Fear of the unknown is natural. Whether you are from the “survival of the fittest” camp or the “intelligent design” camp, all must agree that being cautious of things we have no experience with is a wise idea. So how is it that some people are able to give up the precious security of a stable job and a house full of possessions to launch into the unknown of a life voyaging the seas and visiting unfamiliar shores?
I am not going to give you the old “Oh, but it’s more dangerous to drive down the highway than it is to cross an ocean”… but I am going to give you this:
Risk versus reward you see.
Maybe for the true adventurers out there, all it takes is to read Joshua Slocum’s book “ Sailing Alone Around the World ” and they are ready to go. But for others, like myself and Sheree, with a family to keep safe, it was a much slower process.
Probably around ten years ago, I stumbled across the blog of the Hackings, a family of four who have been travelling the less beaten paths of the ocean since 2001 and blogging about their adventures. I recall that I got very captivated and spent a few nights in bed reading through their entire blog. From there to getting Sheree involved and actually deciding that this is something we could do as a family took a few more years of reading and researching everything we could get our hands on. Blogs, dozens of books, as well as getting in touch with some families who are out there right now. But I digress, my point is that I do not feel like we are throwing ourselves into the unknown, I feel like we have at least a pretty good theoretical understanding of what to expect.
What Do We Expect?
Definitely not one big holiday
New friends, white sandy beaches, coconuts and spiced rum sun-downers while trying to catch a green flash as the sun sets. Is this the image you have of the cruising life? If so, I suggest you don’t go out and buy that boat just yet. Sure there will be plenty of good times no doubt, but there will also be plenty of lugging jerrycans of diesel using a dinghy, walking very long distances to find groceries, dealing with corrupt foreign immigration officials and fixing smelly plumbing while wedged head first into a bilge with little confidence I will ever be able to make it out again.
Lack of comfort
As much as we love the relaxation of small coastal day hops on carefully planned perfect weather days, it is going to be quite a different experience when there is no marina to come back to and hide at the end of the day when things are less than perfect. There will be long passages that involve uncomfortable heeling and beating to wind for days on end; there will be sea sickness; there will be sleepless nights in rolling anchorages with poor holding. Though it seems that through careful planning, many cruisers manage to avoid storms altogether, we may make mistakes and be forced to weather the odd storm here or there.
Having to be smart about where we go and when
Piracy is real, so is the risk of civil unrest in many places along the way. We will no doubt begin our adventure following the well beaten path, however there are many destinations Sheree and I speak of together that are not on that path. This is something we will have to learn as we go. We will have to put a lot of time into researching and planning our next hops. Thankfully, time is something we will have in abundance.
gerund or present participle: cruising
- boat repair in exotic locations.
“he was attempting to patch the leaking holding tank with sap and coconut coir, the only resources available on this cruise”
synonyms: sail, steam, voyage, journey;
A modest life
Cruisers are a frugal bunch indeed. Most live off savings and maybe a little income from a rental property back home. Our ability to be frugal in all things is going to decide how long we can keep cruising. Having said that, we are definitely not going to cruise to distant shores and miss out on seeing the sights. We will just need to be smart in our spending.
What Else Do We Expect?
Crossing items off the bucket list
What is on yours? Trek in Nepal? Take the kids to Disneyland? Watch a rocket launch in Cape Canaveral? Spend a night under the stars on a remote deserted island?
One of the greatest parts of our plan is that we get to talk over the dinner table and discuss all together as a family the things that we want to do as we travel. We teach them about the great wonders of the world and then make real plans to go there. Not just dreams, actual plans.
Mature kids with world perspective
With all due respect to those who dedicate their lives to educating our young, and no doubt whatsoever of your dedication and skill, we know we can do it better. If only we had the time. Well, again, we’ll soon have oodles of time available. No one, no matter how dedicated takes the success of our children more to heart than we do. Not only that, but we will have two teachers available to teach three kids; a much better ratio than one teacher to thirty five children. Their classroom will quite literally be the world with infinite learning opportunities.
There are countless examples of cruising children who returned to mainstream school just to top their class or graduate from university with much success. Cruising creates resourceful, tolerant and mature children who realise there is a world on the other side of their iPad screen.
I was reading an article just a few days ago (I can’t find it anymore) about the reasons experiences are fulfilling to us as humans while possessions are not. Basically the happiness experienced through new possessions fades quickly leaving us craving more. On the other hand, experiences become part of our identity and the happiness found in the memories lasts for life. Even future experiences create happiness by giving us something to look forward to while future purchases seem to just leave us impatient.
We are very excited about things to come.
Doing our part
Take only memories, leave nothing. There are only so many resources on this planet and living in a small home powered by the wind and sun gives us the warm and fuzzies.
No matter where this adventure goes and how long it lasts, one thing is for certain; there will be no regrets from having done it. Of course, during all this time, we will not be squirrelling away acorns into our superannuation like good fiscally responsible citizens. We accept that we will have a modest life cruising and after that will probably have to work until we keel over. So be it, we’ll take the good life while we are still young enough to make the most of it.
Again, I Digress
The fear and doubts of such a radical change of direction are inevitable, but through research about the many who did this before us, we remain confident this is the right decision for us. With careful planning, and strategies to mitigate any risks, cruising with a family can be as safe as staying put yet many times more rewarding.
Mechanic, electrician, carpenter, plumber, upholsterer, rigger, author, painter, sailmaker, navigator, meteorologist and captain of the S.V. Venilia.