Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cruising Intermission

When you're getting ready to cast off the dock lines, there's always that one point at which you realize it's a done deal, and you are instantly filled with doubt. It might be the day that your grandmother's china cabinet sells and is carried out the door. It might be the day that the for sale sign goes up in the yard. It might be the first day you walk to the grocery store because your Sunset Orange Nissan 350Z drove through the dealer's doors never to be seen again. Doubts plague you through the early months. Did you make the right choice? Are you capable of succeeding? Will you run out of money? Will you embarrass yourself? And the hardest, what if the reality of cruising doesn't live up to the dream of cruising?

When we boarded the plane to St. Louis to visit the kids for Christmas, it had been 423 days since we left the dock at Oak Harbor Marina. 423 days since I had been away from the boat, and the first time ever that we had both been away from the boat. It was not lost on me that we would be returning to our old stomping grounds, seeing old friends, and having an opportunity to evaluate our cruising life from a vantage point far away.

A couple days after we arrived we met with 30 of our dearest friends from our former yacht club and, without any doubt, the first question out of everyone's mouth was some version of "Are you glad you did it?" It came in the form of, "Are you happy?" and "Do you like it?" and "Is it hard?" but any way you slice it, they wanted to know if, after more than a year, were we going to be one of the many that quit and return to land, or one of the few that continue on.

There are very few statistics about liveaboards and cruisers in general, and even fewer about the sailing portion of that community. We're such a small number that we are statistically insignificant, so it's very hard to get a handle on how many people truly do succeed and how many people quit, and when. From our experience and conversations along the way, a significant amount of people who leave to go cruising never make it past the first year. I get that. The first year was not in any way what we expected or planned for. It was difficult, it was challenging. It was an unbelievably steep learning curve.

It was also rewarding. It was exhilarating. It was a life worth living.

Cruising intermissions are valuable to the cruising life. They give you time to step away from the difficult portions and see that it is, in fact, a worthwhile endeavor. This one has given me time to cuddle with my grandkids, to share boat stories with them, to listen to their laughter, to help them build towers and ships with blocks, to see the shine in their eyes as they decorate the Christmas tree. These are priceless memories I treasure. But I'm ready to go home and start the next chapter of our cruising life.

Am I glad we cast off the dock lines and went cruising? I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I hope someday soon that these bright, excited kids will come spend some extended time with us on the boat, finding out just why their DeMa and Grampy T have chosen this unconventional way to live out their golden years. Cruising intermissions are truly wonderful for reflection and new perspectives, but we hope to return you to your regularly scheduled programming

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