Answers to the most common questions about our experience sailing around the world
This page keeps a tally of most commonly asked questions and our answers. The questions are listed under the following headings: (1) How did you learn to sail? (2) Money Questions (3) Marriage on the Boat Questions (4) Favorite Things (5) Sailing Heebie-Jeebies (6) Questions about Sonrisa (7) Curiosities about Sailing Life and of course, (8) Why? If you can't find an answer to your question on here, it must be a new one! Send us your question by clicking one of the social media/email links in the top left hand corner of the blog. You can reach us on Facebook, Instagram, or by Email.
How DID YOU LEARN TO SAIL?
Q: How did you learn to sail?
It was a process starting from 2005 until the present day. Our strategy included reading, classroom coursework, and practical experience. in We raced as crew on other people's boats in the Great Salt Lake, then Lake Mead with the Nevada Yacht Club. We took basic ASA Certification Classes in Hawaii with a captained charter, we sailed a small lake sailor from 2008-2012, we chartered boats in Catalina, California and Key West Florida, then we practiced with Sonrisa from November 2012 - February 28, 2016 before officially casting off. The full story is detailed in blog posts with category labels: Learning to Sail.
Q: How did you find and decide on Sonrisa?
A: She found us. It was a pretty easy decision, especially after we had read John Vigor's Twenty Used Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. For more detail on this process, read the series of five posts starting with Finding Sonrisa.
Q: How did you refit Sonrisa? Do you do the maintenance all yourself?
A: This is a long story, one I will start writing about after the Sail Kitty Series is finished. In a nutshell, we did as much of the work ourselves as we could, leaving the rigging, sail making, and dodger/bimini covers to the professionals. It's good to know how to fix things out at sea, so we figured we may as well learn. Stay tuned for more detail on the refit story next year. Nigel Caulder's book the Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual is indispensable for this purpose.
Q: How did you plan the path around the world?
A: Andrew had a handful of places in his mind he simply had to explore: Vanuatu's volcano and Thai Food are the top two reasons he cites for casting off. (I told him a while ago you can just fly to Thailand to eat Thai food, but he prefers the Long Way.) Reading various blogs and Jimmy Cornnel's books of Pilot Charts, World Cruising Routes, and World Cruising Destinations are the main tools we've used for plotting the big picture. Of course, each passage requires detailed review of charts and navigation planning.
Q: How do you figure out visa/port of entry requirements?
A: Generally an internet web search of a country's visa/port of entry requirements are sufficient to tell you what you need to know at a high level, sometimes you can even find documentation to fill out in advance. Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Destinations is also helpful, and in the end, a smiling face and patience with the runaround process of going from one government office to another is key.
Q: Did you read any books/blogs that helped you learn how to sail?
Many. These are a list of our favorites:
Understanding the Experience:
The Long Way, Bernard Moitessier
Dove, Robin Lee Graham
Endurance, Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Arthur Lansing
Sailing Around the World Alone, by Joshua Slocum
Chasing the Horizon: The Life and Times of a Modern Sea Gypsey, By Fatty Goodlander
Love with a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
Bumfuzzle, Blog, by Pat Schulte at www.bumfuzzle.com
76 Days Adrift, Steve Callahan
Storm Tactics Handbook, by Lin and Larry Pardey
Sailing a Serious Ocean, by John Kretchmer
The Voyager's Handbook, By Beth Leonard
How to Sail Around the World, By Hal Roth
Creative Anchoring, By Fatty Goodlander
The Practical Navigator, By Bowman
The Cruising Chef Cookbook, by Michael Groanwald
The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, by Lin Pardey
Choosing, Surveying or Refitting a Sailboat:
The Capable Cruiser, by Lin and Larry Pardey
Buy, Outfit and Sail, By Fatty Goodlander
Twenty Used Sailboats to Take You Anywhere, John Vigor
Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, By Nigel Caulder
World Cruising Routes, by Jimmy Cornnel
World Cruising Destinations, by Jimmy Cornnel
World Ocean Atlas, by Jimmy Cornnel
THE MONEY QUESTIONS
Q: How did you fund your trip to go sailing?
This, too, was a process starting from 2005 until we fully funded our sail kitty at the end of 2015. We did it the old fashioned way: worked, paid off debt, saved up money, then left. The full story is in the process of being told in blog posts with category labels: "Sail Kitty".
