common:
John’s Answer – The original idea was definitely mine and was totally, unequivocally and undeniably dismissed by Jane when first presented as a possible lifestyle after retirement. As a matter of fact, as this is a family oriented blog, I can’t even mention the salty sailor language used by Jane at the time. Frankly, after that eventful day, I never mentioned it again. About a year later, Jane surprisingly expressed some interest, and the research began in earnest. We traveled to the Florida Keys to interview full time cruisers and started reading sailing books, cruiser blogs and watching YouTube videos (see our favorite cruising and RV links listed in the right-hand column of this page). Surprisingly, I think it’s safe to say that Jane is probably more engaged in the lifestyle plan today than me. Go figure!
The idea for the RV came later when we realized that the intended journey for our first year of cruising (see Our Plan) didn’t allow us year-round living on the boat. We needed someplace to live during the period we can’t be on the boat. And what a great opportunity to be able to hop in the RV while the boat is in storage and explore this beautiful county (the warmer parts, of course!).
Jane’s Answer – Yes, as above. It did take me a long time as usual, but with lots of thinking, researching, interviewing, some praying for guidance … I’ve arrived!
No! That’s what airplanes are for!
Why a sailboat? People your age are tired of the work involved with sailing and have transitioned to power boats.
Good question. We’ve discussed it. It’s possible that one day we’ll sell the sailboat and purchase a nice comfortable cabin cruiser or trawler for our coastal cruising, or doing the Great Loop. But for now, we want a nice comfortable sailboat suitable for coastal cruising, yet blue water capable enough for short ocean hops over to the Bahamas.
Oh no, not that question again! Because we want a monohull.
Please don’t ask me that question again unless I’ve got an hour to answer, and I’ve had at least three beers.
You’re going to be heading offshore and crossing the Gulf Stream to get to the Bahamas. Isn’t that dangerous?
Actually, the 12-hour trip over to Bimini, Bahamas is pretty simple. It’s only a little over 50 miles, and there are usually several boats that make the trip together. So, there’s almost always another boat a mile or two away if you need some kind of assistance (or need to provide assistance). All boats carry a VHF radio with a range of about 25 miles, so everyone can stay in touch with one another. You depart Miami at around two or three in the morning, and you arrive twelve to thirteen hours later, in the early afternoon.
The secret is to wait for an acceptable weather window, meaning no inclement weather (obviously) and no winds with any northern component – meaning no N, NNE, NE, NNW or NW. Only S, SSE, SE, SSW or SW. Why? The Gulf Stream travels NORTH at about 2.5 knots. Any winds out of the north will buck up against the current of the northern flowing Gulf Stream causing choppy waves. It’s key to select a day when the winds are out of the south so the seas will lay down and the trip will be nice and mild.
Sometimes you have to wait a week or two for the right conditions. But we’re in no hurry.
Hundreds of boats, many much smaller than ours, make the trip every year. It’s a piece of cake.
No. Hence the boat.
Neither was Admiral Horatio Nelson or Captain Joshua Slocum (the first man to sail solo around the world).
However, we’ll still have every high-tech safety and man-over-board prevention equipment known to man on board. Honestly, it’s probably more necessary for John than Jane!
We get this question a lot. Admittedly, we’re novices at the whole sailing thing. We’ve spent some time sailing in the Florida Keys and received some excellent instruction from a licensed captain and his mate – our good friends Jim and Sharon. We’ve read every sailing and navigation book we can find, watched all the instructional videos and attended years of seminars at various sailing shows. However, we’ve got a lot more learning to do. We’ll soon both be receiving some American Sailing Association (ASA) instruction, and John will take the full battery of certification courses through ASA 106 (Advanced Coastal Cruising).
Let’s be clear about one thing, we’re not sailboat racers! You know, the type where Jane is hiked out over the side of the boat straining to keep us from capsizing, while we violently crash through towering waves, and as I scream from the helm, “more sail, dammit, more sail!”. We’re not the offshore, blue water, “hold onto your butt” type. We’re coastal cruisers, the slow-paced, a little bit at a time type. We’ll slowly and methodically make our way, on constant lookout to avoid challenging Mother Nature’s weather wrath. We know she’ll always win that battle.
The way we look at it is that millions of people have successfully learned how to sail, navigate from one point on the map to another, avoid bad weather and manage a big sailboat. We’re convinced that, in spite of our late entry into sailing and cruising, we can do it too!
We will undoubtedly bump into a few things along the way, and put some scratches in the gel coat, but we’ll stay within our capabilities and make arriving safely at the next port more important than arriving on time.
UPDATE: On March 11th, Jane and John completed grueling, four-day, on the water sailing instruction (see Sailing Lessons on Biscayne Bay) and were awarded ASA 101, 103 and 104 certifications. John will soon round out his training by completing ASA 105 and 106 (Advanced Coastal Navigation).
We’re never too old for adventure! And besides, this lifestyle will keep us young!
And yes, we realize that a full-time RV lifestyle is the norm for retirees our age. However, the whole sailing thing has got many thinking we’ve lost our minds. What we’ve discovered is that when you get into areas of the country where sailing is the norm, you find lots of people our age, and much older, living a full-time cruising lifestyle, traveling with the seasons up and down the east and west coasts, and into the tropics.
Yes, we’re getting started a little late in the game. However, we’re good learners. We’ll catch up!
We both enjoy traveling and exploring and the fact that we’re traveling in such a unique fashion is merely a reflection of our desire to see things a little differently.
