What kind of a cruiser will you choose to be?

What kind of a cruiser will you choose to be?

We’ve met all sorts of cruisers out there. Some folks have sailed all their adult lives and it’s their lifestyle. Some young folks are taking a break from the work world and enjoying themselves for a couple of years. Some sailors, like us, retired early and have sailed off into the sunset. Yet others are families who have decided to travel with their kids for a few years and educate them along the way. Whichever cruising style you choose, it’s good to realize in advance how this will affect the type of boat you choose and your budget.

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Back to Boat Work

Yes, we're back aboard Nine of Cups. Our trip to Swaziland and Kruger Park already seem like a lovely, but distant memory. I keep looking at all of our photos to remind myself it was just a few days ago that we returned. It's easy to forget what you've just experienced once you're immersed in boat work again. As much as we enjoyed our trip, towards the end, getting back to Cups was always on our minds. Our new bimini and dodger were in place and though a few tweaks were necessary for the dodger, we were well satisfied with the final result.

bimini and dodger

I had recovered all the saloon cushions back in Panama in 2009. It was really in need of replacement, but it's a big project and I wasn't game for starting it now. As David mentioned previously, the South African rand is quite soft against the US dollar at present (R11.5:US$1). We took advantage of this by ordering new saloon upholstery before we left. The final cost wasn't significantly more than my cost for just buying the materials. The new saloon upholstery wasn't quite finished when we got back to the boat, but Clyde delivered everything within a couple of days. It adds a whole new elegance to the saloon, I think … and it's new and unstained. Hallelujah!

new saloon uphostery

We returned the car to its downtown Durban location … about a 20 minute walk away. It seemed odd to be in the midst of the noisy hustle-bustle of the city after nearly 10 days of pretty much peace and quiet. It's hot and humid here … except when it rains, then it's hot, humid and wet. The city sidewalks are always crowded and the decibel level of the noise is incredible.

The boat was a wreck when we first unloaded all of our stuff, lugged it below and crammed it into the saloon. We sorted and stowed everything almost immediately and Cups was shipshape (at least below deck) for nearly 14 hours before David got to work on his projects. He wasted no time. His latest effort was installing our back-up autopilot system which required access under the aft bunk in our cabin. The mattress came off. Tools and parts and equipment were everywhere. This is not unusual on Cups or any boat for that matter. Everything is compact and snug. When a project needs doing, everything is affected and is in turmoil until the project is complete.

turmoil in the aft cabin

As for me, I've been writing up a storm, cooking, cleaning, sewing and … dare I say it? … preparing for another inland trip. We just got word from Brennan and Hannah (our oldest son and our daughter-in-law) that they're planning a trip to Africa in early February. We only have them for a few days. They're hiking enthusiasts and want to visit Lesotho (Leh-soo-too), that tiny landlocked country surrounded by South Africa only a few hours drive away. How could we resist that opportunity?

lesotho map

We need to get all of our work done before they arrive so that we can play and then depart Durban on the next weather window after their departure. Always lots to do and lots to look forward to.

Back to David and the Sunshine City

David did a credible job of putting Nine of Cups back together for my homecoming and then we unpacked the loaded duffels and poof! … poor Cups was a mess again. Piles of parts here and new gear there, all midst teak parts laying on any available flat surface in the process of being varnished. This is pretty much the norm, I reckon … always a boat project or two in progress. varnished teak

Getting back into the swing of liveaboard life is always a big change for me. There's a major time change (7 hours) and temperature change … hot and sweaty versus cold and shivering. The “sunshine” city wasn't very sunshine-y on arrival. In fact, it was pretty wet. Walking down the pier in the rain to the boat, dragging the heavy duffels behind us reminded me of just how far away from the shore Cups' berth actually is. Hoisting the wet duffels aboard and then wrestling them down the companionway ladder was a chore. Unloading them and remembering exactly what we had ordered and why was a cruiser's Christmas at first, but stowing everything was near impossible. The morning walk to the club toilets seemed longer and heading to the clubhouse for showers was more of a hassle than it had been before. It's certainly less convenient than stepping a few feet into the shower in Lin's guest bathroom. The laundry was also mounting up, but tossing a quick load into Lin's washing machine wasn't an option.

David dove right in and immediately began an updated project list based upon the parts I'd brought back. His to-do agenda is still long, though he's already accomplished significant repairs during the past month since we arrived. There's a high-powered wifi antenna and router to install, a new three-line clutch to replace one in the cockpit that's seen better days, the new furler guard assembly for the jib to replace the one that got wrecked on our Mauritius to Durban passage and heaps of other hardware and parts for various projects.

parts and gear

My to-do list includes several sewing repairs, cleaning of the water tanks and winch servicing among other things, and then there's some writing to be done. We have, however, negotiated some time for inland travel in near future. As David has methodically been installing new parts and gear, I've been making plans for visiting game parks and other points of interest in this part of Africa. The chores are easier to handle when I know there's a trip incentive waiting at the end of the dirty work.