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Archive for the ‘Planning Your Cruise’ Category

Cruising Seminars Jan 19 and 26 and Feb 2

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The planning for the seminars is all done. They will be very exciting and informative and full information on them is on this website. Orange Coast College has described them as follows:
January 19 – 7pm to 9pm
Surviving Togetherness
Whether you are going out for a couple of hours, overnight, to Mexico, or around the world, the real trick is to accomplish this while maintaining cordial relationships with the members of your family. This is not easy, but Carole and Laurie will tell you how they did it, starting right back at boat selection and setting up. Learning how to compromise (Laurie) and develop blue and pink jobs on board (Carole) are hugely important (Laurie will cover mauve jobs). The anchoring techniques you will learn will certainly save your boat and your marriage. Simple ways to make your boat as safe as possible both at anchor and underway are often key to a happy co-captain, and to avoiding seeing someone bobbing in the wake. Why boat names are important and what boat papers are necessary are also covered. All this information is delivered with terrific pictures and great stories.

January 26 – 7pm to 9pm
Plan to always be on an even keel
Laurie and Carol sailed around the world for more than 6 years without ever striking sustained winds at sea of more than 35 knots. One goal of this seminar is to provide you with bad-weather avoidance skills such as patience, knowing what superstitions you should not ignore, and how to use charts and plan passages. You will learn what to do to avoid being hit by lightning, and what to do when you are (Laurie and Carole were). Laurie will provide the skills needed to sail safely in coral filled water, to avoid going aground, and show you how to get off when you do (and you will).
A happy boat is one that is adequately provisioned, has all the spare parts needed for routine maintenance and for emergencies, is properly stocked with medicines and first aid requirements and has enough books – there is nothing more desperate than the cruiser who has read everything on board. This seminar will cover all of these matters and include markets and bargaining, trading, catching fish in 3 oceans and 10 seas, and cooking on board. All this is interlaced with great pictures and gripping stories.

February 2 – 7pm to 9pm
Things you never knew you needed to know
This seminar covers the miscellaneous aspects of sailing and cruising, the ones that you don’t necessarily think of, but which have the ability to rise up and cause severe interference to any plans you may have. Laurie and Carole will tell you about how to deal with officials in 56 countries, how to get out of a Sudanese jail (somewhat related to the first item), the absolutely essential things to have on board, pirates and why they aren’t a problem, disasters and how to recover from them, how much does cruising really cost, and why everyone else lies about it, money and credit cards, land cruising, sailing with children, and boat and health insurance.
By way of light relief, they will cover flags and flag etiquette, cocktail time etiquette, crazy cruisers they have met and what can be learned from them, clothing optional and why it shouldn’t be, and the realities of carrying guns on board. All with pictures and stories to inform and entertain.

Orange Coast College Cruising Seminars

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Carole and I will be conducting a three day seminar series at Orange Coast College (OCC) from 7pm to 9pm on each of January 19 and 26 and February 2.

The link to the OCC website is:

Then go to “Courses” then “Seamanship” then “Guest speakers”.  OCC will be very happy to assist with registration if you call 949-645-9412.

Those of you who have attended previous seminars will know how informative and entertaining we are.  Carole has been credited with demonstrating to a very large number of apprehensive spouses that cruising can be both fun and rewarding, and sailing skills are not a prerequisite.

The series will cover almost every aspect of cruising;

January 19 – 7pm to 9pm

Surviving Togetherness

Terrific pictures

Entertaining stories

Gripping stories

Different sailing and cruising styles and what they mean to you

Buying a boat considerations

Compromise and keep your partner

Setting up a boat

Safety and ways to stay safe on board

Boat names and why they are important

Boat papers and why you need them

Blue and Pink jobs on board

Surviving togetherness

Anchors and anchoring techniques – practical information that will save your boat and your marriage

Why trading your wife for camels is a really bad idea – based on experience


January 26 – 7pm to 9pm

Plan to always be on an even keel

Terrific pictures

Entertaining stories

Gripping stories

The land is more dangerous than the sea

Superstitions you should not ignore

Long term planning

Learning patience – the most important skill a non-racing sailor needs to gain

Bad-weather avoidance – we never struck sustained winds at sea of more than 35 knots

