Several readers have sent me e-mails asking if the last four years were worth the trouble, effort, and expense?
First, I am not disappointed with paradise. I still love cruising Western Mexico. The remote anchorages, great diving, and excellent mountain bike riding still thrill me. I'm just feeling tired or weary. I feel there is almost a contradiction between my two feelings.
Much of the time I am very relaxed and so happy to be on the boat in the Sea of Cortez. But, more frequently now, I find myself overwhelmed with all the things I need to do to keep cruising comfortably and the stateside issues I worry about.
- are our elderly parents OK? if something happens can I get to Florida in time?
- will we be able to get insurance next year, and how much will it cost?
- why is the output from my watermaker decreasing?
- why is the vacuum on fuel filter 2 increasing even when it is new and clean?
- where do I want to be during hurricane season?
- why is the refrigerator compressor running longer and longer each day?
I think the real issue is that I now take the constant sunshine and fine weather, the crystal clear water, the good sailing for granted. After almost three years I'm starting to be satiated on those wonders, So, now the minor problems of maintaining the boat and worrying about the homefolks are starting to be a bigger negative drain on my psychological bank account than the joys of cruising are being a positive deposit.
Another surprising problem is that I became very close to the crews of four other boats during the last two years. All those folks have gone to the South Pacific or Central America. They all left in early spring and I've been feeling lonesome since then. I've read about this phenomenon in other cruising books – you just get close to someone and then your paths part. I know I'll meet more excellent friends but at this point it feels like a lot of hard work ahead.
The question of being worth it is not really the right question for me. I think the question should be "could you have not gone cruising outside the US and survived?" I am 100%, without any doubt, sure that the answer is NO – I absolutely had to take this cruise and am, with no reservations, convinced it was the right thing to do.
When I started serious sailing in the early '70s I made a commitment to myself that I would take a boat out of Puget Sound and I would go see the world. That commitment informed every decision I made for the next 30 years. My entire adult life was based on the premise that I am a sailor and I will go cruising. If I had not taken this cruise I would have felt myself a failure and untrue to my fundamental beliefs.
What I understand now is that I am a sailor and a cruiser but I am too lazy, and too used to a "comfortable" life, to spend years at a time in third world countries. I love to explore, to visit new places, and meet new people. That is the thrill for me.
The boat is a way to go places and have a pleasant experience while traveling. But, the real joy is experiencing the place and people. I now see that I can do that in the wild and not so wild waters of Puget Sound, north to Alaska. We are also talking about getting a motorhome so we can take our bikes and sailboards around the US and Canada. We can explore all the wonderful parts of our home waters and our country while still being comfortable and close to our families.
I cannot begin to think about the financial side of "is it worth it?" – we invested a huge amount of money in Mirador and will get less than 50% of it back when we sell her. But, again, I would not and could not have done it any differently. Sailboats never make financial sense and I just don't think about it.
Just to make sure everyone understands – I still love to sail and may decide to keep Mirador. We may even make some long offshore trips again, e.g. Hawaii or back to Mexico. What has changed is that I don't plan to live full time on Mirador in Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean. The next several years will be spent cruising the beautiful Northwest waters and islands.