** I have developed a category for “Questions Women Ask” from questions people send to me. You can find it at the bottom of the page under “Categories”. Or click here: https://www.creampuff.us/category/questions-women-ask/. If you have questions send me a comment. I try to share what I have learned. ***
Women often take me aside out of ear shot of the husbands. They always seem to ask me the same questions:
They want to know what I think of blue water sailing. They worry about safety and long voyages and everyone asks about pirates. The next question all women ask me is about actually living on a boat as opposed to visiting it on weekends. And finally, the big question, what are you going to do with your stuff.
Living on the boat full time: I think any space no matter how big or how small can get very cramped. Ok, claustrophobic. People need space and definitely need alone time once in awhile. I hear of friends who retire talk about the life style change of both people being retire and living at home together, all the time. It is a change in life style. While some people move to smaller homes, different cities, buy an recreational vehicle (motor home, caravan) or just live together in the same house full time, it is a change. It takes time to find the right rhythm for you both. That first year can be tough. There is so much to learn. There are learning curves to anything that is new.
I have spent many an afternoon in marina laundry rooms, captain lounges and on email consoling first or second year cruising ladies. It takes time but the effort is very much worth it. And, it does get easier. If you can work through the challenges, you will find the third year is when you both find your groove (UPDATE: Since this post was written we added “The Downside of Living on a Boat).
What to do with your stuff: You might think this is the easiest question but it is actually pretty hard. One day walk around your house, take a look at everything you own. Include the garage, any basement or attic. Open drawers and cabinets full of mementos and hard earned items and think,” would all this fit into 53 feet?” Nope.
Then remember that the boat comes with all it’s own baggage. There are parts and tools and safety gear and more bits and more tools and more stuff than you can imagine. Once you add food and clothes there is not much room left for trinkets, photo albums, and what about Grandma’s antique tables? Thus began the search for safe harbors for our treasures.
I’ve seen episodes of “Storage Wars” and have visions of tuning in from some satellite feed in another part of the world just to see my stuff being picked through on national TV. Not being just down the street we cannot go check on our stuff. If something should happen to the owner or company we might not be able to fly back to get our things.
There are sentimental things that we do not want to see a stranger carry off or fifty cents at a garage sale. First we have to decide what items we cannot part with and absolutely have to keep. Then we have to decide if what we have left worth the price of storage for 4-15 years? It took a lot of hard work to downsize many years of land life into two storage units.
Blue water sailing: 30 years ago when we started our plan to retire earlier than the average American retirement age. At the time there was not an internet. There were sailing books and magazines that quite honestly scared the bejeebers out of me. All of the stories started with, “It was a dark and stormy night” and ended with “Once we got into the life raft….”. What?! So I stopped reading sailing articles. To this I say, thank goodness for the internet.
Before we left land life we followed a few people and their blogs. A few we’ve written to and have come to know. We read about cruisers who live a comfortable lifestyle and get to enjoy the benefits of traveling on a boat. They are on a budget but they can still enjoy the fruits of their years of hard work. That is what I needed to hear. They are having fun.
Some of the boaters we meet are much like us. They are responsible, careful sailors. They put safety first. We did our research and bought the safest boat we could afford. We did our research and bought safety gear that made sense to us to have on board. Over the years we found what was essential and what was not. However, having it all the first few years gave us a sense of security that we needed. We follow the philosophy of safety first, fun second.
We owned two boats prior to Cream Puff. Even still, we took a couple years to get to know the new boat before leaving our home port to sail over the horizon. I think actual blue water sailing should be done in baby steps. It is essential to build your confidence a little at a time. If a person is new to sailing and the lifestyle both, then throwing them in the deep end is not going to make for a lasting cruising life. We have met too many people who stop sailing after their first year due to inexperience of blue water sailing, weather conditions and the lifestyle. Waiting for the right time to go means when all of the crew is comfortable. Waiting for the right weather or even the right destination should be more important than a date on a calendar.
How long will you go for? I read that the average cruising time is between 2-6 years. After that people want to stop and put down roots. I don’t know how long we will continue to cruise. We just add six months at a time with a vague long term plan. It is easier to bite off six months on bad days then to say ten years (or forever). So far, we have been at this adventure past the 6 year average (2021) and still enjoy most aspects of the lifestyle.
The emotional side: There are a lot of emotions that go with this big step. It is an upheaval of your life. You are leaving a comfort zone for something unknown. You will be leaving friends and family and a set way of life. It is exciting and scary all in one. For us it has been worth the ride. We tend to think of the adversities as just part of the adventure. Bad days are only 24 hours long. Tomorrow is another day.
I think any retirement that people plan which will take them away on a boat, recreational vehicle or moving to another city, state or country will have the same type of emotions. I have always believed that some of the best things in life came because I left my comfort zone. Nothing worthwhile has come easy and most times the adventure out weighted the inconvenience.
If you go for a year, six months or six years, it does not matter how long you go for–at least you went. Give it a try for as long as you can afford it, tolerate it or love it. And, don’t let anyone give you grief if it does not work out as planned. Our plans change all the time. Be flexible enough to be able to stop and truly experience were you land. We worked hard to get here and should enjoy our time on our own terms. I don’t want to look back and regret not doing something while I had the chance. How many other people get this wonderful opportunity?