Q & A

Below you can find answers to questions, submitted to Christine by email.  If you would like to ask Christine a question yourself, please visit our question email form.

What did you do at night in the ocean on a passage? Did you drop the anchor and sleep?



 That would take a lot more anchor chain than we have. The ocean is pretty deep. Someone was always awake. We took turns, usually three hours at a time, on watch. We were watching the stars mostly, but also watching for freighters, loose containers, unexpected land masses -- anything harder than fiberglass.

Were you ever in a storm?



Yes. Several. But you'll have to read the book if you want to know more.

Were there sharks?



They were not following us ominously. In the Galápagos Islands, James saw a hammerhead while snorkeling and we saw a few in shallow pools of Santa Isabela, not far from the penguins. At Minerva reef, midway from Tonga to New Zealand, we had a couple of curious ones follow us while snorkeling. Usually, we did not see them so much as evidence that they had dropped by.

Somebody big snapped through metal fishing lines regularly in the Pacific, and often our fish had already been chomped on before we remembered to check the lines. 

Once, we were towing our steel water turbine that spins to generate power. When we brought it back aboard, Stephan noticed deep grooves spiraling down its length. Somewhere out there is a frustrated, gap-toothed shark who tried to bite off a lot more than it could chew.

Was it like a houseboat?



Nope. That would be a catamaran. DELOS was more like a mobile home.

How did you eat?

 We cooked over our two-burner stove or barbecued. DELOS could hold a lot of food. Storage under the floor, refrigerator and freezers under the settees, a produce locker and plenty of cabinets meant we could provision for several months, but we didn't have to. At anchor, we brought all of our provisions by dinghy. We ate a lot of fresh food with canned goods for passages.  Ninety percent of the time we were in port, so our galley ran pretty much the same as any home's kitchen with a few exceptions. Our sink water ran into the bilge so we couldn't wash food down the drain unless we wanted to smell it a week later. If we were at sea, we released the gimbals on our stove to keep it flat no matter what our degree of heeling.

I'll post more on food and provisioning later.

Did you ever go on shore?



All the time. If we were at a dock we could walk off the boat; when we were anchored we drove into town in our wooden rowing dinghy or our rubber one with outboard motor.
During the five years we were cruising, we spent about ten percent of our time at sea. The rest of the time we were sightseeing, boatschooling, spending time with friends, and living normal lives.

Which is more challenging, boatschooling or storms?



Boatschooling! It's always there.  
Storms are exhausting, but after a making it through a couple, you learn how to get through them. We could look at the forecast and more or less avoid either the weather or being at sea altogether. But, even if we read the syllabus ahead of time and prepare for it, we're going to plunge into it no matter what. Fortunately, we could usually shift the time or venue or activities, supplement with companion literature, read aloud or have a long family discussion about some aspect of an assignment. Perhaps that's akin to storm evasion tactics, setting your own course. One thing for sure: whenever we couldn't avoid a storm, the "school's out" bell rang.

What about pirates?



We take episodes of piracy seriously. Fortunately for cruising boats, pirates are usually interested in large shipping companies with big payrolls who will pay ransoms. Still, we know of cruisers who have been attacked, and the problem is worsening. Noonsite has a link to episodes of piracy that helps keep cruisers up to date on danger zones. The page also has a link to yacht safety recommendations.
Right now, the worst areas are the coast of Venezuela, parts of the South China Sea and Indonesia, and the area from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea, where cruising yachts travel by convoy. As with hurricanes, avoidance is our first priority.

What curriculum did you use to homeschool your kids?



 We used Laurel Springs, a K-12 distance learning program. It gave us options about how much we wanted to use their teachers. We also wanted a program that included high school courses for a more seamless transition. We were nervous about beginning homeschooling  - or boat schooling - with no previous experience and no local support group.As it turned out, we did all of the teaching and loved it.