We have been preparing to go cruising for 22 months – ever since we bought Eurybia after sailing south from Seattle in 2017 in Phoenix. Or for 27 months since we moved aboard full-time. Or you could say that we’ve been preparing for cruising since we came back from Hawaii in 2008 after our “shake-down” cruise on Phoenix. Or 2006 when we bought Phoenix and started bringing that pretty steel sloop back from the near-dead. Or since 2002 when we bought our first cruising boat, Tolo. But our specific preparations on this particular boat started nearly two years ago. It started to feel like a “always a bridesmaid” situation, except that we are again … Heading South.
Cruising preparation is a vast term that can mean pretty much anything to different folks and on different trips. For our out-and-back trip to Hawaii the list was centered on safety items – we were only supposed to be out three months. Basic comfort and seaworthiness were adequate. For our friends on a year-long trip there were more long-term items on the list. They added a dive compressor and other things that expressed their hopes for adventure. For us going out for multiple years (and no longer young) we wanted a comfortable home for the foreseeable future, so the list was more centered on comfort and convenience since seaworthiness was pretty much taken care of in our stout boat.
For us the must-do-before-leaving list was as much about finishing things that are easier to do here as it was about boat systems. Yes we replaced things that were aging out (faucets, non-skid on decks, holding tank, a few ports, batteries, cushions, lifelines, interior lights etc) and yes we added some functionality we wanted (stack packs, awnings, covers, bowsprit, anchor mount on stern, etc) and some maintenance (varnish, oil, polishing, cleaning etc) but finally it came down to the tools we will not have once we leave. So anything shaped out of wood became a priority for Jon, since he would not longer have a wood shop. I focused on sewing tasks while I still had “infinite” 110 volt power. We may find out that some of the things we made are not necessary, or don’t work as planned, but we have done the best with the information we have.
Is this a delaying tactic? Are these things really necessary? Are we just clinging to what we know or actually being wise in getting done what we can while we can? Are we scared or provident? Is there a difference?
What does ready to go mean? What does it mean to you?
A checklist of cruising equipment includes the following, and may include much more:
- Reefing gear
- Self-steering gear / autopilot
- Bilge pumps and thru-hulls
- Holding tanks and toilets
- Anchor gear and rigging
- Cushions and beds and curtains / sun protection
- Galley Equipment – stove, fridge, water
- Navigation, Radios and Electronics
- Nav lights and interior lights
- Engine, Generator and Sails
- Supply tanks (water, diesel, propane)
- Sniffers and alarms
- MOB equipment, alarms, buoys, ditch bags, life rafts
- lifelines, jacklines, tethers, PFDs
- food and medicines
But this is only the physical stuff. How about mental attitudes, letting go of friends, family, work? Letting go of cars and predictability and habits and knowing the language. Letting go of familiar harbors and rules.
What about weather? I am champing at the bit, wanting warmer weather and swim-able water – but will I be too hot further south? Will I complain about the bugs in the south like I do the flies in chilly Pillar Point? Maybe the water is warmer, but will I let the sea life prevent me from swimming? Am I mentally flexible and ready to go? No, clearly not, but will I let myself grow into ease with not-knowing?
Already we see ourselves changing, adapting a bit. We have made friends easily and they seem like life-long friends. Showers, once a morning ritual, are becoming a rare and beautiful thing (which our land friends or even strangers close by may not appreciate). These new friends are not centered around our kids or jobs, but around our goals and lifestyle. Will we be able to connect with non-sailors in the new places we go? Will we let ourselves be changed and expanded by the new customs and people we meet?
Once I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be great at something and make a difference and be bold and fearless. I wanted to master the parts of the world I knew. Now I just want to be open and afraid and happy and ready for newness. I want to be THERE wherever that is.
I’m ready to go.