This turned out to be a life-changing concept for a lot of readers, and over the years I have been approached by scores of sailors who tell me that reading Sensible Cruising enabled them to achieve their cruising dreams. Unfortunately, for every Sensible Cruising reader who slaps his or her forehead and says “Duh,” to him/herself, there are likely two or five or 10 who write off this approach to cruising as simply minimalism. They intend the word as a pejorative.
Let’s talk about minimalism.
So I advocate trying to hold down the number of dollars you spend on the boat. If your primary objective is to own a cruising sailboat, then my philosophy might be minimalism. But if it is to go cruising, following my advice leaves you with more money in the bank, providing the wherewithal to maximize the cruising experience. Maximalism, if you will.
The cruising community seems to divide itself into two groups, those that spend most of their time in the places they find the most interesting and/or the most beautiful and those that spend most of their time in places with the lowest cost of living. A too-tight budget tends to relegate you to this second group. There is nothing inherently wrong with 25-cent beer, and there are still many pleasures to be had in these poorer countries, but it is such a shame to short or by-pass altogether other cruising grounds—which you have probably crashed to windward to reach—just because the price of admission is somewhat higher. More boat doesn’t alter this scenario but more money in the cruising kitty can.
Let’s define such a boat first. We are talking both big and complicated. These are two separate issues and require separate discussions. Let’s start with big. Since we are assuming that money is not an issue, we will overlook the greater cost of operation, of maintenance, of insurance, of everything. There are other negatives to an overly large boat that may not be all that obvious when you are admiring the apartment-sized accommodations at the boat show.
|"The bigger the boat, the more difficult it is to get underway. The mainsail of a 45-foot boat can weigh more than 100 pounds, which you have to hoist 50 feet in the air every time you go sailing."|
The consequences of an error in handling or just bad luck increase exponentially with the size of your boat. In my “minimalist” boat, I can sail at a moment’s notice, weigh the anchor by hand, insinuate myself into even the most crowded anchorage without inflicting discomfort on the boats anchored nearby. When weighed against more interior volume, a boat that makes cruising easier and less stressful remains the better choice in my opinion.
Conventional armchair thinking seems to be that the “perfect” cruising boat is tricked out with all the latest gear and conveniences. I believe it was billionaire Armand Hammer that said “Half of every dollar I spend on advertising is a total waste. The problem is I don’t know which half.” Cruising gear is like that. Not more than half of it earns its keep, but you won’t know which half until you actually go cruising. So if you put everything aboard before you leave, you will have wasted half of your money and filled up space that could better be used in some other way. And the more complicated you make your boat, the more you will be working on it. This I can guarantee. Either that or you will be waiting for shoreside technicians to show up and relieve you of a big wad of cash.
I look at boat cost, size, and complication in terms of the effect of each on the cruising experience. More often than not, the relationship turns out to be inverse. Our boat is typically among the smallest in the harbor, but don’t feel sorry for us. This choice has enabled the richest of cruises.
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