We’ve just finished 5 months of travel, and in many ways it was every bit as life changing as our 6 months of sailing prior to that. The things they say about travel are true: that you’ll never regret it, that the world is a very big place and if you only see one part of it you’re missing out on a lot.
It’s also true that it’s not as hard to travel as most people think. Most of South and Central America are not dangerous places (as many Americans seem to think). We heard more scary stories when reading our hometown news than the local news. And you can travel on the cheap in many areas of the world, having a far lower cost of living (COL) than high COL U.S. cities.
But it’s been 147 days since we’ve slept in our own bed, and towards the end we started to miss our sailing home. Travel is hard and eventually you crave having a consistent place to sleep each night, and more than what you can fit in a carry-on suitcase + daypack. And there’s nothing we’ve found that quite compares to the beauty and tranquility of sailing the Pacific Northwest.
Our boat on the hard when we left in September
Recently some other Pacific Northwest cruisers have reached out to me asking which cruising guides we used for our passage north last year. It can be tricky choosing cruising guides because the older ones tend to get out of date quickly, and some have spotty coverage or a different cruising style than ours.
Over the last 4 years of cruising we’ve found some good ones that work for us. Finding good educational books on sailing and boat maintenance is also tricky (there are so many!) so I’ve included a few recommendations on those too.
We’re nearing completion of 5 months of travel, and stayed mostly in AirBnBs across six countries: Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Prior to this we had used AirBnB only a couple times, and learned a lot through this experience. There are plenty of AirBnB horror stories on the Internet (from dirty cat apartments to scams or no-shows) but we didn’t have any disaster scenarios (only two places had issues – more on that later).
Certainly you can stay in hotels or hostels while traveling, but 90% of the time we stayed in AirBnBs. They’re often more comfortable for long-term travel – more than a month in hotels and hostels can get really tiring! After staying in over a dozen AirBnBs we learned some tips and tricks to make it easier.
If you find our tips useful, and don’t already have an AirBnB account, please use our referral link if you want to signup. It’ll get you a $40 discount upon your first reservation (and $20 for us, which helps keep this blog going).
Our super cute Cusco, Peru AirBnB in a traditional Peruvian home.
From our first days of cruising, photography has been a big part of telling the story of what it’s like to sail in the Pacific Northwest. We sail to spectacularly beautiful places, including areas that few sailors will ever get to, and I feel it’s my duty to share what we see. Photography is the best way I know to communicate what we love about sailing the PNW.
Often we remark that the picture doesn’t do it justice – capturing these natural environments is incredibly difficult. We’re usually on the boat, a moving platform from which it can be hard to capture the perspective we’re seeing (vast open spaces, ourselves surrounded mostly by water). The weather may not cooperate, and wildlife (like whales) appear for mere seconds, often far away.
I (Patrick) do the photography for the blog (which is as much an outlet for my photography hobby as it is for telling the story of our adventures). I’ve been doing photography as a semi-serious hobby for about 15 years, including landscape, travel, nature, macro, portrait, and even a bit of studio practice. But only the last 5 years or so have I been doing photography from a sailboat.
We’re traveling for the winter and just finished a month of exploring New Zealand. It’s as beautiful and grand here as we expected, and the mountains truly make it a unique place. The hiking here rivals what we have in Washington and BC, and the weather is quite similar (rainy, chilly, sometimes sunny, and changeable by the hour).
Here’s some photography from our journey across the south and north islands.
Hiking Roy’s Peak, near Wanaka on the south island
We’re traveling in the Southern Hemisphere for the winter, and I had some requests for updates from our non-sailing travels, so here are my favorite photos from our 3 weeks in Australia (we’re in New Zealand as of November 20).
We had an amazing time in Australia, with beautiful sunny weather in the 75-95F range. The highlights were definitely Sydney and the Great Ocean Road, but Cairns and Melbourne were good stops as well.
Surprisingly few large boats are winterized on the hard in the Pacific Northwest, as is standard practice in other areas where the water freezes (New England, the Great Lakes). We have the luxury of not having to; the relatively steady ~50 F water temperature prevents engines from freezing or harbors icing over. And we have the option of year-round sailing – although much of the winter is pretty rainy and dark, we always have some stretches of sunny, 45-55F weather (positively balmy!).
Yet there are some advantages to storing your boat on land (“on the hard”) – less bottom paint wear, no dock line chafe, etc. So this year we went this route, given we’re traveling for the winter and won’t be able to use our boat. Debating the pros/cons of storing in the water vs on the hard, it was hard to find much information specific to the PNW.
Even though many boats never leave the dock in the winter, their owners still choose to leave them in the water, paying significantly higher moorage costs. This is perplexing, but I guess it boils down to convenience – it takes a bit of work to winterize a boat, and there isn’t a huge surplus of winter storage yards in the Seattle area.
Perhaps another deterrent is that most storage yards have a couple neglected, derelict boats that have been there for years. In some cases, yards are where boats go to die – and this can be very hard to see (not to mention the concerns over their boat catching on fire next to yours). Leaving our boat is a scary thing because not only have we put thousands of hours of work into it, it’s our home now too.
At the end of September we spent several days working to prepare our boat for storage on the hard. There are many articles on winterization (Sailrite, West Marine, Discover Boating), but I’ll cover some things we learned that weren’t mentioned elsewhere, and the checklists we used so we wouldn’t forget things.