A while back I asked my blog readers to submit any questions they might have so that I could answer them here on SAILfeed. One reader sent us a list so long and detailed that I thought I'd just go ahead and attack a few of them in one go. So here goes.
How do you get weather information, and how often? What information do you use and why?
I answered this question during our first cruise and the online cruisers forums got all in a huff about it. Some called me a liar, some just claimed it as further proof of our luck, and some called it irresponsible.
The reason for all the negativity is that in all those miles at sea we never got hit by anything any sailor worth his salt would call bad weather. The biggest winds we saw on our circumnavigation came ten miles from the finish line in Miami when a fifty knot squall came barreling over us. We'd seen it from miles away, dropped all sail, and motored right through it. That's our big weather story. We don't tell that one in the company of sailors. They would not be impressed.
The answer to the question is that when cruising my sole source of weather information is, and always has been, solely GRIB files from SailDocs. I don't use anything else. They've been integrated with my charting software, previously MaxSea, now MacENC, so that all I do is click a button to send the e-mail requesting the GRIB. When I receive the GRIB I double click the attachment and it opens right up on my charts. Simple.
I'm a fair weather sailor so I read the GRIBs by mentally adding ten knots of wind to the forecast. Actually, if the GRIB says under ten knots I don't worry about it. If it says fifteen I assume it will be as strong as twenty-five. If it says twenty I generally just don't go out in it. Unless of course I'm at sea already, in which case I just deal with whatever comes.
We download these once a day while cruising. Therefore I spend a total of five minutes a day on weather.
Do you have any tips about creating and maintaining an extensive website from anywhere in the world. What drives you to communicate so openly and freely? What kind of feedback do you get?
Have you ever noticed how many blogs seem to be talking to an imaginary audience of millions? I try and avoid that. My blog is for me and my family. It's a diary. And just like reality television there is an audience for that alone. I do my best not to “teach” because those blogs bore me to death and I just click on by. As a cruiser it is sometimes hard to remember that we aren't really all that unique. There are lots and lots of us out here, so there is really no need for you to teach Sailing 101 on your blog. Resources already abound. What people generally want to read about is what the lifestyle is really like. What is day to day life on a boat really like.
As for creating and maintaining the site, that's the easy part these days. We started in 2003 and amazingly there were no blog services at the time. I had to teach myself website design. We then had to lug our ten pound laptops all over the place to find an internet cafe where we could physically plug our computer in. Obviously WiFi has taken care of that issue as well.
The feedback we get has been incredible. Because of our site we have met people, actually physically met, all over the world. We've been taken to dinner, out for drinks, to stay in their homes, and have gotten more from these interactions than any of them will ever know. And we've gotten to be a part of other's cruising dreams. Thousands of e-mails have crossed our computer screens from those in the dream stage, to those in the planning stage, to those in the casting off stage. And many of them have e-mailed us through the years as they've transitioned from one stage to the next, until they were officially cruising.
But best of all we have this amazing scrapbook of our life. Our travels, the people we meet, the scrapes we get into along the way, it's all there for the reliving. Twenty years down the road Ali and I won't have to sit and argue over where this or that happened and when, as our memories fade, we'll just call up Bumfuzzle and take a look for ourselves. That to me is what having a blog is really all about.
Where do you get the cruising information that you need? Do you surf the net, and if so, what are the information sources that you trust? Do you have any books aboard?
We keep this pretty simple too. We don't surf the net for cruising related information because there is really nothing that we need to know. We prefer to show up to places without a lot of info and preconceived notions. It's harder and harder to do so in this day and age. We hate nothing more than when we pull the dinghy ashore and immediately get greeted by a cruiser who feels they need to tell us where everything is. They're just being friendly, I know, but it erases any sense of adventure I might be feeling towards the new landfall.
As for books, the only books related to cruising that we find we need are World Cruising Routes and World Cruising Destinations by Jimmy Cornell. For cruising guides we just use the same ol' common ones that we all know about already. For Mexico currently we're just using Charlie's Charts of Mexico.
Anyway, I'll revisit the question list every now and then. If you've got any for us please feel free to comment here or to contact us through www.bumfuzzle.com.