Written while sailing south towards Colombia…
We’ve been on El Gato for over 4 years now and it definitely feels like home.
One year in the Mediterranean, 3 seasons in the Caribbean with 2 voyages up the East Coast of USA, stopping in Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Bermuda, a visit to Cuba, Mexico, and the Caymens. We are preparing for the great big vastness of the Pacific via the Panama Canal.
We’re comfortable sailing long distance on our own although sharing the journey and having a bit more rest by bringing friends as crew is preferred if their schedule works with ours. The rule on this is to pick a time or a place but not both. With weather being the main factor in when we depart or arrive we can’t adhere to others work schedules. Luckily many of our BFFs are retired or getting closer to retirement and with enough seniority to say “hey I’m leaving next week for a week or two” to their companies. We’ve been blessed with great friends and when you live on a boat with someone for a week you get to know them more than onshore. The stories and the experiences we share as they unfold, watching sealife, braving storms together, these things bind friends more than casual dinner parties and such.
As for our relationship, it’s stronger than ever. When your life depends on your best friend and you put that much trust in them to make good decisions when you are sleeping, the bonds become herculean. Do we run out of things to say sometimes? Not much as we are constantly moving, preparing and planning. But meeting other cruisers and getting in touch with friends and family helps open up new conversations as does reading which we sometimes do aloud.
Our roles on the boat are as diverse as we are in nature.
Eric, AKA Moto, Sasquatch, Squatch, is the typical engineer who can solve the tiniest to the toughest problems with complexity and great results. The lists are endless on a boat and differ not to a monohull or motor boat. While the jobs never end, Eric works tirelessly making lists, fixing, tweaking, experimenting, upgrading, varnishing, and changing the systems to our advantage. Through sometimes trial and error he knows the boat inside and out and I could not have been more blessed to have such a great partner to share this life with on the sea and on land. He always has a grin from ear to ear when he’s driving our ship with wind in our sails as we rack up the miles. How many miles? No idea. While we keep a log book we don’t always write down the smaller trips but we’ve put at least 20,000 miles on El Gato since 2015.
Aside from Chief Engineer he is bottom scrubber, dish washer, windsurfer rigger, dinghy captain, engine problem solver, spare parts regulator, water maker repairman, sail repair officionado, ice lover, rigger, sail trimmer, fish cleaner, my captain, co conspirator, best friend and lover. To know Eric is to love him. He’s the kindest, most gentle strong man I’ve ever known with integrity oozing out of his pores. He makes me want to be a better person.
Although he does not speak his mind quickly like some of us who tend to speak as they think and as a result put their foot in their mouth way too often, yep me, his words are calculated and thoughtful and worth waiting for. It’s a trait I’ll never have but have learned to appreciate wholeheartedly. His ying is my yang.
As you can expect, my roles compliment his. Start with chief communicator, I make sure we are in touch while onshore or offshore to our friends and family. These days when you leave the dock you do not have to be off the grid unless you want to be. With IridiumGo! we can text, write or call with texting being the easiest fastest and most affordable way. InReach is the back up. Obviously I write a blog to share our stories but also so that we can remember the travels and our stories as well. When you’re always on the go, so much happens that it’s impossible to remember. Recording it with words and photos does the trick. I use the iPhone now that the quality is so good, and occasionally bust out the Nikon for the long lens.
Safety Officer is another cap for me. From preparing our ditch bag to making sure our harnesses have good cartridges, the flares are up to date, the MOB gear is in place and in good shape, and most importantly making sure our peeps on land know our plans.
Provisioning and cooking are fun and I’ve learned some good recipes along the way. Pizza? No problem. Learning to make bread and dough was a goal accomplished and our herb garden helps produce fresh pesto sauce! If we could just grow mangos and avocados life would be perfect!
Did you know you can freeze cheese? We carry bags of mozzarella and cheddar for pizza and quesadillas on the go. I’ve become a lasagna expert now that I don’t have to precook the noodles. Cooking fresh fish is still a learning process. Making sushi is not. We always have wasabi, nori, soy sauce and sushi rice on board. Other roles include getting the laundry done which we take to shore and give to someone else. It can be a challenge just getting it to the laundromat. Bicycles, walking, hitch hiking, cabs, whatever it takes to get there and back, we’ve done it. Same goes for food.
Another role for me is planning. I order cruising guides and courtesy flags once we know where we are going and then read up and ask questions so we know what we are getting into.
Every country, island is different and we filled up our large passports way before they expired.
Sewing is something we share and we have an industrial portable machine onboard to do the jobs. He uses it for sail repairs and I use it for making pillows, cushions, repairing awnings, and making gifts.
I’m also the local barber. Eric hasn’t had a professional haircut since our wedding. He’s frugal and we like the experience. I’ve made some major mistakes and he has such a kind spirit he does not get mad. Like the time I thought I had the side trimmer and it was the buzz cutter. He had a long stripe on one side and still was cool about going to the SDYC for Friday night cocktails. I was horrified at my mistake and yet he still came back for more. That’s love.
Roles we share: Driving, navigating, trimming sails, fishing, making beds, and making decisions on just about everything.
Life is good and we are blessed and grateful that we found each other and share this amazing thing we call life together.