Q&A – #87

Subject: Dear Dorothy Dix. I am often amused why it is, that while non military sailors from throughout the world continue to gain certifications and qualifications, it seems that only pretentious wankers from the US prefix their names with ‘Captain’.

It is difficult to believe the questions posed to Captain Woody Henderson are from real sailors. Equally, it is with growing cynicism that I note the poor content of the answers. This style of puerile ‘Q’ & ‘A’ bullshit, is symptomatic of a writer bereft of ideas and imagination and seriously lacking in motivation. When Tania Aebi began to tell us in her column that she was searching for things to write about, she had the good judgement to take a break and therefore allow the space to be filled with words of value from a different source. The tripe which comes from the pen of Captain Henderson tells me volumes about the man; mostly it tells me that he truly is by my definition, a Captain absolute.

David Baker.

Note to self: scratch Dave from the fan club.

Hi Capt. Woody, Everyone keeps telling me to just leave and the hardest thing I’ll do is cut the dock lines but the probs I’m dealing with are sort of put my plans on hold. it also gives me time to find a small bit of doubt deep down in side…not fear but just a feeling that “I’ll screw it up” feeling. I was wondering if you could help me out with a few sailing questions?
1) I want to see the world. I like sailing and boating also. but I have a big fear that when I leave I will end up in a port of some small country where the price of entry will be equal to about 100 times what I would ever be able to afford and I will lose my tiny boat and belongings while being expelled…or worse fined by somewhere like Australia for not being able to make land fall on the date and time they tell me too. do you turn around and go back to sea when you find that you aren’t going to make the allotted time frame in to port?

2) everyone I know seems to go for those big huge boats and I just don’t have the funds, nor do I feel I would be up to the work needed to sail a huge 50’er by my self. I really felt my Coronado 27 was perfect in the size and the work required to single hand and had plenty of room for me (and when we did the short 4 day trips she had plenty of room for both me and my Brother) but everyone shunned her because of the mast. if I plan it out and watch the weather would a deck stepped mast work OK for extended cruises and maybe even a thought out and well planned Atlantic crossing?

I grew up reading about Robin Graham and the DOVE. I know speed is great and all the fancy stuff like water maker and water heater is nice but I was hoping to go as simple and laid back as I can. solar powered lights, and filling up water tanks with rain when I could and such. sort of keeping everything simple. any advice would be greatly received.
Thanks, Bill. SC-22 “IMA DRUNK”

Doubt schmout Bill, don’t let it get the best of you. When faced with a challenge, I picture the solution and work backwards. Picture you on your boat swinging gently to your hook in a myriad of perfect anchorages. Believe in it, and then look back to find how you got there.

Checking in: I have to say that the only thing that scared me, way back when I thought about doing my own trip was the check in burocracy.

Most people seem concerned with what surprises the sea holds for them. To me, the sea is just doing its thing, it’s got no ulterior motive. Get humans involved and all manner of treachery is possible. Will I have the right paperwork and will it all be filled out correctly? Which office do I visit first, do they require local funds and how much, and on and on.

You can show up at most countries (I’ll cover the exceptions) with current documentation and a zarpe (permission to leave the last country) and you’ll be legal. Be sure you have the same number crew that you had when you left the last port. Only two countries, in thirty some odd I’ve sailed to, required visas before entering. These were Australia and Brazil. The most I ever paid to enter/exit a country was our own American Samoa. That was $140. Usually its between free (love those French islands) and $40 or so. I’ve never heard of a country requiring you to show up at a certain time. Dena and I took the short cut with our Australian visas (no chest X-ray required) and got the 3 month temporary Visa. I easily got the 6 month upgrade when that ran out. I mention it because the 3 month starts as soon as you get it. That’s the only time limit I ever had. Tahiti required a $1500 deposit or a plane ticket out. We had Dena’s flight passes and the guy in the Marquesas let us in with that. Otherwise, we would have had a real short visit. As I understand it (to be used as a last resort) international law requires that countries must allow any vessel entry if they are in distress. I suspect they would give you a couple days to get your act together and then escort you back out to sea. They don’t want you or your boat taking up residence – something that might occur if they relieved you of your money.

KISS: keep it simple stupid is a cruising mantra. Seems like less boats are heading out simply. It’s just a different way to go. If you get out far enough you’ll see some cheap-az boats in some far-off places. They are firmly set on that lower ledge of the cruising community $-wise but if smiles rate the experience, from what I’ve seen, they are getting more than their money’s worth.

I say go with whatcha got. I had a Coronado 27 for a brief stint. We would take it out storm sailing. We didn’t know what a storm was back then but the other owner and I would take it out on a windy day (20-30) and tie off the tiller and knock a few back as the boat blasted out to sea. We would return soaked and beat up, but always laughing and ready for an eve at the yacht club to regale our adventure. I don’t remember the Coronado ever complaining.

As far as deck stepped goes, keep in mind that my Low Key is deck stepped and she made it around without incident. Consider upgrading at least the rigging. As I recall, Robin Graham and his pop did some major upgrades to his Cal including adding bulkheads to make the boat stronger. Upgrades that I ended up engaging in while holed up in various paradises.

Have you had your boat out on some overnight ocean runs? I would suggest you take a month off (tell the boss Capt. Woody said so) and get her out in some strong winds and big seas for a few days at a time and then see what you think. The Atlantic is a long trip, especially that direction. You’ll want to gain some confidence in your vessel and get a feel for what your boat’s capabilities are and get an idea what 30-40 days of open ocean sailing might be like for both you and her. After such a trip you may consider a different version of adventure, a circumnavigation of the Caribbean for example.

If I wanted to cruise the Med and sailing my Coronado over was the only way I could afford to do it then you’d be throwing me a going away party. In the interest of CYA (cover yer az) I can’t tell you you should do it. In an ocean built boat, during the right season, I don’t consider that trip risky at all, even with minimal skills. For your Coronado it’s a much more challenging voyage. That being said, had I listened to all the hacks in my marina I would have missed out on my life’s greatest adventure. That is, greatest adventure so far.


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