The Cruising Life: Women’s Perspectives. Part 2: What Would You do Differently?

 

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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.

 

Part 2: Most of us can look back and see that there are things we would have done differently if we had it all to do again. Not to say that they are all counted as “Regrets”, just something that we can look back and see that making a different choice here or there would have made a big or even little difference in the cruising journey. Sometimes this can be eye opening for new cruisers, getting ready to take off on their own journey. I know some of my favorite blog posts were those with the advice of “I wish I had known…” or “I would have done xyz if I’d known” So for question 2:

What is something/s that you wish you had done differently from the beginning?

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Abyni @AbynisInstagram I wouldn’t mind having done more research on things like sea sickness and just sailboat life in general. Either way I am very happy with where I am now, and I am learning more everyday.

 

Barb @SVMelindaKay Nothing, I feel we were well-prepared for life aboard our boat. We attended many seminars and really listened to what people were saying about life aboard a boat.

 

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Carla @SVMahi Our plan to go cruising took us about 10 years in total.  We started with the initial dream, then sailing classes and buying a smaller practice boat, our O’Day 23, which we still own. On the financial side, Joe and I saved like mad towards our cruising goal and early retirement, paid off our home in California, then saved up for our cruising sailboat, MAHI, our Taswell 43.  Life is never quite as you plan, so when Ethan came along unexpectedly, and we found ourselves in our mid-50’s with an newborn infant to care for, we simply decided to bring him along for the adventure.  While this timetable works for us, there is a side of me that wishes we had started cruising sooner, perhaps in our 30’s or 40’s.  As you age, unexpected health issues for one partner may impact your cruising dreams.  Life is too short, so go sooner!

 

Carly @SaltyKisses Wish we had the confidence in ourselves to know we could live in a small space. Originally we bought and refit a 51’ ketch but found out we were pregnant with a 3 child, we hadn’t built enough berths and wanted to give our kids separate cabins. We ended up cruising on a 65’ sailboat which was amazing but really too big for us. We now have a third chance and are purchasing a 48’ sailboat, a more appropriate size for our family. Also there is no need to over provision, there is food around the world and no need to stock enough canned tomatoes to last a year.

 

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Char-Lynn @SVFirstStep I wish I hadn’t waited so long to live out my dream.

CJ @SVRagnarok So far pretty pleased with how we have handled things. We had two options, find a boat on the coast ready to go and go. Or find a boat close to home, work on it and work some more to build up kitty. We went the second option. Sometimes I wish we could’ve got a nicer boat and skipped all the maintenance but also glad we know all our systems pretty well. Oh one thing I do wish we did from the very beginning before we moved aboard would be converting head and holding tank to composting. I really really hate the head. We’ve replaced the hoses, rebuilt head, and it still stinks. Belch.

Crystal @LetitBreeze I wrote a blog post about 7 Things We Wish We’d Done Differently and while I think it has some very valuable information in it for future cruisers, the truth is that there is really only one thing I wish we had done differently. I wish we would have done this sooner. That may sound strange coming from someone in her early 30s. But cruising has been the most challenging, liberating, and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. This experience has forever changed our lives. Our perspective is so different than it was just a year ago. We now know we can live with less, a lot less, and the bond I share with my husband has grown even stronger. We have a rock solid foundation to continue building our marriage on. So yes, I wish we would have done this sooner.

 

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Katy @S/V Klickitat II I wish I’d had more sailing experience – my time sailing prior to our starting our cruising life could be measured in hours, rather than even days or years. And probably starting with a southern crossing of the Sea of Cortez after two quick afternoon sails for practice was a bad idea – when we approached the anchorage after two days and a night on the crossing we remembered we’d never anchored before – meant to practice but had run out of time.

 

Laura @FortunesAfloat I wish we had installed solar panels and upgraded our refrigeration before we left, but two years into our cruise we are now doing that, and I don’t really regret leaving without those upgrades.
Lisa @MVPrivateer The one main thing I learned from out first year aboard (12 yrs ago!), is that there is no right or wrong way to cruise.  Do what is right for YOU!  During our first year, I thought it did not count unless I endured every hardship.  I had to earn my stripes, right?!  Our first multi day passage way a doozy.  It almost ruined cruising for me.  9+ days crossing from Hampton, VA to Tortola, BVI just about did me in!   We tangled with a cold front that brought high winds and huge seas.  I was seasick, terrified and felt like I was losing my mind.  Having our two boys, ages 9 and 11 on board may be the only reason I kept it together.  We arrived in Tortola and I realized lots of spouses had flown to meet the boat.  This stuck with me.  By the time we were ready to cruise five years later, I realized that I should fly to meet the boat and skip the passage.  It is “game on” on the open ocean.  If you are not contributing, you are a liability.  Some people live for that shit, and I have great respect for them.  But it is not for me.  I have several passages under my belt, 9 days, 5 days, several overnights.  Some were peaceful, some harrowing and I hated all of them.  They are nothing more than exercises in survival for me.  I am so prone to motion sickness that all I can do is take my watch and then dive for my bunk, no leisurely reading or contemplating life.   But here is the kicker, I love living aboard and visiting new places.  I have lived aboard for a total of three years and can’t wait for more!  I just go ashore for long passages and my husband finds friends and volunteer crew.  It works for us, and that is what matters.  I have nothing to prove.

