The Cruising Life: Women’s Perspectives. Part 3: The Most Surprising Thing…


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

What has been your most surprising experience since moving aboard?


Singing and jamming with the kids on Tanda Malika


Abyni @AbynisInstagram I have actually met more people and made more friends since I got to the boat than I had for a long while back when I lived on land. I really wasn’t expecting to meet many people but I’m glad I did.

Barb @HartsatSea We moved aboard in 2002, and lived aboard year round in Maine for the better part of 8 years. Though EW is the sailor, selling the house and moving aboard had been my idea and we both kept waiting for what we called the “Oh MY God!” moment when the second doubts kicked in. That never happened. I loved living aboard from day one and never regretted it. This does not mean we haven’t had challenges, never fight, or have been delighted with every aspect of our adventure aboard. Life is like that. For us, while the challenges may be doubled from folks who live normally, the rewards have quadrupled.

Barb @SVMelindaKay We did not do overnight passages before moving aboard and have done since.  And we did awesome, were very safety conscious and made wise decisions with weather.

Carla @SVMahi What I found most surprising was the amount of stress my husband and I encountered after moving to the new boat. Of course, any change is often stressful, both positive and negative change. However, we were surprised by the high amount of stress felt during the early months- stress over boat failures not caught on the survey, learning the boat systems, refit stress, financial stress, and the overall feelings of moving across the country and learning to live in tight quarters. That took us by surprise.

My husband hit his low point after the first boat delivery after purchase. The head sail shredded, the smell of diesel and holding tank from permeated hoses were overwhelming, water gushed into the navigation station due to leaking chainplates. and when we plugged into shore power, we did not have electricity. Husband wanted to take the boat out to sea and sink it! We laugh about it now, but at the time he felt overwhelmed.

October 4, 2016 update- With Hurricane Matthew approaching the Bahamas, my husband and boat are facing a direct hit and potential loss of our cruising sailboat. THIS now qualifies as the most surprising experience to date.

Carly @SaltyKisses Most surprisingly I haven’t wanted to kill my kids or husband, honestly I didn’t know how I would do living in such close quarters 24/7 with them all. The 65’ boat helped a lot with this transition. I love my kids and now I actually like them too.

Crystal @LetitBreeze  I wrote a blog post on Our Five Favorite Places, but for me the excitement of traveling somewhere new always outweighs my desire to return to the known.

Cheri @SVConsort  Honestly? How little adjustment there was. I expected it to be far more traumatic. We sold our house super quick, and the new owners wanted to move in fast. I think the speed of the deal made it easier in some ways. Pulled the bandaid off quickly, so to speak. We blogged about it here What About the Stuff?

CJ @SVRagnarok Hmm a surprise experience? I think I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into so I’m not easily surprised. I suppose the most surprised I have been was when a submerged creature popped up next to me while I was driving the boat! We were cruising down the Tombigbee in gator country, I was scanning the shores for one, then a big ol’ mamma jamma popped up right next to me. And then when we were cruising in mobile bay a dolphin jumped right next to me and I freaked again!!
Oh also just remembered one, we were anchored in a cove and left for the majority of the day. When we got back to the boat, it was gone. I was dead. Luckily we just peeked around the way and it was right there. My boyfriend used the opportunity to make sure our dinghy could tow our boat (it does) and it was just a tiny stick that fouled it. We’ve got a Mantus on order.

Katy McKinney S/V Klickitat II I’ve  found that even in quite rough conditions I get scared but not seasick – a nice surprise!

Kristie @Sale2Sail I can not pick just one surprising experience because there are many that happen “out here” over and over again. For instance, I am surprised at how often you run into the same boats/people over and over again. Maybe it’s just because we have only cruised the Eastern Caribbean chain, but I’ve been told that even in the most remote places you’ll run into boats over and over. If anyone is afraid of isolation and not having friends, that is NOT a problem out here. We have more friends here than back home!!!

