Friday, October 15, 2010

Different Strokes

Neuse River, NC
34 57.74 N 076 46.85 W

It is generally acknowledged that the Westsail 32 is the finest cruising boat ever made for two people. Really, it's not just me saying that. However, we keep encountering other cruisers who choose very different vessels. Tiny 23 foot sailboats, trawlers, big 60 foot yachts, kayaks, even rowboats. Surely the most unique of all is the pontoon boat in the pictures below taken in Vergennes, Vermont.

The couple on board this vessel live near the Hudson in Schuylerville, NY. We first met them last year in Whitehall, NY. When we met them this year, they were just finishing a 9 week cruise through the Trent Severn, Rideau and Richelieu Canals in Canada. It sounds lovely. They really enjoyed themselves.

In conversation we learned that they've been cruising for many years, and that they have cruised on almost every inch of canalway and navigable river way in New York. Certainly because of their shallow draft, they can go very many places that Tarwathie can't. Indeed, in many respects, their pontoon boat is ideal for inland cruising in sheltered waters and mild weather.

What about winter? Simple, they only cruise in the balmy months of summer. They revert to land-based living the rest of the year.

What about living facilities? You know that I've written many times about the advantages of living with less stuff, and about avoiding clutter on board. This couple chooses the opposite approach. Canvas walls make their pontoon boat into a kind of housboat. From what we can see, they filled every cubic centimeter with stuff. It looks like they brought everything they own on board. It is extremely crowded inside. Remember though, they only do it for a few weeks at a time and only in good weather.

They tried camping on shore, but they soon got into trouble camping on private land. Then they got the idea of pitching their tent on the deck of the pontoon boat. That's their standard procedure now and for them it works well.

Well, we have to tip our hats to these intrepid cruisers. They are courageous and they take the prize for original thinking. Considering the limited duration, season, and range of their cruising, they found a simple, practical, and affordable form of cruising well suited to their needs. Kudos.

From Fall 2010

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