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How Do You Define Cruising?
North's December 2000 Cruising Profile



Jan & Signe Twardowski are living and cruising full-time aboard their Dashew-designed Sundeer 64, Raven. The Twardowski’s recently e-mailed North Sails from Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, where they are cruising for the next two winters.

Jan and Signe Twardowski of Tacoma, Washington.

North Sails (NS): Tell us about yourselves and your most recent cruising adventure.

Signe Twardowski (ST): I should have known it would come to this. A lifetime ago in 1967, I went on a first date with a handsome young preppie named Jan. He wanted to go sailing, so I packed a romantic picnic complete with a red-checkered tablecloth, some fried chicken and a bottle of wine. Everything was very “Martha Stewart”, even before we knew she existed. We explored the salt marshes of New Jersey and started a beautiful romance, until we ran aground and I ended up knee-deep in muck pushing the boat back into the channel. Later, there were those years clinging onto a trapeze as we campaigned a Tornado as far as the ’74 Olympic Trials. I should have known that sailing was in Jan’s blood and 30 years later we’d be cruising in some weird adventure to Mexico and across the Pacific. How’d a nice girl from Philadelphia end up here? I think it's probably because I love cruising, too!

Jan Twardowski (JT): We’re just a middle-aged couple who ran away from home. We don’t actually know why, but we’re certainly having fun. Our home is Tacoma, Washington and we retired in 2000 (I’m now a ‘recovering stockbroker’) in our mid-fifties to go cruising for a few years. Our son has found the love of his life and will marry her soon, so this is a good time for us to be gone — before the hoped-for grandchildren start arriving! We lived and worked in Paris and London for seven years, and for thirty years have owned and chartered sailboats in Maine, the Pacific Northwest, the Grenadines, Turkey, British Columbia, New Zealand, the Chespeake, Greece, France, etc., so long term cruising seems perfectly natural.

Our first long cruise was for four months in the summer of 1999, when we sailed (well, mostly motored) 2,800 miles on the Inside Passage from Tacoma to Glacier Bay, Alaska and back. The weather was the worst in recent memory, but we had such a great time that we decided to keep on cruising. This fall, we had tremendous fun on the Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally, sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with 111 other boats. Now we’re in Puerto Vallarta, having sailed Raven another 2,700 miles from home so far. We love Mexico and will cruise the next two winters here before deciding on our next step.

NS: How do you define cruising? What does it mean to you and your family and friends?

Raven in Glacier Bay, Alaska

ST: Cruising is the places, the people and the getting there.

Our son and his fiancée have been enthusiastic, especially since they will join us in various warm and exotic spots. Our friends’ reactions range from disbelieving to supportive, and lots of them are following our cruise via our Web site. Friends who are already out cruising encouraged us with real-life advice on preparation, equipment and places to see.

Visiting exotic places is fun, but the people you meet are the best part. Both the local people and the cruiser community are the most interesting part of any cruise. The Mexicans we meet are invariably kind, helpful, and smiley. Like the fishermen who met us ten miles offshore and helped us avoid tangling in their nets; their cheery ‘Meeery Chrrreestmas y Hoppy Noo Yerr’ was a real surprise.

And among the cruisers, there are certain unwritten rules to live by: No one has a last name (we’re just ‘Jan & Signe, the Ravens’), everyone helps everyone else with the inevitable boat breakdowns and problems; we all try to respect the local people, and no one is rude enough to ask the dreaded cocktail party question, “Whaddya do?”

NS: What sails do you use?

JT: When we moved up to a serious bluewater boat, from much-loved Nauticat 44 and 52 motorsailers, it was time for some serious bluewater sails. North Sails Seattle made us a wonderful Spectra Gatorback™ full-batten mainsail with a big performance roach, and a 97% RF2 Spectra jib to match. The main, especially, makes Raven noticeably stiffer and more powerful than our original (and much heavier) Dacron™ one. It’s 1,000 square feet make it a serious handful for us in a blow, so it’s a comfort that the main is easy to reef and sets well at all sizes. North also made us a big Soft NorLam 150% masthead reacher that we set flying (it rolls up on own furling drum and luff of Spectra line), which is incredibly powerful and gives us a big turn of speed on close and beam reaches. With those sails, we can be sure to average at least eight knots in any reasonable breeze.

NS: What is your ultimate cruising endeavor?

JT: Well, the Captain wants to sail across the Pacific and cruise the islands and New Zealand, but the Co-Captain hasn’t yet committed herself. But as cruisers say, "we have no plans and we’re sticking to them."

If you would like to learn more about the Twardowskis' adventure, log on to their web site, http://www.ravencruise.com/. You will find frequently-updated anecdotes, stories, photos, and videos from their cruises, as well as daily position reports.







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