Wednesday, 20 July 2011

why i love this (so far)

I regularly read personal accounts written by people planning on doing or already doing what we've been dreaming and preparing for. The more I read and live it,  the more I notice a recurring theme. The "simple" life of a cruiser, voyager, or whatever you want to call us, is... challenging. (I can only speak from my perspective as an average-Joe-still-pretty-green-live-aboard sailor, with somewhat limited means and big dreams.)  What I can tell you is,  it is definitely not easy living. And I love it. 

Some people picture idyllic scenes of cruisers sipping cocktails while sitting in the cockpit at anchor and watching sunsets. That, or easy summer sails to fantasy-like beaches with rugged and beautifully scenic backdrops. Yep, there definitely is that. I already can attest to this, and so far I have only sailed in the Northeastern Pacific  as well as a couple months in the Mediterranean.

There are, however, times when it's not that. Picture this, you are utterly exhausted after a long and arduous sail in adverse conditions, and you now must fix the thing that holds that other thing that broke when... It is  hard work to refit and maintain a sailboat. (Especially for those of us that do it all ourselves.) You may get seasick (if you are me), or get cabin fever after a few rainy days when everything, I mean everything,  is damp. You have to deal with bugs and leaks, you are forced to squeeze into cramped spaces to fix or find anything. There are many occasions when it gives you pause to get that one thing you need, which is in the locker, at the back, on the bottom, underneath thirty-seven other essential items that you really couldn't give a rat's ass about right now, because they're just in the way. And some days. You just want a hot bath, damn it. (I was once addicted to those, to the point that friends and family took pity on me when I first became a live-aboard, four years ago. My key chain became weighed down with their house keys so I could use their bathtubs even if they weren't around... This is evidence that we know and love some pretty awesome people. And then, there are those inevitable nights, you'll just wish that wind storm didn't start to blow at 2 a.m., forcing you to get up every 10 minutes to check the anchor because it might drag and you don't want your boat smashing onto reefs.You'll find that story in numerous blogs and books written by sailors, and I've experienced it myself more than once. (The "getting up" part, not the "smashed onto reef" part.)

This lifestyle, is an exercise in extremes. While the lows are decidedly low, the highs are very high.  I believe that is especially true if you are easily awed by nature and wildlife, (which I am). If you like adrenalin rushes, (and I do), even though I can be neurotic sometimes. If you take pride in learning new things and becoming, perhaps not great, but at least competent in doing them. Then like me, you may like this kind of life. I love those small, ordinary moments, that become strangely blissful. Even those times when I am scared out of my wits but end up with a good story to tell afterwards. I also know this lifestyle offers many opportunities for new and different experiences: The chance to meet interesting people you might not otherwise meet, and the discovery of new places. Something this bohemian has always loved.

And yes, I do like reading anecdotes written by people who travel the world, ever since I can remember.  I'm a sucker for a good story, whether it is written or spoken. The art of good storytelling is a valued family tradition I cherish. My brothers and father all excel at it, and our grandfather was also an incredible storyteller. With that in mind, here are some stories and thoughts I've come across that you may like to read as well. For very different reasons, they struck a cord.
  • Here's one by The Slapdash writer Seth, who goes on to explain how a 2 hour boat-job turned into a 5-day ordeal, I'm still laughing and cringing. His story is hilarious and painful all at once. He's a character, for sure. But this is a fine example of the insanity that can take place. We've had our share of misadventures - but this takes the cake. Click here. (Warning: there are some expletives.)
  • S.V. Estrellita 5.10b's article on how long it takes to get somewhere on a sailboat is a clear, concise description on how much we are affected, not only by nature, but by many variables when it comes to sailing anywhere! It reads a bit like a math problem, but in a cool way. (I have never denied that I am a nerd. I love this kind of stuff.) Click here.
  • I also really like the blog Zach Aboard. It's more about noting those special moments in a young family's liveaboard life than voyaging, at this point. I like the author's sense of esthetics - her fabulous image-heavy posts are quite thoughtful. Click here.
  • Put simply, this next post is an honest reflection on fear. (I haven't experienced an offshore passage yet, but I have felt fear on our boat.) I can relate to the author. Click here to read it.
  • I almost forgot to include this one: It's written by good friends of ours on S.V. Scream, who have been sailing abroad for nearly three years now. Click here to read about their search for fresh vegetables in the South Pacific. (I especially like the bit about a little girl's ambitions.)
Cheers, Kyra


  1. Great post! We're not yet liveaboards or cruisers but we're working on it and can't wait! We are preparing ourselves for those sleepless nights and exhausting days, but we know it will be worth it. We just need to avoid those reefs! =)

  2. Yes! Must avoid those bumpy bits... Do you know when you'll be moving aboard yet?

  3. Kyra and Rick,

    We were so pleased to find your Blog and see what you have been up to the past few months,(which is obviously plenty!) We, too, are getting ready for the 'Big Adventure', and head off to Mexico, and beyond,on Friday morning. We look forward to hearing more about your travels as we float along. Hope to see you at the Rendezvous this weekend.

    Cathy and Daragh

  4. Cathy and Daragh, it was good to see you at the Rendez-vous! Fair winds to you and see you down there! Cheers



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