An open letter to non cruisers.. - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 32 Old 01-24-2019 Thread Starter
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An open letter to non cruisers..

Found this an interesting response to non cruisers..

“As cruisers, especially youngish ones, the commonly heard question is always some variation of:

Aren't you worried about (pirates, storms, healthcare, fallback plans, etc)?

My answer is yes, of course. I am on this forum and others a well documented coward. As the de facto captain of a boat with a first mate who is quite content to nod politely and let me make all the decisions, I am intimately aware and well versed in everything that can go wrong. I worry about every passage. Every anchor bite. Every system on the boat, every cloud on the horizon. I worry about old age and having no assets beyond what fits on a 44ft sailboat. I worry about having no connection to a single location. I worry about 6 armed men in a skiff off the coast of some poorer unstable country. I worry about money.

So... why?

Why go? Because security is an illusion. There is none. Sure, we can and do do everything we can to tilt each roll of the dice in our favor, but ultimately luck and happenstance will determine all our fates. I can prepare for and plan for as many eventualities as possible and hope the shifted odds work out in my favor, but in the end, luck will decide.

It is the same on land in more traditional lifestyles as it is at sea, it's just different, and different is inherently scary to the human brain. I could have kept the house and decent job, kept adding to the 401k, and with a bit of luck and hard work, got a little house by a beach somewhere to retire to and live out the days until there were no more.

But nothing is promised. I could have done that, got sick at 45, died at 47. Could have lived to 90 in comfort and surrounded by family and friends. But who knows. Visions of the future are just that, visions. So I decided the future will handle itself. Now matters. And right now, I want to see as much of this small floating blue marble and meet as diverse a group of people as we can before it ends. Maybe it's today. Maybe it's in 40 years, either way makes no difference at all as I won't be around to lament either case. But I'm here now.

All the trappings of traditional life, houses and cars and jobs and savings accounts and investments and friends and family and pets and cable tv and x and y and z are all just things to occupy our time and minds beyond that fact that our time is so ******* short and no one knows what time it is.

So if you want to go, go. If you don't don't. The rest is nothing but smoke and lights and an effort to exercise control over things of which we have none.”
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post #2 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

Some have a strong urge to go someplace... go on their own wits in their own ship... Surely it's safer today and more possible than it ever was.

When it's all over... you regret what you wanted to do but didn't. No?

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #3 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

I mostly only worry about stuff I can't control. And then I realize that's kind of insane.

But far as these "Aren't you worried about (pirates, storms, healthcare, fallback plans, etc)?"

I can't control those, but I can take actions to GREATLY reduce the dangers from them. Probably much better than I can reduce the dangers of driving to work!
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post #4 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

Nice note AA. Security and certainty are interesting concepts. In our rich western societies most of us grow up with a significant ability to control our world. We are trained to think that we are the masters.

Eventually most people learn that security is an illusion, and nothing is certain (except death and taxes ).

I left the land house must be four years ago now. Since then I’ve (we’ve) wondered some distance, both on water and on land.

Some of my friends left behind comment that “I wish I could do what you’re doing. You’re so lucky!” My loving and gentle response is always: “You could be doing what we’re doing. It’s up to you.”

I’ve come to understand the reason these friends aren’t doing what they say they wish they could is due to fear of insecurity, and the lack of certainty in this life. Mostly the insecurity revolves around money, not physical question of pirates or storms.

Almost all my friends have greater financial wealth than I ever will. As I often tell them, only half-jokingly: “If I had your money, I’d throw mine away.” Yet few venture far off the defined path — the one laid out for us all by our societies.

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
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post #5 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

I had a good career that ended due to changes in the industry and a corporate takeover at 55. I could claim I had no control, but...
* I had money in the 401-K
* The house has been paid off for 20 years
* I had cultivated a part-time back-up career that I love

There is also that old saw that "luck favors the prepared," and so I sail more than I ever did.

Yup, I could drop over tomorrow. But all of my grandparents lived 85-92 and my parents are going strong at 90-95, still driving and still working at stuff they like.

I have friends from high school that "followed their dreams," sailing and living somewhat bohemian. They are to a one, frustrated by lack of funds to do, pretty much, anything. They will be working until the end. It's hard talking to them.

The rat race and the system of "always wanting more" that goes with it is deeply flawed, but we do need to earn our keep, and a big cushion is better for most people. It's relaxing. The trick is to avoid buying too deeply into the "wanting more" part. I was also lucky (or smart) in choosing a career I really liked. Work was good. I still consult some, because I like it. Some days it's emotionally quite rewarding, even better than sailing. For me, both are about accomplishing something.

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post #6 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

I certainly don't feel like I can tell anyone else what they should do, and having always done this, I doubt I could be much help to someone changing from life ashore to one on the water.
I've always been lucky. I fell into boating as a commercial fisherman, which afforded me almost unlimited funds for a high schooler. Then I tripped (literally) and fell in with some SF rock bands in the mid-sixties, which afforded me the financial freedom to circumnavigate under sail in my early 20's (a dream since I read Slocum's book @ maybe 7).
After that, all these folks kept asking me to sail their boats and my avocation became my profession. And they gave me money to do it!
So, here I sit, with a comfortable annuity, still doing pretty much what I've always done as an adult. I know it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #7 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

Quote:
Originally Posted by aa3jy View Post
Found this an interesting response to non cruisers..

“As cruisers, especially youngish ones, the commonly heard question is always some variation of:

Aren't you worried about (pirates, storms, healthcare, fallback plans, etc)?

My answer is yes, of course.

So... why?

Why go? Because security is an illusion. There is none.

It is the same on land in more traditional lifestyles as it is at sea, it's just different,

But nothing is promised. I could have done that, got sick at 45, died at 47. Could have lived to 90 in comfort and surrounded by family and friends.

