13 October 2007

Life on a Cruising Boat

October 8th to the 12th, 2007
For those who visualize the life of a boater as lying about in a hammock, sipping pina colada's, let me tell you nothing could be farther from the truth. Then again, maybe I shouldn't disillusion you. I have a friend who said if that is what non-boaters want to believe, let them. Let them be a little green with jealousy, while we get green from rocking about too much. Let them think we are bored reading too many trashy novels, while our eyes are drooping over one more manual on how to fix what isn't working at the moment. Oh yes I know, there are those purists who insist that the way to cruise without spending so much of your time fixing things is to do without, and  keep it simple. Forget refrigeration and freezers, so what if the little woman has to shop every day or live on canned meats, forget generators, and learn to love candlelight dinners, and preparing meals and cleaning up in the dark, and forget air-conditioning,  and watermakers, and all the other things that it's possible to have on a boat, if you are willing to spend the time and have the ability to keep them running. If you're a "real man", you don't need these things, but chances are after a few years of deprivation and struggling, you will not be living with a "real woman." She will be back ashore, living the life she was used to. 
Of course you can spend a big chunk of your time tied to a dock; I always wondered why so many boats whose budgets were more constrained than ours, spent so much time at docks, until I realized they needed the power and water. That is a viable choice, or at least was in the past when dockage costs hadn't risen to the moon. Just don't take that "holier than thou" attitude toward us who don't want to do without. It reminds me of those who rejected the idea of electronic navigation when Loran and Sat Nav first came out. They were the real men who only had a sextant, but they really practiced "big boat navigation." That is, whenever they saw a big boat, they called it to verify their position. Where are their sextants now? And in fact, where are they? We don't have many couples in our thirty years and over cruising club, mostly because after a number of years, the wives rebelled.
So here it is, chapter and verse of life on a cruising boat as we know it, and have known it since 1977, when we made the move form sailing and racing one design motorless boats, to a Cal 46 ketch rigged motor sailor. Dag Pike in his book about motor sailors, defined them as a boat that would travel to their hull speed whether under sail or power. In those days, most sail boats had only enough power to get in and out of a harbor, powering against a trade wind sea was impossible for them. Many motor sailors had a rig that could only drive them off the wind, or lend some stability. The Cal 46, designed by the famous Bill Lapworth could do it all. Not only did she have a main, mizzen and jib, mizzen staysail and spinnaker, but a big engine and a big prop. She also came equipped with a generator, air conditioning, microwave, separate shower, and walk in, stand upright, engine room, things seldom found on boats in those years. I loved to sail enough, and was so entranced by the idea of seeing what was over the horizon, that I would have gone off cruising in anything, but thank goodness i didn't have to. I knew what it was like being chewed alive by sand fleas, or being drenched in sweat because it was poring outside and the temperature and humidity inside the boat were both in the 90's. If all we could afford or maintain was a bare bones boat, I'm afraid I too would have fallen by the way side after a few years, and Dave would have died of boredom having nothing to fix, and only walking beaches or fishing to keep him occupied. 
A point I'm trying to make is, don't look down your nose at me for having the old creature comforts and now living on a motor boat, and I will be happy to count among our friends those who are purists on sailboats, even though you may not last more than ten years in the boating life. Time to go off and do more boating chores, although don't think of chores in the derogative sense; think of it like the line in Wind in the Willows-"There's nothing as much fun as messing around in boats.' got to go do some more messing around, which is what we do when we spend time in a marina.

Now it is the cruising season, and we are messing in our boat in the Bahamas. Daily chores, just like you have at home, continue. this isn't cruise ship living, this is taking your floating home off adventuring. So shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundering go on as usual, just done in different conditions, with different challenges. Like how to get the groceries aboard, when the store is a number of blocks from the dinghy dock, and then stowing them in all those cunning places a boat provides, like under the settees, or the floor boards, or any cubby you can find or make. Everything is just a bit more challenging

On the upside, you will have eliminated the usual pattern of being torn into too many pieces, as you rush from meetings, to the work place, to theaters, to social commitments, almost all requiring driving your speeding bullet on a crowded highway. Life slows down, and you concentrate on key things,  like staying alive. This means the weather becomes the most important news of the day. Socializing is done with fellow cruisers, and it's barefoot style, and simple. Most people invited aboard come with their own drinks, and a dish to pass, and even will pitch in and help clear up. and it is the people you meet that are the heart of it all. Yes what you see is exciting, sometimes fo beautiful, whether a sunset, or a tropical rainforest, or fantastic ruins, but what you remember most, are all the wonderful people you will meet.

So life on a cruising boat isn't like life on a cruise ship, it's harder but better. You are still working in a sense, you are making the decisions on where you will go and how to do it, you are fixing almost everything that goes wrong. The old saying, there are no plumbers at sea, is true. But you gain and gain, in skills, in knowledge, in friends, and sad to say, possibly a few pounds. The price of all that socializing. Go enjoy.

09 October 2007

My intro to blogging

This is an initial leap into the world of blogs and blogging, so
with nothing special to say except I'm holding my nose and taking my
first leap, and hello world! Much, much more will follow, once I see
this really works.