Things we should have thought through before taking off to go cruising.

Saturday posts are supposed to be the hard hitting, best posts of the week.  But you haven’t seen a Saturday post in several weeks and I haven’t written one lately because of our quicky road trip to the US and our prep to head north.  Even today’s post is late (tonight) because I worked on the engine and the dinghy today, trying to diagnose and fix problems.

In writing today, both me and the HelmsMistress will freely admit to anyone that we don’t have the experience that others around us do.  But todays post is written for folks who are not long distance cruising yet, but might be considering it sooner or later.  I write as a simple realistic optimist (with simple as the key word in that sentence).  The HelmsMistress and I wonder if we would have done things differently or listened if anyone had talked to us about a few simple truths of cruising?  We heard lots of stories from my parents and veteran cruisers like “Follow You”, but we didn’t always relate.  We can now.  Here’s a few thoughts from my perspective:

Cruising as Vacation:  Cruising doesn’t seem to be a vacation to us (yet) and Tulum is our home.  Cruising is a lifestyle-

Tacos, Cold Beer and Bikinis:  Ummm…in case you were wondering COVID has managed to nearly destroy the Tacos and Beer vibe where I am in Mexico (for right now).  Those places that are open on shore are few and most only let you eat in outdoor spaces.  There’s just no tourists and most cruisers are not spending much time on shore.

A cruising boat for bugging out:  I think a properly equipped cruising sailboat is one of the finest bugout vehicles you could own.  But I think that lots of thought must be put into where you’re going (in what season) and which country will let you in now or in the near future.  We’re having these same thoughts as we plot our moves for the fall and winter season.

Leaving your home country to cruise during COVID:  I think a lot of thought should be put into this decision right now, before you make the jump to full time cruising outside of your home cruising grounds.  Why?  -Because many countries are not open, many countries won’t accept US passports anymore, medical care in many countries isn’t the same as what you’re used to,  parts and services for cruisers is much more limited right now, airline travel to and from most countries you want to sail to is probably very limited (I’m in Baja and air travel has been restricted) and there’s a myriad of other considerations to think about prior to shoving off….with COVID just making things more edgy.

Baja Ha-Ha 2020 in November:  Are you considering Baja Ha-Ha 2020 in November.  Think through this carefully….make sure Mexico will issue Visas/Zarpe to incoming boats (I’m sure they will) and make sure your TIP is in order.  Even if Mexico is open in November, remember that many other countries may not be, so you might not be able to go wherever you want next-

Willingness to abide by foreign COVID restrictions:  Prior to making the jump to full time cruising and leaving your home country, make sure YOU’RE ok with whatever the next destination of choice says their COVID restrictions are.  Don’t be the dick who shows up and doesn’t expect to be quarantined just because you’re been at sea.  Don’t be the cruiser who shows up and acts like you have no clue that there’s some form of COVID restriction….then think that particular foreign government is overly harsh and coming down on you.  Nope, take a minute to check out and look at the most recent information about restrictions in place all over the world.

Scared of cruising outside your country during COVID:  This is understandable and ok.  Upon our arrival in the Sea of Cortez, we started seeing and hearing from friends who were putting their boats on the hard or in a marina, heading back to the US or Canada either for the summer season or till COVID’s done; because they were nervous about being outside their country while there was a pandemic exploding around the world.  If we had a home or a car back in the US or Canada, this might have been an option for us, but we want to stay as far away from the virus as possible.  We’re still bugging out as much as we can.

Cruising Bubbles:  Prior to COVID; meeting new cruisers, having sundowners, throwing potlucks and beach bonfires, raft-ups and grabbing some tacos and beer from shore was the norm.  These are some of great reasons to go cruising.  Now, that whole world changed.  Cruising bubbles (of boats) concerned about health safety quickly formed (especially kid boats).  And the folks who have a more YOLO outlook are also here.  Beach parties, sundowners and fun were all cancelled as beaches and water sports shut down.  Now we’re somewhere in between but not many people know what’s officially official.  We’re respectful of other boats and their safety and take our own safety seriously.  But you and I are responsible for our own health safety, so if you take that leap into cruising (while COVID is happening), please be respectful of cruising bubbles.  We’re doing our own thing and make sure we’re responsible for our own decisions.  Like it or not, health safety is a thing.

The New Normal:  There is no new normal for cruising right now.  Cruising isn’t new for us anymore and none of cruising during COVID is normal.  I hate the damn “new normal” thing….cause anyone who thinks it’s normal in the world during this pandemic…should look again.

Working while cruising (even during COVID):  As long as you plan ahead and have some kind of hotspot or you can turn cellular into WiFi…you can find safe places to anchor out and still work remotely.  I’m sitting here working away on my computer and will fire up the super antenna later to publish this story; while there’s other sailboats in the anchorage that actually make money doing some kind of remote work via internet.  The popular “Sailing Totem” offers Tru coaching while working from their boat (while cruising).  BTW, I highly recommend their cruising coaching service, ESPECIALLY if you haven’t bought a boat yet but want advice all the way through the process…down to cutting the docklines during a world pandemic.  If you do contact them….tell em that LF2SF (Tulum) sent you.  (we have no financial interest or ulterior motive for this recommendation).  I even think that cellular service is good enough in most parts of the world now to work as a remote financial planner or conduct stock market trades in most places except fairly remote ones….like Bay of LA in northern Baja.

Prep:  Prep in your home cruising grounds might go a long way to preparing mind, body and boat for extended cruising, especially during COVID.  We could have done this in San Diego Bay but we missed a golden opportunity.  Here’s a few things:

-Dog- Ever gone out to anchor with your dog and not let it leave the boat for a week…or two weeks.  Does the dog get used to the situation, go to the bathroom and stay calm…or does the dog get upset, chew and shows signs of stress.  Pay attention to this one, cause when you’re cruising in chains of islands that are patrolled national parks and the dog can’t get off the boat, things get real.

-Spouse- Have you and your spouse ever gone and anchored in front of a gorgeous anchorage or town….and stayed on the boat for weeks on end?  While anchored, have you made water, watched your power carefully, rationed your freshies and meat and just figured out how to survive being around your spouse 24/7 with no breaks?  Ever gone and anchored for a week or weeks and figured out how to shower, cook ect on your own boat without access to more fuel, propane or water?  Have you and your spouse done laundry on the boat yet…since you can’t leave the boat?  Ever purposefully run the boat out of booze or ice just to see how to cope?- neither have we!  I don’t believe cruising will change your relationship with your partner, but I do believe it will amplify everything about that relationship, good or bad.

-Kids- When did you last go drop your anchor in some other gorgeous bay and then told your kids that no one was leaving the boat.  Stayed on the boat for over a week straight without even lowering your dinghy…teaching them school, making sure there was power for electronics, making sure there was some form of entertainment, keeping them and you sane for weeks at a time without leaving the boat?  Purposefully run out of dessert, power for their electronics?

Nice to haves– While you were at anchor there in a local bay for a week or more without leaving the boat…you might also consider what happens when you run out of dip, cigarettes or other, especially during quarantine in a foreign country.  Can you handle life without these non-essentials or will you have a hard time coping?

While some of this was just me thinking through things that we’ve noticed while we’ve been out here, they’re not all cruising with COVID specific.  But they are all intended to make you think through a cruising life before departing.  If you’re not a cruiser, then some of this may just surprise or amuse you, as it’s all things to take into consideration.

5 Responses

  1. Chad, I do appreciate this post. You covered the key points well. May I share this on our sight? We have a few friends cutting their lines this year. Givey best to the family and Quincy.

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