How to not get hit by lightning and what to do when you are (we were)

Going aground (you will) and getting off (because of this seminar)

Sailing in coral


Planning passages

Fishing in 3 oceans and far more than 7 seas

Provisioning – you never have enough toilet paper

Markets and bargaining

Cooking on board

Spare parts

Medical supplies

R & R – Repair and Replace


February 2 – 7pm to 9pm

Things you never knew you needed to know

Terrific pictures

Entertaining stories

Gripping stories

Pirates and how to avoid them (we did)

Absolutely essential things to have on board – and why

Things that came on board in mid-ocean

How to get out of a Sudanese jail

How to ignore the depth-charges exploding around your boat every night

Crazy cruisers we have met

Best places to charter and why

Dealing with officials in 56 countries

Guns on board

Clothing optional, and why it shouldn’t be

How much does cruising cost, and why everyone else tells lies about it

Disasters, and how to recover from them

Flags and flag etiquette

Cocktail time etiquette

Money and credit cards

Sailing with children and why this is a really good idea

Land cruising


Zac’s Circumnavigation

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Zac Sunderland should receive every accolade for his voyage and record setting, but the litany of problems he had should not be taken as typical of a circumnavigation.  The bad weather he encountered was almost completely a direct result of his having to sail to meet a schedule, rather than sailing to suit the conditions.
When my wife, son (eight years old when we left, 14 when we returned) and I completed our almost seven year circumnavigation, we did so without encountering sustained winds at sea of more than 35 knots, and this was not exceptional for most long-term cruising sailors we knew. We did this by simply waiting for the
right weather window, or sitting out hurricane and storm prone months.  Zac did not have this luxury of time.
As a result, we never broke any major gear or equipment, and I stayed married, as my wife gets sea-sick, and therefore calm sailing is almost essential.
Long-term cruising is very safe, much, much safer than living on land, and considerably more pleasant. It really is very nice to be able to say, on any given day, let’s move our house to another place.  If the new place proves to be less than wonderful, we can move again to one that is.
Try doing that on land!


Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Laurence Sunderland advised his 16 year old son Zac (LA Times “Adventure on the high seas” 11/9/08), who is sailing solo around the world, to load his pistol and shoot to kill if threatened by an approaching vessel.

This is seriously bad advice. Assuming the approaching vessel did contain pirates, there would be 20 or so automatic weapons and most probably a 50 caliber machine gun and a couple of RPG’s, all pointing in Zac’s direction. Firing at them would be the fastest way possible of committing suicide.

Fear of pirates can be a bigger problem than the pirates themselves. A solo sailor, asleep in an anchorage on the Venezuelan coast, woke to hear footsteps on his deck. He opened fire with an automatic weapon, and the people on deck returned fire. The boarders then identified themselves as Venezuelan Coast Guard, the sailor was arrested, and his now seriously leaking boat impounded.

The truth about pirates is that they make for great headlines, are a real danger to some vessels, but are not interested in small private yachts. Why should they bother when they can capture a small freighter or tanker with about the same effort, and gain a multi-million dollar return? There was a recent report of a French yacht boarded by pirates off the Somali coast. Research the details and you will find the yacht had a crew of 30, not your typical small sailboat.

I sailed around the world for six and a half years with my wife and son (8 when we left, 14 when we returned) in a small sailboat, traveling more than 40,000 miles and visiting 56 countries. We spent more than six months sailing in Indonesia, mostly in places very few yachts had visited. Not once did we feel threatened. Not once did we feel we had to chain our dinghy to the yacht, as we later had to in the “lock it or lose it” Caribbean. Our dinghy and outboard were left unsecured, simply pulled up in front of many a village, and were always there when we returned hours later. The fishing boats and small inter-island trading vessels often came close to us for a look and a cheerful wave of greeting.

The story was the same in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt, some of the poorest countries in the world, and all on the US government Advisory List of countries not to visit.

Pirate attacks are increasing around the world, but most occur in well defined areas, Nigeria, Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, Indonesia (Malacca Straits), and Bangladesh. Regardless of pirate preferences for larger vessels, sailing a yacht in those regions is not to be taken lightly.