All the trappings of traditional life,..... are all just things to occupy our time and minds ..... our time is so ******* short and no one knows what time it is.

So if you want to go, go. If you don't don't. The rest is nothing but smoke and lights and an effort to exercise control over things of which we have none.”

OMG, I have these kinds of conversations all the time, and some, more rudimentary than this. I have grown up my whole life in the Midwest. What people here in the Midwest know about boating is a bass fishing boat, a Jon Boat for catfishing on the rivers, and maybe ski boats on some of our inland lakes.

Most people in the midwest know somebody who has retired, bought a RV, and traveled the country visiting their grandchildren and all of the national parks. But, when I discuss my sailboat cruising plans, I get questions like: "But where do you go to the bathroom?"; "Can you cook meals on one of those?"; "What about showers?ĺ; "Is there a comfortable place to sleep?";

I always ask them if they know anybody who travels in an RV and they will say, "Oh yeah, I have an aunt and uncle who travel all over the country in an RV. It's really cool! They have a little kitchen area, they have a bathroom and a shower. They have pretty much everything they need in their RV".

I say, "Yeah, it's like that, only it's a little skinnier and it floats." Then they say, "You're a very social person, won't you get bored sitting confined in such a small space, staring out at nothing for days?"

This is why I took my wife on my week-long Canadian bare boat skipper's certification course, sailing out of Vancouver. It was a Hunter 31 and my wife said she didn't hate it. She has always enjoyed car camping and cabin camping. I have learned that she needs a comfortable bed and hot coffee in the morning, and she will follow me just about anywhere.

I have told my wife all of the lies that sailing husband's tell their non sailing wives: "Oh no Honey, our own boat will be much more comfortable because we'll fix it up the way we like it, and you can make it every bit as comfortable as home"; "No Honey, sailing isn't expensive. It's cheaper than flying places in an airplane and paying for hotel rooms and rental cars. And it's cheaper than retiring and taking cruises on cruise ships"; "No Honey, sail boats rarely ever sink. They're made of plastic. Even when they do sink, they take, on average of two hours to sink. Plus they have three different kinds of water pumps to pump the water out. And all of the places we will be sailing, the Coast Guard can get to within 20 minutes with one of their helicopters."

I've subjected my family to hours and hours of sailing videos, careful only to show the fun, fair weather sailing, and not the episodes with crashes, groundings, or extreme weather. I always make a point of pointing out, "See, that guy and his girlfriend bought a sailboat without knowing anything about sailing, or boats, they figured it out along the way, and have now sailed around the world the past few years. They didn't even take sailing courses like I did".

I read an article one day about a guy in his 90s who was lost at sea. I made some comment about how he was lucky, dying doing something he loved. Later my daughter sat me down to have a heart-to-heart talk. She wanted to make sure that I wasn't getting into sailing so that I could go to sea to commit suicide because I was depressed about getting older. I pointed out that the guy in the article was 30 years older than I am. I'm certainly not ready to check out yet.


In the Midwest, I have to deal with questions from people who say things like, "But aren't there sometimes killer whales or great white sharks that ram holes in small boats and then eat the people when they try to swim to safety?"
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

Loved being a doc. Figuring weird stuff out was endlessly fascinating. Then they took my profession and made it into a business. They added more obligate screen time so I had little facetime with my patients. They had people with much less training and knowledge tell me what I could do. They penalized me for ordering that extra test or more expensive medication and saving a life or three.
Got burnt out. Everything was a fight. Maybe they have raised the floor but they have lowered the ceiling. Time to leave as I have too much respect for people as to do anything less than the best. Time to go sailing.
Wife made me a promise. I could sail and she would come but she had to have a house to come home to time to time. Last four years house has been more empty than full.
Interestingly I still find docking scarier than passage. What fascinates me I if you look at the statistics coastal is the most dangerous for miles traveled from what I understand. But the common question asked is why do you do this. You can’t even see land.

s/v Hippocampus
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post #9 of 32 Old 01-24-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

Hey don’t be bumming me out, I have a limited supply of wine currently on the boat.

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post #10 of 32 Old 01-25-2019
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Re: An open letter to non cruisers..

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
I have friends from high school that "followed their dreams," sailing and living somewhat bohemian. They are to a one, frustrated by lack of funds to do, pretty much, anything. They will be working until the end. It's hard talking to them.

The rat race and the system of "always wanting more" that goes with it is deeply flawed, but we do need to earn our keep, and a big cushion is better for most people. It's relaxing. The trick is to avoid buying too deeply into the "wanting more" part. I was also lucky (or smart) in choosing a career I really liked. Work was good. I still consult some, because I like it. Some days it's emotionally quite rewarding, even better than sailing. For me, both are about accomplishing something.
Wise words right here.

I fully believe that most people who fail to obtain and maintain financial stability -- through work, or inheritance, or some other good luck -- will come to regret it at some point in time, even if they never admit to it.

I went through years of living paycheck to paycheck in my 20s and it sucked! There's a lot of stress that comes with barely scraping by. Now at age 40, having worked hard in my career and at saving, we have a very comfortable level of freedom in our lives, and we are very happy and content. We are taking 4 overseas trips in the span of a year, just because we can. And early retirement around age 50 is the current goal. This is doable for anyone who works hard, saves diligently, and doesn't pop out too many kids to support!

I have friends who have been bouncing around aimlessly since high school. Some have done some neat things at times, but overall life seems to be a serious struggle most of the time when living without a steady income and savings. I don't envy any of these people now, and especially not in 20-30 years.
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Last edited by caberg; 01-25-2019 at 02:12 PM.
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