Nordhavn Pendana GUEST INTERVIEW Christi & Eric Grab
Christi & Eric Grab
1. So, Christi, tell us a little something about your cruising to date and where you have been so far?
From 2007 to 2009 we did a 29,000 nautical mile circumnavigation. We stopped in 33 countries, and transited the Suez and Panama canals. After completing our circumnavigation, we went back to “regular” life in San Diego, so our cruising has been limited to Southern California and Ensenada. We also did a run to San Francisco and back. We’re hoping to do some extensive cruising again in a few years.
2. Why did you choose a Nordhavn?
We knew we were going to be circumnavigating. We wanted a proven brand of production boat with a long-range design, great components, and great systems. Bonuses for us were the wonderful community, and our salesperson, Jeff Merrill, who helped us outfit the boat perfectly for what we were doing. Another important thing for us was that, at the time, there was a two-year wait for a new 43 (and no used 43s on the market yet since the 43 was a new product). The waiting time worked in our favour, giving us more time to save and prepare.
3. What has been your cruising highlight so far?
Our circumnavigation was an amazing adventure. The vast majority of places we visited all had something that made them special in some way, and it is hard for us to pick any one or two places that were “the best.” A few that especially stand out are: Fakarava in the Tuomotu Islands of French Polynesia, Niue (between The Cook Islands and Tonga), Vanuatu (in Micronesia), Komodo National Park in Indonesia, Oman, Malta, Tunisia, and Bonaire.
In terms of activities, the one event that stands out most was climbing up to the rim of an active volcano and watching a volcano erupt above our heads and feeling the heat. But we did so much cool stuff! Another major highlight for us was that we learned to SCUBA dive, and went to several of the world’s best dive sites. We swam with whales once. Another time, we swam with hundreds of dolphins. And yet another time we swam with giant Manta Rays.
4. Do you travel with an animal/s on board?
5. In your past life what did you and Eric do?
Prior to cruising, Eric was a software engineer, and upon return, he went back to his old job. He’s still with the same company. Prior to cruising, I was in the mortgage industry. When we finished cruising, I wrote three books, then had a baby. Now I’m a full-time mom.
6. Christi, if there is one thing Eric does that irritates you while underway what would that be?
I know there are several things, but for some reason, I can’t think of any right now. Maybe I’m just blocking out the bad and focusing on the good of cruising?
7. And it’s only fair I ask Eric the same question, so Eric, if there was one thing Christi does that irritates you what would that be?
Christi pulls out her hair when she’s stressed.
8. Onto irritating things, have you ever run out of something while at sea that has caused problems?
Chocolate. Seriously. Chocolate is a must-have for rough seas. We didn’t have an issue with this, but we’ve had crew members who were most unhappy when they ran out of coffee or beer.
9. Would you describe yourselves as more hunters or more gathers?
We morph into what is needed, but our preference is gathering.
10. Why did you name your vessel Kosmos?
Christi’s father is from Greece, and Kosmos is the Greek word for world. We like to say Kosmos is both the name of our boat and the scope of our travel ambitions.
11. What other names did you consider?
We bounced around a lot of names before stumbling upon Kosmos, but none were serious contenders. As soon as we came across Kosmos, we knew it was the right name.
12. What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while at sea?
This is from our blog: http://kosmos.liveflux.net/blog/2007/05/15/san-diego-to-nuka-hiva-day-14-16/
Many people have asked us what life is like at sea. Yesterday, something happened that I think perfectly illustrates what life is like at sea. I (Christi) decided to have a can of baked beans for lunch (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). I opened the can and filled a coffee mug up about 2/3 way full of beans. I put the mug in the microwave. Then a big wave came. I heard the coffee mug crash in the microwave. I peered through the glass to see the coffee mug leaning on its side, against the microwave door, the beans all over the bottom of the microwave along the door. Sigh. I grabbed some paper towels and opened the microwave door, grabbing at the mug before it came crashing down on the carpet. Once the door was opened, beans immediately oozed out of the microwave onto the wall the microwave is mounted in. While I was grabbing the mug and setting it on the counter, another wave came. All the beans that had not oozed onto the wall yet came flying at me like a swarm of bugs. There were beans all over my shirt and all over the counter below the microwave. As I went to start wiping up the beans, another wave came and the microwave door whacked me in the head. So, with one hand I held the microwave door and with the other hand I wiped up the mess. This was not a prudent decision. In rough seas, one must hold on to the boat at all times. Within seconds another wave came and knocked me into the little wall to the right of the microwave. Hmmm”¦ I had a little dilemma here. I needed three hands to clean up the mess, and I only have two. Fortunately, Eric was watching my slapstick comedy routine and came to my aid. He stood behind me, holding the boat with one hand and the microwave door with the other. I leaned against him with my full body weight for support and quickly wiped up the beans. I still can’t believe I was attacked by a can of beans. Who would have thought heating food up in the microwave could be such a dangerous activity?
Another funny story is from http://kosmos.liveflux.net/blog/2007/11/13/welcome-to-luganville-espiritu-santo-vanuatu/: …as soon as we got to a rocky stretch (our new crew member) opened the refrigerator and a pile of food fell on the floor in front of him. A bottle of teriyaki sauce broke, which he quickly cleaned up. A few hours later Christi did an engine room check. Her heart stopped when she saw big brown spots all over the engine. Good God, the oil must have exploded. She quickly checked for the source of the explosion. Seeing nothing, she went upstairs and casually approached Eric “Hey, what are those huge brown spots all over the engine?” Eric’s eyes almost popped out of his head and he bolted down the stairs. For the first thirty seconds he also thought it was oil. After touching it, he realized it wasn’t oil at all — it was teriyaki sauce that had dripped through the floor. Phew.
