Ten years ago next month, Val and I retired and left the States to go cruising. Our plan was to cruise most of each year, leaving the boat in a safe port from time to time to fly home to see family, take care of our personal needs, and take a break from the rigors of living aboard a boat.
We were certain that our first boat, a Selene 53 would be our last boat, and that our adventures would be limited to coastal cruising, mostly in Mexico. We had never been underway after dark, and were still learning that “the pointy end goes first” and as our Power Squadron teacher told us, “keep the boat between you and the water.”
Plans evolve, and since ours are typically written in the sand at low tide, so did ours. We sold our Selene, bought and sold an FPB 64, and recently upgraded to a FPB 70. Most of our predictions in 2009 did not turn out as planned. Cruising coastal Mexico turned into that plus Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Belau, and now Japan. Since 2009 we have cruised over 42,000 miles, made many blue water passages, the longest being 12 days, alternating helm duty and sleeping every 4 hours around the clock. With the exception of four passages made with friends aboard, we haven’t used crew.
We spend about 95% of our time at anchor rather than in marinas, and avoid big cities for the most part, preferring to seek out less touristy environments in the mostly tropical countries we have visited. When people learn that we sold our house to buy a boat and take off cruising, many naturally conclude that it’s because we like being underway. While that is enjoyable, it is not why we’ve been at this for the past ten years. The boat is a tool that lets us visit other cultures, experiencing firsthand how others live, work, and play. We have never seen a pirate and never had a single item stolen from the boat. We’ve been invited into countless homes and been “taken care of” in ways that we still have a hard time appreciating, given the cultural bubble we left behind in California and Seattle. Many of the countries we’ve visited are poor, yet the people are vivacious, optimistic, welcoming, interested in us and in America, and want the same things for their kids as we do.
Originally I was going to do this post using the same format we’ve used in the past, but after looking at the pictures, I thought they would be more meaningful to you if I did not bias you with my interpretations. So I’ve created a slide show. The pictures are ones that Val and I have taken, usually after stopping near a village, dropping the anchor and then going ashore in our dinghy to “see what happens and who we meet.” We chose them because we believe they graphically portray the daily lives experienced by the wonderful people (and wildlife!) we’ve gotten to know along our way. Each of these pictures speaks to one or both of us. We share them with you in the hope that these captured moments will touch you, too. The video starts in Mexico and ends in Palau and lasts six minutes. Join us in looking back on ten years of cruising. Click “view in full screen” for best results.