The World is Not Enough

Friday June 21, 2013

Great Bahama Bank

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to admit this, but I don’t think I can hold it in any longer, especially with all the negative hints I’ve probably been dropping lately. I’m burnt out on cruising. At this moment I don’t want to do it any more. Neither of us really do, actually. I don’t know exactly how or when it came about, when the excitement and thrills turned to dread and loathing, all I know is that I want off of this boat and out of this lifestyle. Lately every day has been a struggle, and the worst part is, I can’t even figure out why. It’s not like anything has suddenly changed, that we’re in a terrible place, or have just faced weeks and weeks of bad weather, which could leave anyone yearning for their life back on land. The situation is the same. It’s somehow me that’s now different.

To figure out where this may have started, we’d have to go way, way back. Both of us had been thoroughly enjoying our travels until Hurricane Sandy hit us last October. The storm wasn’t bad, in fact, we had a nice little hurricane party in honor of it, but right after that the weather turned to shit. We spent the next month where the highs were in the 50’s, low’s in the 30’s, and the sky was overcast every day. But, we held out hope that things would get better. Traveling from Georgia to Florida, the sun broke from the clouds, I was able to peel off a few layers, and white sand beaches with clear waters were almost within our reach. I should not have spoken too soon. That evening we had our accident, which left us in Florida’s First Coast for three months while we waited on insurance, fixed the boat, and prepared ourselves to leave once more. Christmas was spent alone, on the hard in a boat yard, but we both still held hope that things would get better.

Finally, they did. We entered the Bahamas in mid-March, to the sunny days, crystal clear waters, and white sand beaches we both had been dreaming about. Reunited with good friends we traveled the islands, caught and cooked fish and lobster for dinner, and had bonfires under the starts at night. It was perfection, everything we could have dreamed of. Holding out hope had payed off a thousand times over. From the Bahamas we crossed over to Jamaica and Cuba, still with our friends, and still having the times of our lives. There were the normal hardships, sure, living on a boat doesn’t come without it’s difficulties, but for the most part all of these initial annoyances had become second nature by now. My rage didn’t pop up when I had to move all the pots and pans from our oven to the navigation station so I could use it for cooking, or when I had to use three of the steps on the companionway to temporarily store the contents of our chill box as I searched for the strawberry jam all the way at the bottom. We both became masters at unpacking and repacking our aft cabin/storage area to reach the paper towel stored all the way at the back. It wasn’t really hard anymore, it was just….how it was now.

So this still leaves me grasping at what has changed. I can tell you that it happened in Cayman. Here we were on this beautiful little slice of paradise, and after about three days there, I couldn’t have cared less. I wasn’t interested in walking the streets or browsing through the windows. After a couple of fun days of snorkeling, I didn’t feel like getting in the water anymore. Our lives became centered, for a short time, around boat work, and I figured that it, along with our rolling anchorage, was what was putting me in my foul mood. I think the only reason we got off the boat most of the time was because our friends made plans that involved us, and even though I’d go back to my ol’ happy self while we were with them, as soon as we got back to Serendipity, the unhappiness sank back in.

Matt was going crazy in his own mind with never ending boat repairs, and this constant creaking noise that’s been in some of the floor boards ever since our accident. I think he was tired of the cost and the work related to cruising. I was just…tired. I wanted creature comforts again. I wanted to go home. One night, when Matt did his usual song and dance of not wanting to cruise, I gave in. (For those of you who don’t know, even though cruising was originally his idea, by the time we were getting ready to leave he changed his mind and decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He was happy with his life at home, and with all the money we’d saved up, we could have had a very comfortable lifestyle there. A condo on the 14th floor in the heart of downtown? That’s all starting to sound very nice now. But back then, it was me who still wanted to go, dragging him along, somewhat kicking and screaming at the beginning.) I never knew if these were serious request before, I’d always talk him back into the cruising lifestyle, saying that when he got older he’d regret that he didn’t travel the world, but this time, I wanted out just as bad. When he said “That’s it, I’m done with it”, as he tends to do at least every other week, I replied, “Me too, let’s go home”. But, to switch up roles, it was him that talked me into staying, stating that we’d at least get ourselves to Guatemala and re-evaluate there.