The Malacca Straits, between Malaysia and Indonesia, has to be traversed to get from Singapore to Thailand, so we sailed through in company with another yacht, anchoring at night without lights and restricting radio communication. Knowing Socroto Island, in the Gulf of Aden at the bottom of the Red Sea, was a pirate source, we diverted from our direct route to sail no closer than 150 miles from it.

In common with most cruisers, we started out armed, in our case with a shotgun. Almost every country we visited required that we surrender the gun and all ammunition on entry to the country, returning it when we left. That meant most of the theoretical value of having a gun on board was negated. Any non-declared weapons or ammunition, even a single bullet, found during a Customs search, could result in immediate seizure of the yacht, and the certainty of severe penalties.

On arrival in the Cook Islands, when we declared our shotgun I asked if it could be sealed in a locker, instead of being taken off the boat. The Customs official agreed, but had no seals with him, so promised to return the next day. I saw him on the dock a couple of days later, and asked about the seals.

“Can’t find any,” he said. “Promise me you won’t shoot anyone and we will forget about it.”

He was alone in his tolerance in the 56 countries we visited. Soon after, we got rid of the shotgun.

We were not totally naïve about the possibility of personal attacks, so the boat was well stocked with pepper spray and equivalent non-lethal protective materials. I had my wife and very young son on board, so was not about to take any unnecessary chances, or expose them to dangers.

There may be lots of reasons for people not to go sailing around the world, or in parts of it, but the threat of pirates should not be one of them. As with all things, information, precautions and caution are very effective.

Charts Are Worth The Paper They Are Printed On

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I am constantly surprised by sailors (not you of course) who believe their electronic charts are accurate. They are exactly as accurate as the paper charts they are copies of, and the paper charts are, in turn, just as accurate as the surveys they are based on. Many such surveys were last done before 1900 using, shall we put it politely, less than precise instruments.

GPS, on the other hand, is very, very accurate. To put this into a perspective that may be a little clearer, your GPS will precisely record your position aground on the reef the chart shows to be a mile away.

I tip my hat to the old surveyors, because they managed to place almost everything within a mile or so of where the GPS says it should be. In practice this meant that I never set a waypoint less than two miles off any charted land, reef or obstacle, three miles if the waypoint was to be approached at night, and even then I held my breath.

Sail Away Soon Ready Or Not

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Why not sail away soon?

A common response is, “But my boat isn’t ready.”

Will your boat ever be ready?  No, of course it won’t. By definition there will always be items on the To-Do list (I am not superstitious but I never have an empty To-Do list, just like I never leave port on a Friday.  Why take the chance?), but that is why there are days at sea and days at anchor. Where is it better to polish the stainless – in a slip where all you can see is other boats, or at anchor in an atoll in the Tuamotos? In which place can you stop, roll over the side and snorkel with glorious coral, lovely fish and warm, clear water? Why do I even need to ask that question?

Bad weather can be avoided – really it can. Pirates are not a concern, except for the land based ones that own shops. Children are an incentive, not a deterrent. The stories and tips in Chasing Sunsets and Steering You Straight tell you everything you need to know.  Every excuse has been eliminated.  Go now!

Why Not Sail Away Soon?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The most common response is, “I don’t have enough money.” This is almost immediately followed by the question, “How much did your trip cost?”

The simple answer is that cruising costs what you allow it to cost, just the same as living on land. Certainly living at anchor is less expensive than existing on the solid stuff a few hundred yards away, but it isn’t free. In six-and-a-half years of sailing around the world, we had one month when we spent almost nothing, and we know of some cruisers who had two or three such months, none consecutive.

There are certainly cruisers who claim to have lived on $500 per month, and good luck to them. We didn’t live that way on land, so saw no reason to do so on a boat, particularly as divorce would have been an almost inevitable result. Anyhow, most such stories are based on selective memories, or faulty math, or both.

We did a lot of land cruising which meant hire cars and hotels. That is the point of cruising, to fully experience the country you are visiting. The cruiser who stays on board in port certainly saves money, but sees only other cruisers.

We spent (for 3 people) around $40,000 per year including every expense.


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