Living Aboard a Boat The A to Z Challenge

Q is for Questions

Wednesday, April 20, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

During the month of April, we're participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge where every day (excluding Sundays) we'll be posting to the blog . . . alphabetically. The overall theme we've chosen to tie all the entries together is living aboard a boat and cruising – things we've learned along the way: our thoughts, reflections, and tips for those just starting out or who are interested in this lifestyle.


Okay, so this is kind of a cheat since we actually have a FAQ page on our site but it doesn’t see much action, so I thought it would be a good idea to list the questions we hear the most and answer them. 

Did you sail from England?
Because Cambria’s home port is in the UK, people often ask us if we sailed her from England. The answer is no. The original owners commissioned her in 1998, launched her in 1999, and sailed her down to New Zealand where we bought her in 2003.

Did you sail from New Zealand?
This question always seems to follow the previous one. And, once again, the answer is no. We had her shipped on Dockwise. Sailing back to the US is something we both really wanted to do, but after the pros and cons we decided it would be less expensive and faster to have her shipped. We’ll never really know if it was cheaper, but she did arrive in Ensenada three weeks later in the same condition she left New Zealand.

How long have you lived on a boat?
Fifteen years and counting.

Where do you live?
This is probably the most frequently asked question that we receive AND the most difficult one to answer. Cambria is our home and primary residence; so wherever the boat is, that’s where we live. On any given day that could be our winter marina or a remote anchorage.

Where are you from?
This goes hand and hand with “where do you live?” Cambria hails out of Whitby, UK because that’s the closest recreational seaport to David’s birthplace, Middlesbrough in Northern England. I spent most of my life in Wichita, Kansas but met David while living and working in Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent six years in New Zealand, one year in Ensenada and San Diego, and have been based in the Pacific Northwest since 2008 – take your pick! 

Do you miss anything about landlife?
No, not really. But a long, hot shower is always a nice treat.

What do you do all day?
What don’t we do! One thing’s for sure, when you own a boat, you never run out of things to keep you busy. During the off-season, we try to do as much maintenance on the boat as we can and spend time visiting our families. When we’re at anchor, we spend a lot of time planning routes, checking the weather and exploring. If for some reason we get bored, there’s always a kayak to paddle, a guitar to play, a sweater to knit or a good book to read. 

Was having a dog aboard difficult?
It could be. And I have to be honest, there were times when Sally was not only difficult, but a liability. But we loved her more than anything and enjoyed making her life a living hell, so it all balanced out in the end. Fortunately, as Sally grew up and settled down through the years, she became exceptional boat dog and it got much easier. As she got older and entered her final stage of life, having a dog aboard was challenging in ways that we never imagined possible but she was definitely worth it! We miss her like crazy and would love to have another dog aboard but are waiting until we know for sure where we want to go next.

What did you do with Sally when you were on a long passage?
When we sailed offshore while living in New Zealand, we left her there in the care of a kennel facility because of quarantine issues. In the US and Canada she was able to cross borders with only a health certificate and current rabies vaccination, so she was with us all of the time. However, she refused to go to the bathroom on the deck, so we had to plan all of our passages accordingly. 

How did you get her to shore?
We got to shore in our dinghy, a small boat approximately 9 feet long.  It’s basically our car when we’re at anchor and Sally loved to go for rides and feel the wind in her face.

How long do you plan to go cruising?
Our standard answer is for as long as it’s fun!

What will you do once you’ve finished cruising?
One day we hope to own a piece of land (presumably in New Zealand) where David can have a workshop/garage to restore classic cars and set up a music studio and I can have a vegetable garden with plenty of room for the pack of rescue dogs I plan to adopt one day!  And, of course, a small boat for sailing the Bay of Islands.

Where will you go next?
Now that we’ve made the trip to Alaska, it’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves a lot. We have a lot of ideas but aren’t quite ready to make anything official.

How about you? What questions do you hear most often and how do you answer them. Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. 

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  1. I was just wondering if you sailed from New Zealand! As always, your photos are amazing! The most frequently asked question I get is "How do you watch TV". We really don't. We have DVDs, and will stream from wifi. But now that Game of Thrones is coming out with a new season, it's a real question for me! - Lucy

    1. When it comes to TV viewing, the number one question we get is "have you seen XYZ program?" followed by a blank look on the person's face when we try to explain that we don't watch TV, just DVDs. It's like we're aliens!

  2. We have in the back of the mind that we'll move back to NZ one day and maybe buy some land. Of course, winning the lottery would come in handy to make that plan come true, given property costs there these days (although that's probably more in the Auckland region).

    Sweet picture of you and Sally in the dinghy :-)

    Cheers - Ellen

    1. I recently learned you can still buy a house in Wanganui (south of the North Island) for around NZ$60,000 and got very excited about that fact. I really want to settle down some place where I can have some dogs and a garden (not any time soon though). I don't know why I want a garden. I've never grown anything in my life and I'm not a big fan of vegetables (or flowers). But it seems like something I should do.

      Yeah, I like that picture of me and Sal . . . she was such a good dinghy dog.

  3. I think the one we're asked most often other than the ones on your list, is "how do you keep from driving each other crazy, together all day every day in such a small space?" For us, the answer is that actually being together all the time makes our relationship better, we're more in synch with each other's moods, etc, and we've developed ways to respect each other's mental space.

    1. Ditto! In fact, I'm not sure how I forgot to add that one to the list.

  4. Funny how those questions sound so familiar to what we kept hearing when on our boat long term! The one we hear most often now, is "Where do you live?" to which our answer is always "Here, at the moment." :-) Because the question is asked where we currently house and pet sit. I like your "What after the cruising" answer. It's nice to have attractive plans! :-)

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    1. Truth be told, once someone starts asking where we're from or if we sailed the boat from England I disappear if can and leave David to do the answering. I know people are genuinely interested but, after 15 years, the answer bores me to tears!

  5. People always want to know where we're going to go. And when we're going to leave. We tell them that we are leaving next Spring, and that our first stop is Mexico. Then after that, points south. By that time, their eyes are glazing over and that's the end of that conversation. We would love to think we could buy property in a different country. We would love to go to New Zealand some day and see if we like it, which we probably would. But yes, same as Ellen,, we'd have to win the lottery. We're both middle aged Americans. No one wants us unless we have money.