I’ve read a lot of sailing blogs. A lot. Before we departed I would spend hours every day researching routes, tips, and advice from saltier souls to prepare for the day we’d leave our little comfortable land bubble. In the late hours I learned about the cruising life and set fairly high expectations for what our boat life would be. Everyone seemed to repeat the same pain points – waiting for weather, fixing the boat – and posted loads of exquisite beach photos. I remember thinking, weather and boat projects don’t sound that bad, what’s a little project here and there? We’ll be surrounded by beautiful, crystal-clear water, and it’ll be amazing! At least that’s what all the Instagram and YouTube channels revealed.
Here’s the thing. Yes, it is amazing. We share beautiful beach photos and videos ourselves, but there’s so much more to cruising, and a lot of it can be a pain in the ass. So in an attempt to lower your expectations, here are a few truths that I didn’t come across while doing my initial cruising research. After all, aren’t the happiest people the ones with the lowest expectations?
1. Your crew will drive you crazy. This is especially true when you’re cruising with just your partner. Unless you’re one of those couples that love to spend every second together, you will eventually start to imagine beheading your loved one. Living in less than 200 square feet and spending 24/7 with one other person will do that. Don’t worry. This is totally normal, especially when they eat the last piece of chocolate and you know you won’t be able to find any more chocolate until your next big port, which could be weeks. Just breathe. Go to the v-berth, close the door, and look at all of those beach photos you took the day before. The desire to throw them overboard will dissipate soon enough.
2. The word privacy is no longer in your vocabulary. You now live in a floating fiberglass cave. Sure, you’ll downsize on all of your “stuff” when you move aboard, but you’ll still have very little space, which means you’ll know everything there is to know about your fellow liveaboard mate. Assuming you weren’t already privy to all their dirty secrets, you soon will be, which brings me to the next point.
3. There is no romance with a marine toilet. You’re going to spend a lot of time talking about poo. Poo smells, poo hoses, poo holding tanks. If you’re one of those shy toilet users and need total privacy, you’re not going to survive.
4. Your definition of clean will expand. Right now I’ve been wearing the same top for a week. That’s right. If it doesn’t smell bad, it’s clean. Besides, when you’re cruising you don’t really need clothes, which is why the next point is so fantastic.
5. You can be naked all the time. Seriously! Sail naked? Yep. Clean the boat naked? Yep. Go for a walk on the beach naked. You bet! For those that have been dying to tap into their inner nudist, the cruising life is definitely for you. If you fall more on the conservative side, then living in your bathing suit is perfectly acceptable.
6. Showers are a real luxury. We don’t have a water maker and most of our time is spent out at anchor, which means we have to be frugal with our water consumption. The number one priority use for our water is for drinking and cooking. Showers, therefore, are a lot less frequent these days. Usually we’ll be swimming at some point during the day and do a quick rinse with the garden pump on deck or a few seconds in the head. Eventually I’ll take a boat shower, which is longer than a rinse and involves shampooing my hair, but even this is superfast and I never keep the water running for more than a few seconds at a time. Basically, I fantasize about long showers.
7. You’ll learn exactly how much you consume. I actually really love this part about cruising. I know how much water, power, and fuel we use on any given day. We only have two 35 gallon tanks of water and two 105 amp batteries. Compared to long-term cruisers we’re way under the average water and power capacity, but it works for us and we know how to manage our consumption.
8. All non-liveaboards become “land people.” As soon as you move onto a boat full-time your life will be split into two categories: pre-boat and post-boat. Pre-boat you were a land person. Land people don’t worry about the weather as much as boat people do. Just yesterday Romain and I were grabbing a drink and we mentioned to our neighbor at the bar that we were getting ready for the storm. He looked absolutely surprised. For a land person, 40 knots of wind can be unnoticeable. They’ll just stay inside to “enjoy the storm” with a cup of hot tea. For a boat out at anchor it’s completely different; your entire home is moving in 40 knots and you’re frequently checking whether the anchor is holding so your floating home doesn’t crash into another boat or the wall of rocks lining the shore.
9. You’ll be happy to live with less. Less space means less crap, and I love it! You find room for the essential things and that’s it. I mean, we don’t even really need clothes! See number five above. We’re also doing without refrigeration and I swear it’s totally feasible.
10. You’ll appreciate the little things. Like a cold glass of wine. Or cold anything. In fact, ice is the best thing of all time these days. And long showers. Ice and long showers. Okay and the sunsets. Those are pretty amazing, too.
I promise it’s not like camping. Maybe it’s glamping, but a lot more fun. Either way, cruising will be one of the best experiences of your life. If you’re just starting to consider whether it’s the right kind of lifestyle for you, I guarantee you won’t regret it. Even if it’s for a short period of time, like it is for us, you’ll be so glad you did it.