In preparation for life aboard a sailboat we spent days, weeks, months and almost two years pouring over reference books and reading through cruising blogs. So many questions, concerns and wanting to know what to expect. Honestly it’s not until after you’ve set sail into the sunset that you realize you’re only partially prepared for what to expect.
Knowing how to sail is only half the battle. Learning to live the cruising lifestyle can prove to be just as challenging, especially when you add children to the equation.
Simple things like going to the store for bread and eggs takes on a whole new meaning. You need to have a passion for weather and understand that your entire life will be dictated by Mother Nature and she couldn’t care less where you’re trying to sail to and how fast you think you need to get there.
Cruising is hard work. There’s more days that you wake up (if you’ve slept at all – rolly anchorages suck) to a self generating “to-do” list than not. Take a break from the stack of books you’ve bought and ask yourself these simple 15 questions. You may not be as ready to cruise as you think…
1. If when you think of cruising the first image that comes to mind is of a man with a welcoming smile and bushy mustache who’s holding a tray of cold drinks, that’s not the cruising I’m referring to. Wrong blog! Around here we sail our own boat and fetch our own drinks.
2. Does the thought of cooking meals while swaying from side to side, trying not to burn your exposed skin, make you queasy? You may not be ready for cruising.
3. Would wearing the same bathing suit (or a variety of bathing suits) for 16 hours on five consecutive days leave you wanting to set fire to your bathing suit? Cruising may not be for you.
4. If the only way you imagine traveling between beautiful locations is faster than half the speed of sound, cruising on a sailboat is not for you. All is not lost. Maybe consider cruising on a powerboat.
5. If you’re not willing to attend dinner with friends while smelling like you’ve just sprinkled on “Eau de Diesel”, you might not enjoy cruising.
6. If you’re a well kept lady who would rather get hit by a truck than give up one or more of the following; spa pedicures, gel manicures, gym memberships, hair cuts and colour or waxing, you are not the ideal candidate for cruising.
The Good News: if you ever decide to go rogue, your monthly “upkeep” budget will help fund you and a loved one for a few weeks a month while cruising. Better News: Cruisers don’t care what you look like. Seriously, no one cares!
7. If you’ve ever pondered that you might be part vampire due to your avoidance and hatred of the sun, don’t even think of cruising.
8. If the term “clean clothes” doesn’t have a large variance in definition, you are not ready to cruise.
9. If your reaction to being awaken at 2am and told “it’s your turn for watch” would result in punching someone in the face, you shouldn’t consider cruising
10. If the thought of tracking down the source of at least 5 different leaks in your house every time it rains sounds absurd to you, cruising may not be for you.
11. If the idea of your entire life revolving around the weather makes you roll your eyes, you are not ready for the cruising lifestyle.
12. If the idea of drinking a tall glass of water that was seawater only 5 minutes earlier makes you throw up in your mouth, you’ve got a long way to go before cruising.
13. If going to the grocery store needs to take less than 3 or 4 hours and not involve you getting wet along the way, you may need to rethink this whole cruising idea.
14. If your definition of a hot shower does not include a 5-gallon solar shower strapped to your boom that you have to wait a few hours to heat up before showering, you either need to adjust your definition or not cruise.
15. If waking up everyday to a new “to-do” list has no room in your life, don’t consider cruising.
If you’ve baulked at any of the aforementioned, I hate to break it to you, we’re just warming up over here. I haven’t even gotten to seasickness, dragging anchor, filling up the chum bucket, making it through your first squall, pumping out your toilet or changing out zincs in disgusting marina water. Hell, you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about when I’m referencing zincs.
Aimee Nance is currently ‘cruising’ around the world with her young family. You can follow their adventures on Sailing with Terrapin.
Main image: Boat sailing against the sunset (Shutterstock)