We know that one day, hopefully many, many years from now as we “check out”, our lives will flash before our eyes. We just want to make certain that it’s something worth watching.
We really haven’t been on the boat long enough to fully answer this question. However, here’s what we think so far.
John’s Answer – When we purchased the boat, it came with a Rocna 20 (44 pounds) anchor. While this is a super anchor for this boat, I wanted something a little larger on the bow. I installed a Rocna 25 (55 pounds). We love it! It sets quickly and has given us confidence (and a good night’s sleep) during some pretty high winds.
We also added several Caframo Ultimate 757 fans around the salon, galley and master bedroom. These babies really move air! We’ll be adding more soon.
Although the boat is installed with a B&G Vulcan 9 Chartplotter, I also added to the helm station a mount for our Apple iPad containing the Navionics Boating app. While the B&G does a great job, I love the Navionics app! I have both of them mounted and running while underway as our primary and backup navigation. However, it’s sometimes difficult to decide which is primary and which is backup.
We’ve also installed, and really love, our Vesper XB-8000 AIS Transponder. It gives us great confidence being able to identify other vessels in the area, and know that they can identify us, especially while doing night passages.
When we purchased the boat, it didn’t have an electric anchor windlass. The previous owner was much stronger than me (Better looking, too. Right, Pam?) and chose to pull up chain and anchor by hand. As I mentioned earlier, I upgraded the original Rocna 20 to a Rocna 25. I also had 150′ of new 5/16″ HT chain installed, along with a Lofrans’ Cayman 1000w horizontal electric anchor windlass. This thing is a beast! As two people that will be doing lots of anchoring, it’s a welcome addition to the bow.
For cruisers that tend more towards doing a lot of anchoring, a good anchor alarm, or two, is a crucial tool. While we are yet to find our favorite, we’re currently testing out, SafeAnchor.net, an app for both our Apple iPhones and Apple iPad. It was recommended by one of our favorite cruising blogs Sailing Britican. We’ll let you know how testing on SafeAnchor.net goes.
Also, our Sport-a-Seats provide great seating comfort in the cockpit.
Jane’s Answer – No answer here for me yet.
We sure hope not. Been there, done that. Give us something smallish, simple and easy to maintain. About 1,200 square feet, with a full wrap around screened-in porch would be perfect. We don’t consider ourselves minimalist, but we’ve tried the mega-consumer, got more stuff than we know what to do with lifestyle, and we’re done with it. We’d like to think we’re moving more towards the philosophy of a terrific movie we watched lately, “Minimalism“. Everyone should watch it. Here’s a link.
As for where we might settle one day, we think the location of our next “stationary” home is yet to be discovered. In the mean time, traveling by boat with the seasons – north in the summer and south in the winter – is the idyllic lifestyle for us.
Surprisingly, NO! We’re both shocked by how quickly attachments to our “stuff” diminished. We like to think that we’ve exchanged our stuff for the experiences brought about by our adventures.
Jane’s Answer – John and I have different personalities. But we both value peace, quiet, reading, independence, solving our own boredom, sharing new learning, and each other.
So … all that said, it’s fine (sometimes better) when one of us goes off to do something alone or with a group. Also, we spend most of our time out of the 200 square feet.
P.S. – We’ve had practice too. Almost always, John has worked from home and when I was teaching we had months together.
Another thing: Since I’ve retired we start mornings with a sit down, no electronics, lots of coffee staff meeting which can move from short and long-range planning, to finances, to (oh my gosh) feelings. We’ve learned – the hard way sometimes – that making decisions together is paramount.
John’s Answer – As long as we have a dinghy on the boat, where one of us can get away for awhile, we’ll be fine.
We’re not sure. We think we could easily spend a couple of years cruising the east coast of the U.S. from Maine, down the ICW to Key West. The Bahamas would be the likely next step. If we’re still enjoying the journey after that, maybe we’ll try heading to the Dominican Republic, or the Virgin Islands, or the eastern Caribbean, or the western Caribbean. Jane wants to go to Cuba. We’ll take it a day at a time. As long as we’re both enjoying the adventure and our bodies cooperate, we’ll continue.
At some point, one of us will look at the other and declare, “I’m done!”. We’ll sell the boat and do something different. We think we’d like to buy another RV one day and spend a few years visiting all the National Parks. Or, it may be time to buy a condo, or a small cabin on a quiet lake.
We don’t know. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.
We use a variety of equipment, depending on the application and the amount of time we have to prepare. Much of our video work is “Run ‘n Gun”, providing us little time to grab and setup the best tools for the job. Our handiest cameras are those we have with us at all times – usually our Apple iPhones. Otherwise, here’s the list of video and audio equipment we’re using:
Main Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5
Lenses: Panasonic Lumix G X Vario II 12-35mm f/2.8, Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7, Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8, Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2
Action Cameras: GoPro Hero 7 Black, GoPro Hero 5 Session
Other: Apple iPhone 8
DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
PolarPro ND Filters (ND4, ND8, ND16)
Rode VideoMic Pro Plus On-Camera Shotgun Microphone
Rode VideoMicro On-Camera Microphone
Rode NT-USB Studio Microphone (for Voiceovers)
Zoom H4N Pro Digital Recorder
Zoom H1N Digital Recorder
Rode Rodelink Wireless Microphone System
Movo LV4-O Wired Lapel Microphones
Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Laptop, i7-7700 @ 2.80 Ghz, 32 GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro (x64)
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2020 for Video Editing, Color Correction & Grading
Adobe After Effects CC 2020 for Video & Map Animations
Adobe Audition CC 2020 for Audio Editing & Processing