|For the times that traveling by sailboat is impractical (NASA image from here)|
This is a blog about boating ... so why am I writing about airplanes? Dan and I sail in order to travel (on a budget), and while being on the ocean is an extraordinary experience, we are travelers first. Traveling by boat, for us, enhances the experience in many ways, as I wrote in a previous post in this blog:
...we like to visit fewer places, more deeply. Stay long enough to really understand what makes a place special, what unique solutions the people who live there have discovered to ease the problems of everyday living. Traveling by boat gives us the platform for that travel in a way no other kind of transportation could offer. It lets us visit places literally “without leaving the comforts of home” because our home, turtle-like, comes with us. It lets us visit these places on a budget. And, when we’re tired of cities and civilization and people, it lets us get away and recharge close to nature. (Sometimes, during storms, a little too close, as “nature” splashes over the deck or whistles in the rigging!) My absolutely favorite benefit of boat travel, though, was completely unexpected. Explaining that we live this quirky life is a never-fail conversation starter with just about everyone we meet, whether they’re other cruisers or total landlubbers, travelers by more conventional means or homebodies.
Still, there are a lot of logistical considerations that make traveling by sailboat far from our only option. Some destinations are impractical to reach by sailboat in a reasonable timeframe, or would take too long to reach to be practical given the amount of time we'd like to stay there. Or they involve passages unsuitable for this sailboat; while our boat is physically capable of crossing the Atlantic, it would not be the wisest choice for that trip. For one thing, we don't have the capacity for enough food, fuel, or water to make what would likely be a month-long voyage. Some passages would be unsafe given the season that we want to visit the destination. Some destinations on our someday list are downright impossible to visit by sailboat -- they have no ocean frontage!
Most importantly, we've learned from multiple trips that about 3 months is our preferred away-from-home limit. That could be 3 months out of country on our boat, as we did when visiting the Bahamas on our first cruise,or 3 months away from the boat, as we did last summer on El Galeon, or when we lived in a townhouse for the winter with our boat docked a few miles away.
Initially, we expected to sail away forever when we retired. After all, we have neither dependent parents, nor dependent children, no dogs, cats, not even houseplants to bind us. Why not spend forever in a tropical paradise? That expectation came before we learned about our 3-month limit. It came before some significant health scares. And we learned that we didn't want to live exclusively on tropical islands any more than we want to live exclusively anywhere -- the world is just too big, there are too many things we want to experience. Tropical islands forever are just too claustrophobic, and I'm not all that great at languages, I don't like thinking about hurricane season. We've been through 3 hurricanes aboard and two more ashore nearby our boat, and I'd be delighted not to experience another any time soon. Finally, and happily, some old financial decisions worked out in our favor, and the budget is not quite as tight as we thought it would be.
At this point in our lives we've evolved to make our peace with becoming what Stephanie in her blog SV Cambria describes as regional cruisers, in our case along the US East Coast, at least when traveling in our own boat. Visiting the nooks and crannies and back roads and undeveloped anchorages, spending a month or two in an area and then moving on, when it would only take a week or two (anchoring at night) or passages of only a few days (sailing through the night) to get to a new state, sounds delicious. For farther-away destinations, there are hotels and rental apartments and jet planes.