29 January 2013

Seattle Boat Show Handout: French Polynesia

We gave a talk on cruising in French Polynesia today at the Seattle Boat Show.

Thank you to everyone who attended, the great questions and all of the readers who have introduced themselves over the last few days. It is so cool to meet people who have been reading, sometimes from the beginning.

The associated handout can be found here:
http://thegiddyupplan.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

Our last talk is Wednesday (tomorrow) at 5pm.

26 January 2013

Social Media

Because we'll be posting a lot of tidbits rather than full blog posts from the Seattle Boat Show I thought I would take a minute to let readers know where they can find us besides this blog. We use these accounts sporadically, obsessively when online and then not at all when remote, and so if you add them to yours you will be able to see when new content pops up.
Most of these can be found at any time using the icons on the upper right of the blog. Our email address is always there to find as well.
 

25 January 2013

Long Stay Visa in French Polynesia: Part One

We have been approved! We have to head to Vancouver to have our long stay visa stamped in our passports but our application has been approved.

N American cruisers used to get 3 months in French Polynesia, renewable for an additional 3 months for a total of 6 consecutive months. The rules were changed in 2010 so that visitors can only stay 3 months out of every 6 months. This means you have to be out of the country for 3 months in between and effectively means that most US/Canadian cruisers leave after only 3 months. We left for 3 and returned.

To stay more than 3 months you have to apply for a 'visa long sejour' and this application must be made at a French consulate in your country of residence. The application requires a lot of supporting material and is quite an undertaking. The reason for this is that the visa long sejour allows you to get a carte de sejour which is a temporary residence permit much like a green card for the US. There is no such thing as a tourist visa longer than 3 months.

After making an appointment at the consulate and submitting the involved packet (including police checks) and paying a big fee and leaving a postage paid envelope, the consulate checks the packet and then mails it to Papeete. Yep, right back where we came from.

We had done some preliminary checking of procedure while in French Polynesia and had already spoken to the person who would be receiving our application. The consulate warns that the procedure could take up to 4 months (!) to compete.

One month after submission ours was approved! After a quick scramble we changed our plane tickets and are now returning to Estrellita in early March.

Once we arrive in Papeete we still have to stop into the office with our visa long sejour, more photos and more money and get our carte sejour. This carte is renewable annually for a fee. Essentially with the carte sejour we could live in French Polynesia indefinitely. However after 2 years we would have to pay import taxes of 26% of the value of the boat.

This story to be continued after we arrive back in La Polynesie Francaise.

Suddenly our long visit seems short and we enter that stage of a trip where everything becomes a fun packed scramble to the finish line.

23 January 2013

Liquid Motivation in Quebec City

Thank you, dear reader, for making our time in Quebec City extra flavorful. How did you do this you might ask? We used some of the ad revenue to splurge on a few culinary treats on a two day trip to our favorite city in N America, Quebec City, while we were in Montreal visiting family.

We started with a Belgian beer selection of Rochefort 8, Chimay Bleue and Gulden Draak at the fabulous Ste-Alexandre Pub. Great staff who know their own huge beer selection. Not cheap and so we were particularly happy to be able to use "blog money" for this one.

Similarly, we have not had a lot of chance to eat out at nice restaurants in French Polynesia. Even "inexpensive" restaurants are quite expensive there and so we enjoyed immeasurably our romantic dinner at St Malo in which we celebrated a long and delicious New Years Eve dinner a little late so we could be together.

Finally, it wouldn't be Quebec without poutine. Fresh fries made from whole potatoes instead of potato product, fresh cheese curds that squeak between your teeth and a delicious mild gravy on top. Although it is often a late night post-bar tradition, we went straight to a cheese maker (Lemairie) for the freshest cheese possible. After this enormous meal we still managed to buy a bag of cheese curds to take back with us. Oh my.

Thank you readers! And extra big thank you for the people who have been making an effort to funnel their normal Amazon purchases through our affiliate link.

More on what we did with *that* money later.



