|Marcie and David at Anakena, Easter Island, enjoying the view of Ahu Nau Nau with Nine of Cups in the background.|
Having vicariously experienced my cruising adventure, what do you think about quitting your job, selling your house, buying a sailboat, and playing hookey from the rat race for a few years as you sail around the world? David and Marcie are doing it, and they invited me along for a while. The result: An excellent adventure was had by all!
Make no mistake about it, though, world cruising is anything but a cakewalk. You can have an excellent adventure, but problems, both major and minor, are bound to occur. To make cruising a viable lifestyle, the problems must be solved, and the way you solve any problem is with the expenditure of time, effort, and especially money. Since there are real limits to these valuable resources (although the limits are different for each cruiser), the limits wind up restricting how well or expediently you solve some of the problems.
With unlimited time, effort, and money, you could solve all the problems of cruising nearly perfectly. Given that everyone has limited resources, the problem then becomes how to make the trade-offs when choosing between this and that, because you can't have both. For example, consider boat gear: What should you buy now, what should you buy later, what should you only dream about and never buy? Then consider boat work: How much should you do yourself vs. paying others, and how much should you spend on cosmetics vs. gear and spares? Also, consider trip planning: You can't go everywhere, so how do you decide where to go, when, and for how long?
Because there are always trade-offs, everybody's cruising adventure turns out to be a compromise, including this one. But to their great credit, Marcie and David are so competent and energetic and have such high standards, that they have managed to have an excellent adventure, despite some occasional problems. Bravo, Marcie and David, and keep up the good work. You're doing things that most people only dream about, and you're doing it first-class!
The greatest thing about an adventure like this is that it allows you to challenge yourself with a major new endeavor that consists entirely of new experiences. Being well-entrenched in middle-age, and also a creature of habit (as we all are), major new experiences can be rather rare. They don't just drop on your doorstep, you must actively seek them out and cultivate them. This also requires that you step outside the comfortable little box which is your comfort zone of familiar habits and situations, and head out into the Great Unknown. It can be a lot of work, daunting and even scary at times, but by using your wits and common sense, and learning lessons rapidly, you can succeed.
And what does success at cruising bring you?
Many things: Marveling at new sights and sounds, new people and places, many of them exotic and even unimaginable; a rich experience-filled adventure; the satisfaction and simple pride of successfully completing a major new enterprise; a storehouse of memories for future yarns, and so forth. Cruisers want so much more than merely being a tourist—handing over your credit card to go anywhere and do anything. Cruisers on sailboats, especially those who set out on long voyages, live for the challenge and adventure of passagemaking under sail.
Despite being an anachronistic mode of transportation, voyaging on a sailboat still yields the same thrills and excitements that sailors experienced in the age of sailing ship exploration: the anticipation of a voyage through weeks of planning and preparation; the exhuberant high of casting off lines and heading to sea, out into the unknown; experiencing firsthand, day after day, the awesome power of the winds and waves and the beauty of the oceanic environment; having days of boisterous sailing propelled by robust tradewinds, the bow wave curling back smartly and the wake hissing with fresh foam; night watches far from land, with the brilliantly luminous Milky Way arching from horizon to horizon overhead, while below bioluminescence sparkles in the boat's wake; dolphins, flying fish, spouting whales, rainbows, dazzling sunsets and the elusive green flash, the hill and dale landscape of slow heavy swell, these and many other natural phenomena to be observed and marveled at; the excitement and anticipation as the distance to your destination steadily diminishes—now less than 1000 miles, now less than 500, now 100—landfall will be TOMORROW!
And talk about landfalls: You watch a cloud-topped smudge on the horizon grow larger, hour after hour, becoming a hazy featureless landform. Still later, details emerge, colors intensify, and the island fills your view. The water depth decreases and you begin searching not just for an island, but for "your spot" in an anchorage. Start the engine, furl the sails, motor through the anchorage watching the depth sounder. Finally the captain shouts to the bow, the anchor is shoved overboard, and the chain rattles over the bow roller. The anchor is set, the engine is turned off, and all is suddenly silent—we are here! The passage is over! Make the final entry in the log and prepare to go ashore.
In any event, it should be clear that cruisers travel long distances in boats because it challenges them and thrills them. That there should be some drawbacks is to be expected. But at the same time, there are many more offsetting thrills that a conventional tourist wouldn't experience, or even imagine. So on the whole, my cruising adventure was well worth it, and it's an adventure I'd recommend to anyone.
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