Reflections on Cruising The A to Z Challenge

A is for Anniversary

Friday, April 01, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA


On May 01, 2001 David and I boarded a plane bound for Auckland, New Zealand to start a new chapter in our lives: living aboard and travelling the world by sailboat. That was fifteen years ago. It’s a big anniversary, one that should be celebrated in a big way. So, to help mark the occasion, 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 and cruising – things we’ve learned along the way: our thoughts, reflections, and tips for those starting out or are interesting in this lifestyle.


A is for Anniversary

The months preceding our departure were stressful and hectic: We had two houses to sell, five cars to get rid of (four of which were not mine!), a business to close and hundreds of other trappings of land to free ourselves from. We were on track to start a new adventure – purchasing our first offshore sailboat and cruising the world. And not just anywhere. In Auckland, New Zealand – 6,700 miles away.

Why Auckland? It’s a good question, one that boils down to money. In 2001, the exchange rate was $2.50. That meant for every US dollar we converted, we received NZ$2.50 (the current rate is NZ$1.50 and it went as low as NZ$1.14). Coupled with the boat market at the time, our money was going to buy us more boat. Equally important, New Zealand received a lot of attention during the 2000 America’s Cup: ESPN televised the races live. All the sailing magazines were highlighting the country as a cruising destination. And Tourism New Zealand aired promotional segments during the coverage that showcased the country’s beautiful attractions. Simply put, we fell in love.

A little more than a year later and we were strolling the docks at West Haven Marina near downtown Auckland with a list of requirements in our hand and a boat broker leading the way. Within the span of a month, we found our boat (though it had very little in common with our list) and were moving aboard to start our new lives. It was a very exciting time.

Our overall plan was simple: We’d go down to New Zealand, find a boat, outfit it and sail off into the sunset. We naively expected to be there six months. But six months turned into six years and one (partial) boat refit became two.


Fast Forward to 2016

We’ve learned a lot since that day, a lot of it the hard way. And the 25 blogs that follow will give you some insight into who we are and what we’ve gained from cruising: We don’t claim to know everything, far from it. But we have picked up some useful information along the way.

It may get a little chaotic and messy (it’s harder to organize alphabetically than you’d think), but I’m confident we can pull it off thanks to a lot of advanced planning. Most of the posts have been written especially for this series, while others are “oldies but goodies”, but all of them are ours and unique to us and our experiences. So, sit back, hold tight and join us for the next month as we look back and celebrate the last 15 years.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

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18 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jaye! I'm still trying to figure out where the time went and what we did with all!

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  2. Wow! I can't imagine how stressful it would be to sell off everything and move to another country to buy and outfit a boat. Looking forward to all the lessons learned - we are casting off in May, so need all the advice we can get! - Lucy

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    1. Yeah, Lucy. I look back on it now and wonder what the hell we were thinking. It all worked out in the end, but I did struggle personally and think the transition to living on a boat was made a lot harder by the way we did it. I have to admit, though, it was pretty exciting time in our lives and I'd love to do it all over again!!!

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  3. This is so incredibly awesome. I can't wait to read more! I do love sailing, but I am not sure if I would have the bravery to sail on the open ocean like that. Traveling, however, is something I love to do frequently :)
    Happy A to Z!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

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    1. I have to admit, it's a love-hate relationship!

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  4. Happy Anniversary. We are expats in Auckland and New Zealand photos is my theme this year. You are the only other people we have "met" who came here to New Zealand and found it a good financial choice. You beat us by two years and our exchange was .51 or $2. As for the boat, Category 1 is an expense you probably didn't count on. Good on you for your adventure. Looking forward to following this AtoZ.

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda. You're right. Getting a boat up to Cat 1 standards can be very expensive but both of the boats we bought were already there. Most of the work we did was upgrading systems. On Sky Walker, the electrical system couldn't meet our daily demands (we're power hungry!)and then there was a lot of cosmetic work we wanted to do (like getting rid of the 1980s tile in the galley). But on Cambria, we found ourselves doing a lot of work we hadn't counted on because she had been used so little over the previous 2 years.

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  5. Really looking forward to your A to Z journey, my friends did something similar (before I met them) and they sailed the world for 5 years, I've never sailed myself but I love the stories!

    Happy Anniversary!
    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

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  6. such an amazing adventure - I'm going to really enjoy following along over April
    Leanne @ cresting the hill

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  7. Happy Anniversary! This is going to be a great series. I can just picture you walking along the docks of Westhaven Marina. Takes me right back to my Auckland days.

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    1. Cheers, Ellen! I remember that day like it was yesterday. Our flight arrived at some ungodly hour (5:00 am) so we took a shuttle to our motel (in Herne Bay), walked up to Ponsonby and sat ourselves down in a cafe while we waited for the brokerage to open. We just kept looking at each other with this silly "cat who ate the canary" look on our faces . . . ahhhhh, those were the days!!!

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  8. I can't wait to read the following posts! And I am always struck by how many folks actually go and buy a boat somewhere else. I wish, sometimes, we had thought of that. We'd love to sail in New Zealand sometime. Hopefully, all things going well, we will get to sail from here to there. Melissa from
    LittleCunningPlan

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    1. Honestly, Melissa, I think it was mistake. David disagrees with me but starting off in New Zealand made it really difficult for us because we brought Sally (the dog) along. Once we were there, we felt a little stuck because of quarantine issues.

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  9. I totally agree with your final comment. I worked out a while ago - I've never been disappointed by doing something - only by not doing something. Of course there are some things I wouldn't do again - but at least I've done them!
    Good luck!
    Jemima Pett

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  10. Fantastic journey!!! and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! here from Tales from the Cabbage Patch and looking forward to learn about your life journey. I think it's such a great idea, one that I would personally fear to embark on, but I'm excited to live it vicariously through your posts :)

    Laura.

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