Exactly one year ago today, we posted Earning Checkmarks signifying our departure from Atlanta and selling our home of over 20 years. Did we make a mistake? Is it everything we thought it would be? Are we going to carry on?
Life on a boat is a little harder than we thought it would be. Not every day is snorkeling, walking and fun in the sun. Okay, there is quite a bit of that. But, there is an awful lot of work that goes into maintaining Cream Puff to ensure the systems are working and keeping us safe. Our budget dictates we do a lot of work ourselves, most of which we enjoy. Some jobs are a steep learning curve. Sometimes what appears to be a simple repair can involve hours of study prior to lifting a screwdriver. We didn’t skimp on purchasing tools and spare parts when setting up the boat to cruise. It has really helped having a good inventory of parts and the right tools for the jobs at hand. When the chores or repairs pile up, this can get me down a little. For the most part, the good days outnumber the days of frustration.
Our travel is solely dependent on the weather. Cindy keeps a very close eye of weather. She spends about a half hour each day looking at the next three days. Our best laid plans can be subject to multiple changes. We joke about having plans written in sand on the beach at low tide. Being fluid is key. Flexible is too rigid. Phrases like, “we need to find a safe harbor” or “strong winds the next few days” can cause us to make a complete one-eighty. We try very hard not to push the limits of our seamanship experience. We like fair weather sailing.
The best part of our lifestyle is seeing new places. One of my favorite things to do is stroll about armed with the camera smelling the roses. Meeting new people is a lot of fun. Chatting with the locals can unlock secrets to places we are enjoying. I am not shy about starting conversations with perfect strangers. I ask a lot of questions. I can be very annoying this way. I find most people are very proud of their town or island and want to share. Some of the people we meet are just like us. They are nomads. We immediately have boats in common. It doesn’t take long to find out where they have been and if we are heading that way. We receive great tips of places to visit from people anchored near us. Doing so over a rum drink seems to be the preferred method of information exchange.
The hardest part about this change in lifestyle for me is pretty simple. I miss our friends. I miss things like the regular monthly poker game. I miss the structure of a land life and the conveniences to buy anything at anytime. I do not miss meeting people who ask in the first minute of the conversation, “What do you do for a living?” Does it really matter? In isolated places, if we stay for any length of time, I get a little lonely. It is good Cindy and I have always enjoyed each other’s company above any other. Sometimes I feel sorry for the first person we meet after a few days alone. They tend to get more of me than they wanted.
I think we should keep going a little longer. I’d like to see what’s around the corner. And, I’m really hoping as we continue to improve our all around boat upkeep skills so life will get a little easier opening up more time for fun in the sun.
I don’t think I can say it better than Mark. He pretty much summed things up. Let’s see what I might be able to add.
We both knew living on a boat, sailing here and yonder would be challenging. We read a lot of blogs and got to know quite a few of people who have gone before us. They have given us some great advice before we left and along the way as well. As with most things in life, until you are in the throes of things yourself, you don’t really get the full effect of their words. Like Mark said, this lifestyle can be difficult and frustrating but the upsides are still outweighing the hardships.
Like Mark, I miss the consistency we had in our old life. Knowing where to shop, reliable internet and cell phone coverage, friends close by, the ease of local knowledge of our area, all things we miss. We are always the tourists just passing through. Tourist tend to stand out and are often taken advantage of. We don’t have local knowledge of where things are located or what stores are the best to find things we need. Often times we are without consistent communication or internet. Every new port is like starting over. And we are limited by accessibility and time.
I learned that land life is darn hard to break away from. There are still tentacles that pull us back. Often we arrive in a new port and spend a day or multiple days dealing with emails and phone calls from our land life.
We are very fortunate to have friends who come to visit us and other friends who stay in contact with us regularly. We have made quite a few new friends along the way. We have really enjoyed this aspect of the lifestyle. It is nice to meet fellow cruisers to exchange advice and travel stories. We enjoy meeting local people and learning about the area as well.
We are both fairly good at problem solving and can be creative. This lifestyle has taken us way out of our box more than once. So much so that once or twice we lost the box completely. There were times when we could hear our collective wheels grinding in our brains to come up with a solution to a problem. It is nice to be challenged in new ways. We always celebrate the wins big and small.
One of the key things we have learned is in retirement you really do not have days off. A friend who was retired said this to me over twenty years ago. I did not fully appreciate what he meant until recently. There are no holidays or days off unless you make them. Every day can be just like the last. We both have a high work ethic. Neither of us can relax if there is a repair or chore to do. In the beginning we would be so busy with repairs and chores we would forget to stop and enjoy the place we were visiting. That had to change. And, it did. We slowed our pace significantly. We take time to relax and enjoy our surroundings.
Another nice surprise that I learned this year, some cruisers blow conch shells at sunset in the Bahamas. It does not happen at every stop but when it does it catches on. Soon you hear multiple boaters blowing shells making a sound like a soft horn. Is it an old tradition? Is it the rum drinks? When did this start and why? Who knows. It is just really cool and is peaceful in a way.
The past year has flown past in some ways. In other ways it seems ages ago when we pulled out of our driveway for the last time. The year has been a learning curve for us both. We have seen so much and learned so much. It is hard to believe it all happened in one short year. Over all, it has been a good year. Let’s see what the next one has to offer.