Subjective vs. objective cruising goals

Imagine my surprise to find our fun-to-suck ratio as the subject of a post on John Vigor’s blog. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, John Vigor is the author of many books including Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere.

He makes the interesting point that having a concrete or objective cruising goal can give people a sense of accomplishment that having subjective, fluid cruising goals does not.

Friends of ours aboard SV Bella Star had the goal of visiting 100 islands while they were in British Columbia on their shakedown cruise which I thought was a great excuse to get in the dinghy and go exploring.

As with many things, I think the best answer to the “A or B?” question for us is “both”. I like the fun-to-suck ratio because it focuses us on our own desires and dislikes rather than someone else’s. What is fun and what sucks can change over time so we don’t end up focused on an outdated goal. Of course, you can change your objective goals as well but that fluidity is built into the ideas of the fun and the suck.

Still, I also like the accomplishment of achievable goals. We haven’t set them specifically because they seem to occur naturally in cruising. For example, making your first multi-day passage or arriving in San Francisco after dreaming about it for years.

It’s very individual and I often analyze things to death (this is part of the fun for me). Do other people think in terms of goals like these or do you avoid the analysis and just go DO IT?

Letters to the void

Dear American Powerboat Raft-up,

I understand that you arrived at the Clipper Cove anchorage after dark which must have inhibited your ability to judge distances. Also, the fact that you and your party crew were (presumably) drunk might have had something to do with your poor depth perception. Your friend, the small powerboat was already anchored a little too close to us but in the dark you must not have realized that rafting your much longer boat to theirs with a second anchor might bring you even closer to us when the currents switched in this anchorage, as they do every night. We're still not completely certain why you went to sleep with your running lights on.

You must have felt very comfortable with your drop location to sleep through Carol's repeated attempts to wake you by shouting from our boat and then banging on your hull from our dinghy when our boats were within 30 feet of each other.

Once awakened, we are very glad you informed us that one of your engines doesn't work, that your boat is difficult to maneuver, that your two anchors would inhibit you from swinging even though we watched you do so for an hour, and that your crew is passed out, BUT that you have insurance.

That will surely make us sleep better at all tonight.

Sincerely, the wide-awake and sarcastic crew of SV Estrellita

Video Diary of a Passage - Tofino to San Francisco - Day One

((Edited because only one video was showing))

Carol had the great idea to keep a video diary while we were sailing down the coast and I joined in on the fun. Due to technical difficulties involving HD video and freeware my efforts to put them all together with photos kept causing the audio to get out of sync with the video.

Instead, I'll publish the videos one day at a time. You can get a sense of how the passage went for us and see and hear some of how it felt. And the video will come out in bite sized chunks rather than in one annoyingly long video.

Here are the two videos we took on Day One - one during the first afternoon and the second at dawn. Again, each "day" is from 10:30am - 10:30am.

The Aquatic Park

We’ve now spent two weeks, over two visits, at the Aquatic Park in downtown San Francisco. P1020401 (1280x960)The city has carved out a section of beach and water for non-motorized activity including a regular contingent of hardcore swimmers.

Sailboats can stay at the park but not powerboats even though sailboats are allowed to use a “small auxiliary engine for safe maneuvering” as long as they keep a bow watch for swimmers. You can stay for 24 hours at any time but for longer stays you need to email the park and request a permit. As far as I can tell this is only to prevent people living permanently at anchor in the park and it is easy for a true visitor to get a permit.

The following opinions are purely based on our tastes and the conditions we had when we visited.

P1020455 (960x1280)The pros:
  • You are RIGHT downtown at the foot of Ghiradelli Square by Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge (when the fog isn’t obscuring it).
  • Did I mention it was FREE?
  • Having swimmers hang onto your anchor chain for a rest is cool.
  • Cool stuff happens like a group of Polynesian vaka’s arriving on the beach or the sounds of live blues in your cockpit.
  • Bus lines and cable cars within a block of your dinghy that go to every section of downtown. Excellent base for exploration.
  • Good holding.
The cons:
  • P1020394 (960x1280)It’s windy in the anchorage and the swell from passing boats is fairly constant. Of course, you only feel the swell after midnight when the wind dies down. *groan*
  • You beach your dinghy and lock it to a post and hope no one takes it. We felt the need to return to our dinghy before full darkness so we didn’t have to evict anyone sleeping in it (or worse).
  • If you combine the previous two cons you get two people trying to row a tubby inflatable without an engine in high winds to and from the beach every day.
  • The fear I feel when trying to maneuver in and out of harbor with swimmers heads everywhere. 

