Saturday, December 17, 2016

I Love A Good Q&A

Dos Libras in the distance 
It's been a long time since I participated in a Question & Answer session so when Byn put out the word that she was taking volunteers for a project on her blog, I was quick to volunteer.  I love reliving my own experiences in order to produce them for someone else... It's even more fun when I get a chance to do some real thinking and maybe learn a little bit about myself!  

Here is my submission for the project:

I started the blog long before we made the real decision to go cruising.  It began as a way to remember all of the wonderful things I’ve done so that when I get old and lose my memory I can look back over it and relive the good times.  I guess this is why my posts are SO long.  I know that the “good blogs” are full of short, easily digestible little blurbs, but that’s just not my style.  I like to bring the reader (who one day could be me) along with me to wherever I’m going.  And I love taking pictures… I always provide lots of pictures. 

During the years leading up to our departure, blogs played an invaluable role in making this lifestyle more real for me.  That has become my secondary reason for blogging… I want to share it all so that if I can help someone else along it can be my way of giving back what I once received. 

      What is the main thing/s that makes the cruising life worth it for you?  It’s difficult to answer that question without using a cliché… so to look past all of the usual answers and get down to my real reason, I have to say that it affords me the luxury of spending every moment with my husband.  Bruce is my second husband and he is 21 years my senior.  While that didn’t mean much to us when we first got together… I was 37 and he was 58… it became more evident as the years passed.  We always “planned to go cruising someday” but I felt that our time was growing short.  We had to make the leap if it was ever going to happen.  You can never count on tomorrow and I didn’t want to look back some day after the window of opportunity had slammed shut and wish we had done it.  So back to that cliché… Cruising Life affords me the luxury of making every day count… and while we really aren’t living every day like it was our last… At least I get to spend every available moment on this earth with my husband without the stresses and distractions that land life forces upon us.

                                                         Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
 What is something that you wish you had done differently from the beginning? The easy answer - Install a watermaker!  The not-so-easy answer – I wish that we hadn’t been so afraid.  The learning curve is steep and in the beginning so much of our time was tinged with a certain level of anxiety.  I think we’re enjoying ourselves more now that we’ve realized that with a little common sense we (and the boat) can handle most situations and there’s really not so much to be afraid of.

      Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

What has been your most surprising experience since moving aboard? It takes just as long (or longer) to thoroughly clean the boat as it did to clean our 2700 sq. ft. townhouse…  I really thought I would be spending less time cleaning now but that hasn’t happened.  It’s a constant battle keeping up with dirt on a boat! 

Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

      Of all of the places that you’ve been thus far, to where would you most like to return? That’s an easy one…Ile A Vache, Haiti - Our time there was so short because a cold front came down and provided us with optimal conditions for continuing onward so we left.  But we hope that our path takes us back there some day.  

Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

 What is your favorite physical activity on/off the boat? How often would you say you do it? (Also, if you have any types of products that you recommend/blog posts on this topic, please link to that post as well)  We both love to snorkel.  Bruce is a certified diver.  When we first began thinking about cruising I took SCUBA lessons.  Long story short, due to a severely deviated septum I was unable to pass the final trick… In retrospect I don’t think we would have had any better experience if I had been certified as a diver.  We love to poke around along rocky shores and shallow reefs and I think I would be claustrophobic if I dove down very far.  We snorkel every chance we get… there’s something to see almost everywhere we go and it’s a nice way to spend a HOT afternoon!  We recently purchased full face snorkel masks and we LOVE them!  Visit this blog post for more about snorkeling  And our review of the new full face mask

                                                        Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

What were the biggest struggles for you in your first year? How did you deal with them to get through?  Our first year was plagued with cold weather and breakdowns by equipment that we did not expect.  We moved aboard almost a year prior to our departure thinking this would give us enough time to work through all of our systems.  Somehow living aboard just isn’t the same as cruising so we had all sorts of equipment failure.  And COLD.  We left South Texas in the fall and just didn’t get far enough south fast enough!  Our heaters quit working almost immediately so we froze our tushes off. I never want to experience that kind of bone-chilling dampness again…

      Read my impassioned post about the COLD here!

     Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

Technology stuff: What would you consider crucial for YOUR cruising life? Why?  The iPad has been our most valuable piece of equipment.  It is my life!  While they say that you should not depend upon electronics for navigation…it has never let us down.  We use the Garmin app and so far it has been surprisingly accurate.  I use the companion app to our Delorme inReach tracker for sending out texts via satellite and I use the iPad for creating electronic logs and statistics using MotionX GPS HD. The best thing about the later iPad models is that they will accept a SIM card wherever we go.  We can buy a local prepaid data plan for Internet access, which is invaluable for planning and information gathering about the islands we visit.  You must have the iPad with cellular capability in order for the internal GPS to work.  You can buy one without a cellular plan and buy a prepaid data plan in the US and in other countries.  But even with no active data plan, the previously downloaded iPad apps and charts will work far from any cellular tower… out in the ocean!

                                              Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
What is your best piece of advice for people who are getting ready to take off on a cruising adventure?  No matter where you go… you’re in SOMEBODY’s familiar cruising grounds.  When we were in the planning stages I prepared for the end of times.  I don’t know why, but I thought we were falling off the edge of the planet.  I was afraid there wouldn’t be food, or water, or fuel.  I was afraid that we would be taking our boat into unknown waters fraught with shallow rocks and tight spaces just waiting to crunch our boat to bits.  But it’s nothing like that.  There are people living in almost all of the places we’ve been and even though the guide books and other resources post dire warnings about the dangers of tide and current and shallow waters… with a little common sense and a bit of experience, you will be surprised at how your comfort zone expands and grows within a short time.  You will feel a sense of accomplishment that you just can’t get from any paycheck!

                                        Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
What has been your scariest moment?  For me… “Scary” is when you’re in a situation over which you have no control.  So far I can’t really say that I have been truly scared.  But… there have been two experiences that I will tell you that I was READY for it to be over!  I don’t know why I haven’t felt true fear… maybe I have faith in my Guardian Angel, or I’m living in a huge “Personal Safety Bubble” where I think nothing can REALLY ever happen to ME…  But when the shit hits the fan, I feel a sense of resignation to dealing with the situation.  I “put on my big sailor panties” if you will.  Once I realize that this shit’s REAL and there’s no getting out of it… I buckle down and my mind goes into get-it-done mode.  It’s amazing really.  It’s like I’m inside my head looking out… watching me do whatever needs done with a running sidebar conversation going on…  The other thing that really amazes me at how many times I think to myself “Wow… if it wasn’t for the fact that this could really end badly… it would be FUN”!  I know!  What’s wrong with me???  But somehow I find the whipping wind and rain on my face, my hair blowing around and wild roaring in my ears… the feeling of being a little bit (or a lot) out of control and watching it all unfold… it’s all quite exhilarating!  I have to forcibly wipe that crazy smile off of my face and get back to work saving the boat from certain doom!  Read about the two biggies here: Our first real bad anchorage decision:  And the weather event that everyone was talking about:

                                               Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
Best budget friendly ideas?  I guess that would have to be Amazon Prime.  We joined before leaving home when it looked like we would be ordering a lot of provisions from Amazon.  When they added the Prime video we figured that we could replace Netflix with Prime and for the yearly cost of Netflix,  Prime would basically be FREE.  Since then, it has paid for itself many times over.  Sometimes you have to do a little bit of sleuthing to get the best deal with free shipping… but it’s worth it and we have lots of time!  The downside is that you can’t really use either Prime shipping or video outside the US, but they do count USVIs and Puerto Rico so we really loaded up while visiting the US territories.  (some sellers do NOT ship to PR so you have to shop around)

     Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
Best Social Media (blog/social media/youtube marketing) advice  I don’t make money on my blog… I’ve thought about it because sometime I post about products that we like and maybe somebody goes and makes a purchase based upon my recommendation… but I don’t think it’s really enough to make it worth the trouble of paying taxes on it.  I have read that having lots of links to outside websites can make a blog show up better in web searches, so I try to add a lot of interactive and informational stuff in my blog posts.  I get a huge kick out of every new Facebook Page friend and comment, and blog comments make my day!  My audience is slowly growing and that makes me happy.  I think the biggest thing that keeps my blog from really taking off is that my posts are so LONG.  Really, they are epic!  I just can’t seem to keep it short and sweet like I KNOW blog readers want.  So if you’re one of the people who persevere and slog through all of my stuff looking for those hidden nuggets of gold… Thank YOU!

                                   Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

See all of the participant's posts for BEST LIFE HACKS here...
Favorite Photos My father was a professional photographer and one of my biggest regrets was not learning all I could from him before he died.  I only have inexpensive Point-n-Shoot waterproof cameras onboard, but I LOVE taking and sharing photos.  Sometimes I just wander the beach and take pictures of things from different perspectives.  I think that my photos, while not professional, are the best part of my blog. 

 Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

How has the cruising life affected your marriage/relationship? Any advice for others?  Before we left for cruising Bruce and I really never fought.  No really.  We had never had an argument.  Bruce came from a home in which his parents did not fight in front of the children and he thought that if two people were going to have arguments it meant that they should just not be together.  For me… arguments are almost fun.  They are a way to communicate.  They are necessary so that each can understand the other’s perspective… and sometimes our individual perspectives are SO far apart it’s amazing that we ever get along.  During the time since we left Texas, we have slowly evolved in our ability to express disagreement.  Once Bruce realized that it really wasn’t the end of the world to disagree… things began to change and we have actually now had a couple of arguments…. Although they have been nothing like the ones I used to have with my Ex in which objects always flew!  Mostly Bruce and I kind of get wound up and it’s usually the fact that the same word(s) can have vastly different meanings for each of us.  But more often than not, our little tiffs end with both of us laughing at how absurd we’re being, following up later with a debriefing in which we each explain our perspective sprinkled with an apology if appropriate. As for being together 24/7?  We are really best when we’re together so it suits us just fine.

                                                                                  Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
                                 And for obvious reasons... all of THESE are anonymous.  

This is another that I didn't submit answers for... no real reason other than I had no good answer.  Click HERE to read more.

Most Embarrassing Moment stories click HERE

Do you struggle with feeling isolated? How do you deal with that? I do feel isolated living on the boat.  If it weren’t for Facebook, sometimes I think I would have no “friends” at all.  All of my life I have had one friend at a time.  My last friend, Mimi, committed suicide.  I have never gotten over it.  I still think about her all of the time and really if I’m being honest with myself… I’m forever in search of a love like what I had with her.  I don’t want a replacement… there could never be another like her.  What I would like is to find someone who gets me like she did.  Someone with whom I could be myself and not have to feel apologetic about it.  She saw all of my negatives as strengths and I really miss that.  You hear so much about the Cruising community being so friendly and welcoming, but I haven’t really found that to be true, at least not to the extent that I expected.  People are all so very different, and even with such a common bond as having given up your life and taken a leap out into the unknown such as we have… You’re still either going to fit in or you’re not.  It seems that mostly we don’t.  Bruce doesn’t care… he could go the rest of his life talking to only me and never look back.  Friendships take a lot of effort that he mostly isn’t willing to give.  But I would like to have one or two good friends that I can count on and share the deeper thoughts that I don’t send out into the blogosphere.  Inside me there is a huge empty hole where Mimi used to be and I long for someone who fits in there.  Maybe my situation isn’t pertinent to everyone else’s, but I guess to sum it up, I don’t think your ability to find friends is going to change just because you’ve gone cruising. 

