Friday, July 19, 2013

7 Things They Didn't Tell You About Cruising The Great Loop That You Wish They Would Have

We have been on Why Knot for eighteen months now and it has been a great experience. And as we have finished our loop and become laze-bag coastal cruisers this has provided lots of time to consider it all through the safety goggles of hindsight. Early on there has been plenty of opportunities to meet with more experienced boaters from whom we have learned a lot about the ups and downs; ins and outs; and the dos and don'ts of the adventure. But there have been some things that we had to learn for ourselves – things that were not covered at the rendezvous or during chance meetings with others. So in the fashion of many websites here is my list of 7 things that we had to learn on our own.

1 Radios are not used by everyone
Big power boats use them. Commercial boats use them. Many larger sailboats use them...and that's about it. No one would expect someone on a jet ski to use one but why don't more of the smaller boats have at least a hand held radio on board? Maybe its too much to expect but, boy, wouldn't it be great if they did? At least it would give us a chance to yell at them for being so inconsiderate and oblivious to the general safety and well being of the entire boating community. And what about Canada? It's such a great country. I'm sure they've discovered radio waves by now, haven't they?

2 Middle aged men are ugly
Ok, I'm 58 years old so I have to take my medicine like the rest. But guys, come on! The last thing anyone needs to see is us without our shirts on. Now if we all had six pack abs that would be a different story, but we don't. Even someone like Harrison Ford (a five star stud, at least according to some of our admirals) looks like a bum in a bathing suit.

3 Paddleboarders are stupid
Oh, where do I start? First of all the idea of paddling a surf board while standing on it does not make sense from a physics point of view. There is no leverage and the center of gravity is up around the paddler's ears. If they are hit by even the tiniest of waves or wake, lets say from the ripple from some fish jumping, down they go. Not smart. Second, since they have little control they end up in the middle of the channel right in front of you. Again, not too smart. Last year when we were transiting a drawbridge on the ICW some poor paddler ended up right in the middle of the bridge when it opened. We, along with four other big boats, had to wait, wait, and wait some more before she got out of the way.

4 The best fishing is apparently smack dab in the middle of a busy channel
I must admit that this is a pet peeve of mine. If I had a nickel for every tiny fishing boat that plopped their anchor down and dropped their lines right in the middle of the channel I would have, well, a bunch of nickels. To make matters worse this fishing sweet spot usually is on a blind curve in the channel. I know that as loopers we are all very courteous and conscientiousness boaters....but once, just once...

5 Marina courtesy cars are...special
One of the best features for any marina to promote is that they have a courtesy car for provisioning, errands or sightseeing. But be warned, these cars are not showroom fresh! Most of them are not even used car lot fresh. Most of them are odd beasts that groan, shudder, squeal, heat up, slow down, rumble and otherwise make driving them an adventure all their own. Recently a group of us was taking a loaner mini-van out for dinner and the sliding side door (the one that supposedly worked) was stuck. To get it open I had to apply a little muscle to it. The handle broke off in my hand. Some of them are huge land yachts with a ride that reminds you what it's like to be in three to four foot seas. Some smaller cars have rides that will knock the fillings out of your teeth. Don't get me wrong. Having access to any car is a good thing. But a word to the wise is enough.

6 Have lots of quarters with you
One of the land lubber activities that carries over to your cruising life is doing laundry. In our experience there was only one marina that had free laundry facilities. (St. Joseph Municipal Marina, St. Joseph, MI) Otherwise they are all pay machines that must get fed a steady diet of quarters. For us every time we do laundry we have to shell out about $10.00, all in quarters. So have a special quarter bowl or jar to accumulate the quarters you get in your spare change. Most marinas will be able to provide a roll to you but not all of them. So have a roll or two available. (Gosh, this tip is actually a handy one!)

7 Boat cleaning supplies will comprise 75% of your boating budget
Ok, so maybe not 75% of your budget, but it sure will feel like it. We all want our boats to look sharp and the market is drowning in different products to get the job done. To make matters worse we get deluged in emotional wording in the online product descriptions. They use words like “super-easy”, “like new” and “effortless”. Baloney! But we all fall for it, don't we. A few stops ago I cleaned out all of the supply tubs in our engine compartment and I discovered a heretofore undiscovered stash of cleaning products that the previous owner had bought, tried, then put aside. I have told Lisa that we are not going to buy anymore such things. I don't care if they turn the boat purple we are going to use them!

Hope this helps. I'm your pal.

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