Connie Van Bussel and Bob Benner gave a very informative talk on their cruising adventures and useful information they learned while crossing the Atlantic twice in their 38 foot Cabo Rico cutter "Meredith".
The transatlantic crossing took 35 days west to east and 20 days east to west, with a 154 mile best day and a 12 mile worst day.
Recommendation: Sex on a boat is recommended only for the very young.
Recommendation: Health insurance - it's generally possible to go self-insured, as OHIP is a good geal and medical costs apart from in the USA are generally reasonable. Bob had a retinal detachment dealt with for $1847.89 -- although in the USA that cost would have been vastly higher.cost
Information: "Baksheesh" means different things in different places, ranging from flat out extortion in the Dominican Republic, to a small tip given for service. It's important to know the local customs.
Tip on provisioning: everyone takes too much food on board.
Connie and Bob offered a number of tales from various travellers: washing up after getting spray by a sperm whale, river piloting in Morocco, and a series of "fatal failures".
The "fatal failures" were instructive in how they were in fact handled:
1) A lost rudder on one boat's passage led to an $18,000 towing bill to get to the Canary islands.
2) Another boat lost use of its autopilot, lost its wind instruments, and had its centreboard broken off, yet was successfully hand steered across most of the Atlantic by its husband and wife crew.
3) The broken autopilot on another boat necessitated using its spare, which sadly ended up being another previously broken autopilot. The lesson: it's probably wiser tor replace broken with better than to take flawed spares.
4) Meredith itself found its bowsprit mount cracking and separating from the hull, and dealt with it by rigging secondary lines as stays and sailing without a foresail. Things can be managed.
1) Perce rock
2) Venice: anchor in the Burano instead, and day trip into Venice - it's beautiful and much cheaper.
3) Don't miss the Aeolian islands.
4) Vulcano and viewing night lava at Stromboli is spectacular.
5) Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean is an overlooked beauty
Recommendation: Travel with boat cards - they lend useful gravitas in dealing with bureaucracy in port.
Recommendation: Eyeglass antiglare coating is problematic as salt degrades the coating rapidly. As a wash: 3 parts rubbing alcohol, 1 part water, 1 drop detergent.
Tip: A Greek litre = 80% of an EU litre - beware when refueling.
Tip: When cooking in heavy weather, heave to.
General philosophy: "Working toward competence"
ABOUT CONNIE VAN BUSSELL AND BOB BENNER
Having raised their family of three children in Lucan, ON, home of the Black Donnelly fiasco, Bob and Connie now maintain a lock-and-leave condo in Grand Bend on the shores of Lake Huron, a unit which they have owned for sixteen months and lived in for two. During their time in Lucan they served two terms on the County School Board, two terms on the Lucan Conservation Society ending as Chairman and served as Mayor of Lucan and Deputy Mayor of the amalgamated community of Lucan Biddulph, which they worked hard to create. None of these jobs were "single person jobs" and they both invested themselves deeply of time and effort.
Connie's love has always been fine jewellery. She started Van Bussel Jewellers in Strathroy, a retail jewellery outlet with design and fabrication facilities which she ran successfully for twenty years.
Bob is a simple country lawyer who operated his sole practice of law in Lucan Ontario, their family home for twenty-five years.
Along the way these two learned how to build subdivisions, they developed two, and seniors’ developments. If you couldn't tell from the “sole proprietorship” nature of their businesses Bob and Connie will quickly agree that they do not play well with others. They are not corporate sorts of people.
Prior to 1998 the only boat Bob and Connie had ever been aboard, was the MS Chi-Cheemaun, a car ferry running between Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. In 1998, and without consulting Bob, Connie decided that with their children moving away to university they needed to develop a new interest to fill all their newly freed up time. Also, Bob needed more exercise. So, she signed them up for sailing lessons. Then she told Bob.
At their advanced age learning how to sail did not come easy. There were a dozen days the first summer when, exhausted and disheartened, they agreed never to return to lakeside. Fortunately, they are also both stubborn and cheap: too stubborn to quit and too cheap to walk away from the prepaid lesson fees. Since then, they have crossed the Atlantic twice, sailed the Mediterranean Sea and several of its subsidiary seas, and a bunch of the Caribbean islands. They have logged 20 or 30,000 miles in Meredith, their Cabo Rico 38 cutter rigged sailboat. They don't know exactly how far – their trip log went “unserviceable” about fifteen years ago. Bob hopes to get to the repair this coming season. Their favourite sailing ground is still the North Channel, out of season. They believe the most beautiful sailing ground they have visited is the St Lawrence River which they hope to sail again in 2018.
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