Reflections

16 Jul

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It is just over a week now since we got home. Gypsy is reorganized for summer living onboard and we are getting ourselves organized. The trip is becoming a memory – and a good one. There were just so many facets to our first distance cruise. It was a voyage of learning and discovery in so many ways.

Shakedown…
First of all, this turned our to be our shakedown cruise – ok admittedly a rather big shakedown cruise but invaluable. We have learnt so much about the boat and its systems, about living onboard and about dealing with all the questions of moving to another unknown place each day. Having made the southbound trip, it was neat to head north, revisit some places and discover those we missed the first time past. Southbound we were in a bit of a hurry, late leaving NS, and with the lost days to Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter. Coming north we had a bit of a deadline too, but the days were so much longer that it allowed us to do and see so much more.

Kicking back…
We travelled over 4000 NM (4600 miles) – probably at an average of 5 knots. It forced us to slow down a bit and just be. It was an education in patience for me! I chomped at the bit sometimes with the small frustrations and delays. Weather became a focus of our life – and that was a test as it is just not something you have any sway over. When you are “storm stayed” – you just stay put – and put up with the weather. I gained a huge appreciation for things we take for granted in our North American lifestyle – particularly running water and electricity – even the freedom of having a car! Overall we had so many experiences, saw so much and met some great people. We discovered a side of USA that we hadn’t known – and we totally enjoyed the small communities, the people and the fantastic scenery.

Adjusting…
Then there is the daily and sometimes more mundane aspects of the cruising life. The endless quest for wifi – hoping the next time we were in a marina they really would have wifi or alternatively, lurking in cafes (learning coffee shop etiquette). Many household “chores” like laundry, take longer than at home and eat into your time. Provisioning is constant as storage is less and stores can be a distance from the boat. Boat maintenance is always a priority and it is essential to keep up with everything or it will come back to haunt you. As the months went by both David and I got to know our boat better and better – and David now has a very close relationship with our engine! We have done improvements along the way – nothing major but small things that make systems work better, more efficiently and more reliably.

Flexible as a (cooked) noodle…
That was one of the biggest adjustments. From the work world we have dashed along at high speed, working to be efficient, multi tasking and planning. Well cruising requires a slightly different skill set. The most important was flexibility. It is great to make plans but you have to be ready to accept that Plan A often does not happen and it is Plan B or C or…. you just have to learn to go with the flow. I guess that is part of the adventure which is all about the unknown and discovery!

Home on the water…
Gypsy Mare was a star. The Cheoy Lee 41’ Offshore reputation as a seaworthy and sea kindly yacht was proven to us and she became home. All our work and upgrades were well worth it. The refrigeration, furnace, all renewed interior, dodger and bimini, new aluminum rig, new plumbing and electrical, our nav pod, dinghy (Caribe) and davits, wind generator, solar panel – all good! We had pretty much all imaginable bits of safety gear – GPirb, liferaft, ditch bag, flares, first aid kit, jacklines, harnesses and tethers and so on. The engine has had some challenges but one by one they got sorted out and the engine continues to be sound. There is some wear and tear (no surprise) so David and I both have our work lists. I have more brightwork to do and some existing maintenance varnish work. Beyond regular boat maintenance, other tasks include getting our SSB and AIS functioning properly (still not quite there), getting hot water functional and David has plans to further fine tune and paint the engine this coming winter.

Thanks for the memories…
Gypsy looks pretty good right now, sitting on our mooring at at the end of our dock. She took us many miles and let us discover and experience so much… so many memories. Thanks Gypsy!

Summer onboard…
Now for another adjustment – living onboard here at home.

I’m signing off for now…
I do have plans to do a post on our boat renovation – kind of after the fact, but a good way for me to capture some of that. For those folks interested in boat stuff, this might be interesting.
For those interested, I plan to add a list of guidebooks and charts used that we found useful and perhaps some other comments on facilities and stops along the way as well as some other notables along the way.
(Don’t miss the July 16 blog post just below this one with our final days of the trip.)
That’s all for now…

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