The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
We, Joan and Ben, retired from respective careers in typography and physics in early 1998. Joan had been the owner / operator of Schuetz Typesetting Service since 1969. With the advent of desktop publishing, retirement was preferred over retooling yet again. Ben was a principal scientist for Raychem Corporation and managed the Accelerator Technology Laboratory in North Carolina. Ben is the author of nine patents dealing with high voltage systems, accelerators, power supplies and processing systems.
We have two children, Andrea and Sterling. Both have completed college and are well into their careers. At first they were concerned about our radical change in lifestyle, but now they are very supportive.
The decision to retire early was coupled with the desire to spend our more active years cruising the coastal US and the Caribbean. We purchased Francesca, a 1979, 44 foot Marine Trader Classic Trawler in October of 1997 and spent the next several months preparing her for cruising. Parenthetically, most boats that linger near home marinas much of their lives are not cruise worthy. Considerable effort and upgrades are needed for safety and reliability during extended cruises.
During the winter and spring of 1998 we cruised down the Intra Coastal Waterway to the Florida Keys and then to the Bimini, Berry and Abaco Islands of the northern Bahamas. We were short on experience, but long on enthusiasm. Sadly at that time, we did not maintain a newsletter.
Returning to North Myrtle Beach in June of 1998, Francesca received more upgrades during the summer and fall hurricane months. Our Raleigh, NC home and all of its contents were sold as we realized that they were no longer of interest to us and had become a liability. In October of 1998, we again cruised down to the Florida Keys and then to the Cays of the Exumas in the southern Bahamas. That was when we began a crude newsletter. It was intended only as communications with a few friends and family. Later, we received so many compliments and requests to be on the mailing list that over time it has progressed to a more dedicated effort and somewhat wider e-mail distribution.
During the summer of 1999, Francesca received more upgrades and with the experience gained we decided to make the next cruise to Cuba, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. The original intent being that we would spend the hurricane season up the Rio Dulce (river) of Guatemala. The cruise was full of extraordinary experiences which we tried to communicate through the newsletter. In June of 2000, after having spent several months in the Rio, we decided that it would be best to return to the US for the rest of the summer and do more upgrades on Francesca. The trip across the Gulf of Mexico and back to South Carolina was a very fulfilling experience.
At this writing, November 1, 2000, we are nearing the completion of yet more upgrades on Francesca. We plan to leave North Myrtle Beach around the end of January and then, during the next year or two, cruise down the Bahamas, Leewards, Windwards and to Venezuela. The end goal will be to cruise coastal Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil and up the Amazon, but if that turns out to be too aggressive, we will cruise up the Orinoco River of Venezuela. At least that is the plan.
We had been distributing the newsletter as e-mail over the satellite telephone, but the distribution list has grown so long that it takes more time to send the list of addressees than the text of the newsletter. Therefore, we have decided that this website will be the vehicle for distribution of "The Adventures". We hope you enjoy them.
Joan, Ben and Maggie the Shih Tzu boat dog