These days, to cast off those dock lines and set sail into the sunset has never been easier.Â With huge advancements in modern technology and navigational aids, you don’t need to be able to read the stars to disappear over the horizon. But it’s not just about how much money you have or whether you have the right boat with all the necessary equipment and latest gadgets and gizmos onboard. It’s about a way of life that needs to be embraced.
Being a cruiser means different things to different people. In a world where consumerism is everything, it’s all about letting go of the trappings of society and adapting to a new life. By choosing to be a cruiser, you let go of the support systems that life on land provides and you must adapt to one within a more natural environment where self-sufficiency or deep pockets are a must.
When thinking about life as a live-aboard cruiser, ask your self some tough questions. For instance, can you live without the security of your country’s healthcare service or without your family and network of friends close by?
Many cruisers fly back to their own countries to maintain their healthcare status or for treatment despite medical care being cheaper in many parts of the Caribbean. They don’t have the same confidence in the local facilities as they do in the services their own countries can provide. Or they feel guilt at leaving elderly parents or the pull of new-born grandchildren tugging at their heartstrings back home.
Can you live without an endless supply of water and electricity? Even with a water-maker, generator, wind generator and solar panels you still have to be frugal with what you use. Have you considered what it will be like living with your partner or spouse in a confined area 24/7 after lives ashore with separate jobs etc., allowed you your own time and space and a degree of independence.
Then, depending on your budget, are you practical enough to be able to deal with the general maintenance of your boat? And of course even the wealthy amongst us need to be able to adapt to those unforeseen breakdowns.
We had friends a little younger than retirement age who bought a boat with the idea that they were going to sit in pretty anchorages reading a book and sipping cocktails all the time. The reality for them was that they bought a boat with too many mechanical systems that they didn’t understand and couldn’t afford someone else to fix. Their resources were being drained and they weren’t having fun any more. In the end they sold their boat and moved back ashore.
Are you prepared for the anxiety that can come with living afloat?
Life at anchor can be precarious with your world rolling wildly with unusual swells caused by distant storms. The weather can hugely affect your lives with storms and squalls causing sleepless nights, especially if you are in a less then adequate anchorage when all you dream about is a bed on land.
Can you stand the hot humid days and the sweaty nights?
Do you have the qualities to cope in an emergency, be it a storm that wasn’t forecast, a blown-out mainsail in a rising wind, or a reluctant engine when you’re becalmed with reefs all around?
All these questions make cruising sound disagreeable, which is a long way from the truth. The rewards for most part far outweigh the sacrifices and adjustments that have to be made to live on board. But it does underline that it’s not for everyone. Some will never have the courage to sail away and will only dream the dream. Others will try yet find that living aboard doesn’t work for them. But at least they tried to live the dream. But for those already here, you’ve done it, you’ve tried it and you are still going strong. You are one of the few special people that can let go of those lines and head out into the sunset and make it work. For you and for the others you have left behind – you are a cruiser, living dream.
Rosie and her husband Sim Hoggarth, both from the UK, have cruised the Caribbean and North America for the last seven years on ‘Alianna’ their Corbin39