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The Worst Thing About Cruising

WarmA few months ago, there was a thread on a Facebook women’s sailing group that was something along the lines of “what do you dislike most about cruising?” Common complaints were rolly anchorages, the necessity of doing laundry by hand, the lack of hairdryers and bathtubs in which to properly shave one’s salty legs. Here I was, after eight months or so of fighting honking traffic, liveaboard regulations, the high price of New Zealand cheese, school donations, car WoFing, $8/gallon petrol, $7 lattes, “free” healthcare that doesn’t cover any modern-ish medical devices, lack of vacation time to actually tour this land, missing family and friends, and absurd moorage rates and I just wanted to shake them and scream:

The worst thing about cruising is not cruising!

The worst thing about cruising is when it’s over and you look back through all the photos and videos and wonder how it went by so fast. The worst thing is when you are so ready to head back up to the islands but you are so broke and the longer you live in a first-world society the more money gets sucked from you and the broker you get. The worst thing is when you can’t shake the feeling that all this city stuff is just fabricated bullshit with all these abstract rules and costs and regulations and the only thing that seems real anymore is what actually is: the sand between your toes, the sun on your body, the feeling of diving in to saltwater so warm it’s like returning to the womb. You can close your eyes and feel the movement of your boat, her gentle rocking as the ocean breathes underneath her and the wind pulls her across the planet and you want to feel that feeling again so bad right now that it’s almost painful.

Sandy joy!But you can’t. We’re now 11 months in of living a “regular life” and years away from having any sort of cruising kitty and I’m marking things on Wondertime’s to-do list “not done” that were marked “done” several years ago. True, we are in New Zealand but we’re definitely not on holiday here. It feels like we’re right back to where we left from, some days: Michael’s back in the 9-5 IT world, I’m ferrying the girls back and forth to school. It’s what we know, I guess.

A little over a month ago, we moved into a lovely flat here in Auckland, just to have a break from the boat. Maybe haul her out and get some painting done we’ve been putting off (note to self: get painting quotes before signing an apartment lease). To see what a land life might be like. Unstuff ourselves from 38 crowded feet for a while. Cruising again seems so far and away — plus we really do like living in New Zealand, most of the time. Maybe we should just join the rest of the normal people and see what it’s like.

Well, five weeks have passed and it’s clearly not for us. This flat has an amazing view of the city but I think cruising ruined that too: if our view doesn’t change it gets kind of boring after a while. Half of Michael’s earnings go towards the rent, electricity, hot water, internet bills, plus Wondertime’s moorage. We saved $500 last month. I guess that’s something. But now, the city seems more absurdly routined than ever.

This may be an expensive lesson in the end but for the first time in months the future looks clearer than it has in some time. I don’t know how, or when but we will get back out there. Thankfully the worst thing about cruising is that more cruising solves that problem.

The clues are all around us.

The clues are all around us.


  1. Bob Hancy says:

    What a great blog. I’m going to show that to all my friends – to demonstrate there is another life outside of what they do every day to make ends meet. For me, I’m ashamed to say, I’m afraid to get out there. I spent $120,000 on my 30 foot sailboat last year – you can assume she is ready to go anywhere because she is. I’m single, 48, have a nice income from an online business that’s 12 years old so I don’t have to go to work anymore, and I have a dog. There’s not many reasons why I shouldn’t just throw off the lines and take off, but I’ve never done it. Before I had the dream but not the boat, now I have the boat but not the nerve. I’m comfortable – and that’s not a good place to be. If you guys need to make more money – I can give you some ideas. The people on this blog, your family and friends, they all look up to you and your family – we would ALL love for you to leave New Zealand and continue your adventure. Thank you for continuing to write these…(here’s a hint: charge a subscription fee). πŸ™‚ Take good care – we can always count on change. πŸ™‚


    1. Sara says:

      Thank you so much for that Bob! My advice, is of course to GO. It’s terrifying though, I know. Just take a short cruise, 2-3 months and see what happens. πŸ™‚

      I would certainly love to hear any ideas you have for making money without working for The Man. Thankfully here as residents in NZ we do have the security of having guaranteed health care (even if not perfect) so small businesses flourish and thrive here. We’re definitely close to taking that leap.

  2. Hmm……….sounds like you’re trapped.

    At $500/month savings and the expenses of two young girls who will soon join the ranks of consumers it could be a very long time before you go cruising again.

