1.5. Musing About Cruising Part 2

If you missed part one, you can find it in the May issue of Family Motorcoaching  . . . in 1984.  Then, after 20 years in boat business and six months cruising aboard my 26’ GMC, I was struck by the similarities between sea cruising and land cruising.  How campgrounds were like marinas, how sailors doing an extended cruise are like their counterparts in land yachts.  How clever design was able to get galleys and kitchens, heads and toilets, bunks and beds into compact spaces.

How both depended on electrical umbilical cords to attach to shore power and how one needed a full set of adapters to fit into the shoreside connection.  But the adapters for sea yachts were useless on land yachts.

Large motoryachts carry 15-20 boats for getting around while docked in a crowded anchorage.  Smaller yachts carry rowing boats and sailing dinghys.  Forty foot motorhomes tow SUV.  I am carrying a bicycle.

Cruising folk stroll the docks or the campground loops, making light talk about the crossings, swapping tips about hidden anchorages or secret camp spots.  And marvelling that a thousand miles from home, they can stumble upon a complete stranger who lives six blocks from them

Equally I was struck by the contrasts between ships and RVs.  The land yachtsman fibs about his fuel mileage.  The gas burners get 6 mpg and tell prospective buyers they get 8.  The diesel guys get upwards of 10.  The cruising trawler yachtsmen get 3-4mpg if they throttle way back.  The motoryachts never get up to 2mpg and may have trouble getting one.  The sailors, of course get a nearly free ride.  I’ve had sailboats that I topped off my 15 gallon tank faithfully every year whether it needed it on not.

Sailors make great lists of every item they might need and take spares for every.  Motorhomers stop at Wal-Mart, do all their shopping, and spend the night for free.

Boats, especially sailing yachts, are sleek and handsome, designed to slip through the water.  Design theory of motorhomes seems to be based on the shoe box.  They rely for esthetics on pychedelic graphics.

The land ship’s ability to escape weather is something only their sea-going cousins can only dream about.   At sea if a weather front catches you, you slug it out.  In a sailboat you do it from outdoors.  Motorhome owners own jackets that are waterproof for 15 minutes.  A sailor owns foul weather gear that runs hundreds of dollars.  The motorhome has the option to drive for a couple of hours or stop and brew a pot of tea.

Technology has made the lives of both better.  The internet, wi-fi, cell phones with tethers, Skype allows us to be in touch – or not.  Back in the 80’s it was painful to give up magazine subscriptions.  Today we get to cancel print delivery and opt to take our periodicals online.  It doesn’t get any greener than that.

I know there is more.  I try to limit these blog entries to about 500 words.  And with any luck my cruising buddies who read this will post what I’ve failed to.

—Alameda, Sept. 21, 2010  (Yeah, haven’t been able to check off the last couple of important pre-depart project.  Next week is looking promising for lift-off)

11 Responses to 1.5. Musing About Cruising Part 2

  1. Oh! Thought you’d taken off when you didn’t show at the meeting Sunday. So, you are still lurking about. Is anyone going to be able to wish you bon voyage personally?
    Is this odyssey going to last two months, though I heard lately it’s to be a year? I agree well-designed heads and showers are vital. Then there are nice stretches of head-high vegetation along the road, or the occasional wet downpour. No problem aboard ship, either. I finished watching a Netflix rental of “The Cruel Sea” and was disappointed at the lame personal lives displayed between battles. At least they didn’t slap each other on the back as in Cary Grant’s or Robert Mitchum’s era. But those wardrooms!!! No bigger than closets, almost eating out of each other’s plates. Tough.

  2. Craig says:

    Hello Al. I talked with you awhile down by the shipyard recently. I have not read all of your postings, but I really enjoyed this one. I am looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  3. Colleen Rae says:

    I never thought about it before, Al, but of course, there is a great relationship between road yachts and water yachts (dare I say waterworld)? I’ve always loved the water but know little about it, nothing about sailing or yachting. Regarding road yachts, I can drive a car, which is not related to driving an RV. I once drove (my turn) an RV; it seemed huge, into New Orleans on a cross country trip to Orlando to deliver the vehicle. I took out a stop sign; tried to park too close to the curb. my advice is, never let a woman drive an RV unless she knows what she is doing and can judge the diminsions of the vehicle, etc.

