One of the big changes that comes with the cruising lifestyle (for most of us) is that our social life changes. There is often changes in locations that make it more of a challenge to make friends and also helps to challenge and stretch us out of our comfort zones. I was surprised when I realized how lonely I was feeling during the first months aboard. I really hadn’t expected to deal with that much, since I rarely went “out” and socialized at home anyway.
At any rate, onto this weeks question. If you have any good suggestions for dealing with loneliness, please leave a comment!
Do You Struggle with Loneliness Onboard? How do you deal with it?
Liza @SVInspiration I don’t struggle with loneliness. I fact, I find that I have *more* communication with my friends now – even if it is through email, iMessage, FaceTime, etc. I now have the TIME to write letters to people. I’m actually in touch with numerous friends that I had lost touch with over the years! And when we return “home” in the summer months, I now visit and spent time with people that I hadn’t seen since highschool! It’s one of the advantages to being “retired” at such an early age. I have the time and they have the busy lives, so I feel that it’s my responsibility, as a good friend, to be the one who reaches out.
Anonymous: Isolation is what you make up in your own head…..one can be isolated in a crowded room or the wrong relationship. My suggestion is to make sure you have regular internet connection to connect with family members and friends back home, create a routine for yourself doing daily activities you love, make a positive move to talk to other cruisers and people at any given time. Look at where you are and enjoy!!
Barb @HartsatSea I no longer feel isolated, but did in the Bahamas during our first few months at sea. At that time, the pactor modem wasn’t out of the box and we had no way to check in back home while in the Berry Islands and in part of the Exhumas. I remember sobbing in a phone booth in Stanley Cay, talking to my forever friend and to my sister. I think EW thought the cruise may end right there, but I truly love the life and wanted to keep going. We missed births, marriages, and funerals. I have no problem with quiet anchorages, being the only English speakers within miles, and having EW as my only playmate for a couple of weeks at a time. After that, I need to find some people. So the most difficult part for me has been missing folks back home. Still, it’s not something I dwell on or can change, and it’s not enough to make me stop cruising.
Jenny @SVRocketScience I do struggle with loneliness a lot. My DH is a fisherman in Alaska, so he’s gone 6 – 8 months/year. Every time he leaves I’m left in a new location, most of the time I do not know anyone. I usually make friends easily, but there are times when I get so sick of telling my life story for the millionth time, I choose to not be outgoing and make friends. I generally do pretty well being alone, but it gets overwhelming at times. I have to say that this year was better than most. I made a wonderful friend through WWS in Charleston when I stayed there this spring. In Newfoundland we had some wonderful people raft up to us, and also met friends of friends, who showed up within 30 minutes of us tying up to say hello and collect our laundry! Those friends of friends referred us to their friends in Lymington, England. It’s nice to spend some time with people you sort of have a history with, even if it is just because you have friends in common. So that was good. Sometimes when I am by myself I go back to Germany to visit my family, but while we were in North America or the Caribbean that wasn’t always feasible. It’s expensive and we have a dog. The worst loneliness I’ve ever struggled with was in Bastimentos, Panama. I felt stuck on this island with not much going on, and it really got to me. I try to see it as a chance to learn how to be happy with just myself.
Lea Pennicott @Tientos I love my own company, and that of my husband, so cruising isolated areas works for us. Then we enjoy being part of the cruising fraternity, or locals, when it happens.
Anonymous: Yes, I do, and for different reasons than some. My husband and I are in our 40’s — we are the “burned out yuppie” type of cruiser. I was a professional before (unrelated to sailing), and to be honest I don’t find cruising as intellectually or socially stimulating as working. It’s been hard for me to idle, and I miss having colleagues to discuss my profession with. I have been connecting with others via FB and keeping up on my technical reading, but the way I am dealing with this is to stop cruising after two years and go back to work. Now I cherish every cruising day instead of being filled with guilt for not appreciating it!
