As designers and builders, we think of our yachts as progeny and our clients as family. As such, we take great pleasure in the exploits of the former and the growth of the latter into accomplished voyagers. It is one of the main ingredients that keeps us coming back for more. Pete and Deb Rossin’s recently completed circumnavigation of New Zealand, including Stewart Island deep in the roaring forties, is a wonderful example of this.
A large part of Pete and Deb’s trip was in waters considered to be among the most hostile in the world. During the early part of their cruise they encountered an un-forecast force nine gale, 40 plus knots of wind gusting well into the 50s, with opposing current steepening the seas–at night of course.
Many cruisers would have opted for a milder environment after an experience like that. But Pete and Deb chose to continue.
As they were relative neophytes to the pleasures of high latitude cruising, we asked Pete what gave them the resolve to continue on. Pete’s comments and photos follow.
I have been thinking a bit about your query as to what inspires confidence while cruising. It starts with the desire to go (and a spouse that wants to go too). So many guys I know buy a boat, the wife hates it, it sits at the dock and then goes up for sale.
While not trying to get into a circular argument, once you (both) have made the decision to go, it then reduces to how much confidence you have in the equipment upon which your ass depends. Mother nature is unpredictable and even the most cautious seaman is going to get caught in some bad stuff. If you have fundamental confidence in the boat and its capabilities, you will be inclined to go places. If you don’t, you won’t, and then will stay tied to the dock. In the latter case, my wife very quickly detects when I am uneasy about things. If I am uneasy, she is downright scared. Go back to the first sentence about selling the boat.
Confidence in the boat is a start but not an end. More then most things in life, transiting oceans is a lifelong learning experience. Even in the best of boats, you need to be a crew member, mechanic, repairman, the electric company, the water authority, the sewer authority, the HVAC man, the plumber, the weatherman, the navigator, the computer expert, pilot, the chef, and yes – even the maid. Most of that comes over time and with study – lots of it if you are a prudent mariner. The best boats have good operations manuals, system documentation, spare parts and good access to everything. None of that helps unless you are prepared to read, learn and do.
Even if you are diligent, there will be bad experiences. Ours was on a reef in Fiji – our confidence was dented but the boat, being as tough as she is, was not. It takes time to recover from those kind of mistakes. It is far easier when you come away knowing just how good a boat you have. Go back to the part about learning experiences.
Finally, it is a matter of time and familiarity. That cracking noise that happens every morning at 3 a.m., the sound of the Kabola when it fires, the inverters, the water pumps, engine, hydraulics, and toilets and all the other system noises, the alarms and their tone – which device was it? – the sound of the wind in the rigging and the wind strength based on that, the smell of the engine room, and all the other sights, sounds, smells, pressures and temperatures that are part of the heart and soul of the boat. They tell you when things are right and warn when things are wrong. Familiarity, which simply takes time, makes all of this important and makes life aboard less stressful as you become one with the boat.
As time and confidence increase, the desire to travel further and see more of what this wonderful planet has to offer also increases. In the end, it is not about a particular destination, it is about the desire to go and see and have the confidence that you (and your loved ones) are safe in the going.
The FPB64 is that boat.
Post Script: As this is being written Iron Lady is back at Circa Marine in Whangerie awaiting her get home engine system to be fitted, and the Rossin’s are home on the East Coast of the US. After two weeks of land life both Pete and Deb are ready a new dose of cruising.
You can follow the Pete and Deb’s adventures on their website by clicking here.
For more info on the FPBs, contact Todd Rickard, ToddR@setsail.com.