Liza @TravelPod
I have no regrets. It’s been such a learning curve that I wouldn’t have known how to do it differently anyways. Now I get a kick out of looking back at the emails I sent home in our first year out. I was so green! But everyone learns, and continues to learn. There are so many variable in sailing that one task can take on a new challenge even the hundredth time you do it. Everything is always an adventure on board!

TravelPod-Liza

“Peak Perfect.” Inspiration moored at Pinney’s Beach with an almost cloudless Nevis peak at 3232 feet in the background.

 

Melinda Taylor No not really. I’d been around boats most of my life so I had a bit of an idea. I actively sought the opinions and advice of older sailers I really trusted.
I’m glad I started cursing on my own. I had no one to help but that allowed me to make mistakes and learn. Because I really didn’t have a clue. I knew how to sail but not to cruise. Learning about power systems and how to manage them, well all systems really, was hard. Yet, if I’d had someone else on the boat I would never have learned all I that needed. Mind you, you never know it all.
Once I had decided I wanted to go offshore, I crewed shorthanded with experienced skippers who could and would teach me. And I was lucky, with all of it.

 

Nike @WhiteSpotPirates I am from Germany and the sailing community in Germany is…well, German. When a newbie dares to post in a cruising forum, stating that she/he has no experience and no money but the dream to sail the world and asking for advice, the reactions are often somewhat intimidating (at least some six years ago when I started my research). Reading the replies makes you think you would need at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars and thousands of offshore miles experience to set out (I am exaggerating, but you get the point). And you need to have this gadget and that instrument and what you want to set out without this, that’s irresponsible.
Well, I never dared to post in any of those forums because I did not want my dream to end in scattered pieces on the bottom of my heart. But I did buy quite a lot of stuff that I had read I was supposed to need…Which some of it is still lying around on my boat Karl, totally untouched.

Unfortunately, I started my sailing adventure with a rather long time in a marina fixing my boat trying to leave. Fellow cruisers were definitely more encouraging there. But I was also bombarded with a lot of advice that sometimes sounded more like a “you must” rather than “here’s what worked for me”.  And when you are new to this whole cruising thing, you can easily get overwhelmed, thinking you will be broke or burned out before your boat is ever ready to leave. I once even nearly invested some 150$ into snap caps for the screws on my window because someone was insisting that there was really no way I could live without them.
To cut a long story short…I wish I would have given myself some time to find my “cruising character” before I went and bought some stuff in the beginning. Maybe it would have even helped to simply know in the beginning that there are different types of cruisers.

After three years I feel that I still often don’t really have a clue what I am doing. But I have learnt to listen to advice in a different way. I don’t just hear one person’s story that might sound like it is the only way to do things but get different opinions, do my own research and then go for the option that fits my needs and my personal comfort zone and nobody else’s.

Rhonda @PartyofFive

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Sarah Gayle I wish we hadn’t waited so long to go. (I’m new to it all, so I don’t have much perspective)

 

Stacey @SVSmitty Once you get out here cruising you realize that there are so many different things that you would have done differently:

~Boat related items like more solar (added), a generator (added), a water maker (wish list),  changing around where the water tank (wish list), owning a better sewing machine (wish list), AIS (wish list). If the boat related items had been resolved before we left Massachusetts then the financial hit would not have felt as painful because my husband and I were both still working full-time.

~Cruising-planning related items:  I would have skipped Turks & Caicos.  It was expensive and inconvenient and the water is super shallow (if you have spent time in the Bahamas, which we did, and I am bitching about shallow water and costs in T&C – then you know it is bad!).  However, we did meet some really fantastic cruisers here which we then buddy-boated all the way through the Mona Passage. What up sv Sea Frog, sv Party of Five, and sv Last Tango! 🙂

~Communication:  Husband and I had many verbal “domestics” while anchoring, it took us a while to really figure out what works for us (you know, because we are both always right!).  You would think this would be simple on a 31’ boat, but when the wind is blowing I cannot hear him on the bow. I wish we had practiced anchoring just to get our communication down. Apologies to anyone that had to hear us bickering.

