Land Cruising Part 2

Here are a few more photos from our two week vacation.

We love seeing all the tropical fruits at Robert is Here farmstand. The magenta colored dragon fruits, giant avocados, passionfruit, and black sapotes. There’s even a small farm and water park in the back.

We enjoyed sampling the exotic smoothies like the Dragonfruit smoothie above.

Key West Toy Factory. I’m not one for toy stores, but I walked into this enchanted forest and was hooked.

Cuba or Bust!

Long Key. The distant figure is Tig in shallow waters.

Our favorite surprise was meeting up with our friend Lauren, who recently joined an Ocean Alliance delivery trip as cook. We last saw Lauren when she crewed with us from Onset to Newport. We also reconnected with Hugh, outstanding rigger and the one who encouraged us to just go.

By land or by sea?
During our vacation, I couldn’t help but compare the differences in experience between cruising in an RV and cruising in a sailboat. I’ve jotted down some of my first impressions. It’s not an extensive analysis, just a collection of thoughts. The RV my in-laws rented was a 34 foot Coachmen. The size is similar to our 32 foot Contest, but the RV was brand spanking new. So it’s hard to compare the amenities with our 1980s classic plastic.

The space in the RV was huge, especially when we bumped out the main cabin area and the bunk area. In RV-land, 34 is respectably sized, on the larger end of the spectrum. In contrast, 32 feet is pretty small for a family of four in the cruising world. While the living space was much larger, I missed the amount of storage space we enjoyed on Wildie.

Although we didn’t drive the RV, it seemed to be as unwieldy to maneuver in smaller streets and parking lots. Instead of a host of electronics including our chartplotter, wind indicator, depth sounder, all we needed was a GPS. On the other hand, we have the advantage of an autopilot.

I noticed that being on Wildie helped Tig and I to tighten up our communication skills. Sometimes the driver-navigator conversations in the RV went like this:

Driver: Check on your side
Navigator: Okay
Driver: What do you mean okay?
Navigator: I mean you’re okay. If there’s something wrong I’ll tell you!

In contrast, our conversations on Wildie, honed through many disasters and misunderstandings often include such detail as speed, direction (clock, wind or port/starboard related), duration of throttle, landmarks, depths, etc.

It was much easier to stop and pull over…if there was a parking lot big enough to accommodate the RV.

With a 34 foot RV, you’re always paying for campgrounds (smaller class A RVs can be more stealth). Campgrounds can be much less expensive than marinas i.e. $30-40 at state parks. But still, there is no beautiful free anchorage like on a sailboat. So many places don’t allow RVs to park overnight. Your options are limited to large box stores, if they allow you to overnight, or campgrounds.

Hurtling at 50 mph feels extremely unsafe after operating at 6 mph for the last 6 months. Yes, we got to places much faster. But we also tended to cram more in.

The best part: no heeling. But things are always flying anyways on turns and accelerations/decelerations. One time, we had to stop suddenly and Tig happened to be getting something out of the bunk. He ended up flying 10+ feet and landed near the driver’s seat entangled with the garbage can. A plate of vegetables on the table flew off and dumped its contents all over me. O who up until then loved being in the RV screamed bloody murder and changed his mind.

You always need the engine. Tig calculated that Wildie uses about 10-12mpg. But we also sail long stretches offshore without the engine. The Coachmen gas mileage was about 9-10mpg. Plus more for the generator. We used the generator a lot. On our sailboat, we limit our usage to the power produced by our solar panels.

Weather was no big deal. Once we parked, there was no drama as with anchoring (oh, except for the “stabilizers” but we won’t talk about that).

Ah, the luxuries: hot running water, a microwave, toaster, air conditioning. It’s like a condo on wheels.

Lastly, I kept coming back to the beauty factor. I simply find sailboats more beautiful than a boxy RV. And I think that being in an anchorage surrounded by water and other sailboats more beautiful than being in a campground of RVs.

Of course, it’s hard to compare a two week RV stint with almost six months of sailboat cruising. It’s not a fair comparison. But at the end of our adventure, our family was glad to back on Wildie.