Just a week before I sat down to write this I learned my brother-in-law, Michael Masculine, was killed while riding his motorcycle. He was traveling at a modest speed, the light was green, a truck driver made a left turn and hit him. Michael died instantly, just a mile from his home. When I wrote of this on my personal Facebook page, a large number of friends sent condolences and warm thoughts. Four of them said they had lost loved ones the same way. This caused me to reflect on a question we are frequently asked, “Isn’t crossing oceans on a small boat dangerous?” Our answer, “not compared to driving!” As I look back over the past 45 years of voyaging I can think of very few sailing friends who had serious or fatal accidents while at sea. In fact, the only untimely deaths directly related to sailing involved a few friends who were racing singlehanded across oceans. My thoughts wander from this to the stack of sailing magazines that arrived in my mail package yesterday. Each one had articles about the latest items you should buy to make you safer afloat, emotionally reinforcing the idea that there is danger lurking just offshore in a bid to get you to spend money on their latest product.  In my reflective mood I began listing a few of the reasons cruising can be safer than life ashore; you are moving far slower on a boat than in a car, say 6 or 7 knots compared to 75 or 75 miles per hour. You are rarely maneuvering at speed within a few feet of other boats. You aren’t depending on other people to be paying attention, be drug or alchol free, to notice you, to stay on their side of the road. You can choose when you sail so are not forced to be in traffic during rush hour. As the kind wishes continue arriving for all our family, I am again reminded of a quote I’ve often read – each day you spend out sailing is one more added to the span of your life. Friends, if you ride motorcyles, be extra careful. In fact, maybe you should trade that motorcycle in and gain more time out on the water at the same time as you let your family breathe a little more comfortably.
On a far lighter note, as we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, we decided to rent a small motorhome and drive from Geelong where we’d enjoyed taking part in the Wooden Boat Festival, to Sydney along the Ocean Highway. During this foray we were reminded that many of the lessons we learned from voyaging on board simple sailing boats translate well to life on shore.
One lesson, don’t over-estimate the distance you will cover in a day. The maps showed we had less than 1000 miles to drive during the ten days we had the motorhome at our disposal. But there were some days when we just didn’t feel like leaving the place we’d found the night before. The wonderful bird life at Wilson’s Promontory, the friendly folks we met who wandered into our campsite to say hello, (they came armed with a bottle of wine and spare glasses for us) So we stayed right where we were for three days then realized we had only driven a quarter of the distance toward our goal.
Another, even more important lesson; slow down and be ready to change your plans because that is the way serendipity can play it’s part in your life. One morning, after driving only 50 miles closer to our goal, we wandered down towards the coast right at the border between Victoria and New South Wales. A friend had told us Mallacoota was the best surfing spot on the Australian east coast. We’re not surfers but we also didn’t have any set itinerary. So we detoured 20 miles down a narrow road toward the coast. It was late in the season, not many people around on a pleasantly warm Sunday. Beautiful lagoon, very small town. Took a nice walk, didn’t see much reason to hang around. I looked for an internet connection I could use after lunch when Larry likes to take an afternoon siesta. Then we planned to move on toward a forest park we had on our to-see list. The only internet connection was in Lucy’s Noodle Shop. We decided to have lunch there, then afterwards Larry headed over to the motorhome and I headed to the computers (they didn’t have wi-fi). A note on the board next to the computer said, “Strum club meets today, 4PM”. When I asked the man next to me what a strum club was he said, “lots of folks in town play music. We all meet up on Sundays for an informal jam session in the park. But today I doubt it happens because Brent McLeod died and lots of muso’s from all over have come to town for his funeral. We’ve been playing most of the night, going to meet here in two hours and play some more.” Though we’d never heard of Brent, we decided to join in. What an afternoon, Mike Tehana, a wonderful Maori guitarist from the north of New Zealand sang some exceptional blues, backed by sometimes five, sometimes seven other players. Brett Ralph, a well-loved local songwriter and folk singer took over the mike. There were only the 20 or so musicians, two dozen music appreciators seated around ten tables on the patio. We were included in the story telling that connected each new set of songs. Serendipity yes. But keeping our lives schedule as cruisy as possible helped too.
Back in New Zealand, autumn was just beginning to show its colors. The first of the annual fleet of overseas cruising yachts heading north back to the tropics began meandering in to say farewell. We had a really special treat when the fleet gathered at our home for the annual Mahurangi Easter Regatta. Friends we’d made while we were exploring the islands south of Rio de Janeiro arrived to join in. For the first time, Ivan and Igle saw themselves and their friends in Cruising Has No Limits, the DVD program we showing our time with them in Isla Grande. This opened a flood gate of memories as we talked of the dozens of meals we’d shared, the times we spent in their apartment in Rio, the anchorages we’d explored together.
As this years crop of overseas yachts began heading north, I felt a twinge of restlessness. But Larry reminded me, though we won’t be sailing off this year- we too will soon be headed north toward summer; family wedding, a talk at the Los Angeles chapter of the Adventurers Club in June then on the US East coast for some exploring and seminar presentations in September and October. Hope we see some of you along the way.
Lin and Larry Pardey
P.S. I had an interesting response to our cruising tip about Milk for long distance sailing written by a dairy farmer and chemist from New Zealand. You can see it as a new cruising tip this month or click here.
 This month’s cruising tip is a chapter from our book, The Capable Cruisercalled, You Can’t Buy Safety.
P.P.S. our new video program, Cost Control While You Cruise will be released soon and you can get a discount by pre-ordering it. It is being produced by TheSailingChannel.tv and Larry and I.
Here’s the description:
What does it actually cost to cruise? How do you keep from blowing the budget you set? Join Lin and Larry Pardey as they share the financial lessons they have learned during 45 years of voyaging and from interviews with cruising sailors from dozens of different countries and walks of life. Lin discusses ways to keep maintenance costs in control, the importance of an unstoppable cruising boat and how your ground tackle and dinghy can save you money. Lin also reveals the tempting choice that can double your cruising costs. Larry will show you simple tricks to double the life of your sails. Also included are provisioning tips and planning ideas. This DVD is guaranteed to save you many times its cost while inspiring you to work toward getting “out there” as soon as possible.
Based on their highly successful boat show seminar of the same name, this DVD expands the information found in their best-selling book, Cost Conscious Cruiser. It is a program you will watch time and again, not just for the money-saving ideas but for the glorious sights and sounds of cruising that enliven the narrative. You’ll catch glimpses of life on Taleisin as she rushes headlong past the shores of Africa, glides through the far reaches of Brazil then north to the misty shores of Ireland. From peaceful interludes among the coral atolls of the Indian Ocean to the hustle and bustle of exotic locales as far flung as Zimbabwe and Samoa, there is plenty here to fuel your cruising dreams.
Running time: 70 minutes plus 25 minutes of special extras
Special price for orders placed
before June 18th – $20.00.
Click here for more details... Use coupon code: saveondvd