Which, while on the topic of traveling, I have another confession to make. We HATE passages. Seriously dread them. It’s not that they’re scary or overwhelming. They’re just incredibly boring and uncomfortable, and for days at a time. I didn’t mind them too much while going down the eastern seaboard. It was mostly just day traveling down the ICW, and the few hops out into the Atlantic, usually only for 24 hours, or 36 max. Were those passages comfortable? No, probably some of the worst we’ve had (damn you Northern Atlantic!), but, the excitement was there still, because every passage meant more miles south. Closer to warm weather, closer to clear waters, and closer to sandy beaches. But ever since we left the Bahamas and there are no more ‘day trips’, and neither of us are now too fond of the thought of traveling in a boat. Worst.Cruisers.Ever.

I thought a change of scenery might help, but the feelings haven’t changed since we’ve gotten to Utila. For the past few days, Matt’s been doing his best trying to cheer me up, telling me we can do whatever I want, but it still hasn’t made a difference. Have I already become jaded? It almost feels like no matter what island or location I could place myself right now, the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, or the azul waters of Greece, I wouldn’t be happy. Which, in the end, makes me feel ten times worse about the situation. How spoiled must I be to lead the life I do, and not have it be enough for me? Who knows, maybe it’s just the waves rattling my brain around too much, and I haven’t been able to think straight lately Or maybe, the world is not enough. I really hope it’s the first one, because I can’t wait to get those feelings of excitement back.*


Double Breasted Cay

I feel like my life has gone from this…

Piankatank River

 …to this.

*Editor’s Note:  We are now in Guatemala, and back to our regular selves.  Time spent in a marina, living a somewhat normal life again, has done wonders for our attitude.  I can’t say I’m still looking forward to crossing the Caribbean Sea again, but, maybe after a few more months the excitement will restore itself.  I’m also finding out from a herd of other bloggers right now, that cruising can make one…a little bipolar.  As bad as I feel for anyone else going through these emotions, I’m also glad to know I’m not the only one.

16 thoughts on “The World is Not Enough

  1. I don’t know you “in person” but I learned of you from friends in the Muskegon area and really enjoy following your blog. Ron and I kept our boat at the Muskegon Yacht Club for many, many years until we tired of the trek up and down Lake Michigan to the North Channel each summer and moved our boat further north, now a day’s sail to the waters we choose to cruise.

    We had always thought we would enjoy bluewater cruising until 1985, when Ron did the Bermuda One-Two Race and I flew to Bermuda with our two (very young) children to help him bring our Offshore 40 back to Newport, RI. We had a bit of everything in that passage (18-hour gale to dead calm) and as we neared Newport after 6 days, we both agreed that we do not like passage-making. We chose to move back to Michigan and Ron went back to teaching. It was the right decision for us.

    I have talked to boating friends and learned that there is something about the one-year mark living aboard when one or both partners tire of the boat life. It helps to be a part of a boating community during this time. It’s also true that the life is not for everyone. (Certainly isn’t for me!) That’s something you will need to decide for yourselves.

    There is an essay by William James about his time at Chautauqua. He talks of the utopian life becoming the ordinary when it becomes your “regular” life. I often think of that when I tire of the simpler life we experience the months we live aboard–my limit is about 3 months. And then I can’t wait to get back to my nice kitchen with counter space, a fridge I don’t have to fall into to find what I’m looking for, flushing toilets, and stepping into the hot shower first thing in the morning. And I tire so having to think about weather and wind direction every single day!

    Good luck to you both in deciding what is best for you. It will get better…

    Jo Schneider-Dwelle

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog so much! (I found you through Brian and Stephanie’s blog). Your post today reminded me of this: “Learning what to choose, and how to choose, may be the most important education you will ever receive.”

    Our lives are so full of choices, aren’t they? Which option to choose?? Choose that which works best for the both of you.

