One of my blog readers e-mailed me (email@example.com) and asked if this sailing around the Gulf Coast is a good as it's supposed to be.
Of course the amazing wildlife is good. That never gets old. However, there are hassles associated with living on a small boat: constant moving, dinghy access, bad weather, dragging anchors, boat repairs -all that stuff.
My short answer was that it was awesome, which it is -for me. That doesn't mean some of the hassles would not be deal breakers for other people. Know thyself and all that.
First of all, I think there's something magical about being on a sailboat. Here's a little mobile living space that can go just about anywhere on wind power alone. When the sails are raised and catch the air, the boat heels a bit and jumps forward like a living thing. For me, that alone is worth is a lot of hassle.
There's a joke, and it's only a half joke because its true, that cruising is boat repair in exotic places. Even here in “civilized” Florida, on the water boat repairs can get interesting. One guy had Sea Tow haul his sailboat with a busted transmission, not to a repair marina, but to this stretch of water in the bayou. The boat sat tied to the mangroves for a month while the guy fixed his own darn transmission. He saved $5000 doing the work himself.
The thing about sailboat life is that the problems are real and you are responsible for your own solutions. It's not like being in an office and being chewed for using the wrong cover page on form XYZ.
If you don't like an area and/or the people there, raise sails and move on. The world is big and full of awesome things. A sailboat is a way to get there. If you love freedom, that's what a boat is. For some people, freedom isn't worth much hassle.
Here's my personal feeling about boat hassles. Start with a cheap boat, the smallest that will do the job. Small boats have smaller problems that cost less money to fix. I think they are more fun to sail too.
You've got to ask yourself what kind of person you are. Are you afraid to talk to strangers? Just about everyone I meet while on the water is a stranger -the first time I meet them. Some places and people are very open to transient boaters. Others, not so much. You find out which are which. By the way, it helps to have a cute friendly looking dog with you. Great ice breaker.
Another important thing is the boat's crew. Many people go cruising with their spouse. One cruising couple told me how they judged if a couple was cruising material or not. In their home on land, do they find themselves spending most of their time in the same room together or in opposite ends of the house? If they are happiest being together all the time, they stand a pretty good chance of getting along together on a boat.
If you sail alone, how comfortable are you in your own head? One of the great thing about cruising is that you do get to meet some interesting people. However, you can also spend a fair amount of time by yourself. The quiet and isolation isn't for everyone.
If you look between the palm trees, there's our little sailboat -pretty awesome place to be.