  4. karen wittgraf says:

    So next week is “lift off”! Don’t you think it best not to even set a time limit- a year- two months- six months? Let the “chips fall where they may” and eliminate any stress with completing a mission. Don’t forget the break you need to take to fly to Cabo..respite care.
    You seafaring comparisons are so cool, especially to someone that has been at sea only on the ferry from Alameda to San Fran and Battery Park to Ellis Island. “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink” will not be your problem..just Wal Marts, WalMarts everywhere and not a buck to spend”. Love your writing! Karen

  5. erik says:

    Very nice! Yes, indeed. Yet there is a freedom – and I dare say, a lawlessness – at sea that landlubbers
    will never know. No road signs or speed traps, radar guns, cameras, stop lights, etc.
    Land people and water people have their differences, but for creature comforts, land
    has it hands down. Still, comfort does have its own entanglements/cost…

  6. Keith says:

    You are right, there are many similarities between the land yacht and the ocean yacht. Both have their shortfalls and, both create love affairs based on freedom to travel and see the world at our own pace. Jenny and I are leaving for the Pacific Northwest in a couple of days where we will winter, then on to Alaska. Hopefully we’ll see you crossing our wake on a ferry but, probably not at a WalMart… Have a great adventure.
    Lady J

  7. Lisa Levenson says:

    Yes..as I know from art teacherdom and livin life to this point, it is ALL so intertwined and related!!!As I create art lessons I must find the links that make a subject of interest. Yes, thought you had left already also! It is certainly coming on a pleasant timeof year in San Carlos desert…rained a bit and is coolin a little…Always a pleasure to hear the Al angle of sight!0x0x and happy trails ’til we meet again.

  8. Michael and Marsha says:

    We’d thought you’d be gone by Labor Day! We did get off then, took 16 days to get up the coast and into the Oakanagan Valley and experience much of what your blog just covered.

    One thing you can add to your list: motor home sailors get lots of good fresh food this time of year from farm stands along the way. And we enjoying our fill!

    And another: we are parked along a lake and watching four wild horses graze within a stones throw.

    Let us know when you head North!

    Michael and Marsha

  9. Linda B says:

    Yes, how times have changed. My sail trip lasted 7 or 10 days off of San Diego on the No Name.

    When I took that first big trip in 1968 (and hitch-hiked through Europe–from Bodo, Norway to Spain and from England to Istabul, I spent three weeks in a VW van and had a chance to go overland to Kathmandu (through then-open Iran and the Khyber Pass) in a converted London ambulance.

    Passed on Kathmandu then (and always regretted it) but love that call of the road–whatever the vehicle. Keep us posted Al

  10. David Bauer says:

    Hi Al,

    Good to hear that you are about to launch your motor home adventure. Yvonne and I are in Lone Tree (Denver), CO with our son and his family after attending our 50th Year High School Class of 1960 Reunion in Philadelphia this past weekend. The gathering reminds me that we need to be more appreciative of the good health that many of us seem to be enjoying.

    We are heading up to take in the fall colors at Vail before flying home to California next week. I am sure that your travels will take you into the beautiful Rockies at some point.

    Having sailed for 30 years and pulled a travel trailer for about 10, I agree with many of your observations. One big difference that I found is that I spent fewer moments with white knuckles holding a steering wheel than I did gripping the helm of a sailboat
    in shear terror.


  11. Jacquelin McKenzie says:

    Hello Al, (ran out of space at the end,— so be well!)
    My friend, Robbie, with whom you play internet bridge, has been suggesting that I read your blog and write a note. I have NOT travelled in an RV, and only have sailed a bit! I actually did steer a sailboat on the Chesapeake a few years ago! But I did an Outward Bound in the Mohave Desert, taught school in Europe, and have recently re-located in Sarasota with my Jack Russell, Willie, and Bella, my cat. I find that I am missing the contrasts in topography, scenery, weather, seasons, etc. that I left in PA.

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