Now that we’ve accomplished our goal to sail the Atlantic Ocean, and we’ve gotten some important maintenance, we’re slowing things waaaaay down. We are officially in cruising mode. If you follow us on Instagarm or Facebook, you’ve seen us use the #cruisinglife hashtag a LOT, but what does it really mean? Are we still sailing? If so, how much? What do we do when we’re not sailing? How are we spending our days now that we’re not on long passages?
The first few months of our epic adventure, we were in a hurry to arrange our crew, ready the boat, sail from France to the Canaries for the ARC, and complete the actual crossing. Then we had to rush north through the Caribbean from St. Vincent to St. Maarten for service work and to fly home for the holidays. Once we returned, and got our boat sorted out (see Bob’s most recent post about the challenges we encountered upon our return), the whole game changed.
Cruising life is way different from what we’ve done before. We no longer have schedules or time limits. We find a cool place, and determine how long we want to stay. This decision is often impacted by mother nature – if the wind or swell shifts, it can make an anchorage roll-y or bumpy and uncomfortable, so we move on. Another important factor is provisioning – a lot of cool anchorages don’t have any amenities like grocery stores, fuel docks, etc. Some spots have always been this way, and their remoteness is part of their charm. But a lot of places were wiped out by the hurricane and have still not been rebuilt or reopened. If we need eggs, toilet paper, gas for the grill, fuel, etc. we may have to sail or motor somewhere that has more amenities. Same goes for boat services or supplies. After a few days in one place, we may just be ready to move on. In fact, right now, we’re trying to explore as much as possible, so we know all the best spots to bring our friends and family! We also sometimes follow other cruisers that we’ve met who have some great recommendations or offer to show us around.
It’s a good time to point out that cruising really is a community. Most people are not only happy to share information or assist with something, but are often excited to do so. Being new to sailing and cruising, this has been a huge help, but also really fun! You meet so many fascinating people and everyone has a really cool story of how or why they got into sailing, how long they’ll be cruising, where they’ve been, etc. So cruisers tend to band together and travel together, a little bit like gypsies. People come and go, meet up again, and often keep in contact via Whats App.
Another important thing to know about sailing, or cruising life, is that it’s a pretty “green” lifestyle – wind power for sailing is free, solar power is free, we make our own water (not free, but cheaper than buying it and trying to haul it all to the boat!), etc. When we decide to “set up camp” for the night, we consider the location, wind, and swell, and if it’s all manageable, we prefer to anchor (which is free) instead of using a mooring ball which usually costs around $30/night. After all the surprise extra expenses so far, it’s nice to be able to save a little money here and there! And it’s just nice to know that we can travel without minimal impact on the environment.
So we are still sailing, just not all the time. And since we’ve arrived in the BVI (British Virgin Islands), we’re not going very far when we move since the islands are quite close together. If we’re just moving from one bay to the next, or only going a couple miles, it’s not always far enough to justify the work of putting up the sails, just to take them back down in a half hour or hour. Depending on which direction we’re headed, the wind may not be on our side – if it’s between 10 and 2 on the clock, it’s in the “no sail zone” where the sail will just flutter and not pick up any wind power, so we motor instead.
A typical day for us is something like this: wake up when the sun is on it’s way up, anywhere from 6:30 – 8:00. Make coffee. Sit on back deck and read, blog, stare at the amazing scenery. Decide what boat chores need to be done. Decide if we’re moving or staying put another night. Figure out if we need any food or anything from nearby stores (if there are any). Usually then it’s exercise time – paddleboard, swim, paddleboard to shore to go walking on island (if there are trails or a city to walk through). We try to get back out of the sun between 11am and 3pm if possible to avoid too much exposure, burns, dehydration. This is often when lunch and additional chores happen. Maybe a nap if it was a rough night (rough water, or several rain storms where you’re running around closing and reopening windows all night). Usually in the afternoon or evening, we meet up with friends or other cruisers and have happy hour or something, sometimes dinner.
It doesn’t sound like much, but most things take at least twice as long as they do on land because of accessibility to amenities, limited resources, confined space, etc. On land, you don’t have to consider things like how much water and power you have available, because, at least in the U.S., they’re pretty much unlimited resources. Before we can do chores, like dishes, laundry, showers, etc. we need to check and see if we have enough water and power. If not, then we need to make water, wait for the batteries to charge up from the solar (which could be the next day), or run the engine or generator to charge the batteries.
Don’t let us give you the impression that cruising is all chores, because it’s definitely not. We have plenty of time to socialize and explore. It’s usually easiest, and most fun, to paddleboard or snorkel over to your neighboring boats to say hello! Plus, it’s extra exercise! Woohoo! We have sundowners and dinners on each other’s boats, go visit the amenities on land together, and explore snorkeling spots and land together.
What other questions can we answer about cruising life? Let us know in the comments or send us a message!