SimplySailingOnline.com 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.
Over the weekend we watched as a couple motored out of the marina a few hundred yards and dropped their hook. There was no circling to find the perfect spot, no verification of depth, no discussion of second anchors and dragging room. They simply shouted at each other over the blaring music coming from the tiny salon to coordinate their efforts, if you can call letting a little hunk of metal drop to the bottom, paying out oh, about that much line, and cutting the engine "efforts." Before the boat had even found her equilibrium with her newfound stopped status, two kids popped out of the companionway and jumped overboard. I burst into laughter.
"Oh my! That reminds me of us on Lay Low. When sailing was fun."
If my husband's look hadn't been effective, hearing those words spoken aloud (WHO said that?) would have been enough to set my mind into overdrive. Where did that come from?
Cruising has given me the happiest 15 years of my life. And considering that constitutes a third, that's saying a lot. But somehow, cruising on Eurisko doesn't feel the same as our long weekend trips on our little 25-foot Southcoast. I used to sit on her decks watching the sunset, hustling the boys out of the water so they were at least partially dry before bed, thinking, "I don't want this to ever end." In order for it to never end, we had to make some changes: get a bigger boat, quit our jobs, learn a plethora of skills, relinquish nearly every physical object we had managed to gather in 30 years of living, figure out how to homeschool, and suddenly, sailing was just an afterthought. It became how we got to the next interesting port with new customs, intriquing people, and different local foods to taste. I love cruising, but somehow, though we sail as much as possible when we cruise, the sailing part has become secondary. I guess I miss daysailing.
One of the couples who inspired us to consider this lifestyle turned 80 while on a 69-day passage that completed their 15-year circumnavigation. The months that Dave knew them, their Bristol Channel Cutter never left the slip. Dave, who couldn't keep his family home long enough to even mow the lawn that summer because everyone was always begging to go sailing, asked, "Why don't you guys take the boat for a sail?" Mr. Saxton said, "Oh, we don't daysail much anymore." Dave was too flabbergasted to reply. But I now understand completely.
In St. Croix a few years ago, some visiting friends asked us to sail them to Buck Island, 7 miles to windward. Seven little miles. No big deal, right? So we got up early that morning and packed away all the things that we had used in the previous 4 months of sitting that were easier to leave out than to pack away "sail-proof" each time. We emptied and raised the dinghy on deck. We arranged the mooring so that it was temporarily attached to our secondary, but we could still take our primary anchor with us. We untied the secondary rode from the boat and dropped it in a tied loop near the mooring ball for an "easy" return. We raised the sails, raised the primary anchor and started our three-hour tack to windward in 20 knots. After a few hours of snorkeling, swimming, and beachcombing, we reversed the process. That night, over a LATE dinner, our friends said, "We had no idea what we were asking you to do. Wow..." Yeah, we don't daysail much anymore, either.
But oh, how memories of our Lay Low days make me smile. What do we give up when we go cruising? There's the obvious: hot running water, endless electricity, and stuff not falling on the floor when the neighbors drive by too quickly. But I mean psychologically. Sadly, in gaining our freedom, I believe we lost some of the fun. I got my wish: it never ends, but it's also not the same. Weekends on Lay Low meant two (usually three, four when we could arrange it) days of a different kind of freedom. No chores, no laundry, no dishes, no homework, no phone, no internet, we were truly away. (Maybe even farther away than we were while anchored in Bocas del Toro, Panama, where we had uninterrupted wifi onboard.) There were few responsibilities and nothing to do but have fun. She was too small to have much stuff cluttering our lives, so we just sat on deck watching the kids swim, fish, row the K-Mart raft, and play cards below when it rained. It was like camping, which is ironically exactly what I DIDN'T want in a cruising home. But when we ran out of coffee or the sun set Sunday night, the fun was over.
Lay Low was an escape. A chance to get away from the life that was driving us to want to go cruising. Maybe its fun factor was intensified because of its juxtaposition with the rat race we hated. When I think of the non-sailing days in our Lay Low years my blood pressure spikes and I nearly get sick to my stomach thinking of the hell that was "normal" life. So I will gladly endure all the downsides to cruising. But we are thinking about building a little daysailer...
MONDAY we'll share some tips for protecting yourself and your gear from the summer (or tropical) sun.
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