Q: How much does it cost to circumnavigate?
So far, we are running at an average cost of $4,782.00 per month, plus the cost of purchasing, carrying, and refitting Sonrisa at $190,825. This is a generous budget and allows us to have full insurance coverages, scuba dive, take land tours, and eat out to our heart's content. For all the dirty details, check out www.oddgodfrey.com/costtally.
Q: Are you retired, or what?
No. We are putting our professions on hold while we pursue the goal of circumnavigating. In addition, life has seen fit to give me some remote work opportunities that fit our schedule, here and there. Once the trip is complete, we anticipate returning to work.
Q: What was it like to quit your job?
Hard. I didn't think it would be so hard until we got closer. Then, I realized how much I enjoyed the feeling of security a steady paycheck gives me. "Make hay while the sun shines!" Why would you walk away from a perfectly good job when so many do not that luxury? It seemed as insane to me as it does to you. But, I searched my soul to discern where I should go next and all signs pointed to having faith in myself, our little Oddgodfrey team, and in life to give the abundance we need. If you want to visit the experience in live time, read the following posts:
Q: Do you miss work?
A: I don't think we miss work, because we have a lot of work we must do out here to accomplish our purposes. How do you define work? Does it require a boss? A set of responsibilities? Compensation? Does it require misery? Reward? We have all that.
The Ocean is our boss.
Andrew's job is to maintain Sonrisa, plan routes around navigation and weather, and make decisions required to keep all of us safe and on track toward the circumnavigation goal. He is the "At Sea CEO". My job out here is to record the experience through photography, writing and editing this blog. I am also Sonrisa's "crew;" responsible for handling the spinnaker when the Captain so requests, consulting and advising the Captain on key decisions, manning the helm in tight spaces, and taking my share of sailing watches. We share the job of project management in the context of financial accounting and scheduling.
There are many people paid to be a ship's captain, engineer, or crew member. There are people who are paid for project management, financial accounting, travel photography and to write memoirs or biographies. So, our sailing efforts have a value equivalent to work; and someone IS paying us: The Ghosts of Andrew and Leslie Past are paying their hard earned dollars for Andrew and Leslie Present. We are also compensated with time to explore far off places, new friends, scuba diving adventures, sun, sand and beach cocktails.
Rest assured, we have our fair share of misery. Andrew does not enjoy dangling head first into a tiny anchor locker in a rolling anchorage, but just like a TPS Report, it must get done. My share of misery comes in the form of seasickness, wrestling my fear into reasonable submission, and extremely slow internet.
We don’t miss the challenge of work because we face challenges and learning opportunities every day out here. I do miss my friends/people at work, I sometimes miss the day to day (relative) predictability of work, I miss cardigans, pencil skirts and the perfect jewelry pairing. I do not miss having to report to somewhere day after day at a specific time while mountain bike trails, oceans, and islands are left unexplored, new friends left unmade.
Q: Will you return to the same profession?
I don't know. We both enjoyed our respective professions, and it is the business we know. It probably makes the most sense to return to the same profession. We will wait and see what opportunities present themselves at the time. I do hope we will return to shore better/smarter/with new ideas than when we left. I want to bring everything I learn to my work life and combine our industry experience with our sailing experience to offer something meaningful in the marketplace.
Q: Are you afraid no one will let you enter the rat race again?
Every now and then, but we built our careers from scratch once; there is no reason we can't do that again. And this time, we are not starting from scratch. We both have 10 years experience in our respective industries, and this trip is giving us many more insights into our personal drive, endurance, extreme responsibility, project planning, independent development of expertise, team work, leadership, grit...and more. Would you have misgivings in hiring us?
Q: Are you afraid you won't be mentally able to enter the rat race again?
What is the rat race? What is it that crushes our soul? Is it the monotony, lack of control over our daily lives, lack of choice, the dedication of energy toward something that we don't care much about, the wild goose chases we are cast upon for seemingly no good reason? It's been a long time since I felt like I was caught in the rat race. Regardless of whether you own your own company or you work "For The Man," your career is always your own little business and you are always "working for yourself". When I return, I fully intend to design the next phase of my career to serve my own/my family's goals and priorities - just like I did the last time I participated in the job market. I expect that will be on the whole satisfying to me, like it is now, and like it was in my previous work life.
