Living Aboard a Boat Reflections on Cruising

E is for Evolution of a Cruiser

Wednesday, April 06, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA



During the month of April, we're participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge where every day (excluding Sundays) we'll be posting to the blog . . . alphabetically. The overall theme we've chosen to tie all the entries together is living aboard a boat and cruising – things we've learned along the way: our thoughts, reflections, and tips for those just starting out or who are interested in this lifestyle.


Why we made the switch from world cruisers to “regional cruisers”

When we started this adventure 15 years ago, our plan was to sail the world. To do that, we sold everything we owned and moved to New Zealand to find the boat that would take us there, but a funny thing happened on the way to our dream . . . it changed.
In my first post of the A to Z Challenge (A is for Anniversary), I mentioned that we did partial refits on two boats when we lived in New Zealand. The first one was called Sky Walker. We broke the cardinal rule when we bought her; we fell in love despite the fact that she wasn’t the right boat for us or what we wanted to accomplish. It was a mistake that would cost us greatly, both in terms of time and money.


But we had another problem. Sally, our dog who passed away recently, hated Sky Walker and would shake like a leaf whenever we left the dock. Confident that she’d revert to the boat dog we both knew and loved, we spent two years refitting it — upgrading the charging and electrical system, taking care of some cosmetic issues and, most important, getting to know her. In 2003, we made a test-run to Tonga but it didn’t go well. Apparently, Sally knew best and Sky Walker simply wasn’t the right boat for us. So we came back to New Zealand, found Cambria and started the process all over again.


Sally was happy aboard Cambria but was still nervous whenever the conditions were a little rough and, frankly, a liability when we were under sail. Coupled with the fact that we still hadn’t been able to train her to go to the bathroom on the boat (after years of trying everything), it was clear that sailing around the world wasn't an option. Not with Sally, anyway. I won’t say that we were disappointed, because we weren’t. Sally was a big part of our family and we were happy to take her needs into consideration. We would just wait a few more years.

In the meantime, we realized that we like living long-term in different countries – becoming part of a community during the winter months, meeting new people and making new friends . . . watching the seasons change. It’s a more relaxed approach to cruising, one that allows us to spend lazy days at anchor and explore every nook and cranny of an area before moving on. And while we both thought offshore sailing was an incredible experience, regional cruising fits our needs better while still presenting new challenges and opportunities to learn.

You Might Also Like

15 comments

  1. Interesting -- we also 'evolved,' though I never articulated it as eloquently as you. In our case, we learned that like you, we enjoyed getting to know a few places deeply, instead of many places superficially. Unlike you, though, we also learned that after around 3 months away, we were invariably ready to be back 'home.' That style of travel was more suited to regional cruising and more distant jaunts by plane. Not the way we thought we were going to live when we started, but we're very happy with the way our lives afloat have unfolded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way, the are-you-a-robot verification just showed me a dozen small photos and asked me to select all the images with boats. How appropriate!

      Delete
    2. It's interesting to see how dreams unfold, isn't it? I still have moments where I think about sailing across the Pacific and back to New Zealand, but then reality sets in: I'm a traveller, not a sailor (though I love a good sail, it's secondary for me)and am happiest at anchor enjoying the view.

      Delete
  2. My ex sold up and sailed (long after we'd split), and he preferred to turn regional as well. In the end, I think he just wanted to live on a boat with a bar nearby, but that's another story!

    Fascinated with your adventure - I'll read them all, but maybe not comment each time :)
    Jemima Pett

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. Yes, there are some cruisers who like to be near a bar. We fall into the "last people on earth" category and spend a lot of our time in remote areas . . . it's a lot kinder on the budget(and the head!). Thanks for joining us, Jemima! I've added you to my blog list and am looking forward to learning more about world building.

      Delete
  3. As a cruiser, you have to evolve and adjust. It is a way of growing and figuring out what you really want. Plans are written in sand at low tide, right? :-) It made me sad to read about losing Sally. I guess you managed to bring her into NZ OK? How was the long passage to bring Cambria up to the Northwest Passage? Or did you have the boat delivered? Or, am I missing something? Have a great time sailing regionally!

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, you haven't really missed anything because I started the blog after we arrived in the PNW. It's a long story, but the gist is that we decided it would probably be less expensive in the long run to ship the boat (Dockwise). It was a tough decision and having a dog was definitely a big part of it. In tomorrow's post, I write a little bit about bringing Sally to New Zealand. It was pretty big deal, but it worked out okay. I think the hardest part was that she had to spend 30 days in quarantine (it's only 10 now) -- it nearly broke my heart.

      Cheers, Liesbet!

      Delete
    2. Yes, leaving your dog 30 days somewhere in a sterile place would be tough! In the long run, 30 days is not too bad, I guess. A few years ago, when we briefly thought about sailing to NZ with our dog, we thought the quarantine was 6 months. Then, we realized it probably started from leaving Panama and never having him set foot on land until NZ. 10 days is not bad at all anymore! That's actually great news for dog owners wanting to go or move to NZ!

      Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

      Delete
  4. What a sweet looking girl!
    Flexibility seems to be the key for success. It's not necessarily about the particular destination, but who you go with, and what you learn about yourself. - Lucy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't mention it, but I should have . . . I feel really fortunate that both David and I came to the same conclusion. A lot of cruisers aren't as lucky and it negatively impacts the relationship.

      Delete
  5. You've hit on something that I try to stay very cognizant of. Of course, Mike and I would love to think of circumnavigating, and people always ask if we're going to do that. But we've never cruised outside of the PNW. What if we don't actually like it as much as we think we will? The older I get, the more I want to be comfortable and I just need to admit that. So I am loathe to sell everything we own that we've worked for over 34 years of marriage, just in case we like it enough to sail for many years. That just does not seem prudent to me. I also worry about whether we have the right boat. I think we do, and we definitely love our boat. But who knows? I always remind myself that if push comes to shove, we can sell her and buy a different boat. We also have an old dog who will not go on the boat with us. Dogs are chosen for life in our family and we cannot abandon him. So it may mean a delay as he ages if our son cannot take him. I hope Mike and I can always be on the same page about our cruising plans like the two of you have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really do feel fortunate, Melissa. Sometimes we may not start off on the same page, but we always end up there.

      Delete
  6. Oh I love all the posts so far in the Challenge! and I agree with the previous readers, dogs just know :) we have 3 and sometimes we had to trust their instincts over ours. We'll read past posts too, I might not comment, but I'm enjoying it so much! Maybe consider adding a 'like' button to the posts ;)

    ReplyDelete