Three Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Left

As we’re prepping for big cruise #3, I find myself thinking about the first 2 cruises and how they went. It’s reasonably easy to look back and gloss over some of the more challenging realities.

Weather is more immediate, both in the good and the bad. When it’s dumping rain or blowing like stink, it’s more than an inconvenience. When it’s gloriously magazine-cover sunny, you better hope the bimini or awning is working well.

Sand gets everywhere. If you like beaches (and I do), be prepared for sand in places you didn’t realize could have sand. We’ve developed a few tricks to deal with it, but we’re not 100% successful at keeping it at bay.

Going from point A to point B isn’t simply a matter of plotting a course on a chart and heading away from port. There are things like currents and tides and sunlight and shipping and, oh yeah. Wind direction. This, combined with the speed with which we travel (5 knots), might be the hardest concept for non-cruisers to get. For a land-dweller, a 60 mile jaunt is an hour away. For a cruiser, that’s a long day’s travel.

Every challenge is answered, loudly, by a resounding retort.

  • Weather tough? Unexpected stays in small towns or isolated anchorages, accompanied by wheeling birds and an excuse for muffins.

  • Sand? Sea glass and shells and endless sweet beach walks where all there is is time.

  • Distances? Landfall after a night passage, or sunrise at sea or the new anchorage.

Sunset at anchor. Light bliss.

Sunset at anchor. Light bliss.

If I were to give any advice to about-to-go-cruisers, I might share these 3 tips. There’s a story (or more than one) behind each one, but those will have to wait for another time.

  1. Don’t forget to fill your water tanks, every chance you get. Even if you have a water maker, having full water tanks is a precious source of freedom. You’ve never felt so rich in your life as when your water tanks are full!

  2. Cruising is more social than you can imagine. Learn to make your favorite appetizers (and stock the ingredients for them!) and don’t be afraid to invite not-yet-friends to share in the feast. Don’t think your boat is too small, or too old, or anything - invite away. Say “Yes!” when someone invites you over!

  3. Conversely, cruising can be lonely. It’s hard to go from your long-cultivated support system to an existence where you’re largely responsible for everything yourself. If you’re cruising with a partner, communicate communicate communicate. Before you choose to post about your woes on social media, make sure you’re also taking the time to talk with the person who’s right there.

As we feverishly work on the house in Vermont in joyful anticipation of turning that renovation energy towards Calypso in the fall, the cruising life, challenges and all, looms closer. I can’t wait to see you out there.