Forgive me while I toot our own horns a little bit. I recently received an email from The Adventure Junkies informing us our blog made a list of 2021 top sailing blogs to read. The Adventure Junkies brings together all sorts of publications to inspire people regarding outdoor activities such as sailing, hiking, climbing, and diving just to name a few. If you are unfamiliar with The Adventure Junkies, check out their site. It has links to some really fun stuff. From the email:
The Adventure Junkies are excited to announce the Top 25 Sailing Blogs of 2021 and, best of all, you’ve made the list! Congratulations!
You can see the full list here: https://www.theadventurejunkies.com/best-sailing-blogs/
This is pretty amazing. Here’s why. We do very little to promote the blog. The marketing budget is absolutely nothing. As we update the blog with a new post, the boat’s FaceBook page is automatically updated where FB followers receive a notification and a link to the new post. Private subscribers receive the post via email. This is pretty much the extent of my promotional efforts for people wishing to follow along. For the most part, new readers find us by referrals. A sincere warm thank you to those who referred our site.
We maintain the blog mostly for personal reasons. Both of us love to look back at posts from places we’ve visited and read about our own adventures. It’s amazing how much we forget as we continue our travels. During our working years in the rate-race, I used to compile photo-journals of places we visited on vacations. The blog is a modern-day extension of these old albums that are now stored away for safekeeping. “Oh wow! I forgot about that” is the phrase muttered as one of us reminisces on the blog.
I vision myself sitting in a rocking chair one day in the distant future telling tales of sailing the high seas to any poor soul who happens to sit next to me. Hopefully at a ripe old age. The nursing care home staff will be like, “Is that old coot at it again with his travel tales?” Cindy will be off playing cards with her girlfriends while some poor sod is trapped listening to my neverending yarns.
Over the past years, the readership growth has steadily increased. It truly gives us a lot of pleasure knowing we can add some sunshine to someone else’s day. This is sort of like the icing on the cake for us. We do this without any advertising or soliciting donations to soil the content.
It’s worth noting, most of the other pages mentioned on the list are commercial pages or heavily marketed sites. One of the qualifications for making The Adventure Junkies’ list is based on readership, an Alexa score. Some sailors actively promote their sites since the advertising generates income for them to continue their lifestyle. Others actively promote because they are selling services. Most have Patreon links for fund-raising. There is nothing wrong with this. But, it is kinda cool to be included on the list knowing it is because our readers have spread the word.
Last year, a couple of articles about us were featured in on-line publications, one about boating and one a financial page. We do these voluntarily. If we can help someone toward following a dream or the financial planning necessary to get there, we both are more than happy to help. No doubt these articles helped grow our readership but this is not an agenda we actively pursue. In both cases, the editors came to us asking if they could reprint a blog post or do an interview. When we were planning our adventure, some cruising sailors helped us without asking for anything in return. We see our helping others as payment of a debt of gratitude to those who helped us. We try to keep Karma in the positive zone.
A question we are often asked is, why don’t we post videos or have a vlog. Yes, I know this would move us into the current century. However, it is a ton of work to put out quality material. I am not willing to undertake a new career. I’m retired. I’m not looking for another job. Quality videos like those put out from SV Delos require an aweful lot of effort and commitment. Heck, Delos even has a publicist. Hours and hours of footage must be captured and edited for a 20-minute clip. If you have spent any time at all on YouTube looking at some of the Delos wannabe YouTubers, you will see what I mean about the quality of content, or lack thereof. Sorry, no Cream Puff video channel is in the plans, ever.
Of course, receiving the email from The Adventure Junkies prompted the thought of wondering where else our blog was listed. Apparently, we are on a few lists unbeknown to us. For instance, we are number 41 on Top 90 Sailing Blogs & Websites For Sailors in 2021 on Feedspot. I have no idea what Feedspot is or how it works but am grateful nonetheless. I guess at some point I must have submitted the blog to them. For the life of me, I don’t remember doing so. Now you see why we keep the blog, it’s so we can remember stuff.
