Do you remember the days before you went cruising? The time before you lived aboard your boat? Maybe you were working like a dog to get the cash together for the final escape, maybe you were just planning a year out of the old routine. What was it that you expected the cruising life to offer you? What were the expectations that you held for such a radical change in lifestyle?
And has it lived up to those thoughts?
I can tell you what the experiences have been like for me!
I dreamed of sailing away on a boat from the age of , maybe 16, when I first read a book called 'Rosie Darling'. Rosie Swale the author led a wild childhood and ran away to sea with her love, Colin.
On board a tiny catamaran she gave birth to her son, survived storms and wild adventures, traveled to exotic locations and had a lovely turn of phrase in to the bargain! She is currently running around the world, at the age of 61!! What a woman.
What was it that I dreamed of though? The sailing, the lifestyle, freedom, travel? Yes to all of those!
I spent the years between the dreams and the realities crewing on other peoples boats, reading, dreaming.........and working. It took a long time until I could translate those dreams into reality.
My imagination traveled across oceans, living in harmony with the sea, braving storms, swimming in turquoise reef water. Living on fresh fish. Meeting fascinating people . Living a stress free existence...........not a lot of expectation there then!
And what did I find?
I found that the low points in my sailing life were lower than those I had experienced in the 'other world'. Fear in storms, desperation, moments when all the courage I thought I had disappeared leaving me a quivering sobbing wreck.....
Conversely the highs are so much higher!
The absolute joy of sighting land after 30 days at sea, bringing a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. The complete and utter peace of an isolated tropical anchorage, with the boat floating in crystal clear waters and a gentle breeze just cooling the air. The horror of serious injury at sea, the satisfaction of dealing with the emergencies. Often using skills I didn't even know I had!
My imagination had seen myself becoming a younger fitter version of the reality, sadly the truth is I look more weatherbeaten and not a lot fitter!The tropical dream brings with it irritating health issues, skin diseases, dengue fever, respiratory infections etc. No, not all the time but they hadn't figured in my 'dreamtime'.
I hadn't figured in the huge challenge of living in so many different, and constantly changing cultures. Not so much the language issues but the understanding and acceptance of a different perspective.Sometimes the relentless stream of curious visitors in an isolated community can become excessively wearing!
One realization is that to a certain extent many cruisers are 'outsiders'. We live on the periphery of life. Many of us are loners, happy to chart our own course, many of us are more than a little 'strange'! That's all part of the rich pattern of the lifestyle I have chosen.
On the other hand, the things I have seen and experienced have made me into a completely different person. I opened that door and walked through. What I hadn't realized was that it is a one way ticket! The change is ongoing and endless. The learning is unforgiving. Cruising is much more than sailing away towards the blue horizon. At least it is for me.
I am still learning, changing, adapting. Its not always a comfortable state to be in but long may it continue!
How was it for you! I'd love to know , leave me a comment.