Overseas Radio Network – Interview with Couple New to Catamaran Cruising Lifestyle
In the Overseas Radio Network Show 3, Segment 3, we will talk with new cruisers, Don and Lynda:
- How they picked a yacht
- Their experiences cruising The Great Loop
- The right sailboat for an older person
- What they wish they had known before cruising
- What they wish they had installed on their catamaran before cruising
- Places they wish they had stayed longer
- Favorite thing about their catamaran
GARY FRETZ: Welcome back. This Gary Fretz and you are listening to “Yachts: The Perfect Escape Vehicle”. We are talking to Don and Lynda who just started cruising about 4 months ago. I have a few questions here for you. How did you finally break the tie with the land and how did your escape plan of all?
For a transcript of this podcast, click “read more” below.
How These New Cruisers Selected a Yacht
LYNDA: We actually planned this well in advance. We did homework by going to boat shows, chartering boats for a week at a time couple times a year, and doing research on what type of a boat we want to purchase. And once we narrowed it down, we decided that a catamaran is what we wanted. And then we narrowed it down further after that and decided on an owners’ version which is 3 cabins, but sleep 6 and the owners side has a very spacious bathroom and shower and locker storage and then on the on the other side is 2 berths that sleeps 4 people and also a shower and a head on that side, too.
So the research we did in advance so we would be comfortable once we retired and it got out of charter, that’s the boat we wanted to be on.
Cruising The Great Loop
GARY: So on yachts, you have the owner versions and you have charter versions. I guess charter versions have more cabins. A lot of people want to take everybody in their family and all their friends and their cousins. And I know a lot of Europeans will come with 14 people and want to cram them on a boat. Tell me about this circle route you talking about. What is this circle route?
DON: Well, it is actually called The Great Loop and what it is, is there is an inland waterway that a lot of people don’t even know about that runs from Chicago. In our case when we left Chicago, we had to drop the mast there in order to get under different bridges. Then we went down the Illinois River into the Mississippi, and then up the Ohio River into the Tennessee River down the [Tombigbee] River and out in the Mobile, Alabama.
The more you go along the Florida coast and dart in and out of the Inner Coastal [Waterway] there and some smaller boats will cut across Lake Okeechobee and come out at Stewart. Or other ones will go down through the Keys up and around the eastern seaboard and through the Hudson River and back in to the Great Lakes. [Check out a tense couple of days they had while cruising The Great Loop.]
GARY: Wow, can’t you go around Canada into the St. Lawrence waterway, also, and make it even a bigger loop?
DON: Yes, you can go through the St. Lawrence River. You can go up through Lake Champagne from the Hudson and cut in to the St. Lawrence there. Or you can go all the way up the east coast into the mouth
of the St. Lawrence River. And there is all kinds of different routes, nothing, you know, there is no mandatory route that you have to take. But we actually did the loop unintentionally when we had the boat in charter in Fort Lauderdale and had it down there for 2 years and wanted it closer to us so we took it up to the Great Lakes. So we did the eastern seaboard then and then after we retired, we came down through the Chicago and then through the Mississippi came out Mobile Alabama and when we hit Key West we had completed the loop unintentionally.
GARY: You mentioned something about the loop and the rivers and how you were a bit surprised about the rural-ness of it. Tell me about that.
DON: You wouldn’t, um, the waterway is so massive it is so unreal. And it is lined with trees. Most of it, probably 90% of it, through the countryside. There are, you don’t see any roads. You don’t see any bridges. There are a lot of wildlife, tons of eagles.
We saw white pelicans that were as far north as almost Chicago. I didn’t know pelicans went that far. And there is just a lot to see and a ton of commerce that went up and down the Mississippi you wouldn’t believe: coal, wood chips, the little bags you buy for $5 at Home Depot…they got barges filled with them.
GARY: And there are a lot of people doing this like how many cruisers would you estimate through The Great Loop every year?
LYNDA: Well, we haven’t meet a ton of people doing The Great Loop. And at the time I heard it was 300 to 500 people and that was in the fall of 2011. And I am sure it varies depending on in the spring because a lot of people will go on the east coast and up the ICW.
GARY: This waterway is relatively protected, right. You never really saw any big waves?