Q: Why didn't you just take a leave of absence?
Our goal has always been to circumnavigate, and we knew it would take much longer than a typical leave of absence to accomplish our aim.
Q: Will you be broke when you return?
If all goes as planned, we will have a "resettlement fund" comprising 6 months of expenses at the rate we spent money on land before we left. We also saved money in retirement before we left, so although we will not touch that, it exists.
KEEPING A MARRIAGE ON A BOAT
Q: I could never spend that much time, in such close quarters with my spouse. How could you do it?
Rum. Lots of rum. Marriage on the boat is an interesting dynamic. I don't think it's different from being married on land; it is just a different type of pressure test than your typical land-pressure tests i.e. career building and raising kids. You can read all of our posts about the experience of being married on a sailing circumnavigation by clicking on the category link titled "Crew."
Q: Do you ever fight?
A: Of course. For more detail read www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/squabbles.
Q: How do you fight on a boat?
A: The same way we fight at home, about the same things. For more detail read www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/squabbles2
Q: Do you think your marriage will survive living on a boat?
A: I give it a 50/50 shot, but that's just because statistically all marriages only have a 50/50 shot. For more detail on this topic, read www.oddgodfrey/oddlog/therealquestion
Q: You seem like you have a pretty good marriage, how do you do it?
A: Marriage is a contract between two people who wish to work together to build the business of life. We have always been very intentional about the contract terms that apply to our marriage. We wrote our own marriage ceremony and vows, all of which are terms and conditions to keep us on track. They come into play when we fight, and they help remind us the grander purpose behind the grunt labor of day to day dream building. We consider it a shared responsibility to aim at our best life for ourselves and for each other. It all comes down to teamwork and respect for the team members. For more detail about this read www.oddgodfrey/oddlog/400sqft
Q: What about kids? Are you going to have kids on the boat? Are you ever going to have kids? Do you realize you are 35 years old and might not be able to have kids? Update: 36 years old and counting.... Update Again: 37….
A: We've been putting this question off this entire year because we don't know the answer. Sorry to put off one of those questions I know is burning away at you. What about kids? I will say that we have met a number of kids raised on sailboats at sea and they are some of the most sociable, responsible, and enjoyable humans I have had the pleasure of meeting. That is all. We don't know if we are going to have kids on the boat or at all. We realize I'm 36 (now 37). We realize that childbearing years wane. We realize we should figure it out soon.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE...?
Q: What is your favorite.....?
A: Everywhere has been filled with once in a lifetime experiences, friendly people, culture, and gorgeous nature. It is hard to pick just one place. Our favorites within various categories are as follows:
Warmest Welcome: Manihi, French Polynesia; Tual, Indonesia; Badas, Indonesia
Best for chartering a sailboat: Tonga or Raitaeah/Tahaa/Bora Bora
Best anchorages: Moorea, Society Islands; Hanamoena Bay, Tahuata, Marquesas; All of them in Vava'u Group, Tonga; South Rinca, Komodo
Best hike/view: Maupiti, French Polynesia; Padas, Komodo
Best swimming holes: Niue
Most magical/best preserved culture: Vanuatu
Best volcano: Vanuatu
Least spoiled by tourism: The Marquesas, the eastern islands of Indonesia
Best wildlife: Galapagos
Best scuba diving: Fakarava (Sharks!), Niue (water clarity, caves, snakes, whales), Tonga (tiny colorful creatures, swim throughs), Fiji (Sea Turtles), Vanuatu (Coolidge Wreck), Kei Islands (Coral and Sponge Diversity/Condition) Komodo Indonesia (EVERYTHING! Turtles, Mantas, Nudibrach, Variety of Coral)
Best manta rays: Maupiti, Society Islands; Komodo, Indonesia
Best fat and friendly eel named Princess: Bora Bora, Society Islands
Best beach food: Thailand. With Mexico or Galapagos.
Best food, generally: Thailand. Mexico, Indonesia
Best fresh veggies and fruit: New Zealand
Best hamburger: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Best French Pastries: Huahine, French Polynesia; Port Vila, Vanuatu
Best beer: New Zealand has great craft beers, but they are ungodly expensive.
Best Beer Label: Papua New Guinea
Q: What are your favorite sailing movies?
