Friday, January 31, 2014

Boat Show Seminars

We managed to make it to five seminars this year.  We got some great tips, pointers and info and heard just as many great stories by those who have been out cruising, living the life we're after.  Some spoke directly to us, others not so much, but they were all entertaining to say the least.  'Cruising the North Channel' and 'Cost Control While Cruising' topped our list of most entertaining and most useful.

Cruising the North Channel
The North Channel of Lake Huron is at THE top of our cruising destination list for the Great Lakes, and within the top five of destinations for our entire cruise.  As we plan to spend anywhere from 4-6 weeks there when we leave next summer, we thought it would be a good idea to get some pointers from a couple that has been cruising this area for over 25 years.

What we learned:

  • You can literally spend years cruising this area and not see it all
  • With a 5' 6" draft, we will be somewhat limited in places to anchor (compared to drafts 5' or less)
  • Most areas are quite remote 
  • Towns are small but friendly 
  • This area is BEAUTIFUL (well, we knew that) and a top 10 cruising destination in the world
  • We cannot wait to see this place (okay, we knew this too)

Cost Control While You Cruise
Okay, I have to admit, I have a new cruising crush.  Lin Pardey has stolen my heart.  She is half of the Lin and Larry Pardey duo, also known as cruising royalty.  They've published a plethora of cruising related articles, books, videos, you name it.  Up until this point I really hadn't paid much attention to their materials, and I have a feeling I was really missing out!  Lin and Larry have been cruising for over forty years, so they certainly know they're stuff and have a cruising resume that is second to none.  As if that weren't enough, they even cruise on an engine-less boat.  Mad skills right there.  They also coined the phrase, "Go small, go now", an idea that pertains to much more than just the size of your cruising vessel.    
Lin and Larry
Let me tell you, Ron and I LOVED this seminar, we walked away feeling like not only was cruising truly possible for us, but that the whole process really didn't have to be that complicated.  I tend to get bogged down in the details of cruising prep, and while I've learned that much of what people say you need and can't leave the dock without is massively exaggerated, being reassured of this fact directly from a forty-some year cruising veteran did my heart (and mind) a load of good.

I just love Lin's outlook on cruising, she really knows how to balance the fun:work ratio, something that I think is easy to get mixed up.  But let's be honest, she really stole my heart when I heard her say, "Don't take the adventure out of it by learning too much".  I think I have a new favorite quote to add to my very short list of favorites!  I needed to hear this.  Because it is so true.  And so simple.

Another new favorite quote by Lin (see why she's my latest crush?!?), "Cruising is NOT fixing boats in exotic places", despite how the original, and popular, saying goes.  So often it seems that people spend a crazy amount of time fixing things on their boat.  Not that things don't break, and often, on a boat, but many repairs aren't emergencies and can wait until you get somewhere where parts are available, available at a much cheaper price or until you feel like setting aside a specific time to tackle needed upgrades/repairs.  No need to miss out on any fun just because something isn't working right.  What's the point of cruising if you're not having fun?!?

What we learned:
  • The first year of cruising is the cheapest (all new gear, few repairs needed)
  • Americans generally spend more money staying in contact with family (flights, internet, etc.) than non-Americans
  • A sewing machine aboard is not required to fix/care for sails
  • Learning to do sail maintenance by hand is a must
  • Get gear you're comfortable with to avoid needing to 'splurge' in marinas/on shore
  • Social costs/buddy boating* 
    • costs DOUBLE when buddy boating
    • social hours, eating out, alcohol
    • buying food/gear others have that you may not really need/use
    • missing ports you wanted to see when traveling with others and their agendas
    • harder to meet locals-->best places to see, prices on goods, etc.
  • CRUISING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! Don't miss the forest for the trees
*I'm sure at some point we'll enjoy traveling with other boats, but understanding what implications that may mean for our budget and overall experience is also important.  
Trying to keep things in perspective as we prepare to cruise



  1. Nice post about boat show seminars and connecting with amazing veteran sailors! Looking forward to our turn! The North Channel looks beautiful! My husband and I plan to set sail within the next year. We may be about the same age as the Skelton Crew :)...maybe our paths will cross one day.

    1. Hi Jennifer! We'll have to keep in touch, we'd love to meet up somewhere if it works out! Do you guys have blog?