 

Susie @Wanderings  Nothing; however I have enjoyed learning lots of ways to improve cruising life.

 

Suzanne @SVRockHopper We held on to a storage unit for years, holding on to a number of large items and just “stuff”. Having the storage unit gave us a crutch (extra space) that it took us a lot longer to really get good at the concept of minimizing. It has only been the past 2 years that all of my clothes fit on the boat rather than having to swap out each season. Living with excess is simply unnecessary and it has taken far too long for us to learn these lessons with storage units at the ready.

 

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Tammy @ThingsWeDidToday The easy answer – Install a watermaker!  The not-so-easy answer – I wish that we hadn’t been so afraid.  The learning curve is steep and in the beginning so much of our time was tinged with a certain level of anxiety.  I think we’re enjoying ourselves more now that we’ve realized that with a little common sense we (and the boat) can handle most situations and there’s really not so much to be afraid of.

 

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Yoga Mama I would’ve/should’ve been more involved in buying our boat.  I was SO busy with three little ones….I gave my input on galley type, storage needs, bed shape and size, we went thru lots of boats together….but trusted my husband to get us a good blue water boat and let him shop in the end on his own.   He did. I kept relating my desires and caved in to his excitement and reasons why THIS or THAT was better than what I wanted.  And I do love her.  But it suits him and not me and didn’t suit our growing sailing family either so we scrapped the notion of family cruising.  It’s just the right size for him and all of his desired parts and tools.  It’s a gorgeous boat, and has ALOT of storage but honestly. I have TWO drawers and one hanger in a dry locker.  That’s IT.  It’s bizarre..  I could whine and wine all day long about this but it is what it is.  I get all jonesy when I’m on the catamarans with LIVING rooms, REAL fridges and master suites.  Oh oh oh.  I wonder sometimes if this first year would’ve been easier if I’d stuck to my wishes. Still craving elbow room often. I’m stopping now

 

ohsailyes-heat-bynByn @OhSailYes Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, I can see a ton of little things that we would have done differently from a mechanical standpoint. We had a lot of mechanical failures in the beginning, some before we even got TO our boat, that cost us a lot of money. But that so quickly becomes a rabbit trail of “If – Then” questions, its kind of hard to even imagine what the RIGHT choice would have been!

There are definitely things I wish I would have brought a LOT more of (my bulk 50 pound cans of coconut oil? I kick myself over not bringing those OFTEN), and I REALLY wish we’d have bought more provisions in the States before coming to the expensive Bahamas, but our budget being what it was, we did the best we could.

The biggest thing, I guess, is that I wish we had found some option for A/c , even just in our cabin for the night time. Our cabin is blocked by the pilot house so much that unless it’s a REALLY windy day, we get next to no breeze in our space. It makes it miserably hot to sleep alone, much less with two people. We desperately need to do some remodeling to give us some air flow. It is definitely a priority when we start doing upgrades. I had NO idea that heat was going to be such a huge factor for me. Its not JUST that I’m HOT, its that I’m way hotter than anyone else on the boat. I will be sitting in the same room as everyone else, drinking ice water, sitting under the only hatch in the salon and I’m literally dripping with sweat and absolutely miserable… and everyone else is fine. They might be hot or slightly uncomfortable, but rarely is anyone else sweating their ass off like I am. I think its in part because I have got to be getting into the whole perimenopause thing, and partly because I’ve just always been hotter. I was always comfortable in a light sweat shirt in the winter, while Patrick was bundled up in three layers, plus a coat AND hat… and in the car, I’d have to crack my window open with just a T-shirt on when the temps were freezing.

I had no idea how much the heat was going to bother me, how much it would affect my emotional space. I was not prepared at. all. Neither was anyone else.

In some ways, I’m almost glad we didn’t have any type of A/c thus far, because I may not have EVER left the boat and it has been good for me to get out and swim to cool off every afternoon… but at this point, I think that we need to get some sort of cooling off option before next summer or I might not be able to hack it. There have already been far too many tears over feeling so completely miserable and just… DONE from all the hot, sweaty days!

That being said, in a much more minor way, there are the 10 Things I wished I’d Brought I did have some things that I Wish I’d Brought More Of

 

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 with a few photos and I’ll add your contribution as we go!

If you are a current or former cruising woman and would like to contribute to future posts, 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 with a few photos and I’ll add your contribution as we go.

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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