Aquabat at 20 months

Welcome Aquabat to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally posted on their blog.
Back when we were first starting to look at seriously buying boats, we were doing alot of research about what it was like to actually cruise. We read a lot of blogs and Newly Salted and it’s sister site, Interview with a Cruiser, were two sites that we literally devoured information from! It’s so great to get other people’s perspectives on this lifestyle. We are thrilled to be joining the ranks of other new cruisers on the Newly Salted site. 
We are Bryce, Alissa and our 1 year old daughter, I. We started cruising in April 2013 in Mooloolaba, QLD and have cruised up and down the Queensland coast getting as far north as Cairns. We have spent significant portions of that time at Magnetic Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Despite having had the boat for 4 years, we’ve taken breaks to travel, work and have a baby, which brings our active cruising time down to 20 months. We live and sail on a 40 ft aluminium monohull named Aquabat, that was built in 1985 by the man we bought her from. We love meeting other cruisers so please feel free to contact us if our paths may cross or you have any questions!

1. What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

Bryce: Don’t buy anything at all until you have lived on the boat for 6 months.

Alissa: There will be days when equipment breaks and the weather is crap that you will want to be done with the boat but then you have the most amazing days ever that make it all worth while. Actually, I was told that cruising combines really low lows with really high highs which is basically the same thing… I just didn’t truly understand what it meant at the time!

2. As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

Bryce: Lack of a regular income.

Alissa: Things we take for granted being relatively unlimited on land like electricity, water and internet, are no longer unlimited!

3. What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

Bryce: Bought too much “stuff” for the boat that we didn’t really need. - Didn’t have the surveyor go on test sail! - Ran aground a couple of times, don’t just blindly trust the charts or the coastguard over the radio, (“there’s deep water if you hug the marker” There wasn’t!). - One time when we hauled out, our hydraulic steering pump needed replacing, because we were hauled out we paid way more ($1000s more) then we would have if we’d had time to shop around. We were just going back to our mooring so we could’ve used our emergency tiller and taken our time to find a replacement. - I am a competent sailor so I had thought that we had cruising figured out… but it turns out sailing is only a small part of cruising. You also need to be a diesel mechanic, plumber, electrician, rigger, sailmaker, carpenter, among other things! - Should have bought a smaller boat as our first, learner boat… bigger boat = bigger, more expensive mistakes.

Alissa: What mistakes didn’t we make!? See Bryce’s answer! :)

4. What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?

Bryce: I really like meeting new people and cruisers generally seem to be really friendly, good people. 

Alissa: We can have a new amazing backyard whenever we want! And the people! We’ve made some great boat friends in the past few years.

5. What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?

Bryce: Not having space to just stretch without bumping into something. I struggle to fit into any of our beds, even having modified one of them. 

Alissa: I am definitely a fair-weathered sailor. Whereas Bryce is quite happy trimming the sails and actively sailing, I would prefer just to set the sails and go for a ride on nice calm seas! I also dislike have to disassemble the boat to do anything or find something. I don’t like mess though so that’s not surprising!

6. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?

Bryce: I read it’s a cheaper way of life but that hasn’t eventuated. We’ve needed to upgrade a number of systems to suit our style of cruising and it’s been very expensive. For example, a compete rewire, new solar panels, new batteries, replaced head and the list keeps growing. 

Alissa: When we were preparing, we were reading about the pioneering cruisers, like the Pardeys, who were doing it hardcore. Cruising without refrigeration, freezers, washing machines and watermakers, using oil lanterns instead of electric lights and oars and sails instead of engines. Boat life would definitely be a lot simpler without the extras “complicating” things. I didn’t know that you could have an inverter and still run AC appliances so we bought manual (hand-powered) versions of appliances. I didn’t know that you didn’t have to live without creature comforts. You can have anything you want on a boat (basically) but there is the tradeoff that it makes your boat more complicated with more things to break and more things to repair. You just have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not!

7. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

Bryce: It’s a constant series of jobs to keep the boat shipshape.

Alissa: Boat Maintenance in exotic locations. 100% true! 

8. Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?

Bryce: We probably should have ripped out the fridge and reinstalled it as the insulation is shot! The fridge is out biggest battery drain by far.

Alissa: The wishlist is long! I would love a freezer and a watermaker but they are staying on the wishlist for awhile! I will settle for a functioning fridge!

9. What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

Bryce: A lot of our books probably. They are heavy and take up a lot of space. We may yet get rid of them. 

Alissa: Bryce will hate me saying this but his fishing gear. I don’t eat fish and Bryce doesn’t go fishing, so it’s just taking up valuable space. 

10. What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.

Alissa: We have a 1 year old on board now so we are just taking it slow and easy as we all acclimate to life on board.

Bryce: We will probably stick around the North Queensland coast for a couple more years and maybe head out to New Caledonia or Vanuatu once our crew is less dependent. Longer-term aspiration is to circumnavigate the globe.

11. What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

Bryce:  How do you decide your cruising plans?  Initially, I went about planning like I had in business.  i.e. make a plan and then do it!  This lifestyle is not suited to that approach and just provides endless frustration! Instead of plans, we now talk about options until we quite close to being able to actually do something. 

Alissa: How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?  We both joined Hoofers Sailing Club in Madison, WI (Me as a complete rookie, Bryce as an already excellent sailor just looking for more experience) which was a great place to learn. We were able to make mistakes on a boat that wasn’t our own! We also went to a couple of boatshows and attended some really informative lectures there and we read alot of books and blogs. In preparing for cruising again, given that we were coming from a place where (apart from sailing) our knowledge base was zero, I would’ve liked to take more hands-on intensive courses on a couple of the trickier topics, like engines repair, plumbing and electrical systems. We’ve learnt alot but some of it was probably the hard way! 

Thanks for reading our interview! Be sure to check interviews with other cruisers on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser!

Posted on Friday, June 30, 2017 by  and tagged   |