Posted by: adventuressetravels | March 19, 2013

Boat Hopping

Traveling with the flotilla is being in a traveling village.  It’s more about sailing with the group you’re with than getting to know others and immersing yourself in new cultures.   This can be good and bad.  It is like sailing with a floating small-town or high school.  You are reunited with your social group each time you reach a new marina.  There are people to have parties with, go on tours with, and catch up with.  Not to mention that it is always nice to socialize with people you haven’t spent every waking hour with after a long passage.

There are advantages and disadvantages to traveling with a flotilla.  It is a lot safer traveling with a group of other boats for more than just the accountability as we shall soon see.

On the down side, gossip and rumors abound, everyone knows everyone else’s business, and it can get a bit cliquey.  A sort of floating high school filled with some of the most interesting characters you will likely ever meet.

One of the best parts about it is that once you are a part of the flotilla it is easy to find another boat if you need to, and many of the crew members moved from one boat to another on different legs.

When Willi first asked me if I wanted to sail with Mr. Blues, he told me that his wife and friends were coming in Darwin and he had a full boat.  I was sorry that I would have to find a new boat in Darwin, but he and Christian both assured me that finding another boat would not be a problem.

When we reached Darwin, both Willi and even the incapacitated Christian started talking to other boats trying to find me a berth.   I was truly sorry to be leaving Mr. Blues, but Willi and Christian were both encouraging that the other boats on the ARC were filled with nice people.

Southern Cross_01

There were several possibilities with the ARC: the American boats Zoe, At Last, and Southern Cross were in the ARC.  I was leaning strongly towards staying with the ARC but Christian strongly advised that I keep my options open and also look for berths outside of the ARC.  The South African boat Imvubu, which had just become one of only 150 boats to sail the Northwest Passage.  Willi really liked its skipper, Ralph, an eccentric millionaire who had conquered flying and the air and now was taming the savage seas.  Then there was Finish Line, another American boat doing a circumnavigation, but the skipper had just met up with the ARC in Darwin so he was a bit of a dark horse.

I really did want to stay with the ARC.  Sailing with Mr. Blues had been absolutely wonderful and both Willi and Christian knew the people on the boats it seemed much safer to stick with them.    Of the WARC boats, I was leaning towards Southern Cross.  It was the only catamaran of the boats that might have available berths.  Though monohulls are nice I had done most of my sailing on cats and I must admit, I’m a cat person.  Maybe I should try more sailing on monohulls, but something about not living on the walls while the monohull lists to one side and the other appeals to me.

I met with Steve, Southern Cross’ skipper, a former defense lawyer from Memphis.  He told me that there were some problems with the boat: the generator was broken so they had to run the motor for power.  Aside from that there were some issues with the mast, and a few other minor problems, but one of the crew members was getting off in Darwin so there was a berth available.  If I wanted to come I was welcome to it.

It was decided.  I would sail with the smallest boat in the fleet: the 38’ catamaran, Southern Cross.


  1. “a floting high school” … I love it!

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