Sunday, April 7, 2013

Decisions, Decisions!

April showers bring May flowers, but what do May flowers bring?
Pilgrims!  Get it? The pilgrims came over on the Mayflower. Ok that was bad, and an old childhood joke, but what April does bring for us is a major decision point!! What goes up, must come down. What begins must end. etc etc...

We've been cruising now since September 10th to be exact. Wow, how time flies, right? This journey has been nothing short of incredible. We never would have guessed how much we would have learned, experienced, loved and hated it all in the same sentence. It's been a trip of a lifetime, let alone a journey...  T worked for over 2 years to get our boat in shape, ready to voyage; a significant amount of spare time apres work went to Rhythm. As most cruisers know, owning a boat is a never-ending love affair. A boat is definitely not like a house, you can't just turn the key and leave. If you leave the boat, she will rot, literally, inside and out. She starts to look disheveled, grow mold and barnacles, get bird poop all over her and she starts to stink and look to be what is called a 'derelict' boat. There are plenty of them, trust us!  The care and feeding of a boat is hardly describable unless you've owned one; blood, sweat and tears go into the upkeep, tons of TLC that sometimes gets forgotten nor accounted for. So in making our decision to head north or south, everything needed to be accounted for, everything.

Our original goal was to head south, waaaaay south to the Panama Canal, and then into the Caribbean. It can be done, it has been done, many times but, in learning from others who do this for a living, or have more experience than we do, we've learned that once you get into the Caribbean from the Canal, it's quite the difficult journey to get to the east side of the Caribbean. The problem being that the trade winds blow east to west, northeasterlies, and so do the currents (as much as two knots) so bashing into the wind and current is a bear, and just not fun nor recommended (including Jimmy Cornell who wrote 'the book' on cruising!).

World Tradewinds - click to enlarge

We are half way there, and after pondering this for months, we've decided that the Panama Canal is too far (even though we're close!) and that we've achieved our goal, going as far as Barra de Navidad in Mexico. This is T's dream, and we want to make sure that it has been fulfilled and going as far as we have has fulfilled it! Woo hoo!!!!  We've learned a lot  - what we like and dislike about our beloved Rhythm, how long it takes from point A to point B in a cruising sailboat, along with the exhaustion of overnights and the huge rewards at the other end. In talking to other experienced cruisers, who have done this for their lifetimes, we've discussed cherry picking our destinations and chartering where we want to be instead...although owning your own boat is hardly a comparison to charting, this advice resonated with us. Cruising is not glamorous as one would think, it is very hard work. I have a new respect for anyone who lives on a boat. In plain English, if you didn't get it the first time -  All the land lovers out there have no idea what it's like on the sea - I (Kathy) had no idea what a sea life would be like myself! We both love it, we love the adventure, we like the mobility, we enjoy the fantastic people we've met, and the more direct experience with nature, but we have other things to do in this lifetime and have decided to head back north and continue our adventures on land. That's not to say we won't ever be doing this again; we're certain we will, especially since we've met so many people who do this for a season (November to April) and then return to their land lives, year after year. This sounds so appealing to us, especially when we retire! We like having the option of having roots somewhere and the conveniences of having a land life. We also like the option of if we want to get somewhere, we can fly instead of taking the time to sail there, and then sail when we get there. Fly and then sail; cherry pick. We also have yet to live another chapter of our lives, which is potentially starting a family, something we want to start on land, not a boat. Also, we are not retired, as most of our dear cruising friends are and, since we are in IT, which moves at the speed of light, it wouldn't behoove us to continue cruising for 10 years since our skills would undoubtedly become obsolete. We read a recent article in Three Sheets NW about the challenges of reentry on land being hell, yikes! This is something we are not interested in experiencing! All of this has contributed to our decision to head back north to the US and call this chapter completed for now! We are excited and proud of what we've done and are also extremely grateful for the help and support we've received along the way. We're also grateful to have the wherewithal to have done this, through our hard work via our corporate america lives. We can actually say we lived a dream! Who can complain? We've been gone for about 8 months, have lived in warm Mexico for almost 5 months, and we have been able to have tons of fun while doing it!

We knew we wouldn't be doing this forever, our goal was 1 year, with the extension of possibly 2. We were thinking of taking the rest of our 'time off' to travel Europe, charter a catamaran in the Caribbean for a month or three and do other things on our list (aka goof off for a little while longer)! And, we have choices, tons of choices. So given that liberty, we may be back here doing this again sooner than we think!

The season is winding down here, as the weather is much hotter each day! Some cruisers have started their puddle jumps across the Pacific to the Marquesas or have headed south to Costa Rica or Panama, while everyone else is prepping for the summer, storing their boats here for the hot summer, or heading north, like us, to experience and gain shelter in the Sea of Cortez.  So, with that said, we head north, back to the Sea of Cortez for a bit and then perhaps San Diego, completing our wonderful, incredible, off the charts, experience and trip of a lifetime. I'll say it again, IF you can do something like this and have any interest - DO IT. It'll change your life forever and yank you out of your comfort zone like nobody's business. After all, everyone should know if they don't already, as the saying goes, the beginning of your life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Enjoy every minute (or try to anyway)!

Hiking in Colima

~K y T


  1. - tell'em Kathy! :) You guys are amazing and I suspect you guys have discovered countless ways to optimize your enjoyment next time around. What a great experience. Safe travels northward and I hope you guys find time to goof off without the burdens/limitations of dwelling in a sailboat. - You guys deserve it and it might not be a bad way to transition back to life on land :) look forward to hearing more!

  2. Congrats on your voyage!! It is a great accomplishment. Very few people ever have the wherewithal to sail off over the horizon and find what lies there. Fulfilling a long held adventure dream like that is an experience many folks never have. I wish we had had a chance to get to know you a little better here in PV. We've been thinking about you for the past 3 days during your crossing and are hoping you are now happily anchored on the other side. We also didn't know you had just lost your sweet little dog. How agonizing. But perhaps Peanut has watched over you during your crossing, since he, too, knows all about what it's like to live on a boat at sea! Buena suerte with your new life. We would love to be in touch in the future!! --Emily & Mark