23 November 2011

10 Reasons why cruising can be a bit more complicated than “just” a beach holiday

You see the beautiful pics and think we enjoy our holidays. Yes, we do! But even though we just started and we do love it over and over again – cruising is not always pure holiday. The ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) rewards each sailor with a wonderful, endless, always changing landscape but it's also very demanding. You need to have one eye on the channel while the other is watching the depth (sometimes the channels have around 5 – 6 feet and our Habibi needs at least 4’6’ water to float). For the last 600sm we did not have any Caribbean feeling so far, but it gave us an insight into a complete new lifestyle which is so far away from “normal” holidays.

As we reached now Florida, it's time to give you a bit of an insight of our daily routine and what bothers a cruiser from time to time. We still have another 3-400sm to go, but since the weather is now warmer and we are much more familiar with Habibi we're looking forward to take this on.

So here it is, our current Top 10 list what differs a cruise from a holiday:

1. Things can and will break down (or you think they will soon): So far we have issues with the Fresh Water Pump, the Tachometer, the Fridge/Freezer may need an upgrade and some work the yard did was really poorly done…the “to do list” is getting longer and longer and we just started
2. The Boat is always dirty – you have mud from anchoring last night, Salt from the sea spray and of course the mess you create yourself. Finally there is no maid or room service...you need to pick the hose and clean the mess behind yourself.
3. While sailing or motoring someone has to steer, and in the narrow ICW channels the autopilot is not that practical. Means someone is always busy on the wheel. So there is no relaxing romantic lunch during these days. One person is the cook and just one person can eat at one time
4. You are responsible for each mistake– you alone! If you misjudge the tide/depth at anchor for example and wake up while the boat is heeling over because you run aground during low tide, it's your fault (Yeah, we have to admit..high tide two hours later solved this adventure for us). No lazy jerk in the office or some poor system IT to blame. Just your own false judgment.
5. Continuous planning (or in terms of my employer “forecasting”): You cannot get out of your bed and enjoy the pool and the bar. You have to check on weather reports, tides, route planning, and make sure you have the right maps handy and so on. It’s a bit like planning a customer meeting back in the old office days…
6. My home is my castle: A boat is self-sufficient. Hah, almost: You need to top up the diesel, water and propane tanks timely, keep the “other” tank empty and make sure there is enough of everything: Starting with Electricity, Food and Drinks and last but not least - spares. If you need something you can be 100% sure there is no shop close by (particularly while on anchor in the middle of nowhere). Two nights ago a fellow boat was literally begging for some Engine Oil at a very remote anchorage…luckily for them we have been able to trade against Wine :-)
7. Space in general is a premium: By knowing this we've chosen a boat with a lot of room for storage. Still, you live on a few m2. The kitchen is tiny compared to all we knew before, clothing is packed tight and you're always searching for something.
8. Simple things are more complicated: Take washing cloths as an example: We do not have a Washer/Dryer on board (Most boats don’t have as it uses too much Space, Water and Electricity (See point 5 & 6). So you either choose to wash by hand or you use the Washer/Dryer in a Harbor. Which is either busy by some other fellow boaters or eats so many quarters you don’t have handy at the time you need them..
9. Critters: They are hidden everywhere: Either you battle Mosquitoes or you try to avoid getting roaches on board from any grocery store (Florida is a well known habitat of them).
10. Communication: Most of our friends and family live in a complete different time zone (Europe +6h, Middle East +8h). But that’s not the main issue. On Anchor you're not always getting Internet Access, and the US Internet services are surprisingly slow so far (and that’s a nice wording) – so Skype is not working all the time.

Cheers, Marco


  1. Wow, you guys, crazy! Quite a lot of new information for me! The laundry bit is a killer (amongst other things) :-)

  2. Marco and Rahel: You hit this right on, exactly right. We feel the same challenges and the same issues. You are also right in that friends think of this as a pampered holiday. Yes it is far better than working....but people that live in a house with endless water, power and sewer have no idea what it is like to manage all of this. I am enjoying your posts and you writing, thank you for sharing the adventure....

  3. So true... and NOBODY(!) who haven't experienced it by him or herself will really believe it. Don't expect them too... you would ruin their dream ;-)
    Point 1 to 9 are soooo familiar except that we did not have any WLAN at all. Sending an email at that time meant transporting the terribly expensive labtop in a water tight Pelicane case (to survive the dinghy ride...) and then setting up a mobile IT Cafe in a phone booth by attaching a acoustic coupler to the headset of the phone. One person dialing and frenetically feeding the phone with quarters while the other one desperately tried to connect to ISP through a "local" dial-in number hoping the coins (and/or PC battery) would last long enough to get the mail sent...
    But to be honest - we only did that three or four times before we started using snail mail instead :-)

    As for the rest - bluewater sailing is wonderful - honestly - but there are times when it's really like repairing your way around the globe.

    But as said in the beginning - don't try to explain it to "the others" - they won't believe it anyway ;-)