    What I cann’t understand is that you seem to love boats, gear, computers, internet, cell phones, modern-ish medical care etc: all those things made by people who work 9-5, pay taxes, drive to work and take little vacation, all those things you eschew.

    Maybe its time you tried living like a Pacific Islander, a thatched hut and fruit being your only possessions. No way out, no hope, but……no bills, no need for money. No head ache. No insulin for diabetes

    1. Bob says:

      I’m quite sure the crew of S/V Wondertime appreciates all the modern technology and convenience like anyone else. Though I’ve never lived in NZ, I’ve heard it is very expensive, and I think that’s what Sara’s point was. If they were back in the Pacific NW, they’d be getting ahead more. When struggling to achieve a goal it’s better to think positive than to be a Debby Downer. I like to see people achieve their dreams – and if I can help, I will. Sara and Michael have been to places only most of us dream of – that takes bravery, intelligence and a persistent attitude. Kudos Wondertime! I’m looking forward to more of your adventures!

  3. Victoria says:

    The worst thing about cruising is not. As I read your first few sentences that was my answer too. I feel the same way.

    1. Sara says:

      Give me 10 loads of dirty laundry, 5 gallons of water to wash it in and a deserted beach in Tonga right now and I’ll take it in a heartbeat. πŸ™‚

  4. livia says:

    We are acutely aware that even storm damage is a high class problem. We are still floating in Tahiti and working to keep appreciative of even the shitty moments.

    1. Sara says:

      Livia, I would rather be getting another tooth pulled in Tahiti than dealing with, for example, my current struggle to get our perfectly good Honda WoFed (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicle/warrants-certifications/getting-wof/) so I can once again drive my daughters to school legally. Hope all is well with you guys!

  5. helen says:

    I totally agree with you. We stopped two years ago because of finances and after six months of living in a house we decided to find a route back out there again. We are still home schooling which gives us some flexibility but it isn’t the same as my husband is back at work. So we have a new plan. It might take a few years but it is a target to aim for. It keeps me going. There is always a way. Xx

  6. MartinL says:

    This is the best explanation of “cruising” one could wish to read. All the reasons to go cruising and all the reasons not to live ashore.
    Beautifully written and explained.
    Cruising anyone?

  7. Sarah says:

    Wow! You are in NZ! My husband and I WWOOFed there in 2001…One of the best times of our lives. Maybe you could do that with the family while you are on land. There are plenty of places all over NZ, not any money to be made, but a positive “land” experience. Keep in mind this is from someone who is not a cruiser, but loves reading your (well, Tucker’s) blogs.
    Good luck!

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Sarah! Thank you for commenting! Please don’t get me wrong, living in New Zealand has been amazing and we’ve been able to see quite a bit of the North Island. But we’re living and working here, not touring, so vacation time and wages dictate how much of these beautiful islands we’ll get to see at this point. So much beauty so close yet so far! Many native Aucklanders we’ve spoken with have never even been to the South Island. We’ll get there ourselves…one day!

      1. Sarah says:

        Good on ya! The South Island is Amazing….You can sail there when you are ready!

  8. Your well-written post scares me and makes me swallow hard. Our financial clock is ticking more loudly and we all feel we need (absolutely must find) a snooze button that lasts at least five years, but it’s not there. Yikes. Michael

  9. Laura says:

    I love reading about other cruisers who have landed. It is such a strange situation to be in. We’ve been home one year, after four years out. It’s been hard, but it’s where we need to be for now. We just bought a 1000 sq ft garage on two acres with an orchard, and turned it into our home. Our whole goal is to keep our overhead expenses super low, live cheap as can be, save every other penny, get our child through high school, and then shut the door on the house and head out again. Who cares about appearances? I sure don’t anymore. We live in a comfortable shack, shop at Goodwill, drive a 24 year old car, and are just having a great time – because we have a goal and we are heading toward another dream. You can’t always be living a dream, but as long as you are heading towards one, it is still good. Good luck to you and we will see you out there.

  10. Aimee says:

    Ooh you should try and get down to the south. Auckland is so silly expensive. Nelson/Marlborough is nice but Christchurch/Akaroa is beautiful, and despite what people say there is work down here.
    And its plain nicer down here πŸ˜‰