07 September 2013

D Minus 6 And Counting...

The Essentials
  by John

With the decision made, we realized we had less than two weeks to get ready for the trip of a lifetime. What to take with us? More importantly, what to leave behind?

If I learned one thing on my voyage on the Blue Moon, it was that we'd need less than we thought. When I left the dock in Steinhatchee, my poor little 23' boat was so crammed with stuff that I could barely move. At the time, I estimated that I had brought approximately 1500 lb. of 'essentials' with me. Boxes of book, tools, spares, equipment, clothes, sleeping bags (2 different weights), boxes and boxes of food and drink... the list went on and on and on.

The funny thing was, as I went along, I came to value space more than stuff. And so little by little, I jettisoned things I really didn't need. In fact, many of the things I brought on that trip are still in their original packaging. I never did need them! By the time I reached Huntington, the Blue Moon was practically empty, my 'stores' pared down to the truly essential.

Another lesson learned was that on a boat, everything must have it's place. There was nothing that got my blood boiling quite so much as having to dig through boxes and boxes of stuff to find the one little thing I needed. Not only was that sort of head-in-a-dark-box search massively frustrating, it tended to further scramble my stores, making it even more difficult to find what I needed the next time (which was often 5 minutes later.)

So, the two rules for this trip were: bring as little as possible, and keep it organized as much as possible.

To enforce the first rule, Helena and I agreed we'd bring exactly one duffle bag each. To keep things in order, everything in the duffle bag would be inside another, carefully labeled stuff sack. By keeping foul weather gear in one sack, safety gear in another, shore-going clothes in third, 'fun' stuff (books, electronics, cameras, etc.) in fourth, etc., it would be relatively easy to find something when we needed it. I.e., without having to dig through a pig-pile at the bottom of a duffle bag.

"Stuff sacks are cheap," I said when Helena questioned the need for such obsessive order. "Sanity is not."

Thanks to my Blue Moon trip, we already had most of what we needed. We ordered a few new books from Amazon, along with some new long-sleeve UV shirts (one thing I actually wore out on my trip), and a new camera -- one that could take video and pictures under any conditions. One thing I've noticed on sailor blogs, including my own, is that photos of nasty weather are rare. That might be because the captain is too busy to take pics, but also because no one wants to risk their $500 video camera in rain, spray, and blue water. Thanks to a suggestion from my son, Chris, I found a camera that could survive just about anything nature can throw at it. But more on that when I have time to try it out.

So, with a week gone, and 6 days to go before our departure, how are we doing? In short: pretty well. Pretty well, that is, if we had 4 duffle bags to fill, instead of two. Gathering the 'essentials' is the easy part. Now comes the hard part.

It is Time to Pack
  by Helena

Back in April, after meeting Captain Forsyth and Fiona, we decided to leave the boat yard and warm up with a cup of coffee. At the yard, the conversation was all about Fiona, now, at the coffee shop it was all about the Captain.

What a fascinating man. Born in England in 1932, he flew fighter planes, drove cars with no brakes, moved to Canada where he got his commercial pilot license, landed (no pun intended) a job with Brookhaven Laboratories in NY and helped them develop their particle accelerator. Oh, did I mention he circumnavigated the world twice?

Fiona's current location
Now that we are about to spend 4 weeks together in a very tiny boat (really, really small), I decided it was time to learn more about the captain and the boat, and to figure out what we needed to pack.

To learn more about the captain and his adventures, I printed out many the many accounts of his voyages on his website (http://www.yachtfiona.com) and started to read. From reading these articles (sometimes between the lines) I started to make a long list of must-haves:

For beautiful sunny days sailing across the Bahamas: sun block, bikini, hat, mosquito repellent, sun glasses.

For rainy days sailing across the Atlantic: foul weather gear, sea boots, wool sweater, towel.

For stormy days on the Pacific: life jacket, harness, Dramamine.

As I read about Eric’s travels, the same words kept turning up: “seriously sea sick...", "violently sea sick", "all of us got really sea sick...” OK, maybe he only mentioned that 3 times, but it was enough for me to start worrying. We stocked up on Dramamine. Later, I discovered a better alternative, much mentioned on sailing websites: Bonine. It must work, I thought, because it was so hard to find in the stores. I bought the last package in our local CVS, and the last two at the CVS in town. On the recommendations found on line, I also stocked up on wrist bands (I know these work, from personal experience) and, oddly, crystalized ginger, which many people swear by. I'm ready to try just about anything!

John being very pragmatic (I love that about him), organized our needs and wants into neat columns, added check boxes and separated items in groups. What a man!

We started shopping, and ordering online, and dragging things out of the basement, and taking things off the Blue Moon...  So much excitement around here! We've turned our spare room into a voyage staging room: everything we think we might need has been put in piles in there. John just reminded me that somehow we need to get it all into two 36" long duffle bags. Good grief!

I need a piece of that crystalized ginger...

Next Episode: D Minus Three


  1. Sounds exciting ! Can't wait to hear the tales !

    1. I know... we're both having trouble sleeping... so much to think about.

  2. What wrist bands are you talking about? And what good (i.e. what does it od?)is "crystalized" ginger?

  3. What wrist bands are you referring to? And what does "crystalized ginger" do?

    1. Hi Robb, the crystalized ginger supposedly settles your stomach. The wrist bands really work. It's about acupressure on certain point on your wrist (the band comes with a little dot made out of plastic that puts pressure between the tendons). I was diving once and we had to wait between dives, I had my bands on... every single person besides me was feeding the fish. I am definitively taking them along for this trip. -- Helena

  4. Have a nice trip and a safe homecoming!

  5. I am so envious! Back in December of 2012, I sold everything to go cruising with a couple of people from my marina. From Kemah, Texas, we sailed straight across the Gulf of Mexico to the Dry Tortugas. Our plan was to hit the Bahamas, then head south. I decided to disembark at Key West, FL, because the captain was too inexperienced for the adventure. ( He has not been able to keep crew, moved to land and I believe the boat is for sale.)

    Good luck and have fun. It's the experience of a lifetime.

    "Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you will regret the things you didn't do, more than the ones you did."


  6. I'm so excited and nervous for you both, but I know this is going to be an adventure of a lifetime, and you'll never forget it. You'll still be sharing the memories (good and bad) when you're 90.

    Bon voyage!!

  7. I'm so excited and nervous for you both, but I know that you're going to have the adventure of a lifetime, and you'll still be reminiscing about the trip ( good and bad) when you're 90. So, Godspeed, and bon Voyage!!

  8. Ginger is also widely recommended for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. There are also hard candies with a ton of ginger in them.


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