#1, BEST SAILING MOVIE EVER MADE: Captain Ron.
If you have to watch anything else (which, you don't) then Wind, a 1980s movie about Americas Cup. But it is best viewed in the company of Australians. I don't think they've made any good sailing movies since the 80's. Tell me if you find something new!
I also enjoy Maiden Trip. When you realize a 14 year old girl can circumnavigate all by herself, you realize I have no valid excuse.
QUESTIONS ABOUT Sailing Heebie-jeebies
Q: Are you afraid of heavy weather?
A: We enjoy a healthy fear of heavy weather.
Q: Have you hit any heavy weather?
At sea, the worst we have seen so far is 9-12 foot waves and 35 knots of wind. We have ridden out storms at anchor with gusts up to 45 knots. We have not experienced anything unmanageable yet, thank goodness.
Q: What do you plan to do about heavy weather?
A: There are books written on storm tactics. For a summary of our planned strategy and our favorite tactics, see a more detailed post: www.oddgodfrey/oddlog/darkandstormies. Our favorite book on storm tactics is Jack Kretchmer's Sailing a Serious Ocean, I like to call this book "Storm Poetry".
Q: Are you afraid of Pirates? What do you plan to do about Pirates? Aren’t there Pirates in Indonesia?
A: Like weather, we enjoy a healthy fear of pirates. We research areas of the world with piracy problems using live piracy maps tracked for commercial shipping and and other maritime vessels: https://icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/live-piracy-map. We have not yet traveled anywhere that piracy has been a problem. Generally speaking, we try to stay aware of what is around us. Sailors talk about getting a “feeling” about a location, hackles get raised, your spidey sense goes crazy. We will trust the sense we get about a place and move on if it isn’t quite right. We lock up Sonrisa when we are ashore. We have a car alarm hooked up that makes a god awful noise if the trip wire is tripped. We will not fight an intruder if one happens to board Sonrisa unless we absolutely must to save our selves from harm. Things can be replaced, people cannot. It hasn’t been a problem at all, yet. So, in a certain sense this is all theoretical. We hope it continues to be no problem at all.
With regard to Indonesia, there have been some instances of piracy near Java/Jakarta and Sarong near West Papua. Indonesia spans an area of almost 3,000 miles, so worrying about piracy in these areas is like worrying about crime in Oregon while kicking around in Tennessee. We plan to keep our distance from these locations, and enjoy the rest of the country safely. Of some amusement to me are the fishermen who wear black face masks to keep off the sun. Their curiosity often gets the best of them, and they motor up next to Sonrisa, faces blacked out by their scarves. It could be scary, if you didn't know their intentions, but they always wave, take selfies, and offer to give us fish. I don't think they are pirates.
Q: Aren't there terrorists in Indonesia?
Indonesia has no more terrorism than the United States has, and I would venture to say less when you consider the frequency of our mass shootings. I have been happily surprised to learn that the Indonesian Muslim Community is leading the world in speaking out against extremism and terrorism. Everywhere we go, we meet Muslim people in various states of veil. They are some of the kindest, most friendly people we have ever met. They speak directly to us about the idea that Christians, Hindu, Buddhists, and Muslims are brothers in Indonesia. Observing their cities and neighborhoods, it is clear they live that way on a daily basis. It's a beautiful thing to experience, and I hope very much they can avoid the extremism that terrorizes communities in the Middle East.
Q: Do you carry guns on board?
We plead the 5th on this question. There are many things to consider when deciding whether to bring a gun aboard a boat. In most places in the world, it is illegal to possess a firearm. In many countries, you must hand over your firearms to officials when you check in and pay fees for the officials to hold those firearms until you leave. Most countries do not allow a person to kill another person in furtherance of self-defense like we do in the United States, so while you may save your life with an intruder you may find yourself at the sharp end of a guillotine anyway. Pirates do not use little handguns; they generally have weapons of war they've gotten a hold of on the black market. So, if you really wish to fight off pirates, you should probably consider a rocket launcher or an AK-47. Further, customs in regard to personal space and approaching other vessels varies from country to country; one must be mindful that he or she does not shoot a kind person wearing a face mask for sun protection, hoping to bum a cigarette and say hello.
Q: Any close calls?
