S/V Hello World's Travel Log

Cruising Comparison: Bikes vs Boats

When I thought about “cruising” a few months ago, the only thing that really came to mind was cruising on boats. Of course, we’ve lived on Hello World for over four years now, so I suppose that’s natural. It turns out there is a whole class of people who conjure up visions of motorcycles when they hear the word “cruising”. We were fortunate enough to join that group, if for a short time, while riding Jason’s bike back to Seattle from Charlotte. It was on that ride that it occurred to me that cruising on a sailboat is surprisingly similar to cruising on a motorcycle.

Boaters always have something in common. Sailors have even more. Oh and you meet a sailor that has the same boat that you do? Excitement ensues! It turns out, bikes are the same way – nearly ever biker waves to other bikers on the road – it’s just a friendly community. You stop at gas stations, you chat, you talk about gear and where people are going and which roads are the most curvy. We had beer, dinner and even invited to Switzerland with complete strangers.

Those bikers love to talk the biker-lingo (fortunately it’s not as extensive as sailor lingo):
  • Salad bowl: silly half helmets that Harley riders wear so they don't get pulled over for not wearing a helmet
  • Ape hangers: really tall handlebars
  • Squid: the guy riding a sport bike down the freeway at a 100mph doing a wheelie, not a term of affection
  • Cage: car
  • 2-up: two people are riding on one bike.

Because we were riding 2-up, it meant Jason was always in my way – so it felt exactly like home. There was not the regular salon shuffle we have down below since I tried to move as little as possible, but still, I was not homesick.

When above decks, as many of you know, Jason has a nickname of “Safety Pup” – he is certainly the more safety conscious of the two of us (for which my mother is extremely happy). We have rules about when we tether in and how many backup lines he ties on me before I go up the mast. On the bike, Jason continues the Safety Pup tradition and suits me up in only the best gear, which explains our awesome partial face tans (which are eerily similar to Alaska sailing tans).

And as all safety pups of the world know (and fortunately most of the rest of us), some heeling on a sailboat is good, but too much is not-so-fun. Certainly this is true of motorcycles as well. This brings us to the differences in cruising vehicles:
  • Motorcycles are not self-righting (which is really a bummer when you do heel too much)
  • Typical cruising speed on a motorcycle is about 10 times that of our sailboat (yet it took us 54 weeks to sail the 4,697 miles we just covered in 2 weeks on the bike. Hmmmm...)
  • It turns out maintenance on a motorcycle is much easier and certainly less frequent (we went through 3 clogged heads, 1 bowsprit repair and a waterpump replacement in that 4,697 miles vs 1 pint of oil on the bike)
  • It’s not nearly as comfortable to sleep on the bike as it is the boat (yet I still manage)

Overall, I was surprised by the similarities, but upon further reflection, I suppose it comes as no surprise that we love cruising no matter what the form. Either way, we have plenty of spare time to write up really random blog posts. :)


Sabrina and Tom said...

Looks like you are having fun.

s/v Honey Ryder

Anonymous said...

Before my wife and I started sailing (well, before we started having kids actually) we used to do a lot of long distance bicycle touring (where you pedal) and we have always thought that cruising in a sailboat was very similar, except that it is on water instead of land and the cargo capacity is much greater. The speed that the world goes by is about the same.

McKenzie said...

Can we use the term "squid" even if we're not bikers? It's funner than just saying "complete f-ing moron".