Thursday, June 7, 2012

Raft-UP Guest Blogger LeuCat

We are so lucky to have Dave Leu from LeuCat join in this month for the Raft-UP. He and his wife are lucky enough to be sailing where regular internet is not always available so he sent me his article in advance and I have it here for you. Happy reading...

Hobbies by Dave Leu of LeuCat

Dana has suggested that we write about the hobbies we have as cruisers.  Plus, she wanted us to address whether we ever considered sailing as a hobby and if it is now work since we are cruising 100% of the time.  We will address this issue before going on to the hobbies we enjoy while attempting to sail around the world.

To us, sailing was never a hobby.  It always has been an adventure.  It is a very real way to learn respect for the wind, the seas and the basics forces of nature.  It offers a special insight as to how to live with and enjoy what nature has to offer and takes you back what is really important in life: respect for the things around you, respect for the people around you, to appreciate what you have and the enjoy the simple things in life.

We have sailed off and on for the last 43 years.  Most of those years were spent sailing with Dave's Dad and Mom on their sailboats.  However, when we were first married, back in 1971, Dave introduced Mary Margaret to sailing at the University of Michigan Sail Club.  Since then she has loved it which makes Dave a very happy and fortunate person.  To have a life mate that feels the same way as you do about sailing is such a special treat.

Since we have starting cruising 4 ∏ years ago, we have never felt living on a boat as "work", although it does entail a lot of work.  However, that work is effort put into what you have embraced: living on a boat and learning to live on the seas.  Cruising is a very radical alternative lifestyle.  A lot of people dream about doing it but few people do it which is probably best since it is not for everyone.  You need to love change in your life since you no longer are anchored to a house or a car or those things that we have learned to take for granted.

For example, shopping for groceries is always an adventure for a cruiser.  You can't just hop into your car and drive a few miles to the nearest supermarket to pick up that quart of ice cream.  Instead, you have to lower the dinghy, motor to shore, beach the dinghy and secure it so the tides do not take it out to the ocean while you are on land.  Then you have walk to the nearest market or find a bus that will go by one.  When you get there, as in most of the small islands in the South Pacific, you find that the market is just a small one or two room building with shelves that are poorly stocked.  Most of the time, we would have to go to two or more markets to find the things we need.  Even then, many times we cannot find everything we need.  Then you have schlepped the groceries back to your dinghy, launch the dinghy through the surf and motor back to your boat.  When we shop, it usually takes all day and when we are done, we are exhausted.

Whenever we sail to a first world country, we are in culture shock when we go to a true supermarket that is stocked with the things that we were used to having when living on land.  Dave just loves to walk through and marvel at row upon row of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses and the shelves that are stocked up to the ceiling not with just one brand of an item but many brands of the same item.
While cruising, we have maintained many of the same hobbies that we had on land.  Dave loves to play golf whenever he can find a golf course; Mary Margaret loves to go to farmer's markets and enjoys talking and buying things from the various vendors.  She learns so much about the local foods, methods of cooking them, the local customs and people.

Obviously, we love to travel and enjoy learning about the history, customs and way people live.  Our travels have restored our faith in humanity and have time and time again demonstrated how friendly and generous people are in each of the 30 countries that we have visited during these 4 ∏ years.  Even in those countries which are highlighted in the news as not friendly to the US, we have discovered that the people there are welcoming and are sincerely happy that we have come to their country.  We never expected this to be the case.  It is the government that is anti US, not the local people we have met.

We also love to play games and have spent many an hour when the weather keeps us on the boat playing cards, dominoes, and board games.

Dave loves to putter on things and spends many hours "working" on boat projects.  He keeps learning how things work and enjoys "noodling out" ways to repair them since boat projects are always cropping up.

Mary Margaret loves to cook and she enjoys preparing new foods since many times the fruits and vegetable we come across we have never seen or heard of before.  It is a challenge that she embraces and she does an outstanding job even though she does not see cooking as a "hobby".  She has always loved doing handwork, specifically knitting, crocheting and crewel.  She finds the yarn very hot so she does not knit or crochet on the boat.  She does crewel however.  In New Zealand, she learned how to felt and also does this on the boat.  Her favorite hobby however is reading.  She has a kindle electronic reader.  Any electronic reader is a "must" if you love to read.  It enables you to keep all of your books handy and not mold on the boat.  There are book exchanges in most marinas but there is no guarantee that you will find anything that you like to read.

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