Tammy @ThingsWeDidToday I do feel isolated living on the boat. If it weren’t for Facebook, sometimes I think I would have no “friends” at all. All of my life I have had one friend at a time. My last friend, Mimi, committed suicide. I have never gotten over it. I still think about her all of the time and really if I’m being honest with myself… I’m forever in search of a love like what I had with her. I don’t want a replacement… there could never be another like her. What I would like is to find someone who gets me like she did. Someone with whom I could be myself and not have to feel apologetic about it. She saw all of my negatives as strengths and I really miss that. You hear so much about the Cruising community being so friendly and welcoming, but I haven’t really found that to be true, at least not to the extent that I expected. People are all so very different, and even with such a common bond as having given up your life and taken a leap out into the unknown such as we have… You’re still either going to fit in or you’re not. It seems that mostly we don’t. Bruce doesn’t care… he could go the rest of his life talking to only me and never look back. Friendships take a lot of effort that he mostly isn’t willing to give. But I would like to have one or two good friends that I can count on and share the deeper thoughts that I don’t send out into the blogosphere. Inside me there is a huge empty hole where Mimi used to be and I long for someone who fits in there. Maybe my situation isn’t pertinent to everyone else’s, but I guess to sum it up, I don’t think your ability to find friends is going to change just because you’ve gone cruising.
Anonymous: I miss my family and friends. Facebook helps. And so far, we’re going home every 6 months. This time, I actually asked my friends which of them would be willing to host a get together so that I can visit with more of them in the limited time I have. Three people said yes!
Also, not being fluent in the language is isolating, but I’ve found if you try, everyone tries to help you along. And the more you try, the better you get. So I’m working on it.
Nike @WhiteSpotPirates Usually I enjoy the solitude that comes with solo sailing. But I cannot deny that there are times where I feel lonely. Especially because there is no real constant in my life. No next door friends that you have had for years and that will always just be a short bike ride away.
Luckily, the times where I feel very lonely are not that often. When they come, I usually just sit them out, hide on my boat, watch movies or read books, listen to music…and what helps me most is writing about it and reflecting about why the feeling is coming up in that moment.
Sarah @YoginiSailor Yes. I either use social media to try and connect with friends and family or if there are people around, I introduce myself to others. However, that’s not always possible or I’m not always feeling sociable so I write or read. I also think it’s important to sit with how we feel sometimes and I know that the feelings of isolation will pass.
Byn @OhSailYes Yes… and no. I wrote about struggling with Loneliness and Depression early on in our travels. Although I did continue to miss those close relationships that I had on land, I did come to enjoy the solitude in many ways. I found myself uninterested in going to social events, because the crowds were overwhelming (and I hate small talk), but found a couple of good friends that I was able to spend time with as just a couple of friends hanging out and that was definitely nice. I spent ten weeks aboard with just my son Jaedin and that was awesome. He’s probably the least talkative of all of my kids, but with just the two of us together we had tons of conversations about everything under the sun. It was pretty nice.
There have been struggles with loneliness for both Abyni and I because we need a lot more input and connection than the guys do. I deal with it by reading more, I’ve always been a book worm and getting lost in a book really helps distract me when I’m feeling lonely.
Abyni and I try to find projects that are just for us (like writing songs together, which is the greatest!)… like a bit of an escape from the boat life without leaving the boat. I’m working on a screen play that I’ve been wanting to do for years and several acting projects to chase my own dreams and ambitions instead of letting myself feel like all I have/am is “Boat Life”. Its helping me a lot to spend at least some time each day focusing on me-centric things that make me feel fulfilled. I think I was getting too wrapped up in feeling like I “Had To” have all of my energy wrapped up in this boat adventure and it was dragging me down. I really enjoy a lot of aspects of the boat life, but its not *my* dream and I needed to step back and realize that I can ENJOY the boat life without making everything about it… if that makes ANY sense whatsoever. I think this will have a positive effect on my marriage as well, if I can find ways to make myself happy through creative outlets, then there is a lot less stress on Patrick as well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 4: Where Would You Revisit?
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 15: Let’s Talk About Sex
Part 16: What are the Hard Parts?
Part 18: How Do You Deal with Loneliness?