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Sunday, March 11, 2018


Envoy is berthed in Greece's Lefkas Marina and we're home in Auckland. 
Unfortunately circumstances prevent us returning to cruise in the Med this year.

We recently wrote an article published in Pacific PassageMaker magazine about starting the live-aboard cruising life. Over the next few weeks we'll be psting this article to our Blog in several parts.

The live-aboard life isn’t for everyone; there are many competent, dedicated weekend cruisers who wouldn't want to spend more time at sea than ashore. But for those who have the live-aboard passion there is generally nothing to stop you. 
As famed cruiser and circumnavigator Scott Flanders advises, “tick…tick…tick… the clock is ticking, get the picture … do it now!” 
Regardless of whatever your future dream life happens to be if you can’t literally do it now, at least make a plan now and work towards achieving it.

Plan your dreams now - Envoy moored by Bodrum's castle, Turkey

When I turned 50 I expected to have about 20 good summers left, meaning that barring major illnesses or accidents I expected to enjoy our cruising passion until I was about 70 years old. 
Now I’m nearly 68 and believe most people could enjoy live-aboard cruising into their mid-70s.
The main issue which could prevent this is health. Whatever the upper age limit may be one thing’s for sure – you certainly don’t meet many cruisers in their 80s.
Here's a little exercise to help you visualise how many good summers you have left. Take a tape measure showing inches and stretch it out. Note where 75 inches is representing age 75 and where your age is (e.g. age 60 would be 60 inches). The sobering message is the huge length of tape up to 60 inches represents your life up to now and the short length of tape from your age to 75 (or thereabouts) represents the time you have left to do relatively demanding things like live-aboard cruising.

We had cruised extensively during weekends and holidays and dreamed of enjoying great destinations until we tired of them rather than meeting timetables. We had adult children living overseas, no health issues and wanted to cruise while circumstances permitted. Experience wasn't an issue and we'd always worked well as a team on four power boats we’d owned during 30 years to that time.
After two years' planning we bought our Nordhavn 46 Passagemaker, Envoy, in 2006 and I took a year's leave of absence from work so we could live-aboard during 2007. Then I went back to work leaving Envoy in a Turkish marina for two years before retiring in early 2010 at age 59.

Envoy on the hard stand at Maramaris, Turkey
By the time I reached the “traditional” retirement age of 65 we'd enjoyed six years of the live-aboard life and now we've had eight cruising in exotic places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro as well as hundreds of surrounding islands.

Something you wouldn't see while boating in New Zealand

The live-aboard life doesn't have to involve crossing oceans and we’ve cruised over 16,000 miles in the Med rarely being over 40 miles from the nearest land. There are thousands of people living aboard all manner of boats in various parts of the world enjoying adventurous coastal cruising. While it’s a great feeling to have a boat that is ocean-capable a large number of cruisers elect to ship even these vessels aboard purpose-built freighters rather than traverse the oceans on their own hulls and the two options are considered to be similar in cost.

Scott Flanders wrote an excellent article in 2011 outlining potential cruisers’ common concerns and some solutions. This is equally valid today.

Experience levelseveryone starts somewhere so take small steps first and learn from your mistakes. Coastguard and the Royal Yachting Association run excellent courses to gain practical and theoretical skills and as most countries require some evidence of proficiency when clearing-in it’s a good idea to gain some certifications.

Mechanical abilityit isn’t the big things that fail and you will learn to deal with handling the smaller problems. Most countries have competent mechanical assistance available. Carry a comprehensive range of tools, spare parts, equipment manuals and chandlery aboard.

Most technical issues can be easily resolved - in Marmaris we had the stabiliser through-hull seals replaced

Handling rough seasbecomes easier with practice and although this is a concern for many one study reports 80 per cent of the time wave heights are less than 3.7m explaining how many cruisers travel thousands of ocean miles over many years rarely if ever encountering dangerous seas. 
Navigationis not difficult with today’s electronic equipment. Sextants are long gone and this is an area where courses will greatly assist.
Seasicknessmany cruisers start off getting seasick but wean themselves out of it and medications can assist.

Weather and tidesthere is ample reliable information for coastal cruising while offshore cruisers often pay for professional forecasting. The internet hugely improves forecast availability. There is negligible tide in the Med.

Manoeuvring and dockingpractice makes perfect, but don’t worry about minor scratches on your gelcoat - they won't ruin a great experience. A bow thruster will greatly assist docking.

Another concern is piracy off the north-east coast of Africa making it dangerous to traverse these waters. Circumnavigators who include the Med in their route mostly ship their boats across the Indian Ocean. Piracy is not a major issue in other waters and the website provides regular updates.

Read PART 2 in about a week.

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