This was my second question to Noel when we were searching for our first boat – (see the first question here).
At this point I hardly knew the front end of a boat from the back end. I also found the cruising world completely mind-boggling.
Noel’s response to this question, ‘getting to port’, holds a lot of truth (for us). I love being out there but with only two of us on board, after several days of a tag-team match (one is always on watch) it does become tiring. The constant demand on your body to move three-dimensionally, twenty-four hours a day, causes fatigue (the reason most accidents occur). Plus we are always looking forward to exploring our next destination.
What’s it like?
Sailing oceans is not like a plane or car ride. Nothing is certain except a vast puddle of water and a great stretch of sky…
This was advice from a long-term cruiser and a friend.
I had to stop and think about this for a bit. I knew, with just five small words, she’d said something remarkable.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Months of hard growth on the lines – days of cleaning . . . is it worth worrying about?
What is the small stuff on board?
The laundry (in cold water, by hand)
The blocked loo (marine toilets are renowned for this delightful occurrence)
The entire boat turning into a workshop
Running out of gas in the middle of cooking
Salt saturated cushions that just won’t dry
A lumpy sea
Too much wind
Cleaning behind the cooker – is it worth getting worked up about it?
So when do you ‘sweat’? Well usually you don’t, usually there’s no time.
Maybe you’d sweat during a storm, which can last for days. But, generally ‘sticky’ moments on board are in bursts:
fingers of lightning
winds shifting to create an untenable anchorage
broken rudder . . .
. . . these are moments when you may sweat . . . IF YOU HAVE TIME.
Instead of sweating you’ll be too busy doing what’s necessary.
The great thing is, those moments where you don’t have time to sweat are great training for when it really matters.
Rough seas – do what’s necessary to make the boat safe, then relax
Yes, cruising can have its shitty moments, it can be scary, but each challenging moment will build your confidence and faith in your boat and yourself – creating comfort and a more relaxed life that just keeps on improving.
Tomorrow is the next instalment on our CRUISING CLINIC – What’s so great about cruising?
When Noel and I decided to go cruising, as a complete beginner I had two very pertinent questions on my mind. I asked these questions as we hopped on the back of Noel’s motorbike, searching for a boat.
‘So, what’s it going to cost, running a boat?’
He replied, ‘Everything we’ve got.’
A little perplexed, but not yet deterred, I then asked, ‘What’s so great about sailing anyway?’
Noel, with his brutal honesty and years of experience with boats replied, ‘Getting in to port.’
‘Good grief’, I muttered. After about two hours of silence while I digested these little gems, I said, ‘Why do it then?’
Without hesitation Noel responded, ‘It’s the closest thing to freedom I know.’
That did it for me. It was right then that I was sold on the idea. Sixteen years later I still see the wisdom in his answers.
What’s so great about sailing . . .?
I’ll write about the ‘what’s so good about sailing?’ question down the line. Right now, I guess you’re thinking, ‘well so what?, that doesn’t help me very much.’ However, think about this: cruising WILL cost you everything you have, if you let it.
So, let’s look at the right questions to ask to see if we can make sense of all this:
1) What budget do I have to purchase a boat?
2) What will it cost to run?
3) How will I earn money along the way?
4) How can I save money along the way?
Boats can be as expensive or as cheap as you make them. We find that living on board is a cheaper way to live, but we know how to save money, I am extremely prudent with our dollars and we employ smart tactics. AND you have to start with a good boat, then maintain it – constantly (a job a day, however big or small).
We were still trying to figure out where to stow everything!
Now, let’s try and find some answers.
1) What budget do I have to purchase a boat? Whatever budget you have it is extremely likely that you will find a boat you love for a ‘bit’ more and go over your budget. This amount does NOT include:
a) all the unexpected problems found during survey that need to be fixed
b) all the things the vendor neglected to tell you that needed to be fixed
c) all those things that just pop up at inopportune times that need to be fixed
d) on-going maintenance and repairs
e) additional equipment (your own ideas/wants)
Summary: Keep at least 10% of your budget for those unexpected issues.
A job a day kept Mariah ship-shape.
2) What will it cost to run? It depends on where you started from. If you are really lucky and have a good, well maintained boat, then it will also depend upon:
a) the size of your boat*
b) amount of use (little use is not always a good thing)
c) your skills (can you maintain it and carry out repairs? Or do you need help?)
3) How will I earn money along the way? Be creative. Use the skills you have. Other cruisers need expertise in all areas. We’ll tackle this subject later on too. However, running your own business is not easy on land, don’t expect it to be easy while cruising. You have the added challenge of communications.
4) How can I save money along the way? This is the easy bit – if you are prepared to change your lifestyle.
Stop spending it! Really. Don’t eat out all the time, figure out how to fix stuff yourself. Learn how to get the best bargains on boat equipment, learn how to keep food for weeks and weeks (without a fridge if necessary, we did for nine years), anchor out and avoid mariner fees. I could go on and on, and I did in our book Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen). I’ll supply more tips down the line, on each of these subjects.
If this all sounds off putting, well you’ve given up too soon. Cruising life is fantastic, but it is not for everyone. If you like a challenge, can adapt to new situations and want to enjoy your life in a way you never dreamed of – then maybe it is for you.
A good boat to start with & on-going maintenance will ensure you get to all those places you dreamed of.
I’ll write more on all these subjects (1-4) in the coming weeks. Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) covers all this and much more in far greater detail, see www.jackieparry.com for more information – available in paperback & ebook). (Or look at the top of this page and follow the links!)
You can sail to the most wonderful places & experience new escapades!