This month, MAHI is participating in a Cruising “Raft-Up,” or blog hop, hosted by the CruisingMomBlog.com and Kid4sail. A Raft-Up is where a variety of Cruising Blogs write about the same topic. This month’s topic is “Transitioning From Land To Moving Aboard.”
The first year of cruising was the hardest for us. Moving to our new boat, SV Mahi, a Taswell 43, meant driving from California to Florida. So many things broke on our initial delivery from Sarasota to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, that Joe was ready to take the boat out and sink it.
During that first awful trip back in 2015, the genoa shredded, and the stretched out main struggled to furl back in. Water poured over the navigation station through a chainplate. The smell of diesel was so bad due to the permeated fuel fill hose that sleeping below was impossible. Head hoses were also permeated and smelled like sewage. You can easily understand why Joe felt like scuttling the boat- that delivery truly sucked.
However, after I talked him down, we made a pact. If Joe felt the same way after the first year of cruising, we would sell the boat and go home. That was 3 1/2 years ago, so obviously things got much better. Our first refit took care of any boat deficiencies and made our wonderful boat ready to take offshore. We shook our boat down to further uncover any issues missed on that initial delivery trip- then we fixed them.
Often, cruising books, vlogs and blogs lure you into this wonderful dream of sailing in tropical waters. You will experience warm waters, sunny skies and endless beaches day after day living aboard your boat. Quality time spent as anchor with your children as they splash in the seas. You can fish, windsurf, boat yoga, paddle board, hike, snorkel or dive anytime you want.
All of the above dreams certainly come true. However, many blogs and vlogs gloss over the hard part of cruising and do not prepare you for the emotional impact this lifestyle can bring as you move aboard and adjust.
I will tell you now that if you plan to cruise or are new to living aboard from land, expect moments of frustration, feelings of being overwhelmed, and second guessing your decision to travel the seas.
Couples dream about the cruising lifestyle for years, then when it is actually happening, the stress of all the transitions can run wildly amok. Wait! I’m living my dream, so why am I feeling overwhelmed?
No wonder you feel stress. It can be challenging to have so many changes in a short amount of time; transitioning from a working career to retirement or sabbatical. The boat buying process and discovering things the surveyor missed when things break. Downsizing your belongings and moving aboard. Many younger cruisers experience financial stressors, too.
All the myriad of details to deal with- from what to do about the house (rent, sell or something in between), deciding which belongings to bring and will fit on board, which school curriculum to get, and the emotions of leaving loved ones behind. Saying goodbye to the old way of life, including daily comforts of living we often take for granted on land.
The stress of moving aboard, settling in, and getting to know your boat systems can be very overwhelming. But, it is important to understand that these feelings will be temporary.
Soon, you will settle into a rhythm, learn to live in a small space and appreciate minimalist living. The incidences of boat system failures go way down after the first year was our experience. Once you shake down the boat and leave the dock, that is when the cruising life becomes fun and interesting.
So why do people cruise if this initial transition period can be so hard? Our dear friend, Pam Wall, put it best. When I shared the frustrations and struggles that Joe was feeling, she said something profound that helped, “If cruising were easy, everybody would be doing it.”
This statement made sense. It helped us to remember why we wanted to go cruising in the first place.
Now well into our fourth year of cruising, we have discovered that the rewards of cruising by sailboat are innumerable. You will meet interesting people from all walks of life and diverse cultures. Some will become lifelong friends. You will see amazing places only assessable by boat. Countless joys of nighttime passages under the stars, bioluminescence waters, the sheer joy of moving through the seas as the wind fills your sails.
Adventure awaits! Go discover yours.