A: Our scariest moment was probably the day Sonrisa hit a whale, but Sonrisa shook this off like a champ. www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/whaletale Our second scariest moment was the day a "sea tornado" or water spout formed a mile or so away from us. We aimed Sonrisa full steam ahead away from the area, and were no worse for the wear.
Q: What does Leslie's Dad think of this?
I'm sure he'd rather wrap me in bubble wrap and keep me close regardless of where I am. We miss being able to spend time with each other during this phase of our respective lives. But, he also knows the things I learned from him play a large part in my desire and ability to be capturing this dream, and I think that makes him happy. He also enjoys reading about all the learning and fun we are experiencing out here. If you want to read more about getting Dad "on board", check out the blog post www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/dadonboard.
Q: What are you most afraid of?
A: Onboard fire at sea, lightning strikes, a medical emergency at sea, collisions with uncharted reef or floating cargo ship containers, having so much fun and drinking so many beach cocktails that my brain goes slushy.
Q: Has this trip changed your relationship with fear?
A: This trip has caused me to become more comfortable acting and making decisions while experiencing fear. Fear exists, you get to choose how you react to it.
ALL ABOUT S/V SONRISA
Q: What does S/V mean?
A: Sailing Vessel. M/V means Motor Vessel. You might also see S/Y which means Sailing Yacht. SS means Sailing Ship, USS "Name" means a Sailing Ship under the U.S. Flag.
Q: What kind of boat is Sonrisa?
A: Sonrisa is a 1981 Valiant 40, cutter rigged sloop. In regular English that means she was built in 1981 by a company called Uniflite (at the time), her model is Valiant 40. "Cutter Rigged" means she has two sails in front of her mast: one large sail and a second smaller sail. A "Sloop" is a sailboat that its mast near her centerline, with one main sail behind and at least one sail in front.
Q: Why did you choose Sonrisa?
A: As a design, the Valiant 40 is known for her balance of strength and speed, her smooth sailing motion, and her ability to keep her passengers safe and sound. Rumor has it, Sonrisa has more sisters cruising the blue water than any other sailboat design; I have no way of confirming this rumor - other than to confirm that Sonrisa has had three sets of owners, and all three of them have trusted her enough to venture offshore long distances.
Sonrisa herself has a spirit you can feel from the moment you climb aboard; you know for sure she loves being at sea. Her two prior owners took careful care of her, so she was in good shape the day we bought her. Our refit focused on maintenance items that are wise to replace on a re-occurring cycle like rigging and chainplates. For a fully summary of her refit projects and costs, go to www.oddgodfrey.com/costtally.
Q: How did you find Sonrisa?
A: Sonrisa was the first boat, in the first slip, behind the first broker's office we visited. We looked at a number of other boats after we first met Sonrisa, but none so beautiful, none so ready to go. She called to us. She'd been waiting for us for a couple years. Practically speaking, though, we perused www.yachtworld.com for years prior to the official boat hunt, getting an idea of price range and type of boat we liked. We read John Vigor's Twenty Used Sailboats That Will Take You Anywhere and John Kretchmer's Best Used Boat Notebook. Andrew read several articles about surveying boats, and brushed up on his knowledge of diesel engines. We started the hunt with basic parameters: the boat must be within a five hour drive of Las Vegas, priced under $125,000, blue water capable, with minimal refit required. (We wanted to sail, not restore an old boat.)
Q: Can we have a grand tour?
A: Yep! Check out the blog post: www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/thegrandtour
Q: Where has Sonrisa sailed before?
A: Sonrisa was built in Bellingham, Washington in 1981. She served as a charter boat in the Caribbean for a while - Neptune only knows what those days were like. We all know she's tough, though, so whatever those days brought to her she took it on the chin and kept sailing. The first official logs or records we have for her start in April of 1990. We believe she started her long haul sailing out of Bonaire in January of 1989. She sailed through the Panama Canal February 15, passing through her first lock at 10 a.m. that morning, tied up in the center of a fleet of six sailboats. From there, she sailed into the South Pacific, crossing as far west as New Caledonia, then looping northward through Solomon Islands, Micronesia, Japan and back to San Francisco by December of 1993. There, she was sold to her next set of owners who sailed her to Mexico and back, twice. She cast off on her second Pacific crossing in 2005, safely navigating all the way to New Zealand. Much to her chagrin, she had to be lofted onto a container ship in New Zealand and moved back to the US under another ship's power because her owners ran into health troubles. The container ship delivered her to the East Coast, and then she sailed down the Intercostal Waterway to Texas. From Texas, she was taken over land by truck to San Diego. She was put up for sail in 2010, and she waited November of 2012 for the Oddgodfreys to find her. She enjoyed escorting us through Pacific waters she knew well, and now she's very happy to be bopping around in Indonesia where her wake has never crossed before. She dreams of completing her own circumnavigation, and we hope to be able to help her achieve her goal.
