Sunday, March 19, 2017

Final Ruminations On The Cruising Life


Do you miss the sea?
A little North Atlantic cross swell
 That question voiced by a friend was a bit of a surprise. It hadn’t occurred to me that I might ‘miss the sea’. My thoughts had been more along the line as to whether I would miss the cruising lifestyle. Would I miss our boat? Would I miss the great friends we made and who are now spread out around the world? Would I miss the adventure? The cultural interaction? The spirit of discovery? The Albatross buzzing our boat hour after hour with a big sea running on a breezy boisterous afternoon en-route from Tonga to New Zealand?
Bob Hoover, the Albatross
The plan has always been to finish off this blog with a final post summarizing our experience. I could offer the traditional advice to those considering a cruise concerning boat selection, equipment, sails, navigational techniques, provisioning, crew, destinations, weather, attitude, safety, regulation, insurance,  ad infinitum.
Fatu Hiva, the Bay of Virgins
That has  all been written  before   by people with more experience than me hoping to make a few dollars.  I’ll just recommend Beth Leonard’s books as sensible sources of information from an experienced sailor/author. This isn’t going to be that kind of post. The fact is that just about any selection of material goods can be made to work, kind of.  As in everything else in life there is a price to pay for any decision made. Actually making the decision is what matters.
To the Marquesas
The first and most difficult decision is to go. For every boat out there doing a major voyage there are easily a thousand that seldom leave the dock and will never lose sight of land. For every seaman or woman who do the deed, who walk the talk, there are unknown thousands who have a boat and rattle on about their plans for adventure. And that’s all they do.
World's best yachtie bar, The Washaway Bar, Rarotonga
Our small local yacht club is composed mostly of those who do what they say they intend to do. There are a high percentage of people in this group with a great deal of experience sailing and racing around much of the world. And those in the club that haven’t or don’t intend to do these things have other interests and no pretensions.
Tongan sunset
That has been my general impression visiting sail oriented yacht clubs around the world.  They’re  a good group of people, some with more money than others, but those with a real interest in some aspect of sailing, other than talking, tend to band together. If you’re contemplating a cruise or racing or just want to learn about sailing get involved with those that already ‘do’ . Then if the time comes to makes a decision it really won’t involve much of a decision at all. 
Campfire in the Yasawa Group, Fiji



One major consideration for most of us in making that ‘decision’ is money. Can you afford to go? My equation for that determination is: D+M=C,  where D=desire, M=money and C=cruising. And working through this complex formula it can easily be seen that the more desire the less money is necessary and vice versa. Do you have very little and no need for more? It is possible to live very cheaply out there and you might have more fun than ashore.

Ua Po, the Marquesas
Do you have what you need  and you want to go? Go for it, my only caveat is that I personally don’t know anyone who ever made any money out cruising. Or at least made anywhere near as much as they could have made gainfully employed at something else. Monetary gain is not what this is about. Generally quite the opposite.
Cruising kids do very well
What do you really need? To coin a phrase, “All you need is love”. Seriously folks. There are single handers  and some good people revel in their single-handedness. But some cruel person once said there is a reason a lot of those single-handers are single-handers.  



The most important stuff
Most of us enjoy the  company and the best company is a loving spouse, lover, special friend, whatever. They tend to make the fun a lot more fun. There can be an occasional “challenge” out there. Actually I hate that politically correct term “challenge’.  There are times when life is a bitch out there and a person can get scared or hurt or just darn discouraged. You just might need help and who better to be around when the stuff hits the fan than the best other person in your life. Along that line I’ll say a few words about additional crew. Experienced sailors who are airline pilots make very, very good crew! Thanks guys, you’ll always be a the top of my list.
Great crew!
So do I miss the sea? No. Do I  have a love for the sea? No, but I loved  the things we did on the sea. I loved some days we spent on the sea. I would not have missed the time we spent at sea for almost anything. There can be great beauty  at sea and a richness of life and experience equal to any found on terra firma. But to me the sea itself is an immense, uncaring, inanimate and neutral force.  It is powerful beyond human measure, eternal, merciless and deserving of respect and fear. We go to the sea on its terms. Although human innovation has made life afloat easier the sea is still beyond humanity. Go and use it, live off it, enjoy it, but do not play the  fool.


Great experiences
About those other questions. We lived the cruising lifestyle, one pretty good version of it, very well and had a great experience.  After nine years much of the early days seem almost like a dream. I’m sure if we went back to some of our first destinations we’d find they have already changed greatly. We had wonderful experiences but we do not  miss that life. 



Great destinations!
Life here is very good and we look forward to many things. Airstream was a great boat and a faithful steed. That boat will be missed. We will always miss our cruising friends. The way it works in life we will probably never see some of them again. But we hope that’s not completely true and for you all, our house is yours, anytime. Adventure? We have some plans involving airplanes and the non-commercial use thereof. Cultural interaction? Just interacting with the cultural around Humboldt County can be a bit of an adventure plus we’ll be doing plenty of land travel. There are large areas of the world map we haven’t seen at all.
With a little luck the Albatross that spent so much time with us going to New Zealand is still out there somewhere. Watching him soar for hours a few feet above the swells barely moving a feather was a great lesson in energy conservation and the aerodynamics of winged flight. We’ll put some of that to use in the near future.

Love to all,
Bill and Janet Wickman
SV Airstream

N611RS ?