May 26, 2009

A Year of Cruising

We have been out one year, actually one year and a few days as I write this. We have always maintained that we will cruise as long as we are having fun and able to cope with the kids schooling, assessing it at each critical juncture. As we approach our first hurricane season in the tropics we feel very confident in continuing for at least another year, even talking more and more openly about the South Pacific. Which we find ironic given what I am going to say below.

The one thing that we significantly struggle with is passage making. Specifically, the upwind variety. Even our last trip from St. Thomas to St. Martin was a struggle, though only in 4 foot waves and light winds, we still slammed and banged around enough to make us uncomfortable. The point is that it has not been fun. While the comfortable runs are fondly remembered, they have been to far and few between. Usually involving protected waters (BVI's, Bahamas) or downwind (Maine and the US East coast) sailing angles. Clearly the upwind stuff has got us a little rattled, and sitting in St. Martin we have done nothing but this since Clarence Town Long Island in the Bahamas, nearly 750 miles. We hope that now running up and down the Island chain we will get more comfortable sailing angles, thus some relief and renewed confidence. It is hard to be a cruiser if you do not move your boat after all.

What we have really enjoyed, the Bahamas, with the spear fishing, snorkeling, great beaches and great friends. Maine, the Chesapeake and the Virgin Islands have been quite enjoyable as well, though the perfect mix yet remains the Bahamas, with the sense of remoteness, and self sufficiency the other places do not offer.

Raising the kids on the boat has been a challenge, but this is a grass is greener issue, as every parent says the same about young children. Rae Ann and Jake have done great with home schooling, making all of us very proud. We do wish there were more families out cruising allowing for additional playmates, maybe the coming cruising season will offer more opportunities.

So last night I asked myself, why keep doing it? Surprising myself with a rather strong response, was first I get to see my kids grow up and be a true partner with Rae Ann, something special to this lifestyle.

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