Y is for Yuck | Things We Don’t Like About Living-Aboard and Cruising

Friday, April 29, 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.

I was looking through some pictures of past cruising seasons recently – white sand beaches, tidewater glaciers, snow-capped mountains, brown bears fishing for salmon – and realized how easy it is to loose sight of what it took to achieve those experiences: The hard work, the perseverance, the patience.  But that’s the point, isn’t it? We record happy moments in our lives, not the ones we’d rather forget (like record-breaking rainfall in July or the nights spent on anchor watch). And when it comes to blogging, that’s what most of us want to share. But it’s only part of the story, living-aboard and cruising on a sailboat can be challenging – it’s not all sunsets and margaritas, not even close. While it’s true that the benefits outnumber the drawbacks (for most of us), there are some things David and I don’t like about living-aboard and cruising even if most days we’d be hard-pressed to remember what they are.

The Weather
It’s a love/hate relationship, really. We love the weather when it’s sunny, settled, and there’s a nice sailing breeze. But we hate it when we’re stuck in an anchorage, being battered by winds and rain, waiting for the latest round of fronts to move through.

Anchor Watches
In all fairness, we haven’t had to stand a lot of anchor watches up here, especially in the height of summer. But when we were based in New Zealand, sleepless nights seemed like a weekly occurrence. And while it’s all part of living-aboard and cruising, it can be a stressful time.

*Saying Goodbye
Time and time again both David and I say that goodbyes are the worst thing about this lifestyle. We try to keep a positive outlook; it's a small world on the water, after all, and there's a fair chance our paths will cross again with friends we've made along the way. But moving on (or being left behind) isn't easy and something we may never get used to. 

Everything Takes Longer
And I mean everything! From buying groceries to doing laundry, but what I’m really talking about is fixing things. David and I like to joke that boat years are the equivalent of dog years for people but there’s an element of truth to that. Any job that needs to be done on a boat can take two to seven times longer than its counterpart on land (depending on the job and access to it) . . . and that can be very frustrating.

Access or Lack Thereof
I don’t think Cambria’s unique in the world of boats when it comes to lack of access to important things like the engine, electrical wiring, plumbing and more. The problem is that just about everything on a boat breaks and, when it does, getting your hands on it can be a real challenge.

Broken Heads
Toilets on boats are machines and they break down. Need I say more?

Hauling Out
Taking the boat out of the water for regular maintenance or to perform a major boat job is a necessary evil, but it’s also very dirty and hard work.

Some people will argue that boats are meant to move and shouldn’t be tied up in marinas. We wouldn’t go that far, but being tied up makes us feel claustrophobic and restless – the less we have to do it, the happier we are.

Cruising in a cooler climate with colder water temperatures can add up to a wet boat (even one that doesn’t leak), especially if you like to cruise year-round or during the shoulder months. For six months of the year, wiping down hatches and drying out damp lockers is a daily chore . . . and I hate it! But the benefits of cruising the spectacular Inside Passage more than make up for it.

Mold and Mildew
A cousin to condensation, mold and mildew can be a big problem on boats in the Pacific Northwest. Cambria is dry and well-insulated but even that’s not enough to keep mildew at bay. It’s a constant battle.

(This one’s for David) Every year, without fail, David asks for a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas to keep the birds from pooping on the boat. And every year, without fail, Santa gives him the shaft.

Do you live-aboard or cruise? What are some of the things you don’t like? Join the conversation below in our comments or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!

* My thanks to Jaye from Life Afloat for this addition to the list. I concentrated on things particular to everyday life and overlooked the biggest downside in the process – saying goodbye.

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  1. When you think of the plusses of this lifestyle, the minusses you've accurately captured seem a relatively small list. I'd add two: for our smallish boat, we can't quite put everything away in convenient locations. And the biggie: making friends with adventurous people. The problem is that they, or we, are therefore often moving on to other adventures, and we're always saying goodbye.

    1. You're so right, Jaye. Saying good-bye is probably the biggest downside. I can't believe I didn't think of that. Thanks for the addition!

  2. Because he'll shoot his eye out! Of course Santa says no. This is the year I finally just gave in to the weather and accepted that the PNW is, actually, foggy and rainy off the coast all year long. I read a lot of books on our cruise this summer. I'm looking forward to warmer temperatures for awhile. Then i will probably complain about the heat.

    1. Lol. That's always my response!

      My least favourite thing about the West Coast of Vancouver Island was the weather. It was so cold and damp, but it was also quieter than any place we'd been to before. I'd do it all over just to experience that again . . . and the sunsets!

  3. Fixing things on the boat and being totally dependent on the weather can grow really tiresome. It is one of the reasons we were done with cruising after eight years of full-time dealing with the points you mention (and running a business). Hauling out was a necessary evil, but once our Irie was all shiny and fixed, it felt incredibly good to be back in the water with a much shorter list. Everything did take so much longer, indeed. Count on at least three times the expected duration and cost of a project!

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    1. I know what you mean. By the time the end of the season rolls around, we're tired and ready for a break because of the weather -- it's a constant chore around here. We really do feel claustrophobic in marinas but it's also a huge relief when we tie up at the end of the season. Poor David sleeps for weeks!

  4. I don't like tree frogs. I'm sure they're perfectly lovely creatures when they frolicking in the trees, but they romp around my boat at night and leave tiny calling cards everywhere. Ick.

    1. Yeah, if we were in Florida, I'm pretty sure tree frogs would end up on the list!

  5. Replies
    1. Definitely! And I'm not sure how it happened, but I ended up being the one to re-do the bottom paint.