The Cruising Life: Women’s Perspectives. Part 16: The Hard Parts

I know some people see this as “focusing on the negative” and I get that. However, for me, anyway, I like knowing the struggles that other people have for two reasons.
One, it makes me feel a little less alone when I’m struggling with something. I see no merit in always pretending that everything is fine and rainbows and perfection. I think that does a disservice to those planning things like this.
Secondly, I think its good know what we might need to prepare for. If I read a blog post that covers something that I already know I might struggle with, it helps me to know that I should be prepared for it. It also helps to get knowledge from those who’ve gone before me to help me figure out ways of dealing with (the struggles) that I might not have already thought of.
That being said, I think a big part of why I find these answers so reassuring is because most of them don’t seem like that big of a surprise to me. I thought the boat life was going to have SO MANY UNKNOWN STRUGGLES… but when it comes down to it, a lot of them are the same types of struggles that people have in a ‘normal’ land life. I don’t know if I’m just weird (Okay, I’m weird) but I found that more reassuring than anything.

What were the biggest struggles for you? How did you deal with them to get through?

Anonymous: My biggest struggle on board was “Captain vs Crew” and being a couple – skipper always had the upper hand, he made all the decisions, I went along with most of them….in hindsight, this made it a very lopsided relationship, I surrendered my power – Don’t do that!!


CJ @SVRagnarok  My biggest struggle has been dishes. I hate hate hate dishes, but also felt this way when we lived on land. I deal with it by asking for help when I need it. The other day I agreed to help clean the boat bottom if he would do dishes. I love cooking and still do 90% of the cooking, and have tried minimizing the number of dishes needed. And since there’s just two of us if I do the dishes immediately after the meal it’s not bad. But if I skip one meal then they pile up soooo fast. Grr. Like I said though I had the same struggle on land lol


Anonymous: We have had not quite enough money to do this. That is probably our biggest issue. We chose to leave when we did in part because of the economy as we didn’t see how we could build up the cruising kitty during the recession. (Our jobs were not recession proof.) It was the right choice, but has limited us more than would have been ideal. Also, we undoubtedly haven’t stuck with the budget. Unfortunately both of us aren’t good at this, so we struggle more than we need to have.

Barb @SVMelindaKay I’d say the “burp and fart” scenario. I think this is a guy thing, where I think women are much more considerate of others. That took some getting used to !!!

Jenny @SVRocketScience I felt incompetent for a long time. It was overwhelming for a long time. There is so much to know. There were many times when I wanted to throw in the towel. When I hated everything about the boat and the life. But I stuck with it, and I got through it, and that made me a stronger person.

Katy @SVKlickitatII  My biggest struggle on board is the lack of vigorous cardio exercise and feeling trapped at times without the ability to just head off on a walk or a run. Even though I swim, I don’t do it for hours and hours like I might walking or running. Knowing that we’re 6 months on, 6 months off is key as this would probably be a deal breaker otherwise.

Liza @SVInspiration  Seasickness: In the first two years of cruising (Florida to Bahamas / Bahamas, TCI, DR, PR, VI’s) I never to physically sick, but would sometimes start to feel a bit queasy. Well, that all changed once we got past the VI’s. From Saint Maarten all the way to Grenada, everything is “bigger”. Wind, waves, swell, current. I got physically ill on four passages this year. In the big picture, that’s not really a big deal considering we sailed from Puerto Rico to Grenada, but it *can* be a big deal if you’re trying to do an overnighter, and I’m down for the count. That leaves my husband to single hand for sometimes 18-20 hours by himself. Not ideal, but luckily in our case, doable.

This year I learned to just “puke and get it over with”. But I found this is a hard reality to reach. I had always fought the urge with pills, ginger, etc. And then I felt horrible for most of the trip. But you feel so much better after you just puke! Luckily, I never puked more than twice on a passage. (In the past I have been completely down for the count, puking continuously and not being able to hold anything down. That kind of seasickness can be detrimental.)

Anonymous:   My spouse sometimes acts like we’re on permanent vacation – drinking and partying way more than I want. I don’t care to hang out in bars much. He loves to. I don’t like a lot of noise, and he does. If I think someone is obnoxious, I don’t want to hang around them, but he likes people so much that he’ll hang out with anyone. I am learning to tell him just to go without me, but then I worry about any number of things and am stuck at the boat. I really haven’t figured it out, but you can bet we’re talking about it. Like everything else, we will just have to talk it out!

Nike @WhiteSpotPirates My biggest struggles are usually the moments where I get stuck in big refit projects that overwhelm me physically and / or financially. When I reach that level where I am just too frustrated and exhausted, I try to step away from it all for a day or three, trying to recharge my batteries and then trying to find a different way to tackle the project or juts splitting it into sub projects that are easier to tackle one at a time.

Byn @OhSailYes I think I’ve written enough about the hard parts. Basically, since we’ve only been onboard for one year (One Year Ago YESTERDAY!), all of my ‘hard parts’ were in the post “What was the Biggest Struggle in Your First Year?”

Part of my blog-style is that I want to be real and show the good, the bad and the ugly. That means that I’ve had several, shall we say, slightly brutal posts.

…I realized that all of the ‘challenges’ that I had prepared myself for weren’t the challenging things for me. I had read about so many of the things that other people found challenging, thinking that I wasn’t going to have *that* hard of a time, because those things didn’t sound challenging to me.”

All of that being said, the most surprising struggle has been struggling with my marriage. I kind of thought that having all the one on one time together would give my husband and I more time to talk and satisfy that part of me that has missed him so much all of these years of him being gone working all the time. The adjustment has been ROUGH, though.
We’re still struggling through and it is HARD. I’m still 99.9% sure that we’ll get through this struggle as well. We’ve been together 23 years. We’re not giving up, but I can’t say I always feel that positive about it. I’ll just say its been hard. I’m going to write a more in depth post on this topic when we get to Question 19 (How has Cruising Affected Your Marriage), but for now, I feel like I’ve left you with PLENTY to chew on!


Editors Note:

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 in topic 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, please email me at 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