Like so many others, I always thought sailing off to Paradise and on around the world, was a privilege afforded only to the rich and only by
very accomplished sailors. Over the past
24 years of living on a boat and cruising full time, I have been most surprised at the types of vessels
you see "out here", as well as the people sailing them. We have encountered all ages, from couples with toddlers to 80-year-old veteran
cruising couples. The boats vary from an occasional yacht to that of something more closely resembling a floating wooden cargo crate. Most
of us however, have something in
between.
   These sailors are not geared up in white suites and golden brim captain hats, but are in weathered T-shirts, worn shorts and salty ball  
caps. There are singles, couples, and entire families living on the oceans, some, getting by on garlic, pasta, rice, and beans, along with the
seafood they catch; and on second hand parts for their boats. Their kids jump with bronzed legs from their boat into the water - and can be
watched at play - chasing other kids with their hair sun bleached, flying in the wind.
   There are brown leather faced seniors, entering just another harbor after years of random cruising around the world with unimaginable
freedom. They spin captivating yarns of days gone by and offer a wealth of secrets on how to live at sea on almost no income at all.
There
are all kinds of people out here, from all walks of life, from all races, all religions - but for sure, you will find them all leisurely enjoying simple
and wonderfully smelling meals cooked on their decks, and on the beaches. Often, you get invited to these fish fries or lobster bakes, and
even "pot-luck" dinners as you make landfall on unpopulated islands.
   Some cruising couples you see are quietly chatting away with their companions. Or revisiting the harbor office to check if some crucial
spare part has arrived. Yet always happily waving at you from aboard their dinghies, their faces smiling in the slow pace of life, and a dream
come true of enjoying life and experiencing freedom at it's fullest.
   This life of cruising and living aboard simply brings out the very best qualities in everyone. Even the occasional charter-boat renters are at
their ease, perhaps disturbing a peaceful anchorage just a little, with a
welcome late night party and sing-along.
   You will find that people are very sociable out here.
   Even cruising America's Great Loop - you will be amazed at the vessel's flags around you. From the "AGLCA Looping Burgee" you will
see
Americans, Canadians, French, Australians, Scandinavians, and Italians. . . These are the people and flags you'll see the most. You will
be told the wildest tales, some of which are totally unbelievable - but most often very true. You will encounter lifestyles at which you will
marvel, ponder, envy, and even disapprove - but by each day's end, you will be touched
in more than a countless number of times and ways
by friendly people
. You will broaden your vision at life in ways that will stay with you forever. You will share lobsters, or fresh fish, with a bottle
of wine, or some incredible ingredient that someone (you discover) has saved for special occasions.
   The daytime air will be balmy, the nighttime air will be velvety, and you will share with new or old friends the hazards of the latest passage,
as you ponder about people, relationships, lifestyles, and the whole meaning of life itself. Then, every night, as you turn in for the night,
you´ll feel like the luckiest person on earth
for being exactly where you are.
   Relationships "out here" are simply "make it or break it". That is the cruel truism for long distance cruising couples. Sailing the ocean,
cruising America's Great Loop - they both
put every relationship to a test. The factors that are usually involved are; giving up a normal life,
being vulnerable on unfamiliar ground, and learning things about your spouse or mate you never knew or realized before.
   For the female 1st Mates - Her friends at home are living in air conditioned houses, going to the Hair Dresser, visiting shopping malls -
while she is cruising
in sun bleached, salt crusted clothing. Her hair is stiff, her skin is harsh, her nails (what's left of them) resemble oyster
shells, and
she can't even remember the last time she had a long hot bath and a professional manicure.
   At times she will wonder how come she never noticed back home that you are a jerk and a tyrant! As you yell your lungs out at her for
something
she did or didn't do that isn't in step with your "Captain's ego".  What happens when she decides she's had enough? Or, what if
she
discovers this life is the perfect life for her - when you decide you've had enough?
   It is not going to be easy, but you will definitely get to know the true "each other". Perhaps you´ll part with that, it does happen. (We have
given more then one spouse who chose to walk the plank rather then stay aboard another day - a ride back to the nearest Marina closest to
the nearest airport.
Sad, but at least they discovered the differences now instead of later. At home, a very bad even abusive marriage might
carry on for years; as it is dissolved and disguised in our every day routines. On land, at least for most of the day, she has her life, he has
his. On a boat however, you´ll be together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  You're differences will become obvious.


