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.

Stay Flexible, Stay Comfortable, Stay Safe

January 4, 2016

If you've been cruising for very long (or have read enough books written by those who have), you know the importance of staying flexible. When your life is so intertwined with forces of nature, your ability to predict your future is about as accurate as the weather man's record. And we all know how good that is.

We suffered our first lesson in the need for flexibility the first time we sailed Eurisko, while she was still High Falls. We were delivering her up the Chesapeake Bay to Kent Island where she would be closer to our land-based life while we prepared her and ourselves for cruising. We sailed down the Rappahannock River on a beautiful beam reach, then turned to port to head up the Bay. We were instantly hit with the full force of the wind, with no land to soften it. Right on the nose. We bucked the wind and waves for a few minutes, long enough for our youngest son to throw up a few times, and then, for the first of dozens of times over the past 15 years, Dave said, "This is stupid." We turned around, sailed back to the slip, and decided to keep a closer eye on weather before we tried that one again. The fact that Dave turned around increased my confidence in him exponentially. Had he gone macho man on me and strong armed it, saying such stupid (but frequently read on forums) phrases as, "A sailor likes wind," or "This is a bluewater boat. She can take anything," or even worse, "You want to go cruising and you can't take a little Chesapeake Bay slop?" our cruise may have ended right there. We weren't in any danger, and yes, the boat could handle the conditions just fine, but he was a good enough captain to recognize that his green crew couldn't.


Ah, the places we'd miss if we never altered plans.

Eight years later, two days out of North Carolina headed back to the Caribbean, I once again was the beneficiary of his common-sense style of captaining. The wind was closer to east than predicted. So on a starboard tack we sailed and were pushed by the Gulf Stream north at 5 knots. And on a port tack the Stream stopped us dead in the water. We bobbed along, going nowhere, as the cold front we were running from closed in on us. Rather than be put in that dangerous situation, Dave made an executive decision. Ready about, sail back to Beaufort to regroup, wait for the cold front to pass and our next opportunity to head back to the Caribbean. We usually get where we're going, just not always the first time we try. There is no shame in turning around. In fact, I've decided it's my captain's best quality: his willingness to go back to port if that is the safest or most comfortable option for his crew.


Even though we've read not to do it, we still had to try it ourselves before we made it a family rule. Never ship anything somewhere in anticipation of your arrival. It's the best way to ensure you'll never get there. We once had the boys' school books shipped to a town we were sure to visit, had anticipated visiting for many months, and were positive we would eventually get to. We rounded the corner in the river, took one look at the anchorage and realized that it was no longer safe. There were barges and ships and construction. Not a place to leave our little boat on the hook while we explored town. We never did get to see that town and we had to have the boys'' school supplies forwarded elsewhere. AFTER we got there.


If you're considering having friends or family join you, be sure to remind them: You can pick the time or place, but not both. Another rule we had to break to realize the importance of. Our oldest son and his girlfriend bought tickets to see us in Grenada one year. We never made it. The wind blew harder and more directly from exactly our rhumb line than forecasted. We tried, really we did. Instead we ended up in Virgin Gorda ("What the [email protected]#$ are you doing there?"), then Saba, Statia, Martinique, and so on down the chain. But we never made it to Grenada to get him. Instead, we did what we should have done in the first place: we flew them to where WE already were. And we had a great time exploring the Quill in Statia, another port we never would have explored if life followed a predictable path. We WILL (probably, eventually) make it to where you want to be, we just can't predict when. And we WILL be somewhere at a certain time, we just can't predict where.


If you live ready to jump at opportunities when they present themselves while still being willing to alter your plans as necessary, not only is life more comfortable, but it can be a whole lot of fun, too. Some of our favorite anchorages and most amazing adventures came to us because we adjusted our sails (sometimes literally) to the wind life provided us and enjoyed what was in our new path, even if it wasn't the route we would have chosen if life were "easy."

As promised, MONDAY we'll share our homemade shampoo recipe.

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