We are living in a marina in San Francisco this winter as we prepare our new boat for cruising and our old boat for sale. We thought we’d be in Mexico living on the hook by now so things are not what we had planned. But as usual reality is both better and worse than our imaginings. So this is cruising, at least this week for us – the good, the bad and the ugly all together.
We are new at the marina, having just bought a boat here, so we were surprised and delighted to be asked to dinner by our across-the-dock neighbor. She’s a natural social magnet, queen of the dock and, as it turns out, a fabulous chef. She, a trawler live-aboard, had invited us plus another sailor to dinner to meet two would-be sailing cruisers to discuss how to find a sailboat for cruising. We had a rollicking conversation with wine flowing and delightful food passed around. After dinner two more folks who had recently bought the boat two down from us showed up to swell the party. The conversation ranged through boats, cruising, racing, politics, music, and life. A truly fearsome number of bottles of wine disappeared and laughter echoed through the night.
The next morning the would-be cruisers showed up and invited us to breakfast, but on the way we saw the Nauticat that our neighbors had just bought and the Passport 40 the other sailor had had for a few years. Seeing other boats always provides for great conversations among sailors. “I like the way x was done” and “I’m not a fan of y but they seem pleased with it” etc. Breakfast in Berkeley, despite a few headaches due to the evening’s excesses was a delight of flavors and more boat conversation.
This is cruising.
Our beloved dog of 15 years dies over the holidays and we bury her at my mom and her partner’s house up in the hills. We return sadly to the boat and our plug-in heaters won’t come on. In fact the 110 volt system on the whole boat is erratic and we have to turn it off. Sometimes turning off a few breakers leaves the rest working, sometimes not. Sometimes one breaker turns the light on for a different breaker. Testing the neutral and hot wires shows voltage on both. No electrical chart has been found. Yikes!
So we’re a bit chilly and can’t charge our phones or ipads. I add a sweater and start baking potatoes for dinner to warm the cabin. We try to trace the problem but wonder if the breaker panel has issues. After a few days of trying to sort it out we decide to call an electrician and we get one three days out.
This, too, is cruising.
Saturday I started with the scratchy throat and sniffles. By Monday it was a raging volcano and full-on snot torrents. This is when the heat dies. I curl in bed with my misery and a paperback, my nyquil clutched in my chilly paw. By Wednesday I’m coughing up green nuggets, sleeping on the salon settee and single-handedly raising the profitability of international facial tissue stocks. Surely I’ll start getting better now? HAH! This is cruising, so it gets worse.
Thursday night we remove the floor panels (which are quite sticky in the humidity and time-consuming to remove) and move everything away from areas the electrician might need to get to during his first-thing-in-the-morning visit. Luckily between building houses and boats I’m used to traversing floors via 2” beams. But I retire to bed with my kleenex and water bottle. A little later as I’m coughing my lungs out of my body I become aware of an incipient issue at the other end of my digestive track. I jump out of the aft bed clenching my cheeks and charge towards the forward head. No lights, but I’ve been on the boat a couple of weeks now and don’t need light to navigate. I think. Just as I’m turning the corner into the forward head I remember the gaping floor holes, pulling my foot back from the brink. With great determination and inordinate trust I leap over the holes and the threshold. Just in time my posterior hits the enamel ring and I’m home.
Who designs marine toilets? Let’s just say that for emergency voidings they are not ergonomic. After handling the immediate issue I was then faced with cleanup. Luckily with my trusty vinegar squirt bottle and some toilet paper I was able to repair the ravages and flush all the offending fluids down toilet, but it was not something I relished doing in my current condition. But this is cruising so I cleaned up, stepped over the gaping deck holes, turned on the light in case I had to repeat the trip, and returned to bed in the aft cabin. Twice more I made the same frantic dash and then finally the PeptoBismal did its magic.
This, too, is cruising. Just like normal land life but more inconvenient.
So why do it? For me it’s the views and living close to nature, the freedom of living with near self-sufficiency, the allure of new places on the horizon, the texture of life when every day is vivid. Count me in, even on the bad days.