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The Cruising Life: Women’s Perspectives. Part 1: What Makes it Worth it?

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A lot of cruising women were awesome enough to contribute to this blog series about women who are living/lived the cruising life. Whether they’ve been cruising for 6 months or 30 years, these are the perspectives of various women from different parts of the world. I know I’m already learning from their stories, I hope you can learn something new as well! I’ll be posting a question from this series every Wednesday and Friday for the 10 week series, so keep an eye out for our posts! The topics range from typical cruising questions, to more personal anonymous stories that might make you feel like you’ve met a kindred spirit.

If you are a current or former cruising woman and would like to contribute to future posts or blog series, please email me at bynsfb@gmail.com with the subject line “Cruising Questions from Byn” and I’ll send you the list of questions. Answer as many as you like and return them with a few photos and I’ll add your contribution as we go!

We all know that there are challenges to the cruising life. It isn’t just one long, glorious vacation (unless maybe you’re a billionaire and you can just hire other people to do all the unfun parts)… so today’s question:

What is the main thing/s that makes the cruising life worth it for you?

Rhonda @PartyofFive @Partyof5YouTube There are two things that pop instantly into my head.  My family….  We spend much more time together now than we ever did.  Back on land life we were so tied to modern technology and our own agendas that we didn’t spend time together.  Now we eat meals together, work on the boat, do the laundry, the dishes, meal planning, cooking, cleaning and of course playing at the beach.  The second and most rewarding was discovering how strong and capable I am.  I am much more confident now than ever before.  I am not afraid of a challenge or going out of my comfort zone.  It has taught me to believe in myself as well as not jump to silly assumptions about others.

Barb @SV Melinda Kay I love being able to move as we want to visit places on OUR PACE.

Carla @SVMahi I love the sense of adventure, and the novel experience of meeting new and interesting people and cultures, while visiting beautiful tropical places as you live aboard your sailboat. There is also a sense of freedom that cruising provides, sailing from place to place, oftentimes as your mood desires. We also wanted to share this unique experience with our grandson, Ethan, age 5, whom we have adopted.

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Nike @WhiteSpotPirates The best thing about cruising is that I can travel the world but still have my home with me, like a little snale or a hermit crab basically. Unlike backpacking where you have to pack and unpack your stuff everytime you change location.

The next best thing is that you are outside all of the time. At least on my boat that’s the case because it is usually way too hot to be inside. You live in and with nature and the cruising life makes you realize how little you actually need to be happy.

And last but not least, you meet tons of awesome people. When I was still living on land, I hardly ever met new people and if I did, they would usually have similar backgrounds. When you cruise you meet a crazy variety of characters that most likely you would have never met otherwise. It totally widens your horizon and opens up your mind for new ideas or lifestyles, for new languages and cultures.

Melinda The adventure even the scary bits. While I may be terrified at the time, the adrenaline high for the next week is pretty addictive.
The community. How everyone helps each other, without question. You don’t get that ashore anymore except maybe in farming communities.
The friends, without friends to share your life with, it would be nothing.

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CJ @SVRagnarok Getting to travel to far away places with my home. Living with less is also important to me, self-sustainable, low carbon footprint. I get to be on my own schedule and more in tune with nature.

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Char Lynn @S/V FirstStep There are so many things that I love about cruising. It would be so difficult to choose just ONE.
I will say that I love the people you meet. Since becoming cruisers, we have met so many fascinating people. The stories that we have heard of adventures, shenanigans, and AMAZING locations. Being still new to cruising, only able to cruise weekends and the random week here and there, my husband and I have been a bit limited on how far we can go.

When we are able to go, the anchorages we have been to are AMAZINGLY beautiful! I love being able to dive off to go for a swim, kayak up to a beach bar, or just sit in the cockpit with some Jimmy Buffett playing having a “boat drink”.

I know it’s LOTS of hard work to get where we are going…but that’s what keeps us young!! My husband always tells me “Sailing ain’t for sissies!!!” SO TRUE!!! (and that goes for male and female!) You have to be mentally and physically tough yet limber to deal with the constant “WTF was THAT noise?”…and the repairs that will follow.

In June 2013, we had rented a condo at the marina in San Carlos, Mexico for the month. My husband would travel to Tucson every Sunday for work, then back to San Carlos on Thursday nights. One particular morning, I was having a cup of coffee listening to the cruisers chatter. I felt so lost…but had such a longing to be part of “whatever” “IT” was. Watching a couple row their dinghy from the bay to the dinghy dock to haul a bag of laundry up and get the key to the showers, I thought “SOMEDAY….someday THAT will be us!!” My husband and I planned to buy a boat upon retirement (we are both now in our 40’s).

