Friday, January 08, 2010

When You Stop Cruising On a Boat

Mera Leads the Way
Mera Leads the Way
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
This entire post is along the lines of an Editor's Note. I was all ready to just put this blog to bed for a few months until I could switch to "All New Zealand, All the Time", but then I experienced a midnight epiphany.

Everyone must eventually stop cruising on their boat.

Most cruising books fail to discuss this phase of the cruising life. It's as though the author is afraid that if you -- the voyeur -- learn that the last chapter is not a sail disappearing over a pink and orange laced horizon complete with swelling music and the muffled sounds of theater goers rummaging around in the goo and popcorn detritus around their seats for keys and bags -- well you won't buy the book. Clearly part of what we travel bloggers, authors, and literary wannabes do is sell a dream. And the dream doesn't include stopping.

Yet nevertheless, we all stop. Whether a cruiser stops because the children get too old, the money runs out, family obligations, their boat falls apart, or they simply get sick of the lifestyle, eventually we all return to land. It may not be glamorous or exciting, but it is an important part of the cruising experience. And perhaps we would all be better prepared as cruisers and cruiser-dreamers if we thought of a graceful way to get off the boat prior to cutting the lines.

I don't think DrC and I thought it out carefully enough, to be honest. So once again -- through the Power of Blogging -- I'm going to treat you to an opportunity to sequentially and virtually experience the bumbling and fumbling of the Conger Clan as we attempt to completely upend everything we know and love and replace it with something Exciting and New.

Which Way Now?
Which Way Now?
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
As a result, some of the articles this month are going to be retrospective... trying to recreate how we made certain choices during the past few months. Some I'll throw out as they happen. And a few will be prospective musings and predictions which -- like New Year's Resolutions -- will be highly speculative and completely improbable.

This is an excellent opportunity for long time readers, first time callers to write in with questions. Don't be shy! I was recently told by a reader that I make it very difficult to send me email... probably a hold over from my days in network security. Nevertheless, I'll brace for spambots and offer the following:

toastfloats at gmail dot com

Looking forward to hearing from you.


judith said...

My husband can't grasp the idea of reading or writing blogs. He doesn't believe someone's life is so interesting that they actually write about it and have people who actually read it and then come back for more. He's clearly not read the blogs of people who live on boats (he doesn't like the water.)

We are a network of like minded people who in the old days would have been pen pals. I will continue to read your blog for as long as you publish it. I find your lifestyle and family interesting and look forward to your next adventure, no matter where you go or how you get there. You don't even have to change the name from Toast Floats, you can just add ....and then it takes flight, and drives, or walks, or hikes.

Deb said...

I understand the point you're trying to make, but making plans to graciously exit the cruising life before you begin it seems a bit like buying a burial plot for your fiance before you get married. I'm sure someone has done it, but it wouldn't be me.

I think it has a lot to do with when you go cruising. If you set out young, then there surely must be the verbalized thought that you may return to land once you decide to have a family. Clearly, boats and diapers are a relationship that would strain even the most accomplished sailor.

If you are cruising mid-life on a sabbatical, then the time limits are already imposed by the constraints of the career that you have worked hard to develop and are not ready to give up.

If, however, you are heading out soon as part of retirement (yours truly),then your limits will be financial and physical in scope. I admit that we do not have an exit plan to date...with one exception. We have decided that if we become incapacitated by Altzheimer's or some other debilitating disease, that we are going to find the biggest hurricane we can and point the boat in that direction. I have no intent of "living" the last 10 years of my life in a vegetative state as my once vital, vibrant mother did.

In the end (pardon the pun), the choice is highly personal, and no one can pass judgement. This is the true joy of the cruising life - cruising is a state of mind that exists among cruisers no matter where there are. It is the ability to choose one's path, and graciously accept the personal responsibility for one's existence on this planet, and any consequences thereof.

We have immensely enjoyed your blog and we support you wholeheartedly on your venture,

Deb and Tim

Toast said...

@deb I think you make an excellent point that the exit strategy is as unique to the individual boat family as the conditions under which you set sail in the first place. However, I'd compare preparation for that eventuality as less like purchasing a burial blot for your fiance and more similar to a pre-nuptual agreement or maybe even an insurance policy. Particularly for categories A) families and B) sabbatical cruisers, the end is not just inevitable, but it must be graceful. Financially, emotionally, and logistically, you need to have some clear ideas of how you back off the edge of the cruising abyss and reintegrate yourself.

Let's just take one example... Money. It takes time and money to stop cruising. When you evaluate your burn rate and calculate the duration of your family/sabbatical cruise, you must take into consideration the time it will take to extract yourself from the financial responsibility of the boat, invest in a new mode of habitation and transportation, and... ugh... get a job. You can't simply keep going until the money runs out.