Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A lifetime in a year - lessons in doing without and gaining so much more

The things I’ve learned in one year:
I can live without toasters – if we really need some dried crispy bread, we can throw it under the broiler for a few seconds on each side… sigh too much work. So as I said, I can live without toast. Plus, there's french toast which involves a frying pan and butter... I can DO that!
I can live without a microwave – though reheating leftovers is more of a challenge and more incentive to eat everything on the first night!
I can live without long hot showers – this just makes me appreciate any visit to a marina or trip to visit family. Not sure I could live without a long hot shower FOREVER….
I can live without ironed clothes – if someone hadn’t ironed our clothes for us in Ghana, I’d have discovered this much earlier. Ironing is NOT an essential in my life! Bring on the wrinkles and creases.
I can live without high-heeled shoes – I could barely walk in these on land, now imagine wobbling and crawling in and out of a moving dinghy onto a moving boat or a non-moving jetty. That spells broken ankle. I’ll take flip flops any day. Wouldn’t mind if I never saw a close-toed shoe of any description again in my life. Plus since I spend lots of time on beaches and boats, I can wear my sole-less bead shoes!

I can live without cable TV – provided I can download some good movies from time to time using a good wifi, for those rare quiet evenings on board.
I can live without air-conditioning in 32 degree weather and 90 percent humidity – this is only because I have no choice. But let me tell you, I gasp with pleasure on every shopping trip when we step inside a crisp cool store… ahhhhhh
I love games! – we’ve become hooked on playing a domino game called Mexican Train. I could gather a group every day and play and play. I lose every game which might be why I need to keep playing. Statistically I’d have to win at least once if I kept playing, right? We’ve also been doing a weekly trivia quiz which I love, even though the prize is a bottle of toxic rum punch – made with 70 proof blindness-inducing pure alcohol. Yikes

I need to learn how to provision – It’s impossible for me to hit the grocery store less than twice a week. I can’t imagine buying kilos of rice or flour at once. I buy the small size of everything and wonder why the hell I did that when I wake up to an empty coffee jar and I’m floating out in a bay, that’s a dinghy and bus ride away from any store…
Cruising is a real lifestyle. All around me are people who don’t work in the classical sense – as in, they do not get paid – but whose days are filled from morning to night with chores, jobs, projects. But the upsides are infinite. They travel, they party, they try new things. They sacrifice and compromise on stuff. Things. Irrelevant really, in the big scheme of things. They swim with turtles and sting rays and lie in hammocks under swaying palm trees any day of the week. They might have had no sleep on an overnight passage or a windy, stormy night in the anchorage, but by morning they’ve arrived in a new bay or wake up to a bright warm sunshine.
You DO NOT need a lot of money to be a cruiser. There are boats out here that cost anywhere from USD$20,000 to $2,000,000. People live on budgets of USD$500 to $5,000 a month!!!
What you need to become a cruiser is a leap of faith, a willingness to ‘let go’ – of things and of the everyday ties of family and friends. You need to love freedom and adventure and a few challenges around every corner. The lifestyle gives you lots of pleasure and a fair helping of frustration. Oh, and lots of rum. In the Caribbean that is.
You must not be a planner, as every plan we have, from when to do laundry, to which country to travel to next and when, CHANGES. On a whim. Or during a chat with other cruisers over a game of Mexican Train and a rum punch.
But contrary to what my blog would have you believe, you do NOT have to be an extrovert or big socializer. In fact, many cruisers keep completely to themselves. Some prefer the lapping of the waves to the company of boisterous boaties, and that is perfectly acceptable. Some of us partiers appreciate the down days too!
I never knew how important the weather could be. To be a cruiser, you must be obsessed with the weather. Or at least it helps. Cruisers discuss storms and wind and tropical waves daily. Many times a day. 
We look at this site... alot.
 But if the weather is right, you can find yourself on the full moon, in the evening, rafted up in your dinghy, with 6 or more others, with snacks and drinks, drifting through the anchorage, cajoling the boats as you go, and marveling at the bright glowing orb in the sky. It beats sitting in front of reruns on cable TV, I’ve realised. 

There's the full moon! Just right of the beer...

It’s better than coming home after a stressful day in an office, with recirculated air, feelin frustrated and stagnated… even if you do get caught in the rain or soaked in salt water on your little journey.
I’ve realized I’m in exactly the right spot, even if that spot moves constantly, and knowing there are a million spots to anchor that could take us the rest of our days to discover, I’m in!!!!! 
One of our favourite uninhabited anchorages - Anse La Roche, Carriacou


  1. We've been using a stainless camping stovetop toaster for 5 years and love it! And you can even find waffle irons that work on propane stoves (we have that, too). You CAN live on a boat and have toast without an electric toaster or using the broiler.

    1. Gotta get one of those old fashioned heavy metal waffle irons. The newer aluminum ones are not the same...

  2. Oh how much I love reading your posts. I could never even imagine to live the life you're living but I ADORE reading about it and thank you for sharing it! I realize I am the loser here ...

    1. Thanks Paola. I just have to get off my lazy butt and write more often... :)

  3. Your comment on plans reminds me of a training event I did with the military. One of the instructors said, "A plan is a list of stuff that ain't going to happen". Mainly because once you start working towards your plan, something changes and you end up reacting to what's going on and the plan is discarded.

  4. What a great post for me to read!!!!!! Thank you so much!