Leg one complete

[] [] [] Leg one complete

After 12,650 nautical miles of ocean travel and nine countries we arrived in Australia and ended leg one of the Furthur Circumnavigation. I thought this a good time to do a summary of the trip. I hope this is helpful to anyone considering such a voyage.

My first and prominent reflection is that it has been much easier than I imagined. Weather is easily predictable and we have been blessed with smooth crossings and good seas. I have not seen wind over 20 knots on any major crossing and it is often less than 10 knots. The seas have predominately been following or quartering. Two times I have altered course to easy the effect of a head sea, both for short durations. This is a small price to pay for a comfortable night and was easily corrected as the wind predictably shifted to our stern. There are countless weather information web sites but I relied on the weather gribs mostly and found them very accurate. I never go if I have doubts about the weather and always go when it is favorable, even when I wanted to stay one more day and do one more dive.

The thing that causes cruisers angst after weather is the constant dealings with foreign government officials. I have heard horror stories and had the same concerns. Again, piece of cake—that is if you do it right and remember who you are and where you are—insignificant and alone, hahaha. Preparation and flexibility and patience are the keys, I keep a constant file with everything I might need in order and I GO BY THE BOOK—THEIR BOOK. Many cruisers cut corners but I have a propensity for getting caught so I walked the line. As with all our dealings with local folks an effort to speak some of the language is essential. The first word to learn after” hello” is” I’m sorry”. The old rules for customs we use in Canada apply here; never lie, never give any more information that needed and if a question can be answered in yes or no do so and do not argue. I keep a running—ok my great crews have done this not me—log of all provisions and equipment on the boat. It is essential to show respect, be courteous and flexible. I look at each clearance as a great adventure and have enjoyed even the most trying times. If they were predictable and common they would be no fun.

Next down the line of things to ring your hands about is provisioning. I was told over and over, do not over stock for Mexico. Admittedly I fell victim to over supplying in Mexico. This became apparent when the customs folks in Australia confiscated stuff from Mexico a year after purchase.

Everything I needed I found in mass and cheap in Mexico—except good dill pickles. So if you have a particular thing or two or brand you really cannot live without—doubtful as that may be—stock up. If not just get what you need to get there. Pricing is one stimulus for shopping in Mexico as you will not see reasonable pricing until the Cook Islands. Stock up on beer, pop, and non perishables that you will really need. A can of coke is $2.50 in Papeete and $.60 in Raratonga.

Once you have set your course into the great unknown the next real store will be in Papeete with only small markets in the Marquesas and Tuamotus. Now granted those small markets have everything you need and many people live happily on what they supply. Also if you put forth the effort to meet local folks—and if you do not want to do this, stay home—you will be inundated with gifts of food. A cornucopia of fresh fruits, veggies and fish will be laid at your feet. Mmmm I can taste that wild goat BBQ now.

This is an excellent time to clean up your eating act. The locals eat well, very well—no skinny Tahitian men to be found. They eat fresh stuff, sea food, no preservative, no fast food diets. Fruit is plentiful as are fresh veggies but you can still get a greasy cheeseburger if you look.

No trip to the South Seas is complete without getting a Tattoo! This is where it all started and each community has a guy who is famous. I used Brizzy in Nuka Hiva. Folks came from all over the world to get his work. It was always in my plans but many a cruiser came unwanting but yielded to the temptation and got tattoos who would have never considered it at home. I knew a family where the adult daughter got hers, next day Dad and Mom the next. Start thinking of one now, resistance is futile.

This is scuba diving heaven. Warm water, colors beyond your imagination, wild life as seen on TV will all await the diver. I cannot imagine doing this trip without diving. If you do not have a real reason not to dive, do it. Having a compressor is great but not a must. Dive shops are in most places and cruisers with compressors will help sometimes—I traded air for homemade bread. As good as the diving is snorkeling can be as good if not better and great exercise—go back to the good plentiful food and you will need exercise.

I prepared extensively for this trip. I have a spares for just about everything on the boat—except the things that broke. Parts can be found or shipped to all the major ports and I found good help in many places. Papeete has very capable technicians that can fix most anything and by the time you get there you will have broken a few things. Before that you are on your own so learn as much as you can about every system. Now I have covered most of the possible calamities I want to talk about the blessings. I dreamed of this trip for decades. The reality has far exceeded my wildest dreams, and I dream pretty wild. This has come to be for several reasons.

