Interview with Jeff – Part 2

Margaret interviewed Jeff while on our road trip the other day. This is part 2 of 2. You can find the first part of the interview here. We will be posting the interview that Jeff did of Margaret in the coming days.

How have your friends and family reacted to your cruising dreams?

I think to many of my friends and family it is not too big of a surprise that I plan on doing this. I have always been interested in cruising and have periodically talked about doing it, especially with my friends that sail. I have also been one of the more adventurous of my friends, doing a lot of hiking and road tripping. So, when I tell people about our more concrete plans now they tend to be alternatively supportive and slightly envious. And many of my friends are already talking about joining us along the way.

Many cruisers say that you are never truly ready to leave. You will never have enough money, the boat will never be in perfect shape, it will never be easy to say goodbye. Why haven’t you left yet?

Because I don’t have enough money. They say you are never going to have enough money but there is a minimum amount of money you need to cruise, at least the way we want to. I have been seriously saving to go cruising only for the last 3 or 4 years or so. Since I met Margaret our plans have become more concrete and pooling our financial resources has enabled us to move up the departure date a little bit more. But, yeah, money has been the only thing holding me back.

Which cruisers inspire you the most?

I think I take a little bit from everything I read. In fact, there is one book about a circumnavigation that I recently read that annoyed the hell out of me but I slogged my way through anyway. But even from that book I took something, even if it was only the inspiration not to do what they did while they were sailing, namely fear all adverse conditions and not engage the local cultures. To more specifically answer the question though, the Pardeys inspire me with their stories of exploring areas that at the time they went saw very few cruisers. While I know that the oceans have been far more traveled since their voyage in Serrafyn, the Pardey’s inspire me to get out there as soon as possible so that we can get to places that few other cruisers have been to and to get off the beaten track as much as possible. The other folks who tend to inspire me a lot are people with kids on board, not because we plan on having any along, but because I know it is going to be a lot of work to keep a cruising boat running. I see these people with kids who are able to do it, take care of their kids at the same time, and have a great time. So, it inspires me with the confidence that we will be able to just take care of a cruising boat and have a good time. There are also the cruisers that I have followed on blogs that are just starting out that inspire me with their growing confidence in their boat and their abilities. I see how fast they learn and know we will be able to manage too.

Do you find the thought of boat maintenance daunting? How do you imagine you and Margaret will keep the boat in working order?

I don’t think of boat maintenance as daunting, primarily because I enjoy messing around on boats. If we leave with a good understanding of our engine and the systems on the boat that we gained through the refit process, our reading, and some classes, I think we will be able to tackle just about any maintenance issues that arise. Routine stuff we will handle by settling into a regular daily, weekly and monthly schedule of boat maintenance and upkeep.

What do you envision an average day aboard your yacht to look like?

Wake up, relax topsides with a cup of tea, watching the anchorage and the wildlife, then set to work for a hour of two or more on maintenance projects, then maybe do a little reading or writing, maybe continue that in the afternoon after lunch. Or head into shore to do shopping or explore. Or go snorkeling, hiking, or any number of other activities. Return to the boat for dinner and then share a sundowner or two with Margaret and maybe another couple of cruisers.

What is your current dream destination and why?

I don’t really have a dream destination. There are so many places that I am looking forward to going and things that I am looking forward to seeing and doing. The passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas definitely looms large as a milestone. I am just looking foreword to being at sea for that long and the immense sense of accomplishment that would come with anchoring at Hiva Oa. At the same time rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about cruising to places I have already been, whether it is stopping at Cape May on our way down the coast, picking up a mooring in Annapolis, or coming into Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke to clear customs. There are also other places that appeal to me more because of the opportunities to explore on shore rather than cruising. Places like Granada Spain to see some of the acequias and Moorish influence that was transplanted to Northern New Mexico or towns like Genoa that have a rich maritime tradition stretching back centuries. And I can’t wait to explore their waterfronts. I’ve also always had a dream of going to New Zealand, but the only way I wanted to get there was by sail. I think coming in to the Hauraki Gulf is going to be very special realizing that dream. And, I cant wait to explore the beauty of New Zealand, especially hiking to places that I have only read about in books and magazines. But there is really no shortage of places that I am looking forward to going. Nor anyone place that I feel like I need to get to as quickly as possible.

Are there places that you plan to avoid?

There are some places that give me more pause than others and it mainly has to do with piracy. Given the state of things right now, I don’t think we will be any where near the Gulf of Aden and the entire northwest portion of the Indian Ocean. Similarly, particular areas along the Horn of Africa, South America, and some of southeast Asia make me a little nervous for those same reasons. But I think if we are careful and closely monitor piracy reports, we can safely go just about anywhere. On a lighter note, I am also not looking forward to being in an area with sea snakes. However, I am not going to pass up seeing the Great Barrier Reef because of that. I think that wherever we go, there is the potential to learn a lot, meet new people, see very cool new things, and have a good experience over all. Some places just have a few more dangers and hassles than others.

How will you go about looking for your boat?

Margaret is already combing, so I imagine she will take the lead in identifying potential boats. Then two years from now, we will start seriously looking at boats primarily in Florida, but also in the Great Lakes region and anywhere else we might see a potential deal that we want to check out. I am a little worried about actually finding a boat. Margaret tends to be a compulsive comparative shopper and there are a lot of apples to oranges sort of comparisons that can be made within the used boat marketplace. While I am normally the person who more impulsively buys something figuring that the cost and stress of continuing to weigh different options far outweighs any potential savings in the end, I feel that the purchase of a boat, particularly a used boat, where a full refit will be necessary, is a good place to really weigh our options because tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of time and effort potentially hang in the balance. Hopefully we will still not be trying decide which boat to buy five years from now.

What type of sailboat do you think is a good fit for you and Margaret?

Well I have talked about some of the design features before: a skeg hung rudder, sloop rig, and my desire for a bowsprit. But beyond that I think a boat that Margaret is comfortable with the interior layout, a boat that has relatively easy access to the engine, a boat that is reasonably priced, including the cost of the refit, is a boat that is a good fit for us.

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