Saturday, 2 June 2018

Cruising Expectations 2018

As we do every year, we’ve made a list of expectations for the coming cruising season and reviewed those from 2017 to see how accurate we were. It’s hard to believe, but our expectation failure rate for 2017 is almost exactly the same as for 2016, 43% and 44%, respectively. I’m not sure what that says about us except that we’re apparently not getting any wiser about what’s waiting for us.

We hope there will be more of this in the coming season...
...and this, too.

Here is the list of our expectations from last year that were NOT true: 

Insanely expensive marinas. Sure, they do exist, but we avoided them. How simple was that? In the Balearics, we used the municipal ports and buoys, which kept costs reasonable.

Carefully-timed commando-style raids in ports for water and food in the limited free time in ports. Never had to do this. We anchored out enough that our overall costs were down, so we didn’t avoid taking our time in the marinas when we needed or wanted to.

Using the 2nd anchor. We never used it and never saw many people using theirs either. To keep from swinging, most people take a line ashore. We didn’t have to do that either, although Patrick was very keen to try one time (when it wasn’t necessary and I poo-poo’d the idea.)

Meals from a can. Despite lots of anchoring time, we almost always had fresh food. We often bought frozen food and we always asked for meats to be vacuum-sealed, which most butcher shops are willing and able to do.

Rigging up a trip-line for the anchor. Great idea, but we never did it. Our nautical guide pointed out the anchorages where a trip line would be useful, and we avoided those areas since they weren’t very appealing anyway.

Rolly anchorages. I can only remember a couple of rolly anchorages but the rolls never lasted very long and we never really thought about hauling up the anchor to find a new spot.

Grocery deliveries !  Hope Sardinian grocery stores does this, too.

Without further ado, here is our list of expectations for 2018:

Language frustrations. Patrick speaks enough Spanish to see us through most situations, but neither of us speaks Italian. We’re cramming this week, but we’re not very optimistic that this will avoid frustrating situations.

Crowded and expensive ports in southern Corsica and northern Sardinia in early July. We hope to be south of Olbia by 15 July to avoid the worse.

Using a line ashore to keep from swinging in narrow anchorages. I just thought I’d recycle this one, even though we shouldn’t have as many narrow anchorages as we did in the Balearics.

Anchorages in paradise and charming villages. This may also be more of a given than an expectation, but we’re eager to see for ourselves. We have a friend who had the intention of sailing around the Med like us, but who has been stuck in Sardinia now for 3 years because he has become completely smitten with the place and can’t imagine finding a better spot anywhere else.

Improved heat management techniques. This is more of a given rather than an expectation, since we’ve had side panels made for the bimini this year, but you never know.

Transportation headaches. The further we get away from mainland Europe, the more difficult it is to arrange transportation from our little Breton village to increasingly remote islands in the Med. Our current planning to get back to Mareda next week looks something like this: carpool to the airport, spend the night in a hotel, early flight to Bastia, taxi to bus stop, bus to Taverna. And we hope to get to the boatyard early enough to slap on the anti-fouling paint before the boat goes in the water later that afternoon !

Good phone and internet service. Since Europe eliminated roaming charges last summer, we can now use our existing French telephone and internet on the boat from anywhere in Europe. The only question remaining is signal strength in those anchorages in paradise.

Less blogging. Going with a less-is-more approach, my plan is to send photos and updates via Mareda’s Facebook page (sailingmareda) but won’t write a blog post until there is sufficient material to make it worth the effort (a real pain in the ass from my tragically slow laptop on the boat).

Making new friends, catching up with old ones. One of our favorite things about cruising is meeting other cruisers and buddy boating for awhile. Last year it was difficult around the islands because people scatter in many different directions. This year, we’ll be going down the coast, and many others will be doing the same. We may meet up with two other friends sailing in the area this year if the winds and tides of destiny will it.

A more relaxed cruising couple. Not that we’ve become old hands at Med sailing, but the initial learning curve is over and I figure nothing can be worse than our baptism by fire of the Balearics in July and August.

Can't wait for cockpit life.

We leave in 5 days !! Our last days before abandoning the house for 5 months look something like this: yard work, coordinate with neighbors for mail pick up, watch a little French Open tennis while going over lists and lists of lists for things to take, call up the local shipyard for parts we want to take with us, order new cockpit cushions and have them delivered to Corsica, make an appointment with the electricians in Elba for repair or replacement of our B&G chartplotter, put pressure on the life raft revision people to have it ready before we want to head out, defrost the fridge, watch World Cup Soccer preparatory matches (cheering for France over Italy while we can…), quick dash to the store for Brita water filters, last loads of laundry, call our supplemental health insurance company to find out why we still don’t have cards, print out boat insurance forms in French, Spanish, English, and Italian, update laptop software and test OpenCPN and MaxSea, google airline carry-on regulations to see if we can take a tube of Sikaflex in the cabin, say goodbye to local friends, provide emergency contact info to family, and finally, update the doomsday book.

I keep telling Patrick that all of this would be so much easier if we just lived full time on the boat...