We first met Elba Borgen and Susan Travers in British Columbia when they had first acquired their Cape George 32 foot cutter Infinity. We had two delightful afternoons together, and remember talking about some cruisers we met in Nuka Hiva who were frustrated, and stuck waiting for parts and a mechanic to fly in from Tahiti at vast expense because their engine was down which meant they could not use their anchor windlass, get water from their tanks, keep a two month supply of frozen meat from going bad nor guarantee they could have lighting once their solar power ran low. Larry and I felt we might have ragged on a bit too long about the importance of outfitting Infinity so she would have her systems separated so she would be what we call, “unstoppable.” (We discuss this more in our book, Cost Conscious Cruiser in chapter 10, Cost Control while you cruise.)
The following letter arrived a few weeks ago to assuage our concerns. It is reprinted here with permission from Elba and Susan.
Hello Lin and Larry,
We are in Nuka Hiva. We are thrilled to be in the Marquesas and as you know landscape is beautiful beyond description. Had a challenging but nevertheless successful passage. Thought of you often. One day out of La Paz our engine went out (big cloud of black smoke and water pouring out the air intake.) We had a one-minute conference and thought: worst case, we need an engine rebuild. Cabo or Raiatea? Hmmmm? All sails went up and off we went. Two days later our head went out. Fantasized of throwing the engine and head overboard, thinking of all the new storage space created, eliminating a lot of clutter and icky smells. Seems all the yards are anxious to help you add more junk but never are they interested in helping simplify. At some point we may take a few months to take off all the unnecessary gear. We are grateful for the simplifying we had already done along with simple back-ups to complex systems. For example, trilled we swapped our electric windlass for heavy duty manual one. Anchoring is no big deal even without the engine. Thanks to you both we had a drifter. Loved using it for the first time. We experienced half an hour of doldrums. Set the drifter and had three days of great sailing.
Love from the crew of Infinity,
Susan and Elba