Four months later, we were crossing a bridge that has the most ASTOUNDING view of Bahia San Carlos. I saw six or seven boats happily bobbling about. As Jimmy Buffett’s song First Look played, I looked at my husband and said “WHY WAIT?? We can afford it now. We’re young and healthy. Let’s get a boat!!!” Five months later, we were rowing from the dinghy dock to our First Step. I have only ONE regret….waiting so long!!!
Jenny @SVRocketscience Being able to live in different locations. Before I started my boating life I always liked to travel, but if you can take your home along, and stay for as long as you like, that’s fantastic! I feel like I’m more in sync with places. We meet the locals, live like the locals. It’s different than flying somewhere, staying in a hotel and doing the mandatory sightseeing.

Sarah @SVAva a To be able to see the beauty of nature from a very personal perspective.  To work anywhere, (illustrator) like sitting on the back of the boat, floating on the water.  To be a gypsy, and explore the world in a super affordable way, with the real possibility to live in some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

Liza
@travelpod Learning the life lesson: Less is More.
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“Capturing the moment.” Swimming with Nicky while anchored at Stocking Island, Exumas. I love this picture because it’s got me, the dolphin and Inspiration. And the best part was…it was taken by accident!

Susan @SVRockHopper What makes cruising worth it to me is the freedom that this lifestyle affords. Although my health is not great and prevented us from the grand trip we had planned, we were still able to relatively easily regroup and set off on a different adventure.

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Abyni @AbynisInstagram I love how much more free time I have for my music and drawing and things like that, not that I had that much more to do back on land, but now I have fewer distractions.

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Lisa @MVPrivateer @HouseSitBoatSit I guess it began as a way to share experiences and adventures as a family.  My husband had the dream to retire and cruise on a sailboat.  But then we had friends who faced cancer and died.  It made us rethink that dream.  Why wait?  We decided to go for it.  This entailed my husband requesting a year’s sabbatical from a company/industry that had never considered such.  But they agreed to it!  We cruised for a year when our boys were 9 and 11.  What an amazing, bonding experience.  It was challenging, but also everything we hoped it would be.  Sounds corny, but I remember one particular moment of clarity.  I was shaking out a floor mat over the side of the boat while moored near the Pitons in St Lucia.  I just remember thinking, there is no place I would rather be – this is what I was meant to do.

Five years later we cruised again with our sons for a year.  Now they are in college and we sold the house and live aboard full-time.  At this point I don’t even know why I keep coming back.  It is just who I am, what I do.  I love living on the water and the sense of community with other cruisers is awesome.

Carly @SaltyKisses My husband and I love to travel and after we had kids we thought those days were over, cruising enables our family to go on adventures together. There are a lot of difficult times but far more amazing experiences. Without being in a classroom we are able to continually educate ourselves as well our kids.

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Yoga Mama This is a second marriage for both of us, (no children for either of us  before),   Wasting no time, poof….we were pregnant with our first child on our honeymoon!  Then bam and bam, dream house built, and three babies in 4 years.  SO, THIS IS  ALONE TIME!!!  Lol.  30 years of marriage and we’re on our second fun honeymoon.

It’s the people.  Both in other countries and sailors.   We haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to the other countries we will sail to.

It is interesting to see the mix of cruising styles : 6 months out then sail the boat back to US; or 7 months out, leave boat in Grenada to fly home, returning to Grenada to cruise same grounds again and again;  start out, get below 12 degrees for hurricane  season and go further and beyond in November.

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Tammy @ThingsWeDidToday It’s difficult to answer that question without using a cliché… so to look past all of the usual answers and get down to my real reason, I have to say that it affords me the luxury of spending every moment with my husband.  Bruce is my second husband and he is 21 years my senior.  While that didn’t mean much to us when we first got together… I was 37 and he was 58… it became more evident as the years passed.  We always “planned to go cruising someday” but I felt that our time was growing short.  We had to make the leap if it was ever going to happen.  You can never count on tomorrow and I didn’t want to look back some day after the window of opportunity had slammed shut and wish we had done it.  So back to that cliché… Cruising Life affords me the luxury of making every day count… and while we really aren’t living every day like it was our last… At least I get to spend every available moment on this earth with my husband without the stresses and distractions that land life forces upon us.

