Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Raft-UP Sailor vs. Traveler

This has been a great month of articles. This question definitely sparked some debate on the various boats that have participated this month. It’s nice to hear about how and why people choose this lifestyle because we all do and approach it so differently.

I am definitely not a sailor. Let’s just get that out of the way. Yes, I live on a sailboat and; yes, we move that boat on a regular basis. But, I don’t really enjoy sailing. On occasion there is a nice day where the wind is just right, we move along at a nice eight knots and I only feel mildly queasy. On those days I enjoy it a little but most of the time the wind isn’t in our favor. It seems to always be too much or too little and I’m almost always seasick.

This of course begs the question “why do it?” Why live on a sailboat. The quick and easy answer would be that Mark told me on our first date that this is what he wanted to do and I told him I would. The truth is I love to travel and yet I’m a homebody. I love that I can be out exploring new territory during the day and come home to my craft projects and then crawl into my own bed for a movie. There are a lot of sailors who were happy to get rid of stuff and move to a simpler existence. I am not one of them. I brought a lot with me. This boat is full.

I love that I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be able to eat wherever we visit and have to pack a suitcase full of granola bars and water to live on just in case. I’m not an experimental eater. I like what I like and that’s about it. On occasion I’ll try something new (butter chicken by the way is not chicken with buttered herbs on it. I learned that in Tonga and now I eat it all the time) but mostly I stick to what I know. If you got dysentery and almost died when you were nine you might feel the same.

I also love that we aren’t on a timeline. Well actually that isn’t entirely true. The weather dictates a lot of where we go and when; plus Mark and I aren’t the best at planning so we often find ourselves in a hurry to get somewhere. In the big picture though we can take as much or little time as we want. This allows us to not just see the tourist things but also find the local hangouts and see what a place is really about.

Has my view on sailing and travel changed since we started? Probably not. I still love to travel and see new things. I love hiking up new mountains, finding neat little caf├ęs, taking in the sites of a new city, enjoying their museums and culture. As far as sailing is concerned, we didn’t own a sailboat before this one and I don’t image we’ll have one when this little adventure is done. They are simply too much work and I don’t get enough enjoyment from the actual act of sailing to justify it.

I’m mixed on whether the boat really helps or hinders our ability to travel. There are a lot of places we simply would not be able to go to if we weren’t on the boat. The cost would just be prohibitive. Getting all the way out to the Marquesas is not an easy thing to do and if you made it there you’d probably only get to see one island. Travel by sea gives you a whole new perspective on history and geography, when you start to really understand and pay attention to the wind and current you understand a lot more about travel and exploration by ship and really come to appreciate the big deep harbors that quickly became major ports. It also gives you a whole new view on fortification which lets face it is what a lot of history is about, taking what you want and protecting what you have.

On the other hand, the boat takes a lot of time and energy and there have been a number of places we haven’t seen very much because our concentration had to be on the boat. There are also a lot of places that are just easier to see by land. We spent three weeks traveling by car around Australia and we really did get to see more than two months on the boat. We move much slower on the boat and since we’ve had a number of things that have needed to be repaired we’ve spent most of our time doing that. There is also regular maintenance that constantly needs to be done. When your home is with you everywhere you go you never get a break. We saw and did so much in New Zealand because we put the boat on the hard, closed her up, and went on our way. I appreciate the boat for the places she takes us that we otherwise wouldn’t go but I do think it sometimes can be hard to enjoy a place when things are broken and your thoughts are simply on the boat.
I always considered Mark more of a traveler than a sailor but after reading Jane’s post on the 1st I now wonder because he, like her, is always trying to move us onto the next location. Maybe he if more of a sailor than I thought. As for MM, I think he may be a natural born sailor...

How about you? Where do you think you fall on the spectrum of sailor vs. traveler? We’d love to read your posts too. Link them up below so we know where to find what you’ve written. If you'd like to participate you too can write for Raft-UP just fill out the interest form on the Raft-UP page.


  1. Hi, Dana

    Thanks for your post and your honesty. I have to say that, so far, nine months in, I'm with you. I guess I just don't get the whole sailing thing. It seems like a pretty violent way to travel, really. And I had no idea how anti-handy I was until things started to fall apart on our boat, three minutes after we moved aboard.

    I also never realized just how much I want to travel because despite all of it, I still don't want to quit until I've seen my fill of the world. Although, I must admit, that when things seem overwhelming, the "happy place" I go to is a point in the future when I can say, "yup, we lived on a boat for years. Sailed around the world on her. Most amazing thing I ever did. Now please excuse me while I call someone to come and change this lightbulb."

    Thanks for putting this together. It's been enlightening.


  2. Dana - I'm so glad that I wasn't the only one who technically didn't like "sailing". I mean I love "sailing" but when you hardly every get "sailing"; "sailing" can be like chasing unicorns! Ha ha ha!

    I look forward to more Raft Ups! This assignment really got me into the habit or writing everyday in order to conjure up more of the greatness in my head! Your son is absolutely adorable. You know cruising is such a small community we are bound to bump hulls eventually!


  3. Hi Dana! I love that you're doing this Raft Up. You and Mark are the techno dudes of sailing and it's perfect. It's a great venue. Wish I had had this site and the Women Who Sail site when we started. And I wish we had had more time to get to know each other while traversing the Panama Canal! You're a Bay Area girl and we have that tie, too. My brother and his family live in Orinda.

    Anyway...your thoughts here echo mine. I do like to sail now and then...when conditions are perfect - which was practically NEVER when we were traveling! We did have one or two times when the sailing, and the sea, was lovely. But one or two times in 3 years doesn't say a lot!

    I, too, get sea sick but interestingly my body adjusted and it didn't happen as often as I thought it would. And I used some proactive puking management (aka PPM) on occasion which was usually helpful.

    Carry on, Dana! We'll be waiting for your book!

    Ellen, s/v Kwanesum


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