    Your adventures have fascinated me! Thank you for sharing pieces of your life with the world. 🙂

  3. Oh sweetie- this is all part of life- no matter where you are or what you are doing…..job-when I was a stay at home mom all I wanted was to be out in the world doing an “important” job (now I realize mothering was a very important job!!), kids- they drove me crazy but I wouldn’t trade them for the world, house-we had 3 different lifestyles-country,farm and city and in each I loved them and had days I wanted only to be somewhere else or camper.- so understand with taking pans OUT of oven to use it and storage on the steps, or searching for something saying “I KNOW we put it here…”!! HA!!…… When I am in Ohio I long for the Bahamas and (less days)-when in the Bahamas I long for time with family and friends here in states with all the comforts……..but each time I go thru these restless times (and as I get older I KNOW)……to stop, slow down, smell the roses, look UP……get to know others around me….get out of myself. I LOVE more than anything being on the beach with my hubby doing nothing but that (hate to admit it) gets old and I NEED to be involved with others in some way- caring,loving others, experiencing life where I am and reaching out-with a smile or hug -even to that crabby girl ringing my groceries in a shop along the way!
    So I will stop……..where are you now? We leave Ohio in a few days to drive along east coast visiting many that we know from the island! Will end up in Naples, FL spending 2 weeks with our daughter and family THEN HOME to our beloved island!!!!
    Remember this….LIFE is not easy no mater where you hang your hat-or swim suit….but it is sure better than the alternative……NOT LIVING!!!
    Love you both and so thankful we met! Praying for your peace and joy!!!!
    BTW- we are stopping to see Ashley and Ren in Wilmington!!!!!! YEAH!!!

  4. Thank you everyone so much for the kind words! I think we were just getting a case of ‘one-year-itis’, and needed a little break from sailing. Luckily, we had landed ourselves in Guatemala, filled with lush green mountains, awesome dock mates, friendly locals, and best of all, cheap living! I think our hurricane season here will be a great chance to re-group and prepare ourselves to get back out this fall/winter. Who knows…we might even look forward to passages again!

  5. The above posts said it well — No matter where we are on any given day, in any given year, the grass seems just a bit greener elsewhere. Choices that once seemed exciting become mundane. It is easy to second guess any of life’s biggest decisions, especially when they include daily inconveniences. Those of us firmly stuck at home envy you two for the adventures you are experiencing. We know that we will never see or do the things we read about in your blog. But it is also easy to understand your restlessness, especially after one year on a boat. The novelty of the trip has long ago worn off, and just facing your daily routine in cramped quarters makes everything you do a struggle. At the same time, there are people here at home who would love the freedom of no job, no agenda, no responsibilities. It’s easy to want what you don’t have.

    I said this to both of you before you left last August —There is no shame in coming home when you tire of the lifestyle. We can only imagine the frustration of juggling things around in cupboards just to make a meal; having to tend to endless boat repairs; living in an cramped space months on end…..I don’t think I could do that for a week, but you have managed for over a year.

    We would welcome you back in Michigan with open arms. You can go back to work, buy a house or condo, rejoin the ‘normal’ lifestyle. It’s all here, or anywhere else you may choose to call home. You have packed a lot of living into 13 months. You have made it further than anyone else I know. If it is no longer fun, then come home. If you take a few months to reassess your situation and choose to continue traveling, we will be supportive of that choice. The challenge is for both of you to come to an agreement, and it is not going to be easy. There are pluses and minuses in any decision, but the best thing is that you have no deadline to decide. Take your time, weigh the pros and cons, and know that we love you no matter what you choose.

  6. Nothing wrong with taking some time for yourselves to regroup and come back with an open mind.

    Even with all the hard work of maintaining the boat and your sanity during the passages, it must be rewarding to explore the new destination and experience things that most in the world never will.

    Good Luck to you 🙂

  7. Very honest. I know I’ll have a major time of adjustment to cruising as well. Don’t forget it’s all about quality not quantity. It isn’t worth the work and the stress you’ve endured up to now if you’re not enjoying it, so stay in a marina, do whatever it is you enjoy doing out there. Even if it cuts your trip a little short, enjoy it! Hugs!

