There are three types of visits that I can imagine. Visitors could come aboard and “live” on the Ruth Ann for a period of time in a location like an island or a beach town and “cruise” the area; they could come to the island or beach town, stay at a hotel/resort and come aboard for daysails or short trips nearby; or visiting crew could come aboard at one location and help sail Ruth Ann to another location.
I cannot, however, make any promises! About ANYTHING! Not about itinerary, not about activities, not even about Ruth Ann and I actually being there when guests arrive! Cruising sailors are always constrained by weather, and I will not put myself in jeopardy, even to make a rendezvous arranged months before. This is why I say “You can pick a place or a time, but not both.” It is therefore a bad idea to buy tickets well ahead of time. Buy non-refundable tickets at your own risk.
That being said I will be in contact with pending visitors as regularly as possible in the time leading up to their arrival. Most often, I will arrive a few days before visiting crew. Visitors should have multiple contingency plans: at the rendezvous location in case I arrive late; in the area in case living on a small boat is not what was expected; and in case inclement weather, breakdowns, seasickness or other unplanned situation causes an early exit from the boat.
Ruth Ann is my home. She and I exist on the periphery of the economy and outside a lifestyle that most people will be used to as normal. Cruising on a small sailboat is more like backpacking than camping; and nowhere near like a luxury vacation. I will be happy to share some of this experience with visiting crew; to allow a peek into this way of life. Smoking is hazardous around the many potentially flammable materials on a small boat and I just don’t like to be around it. Illegal drugs cannot be tolerated as a run-in with the authorities could result in me losing my home. In jail, or in hell, I will hunt you down and torture you, body and soul, if you cause this to happen.
Furthermore, though this is not a profit making enterprise by any means, visiting crew will share in the expenses. Depending on the type of visit this might include going "dutch" or pitching in lunch during a daysail or it might be sharing in the costs of running the boat; such as provisions, fuel, etc. A provisioning trip is a fun and interesting activity out in the world.
As noted above, a visit aboard sv Ruth Ann will be like backpacking; it will not be anything like a luxury vacation. There is no staff to wait on people. We will work together to get from one place to another, to feed the people and to have fun. For everyone’s sanity and to preserve as many friendships as possible, the maximum duration of a visit will be a week or ten days. Visiting crew doing a passage from one location to another will be advised about the potential length of individual trips.
Most days, the skipper sails singlehanded. On day sails, and the occasional short overnight passage, visitors will not be asked to do much in terms of sailing the boat. Anchoring, picking up a mooring, docking or heavy traffic situations will involve some participation by everyone. This may only be keeping a lookout position, handling the helm briefly, or heaving a line. Any passages that involve more than 15 or 20 hours at sea will require everyone on board to take a watch at the wheel during the time at sea. The skipper will always be available in an emergency or when a course of action is not apparent. However, on trips of such length the skipper will need to do some sleeping.
Passage planning will always include a sharp eye on the weather. There will, however, often be more weather than planned or expected. All necessary passage planning and procedures will be taken to avoid as much of the heaviest weather as possible. When the going gets tough, we will hunker down and make it through safely. Please know that trusting in the boat is the safest. The potential for weather delays or rerouting is another reason to not buy non-refundable tickets or to purchase them too far ahead of time. I will not endanger our lives or my boat just to get you to the right island at the right time because of an airline ticket or a bus schedule. Sailing on a schedule, regardless of current weather or the forecast, gets people killed. My decision is final and I will not have regrets nor feel compelled to help you buy another ticket even if the weather was somehow different than it was forecast.
If there are any questions about immigration paperwork etc., please ask the skipper when coordinating the trip. There is a lot of information online and especially with the tourist sites of countries to be visited. Another good resource is Noonsite. Ultimately, the visiting crew is responsible for being able to enter and leave the countries where they are travelling. In some cases, this might include a document from the skipper as proof you are leaving, or have arrived, aboard a boat; especially if flying into one country and flying out of another. Bring your passport, your vaccination record etc. It is also important to have a way to keep important paperwork and money dry.
Despite the occasional tone of this document, I really am hoping that some friends and interesting strangers join me on a limited basis for different legs of my journey. Sharing in the adventure is enough. Please do not bring or buy thank you gifts for the skipper. The Ruth Ann is a small 29’ x 10’ elliptical shape in the universe and carries only necessities. Besides sharing some expenses, a hug and a ‘thanks’ will be all that is needed.