Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Slow Travel Tidbits
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


It's good to be back home with Windy
and the girls.
Just last month I stepped up to the counter at a Bank of America in Camarillo, California.

"Hi, I just want to cash this check I received." I pushed the Bank of America-drawn personal check and my ID to the teller.

"Okay, are you a Bank of America customer?"

"No."

"Okay, that's not a problem." She tapped on her keyboard and looked down at my driver's license. Then she tapped some more and looked down at my driver's license. "Hold on one second, I'm going to have to get a supervisor."

She walked over to where a supervisor seemed to be helping another teller. She waited and waited. Finally she gave up and came back to me. After more tapping and looking, she furrowed her brow, "I just don't see any licenses that match yours," she said, swinging her monitor around so I could see.

"Oh, those pictures are all examples of Washington state IDs, my driver's license is from Washington, DC."

She stared back at me blankly. And here I have to say, having lived a decade in the District, I'm no longer surprised by when I come across people who have no idea that Washington, D.C. is not a city in any of the 50 states and who can't even say what D.C. stands for.

"The District of Columbia," I added.

"Colombia?" she asked.

She was clearly a Latina and she pronounced the word like the South American country, with two long Os.

"Habla Espanol?" I asked.

"Si…" she answered, curious.

I went out on a limb, taking a chance she was Mexican. "El District of Columbia en Los Estados Unidos es como DF." I knew a Mexican would immediately get the DF reference.

Her face lit up, we were on the same page. She and I spent a few minutes talking (in English) about D.C., about how small it is, how it's home to the White House and Congress and many incredible museums, and how so few people live there that here in California, she is unlikely to ever see another D.C. ID.

She seemed appreciative.

And this is one reason why I love our nomadic life. Not sharing information, but acquiring it myself, in a way that our unique lives make possible. I could have traveled to Mexico a dozen times for vacation and never have learned that Mexicans refer to their seat of government, and usually Mexico City itself, as DF (pronounced "day effay"), that there is not a Mexican alive who doesn't instantly know what someone means when they hear those two letters. I know this only because our cruising life has allowed us to spend a lot of time in Mexico, and like the time we spend in every place we visit, it’s filled with the sundry tasks of laundry and shopping and doctor's visits and more that give us insights and knowledge we'd not gain traveling another way. It makes my experience, and my life, richer.

In the month I spent in the States, I mentioned Fiji to a ton of people. Many have seen the water bottle, many associate the name with an exotic vacation destination. Few know that it's a country, where it is on the planet, what the population looks like, what the greetings are, what the shopping malls in downtown Suva are like, what sevusevu with a village chief entails, and a million other things. And I don't report that as a slight—I know just as little about the hundreds of countries I've not visited.

But my point is that I want to visit all of them because of what I feel I've gained in perspective from the few I have visited. Knowing that many shop keepers in Tonga use Chinese calculators that feature a little speaker that shouts out the keypad numerals in Chinese as they're pressed, is a tidbit that means absolutely nothing, but that I cherish. Knowing the two-letter abbreviation that Mexicans use to refer to their capital won't make me rich, doesn't prepare me to write a book on Mexico, and doesn't make me any smarter than the bank teller and anyone else who doesn't share this knowledge. But these things, combined with all the hundreds of thousands of arcane bits of info I've acquired about the people and places we've been fortunate to visit over the past seven years, make me happy. These are miniscule pieces to life's puzzle, a puzzle that none of us can ever fully assemble, but which we're all lucky to spend time working on.

And of course, picking up knowledge—some of it useful, much of it meaningless—is something that happens to all of us as we age. And maybe the way in which it shapes perspective is what we refer to as wisdom. But a diversity of that knowledge is something that comes from slow travel. It's what I'm happiest about when I think of the benefits my family realizes from our nomadic life.

--MR
A near-daily trek into town from our Savusavu Marina mooring.

The crossroads in downtown Savusavu.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pennies on the Dollar
By Michael
SAVUSAVU, FIJI


Hotspur has a very unique layout, with this aft
22-foot "great room."
Good old boats. Classic plastics. Call the older fiberglass monohull cruising boats what you will, they're plentiful and not going anywhere and growing in number. Whereas most of the wood-hulled cruising boats of yesteryear long ago wasted away to nothing, 40- and 50-year-old fiberglass good old boats are completing circumnavigations. In a world where a quarter-million dollars is close to the minimum cost of a new family-sized cruising boat, older fiberglass monohulls are an outstanding value.

And the market for vintage, offshore, world-cruising boats has only gotten more buyer-friendly, perhaps for these few reasons:

  • Older, heavy, long-keeled and full-keeled cruising boats really cannot hold a candle to newer boats in terms of performance and sail-handling ease.
  • A huge swath of the cruising boat market has drifted over to multi-hulls.
  • The traditional M.O. of buying a boat outright and saving up a cruising kitty before casting off has waned as more and more couples and families cast off for a 2- to 3-year cruising sabbatical aboard a shiny, sleek new boat purchased with a mortgage and a plan to sell at the end of the road.

The decline in the value of these boats is not all bad (except for sellers of vintage cruising boats). We could not have embarked when we did on this cruising life had we not been able to find our then-33-year-old S&S-designed Fuji 40 for $64,000. We've gotten to know 20-somethings who have sailed across the Pacific in their own yachts. I'm not talking about trust-fund kids, but hard-working young people who have shunned the trappings their peers could not and have saved a chunk of change, found a bargain, invested a lot of sweat equity, and cast off. These old fiberglass boats make stories like this possible for the first time in human history. Imagine that!

And the impetus for this post is a 41-foot, offshore-ready classic plastic for sale just a few hundred yards from where I'm writing in Savusavu, Fiji. My friends Meri and Jim and their kids were blogosphere inspirations to us before we began cruising and now they've reached the end of their cruising road. Their Hotspur, a 1976 S&S-designed Tartan T.O.C.K (Tartan offshore cruising ketch) has carried them from Mexico to Fiji and everywhere in between. They've made numerous upgrades. They just last week returned to Fiji from a sail to the French protectorates of Wallis and Futuna. Hotspur is well-equipped and for sale for $29,000! Jim and Meri want to move on and understand the cost of leaving a boat sitting in the Tropics waiting to fetch top dollar. They've priced her to sell immediately. That's an amazing opportunity for the right buyer, a dream launched for pennies on the dollar. Just check out this video from their sale site. Can your $29K SUV offer anything close?



I'll add that Jim and Meri are good people with a strong positive reputation in the cruising community.

--MR
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