Okay, enough horn tooting. The boat above was kind of cool to see. It’s a ship to move boats. These boat freighters have become more commonplace over the past few years. Prior to 2010, these vessels were not a common sighting. There were mostly used by the mega-yachts who long ago figured out it‘s cheaper and faster to transport the boat between continents than to move under its own power. Some will even have the crew doing underside maintenance along the way.
Then just yesterday, another yacht transport ship was loading and unloading. This one was incredible to watch. Rather than the boats being lifted by the ship’s crane, the ship submerged itself enough for vessels to float on. Blocks are placed under the cargo boats and the ship then rises up dry docking the cargo.
Bill Rouse, a friend of ours, pretty much single-handedly increased awareness of boat transport alternatives for smaller private yachts. During a circumnavigation, they were facing the Northern Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden at a time when Somalia pirates were a huge menace. He tracked piracy in the region from multiple sources and decided the risk of sailing, even in a flotilla, was not worth it. He and Judy made arrangements to transport their boat Bebe on a freighter. This was a new concept for smaller private yachts wishing to get to Europe. During this time, a group of Americans was tragically killed by pirates when their vessel Quest was boarded. A few days before Quest departed, Bill tried to convince the captain to transport his vessel along with Bebe. Sadly, they chose to sail. Bill’s research was submitted to the US Congress and the frequency of piracy became known worldwide.
In the past 2 weeks, we’ve seen two boat transport freighter in Pape’ete Port. This one has a huge crane to lift vessels out of the water. It is not so much pirates now driving this business. It’s now the Covid virus. Many borders remain closed. Some owners were separated from their vessels as visas expired or repatriate policies were put into place. In our marina, there are several boats whose owners had to leave the country without their boat.
I recently had a conversation with Rusty. His boat is being sailed here to Tahiti from New Zealand. He hired a captain and crew to sail the vessel. Rusty sailed his boat into New Zealand before the borders closed last year. He had to leave as his visa expired. The boat stayed because there was no place to sail since all countries closed borders. Now, an import tax is due on the boat (we are only allowed to bring our boats into countries for a limited time before import taxes apply). Rusty, like many others, was faced with paying New Zealand’s tax or moving the boat out of New Zealand. Import tax on a boat can vary greatly by country but even something like 5% on a $300k boat equates to a check in the amount of $15,000. I can think of much better places to spend this kind of money. The catch, the borders of New Zealand remain closed and Rusty wasn’t allowed into the country with the purpose of sailing out his vessel. He had three options: Pay the tax, pay a captain and crew to deliver the vessel to French Polynesia or put in on a ship. Even if he paid the tax, New Zealand has announced they will remain closed until 2022. He still could not go there to sail his boat.
Many boaters question why the government won’t change the tax laws to accommodate their personal situations. I think the answer to this is governments pretty much have their hands full with other more pressing issues affecting hundreds of thousands of people rather than a few boaters. Sometimes we get lost in the shuffle. You’ve probably read on this blog how I feel the French Polynesian government has done a terrific job managing the perplexities of Covid. For boats stuck here, the government has now extended the “import” duty dates twice thus allowing boaters to avoid paying import fees in the hope of opportunities opening for vessels to depart. A gesture I’m sure is very welcome by many worried about the possibility of a tax.
On the nice days here, we continue to spend some time underwater. The reefs surrounding Tahiti have several great spots. On a recent trip, we saw two boats of kids in the area we planned to visit.
So why were there two boatfuls of kids, you ask. School is just about to start after breaking for the Christmas holiday. Most of the outer islands do not have schools for middle or high school. Instead, they are sent to Tahiti for their education. The kids start to arrive on Tahiti a week, or so, ahead of school. Some have to come a long way. They remain here for the duration of the school session. I’m not sure how I would feel being a kid and sent off to another island at school age. I’ve never thought boarding schools were a good idea. Perhaps reading Tom Brown’s School Days novel by Thomas Hughes as a young lad traumatized me and influenced this opinion.
Plan B: drop the dinghy anchor somewhere else, anywhere really, jump in, and explore. Lately, we seem to be hitting some awesome spots. I hope our winning streak continues.