21 January 2013

A Clean Electronic Wake

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Most cruisers have heard of the concept of leaving a clean wake. According to the Seven Seas Cruising Association:

To leave a clean wake is to show respect for others and for our environment so that those who follow in our wake will be warmly welcomed. It is our most cherished tradition.

It seems a no-brainer, right? To irreverently, and probably inaccurately, paraphrase, the idea of leaving a clean wake is:

If “being a good person” and “not destroying the environment” aren’t strong enough motivators, we cruisers should keep in mind that other cruisers are following us and we shouldn’t screw everything up for them before they get there.

The clean wake concept covers the effect we leave by physically passing through an area, but for those of us who blog, who post on forums, who belong to list servs, what about our electronic wake?

People behave weirdly when they feel anonymous and although blogs aren’t anonymous, I have heard cruisers say that they can post whatever they want on their blog because it isn’t as if the local officials are reading it. Perhaps local officials aren’t eagerly awaiting our each and every blog post, but it would be insulting to assume that no one on staff knows how to use a search engine and that they can’t google things such as “clearance Country X” or “Country X without a permit”. Google isn’t rocket science and the internet has reached some of the remotest communities, and certainly the capitals of those nations.

Considering the following scenario: You are a cruiser friendly official who is relaxed and on “island time”. You are generally unconcerned about boaters staying a day or two after their check out. A friend of your boss, who owns a local business, sees the blog of a passing cruiser who mentions that they have been in the country several weeks after clearing out. Your boss if furious because they feel it makes their country and the department look incompetent. You feel  insulted because you have been so kind to the cruisers and they are rubbing their illegality in your (and your bosses) face. Now, you crack down, you feel that cruisers are disrespectful of your position and you resent the drama that cruisers have brought into your job. Was this the wake the cruiser intended to leave?

Consider another scenario: You have a bad experience with a community and you write about it in your blog in an exaggerated, non measured, out-of-context way. Cruisers read your report, avoid the community, resulting in a loss of much needed business. Was this the impact you intended?

It is impossible to “leave no trace” either physically or electronically. If you consider the fact that you can have a positive impact on a community, leaving without a trace isn’t even desirable. And sometimes you want to post something negative about a community, because even after thinking about it carefully, you feel the impact is warranted.

To me, the idea of leaving a clean wake it to consider the potential impact of your physical presence and leaving a clean electronic wake is to consider the potential impact of your online presence.

Please, consider your impact, both physical and electronic, on the community you visit and on the cruisers who will follow. And if someone isn’t leaving a clean electronic wake (including us), call them on it.

19 January 2013

Estrellita still stands

We received a photo of our girl from the good folks at Apataki Carenage.

I think she misses us as much as we miss her.

Another tropical system is brewing and we watch both for our sake and for friends still sailing in the region.

14 January 2013

Pink + Blue = Purple

If you want to read other cruisers posts on this topic you can find them here or here.
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This was a difficult topic for me to write about even though I had the advantage of being able to read what others had to say on the topic before writing this post. I've written before on topics close to this one. I've talked about how I am not an admiral and my struggle to find like-minded chicks in the cruising community.

Carol and I only have pink and blue jobs in the sense that we jokingly refer to anything I do as pink, anything he does as blue and anything we both do as purple (pink + blue = purple). This leads to pink jobs such as fiberglassing, blue jobs such as floor washing and purple jobs like oil changes and bread making.
Although most couples cross over gender lines a little, we find ourselves among a minority in the cruising world in which our jobs are pretty thoroughly mixed. We don't try to be equal in any forced or systematic way. Like most couples, we look at the list of to do items, play to our strengths and try not to saddle each other with any of our personal "most hated" tasks. We both know all of the navigational, weather, sailing and safety systems on the boat, not for safety reasons although that is important, but because we are both genuinely interested.

I think there are three primary reasons that gender roles come up so often in cruising publications and forums:
1) Women who were land-based powerhouses struggle with the realization that the strengths they bring to their cruising team are primarily pink.
2) Women who fall into pink roles, or desire pink roles, feel judged for doing so.
3) Women who don't fall into pink roles feel that pink roles are expected of them.

