Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Liebster Award. Huh?

Our blog was nominated for The Liebster Award.  Say what?  Whatever is The Liebster Award?  Honestly, I am not sure.  Do we receive some kind of prize?  No.  Then why bother to mention it?  Because it is a good idea to spread the word about other blogs we enjoy.

Exactly what is The Liebster Award?  It appears to be sort of like a chain letter or a pyramid scheme with no money involved.  It is a project that promotes discovery of new blogs or blogs new to you.  A fellow blogger found our site and gave us a kind of recommendation on their blog site.  In return, we are supposed to pay it forward and do the same for other blogs that we enjoy.

The rules as I understand them are simple:
  1. Thank the person who nominated us and post a link back to their page.
  2. Answer the 10 questions that person has asked us and publish on our blog.
  3. Nominate 10 blogs that we feel deserve more readership and ask 10 questions for each of them to answer and publish on their blogs.

Thanks to Cheryl on S/V Mid-Life Cruising for nominating our blog for The Liebster Award.   Cheryl and husband Ken live in Slidell, Louisiana.  They plan to cruise aboard their 30-ft Catalina named Nirvana once their home is sold.  I have followed Cheryl's blog for several years and hope to follow along once they head out.  Her blog link is: Mid-Life Cruising

 Here are Cheryl's questions and our responses:

1.   1.  Other than leaving family, what has been the most challenging part of this lifestyle?
Clearance into and out of foreign countries.  Requires researching well in advance and sometimes acquiring visas (which sometimes can only be obtained while in our home country of USA).  Confirming that we will be legal upon arrival and where and how to clear in.

2.   What are your favorite things about this lifestyle?
  1. Travel.  Our goal never was to complete a circumnavigation because neither of us had a strong desire to circle the globe just to be able to say we had done so.  We enjoy visiting new countries and cultures and that has been the focus of our ‘circumnavigation.’  Anthropology and history are interesting to me.  Bill is very much a 'people person' and he enjoys making friends in new places.
  2. Mobility.  That we can just weigh anchor and move on most of the time if we do not like an area or the current temporary  neighbors. 
  3. The sea.  Rarely tire of the sea.

3.  What has this lifestyle taught you about yourself and/or what have you experienced that you'd never have known as a landlubber?
Cruising has taught me that it is not necessary to constantly be doing something.  I have learned how to simply breathe and enjoy being alive in whatever surroundings we are in at the moment.  Experiences that I would never have known as a landlubber:  5 days inside a storm in the Bay of Bengal; watching a 2-yr-old girl in a grass skirt dance one night in the Kingdom of Tonga; seeing a sperm whale breech (saw hundreds of other whales but only one sperm); watching a 30 to 35-ft whale shark come to the side of our boat (twice!) and hang out next to us for several minutes; enjoying the stars while sailing in the middle of the ocean in both southern and northern hemispheres.  We would never have seen Gobekli or the Aramaic monasteries if we had not traveled to Turkey via our boat as that special tour was arranged by a fellow sailor and not one of the typical tour agency trips.  And Gobekli is the most astounding site we have seen anywhere in the world.  We feel very fortunate to have had that experience

4.  I hate to cook, so what's your recommendation for a "must-have" galley item that I should have on our boat and an easy dish to make?
This is a difficult question for me because I love to cook.  Makes it hard to think like someone who does not enjoy cooking.  I guess the ‘must-have’ item would be a pressure cooker, one that is not too large.  Since you do not like to cook, this will save you lots of time (as well as saving propane).  And not heat up the boat so much which will be beneficial when you are in the tropics.  Being from Louisiana, I know you must know how to cook red beans and rice.  You can cook dried beans in 30 to 45 minutes rather than hours; rice in 5 minutes.  Pressure cookers are wonderful.  Wish I had discovered this convenience decades ago.  An easy dish to make: chicken fajitas = quick and easy.  Stock up on McCormick Fajita Seasoning Mix packets whenever you are in the USA.  Chicken is always available everywhere, as well as bell peppers and onions.  Flour tortillas are easy to make if not available locally.

5.  What (if anything) has caused you the most anxiety about the cruising/traveling lifestyle?  Does it still?
Two things; one past and one present.  Number one in the past would be the Somali pirates.  We are past that area now and that anxiety is almost forgotten.  Number one in the present is the Schengen Treaty which limits Americans (and citizens of most other non-European Union countries) to a total of 90 days within the Schengen EU countries; then one must leave for 90 days.  This is impossible to do in the Mediterranean considering the seasonal weather and the distances.  The Med is about 2,000 NM wide and countries along the entire northern coastline are members of Schengen.  That leaves the northern coast of Africa where one can go for that 90-day out period (which, due to winter weather really means 5 to 6 months out); and we do not consider any of those African countries safe for Americans today.  The stress of remaining legal for Schengen visa limitations has been hanging over our heads the entire time we were in Turkey and will continue to stress us out until we depart the Canary Islands in January 2016.  Constantly worrying about where we must be by a certain date while also watching weather has put a damper on any enjoyment of cruising in the Med once we departed Turkey and began heading west.

6.  Have you ever seriously considered ditching this lifestyle sooner than later?  If so, why and are you glad that you haven't?
No; not yet.  It does take a full 2 years to make the adjustment from being an employed landlubber to being a retired cruiser.  That first 2 years was more difficult for Bill than it was on me.  Fortunately, we made good friends with several other cruisers that first year.  Bill is much more a social creature than me and he needed that comradery and social network of other cruisers.

