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Obstacles to Cruising: Lessons Learned by One Couple after Six Years of Cruising Part I By Colin Ward

The author’s Catalina 42. Mandalay, moored in the Bahamas.


March 2006



olleen and I recently spent a weekend with a couple of old sailing buds we had not seen for several years. We were all lake sailors and racers together throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Our friends have plans to go sailboat cruising when they reach retirement age. Since we have been cruising for about six years ourselves, guess what quickly rose to the top of the pile of subjects to be discussed. After our friends left to return to work, I started thinking about all of the cruiser wannabes out there and the reasons that many of them will never leave the dock. Before I dive into the topic of cruising obstacles, I should reflect on what is important to our friends versus what is important to us at this point in our cruising lives. About six years ago, we outfitted our boat and made most of the decisions about the boat and cruising equipment we now use to lead a thus far comfortable, successful and safe cruising life. I remember having our own five-year plan that ultimately got us on board and under way in 1999. We owned our present cruising boat for two years before we departed on our first lengthy cruise. We devoted lots of time and money during those two years to preparing the boat. Air-conditioning was added first so we could stand to do the rest of the projects in the Florida heat. Then came davits, radar, autopilot, wind generator, solar panels, navigation equipment, watermaker, anchors, charts, and so on and so on. Once we left the dock, our attention turned to navigation, destinations, weather, and finally the really fun parts—the sailing, the new friends we met, the islands we visited, the local people, the fishing, the snorkeling, and the activities we got involved in. Fortunately, the equipment and the boat behaved themselves for the most part, and the equipment became just the tools of our job of cruising. Presently, we do not spend much time thinking about different boats or newer equipment and I certainly do not relish the thought of any more projects aside from normal maintenance. We rarely read magazine articles about the latest whiz-bang technological cruising toys, and we seldom listen to Jimmy Buffett because we have our own

Southwinds March 2006

Southwinds March 2006