Grand plans for the Indian Ocean

We look ahead at 2014 with great anticipation: Now that the Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, and Straits of Malacca are behind us, it’s inevitable that the eyes wander west towards the Indian Ocean. Even contemplating the next leap makes me a little giddy. Deceptively open on the map, there are myriad small corners to learn about, dots on the map that the line of our route may wind through and around. Like the South Pacific, many have names that feel entirely foreign, and it’s hard to imagine now how they will someday feel as familiar to me as those Pacific names like Vava’u, Raiatea, Suwarrow, Efate and others rang strangely before our crossing in 2010. Languages to hear, cultures to experience, friends to meet.

There’s a lot of homework as we proceed towards this next big step. To dive into preparations, last year I took on management of a loosely organized group of boats planning 2014 Indian Ocean crossings, sharing information to aid in our plans for the passages between Southeast Asia and South Africa. It’s been the perfect way to fast forward learning, and connect with other boats on a similar path. Along with the daydreams of far off places, I’ve had my head stuck in the more practical side of pilot charts and route planning.
There are just a few things we have to do first. See, there’s this problem with our radar. We’d really like to have a functional radar, which means- well, a new radar.
Diagnosing radar troubles
Later diagnosis: dead radar. Still sold new at retail, but Raymarine won’t support it. Gah.
And then there’s our battery bank, which is on it’s last legs. We need to repair the headsail, the forwardmost hatch, the dodger, and certify the lift raft. Safety essentials that we won’t leave without addressing. 
mainsail repair
Jamie has excellent sailmaking skills, so we’ll look for a sewing machine to beg/borrow for our repairs
The main cabin settee covers are literally disintegrating, so they’ll need recovering, as the foam cushions beneath are starting to get damaged.

Siobhan in the main cabin
The settees look OK at a distance, but are breaking down after five years of hard use

That’s just the short list. There’s an even longer wish list of basic cosmetics and comfort that includes the awning, our cockpit table, cockpit cushions, the mainsail cover, our overburdened refrigeration system, and those ungracefully aging originals to Totem, the yellowed Formica counters and basket weave embossed vinyl headliner. Can I whitewash the cabin while we’re at it? Hopefully we can get to some of these.

Cards in the cockpit
Our stopgap cockpit cushions are thin pool-cover foam sheets. They’re not surviving the UV well.
We’re not comfortable cruisers with an allowance from secure investments at home, or ongoing part time work that brings a sufficient income stream. We’ve been stringing ourselves along since we left in 2008: making a bit here and there, spending as little as we can, salvaging the kitty with stint of work in Australia. The list of pre-Indian Ocean projects is easily in five figures, which is daunting. Thus our plans, as cruising plans are wont to do, are up in the air while we evaluate the options. We might still cross the Indian Ocean in 2014, but far more likely scenario that we’ll stay in Southeast Asia instead. There are a few possibilities for work. It’s inexpensive living. It’s a good place to work on the boat.

Is this disappointing? Hardly. We have studiously avoided the P word in the past. Grand plans were never truly plans, but intentions. We are not the cruisers who lay out a three year plan to circumnavigate and do it. Our goals are a little different, and more centered around a life afloat as a family than a geographic goal. Oh, there might be a disappointed fourteen year old on board who is quick to remind us he would really like to get to the Med. We’d like for him to get there, too! And so, we…plan, to patch things together with an eye to when, and not if.

If you’re reading this on the Sailfeed website, you’ve just tipped change into our cruising kitty Indian Ocean preparation budget- thank you!

5 Responses

  1. Moondance has some of the same issues and we are working thru them – money money money. Cruising is hard on our boats. But we know you all will make it work out and still continue your journey. PS. Jimmie looks great!

    1. It will always be something- but thank goodness we’re doing it! Hey, how fun to have a Christmas back at home. Hope the chilly weather doesn’t make you miss Fiji too much!

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