Friday, December 21, 2007

December 21, 2007 - Newport

Newport, Bristol and Portsmouth, Rhode Island have a wonderful array of marine services. We spent this week taking full advantage of having a car and being a few miles from our favorite vendors. We've made the rounds to Depaul Diesel to price out generator spares, Ocean Link for spare parts for our Spectra Watermaker, and Newport Nautical (a great marine consignment store) for a shore power adapter.

As part of our refit we bought a new main sail from Thurston Sails, part of the Quantum group. As you might recall, our shakedown sail after a year on the hard was the run from Newport to Bermuda - not the smartest thing we've ever done. On that passage, when we weren't hove to in a gale, we noticed that our new main developed a terrible vibration when we were on a reach. By the time we arrived in Sint Maarten, it was driving us crazy. We talked to the local sailmakers and had some long calls with Thurston, but short of adding additional intermediate bat-cars to the sail, there didn't seem to be a solution. So we lived with it. 13,000 miles later, the battens in the section of the sail that vibrates have disintegrated at the point where they insert into the bat-cars. After an hour of consultation (including a review of video footage of the problem) with Gary at Thurston, we now have a handful of fixes to try when we get back to New Zealand.

All this shopping works up a mighty hunger. For lunch on Tuesday, we tucked into a Blue Cow at West Main Pizza, which, for my money, is the best pizza on the planet (granted, I've never been Naples). Ground beef, bacon and blue cheese - what's not to love? We love it so much that, when I flew back to Aruba after bringing Lenore home to live with Suzy last April, I brought a Blue Cow in my carry-on for Sten, undoubtedly violating several of Aruba's biosecurity laws.

Sten - getting his grill on in the frozen north

I got hit with the snot stick on Sunday afternoon. Five days later, I'm still struggling to get over it. The saddest part of being sick for me isn't the aches and pains; it is being unable to taste a thing when someone puts a nice glass of wine in front of me - in this case a Viognier that Sten's father, Bill, poured with dinner on Wednesday night. I could tell that it was white and fruity, but the rest of it was lost to me. Such a pity.

While I nursed my cold in the cozy confines of Suzy's house (still the best BnB in Newport) Sten went up to Milford, MA, on Thursday to visit his former coworkers at Milton CAT. As he reported back to me, the ladies in the office were most impressed that we are still speaking to each other after so much time alone together. Do they know something about my husband that I don't? Or, has he been telling them something about me that I should know about?

More seriously, the primary question I got from many of the ladies in attendance at the cruising club gathering in Baltimore was "how can you stand each other after 19 days at sea?" I used to get a similar question from people before we set out on this adventure - "aren't you going to get sick of each other?" Amazingly, we still like each other just fine - probably in large part due to Sten making me coffee each morning and keeping our shower pump working.

The other main question we were asked at the Baltimore dinner was how much this year of cruising cost us. I hadn't yet added it all up, so I promised the other dinner guests that I would run the numbers and report back to them. In the interests of full disclosure, and because there is very little information available about how much it costs to do a trip like this, I'm disclosing the amount here.

In addition to the initial cost of the boat and refit, which is laid out on our website, we spent approximately $30,850 this year. I haven't broken it down into categories (frankly, our record keeping isn't good enough to do so with any accuracy), but I can report that our single biggest line item was $4K for boat insurance. The $31K number also includes $2K for plane tickets and (between the repairs after the Bermuda storm and the additional sun shades we had made in Bequia and Grenada) about $3K of canvas work. In addition, we spent about (and this is just a wild guess) $3K in Sint Maarten, finishing our refit. Backing out those line items, we spent about $19K on other cruising related costs - food, fuel, wine, rum, laundry, entertainment (tours, wifi, bus and taxi fares), clothing (read - flip flops, reef shirts and bikinis), clearance fees (probably about $1.5K), Panama Canal fees, mooring and marina fees (only about $300 for the year) and miscellaneous boat parts. And now the fine print: This is what we spent. Some spent more. Some spent less. If we hadn't spent so much money getting the boat into top shape before we left, we would have undoubtedly spent more money keeping the boat in repair this season.

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