Burly girlies

Where are the women who love sailing their boat? Who raise and reef their main and raise their spinnaker? Where are the women who like to talk gear?

These questions might sound like the lament of a single straight male sailor looking for love, but instead they are those of a married straight woman.

I crave the community of women that I had when I was rock climbing and I'm struggling to find it in the cruising world. We called ourselves the burly girlies (you know, the kind of women who paint their toenails and then rope up for something tough).

It took me a while to realize that this new community I was part of was the cruising community not the sailing community and that many of its denizens are lukewarm about the sailing part. I understand that - travel is a big part of why I chose this lifestyle. When we first bought our boat I had little sailing experience and thus we had a long conversation about what would happen if I became a proficient but not eager sailor.

So, not everyone who cruises is a sailing addict. No biggie. When we come together, with our varying personalities, vastly different backgrounds and myriad interests, we still have cruising in common, right? We can talk about weather, boats, distant ports, gear bought, broken and repaired.

Except that with many of the women I meet, we run out of things to talk about after distant ports. When two couples get together there is rarely this problem because the dynamic of the foursome keeps the conversation to middle ground topics. But in a group of women, there is a moment where the conversation turns to what seems like everyone else's common ground - children, grandchildren, pets, decorating, the galley or other things about which I am a terrible conversationalist. I'm happy that the group is having fun but I begin to get bored.

At that moment, I start looking longly at the men's conversation and strain my ears trying to catch snippets of their interesting topics. My husband Carol throws me a life preserver by asking me the wattage of our solar panels or which model SSB we have. If I can do so at all politely, I switch my conversational participation over and I'm back in the game.

It has come to the point where I try to sit near the men if the genders look like they are segregating at a gathering so I can join in either groups conversation at will. How sad is that? And what is with gender segregating at co-ed parties post puberty? It's not that the men are more interesting. If we removed cruising topics from the conversation I am certain I would struggle to connect with most of the men for the same lack of common conversational ground.

I recently realized how desperate I was for burly girly friends in cruising when I was talking to a woman about cruising and I burst out somewhat inappropriately with the comment "It's just so nice to talk to a woman who knows about the gear on her boat!".

By writing this I know that some people will read it and come away with the impression that I think everyone should love sailing or that everyone should want to talk about gear or that there is something wrong with wanting to talk about your children. If so, they've missed the boat. I like people who are happy with where they are and the choices they've made. I just might not have much to talk with them about if their choices and mine are so far apart and I was surprised to join a sport and find out that, even with people in that sport, I don't have that sport in common with them.

My singles friends ad would be: Married women in her 30s interested in sailing, boat bits, and adventure sports. Looking for likeminded female friends of any age.

Rogue Brewery

More ad money came in just before leaving Tofino. Another big thank you to those who visit the ad links on the right of the home page or at the bottom of the emails if you view the blog that way. It's impressive how it adds up.

We saved our most recent ad revenue check for our time in California. Today we put your efforts to good use with a trip to the Rogue Brewery at Washington Square in San Francisco.

After a hot sunny day of sight seeing we sat down overlooking the park and had an IPA and a Hefeweizen - we switched half-way.  Super tasty.

More SF liquid motivation reports to come soon...

On a side note, a big thank you to whomever bought some Xerox cartridges through the Amazon link on the lower right of our home page. That added up to some real money on our end.

Arriving in San Francisco


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P1020367 (1280x960)We finally found summer. I hear that summer has arrived on Vancouver Island as well so there are winners all around. After the passage we spent 4 nights at the very friendly Sausalito Yacht Club – first night free and then $15/night – recuperating, dealing with customs, enjoying hot showers, asking the members for suggestions on where to go, walking around Sausalito, eating ice cream and spending a bit of money at its West Marine.

Customs is a bit of a long story and also a saga that is ongoing. In general, clearing Customs in SF has been more of a complication than expected. They are set up for BIG ships, not wee ships, and they don’t seem to know what they want us to do. This would be fine except that they keep changing their mind after we’ve already done something. The good news is that they are very friendly and “in search of customs”, we spent our first day in SF zipping around on the ferry system on a gorgeous sunny day. I even got a sunburn (I know – I put on my hat later).

P1020375 (1280x960)P1020374 (1280x960) 

P1020380 (960x1280)We also met up with a fellow Canadian flagged sailboat, SV Miramar, who made the trip down the coast and is in SF as well. We met in Oakland at Jack London Square where I hung out with White Fang and Carol checked out London’s cabin (or at least a small part of the original wood recreated into a smaller cabin). The small bar there was a fun place to enjoy some cold frosty ones with fellow cruisers whom we expect to see again.

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Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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