Did you know that people actually still sail around the world? It’s called cruising and people totally do it!
Earlier this year, we had Laura, guest blogger from Releasing the Bowlines, share her family’s experience cruising along the Eastern US Coast. Now, we’ve been having so much fun getting to know the cruisers who come through Pago Pago Harbor, here in American Samoa. We’ve met single guys, couples, and families (one was a family of five, just like ours). The cruisers have been in their 20’s up to retirees. In a way, you could say they’re all kind of retirees. People who are living the dream.
We stumbled upon a couple of cruisers at McDonald’s. They were there for the wi-fi and we were there for the kids’ play area. We started talking to them about their cruising experience and they ended up inviting us to a cruisers’ get-together on Sunday night, aboard one of the catamarans. Sunday night came and we felt awkward crashing someone’s exclusive cruisers’ party, but decided to go anyway, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to learn more about this lifestyle.
So glad we didn’t chicken out! Everyone was incredibly friendly and patient with all our questions and appetite for hearing their sea stories. We exchanged info with a few and have had a blast hanging out and playing amateur tour guide.
The owners of the catamaran where the party was held, were a retired couple from the US, Pam and Eric Sellix. They’ve been stuck in port for months, waiting for parts for their ship to arrive, before they can continue on. A few days after the party, we ran into them again and they invited us back to teach the kids about sailing and show us what the cruising life is really like.
Now, I share my new-found knowledge with you!
Living Aboard SV Pied-a-Mer III
Pam and Eric live aboard SV Pied-a-Mer III (in case you’re wondering, like I was, the SV means Sailing Vessel). When we came for our Intro to Sailboat lesson, they invited us aboard. We slipped off our slippers (flip flops) and carefully stepped over the water. Even though I knew the concrete pier was stationary, it felt like both pier and ship were playing a game of cat and mouse, one trying to catch the other, and neither finding a way to get in sync.
We managed to get get all five of us across and sat down, ready to learn.
We soon found out the first rule of safety: Stay Inside the Lifelines. Kip decided to venture outside the lifelines to see what was hiding down between the ship and the pier it was tied to. Eric was quick to get a hand on Kip and explained that if he fell down there, he could have easily been crushed between the hull of the ship and the solid, concrete pier.
Settled well inside the lifelines, we continued with lessons on personal flotation devices (life jackets) and safety harness tethers. The first was demonstrated on Holden, where he got to practice inflating it with his own breath. And then he was attached to the ship with a length of the safety harness tether. It was clear to see how these both could possibly be an annoyance, but also life saving. They are especially important during storms and on rough seas, but Pam and Eric usually keep them on whenever they’re on deck and out on the open ocean.
Cruising Flags and Knots
Pam was so sweet with print-outs and visuals prepared for the kids. She introduced us to the flags involved in sailing. Who knew there were so many different flags with different meanings and purposes? There is a flag for each letter and numbers 1-10. It turns out, you’re supposed to have the flag of each different country you anchor at, called the courtesy flag, and fly it while in port. Not to mention, the quarantine flag raised whenever you enter a new port, signaling that your vessel is healthy and ready for inspection from the local health authorities.
Then, Eric provided lengths of rope cut for each of the kids to practice tying knots. There are six main sailing knots: Bowline, Figure 8, Square (Reef), Clove Hitch, Cleat Hitch, and Round Turn & Two Half-Hitches. He taught the kids the bowline and figure 8, and explained why and when each unique knot would be needed.
The living set-up aboard the cat (catamaran) was comfortable and roomy. Whenever I look at a personal sailboat from the outside, I can’t imagine how more than one person could live aboard comfortably. But the space inside this cat was deceptively large. It could have easily housed our family of five. The salon is on the same level as the deck. The galley, suites, and heads were down below.
Did I lose you with the cruising jargon? Haha No worries, we all had a vocab lesson that day. Imagine the deck is the yard. The salon is the living/dining room, with table and wrap-around bench. The galley is what you call the kitchen. Suites (or berths on smaller sailing vessels) are bedrooms and the bathroom is called a head.
To finish the day, Pam helped the kids make sailboats and sea animals from origami and shared some hot, homemade bread with them. Then, invited us back to make homemade yogurt and cheese. Can you believe she does all this aboard a catamaran?
A Big Thank-You!
Thank-you Pam and Eric for sharing your beautiful ocean home with us! Good luck getting SV Pied-a-Mer III sea worthy again! We will be sad to see you go but look forward to following your adventures around the South Pacific and back to the States.
Have I convinced you to try cruising yet? I’ve convinced myself. You can follow Pam and Eric’s adventures, too, over at Sellixs Set Sail. In case you need a little more information before you’re convinced, you can also check out these other bloggers who have been recording their cruising travels around the Pacific.