Anonymous Seeing new places and spending time in places that we love.  Our boat also gives us the mobility to follow the good weather from season to season.  I hate being cold!

Meeting new people and connecting with friends while we travel.  The cruising community is full of fascinating people who are easy to befriend and always happy to help.  It’s also fun to meet the people where ever we go, though we are on the move a lot.

Spending time on the water, which is good for the soul.  The sea is beautiful and ever changing.  You never get tired of sunrises and sunsets on the water.  Whales, dolphins and other sea life make ti that much better.  Life also moves at a slower pace when we are in cruising mode.  This was a welcome change from our fast paced work life.

Katy McKinney S/V Klickitat II The main things have been the opportunity to be in warm beautiful places that you can’t get to other than by boat, the opportunity to learn new skills, face my fears, frequently live outside of my comfort zone, and in particular to have a chance to explore new places and countries in depth rather than for just a week or two of vacation time. And the animals! Whales and dolphins, up close and personal, and sometimes even phosphorescent (the dolphins at night – have yet to see a phosphorescent whale.) And to have a front row view for every sunrise and sunset and an uninterrupted view of the night sky.

Sarah @Yoginisailor Having freedom from the rat race and being able to choose when I want to leave a place. Really, just the pure sense of freedom as I have no schedule and no one to answer to. I also like having sporadic access to technology.

Laura @FortunesAfloat  We sail not to experience the endless beach party, but to explore different places, so my favorite part of cruising is meeting different people, trying different foods, riding chicken buses, buying food in the open air market, discovering the flora and fauna of new places, and learning how other people live. We have been so impressed with the basic kindness of strangers; many have taken time to answer our questions or help us find something; some have even escorted us to where we needed to go. Once at Isla Fuerte in Colombia a local jumped aboard, took the helm, and drove us into the anchorage. Not everyone can accept that kind of help, but we have learned to have faith in our fellow human beings. Every day is a new and grand adventure if you are willing to embrace it.

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Susie @Wanderings Being full time with hubby, the people we meet (not just cruisers but locals too) and the places we see.

Byn @OhSailYes Honestly, for me, right now, the main thing that makes the cruising life worth it is that my two kids on board are so happy with it. Abyni struggled with depression a LOT on land and she’s been so much happier on the boat. She gets so much natural exercise from swimming for at LEAST an hour a day, she gets more sunshine and has fewer distractions. That pretty much means that she spends her free time doing things that motivate and inspire her, like her music. It has been an incredible transformation to see in her as we continue to live this boat life.

Jaedin is also incredibly happy with boat life. So much so that he is making plans to save money to buy his own boat. I think he’d be happy to never live in a house/on land again.

Patrick, of course, is happy with the boat life, since it was his dream in the first place.

So, that’s what makes it worth it to me. I don’t hate it, not even close, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for them. I like the opportunity to travel and definitely prefer the environment of the Bahamas to any land life I’ve had, but I wouldn’t say that sailing or cruising comes even close to being MY personal passion… if that makes any sense at all.

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Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave your answers or any questions in the comments. I’m finding this discussion to be really eye opening for me, its kind of a relief to read other answers to some of these questions that reflect similar feelings to mine. It is making me feel a little more connected (something I always struggle with).

I’ll be posting every Wednesday and Friday for this 10 week series.

See the other posts in this series:

Part 1: What Makes it Worth it?

Part 2: What Would You do Differently?

Part 3: What has been your most surprising experience?

Part 4: Where Would You Revisit?

Part 5: What is Your Favorite Physical Activity Onboard?

Part 6: What were the biggest struggles for you in your first year? How did you deal with them to get through?

Part 7: What Technology is Essential for You?

Part 8: What is your best piece of advice for people who are getting ready to take off on a cruising adventure?

Part 9: What has been your scariest moment?

Part 10: Budget Friendly Tips?

Part 11: Best Social Media Tips?

Part 12: Your Best Life Hacks for the Boat

Part 13: Your Favorite Photo

Part 14: How Did Cruising Affect Your Marriage/Relationship?

Part 15: Let’s Talk About Sex

 

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18 comments

  1. Thank you for this post! I am early in the journey towards a cruising life (still working to bring the hubby around) and the thoughts and insights shared by these women mirror many of my own. So gratifying to know this amazing community is out there!

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