7.  Do you feel that your health has improved since leaving the landlubber life?  If so, how?
Surprisingly, no.  When we lived in Houston I enjoyed visiting the gym and was in great physical condition.  We ate a far less healthy diet but I exercised a lot.  Since moving aboard we get almost no exercise other than walking.   About the only time either of us puts on a swimsuit and gets into the water is to clean the waterline of the boat, and that only happens twice yearly here in the Med. We eat a healthier diet but without the exercise I have gained a great deal of weight.  But, who knows, maybe that is more age related and the weight would have piled on even if I still worked out every day.   Bill has Crohn’s Disease and our typical diet on the boat has worked wonders for him.  The only times he has had Crohn’s distress has been when we have eaten at restaurants.  Mostly, we eat on the boat.  Luckily I enjoy cooking.

8.  What do you see in the future for cruisers and liveaboards regarding its population, costs, regulations, and crime?
The answer to this question is very regional.  Here in the Med it is very crowded and very expensive and very regulated, although crime is almost non-existent for cruisers and insurance is reasonable.  In the Caribbean, it is not crowded, crime is high,  expense varies by island or country and there are virtually no regulations and insurance is very expensive.  We have never lived aboard in the USA so I have no experience with that.  I do foresee a time where boating will require licensing or certification of competency in some form.  It is now required in the EU.  Our USA Merchant Marine captains licenses have been recognized by each country that has required competency certification.  Frankly, I think this would be a good idea for the USA to also adopt.  Our waterways are too crowded to continue to allow untrained helmsmen anymore.  I think even the idiots on the jet skis need to be required to pass a competency test.
9.  What is your favorite past time while on the boat?  (or for Emily ... off the bike?)
Watching the anchor dance each late afternoon.  As boats arrive in an anchorage it is amusing to sit and critique their anchoring techniques.  It has been especially entertaining here in Croatia watching the farmers.  They drop the anchor and reverse too quickly and plow through the long heavy sea grass; think they are hooked and turn off the engine.  Then soon realize that the only thing they are hooked on is a bushel of grass and the boat is dragging.  And start the process all over again.  It is a pleasure to watch someone who knows what they are doing and entertaining to watch those who do not.  Other than the people watching, then our favorite pastimes on the boat are reading and just enjoying the view.

10.  What part of the boat has caused you the most headaches/repairs?  What has made life aboard easier?
The dinghy outboard engine has been our biggest headache.  It is now 11 years old and seen a lot of use.  We are nursing it along and hope to make it last until we are again in the Caribbean and can buy another 2-cycle engine.  We have had no repair issues on BeBe.  We almost hate to mention that for fear that just stating it will cause bad juju and something will break or malfunction.  All across the South Pacific we would bite our tongues and attempt to commiserate with all the other cruisers as they complained about the repairs they were dealing with.  We had no repairs other than regular maintenance but we did not want to say anything when everyone else was working on their boats.  Made us really glad we owned an Amel Super Maramu.  What has made life aboard easier is the fact that we are on an Amel Super Maramu with all the conveniences imaginable.  Electric winches and outhaul; very high capacity watermaker; clothes washer; dishwasher; 4-burner stove and oven; microwave; air-conditioning and electric heating; 9 fans for those hot tropical nights at anchor; extreme amount of storage space; just a very comfortable home on the water.

I am supposed to now nominate 10 blogs for The Liebster award and pass on 10 questions for each of them to answer.  We have been ‘out here’ a long time and most of the blogs I followed are no longer active.  Many of those folks have completed circumnavigations and swallowed the anchor.  Or they are still out here cruising but do not take the time and effort to maintain their blog anymore.  Rather than tag someone whom I know would not appreciate being recognized and likely would not participate in what is basically a chain letter, I have chosen to nominate only the following 6 blogs.  I have not elaborated about each blog.  Click on them and see if any peak your interest.

I followed Moonshadow through a a very long circumnavigation by the previous owners. When they sold the boat the new owners kept the same boat name and I have continued to follow Moonshadow with the new owners.

And here are the 10 questions for the 6 blogs linked above:

  1. What is your definition of cruising and what about this appealed to you?
  2. Once you found that perfect boat, how long did it take you to finally toss off the dock lines?
  3. Has cruising met your expectations?
  4. Any idea how long you will continue to cruise and where?
  5. What has been your biggest challenge while cruising?
  6. What in your opinion are the negatives to cruising and is this lifestyle worth those hassles?
  7. What is your favorite thing about cruising and how often do you get to enjoy this aspect of it?
  8. What advice would you have for someone just toying with the idea of dumping their land life and setting off in a boat?
  9. Were you secure in your ability to sail and cross oceans before you started cruising?  Or do you plan to cross any oceans?
  10. Which country have you visited while cruising that you enjoyed the most and why?

1 comment:

  1. Love your answers Judy! Your experiences sound amazing, and people watching has always been one of my past times when visiting new places. A lot of cruisers recommend pressure cookers .. guess I may have to think about buying one for the boat. I had no idea how stressful it is in the Mediterranean regarding staying legal with the 90 day law ... I can see why it would cause concern. But, glad you're out of the path of those Somali pirates!


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