shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Beware the Have-to's

March 23, 2015

Nothing can kill a cruising dream more quickly than the have-to's. You have to have refrigeration. You have to have electricity. You have to have a generator. You have to have a chartpotter. You have to have a motor. No. No. No. And most definitely NO. Beware the have-to's. If you accumulate too many of them, you may end up adding "have to stay/go back to land" to your list.

Some of our have-to's include: maintain the boat,

It starts with a simple, though erroneous, assumption that you absolutely must have or do something in order to enjoy your cruising lifestyle. When I hear someone say "I have to..." I make a spontaneous decision. Either I just met you (and therefore am content to let you wallow in your own inaccuracies) in which case I will smile and either walk away or politely listen to your illogical and incorrect presumptions about why you have to and THEN walk away. Or I may decide that you are someone whose happiness is important to me. Someone whose friendship I cherish and whom I'd hate to see disappointed later on--or worse, have to cut your dream short. In that case, I'll ask, "Why?"


Good friends of ours were lamenting having to get up in the middle of the night to start their motor to charge their batteries.
"It's your refrigerator. Turn it off and your batteries will be fine."
"But we have to have a refrigerator."
(Quick assessment of the situation: yes, we really like this couple. Go to stage 2.)
"Um, well, to keep the beer cold."
We let that sink in for a minute, hoping he would see the spiral that cold beer created and decide it wasn't worth it. He didn't. At least not immediately. We did get an email from them when they got to Puerto Rico.
"You'd be so proud. We turned off the refrigerator. We just get cold beer on shore now. Wow, our batteries last so much longer."
Some people are a little slower to come around than others, but at least they followed the trail of have-to's and realized the price they were ultimately paying for cold beer.

fly our water sail whenever possible,

Have to have a refrigerator turns into have to have a bigger battery bank, or a generator, solar panels, wind generator, bigger alternator, or all the above. Which means more money, more maintenance, more hassle. Which in turn equates to less money to cruise on, less time to snorkel and explore, less time sitting in the cockpit contemplating the fact that you have nothing that you have to do.

sail anything, any chance we get,

Have to have a chartplotter turns into more money spent and ultimately less knowledge of the area you are looking at on your chartplotter. Sit down with a paper chart and you will find that unless you zoom in closely enough, reefs, shallow areas, even entire islands disappear from your screen, leaving you to believe you can sail on land.

Have to have a big enough boat to accommodate all your creature comforts turns into buying a bigger boat than you can afford, or a bigger boat than you can safely single hand, or both. More money and time spent maintaining it; bigger dockage, clearance, and mooring fees; more bottom paint; bigger sails; more complicated winches; less free time; statistically proven less sailing time; and more stress. Are you SURE you have to have a 60-footer? Why?

and climb to the highest point of every island we anchor near.

Can you cruise with refrigeration? Of course! Can you cruise with a water maker? Absolutely. We have acquaintances who have done nothing but fix their toys since they got to the Caribbean. When I joking suggested they consider simplifying, the response was, "But we like our stuff!" Really? (It doesn't work most of the time!) Or do you just feel like you have to have it?

You can cruise with all the inconvenient conveniences that you think you have to have. You can cruise with refrigeration, air conditioning, electric appliances, pressure hot water, a captain, a cook, a maid, and a boat boy, too. Do you have to? No. Should you? That's up to you. But every time you hear yourself saying the words "we have to" make yourself stop and ask that simple question: why? I may not be there to ask it for you.

MONDAY we'll discuss another overused have-to: perfection. What is it worth?

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