13. What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made on the water?
Turing the wrong fuel valve off and almost stalling the boat during some really rough seas.
14. Tell us a little something about M/Y Kosmos?
She is just right in every way. Not too big, not too small, efficient, comfortable, sturdy. She is all the boat we need to accomplish almost anything we want to do.
15. How many miles have you travelled on her?35,000 nautical miles.
16. That’s incredible! So, as seasoned passagemakers tell me what are the three things every passagemaker should know?
99% of people are good; be alert, but not afraid.
While the cruising highs are higher (for example, getting to see incredible sunsets, more stars than you ever imagined existed, and bioluminescence lighting up the water all around the boat at night), the lows are lower (i.e. rough seas). You cannot experience the
high highs without also experiencing the low lows now and then.
Seek to maintain, not repair.
17. What are the three things all passage making vessels should carry?
18. ..and what are in your opinion, the three most important spares to carry?
Spares are defined by runtime or calendar time. For as many miles and as much time you expect to be out, have those spares you cannot expect to get at the ports you visit. That said, it’s good to have a spare GPS, computer, and chocolate.
19. Are you scared of spiders?
Only really big ones.
20. What’s your favourite photo ever taken while at sea and why?
We had so many good sunsets. Also for memories we had set of dolphisn jumping around in 10 foot plus waves. We had to hold on tight to the railing. We really did not get too many good pictures of those dolphinson, but it was a memorable moment.
21. What would you never leave behind (besides each other) when heading out to sea?
22. I understand you have written a number of books about your travels. Please tell me a little more about them?
The two books that are published are called “The Unexpected Circumnavigation: Part 1 — San Diego to Australia” and “The Unexpected Circumnavigation Part 2 – Australia to Oman.” They were the books that I wished I could have read before going cruising. Most cruising books that were available when Eric and I were preparing for the trip were highlights, cautionary tales, or bland instructions. What I wanted to read about was what life was like day in and day out, particularly when cruising for long periods of time. I wrote the books based on the blog we kept during the trip. However, in our blog, we sugar coated some things and omitted other things for various reasons. The books lay out the nitty gritty stuff – like learning to cope with being together 24/7 — that most people don’t like to talk about. The books are much more polished and complete than the blogs. We have gotten great feedback from most people.
The yet to be published third book is a handbook on how to calculate cruising costs for yourself. We wrote it because everyone asked us the same questions over and over, so we decided to just write down the answers for them! We’ve gotten input and feedback from many of our fellow cruisers and we think it’s really good. We were working on the formatting when the baby was born. We’ve never worked on it again since, and we realize we won’t be able to until he goes to school in a couple of years. Once the handbook is published, we’ll work on completing the “Unexpected Circumnavigation” series.
23. Was it really an Unexpected Circumnavigation?
What was unexpected was that we made it around the world. Pretty much everyone thought we’d fail. We had a lot of obstacles to overcome to do this trip. Also, we did not fit into the expected cruising profile: Our age (too young to be retired; too old to be young adventurers), our boat (power vs sail), our pace (considered too aggressive), and experience level (basically none when we left).
Most people told us we could not do this trip. Thankfully we had a few supporters, and did a lot of research. The book Voyaging Under Power (3rd edition) was crucial for us.
25. What did you like most about Australia when you visited?
The location we liked best was Lizard Island. We were in a nice anchorage with great hiking and snorkelling right off the boat, and a short trip to amazing dive sites. It had a wonderful cruising community, as well. But we enjoyed every stop we made in Oz.
The aspect we liked best about Australia was how comfortable it was. By the time we’d made our first stop in Australia, we’d been cruising for six months. We’d explored lots of different cultures, and we’d loved every minute of it. But it was nice to pull into a country whose culture was similar to our own, yet just different enough to be exotic to us. It was nice to not have to struggle to communicate. It was nice to not have to worry about whether we’d unwittingly violated any social mores. And it was especially nice to have fully stocked grocery stores with familiar foods.
26. ..and what did you like least, other than the cost of fuel?
Having to throw out a freezer full of food. We’d bought top quality meat in Vanuatu, and I’d spent days cooking it up and freezing the food into individual serving sizes. I was furious it all was confiscated!
27. Christi, tell us something about yourselves that nobody knows?
I sleep on the left side of the bed, Eric on the right.
28. And finally, where to next?
The plan is to go to The Sea of Cortez in 2016 to get our son used to cruising then, in 2018, on to the South Pacific.
30. Do you have any advice for people who dream of going cruising some day?
Go whenever you have a window of opportunity. Don’t wait to save a few more dollars or for this or that to happen. Life often throws you curve balls that prevent you from being able to go cruising. If you don’t have something holding you back, then just go. That curve ball will come eventually, and its possible that it’s a bad enough ball that another window to go cruising may never open up.
Thank you very much for your time, will be watching this year’s progress closely. Good luck with your travels!
Christi and Eric’s website can be found at: http://kosmos.liveflux.net/blog/
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