LYNDA: Oh, you are extremely safe. It is a boat ride and that’s why you have to put your mast down if you have the sail boat and all different types of boats are there you see trawlers and we saw canoes and all sorts of different types of boats but again being on the catamaran was just so stable and comfortable and roomy it was just a great trip.
GARY: Let’s say you are 70 years old you, can do it too?
LYNDA: You can be 70, 80, I mean I don’t think it matters. It’s just a very comfortable trip to do because you are in a river system and you really can’t get into any trouble even when weather kicks up I mean you are not that far from shore so it’s hard to screw up.
The Right Cruising Boat for an Older Person
GARY: And especially if you are an older crew you want to have the right boat right, what would the right boat be for an older person?
DON: Lynda just hit me because I am going to be 60 this year. So I must be the older person. Like I say, we just find this catamaran so comfortable. It is so large when there is areas on the river that are at very, you have to go long ways between anchorage and would have trailers that we would be travelling with and at night we would pull into these small anchorages that you couldn’t, the boats couldn’t string out and all anchored individually because there is no swinging room so we would all raft together. We would be the center boat. All the trawlers would raft after us and all come to our boat to party in our salon because it is so big. We have had up to 23 people in the cockpit of our boat.
GARY: Wow, it sounds like the perfect party boat. You might want to start like a tavern or something. Okay, what, if anything, do you wish that someone had told you before you started cruising?
What They Wish They Had Known Before Going Cruising
LYNDA: I think as a gal, I pack way too many clothes, too many shoes. You know, you need one pair of high heels, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of flip flops. But way too many clothes is biggest thing and for gals. Think of it as a two-week vacation and that’s all you need to pack, because there is laundry in every port.
GARY: Okay, can you think of something that you wish you bought or installed before you starting cruising?
What They Wish They Had Installed on Their Catamaran Before Cruising
DON: On the river, we had seen a lot of trawlers that had AIS, and it a…I will let Stephen explain to you what AIS is.
STEPHEN COCKCROFT: AIS is an automatic identification system which is mandatory to be on all vessels above 300ft. And they have a transponder that transmits all the details the names, hailing port cargo where the voyage started where the voyage ended speed, etc., And I guess on the river, I have never been on the river, but I guess configurations and barges, etc., so very handy information to have so it is a tiny little vessel navigating among all these units.
GARY: So when you are looking at your plotter, your GPS screen and you will see like a vessel on there and it will say the name, like it will say “Jolly Roger” and… is that what it tells you?
STEPHEN: Well, I have a Raymarine. I have a E80 and what happens is it will have the it will the triangle that showing the vessel and a red light start flashing and you pull a curser over it and the screen comes up and it gives you all that information and its seem less and very user friendly.
Places They Wish They Had Stayed Longer
GARY: Nice. Hey, guys, is there a place you visited that you wished you could have stayed longer?
LYNDA: Yes, we were in the Windward Islands and we were on chartered boat at the time. We were on vacation. We had a week charter and I could probably spend a month there. Just all the different places to explore you just seem to have enough time that’s make a big difference.
GARY: Tell me your favorite thing about the boat.
Favorite Thing About Their Catamaran
LYNDA: The favorite thing about the boat, I got to say is, I feel really safe on it. Not just the stability, but the way it handles when the sails are up and the weather changes and it’s easy to move the sails around. A lot of people think sailing is really hard work and you are adjusting you do minor adjustments, but it is just comfortable the catamaran makes a big difference in comfort.
DON: I like swimming and do different things like that, and cats are super for getting back on the boat. They have 2 hulls and there’s 2 sets of stairs that go right down to the water. And there are a lot of monohull sailboats that, I mean, some people jump overboard and if they don’t have a line hanging in the water, they can’t get back on their boat. It is very comfortable for things like that.
GARY: You know one thing I really like about your boat is galley up. That’s when the kitchen is in the salon or the living room. And so, it’s like having a bar. Here at night, we can have a big party. [Check out the mushroom pesto that Lynda makes in her galley…amazing!]
Anyway it looks like we run out of time, we will be back next week at 3:00 PM Eastern US time. And you are listening to the Overseas Radio Network. And this is Gary Fretz.