The dangers of long term cruising

What are needs? Food, shelter, air and fresh water.

That is all very well until your husband wants both of you to live on a yacht for many a long year. Who wants long years unless they are enjoyable? In which case they are never long!

To be able to stay on a yacht for a long time ‘wants’ suddenly become ‘needs’.

Firstly however, a real need on any yacht includes a gearbox that works. After motor sailing 275 nautical miles, non-stop, from Sicily to Ionian Greece, ours broke down.

We were incredibly lucky. For 54 hours our engine, with token mainsail and genoa, chugged us across the almost ripple-free, gloriously blue sea until finally reaching our destination: the picturesque bay of Sivota on the island of Lefkada.

When our throttle refused to work in reverse, we drifted safely back onto the anchor. Hmmmm. Nor would the gear engage to motor us forwards. What?

Our gear selector cable had snapped. Talk about timing. Unbelievable. Marooned within two hundred metres of five or six tavernas, a couple of supermarkets, a bakery and an engineer.

You are the one that I want

As for other needs, our ideas are changing as we get more experienced. Although Brett sailed skiffs when young, Amble is only the second yacht we have owned. She’s an Australian-registered, 43-foot Beneteau that will be five in October. We shipped her from Brisbane to Gibraltar in February 2013 to start our Mediterranean adventure.

Today’s plan, as plans change almost daily, is that we will stay in the Mediterranean for ten years or so. For me, this is now a potentially achievable target because the boat is becoming more and more comfortable. For example, here I am happily typing away without worrying about power.

We bought solar panels last year, something we previously thought a ‘want’. No no no. These have made an enormous difference to our lifestyle.

Having an abundance of power to charge our toys and, more importantly, boat batteries means that we can anchor all of the summer, rather than spending money on marinas. Which has paid for the solar panels.

We could stay at anchor all of summer, if we had access to water.

So we have just ‘invested’ in a water maker. Something we previously did not even want. This means not only being able to avoid marinas, we will also be able to use more water on the boat. Literally. Apart from the obvious salt and gumph, Amble gets very sandy from the Libyan desert, despite being more than 300 nautical miles away.

Extra water makes it easier when having visitors. It is wonderful, almost a need, to catch up with family and friends from Australia when they join us on their holidays. Keeps homesickness at bay, no pun intended.

Having a comfortable boat makes them more inclined to brave a trip on water. Indeed.

Washing clothes is also an issue as, unlike Australia, there are not many laundries to be found. Now that we have water and solar power we obtained a small, light, twin-tub washing machine. Again something that was not previously even on our wanted list. There is a reason why hand washing sheets and towels is not mentioned as
an activity in tour guides.

Other ‘needs’ include having a decent dinghy. Our last dinghy was quite small and it became a deflatable. Not ideal. We now have a larger aluminium rib with inflatable sides. Really light and very practical. And it floats!

Hopelessly devoted to you

As with most things in life, it is also the little things that make a difference. Here is a random list.

Clears can be attached to our bimini and dodger. They go around the sides and stern of Amble to make the cockpit the largest room in our house, ooops, yacht. Very handy in the Australian tropics and in the Med winter. Note we did not get the factory dodger and bimini, we took the advice to have them made in Australia.

Splashguards on either side of the boat do just that.

Our dehumidifier keeps the boat dry. No moisture at all inside, which keeps that damp, horrible feeling away when wet or humid.

Instead of buying the factory cushioning we bought the foam and material in Australia and made thick seating for our cockpit.

Fold-up pushbikes.

We have bedside lights that are solar. The battery comes out and we plonk them in the sun to recharge.

The mattress topper makes our bed just as comfortable as the one at home, if not better.

I love our nest of wooden bowls, as ridiculous as that sounds, but I am not
a fan of plastic.

The Cobb barbeque that can be stowed in the hold.

We replaced our two 3.5 kilogram gas bottles with 8kg ones. This makes a difference as we do not have to go hunting for gas suppliers nearly so often.

Now that we have solar panels we no longer need our generator. However, we keep it just in case. Prior to solar,
we used our Honda generator most days, it was fantastic but … !

Internet can still be a bit of a problem, but there are wifi cafes in most places we have been: Gibraltar, Spain, Balearics, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and Greece. Even Albania. We buy a ‘dongle’ in each country.

This year we have been in the islands of Ionian Greece for five days but have yet to get a Greek sim card, despite having the dongle from last year.

This is because, we have been told, only one town on the island of our arrival sells them: Lefkas Town. Not even the busy tourist town of Nidri has an internet shop. I wonder if this is because the tavernas and bars etc. find its free wifi as a way of enticing customers in for a drink or meal. Works for me!

I need a cup of tea. Oh, a thermos is handy for the excess hot water.

No longer living in trepidation, or lots of other scary words, about living on a yacht for an extended period of time. I do want to keep cruising for quite awhile to come.

My husband is in shock and much relieved.

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