Curiosities about the Sailing Life
Q: What is your longest passage?
A: So far, the longest passage was from Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas. We completed the crossing in 22 days, 3,009 miles. Our second longest passage was from Cabo San Lucas to the Galapagos Islands was 21 days, 2587 miles. We were in Galapagos for only three weeks between these two major passages. That is a lot of sailing in the span of three months!
Q: You stay close to land, right? What is the furthest you've ever sailed away from land?
A: No, we don't stay close to land. Many passages require us to cross vast swaths of Ocean. The furthest we've ever sailed from land was on the 22-day crossing to the Marquesas. At the midpoint, we were 1,500 miles away from any piece of land in any direction.
Q: Do you anchor at night while on passages?
A: No, we don't anchor. Each of us take watch shifts in a 24 hour cycle as follows:
0900 - 1130 (9a.m. - 11:30 a.m.) Leslie is on watch. Captain Andrew naps.
1130 - 1500 (11:30a.m. - 3 p.m.) Lunch and watch together.
1500 - 1730 (3 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.) Andrew is on watch. Leslie naps.
1730 - 1900 (5:30 p.m - 7 p.m.) Make and eat dinner. Leslie on watch/Andrew prepares dinner
1900 - 0100 (7 p.m. - 1 a.m.) Leslie is on watch. Captain Andrew sleeps.
0100 - 0700 (1 a.m. - 7 a.m.) Captain Andrew is on watch, Leslie sleeps, The Ghost of Richard Henry Dana causes floods.
0700-0900 (7 a.m. - 9 a.m.) Breakfast. Leslie is on watch, Andrew prepares breakfast.
Q: Is there a way to stop the boat in the middle of the ocean to rest if you need to?
A: Yes. If we need a rest for any reason, we can Hove To to slow and steady the boat. “Hoving-to” is a strategy with which you back-wind the headsail, trim the main to push her upwind, and balance the helm essentially create a “fight” between her two sails and keep her bow pointed upwind making very little speed. When Sonrisa is "hove to" she scuttles sideways rather than forward at a slow pace of 1 knot or less. As she drags sideways through the water, she creates a "slick" behind her that calms the waves a little bit and prevents them from crashing down on us. It's actually a rather nifty strategy that is also used as a defensive tactic during heavy weather.
Q: Who is the Captain?
Q: Where are you going next?
A: The plan is to enjoy Thailand through the rest of the good sailing season (April 2019), then sail back to Langkawi, Malaysia to give Sonrisa a major refit of her keel bolts. We will cast off from South East Asia to cross the Indian Ocean to Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, Maladives, Chagos, Madagascar, and South Africa starting February of 2020.
Q: It seems like you are getting really far behind your original route plan.
A: We are. Currently, we are a full year behind (half of that spent a longer time in South Pacific, the other half spent a longer time in Indonesia). By the time we finish this refit, we will be a full two years behind. There are two reasons for this: (1) our expectation for ourselves regarding a comfortable sailing/exploration pace was wrong when we sketched our route sitting comfortably at home in Las Vegas with little offshore sailing experience; and (2) Sonrisa has made an undeniable request to spend extra time in South East Asia (blog post coming soon on this topic.)
Q: Are you going to have to quit?
A: No way! We have a number of options to work with: (1) If we chop Europe from our sail route we will save ourselves an entire year and a whole lot of money given that Europe is one of the most expensive areas to sail in the world. (2) I can look for some freelance/contract work while Andrew is completing the refit in Malaysia to top up the sail kitty; (3) If worst comes to worst, we can pause on the East Coast of the US, make some money, then continue on our route; (4) we can break into our house fund we took when we sold our house last year. (This is obviously the most irresponsible thing to do, and I’d really rather not do it.)
Q: How do you decide where you are going next?