Another surprising experience is with me personally and a change I did not expect. I was always a type A personally; I walked fast, talked fast, needed things completed immediately and done perfectly. Now, I am completely laid back. I walk slower and sit and enjoy the sunset every night. I am just happy if a job is performed correctly and am not the perfectionist I was before. I think this has made me a better person and definitely a better Mom. I don’t yell as much and give more praise.



Laura @FortunesAfloat Having lived aboard and cruised 35 years ago there were no big surprises moving aboard, but since we’ve actually been cruising I have been surprised at how much easier it is this time. I give credit to all the modern electronic gadgets: chart plotter, cell phones, iPads, widespread Internet access. These devices make it much easier for folks to have an adventure, yet stay safe and connected to friends and family back home.

Lisa @MVPrivateer It’s the people, not the places.  The cruisers we meet and travel with and local folks whose culture we get a taste of are what keeps us coming back.  Beautiful places are stunning, but become just wallpaper without interesting people to share them with.  Cruising with our kids, we found this especially true.  The one thing cruising kids want, and don’t have is peers.  When you find other kid boats, meet up and stick together.  They are your tribe!  The experiences are not as rich without them.  Now that we cruise as a couple, we enjoy the camaraderie of groups like The Salty Dawg Rally.  It is fun to pull in to a new harbor and see a familiar boat already at anchor.

Liza @SVInspiration  I never thought I would love the lifestyle *this* much. I had always wanted to live aboard a sailboat and sail south. In fact, I had submitted the following to my university year book under “What does your future hold?”: “Buy a sailboat, sail south, and return to shore only for supplies and Jimmy Buffett concerts”. I truly am “Living my dream”.

TravelPod 6

Stunning sunrise in Culebra, Puerto Rico. For someone who never used to be a ‘morning person’ I get up awfully early now. I love that this lifestyle has broadened my horizons in so many ways. ~ Liza


Melinda That I can survive with less than 49 pairs of shoes. How much I love being at sea. You get time to think out there, to follow a thought to the end. To think about the big life questions without the constant input of pop culture mundanities.


Sarah @SailingAva How very little stuff I need to be happy and creative.  I moved onto a Cal 29 from a 4600 sq ft church that had been my home and studio for years.  I would have sworn before that I really needed all that stuff for my creative soul, but what I found out is I didn’t need it at all.  It was all a distraction, just an overwhelming number of things to play with.  Now I am more creative and focused than I have ever been, not to mention happier!

Sarah @YoginiSailor The most surprising experience has been that it was much easier to live 24-7 with someone in a small space than I thought it would be!


Stacey @SVSmitty 


~Experience while cruising:  The first time the dolphins came up to our boat and were playing in our bow wake both Summer (our dog) and I were absolutely freaking out.  I have never heard Summer cry the way she does for dolphins, and, she knows that they are near before we do! The dolphins seem to be interested in her as well, one time a mother and baby actually kept coming up to her and were checking her out.  Dolphins are always surprising and amazing.  Summer and I are always on dolphin watch.

SVSmitty-winter Boston

~Experience while living aboard before cruising: I often think back to that time in the middle of winter, living aboard in Boston, the harbor was frozen and the pump out boat could not get to us, the water lines to the bathroom at the marina were frozen, and I just overfilled our holding tank and shot ick out the vent and onto the neighbors boat, and the macerator broke….the fact that I did not have a melt down at that moment made me realize that I can handle a lot more then I had realized.