I want to add my thoughts on #3 to the mix.

We are a boat without a strong dose of pink. We don't care a lot about decorating. Neither of us is willing to cut our day of playing short in order to make something fancy for the potluck and so we only manage to do so on slow days.

I feel the pressure to be pink even though I am certain some of it is self-induced. I feel the pressure when people compliment me on the bread that Carol made. I feel the pressure when most of the women proudly unveil delicious dishes for the potluck and we have opened a jar of garlic stuffed olives or a big pot of rice because we were out kiteboarding all day. I see the women noting each dish placed on the table, helping to organize the flow of food, while the men (and I) talk about other stuff on the side (it will all work out, right?). On the slow days when I've made something fancy as well, because I do enjoy cooking, I feel a disturbing sense of relief at having met expectations permeate my normal sense of accomplishment at a fun task.

I feel abnormal when a fellow cruiser asks Carol if I am enjoying the chance to do some shopping (I like shopping?). I feel a little odd when, at a gathering on a new boat, I am looking around deck at how the lines are run and notice that all of the women at a gathering have skipped the exterior and gone down below to look at the interior.

I imagine that this same pressure is felt in reverse by guys who aren't terribly interested in blue things. Guys who don't find talking about engine bits interesting. Carol has always found it funny when someone asks him about something that I installed.

Finally, I wanted to add my own agreement to Behan's frustration that the dichotomy is still in place. Not ignoring that there are still gender roles, or that people fall into them, but that we still bother to think about boat jobs that way. I'm including myself in that. The reality is that almost no boat divides exactly along gender lines and almost no task on a boat is completely pink or completely blue.

If we think of a task as pink or as blue, as his or as mine, does that limit us from having the opportunity to try new tasks later in our cruising lives? Will we get stuck in pink and blue, mine and his ruts?

09 January 2013

Video: Baie de Cook, Moorea

Beautiful Cook's Bay in Moorea, French Polynesia. A panorama of the head of the bay, a recap and Carol in action doing boatwork in paradise:



Alternatively, view the video directly on YouTube or visit our YouTube channel.

07 January 2013

Seattle Boat Show: Come See Us

Talking at the boat show was entirely Carol's idea.

The Seattle Boat Show has a very special place in our hearts and attending the Boat Show always puts me in a reflective mood. This is because the Seattle Boat Show will always remind me of that first frantic weekend when we took possession of Estrellita in Lake Union during the frozen cold week of the 2007 Seattle Boat Show.


We flew in from Colorado with only a couple of days to buy a dinghy and outboard, get some food on the boat, and prepare for our first transit from Seattle to Sidney, BC. We had hired a captain to show us the ropes on our own vessel, my Dad came aboard with us and everything was terrifying and exciting. We had fog, we rafted to a fishing vessel, spent a night in Reid Harbor, and we even managed to sail a bit. Our captain did an excellent job of teaching to our three very different levels of experience. She divided the tasks into categories (captain, nav, engine) and each day we each took on a different role forcing us to work on all aspects instead of falling into patterns.

During those few hectic days prior to the trip up to Sidney, we carved out some time to attend a few talks at the boat show. I don't remember exactly who gave those talks but I remember we saw at least one about Vancouver Island and one that had tropical content and man, oh man, did those talks feed our dream.

Carol suggested that we talk at the boat show when we decided to come back to the PNW and as soon as he mentioned it, I realized how right he was. Talking at the boat show, which was such a part of our own story, would feel like closing the circle. We could now be the people coming back with tans and huge arse grins, a touch (but not a lot) wiser than when we left, and put up some pictures on the big screen that would touch someone else's heart--someone in the throes of preparation, or someone who enjoys vicarious cruising.