                                                     Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...
What do you wish people knew about you/your boat/your life? About me?  I’m not really a Know-it-all who won’t let you get a word into the conversation.  Sometimes I just can’t help bubbling over with helpful information that I just want to share!  About our boat?  We love our Catalina Morgan 45!  She’s roomy and we love the layout.  We love that she’s heavy enough to make us feel secure and comfortable in any sea state we’ve encountered so far.  Our life?  People said we would never make it.  People said we would come back within three months.  People said we would never get as far as the Bahamas.  Don’t tell me I can’t do something!!!  We may be slow… we may not always take the path well traveled.  But we are out here living day to day with no real goal or agenda.  We have made it past the “trip” stage.  We are into the “just life” stage.  No longer are we on our way to somewhere… we’re just here.  This is what we do.  We truly have no idea what our future holds.  We aren’t ready to stop cruising but we’re keeping our eyes open for possible places to settle when we are done. 

                                                       Click HERE to read the other participant's answers...

And my closing words… you wanted “real”: 

Lastly, before we left to go cruising I was excited to see how it would change me.  Maybe I expected some grand transformation of myself into someone else and I was waiting to welcome her into my life.  What I have found is that you are who you are. 

I’m not saying that Cruising will have no effect on you, because it will.  But that effect is more subtle… at least it has been for me.  I see it as more of a magnification.  Attributes that you already possess are brought out into the light… strengthened, made more visible.  Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s not so good. 

You have time to really look inside yourself and see things that used to be covered up by the roles you once played… boss, employee, mother, sister, daughter.  Now those roles are in the background and you’re here with just yourself (and your partner). 

If you’re lazy… if you need a deadline to motivate you to get things done… you’re probably going to spend long days laying in the cockpit reading a book and doing nothing much at all… And that’s OK, sometimes.

If you’re “driven” or “compelled” to do something all the time… You may struggle with finding a subject on which to bestow all of this energy.  But you will find something!  It might be navigating, language, weather watching, or some sort of craft….  And while that energy may lessen with fewer outlets to be found within such a confined space… it will continue to flow somewhere with more focus… so harness it. 

The most surprising thing I have found is that I have softened.  Back in my old life I was the Boss at work and everyone hated me.  I’m not making this up, but people have actually trembled when called into my office for a discussion.  ME!  People trembled because of ME!!!  While I never really saw myself as being “hard”… evidently others did.  My employees, my children, my ex-husband… 

But I had to be hard to get it all done.  In order to shoulder all of the responsibilities and do all of the jobs I had to do, my shell had to be thick so that I wouldn’t spend precious time worrying about things or FEELING things.  I had no time for feelings either in myself or in others. 

But now that all of those external forces are gone, my mind is more quiet.  I have begun to feel things.  Strongly.  I have time to worry about my daughters… although they are both responsible, capable women with husbands to care for them… I still worry.  I hurt for them sometimes for no reason it seems and I don’t like it!  I want to go back to the heartless me who doesn’t feel this shit!  No mercy!

I worry that my time with Bruce is short.  I see subtle changes in him as he ages and I am frantic to hold back time.  I’m not ready for this to end… any of it!!!  I’m not ready for this chapter of my life to be over and I can’t even let myself think of the unthinkable.

I guess everything ends.  Some day I will look back on this time and be so thankful that we did it.  We are among the lucky few who actually got to Sail-Off-Into-The-Sunset.  The future is uncertain.  Go Cruising.  NOW!


  1. Great post! So much info to absorb. We won't have a watermaker .. hope we don't regret it! I also hope that after a few years of cruising I can say I haven't been scared .. I worry more about that than the watermaker ... LOL! I also worry about the feeling of isolation .. not for me, but for Ken. I'm more like Bruce, but Ken is full of energy and needs to be around people. I have a feeling we'll be anchored more often in populated areas, but I'm gonna be sure we mix in the other areas too!

    Life is indeed short! We can't wait to get started in 2017 .. and do lots of snorkeling too!

  2. Living the Dream...Great Q&A....So much great info...Thanks.