  8. This was very interesting post to read. It explains why all of us saw you her in Grand Rapids when we did. It was sure great to see you guys and I defiantly had a great time when I got to see you two.
    Read and re-read all those nice comments that your friends and family have posted. Know that what ever you chose to do in the future you always have a place to call home here on the land. Enjoy your time at the marina during hurricane season and your trip to South America.
    Jessica make sure to mail me a post card from one of those Hostels that will promptly sit there for years and I will never receive! LOL.

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  10. Man you are such a passive aggressive ^&%# to your husband. No wonder he buries himself in other thing. He is hiding from your slu££¥ disrespectful fat a$$. I would push you overboard in chummed water. No surprise coming from Muskegon. World’s most degenerate gene pool. And educate yourself on proper pronoun usage so you don’t embarrass Michigan.

  11. Language, sir! I had to go back and edit your comment, I run a family friendly site here. I have to say, your words hurt me deeply. We are not from Muskegon, but in fact are from Grand Rapids, a sophisticated town I like to think. Muskegon is just where we moored the boat as it was the closest access to Lake Michigan for us. I’m glad I could clear that up for you. Now excuse me while I go backhand my husband because he has become immune to my passive agressiveness.

  12. Pretty cool reply 😉
    If you plan an overland trip in Europe and happen to visit Switzerland (you really have to…), drop an Email if you need anything (local advice, Dinner in Bern, accommodation near Bern).
    Enjoy your time over here!

  13. Wow where the heck did all that aggressive person get off on slamming you that way ? Wow! Good comeback though.
    We have a home in Holland, Mi left last July out the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal Hudson River to Chesapeake ICW to Florida and spent the winter in the Bahamas. 10 months on the boat. When we left we decided to keep our options open, not sell it all. We left the boat in Florida returned to our land home in Holland for the summer. It was a good choice for us. We will do the snowbird thing for a few years. We were both very ready to get off the boat and have enjoyed the conveniences of the big fridge and lots of room and a washer and dryer etc but are now ready to return to the boat for another go at the Bahamas. Only 45 more days:-)
    We think we have the best option for us. the best of both worlds. Good luck on whatever you decide cone back to Michigan and come visit us any May thru October in the coming years!

  14. Rosemary, Spending summers in Holland and winters on the boat and in the Bahamas sounds like the perfect option! I miss Michigan summers, and friends, and family,..terribly. Trust me, you have the best of both worlds. 🙂

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  16. I find myself a bit older and in a different place in life. I have in the past been full of the “No project too big, no job not possible” zest that seems to have been tempered a bit with age. I haven’t lost it. It’s just that at 52, I can do the math and look at the time it takes me to complete projects. Often I have found that I leave them a bit uncompleted, just to satisfy a bit of perfectionism. Somehow, by not being totally completed, they don’t have to be perfect. At 52, I find myself not jumping feet first deep into these projects anymore.

    Regardless, I realise it won’t work but wish to offer at least something to toy with in your thoughts. I find the project and life you and your husband appealing, yet can see the point of occasional despair. It would be interesting for a change of mental state to change lives for a few weeks just to get a reset. I’d let you take over my job and support my 6 kids, enjoy the nasty cold wet no sun weather of Grand Rapids in the fall and winter. Work on my house. I’d work on your boat.

    I have rebuilt two old houses and am on my third. I have recently taken two old power boats and made one good one out of the parts for a family boat. Total rebuild right up from replacing and glassing the stringers to new foam, upholstery, rebuild engine etc. I’d do a good job on your boat.

    My parents were teachers and we spent summers sailing Lake Michigan. My wife and I toy with the idea of spending some time south some day. Age is catching us though. There are only so many years left and I’m starting to notice I’m not 25 anymore.

    A change of life even for a few weeks can seem like a wonderful way to reset and focus on what is important.

    I know it can’t happen but it is fun to think about and perspective can be drawn from the thought experiment.

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