Save the Date: Carol and I will be giving three talks at the Seattle Boat Show which runs from January 25th until February 3rd. Pretty fancy, huh?
  • Monday the 28th at 3:15pm - 10 Things I Learned from the Interview with a Cruiser Project - Silver Stage - Rather than one expert, why not have 100? The founders of the Interview With A Cruiser Project, Livia & Carol, look back on more than 100 interviews with people who have been cruising outside of their home country for more than two years, highlighting 10 lessons that they learned from these experienced cruisers that helped them in their own cruising adventure.
  • Tuesday the 29th at 4:00pm - Modern Day Cruising in French Polynesia: How Today's Cruisers Do It - Gold Stage - Cell service and wifi in the Tuamotus? Electronic charts that are accurate? Mega-grocery stores? Fresh from six months of cruising their 35' sloop in French Polynesia, Livia & Carol discuss the differences between the outdated information in the guidebooks and the modern reality. A handout will be made available electronically.
  • Wednesday the 30th at 5:00pm - 5 ways Cruising in the PNW Prepares You for the South Pacific & 5 Ways it Does Not - Gold Stage - Livia and Carol spent several years of weekend cruising and one year of full time cruising in British Columbia and Washington before setting off to the tropics. After spending last season in the South Pacific, they have flown back to talk about the ways that the PNW is an excellent training area for would-be cruisers, and the lessons that they had to learn on the way.
Stop by and say hi or pass the word to someone you know who is going. We might show up for parts of the rest of the boat show, so if you can't make the talks but feel like buying us a beer on another day, get in touch ;)

02 January 2013

Traffic in 2012

Time for a NUMBERS post.

Blog Traffic. Last year I went over our blog stats and so this year instead of listing the stats I'll compare with last year. In 2012, as compared to 2011:
  • Our visits increased by 36%
  • Our unique visits increased by 44%.
  • Our page views increased by 36%.
  • The average number of pages viewed per visit remained steady at around 2.
  • The average amount of time people were on the site went down slightly.
  • Our percentage of new visits went up slightly.
Blog Content. Just like last year, the most viewed pages were the home page or background pages like who we are and where we are. If you remove background pages, the most viewed pages were:
  1. The Cost of Cruising
  2. Using our tags to find all posts about Frequently Asked Questions.
  3. The list of the 2011 Southbound Cohort.
  4. Our post about installing our Lavac toilet. Ha!
  5. The video diary of our passage from Mexico to the Marquesas.
Subscriptions. The number of people who subscribe to this blog via a feedreader increased to 467 and the number of people who have the posts emailed to them increased to 216.

Facebook. Other social media that I didn't include last year include our facebook page for the boat which has a paltry 162 likes.

Video. On Youtube our top 10 most viewed videos are*:
  1. Passage Diary: Mexico to the Marquesas 
  2. Inside a boat in a gale 
  3. Busy Kiteboarding Beach in Bahrain 
  4. Hauling a Sailboat With A Crane 
  5. A "Norther" in La Paz 
  6. Stingrays in Moorea 
  7. Trappers Cabin at Chatterbox Falls 
  8. Passage: Tofino to SF Day Three
  9.  Passage: Tofino to SF Day One
  10.  Sunset on Strait of Juan de Fuca
Referrals. Who drives the most traffic to our blog? This list looks similar to last year's with a few sites jockeying for different positions. The only additions are at #6 and #10.
  1. threesheetsnw.com
  2. sv-totem.blogspot.com
  3. cruisersforum.com
  4. svbellastar.com 
  5. zerotocruising.com
  6. 48north.com 
  7. windborneinpugetsound.blogspot.com
  8. sailnet.com 
  9. svsyrah.com
  10. svdreamkeeper.com
Searches. What do people come to our blog after searching for? As usual, mostly they are searching for our names and our boat names. Beyond that, the most common search terms were:
  1. "beaufort sea" (presumably finding this post)
  2. And we still have people coming who searched for "current table british columbia" (presumably finding this post)
*I don't know how to get stats by year on YouTube and I'm too lazy to try to find out.


01 January 2013

2012 in 12

I chose one representative image for each month in 2012. Difficult choices. The collage starts with January in the upper left (Mexico) and reads across and then down through December (Tahiti).


Complete high resolution photos are here. If you want to make your own, I used this site.