Cruising Habits That Stick

[caption id="attachment_15693" align="alignright" width="350"]web1 Cruising families cherish their time together... even when long cruising adventures end.[/caption]

In all the reading I’ve done about living the cruising dream, I haven’t often read about what happens when it’s all over or, more to the point, how to cope with being back at the dock for good. When we started planning our 14-month cruise so many, many months ago, we tried not to contemplate the end. My husband was fond of quipping, “The end of the cruise is a lot like death: you know it’s coming, but you prefer not to think about it.” How uplifting.

Now, even the end of our year-long cruise has come and gone. With no self help books leading the way, you might wonder what folks do to cope with the tumult we bring upon ourselves. In our case, we embraced denial and stayed on the boat. We simply did not get off, at least not until December’s cold set in, much to the surprise of landlubber acquaintances who often asked, “Don’t you have a house?”

It turns out we’re not the only “post-cruisers” who take this approach. You might think that living in a confined space in somewhat scarce conditions would send post-cruisers running for the luxuries of a McMansion (and no doubt a big, frontloading fridge and flushing toilets have their advantages), but for many, cruising increases their affection for and need to be on a boat. Concerned that we might have a larger than usual kink in our system, I have talked with many post-cruisers. The majority, like us, have spent more of their free time on their boats since returning to their home ports rather than less.

We could have come by this genetically, so to speak. Hurrah’s former owners cruised Hurrah for three years before coming home. They found they couldn’t scratch the itch, so they took to spending summers aboard Hurrah in Maine. Now they own a powerboat and dream of looping.

Other families, too, are the same way. Three years ago, the Hopman family spent the winter in the Caribbean aboard their Halberg Rassy 37 Borealis after sailing down as part of the Salty Dawg Rally fleet. Now that they’re back, they spend as much of each summer as they can aboard Borealis in Maine. Tatja Hopman also works with the Salty Dawg Rally to help other cruisers make similar journeys to the one her family made.

The Zani family sailed their Fontaine Pajot 43 Fabuloso around the Caribbean for four months last winter. While they found they didn’t need a bluewater catamaran for their home waters in Narangansett Bay, Mike Zani says that the summer is all about boats pretty much all the time.
Closer to the Chesapeake, the Day family returned from a Mediterranean cruise aboard their Farr 50 Tenho in 2013 resolving to live aboard in Annapolis the next summer. This summer found them based out of Back Creek, and they’ve spent as many weekends aboard their boat as possible this fall. Daughter Maggie especially loved cruising and home schooling and asks to spend as much time as possible on the boat.

Post-cruising isn’t just about boat time. It’s also about spending more time with friends and family. It seems cruisers value the tight family time aboard their vessel. And they miss their friends while they’re gone. So what does this amount to when you’re back in port? More raft-ups … more spontaneous dinner parties … more games and less technology.

Zani said their family makes a point of playing board games, a habit they picked up in the Caribbean, now that they’re back on land. They spent many nights last winter learning the ins and outs of Monopoly (including why money shouldn’t pass under the table among brothers), and the fun of that close interaction is something they keep up now that they are back to work, school, and team sports.

As for the raftups, we haven’t spent a weekend alone at anchor since we’ve been back. Perhaps it is no surprise that many of our raft-up companions are also post-cruisers. Evenings of relaxed conversation, potluck dinners, and tropical cocktails are a habit that simply shouldn’t be broken. It helps us stay connected to friends we missed while we were away.

So more weekend boating and staying in better touch with friends and family: at least the end of cruising has some upsides. Alas, if only staying ship-shape while at the dock were as easy a habit to keep.