Here are some of the questions we are frequently asked about life on a sailboat. If you have a question, email it to us at oyster56@cox.net.

Q. When you're sailing in the ocean, do you stop every night?

A. No. When we are sailing long distances we sail 24 hours a day. Someone must always be "on watch" to keep track of our position and to keep a lookout for ships and navigational hazards. A watch schedule is developed prior to the trip and is based on the size of the crew. The ocean can be up to several thousand feet deep and it would be impossible to anchor as the anchor must reach the bottom to be effective! On our longest trip, from Bora Bora to Fiji in 1999, we left Bora Bora and did not see land again for 5 days until we stopped briefly in Tonga. Then it was another 3 days to Fiji.

For much of the cruising we are doing around the Australian Coast we plan trips that allow us to stop in safe places overnight. Occasionally we do overnight sails to reach some of the outer parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Q. How far can you travel in a day?

A. It depends on the wind conditions. On a good day, we can average 7-8 knots with top speeds of 9-10 knots. A knot is one nautical mile per hour and a nautical mile is slightly longer than a land mile (a nautical mile is one minute of latitude; there are 60 minutes in one degree of latitude). Thus in a 24 hour period, we could reasonably expect to cover 175-200 nautical miles.

Q. How long can you stay out without having to buy food?

A. For three people we can comfortably stay offshore for three weeks. For most of that time we would have fresh fruits and vegetables every day. We have a refrigerator and freezer which allow us to carry perishables. Ron and Bradley are accomplished spear fishers and we also catch fish off the back of the boat, so fresh fish is on the menu a lot. We have a water maker on board which converts salt water to fresh water through a reverse osmosis de-salinization process so we always have water for drinking and showers! In a pinch, if we relied on canned food and things like rice and pasta, we could carry enough for a couple months.

Q. What is your source of power when you are not at a marina?

A. The boat has a diesel generator that we run daily for 1-2 hours. The generator recharges the batteries and provides power for major systems such as the water maker and dive compressor. Other systems run off our battery bank. The generator uses 3 litres of fuel per hour. This is the same fuel that powers the boats engines. We have a 1000 fuel tank.

Q. Aren't you afraid of sharks?

Not really. Sharks have a bad reputation that is not really deserved. For the most part, sharks are not interested in humans. Most of the sharks we see are smaller species - reef sharks and nurse sharks - and are not known to bother divers. Most reported shark attacks involve swimmers or surfers whose motion resembles a wounded fish. Divers and snorkelers have a motion which does not attract sharks. Even when we are spearfishing, the sharks are only interested in the fish we spear, which they will occasionally steal, but they are not interested in us. 


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