23 May 2014

Our New Zealand Shakedown Cruise In Review

The surf at Great Mercury Island. One of the fantastic places we were lucky enough to be able to see on our boat.

When we decided to start cruising full-time, we took a slightly different approach than some other folks. Rather than buy our “forever” boat and set off cruising around the world on her, we decided to start our cruising adventures in New Zealand on our “for now” boat with a view to selling her at the end of the season and then buying a bigger, better boat to continue our adventures on. We did this for a few reasons:
1 - We already had a boat in New Zealand that would work for coastal cruising – a lovely little Raven 26.

2 - Scott had to go back to Scotland in April for a few months to work, so it made sense not to buy the “forever” boat until he was finished up there.

3 - And more importantly, it gave us a chance to have an extended “shakedown” cruise. It wasn’t about testing out the boat, but more about testing out ourselves and the cruising lifestyle so that we could get a better idea of what works for us, what doesn’t and what our priorities are for our next boat.

Now that we’ve sold our “for now” boat and had a little time to reflect on our shakedown cruise, I thought it might be interesting to do a little series of posts on our key lessons learned after our time cruising in New Zealand. Although we were only out there for the season, we learned heaps about cruising, about boats and about ourselves which we’ll share with you. And we'll tell it like it is - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here are the kinds of topics we’re thinking of covering – let us know what you think. Is there anything you want to hear about that’s missing from the list? If you’re out there cruising full-time, what are the big things you’ve learned – we can use all the advice we can get!

  • Relationships on Board - Before we set out, we did a post on Cruising Couples & Ways of Sailing. It is probably a good time to have a look back and see how that all played out!
  • Cooking, Eating & Provisioning – I love eating, so this was one of the things I thought the most about before we set off. So how did it work out? {Spoiler Alert: Our next boat is definitely going to have a fridge and an oven!}
  • Must Haves for Our Next Boat – We’ve got a wish list a mile long for our next boat. Top of the list for me – she will definitely be bigger than 26’!
  • Sailing Mishaps – I’m really new to this whole sailing thing and, wow, did I ever do some really stupid things. Like almost killing Scott. It is never a good idea to kill your skipper. 
  • Learning to Sail - I learned a lot of new skills cruising in New Zealand and ticked a few things off my list (like my first overnight passage), but I have heaps more to learn. Scott can rest easy, there are no immediate plans to mutiny because I really can't sail the boat on my own. Yet.
  • Sailing, Cruising & Traveling - We talked a lot about what we're in this little adventure for - is it the sailing, the cruising lifestyle and/or the opportunity to travel to interesting places, using your sailboat like an RV on water. Living on our boat in New Zealand gave us a good chance to put this to the test.
  • The Weather - I knew intellectually before we started cruising full-time that the weather is the boss of you. Mother Nature controls what you do and where you go. And boy, is that ever true. The weather wasn't very cooperative this summer and I've been thinking a lot about how people react when the weather interferes with your plans. That whole "choose your attitude" thing. I could probably get better at that.

So keep an eye out for some "Shakedown Review" posts. And if you’re new to our blog and you want a bit of background on how this insanity all started, check out this post here which will take you through the back story about how we became full-time cruisers in New Zealand and got awarded this certificate.

Links to Shakedown Review Posts

Cooking, Eating & Provisioning (Pt 1)
Cooking, Eating & Provisioning (Pt 2)
Wish List for Our Next Boat (Pt 1) - Things that Make Life Easier
Wish List for Our Next Boat (Pt 2) - Set-up Down Below
Wish List for Our Next Boat (Pt 3) - Systems
Wish List for Our Next Boat (Pt 4) - Other Bits & Bobs
Relationships on Board 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!


  1. We have a 34' Sea Ray Sundancer. We've been boating for 11 years and we've done most of these shakedowns. It's much harder to learn what to do and what not to do in confined spaces, but you figure it out as you go. We have it down to a fine science now. Easy peasy.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

    1. Reassuring to hear that you guys have figured it out. You can tell that you know how to have fun from your blog - and I imagine having a good sense of humor helps a lot!

  2. I LOVE this post...this is exactly what we did...and why :) ~Jackie

    1. I'm so glad we did this! I'm sure we'll get a million things wrong when we get our next boat, but we'll also probably get a few things right because we tested stuff out in New Zealand.


We LOVE when people leave comments. It's so much more fun hearing what you have to say. If you have a blog, make sure you leave a link and I'll be sure to pop on by.