First is the boat. Furthur has performed flawlessly. Her sea keeping abilities are amazing. The best testament to the incredible sea keeping ability of Furthur is my faithful companion, the Jerry Garcia doll, has now fallen from his lofty perch only 3 times. The comfort is decadent by most cruising boat standards. I have had up to six people onboard for an extended time, not the best scenario but it worked. I have had remarkably few failures, all minor, some laughable when comparing disasters with other cruisers. Gee sorry your boat dismasted, I know your pain, my ice maker died.

The Cummins QSL 330 hp engine has performed phenomenally. The fuel usage has been great. I am averaging 2.3 gph and running mostly at seven knots. Not a drop of oil used. Before I changed the oil after 435 hours at the big crossing I pulled the dip stick and the oil was still clear, amazing. The combination of engineering in the boat and engine make for an incredibly quiet ride. This is so important to comfort and staving off fatigue.

All the other major components have worked well. I did have a water maker issue. Easily repaired in Papeete but it did cut my stay at remote islands short. I may add a small back up water maker as it is essential equipment and a failure can change all your plans.

The supreme quality of the boat, careful commissioning and preparation has made the trip easy where it could have been very hard.

Second element is that I have found a community of cruisers that are amazing. We have leap frogged across the Pacific for a year and bonded for life. We all know boaters are exceptional people and the cruisers here are exceptional boaters. We have partied, planned passages, worked on our boats, helped our friends, been helped by our friends and celebrated life with fellow cruisers all along the way.

The third element in the ecstasy of this adventure is really becoming part of the people who inhabit paradise. I have played their music, danced their dances, paddled their outriggers, hugged their children and eaten many a feast off their grass mats. I have worshipped in their churches, been blessed by their pastors, and bowed before their Tikis. I have learned what a real smile looks like and seen true happiness and it has been a blessing.

The fourth element in my transition from Type A, wound tight businessman to laid back cruiser may be unique to me as I am traveling as a single guy. I left Seattle with a good group of friends helping me to Mexico but from there on did not have a real plan for crew. This is the one area where I cast my fate to the wind and the one from which I have reaped the most reward. I have had thirty three crew members to date, aged from 22 to 60, mostly female, and from five countries.

I just welcomed the newest crew member aboard and we did a five day crossing. She, like many, is a part of a culture of young travelers “boat hitchhiking” around the world. Like crew before her she has a thirst for adventure, an unquenchable curiosity and a talent for skipping across all generational gaps and finding her way into the hearts of everyone she meets. Caution, their youthful spirit is contagious.

Not only have I had the benefit of excellent crew but I have been blessed with bonding with young people from all over the world. Crew has come from all parts of America, Germany, Australia, Slovenia, and Canada. Countless languages have been spoken onboard. Youth attracts youth and yes I have had some very attractive crew so I have also met kids (under 30) form a plethora of other places. I recall Oliver, a Frenchman, who rode his bike across South America without a map and hitched, bike and all, across the South Pacific—a man of unquenchable energy. Yes the energy of youth is a contagious thing and a sorely needed remedy for middle aged doldrums.

I profoundly recommend any cruising couple to pick up extra crew for the long passages. I found most just walking around the docks or leaving another boat, the South Pacific is abundant with such folks. Now that I am leaving the heavily traveled area I am relying on findacrew.net and so far have had great success. This is a web site with profiles and screening. There are several others I have not looked into.

With common sense and some protocol all the apparent concerns for inviting strangers into your home and life can be overcome. Many will not bring aboard a couple as there are heightened chances for a hostel take over and the dynamics are challenging. I have had one couple and found it just fine. I have found the ladies to be the best, most attentive, curious and dedicated, not to mention fun. I do not find lots of experience to be a determining factor; rather I look for a thirst for adventure, compatibility, and an eagerness to learn.

Take new crew for a test drive, a short cruise for a few nights will tell all. Ask for references, I give and get references form all crew. Make very clear your expectations and hard rules of the boat. Be very clear on any financial expectations. Discuss the length of stay and you may want a commitment for a particular leg. I ask that my crew share in food expenses only. Some ask for more, I find it unreasonable and beyond the budget of the crew to ask for any sharing of boat expenses but some captains do.

Soon we will enter into leg two, the trip from Australia to the Mediterranean Sea. This is a leg that will take us to exotic places and great adventure. I am now interviewing crew and have several great possibilities. We shall travel from Australia to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, India and across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea.

So my friends, cast off those lines, and cast away the fears, the world is a great place and adventure is calling. I look to see many of you on the high seas.