A snapshot of a cruising family in the 80s

The rain is beating down, the big, hard type of rain that only the tropics bring. Hawaii is sucking up the moisture from tropical storm kilo south west of the island chain. I have been visiting Brian’s family and have heard so many of their cruising stories from the 80s, back when it was quite rare for people to go cruising especially with kids.

Brian’s mum and dad left in 1985 on their Ericsson 32, and spent six years cruising the South Pacific, back in the days when the only way to know where you were, was waiting for a sat Nav fax to come in, which was unreliable, maybe you got a fix, maybe you didn’t, could be eight hours before you got a position. So they would try and get a sun sight, if there was sun, which there always isn’t, or use dead reckoning.

They left from hawaii to go to the marquasis, which is upwind the whole way, all Bj remembers is the chain crashing in the chain locker for 20 plus days, and the funniest, for me, when the middle hatch was ripped open and gallons of water poured onto his head while sleeping one night….as a nine year old, I wonder what he thought!

His favourite memories are from wind surfing every day, first he would do his home schooling, then zip around all afternoon on his wind surfing board. What a way to open up your child’s mind. Imagine Hunkering down in mangrove swamps in New Caladnia, Fiji and French polynesia waiting for cyclones to pass, the boat sideways, the cat walking on the walls,as the eye of a cyclone goes over you. Spear fishing daily for your dinner, diving for the plates and cutlery off the sea floor after your parents had a fight. Being followed by a gaggeling group of marquasian girls, whose family wanted to set you up for marriage. The French man who fell in love with a goat, and kept it on his boat, but the goat wouldn’t sleep outside, and screeched all night, so the French man let him sleep inside and the goat ate all his charts and sails.

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There is something to be said for small boat voyaging, especially with children. So many people wait until they have their dream boat, or think they need a 50 foot boat to cruise, and end up waiting , then never end up leaving, as there is always something more they want. I meet people who can’t beleive that BJs family went cruising on a 32 ft boat for six years.

Todays crusier has changed so much, in the era of electronics, GPS, satellite phones, trackers etc, which I love, but which also takes some of the adventure out of cruising. As now any one can just buy a boat and go, which is fantastic to get more people out in nature and enjoy this world by water, and hopefully encourage  people to care more for our world, by emerging them selfs and family in nature. To me, it’s the most marvellous way to see the world, nothing compares to arriving at a new destination by sail, with nothing more then the wind, stars and sea.

Back to small boat voyaging, it takes tenacity, as you are not that fast, possible a five knot average, space is limited, which is good to purge yourself of the trappings of life, get back to basics, which to me, is what cruising is all about, to get back to simplicity and living a simple life.

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