This is always a mix of weather, destinations on the circumnavigation track, and serendipity. For more detail, read www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/wherenext
Q: What about Australia?
A: Australia is a huge country and we decided we couldn’t do it justice sailing with all the other places we are trying to make it to this year as well. So, we will find a way to fit it in at some other point in our lives via some version of airplane/land travel.
Q: Do you ever get seasick? What do you do to manage it?
A: Yes. Seasickness is a tricky beast. It's unique to the individual and the sea conditions. Some people never get seasick no matter what is going on, and some people never get over seasickness no matter what they do. Andrew and I both fall in the middle category of people who are mildly miserable for the first three days of any passage, but get over it after that. To minimize our misery in the first three days we try to do the following: Hydrate really well starting 3 days before the passage and continue throughout the passage; start medication 24 hours prior to departure and continue every 12 hours thereafter until it starts to abate, drawing down dosage slowly (Dramamine puts me to sleep so I can’t use that. Other “motion sick” meds in the US don’t work for me. I’ve found antihistamine based anti-nausea meds like Sturgeron and promethazine work best for me.) Relax and visualize a successful passage from start to finish (anxiety increases likelihood of seasickness); pre cook three days worth of meals; have small snacks always at the ready and nibble every half hour (ginger snap cookies are great for this though make me fat); try not to do small movements close up (like chopping vegetables) if you don’t have to; minimize time below deck except to sleep; and avoid the boat’s bow unless you absolutely must go up there. Finally, I have to relax and be patient. The more I engage in negativity and internal fights with myself about how stupid this whole sailing idea is, how weak/scared/sick I am, how annoying the sea conditions are, etc. etc. etc. the worse it gets.
Q: How do you manage medical care?
A: We have a pretty comprehensive medical kit on the boat with splints, wraps, tourniquets, burn care, IV equipment, saline solutions, and medicines we hope will tide us over if things go drastically awry. We have a general physician who has agreed to be on call if we ever need any guidance in remote areas. We both are certified as first responders, and we have a few medical first aid books on board to help if we need reference. We have currently use Geo Blue Xplorer Policy, a medical insurance policy that covers us in the United States and in foreign countries. It also offers a $250,000 coverage for plucking us away from a remote area and flying us somewhere that has medical care. On a day to day basis, taking care of our health is part of the challenge of living abroad. Its different everywhere we go, and can formulate the focus of some fun adventures. If you want to read more in depth about our experience with annual physical exams in Malaysia, or the run around we enjoy just trying to get a common prescription filled in Indonesia, click these links.
Q: Do you ever get bored?
A: No. My mother says boredom is an infliction of those who lack creativity and curiosity, punishable by hard labor. This parenting-policy permanently cured me of boredom.
Q: Do you miss living in a land-house?
A: Not really. Sonrisa is both our home and a good friend. She has a comfy bed, a fridge with cold beer, a stunning backyard patio, a beautiful swimming pool, and a stellar personality. Whenever the neighbors get annoying, we move. And many nights, I take my shower under a blanket of stars.
Q: What has been the hardest part about sailing?
A: Quitting our jobs, sea sickness, leaving people we love - including all our new friends we make as we go.
Q: What do you eat?
A: When we are touring around on land, we eat at restaurants serving local food. Our best strategy is to find a place that has a big crowd of locals, it's guaranteed to be delicious and less likely to give you food poisoning regardless of outer appearances. On Sonrisa, we eat very much like we eat at home. There are grocery stores and fruit and veggie markets anywhere that people live. Sometimes it is difficult to find the specific food or brand you want (cheese is very hard to find in Indonesia!), but you always can find something to stock your cupboards.
Q: What do you eat on long passages?
Generally, we try to prepare at least the first three days of meals and snacks so we don't have to do any cooking/chopping, etc. We want to be able to pull them out of the fridge and heat them up. This is because we both get a little seasick the first three days and cooking, down below is miserable. After that, we plan to eat delicate fruits and veggies first, saving the harder items like apples, pears, potatoes, onions, squash, pumpkins, etc for the third/fourth week of the voyage. Did you know eggs do not have to be refrigerated? If you buy fresh eggs that have never been refrigerated and turn them over or shake them every few days or so, they will last more than a month. We also have a freezer on board Sonrisa. So, we can vacuum seal packets of marinated meats or pre-prepared meals and pull them out of the freezer even in the fourth week of a passage.
