Finding Balance While Cruising Full Time

Inde, Powell Cay, Abaco Islands, Bahamas
 I didn't realize it at the time, but year one was actually a bit stressful! We had to learn new skills, figure out the weather, be confused and amazed by new phenomenon like "wrap-around swell". (Can you imagine the "wrap around swell" happening on vulnerable islands today with 18-foot waves in the Atlantic?)  I had to learn how to make brownies….without a box! Oh, the humanity. Now that we’re in Year 2 of full time cruising, I feel so much more confident and content.
Daily Beach Walk, Green Turtle Cay
Old Tactic: Fast Pace
New Tactic: Slow Pace 
Last year, I was motivated to see as much of the Bahamas as possible. If we'd been in an anchorage for more than 3 days, I began to feel itchy and frustrated. "Gotta get to the next place - itis". (Matt was happy to hang out for weeks, a fact that irritated me deeply). Looking back, all my favorite places were the places we got "stuck". Spending extra time in an anchorage gave us the opportunity to meet fellow boaters, get to know the local community, and monitor the movements of specific starfish. Now that I’ve seen a lot of beaches, I realize I’d rather see the same beach every day for a month than 30 different beaches. Because 30 different beaches equals a lot of finding new anchorages and thinking.  
Gillam's Bay, Green Turtle Cay
 Old tactic: Suffering (Be Cheap and Anchor for Free)
New tactic: No Suffering (If the weather is going to be bad, we get to a good harbor, even if it means paying for a mooring or a dock.) 
We're enjoying the Abacos so much this year, partly thanks to an "avoid suffering" tactic. For the first month, we paid for a mooring ball in Black Sound at Green Turtle Cay. This meant we didn’t have to worry too much about the week of 30-knot winds, or the cold fronts, or clocking winds, or the absurd rock, clay, and cables randomly distributed for na├»ve anchoring boats. We could just sit around in calm waters. On nice days, we'd go sailing to Manjack or Powell Cay. However, we had our ball to come back to for bad weather. It's worth it to me to pay for a mooring rather than be rocking and rolling, seasick, concerned and uncomfortable night after night. Our mooring was close to town and close to a great beach. We loved settling into a routine and walking to the beach each morning.  
Black Sound, Smooth As Glass, Green Turtle Cay
Old Tactic: Stare Vacantly, Boat Work Demoralization
New Tactic: Find Work that I'm Good At
"Missing work" sounds like a ridiculous sentiment. However, since I started working again I have realized that I actually missed work! Unlike boat projects, taking on work means I get paid, I actually accomplish something in the time allotted, and I can do something "outside" of the boat. This is especially important for me, as I often feel superfluous on the boat. Struggle to light the stove for 30 minutes? Matt can do that in 1 second. Can't find the salt? Matt knows where it is! Don't know why the engine sounds funny? Matt can diagnose and fix it. It can be a bit demoralizing to feel like I'm an "extra" on our own boat. Going back to work means I can do something I'm good at, I can think about things other than boat projects, and I can talk to people other than my husband (even if the other person is 5, 8,000 miles away, and all we talk about is the color yellow). 

But Not Working Too Much!
For the first month in the Bahamas, I worked a shocking amount: 30 hours a week! I really love money, but I felt jet lagged and tired, so now I’m down to 21 hours a week. There’s no point to cruising if you are so busy working that you can’t enjoy the cruising lifestyle! And sure, it’s totally lame that I can’t manage a 30 hour, no commute work week, but I do have to spend 30 minutes a day struggling to the light the stove and 1 hour a day looking for the salt, so there’s that.  
Sandbar Walks, Powell Cay
Focus on What Matters
It’s easy to get sidetracked on a boat. There’s always a boat chore to be done or a new gadget I wish we had. There's always some annoying Instagrammer having a better time. It's natural to get demoralized by endless bad weather. What matters? For me, it's staring at the water, watching sunsets, finding starfish, quiet walks, calm anchorages. A slow pace, fast internet, and a good book to read. 

What matters to you? How do you find balance? 

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  1. Great post, Lucy! I can relate to feeling like the superfluous extra on our boat at times. Although, in my defense, I do know where the salt is :-)

    Glad Year 2 is working out so well for the three of you.

    1. Thanks, Ellen!I can always find the chocolate and potato chips, even if they have been moved in the daily re-organization :-)

  2. Sounds like year two will be much better. Keep enjoying and posting. It's nice to see all those wonderful pictures. Hopefully we will be in the Bahamas again soon...we sure miss it.

    1. Thank you, Susie! The Bahamas are beautiful. We are enjoying the slow pace here!

  3. This is a great post, Lucy. So very relateable. Our outlook changed a bit after one full year of cruising as well, especially in regards to boating and what we had learned. When it came to comfort and spending money, we remained in the "suffering" category. It definitely fueled our being fed up with the boat life after a while. Next time, if there is one, I think we will change that tactic as well.

    And, I felt like you on the boat, superfluous, even though I helped with all the projects and took care of household chores. I felt better as well, when I started writing (paid) articles.

    "There’s no point to cruising if you are so busy working that you can’t enjoy the cruising lifestyle!" And there, you say it all! This is the main reason why we got off Irie after eight years...

    1. There is also a huge difference between cruising the US and Bahamas (relatively easy) and long distance voyage planning. You guys trekked such long distances! When you are always on the go, always "new" to the area and always planning the next hop, waiting for weather, researching customs and perhaps learning a new language at the same time, it's a whole different ball game.

  4. Yep. And, work full-time. :-) The best times were when we settled in for a while, just like you guys experienced this year.

  5. Great post! I definitely suffered from "next place-itis", my wife not so much. But in looking back I realize the time we went to a gorgeous bay in the Berry's for a night or two that turned into a week was one of our favorite memories of cruising.
    Love the Abacos and glad you are too! Can't wait to get back :)

    1. Of course, it can't hurt that you got stuck in the Berry's - they are perfect. I hope to see you out here soon!

  6. Awesome post! I am an online freelancer and love working online.


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