Life on a 34' Sailboat

I know, so far I have posted lots of pretty pictures, but the realities of cruising can be slightly less interesting day to day. I figured it might be time to give a little insight in to our world!

We have now been on the boat for about four weeks, and found a groove that works pretty well for us! To get a sense of what it is like, on the scale of teardrop trailer towed behind a car >> private jet, I would say we fall somewhere near an RV. We have the basic necessities, ice box, stove, bathroom or “head” with a toilet and sink, relatively comfortable beds (we can sleep up to 6 people, but it would be very cozy), and plenty of space to move around in the cabin. It is definitely a comfortable space for 2-3 people

Cruising by boat through the narrow channels of the Inside Passage requires a lot of planning. To get from A to B efficiently, we have to balance the way the tides flow, the wind and how many miles we will be able to cover each day. I have learned a lot in these last few weeks about the management of tides and currents- it is definitely all about timing. Some channels have narrows or rapids at certain points, and it tends to be best to hit them, depending on the strength of the current) at slack water (the period of time where the tides switch from flood to ebb or ebb to flood). The floods and ebbs flow in different directions through the various channels, which makes it that much more difficult to time things perfectly.

With that in mind, every evening we look at the charts (electronic) and plan the next day out with the tides and currents in mind, so we can maximize our distance in the least amount of time. We also set a goal for where we want to anchor or moor that next night by combing through our guide books, which are one of the most useful resources that we have. They outline everything one would ever need to know about every town, indian village, anchorage, channel, etc. We are so grateful for Don Douglas and Renee Hemingway-Douglass and their efforts to write about every nook of the inside passage from Washington up past Glacier Bay. I’m not sure how anyone does this trip without them! You name it, they have written about it. The books have become our bible and saved us countless hours trying to figure out anchorages and routes.

Our 34’ sailboat likes to cruise at about 5.5 knots, but due to the wind and/or currents, we have travelled upwards of 9 knots over the ground all the way down to 2.5 knots against the wind and current. There has been a pretty consistent head wind from the north or northwest the entire trip so far which hasn’t always been in our favor to have the sails raised, but we try to utilize the winds as much as we can (even if that means motor sailing- head sail up with the engine still running). Each day we try to cover between 30-60 miles. The tides essentially dictate our schedule, which means we have had some very early mornings!

A few other notable things about cruising...

We don’t have refrigeration- we have an ice box and seem to be the constant search for ice blocks to keep it cold. If we run out of ice, then we know what we have to eat for dinner that night!

We sit. A lot. It is a lot of sitting. I brought a kettle bell and yoga mat so I can try to stay active, buuuuttt it hasn’t gotten quite as much use as I anticipated.

We find things to keep us busy. I read. Kevin tinkers. I take pictures. Kevin sews things (like ripped sails). I cook. Kevin naps. This is the reality of cruising on a sailboat. 

Beer is always the best way to stay hydrated.

We fish! Kind of. Now that we are in Alaska, my fishing permit is valid, so bring on the salmon! We have yet to catch anything, but I am hopeful. We also have a crab trap, but haven’t had much luck there either. 

Seasickness is a reality. It happens to the best of us, like me. Only once, and only in big open water with large swells, but let me tell you, it is NOT fun. 

We don’t have a shower, so whenever we stay at a marina for the night (seems to be about every 3-5 days), the first thing we do is run to the showers. We did laundry once. Once is enough, right?

So there you go, a little peek into our world as we cruise from Seattle to Glacier Bay, Alaska!