   The other side of that is that you will also talk to each other, explore together, marvel at the stars, the oceans, and share with each other.
Every moment will count, every day bring something unexpected, every harbour pose new friends. The sky will be your roof, a turquoise sea
your carpet, vast white sands and sparkling reefs your garden. Every meal will be shared, and ultimate freedom will be written in your book of
days.
   Most couples - and I do mean most by far - bond into full and complete trust with great love in each other. They are virtually yet seriously
tied together and tried together - and having made it - their lives together are now sealed stronger th
an boat epoxy. In fact, most cruising
couples are tied to each other by a love that even Hollywood movies would envy.  If you and your spouse are already happy together, and
truly "share" this dream, and one or the other of you are not being pressured into it - chances are
- this wonderful fate will be yours!

   As far as kids go... Take them! You will be glad you did, and they will love you for the rest of their lives for it.
   Never (and we do mean NEVER!) have we met such wonderful kids, as those who have sailed off to paradise with their parents. These  
kids are all perfectly happy, open and very intelligent for their ages. The parents home school them on their boat. Almost ALL of them score
in the top 5% on TAKS, and SAT. And I am telling you from first hand experience, these kids are great kids, that are going to be even greater
adults, husbands, fathers, mothers and employers. Not only are these kids very well connected to sailing and to the foreign countries and
people they encounter; as far as we can tell, ocean voyaging and seeing the world is obviously much better for these kids - then a public
school classroom. So, if you can afford it, don't wait till your kids are grown - take them with you!


   There. . . Now you’ve finally landed somewhere on a peaceful anchorage, you've safely anchored and are enjoying your first cold beer of
the day. In the morning
you’ve slept the soundest of sleeps, your pace has slowed, you’ve pondered a million thoughts you've had all the time
in the world to make a closure on the book of your life up until this very moment.
   So. . . What’s next? People’s destiny vary greatly after cruising America's Great Loop and/or making an ocean passage. A few end up so
glad it is over, they
leave the boat in the nearest Marina with orders to sell her for whatever they can get!
   Others are returning to their families with a happy smile still plastered all over their tan faces and already talking and planning of their
'nest' voyage around the Loop and of all the places they will visit 'next time'
.
   The last group is the smallest. These are the people that have fallen in love with the entire live aboard life, the boat, and each other. You
will find them
almost everywhere. From all around the Great Loop to waters uncrowded and distant - they will stay out for a long time, 3 years,
5 years, 10 years
, or in my case 24 years, or more. Some will stay forever. There could be (and should be) a book written about each one of
them, but
there isn't. Away from the public eye, they live silent lives with the greatest of freedom on the grandest of adventures. They come
from all backgrounds, they take on the uncertainty of
unfamiliar waters and new places and faces without fear. They seldom have more than
a few thousand dollars
than they absolutely need for emergencies, and they have no need for salesmen, lawyers or government.
   These are the people that have printed their footsteps on the most marvelous of sands, plucked the most beautiful pearls from the sea,  
and survived a few hair-raising situations in the process.
   When the time comes, they simply anchor in an enchanted harbor, or stay put at a favorite Marina. They often become a part of the
family at the local marin
a and close friends to the local natives. Your choice and your mate will determine your fate. But once you have
crossed an ocean
or cruised America's Great Loop - I promise, nothing in your life will ever be the same again. The waters will always beckon
you back; and the sea will forever remember your name.

   Bon Voyage!
It really is a matter of... What floats your boat?
Whatever is floating
your boat
?

Whatever is floating your boat,
one thing for sure, it requires
much more then just water.


Sailing the Seven Seas,

crossing an ocean,
sailing off to a Paradise Island
it isn't for every one
and that is a fact!

It is not so bad, for those that
"just  know" it's not for them -
after all, nothing ventured,
nothing gained,

but nothing lost either.

But, what about those

that do sail off to Paradise
and then discover
it's not for them?
We wouldn't wish that fate
on anyone.
So, whatever is floating your
boat?  You need to know,

for sure, what it is.
Capt John
- the Frugal Voyager -
© 2013 - 2017 captainjohn.org
Ready?  Let's go cruising the Caribbean . . .
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
WHATEVER IS FLOATING YOUR BOAT!