About Us

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We work as ecotourism guides (as well as biologist and boat captain) often on the BC Coast, but also as far ranging as the Arctic and Antarctic. We have an insatiable curiousity for the planet; all its hidden gems and what makes them tick. That and our love of sailing is what inspired us to sail around the Pacific in Narama, our tough and pretty little sailboat.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cruising Expenses

Nearly 3 years have passed since we left on this “voyage” and we are occasionally queried as to where the money comes from.  Especially since are not yet retired and living on a pension.  The reality is that it’s not that expensive….. if you’re careful.

 As we keep a close tally on expenses, here’s a summary as to where the money has gone in terms of cruising. To set the scene though; we have a smaller and simpler than average boat, our raison d’ĂȘtre is wildlife and we don’t mean the bar type and we enjoy exercise (no outboard on the dinghy). In the last 32 months we have cruised from Canada to New Zealand, returned to work for 5 months and spent the last 5 months in New Zealand mostly off the boat. The chart below breaks down the expenses for the cruising time only.

 We have met folks who cruise for much less and many for much more. We have gone over our planned budget, but have considered it all well spent as some places we may not get back too (Galapagos in particular).  There are several ways some can reduce their budget. Insurance, both boat and medical being big items. We always buy medical insurance. We buy boat insurance where required by local law and then we go for comprehensive.  If we could rid ourselves of stuff kept ashore this would save us in storage expenses. The fuel expense also covers stove fuel (denatured alcohol) which has been expensive in the pacific.  Marina time is a splurge for us, but nice to wash things down and handy when friends come to stay. We rarely use our fridge and as such eat few animal products, with beans and lentils being consumed a lot.  That said, we do enjoy a beer and steak once and a while.  Boat costs are unlikely to go down, especially with a 42 year-old boat.  In fact with the new paint job in NZ (well overdue) and some rigging replacement (after 25.000nm) the average expenditure there will likely go up.  As this is a comprehensive total, the miscellaneous section includes a computer and camera that have been replaced on route.

 It will soon be time to return to work to refund the cruising kitty, but we have found it possible to travel and enjoy ourselves for just over $1700 a month all inclusive.  Breaking that down, we have had nearly three years cruising for the price of a reasonably fancy new vehicle or a hefty down payment.  If that sacrifice means living aboard another few years, we’ll accept that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Passage to New Caledonia

From the Sketchbook

Did I really say that we would have nice sailing in my last blog entry?  Superstitious sailors should know better than to tempt fate!

Whew!  We made it!  Our passage from New Zealand was a tough one, in fact it was the roughest weather we’ve had consistently on a passage.  It blew between 15 and 40 knots, but was over 25 most of the time.  It grew rather tedious with big seas, regularly slamming the side of the coach-house and splashing across the cockpit.  One wave managed to come through the cockpit at just the right angle at just the wrong time.  We had the cover over the hatch open and the wave planted itself into the quarter-berth where Heidi was sleeping at the time.  That was a rude awakening and has never happened to us before!  At least this passage was relatively fast.  It took us 7 ½ days and we still had lots of fresh fruit and veg left on our arrival as our appetites weren’t up to eating much!

There’s no species list to report for this passage; Heidi didn’t pick up binoculars to look at seabirds until we entered the pass into the lagoon.  When she doesn’t feel like looking at birds, than that means things are serious!

Here’s a few stats from the trip…

Opua, New Zealand to Noumea, New Caledonia
Narama stats:
Total distance: 884 nm (nautical miles)
Best 24-hour day:  138 nm
Worst day: 103 nm
Average day: 120 nm
Average speed: 5 knots
Highest winds: 40 knot gusts
Sail changes: 6 (includes reefing, but not furling for squalls)
Sails used: between 1 and 3 reefs in the main; furling jib and storm jib
Ships sighted: 4
Engine hours: 4.6 (port to port)

Damage sustained: One bent stanchion and a cracked stanchion base (stainless).  Also, we ripped our cockpit side-covers: the bungy cords on the bottom released pressure, but not fast enough.  Oh yeah, and Heidi’s ego.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Farewell to New Zealand

Beautiful Bay of Islands, NZ

Well after being in New Zealand for nearly six months, it is time to move on.  With a high pressure cell moving towards us from Australia this means nice weather and sailing.  In fact it is hard to leave when we know that the sailing locally here in the Bay of Islands will be lovely, but winter is coming here to the far south, so we’ll bid this lovely place adieu.  It also means saying good bye to many other cruisers that we have met along the way and shared many an anchorage with.  New Zealand seems to be a bit of a crossroads, where some are heading to Fiji, some to Australia and Southeast Asia and some even back towards North America.  We hope to sail in the beautiful lagoon of New Caledonia next.  Safe sailing to everyone heading out to sea somewhere!!!