Susie @Wanderings Realizing how little you really need

Suzanne @SVRockHopper Wow, only 1? There are no special allowances for living on a boat.   I had just had surgery and was heavily medicated. There was an ice storm and it was about 10PM when we got back to the boat. The dock was covered with ice and due to the slight slope, it was a straight shot into the icy water; but we had to get back to our boat. As I was loopy, I  was wandering every time my husband turned his back, so my husband tied me to a tree until he could rig up a safe way to get me on the boat.  After tying safety lines along the dock, he put life jackets on both of us, tethered me to him, and got me aboard the boat.
The next morning my memory of the event was vague but the idea that our only choice was what we did or pay for a hotel, well, boat life has its challenges!
Tammy @The Things We Do
It takes just as long (or longer) to thoroughly clean the boat as it did to clean our 2700 sq. ft. townhouse…  I really thought I would be spending less time cleaning now but that hasn’t happened.  It’s a constant battle keeping up with dirt on a boat!


Yoga Mama That….my husband can cook!  Who knew?  Certainly not us, the wife and children!  He successfully hid it for 30 years and now? I grab my beer and leave the cooking and galley stuff to him.  I LOVE to cook but do not yet enjoy the galley and fridge experience so…this is a good change.
I also did not enjoy the Bahamas.  Gorgeous water but not very many pretty fish snorkeling …and So much rolling every night for six weeks and we were running from weather every day.  I also didn’t enjoy Georgetown campy atmosphere..  Those were surprises.
We’re in Curacao and needing to prep for this  97L. Ha! Also a surprise


dolphinsAbyni1Byn @OhSailYes  We’re coming up on our one year anniversary, so I don’t think we’ve had many surprising experiences. The most amazing surprise the first day that the kids went Swimming with Dolphins and we were all astounded that the dolphins stayed around and swam around with them for nearly an hour. Since then, we’ve had 5-6 dolphin encounters, some shorter, but all of them amazing and exciting. This last time a pair of dolphins swam around our boat for over two HOURS. We were blown away!

For me personally, the biggest continual surprise is the water and the sky… how every single day it just looks so gorgeous, so BLUE, so TURQUOISE, so… well, I thought all the photos I had seen had to be photoshopped. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we first got to the Bahamas nearly 8 months ago and the water was ACTUALLY that color I am still amazed on a daily basis by the water. I comment on it every single day, “I can’t BELIEVE how clear/gorgeous/turquoise the water is!” Even on a miserably hot, rainy day… (and I must admit that I’m still surprised at HOW MUCH the heat and constant state of sweaty-ness wears on my emotional state. Even so, even when I’m having a miserable day, this view is STILL gorgeous:

And for one last, personally surprising thing… I’m not scared. Before we moved onto the boat, I was pretty freaking terrified of the idea of being on ANY boat, on ANY ocean… ever. I had only been near/in the ocean a handful of times, and every single time I found it fascinating, but so overwhelming, so powerful, so SCARY. Patrick had been saying for decades that we’d go live on a sailboat when the kids got older and my response was always NO WAY IN HELL. Besides my fear, I also get motion sick SO easily… its kind of ridiculous. I couldn’t imagine ever living on a boat and not being full of fear every waking second. I FINALLY Agreed to Try Out Sailboat Life on July 7, 2015. In hindsight, I think it was an incredibly good decision… even with the good/bad/stressful stuff that’s happened because of it.

IMG_20160903_125138599I still haven’t conquered the sea sickness at all, but the fear just isn’t there. The Worst Panic Attack I’ve had was when our boat was hauled out ON LAND. I have had some moments of mild panic thus far on crossings that last more than 12 hours, but I’ve now weathered some storms and rocky crossings without feeling much of any fear at all. I feel like I’ve conquered something pretty major in that. I am still not ready for a longer crossing (even the thought of a 3 day crossing is a bit much quite yet), but I think I’ll get there as we get more sailing time under our belts.

Abyni @AbynisInstagram I have actually met more people and made more friends since I got to the boat than I had for a long while back when I lived on land. I really wasn’t expecting to meet many people but I’m glad I did.


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





    1. Thank you! I’m enjoying seeing that other women have similar experiences and feelings about some things. I feel less… alone in some things. Its also surprising me how many DIFFERENT answers I’m seeing as well.

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