Q: Does Andrew do all the cooking?
A: A lot of cooking, yes. I seasick cooking underway until at least Day 6 of a passage. So, Captain Andrew does most of the cooking under way. I cook pre-prepared meals before we leave, while we are still at anchor and put them in the freezer to make it easier on Andrew sometimes. I also will try to cook something (or at least heat something up) once I'm not so prone to seasickness. Even when we are at anchor, though, Andrew cooks a lot. He's a good chef, and I like to use that time to write blog posts!
Q: What do you do with your garbage?
A: Anything that composts like food waste can be thrown into the ocean with no bad impact. We try to only use things packaged in cardboard, paper, aluminum, or tin as much as possible. Then we crush these items, save them in a garbage can in Sonrisa, and take them to shore when we arrive at a city. We try not to buy products wrapped in plastic, but when it inevitably makes its way into our hands, we try to burn it on a beach. The garbage collection/recycling is non-existent and/or poorly handled in most of the places we have visited (New Zealand excluded). Cardboard, paper, aluminum and tin degrade in salt water environments and won't be around to poison the environment for infinite time. Plastic, never goes away and it is very likely to end up back in the ocean if we don't burn it. The plastic situation out here is dire; its killing us all slowly. Stop using plastic in every instance you possibly can, pressure the companies you buy from to stop packaging their products in plastic, and let your representatives know you support regulations that reduce or eliminate non-biodegradable packaging and single use plastic items.
Q: What is something that surprised you?
I know far less than I thought I knew. Did you know there are six seasons in Northern Australia?
The world is at the same time so much larger and so much smaller than I imagined.
Internet is not easy, fast, or cheap.
I'm not as brave and fearless as I hoped.
So far, the local people are more friendly and welcoming than I expected them to be.
We love scuba diving even more than we thought we would.
It's a strange feeling to have to trust your self and your spouse with every aspect of your physical and emotional survival.
You build quick friendships with other sailors.
Sailboat kids and their parents are awesome.
Feelings like depression, anxiety, and uncertainty do not abate while in the middle of a large life goal. If you are stricken with these feelings while working, raising families, or doing other normal things, they are likely to continue to exist even while trying to capture some crazy dream in remote paradise. Peace, satisfaction, meaning, and happiness are feelings of themselves developed by something other than surrounding circumstances or the achievement of whatever it is you think you want.
Q: How has this trip changed you?
I'm not sure, yet. As of today, I feel like it has unraveled things that I thought I knew and values I thought I held, but it has yet to weave anything back together to a stronger, better whole. I am hoping something meaningful will come together and make itself known to me before the end of the trip. Experiencing what it means to be trapped, at the mercy of the weather and the passage of time, in the embrace of deep patience has probably been the most transformative of lessons so far. There is nothing like the ocean to make you realize you are NOT in control of anything. Andrew says he would agree with this answer, so we are on the same page.
Q: If you had to pick one thing that is the best about this sailing trip, what is it?
The best thing about this trip excitement of continuous change and challenge. Every single day throws something unexpected at us and we have to figure out what to do next. Sometimes it's something fun (like the day a local decided to take us to a formal wedding attire shop and dress us up in the Sultan's wedding clothes) and sometimes its more challenging like retrieving Grin while he is washing away to sea. Everything is harder out here - even the simplest tasks like grocery shopping can be a mind bender. We learn something new every day about people, nature, sailing, maintaining diesel engines, scuba diving, or ourselves. The reward at the end of the day is seeing some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Q: Isn't it all the same?
Does it all start to blend together? My apologies if my blog does not adequately describe the daily challenge and joy of seeing different types of nature, people, challenges, fears, and internal personal characteristics inside ourselves. It's an art in life to see and appreciate the tiny details, an art that we all can and should practice no matter where we live, what our opportunities, or our goals. Read two more detailed post about how I processed this question when it first hit me, here and here.
Q: Why do you want to sail around the world?
Captain Andrew's Answer: Because it's there.
Leslie's Answer: It seems pretty difficult and uncomfortable, and I always learn more when I am working through something difficult and uncomfortable. The reward is awesome! Besides learning a lot, I get to see beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife, kind humanity, and drink delicious tropical fruit cocktails. Why not?