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Seasonal Cruising - the Best of Both Worlds

Beth Cooper

Sarah Jean II
Saga 43
March 22nd, 2015

Lately I’ve become interested in people who are cruising part time.  Perhaps part of me is dreaming of cruising again. Many people cruise for only part of the year and maybe this is a viable option for my husband, Norm and I, at some point in the future. I’ve contacted a number of our sailing friends who are still “out there”, but for only part of the year. I’ve asked them questions about how “seasonal cruising” works for them.

Meet Katie and Jim

Jim & Katie on a short but steep hike near Mt Cook in New Zealand.

Jim and Katie on a short but steep hike near Mt Cook in New Zealand.

In 2006, Katie and Jim Thomsen set sail on their new 40’ Hallberg- Rassy, Tenaya. They sailed from Holland to the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos, and across the South Pacific to New Zealand. After circumnavigating New Zealand, they sailed to Vanuatu, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia  and Thailand. They then shipped Tenaya from Thailand to Turkey, where they are currently cruising. They’ve sailed 47,000 nautical miles. You can follow their adventures here. Norm and I met Katie and Jim in New Zealand.

An Interview with Katie Thomsen, s/v Tenaya, by Beth Cooper

What is your current cruising schedule: time cruising vs time at home?

We have been cruising full-time for nine years and came back home for the winter this year.

What do you like about seasonal cruising? Why does it work for you?

This is the first year we’re doing the six-month-on, six-month-off the boat thing. I’ve never wanted to leave Tenaya more than a few weeks before, but after so many years, I was ready for a break from her. It’s been so nice not to worry, when I hear the wind howling, or a strange noise outside!

Jim trading with Linda from Brooker Island in Papua New Guinea.

Jim trading with Linda from Brooker Island in Papua New Guinea.

What are some of the challenges of this style of cruising from your perspective?

Coming to terms with the busier life on land versus the simple cruising life is hard for me. The price of airline tickets to fly back and forth and sticking to a tighter schedule, are challenges that aren’t a problem when we were on the boat full-time. Now we need to maintain a home and a boat, and just bought a new car.

How and where do you store your boat and where do you live when you come home?

As we are always traveling, the boat is in different locations each time we return to California.  Tenaya is on the hard in Istanbul, Turkey now. We’re in Mammoth Lakes and are living in a condo we own as rental property. We sold our house here several years ago, when we realized we no longer felt any emotional attachment with it. Mammoth was the last place I called home before we moved to Belgium in 2000, and I’m having a great time being back in the mountains, skiing and hiking.

Jim & Katie at Port Resolution in Vanuatu.  These kids have never been on a sailboat!

Jim and Katie at Port Resolution in Vanuatu. These kids have never been on a sailboat!

Do you have suggestions for others who are considering seasonal cruising?

Everyone’s situation is unique. I think it’s common for cruisers, whether they are part-time or full-time, to spend most of their time with other cruisers. I encourage you to wander away from the pack once in a while, to learn about the people and places you are visiting. Introduce yourself to the locals; talk to them. It’s amazing how welcoming people are in other parts of the world!

What are your cruising plans for the upcoming year? How long do you plan to continue this style of cruising?

Our plan is to fly back to Istanbul in April and sail down the Turkish coast as far as Bodrum, then through Greece and the Corinth Canal, up to Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. We’ve got reservations at a marina in Venice for the first half of September. Whether we’ll keep Tenaya in Italy, Slovenia or Montenegro for the winter, we haven’t decided yet. We really don’t know how long we’ll continue spending six months on the boat and six months off. We’ll see how this next year goes.

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