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Last Updated on August 18, 2019 by Amy

David and I have been suffering lately from what one of our friends recently declared “senioritis”.  In thinking about it, there are a lot of similarities between college and our adventure; 4-5 years (the five-year plan was mine!), steep learning curve, alcohol-heavy social environment, draining your bank account….

As we’ve recently discussed, we’ve got less than a year left of cruising before we complete our circumnavigation.  We’re staring down the barrel of potentially big changes in our lives with a lot of big decisions to make too.

It’s understandable that we’ve fallen into a bit of a funk.  Cruising is HARD.  The ups are really up and the downs are really down.  I’m shocked how many couples we’ve met out cruising who split up within a year.  Cruising ends marriages, ya’ll.  You deal with each other’s LITERAL shit.  You share a small living space (our boat is big and it’s still only 1/4 the size of the standard American home).  You are constantly making hard decisions.

Breaking out of the funk is not an easy thing to do, but here are a few strategies we’ve used to take a step back from the cruising life.  I’m going to start with the one we’re employing now, but I do want to put in a disclaimer.  A lot of these strategies (but not all) hinge on having flexibility in your budget.  Out here cruising, we’ve met plenty of people who haven’t been home in years because they can’t afford to, or avoid staying in a cheap marina because they don’t want to pay marina fees when anchoring is free.   And yet…we’re still all on the same adventure.

Go Live in a Marina

David and I have been docked at Eden Island Marina in Seychelles for over a month now.  We didn’t plan on this; the winds around Seychelles pick up for the month of August, and we missed the last window in July.  But we’re reaping the benefits – this is exactly what we needed.

One of the biggest struggles with the cruising life sometimes is a lack of routine.  Every day looks incredibly different, even in the span of one week.  You might be doing an overnight passage with long watches, you might need to get up early to catch the morning’s high tide, or you might have to dedicate all day to filing up your diesel tank with jerry cans.

Living in the marina here has been the opposite.  David and I have developed a wonderful routine:

  • Wake up at 0540 am
  • Exercise (TRX x 3, running x3, yoga x1)
  • Have breakfast
  • Quick shower
  • Work on videos/blog posts/writing/reading
  • Walk to the supermarket to pick up food for lunch and dinner
  • Eat lunch
  • Back to videos/blog posts/writing/reading
  • Quit at 1700 pm to read on the lounge deck
  • Cook dinner

Part of what is making this so enjoyable is the relative luxury of Seychelles.  We’ve got a western-style grocery store a 5-minute walk away, which stocks South African products and produce we don’t get to enjoy often (like leafy greens and fresh herbs).  There are nearly a dozen restaurants to choose from on Eden Island.  The marina is clean and cheaper than most we’ve been to.  As our dock neighbors said (paraphrased):  we’re going to enjoy the crap out of this marina because we haven’t seen one like it in four months, and won’t see one like it for another four months.

Additionally, the marina life fulfills a need for familiarity.  When you are constantly on the move, even the smallest tasks can be a struggle.  Even something as simple as coming into a new anchorage; where do I drop the hook?  what’s the best way to get to shore?  am I going to be here long enough that I need to worry about trash?  groceries? water?

Here in Eden Island Marina, we know where everything is.  We say hello to the same staff every morning.  Accessing shore is as easy as one step.  We’re friendly with our neighbor cruising boats.  I even have consistent faces that I say hello to on every morning run.  It can be such a relief!

Eden Island Marina. Starry Horizons is the bottom left!

Have a (Best) Friend or Family Visit

We have been so fortunate in that our friends and family have been pretty gung-ho about visiting us.  In fact, there’s even some friendly competition over who will have visited us the most by the end of our circumnavigation.  Right now, David’s brother Thomas is winning with four visits (the passage to Canada, Fiji, Australia, and Thailand).

First of all, seeing cruising through someone else’s eyes is refreshing.  We often tend to forget the positive sides of our lives.  When friends or family visit we get to see them excited about the locations we are visiting or about certain aspects of our lifestyle.  There’s a certain joy in teaching someone to drive the dinghy, watching them learn to paddleboard, or taking them out on their first snorkel.

One of the hardest parts of cruising is missing out on things back home.  Having our guests come visit allows us some important time with people that are part of our former lives.

And I think the best, most refreshing visit for me was when my best friend Carlanna came to visit in Thailand.  David and I were at a rough patch, having had to haul out in Thailand twice.  To have someone visit that you are really close to, was such a nice break.

Girl time at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.

Step Away from the Boat

In some countries, David and I have taken the opportunity to leave the boat and do some land travel.  We spent 12 days exploring Sri Lanka, five weeks driving around New Zealand, and six weeks hopping around Australia (a kangaroo pun!).  While traveling this way has its own set of difficulties (six weeks  of Australia might have been too much), it gets us away from the boat life and a good change of scenery (sometimes you just want the bed to stop moving damn it!).

If you’re really at a breaking point, even just stepping away for a night or two might make a huge difference.  Leave your boat wherever you feel comfortable, and stay a night or two in a hotel.

Take a Break from your Partner

I have been within 40 feet of David for 99% of the past four years.  That’s A LOT of time with just one person.  David and I are awake and together for roughly 16 hours a day.  If you are still working, think about how much time a day you spend within 40 feet of your partner.  Maybe an hour a day during the workweek?  Maybe cruising years are like dog years for your marriage; David and I have been married for nine years, but it really feels like forty.

Maybe taking a step away from your partner for a whole day, or a few nights, would do you some good.  Spending a few hundred dollars on a hotel that might save your marriage?  Priceless.

Fly Home

This is the method we use most often when we need a break from the cruising life, although now that we’ve tried living in a marina, I think the marina is more effective for our overall happiness (more cost-effective, but less time-efficient).  Flying home gets us a break from the boat life and a chance to see our friends and family, but it does make our schedule pretty crazy and costs a lot of money, depending on where you are flying from.

As it is, we’ve been home on average, twice a year.  In New Zealand we took a month to fly back home for the holidays, which has been our longest trip home.  Also in New Zealand, we flew back for just a few days to attend David’s grandfather’s memorial service.  In fact, three of our last six visits back to the states were to be with family at memorials for our grandparents.  On the one hand, it’s a very sad reason to fly back home, but on the other, it’s a great opportunity to visit with our extended families.   Most of our visits back to the US have been 10 – 14 days.

The costs add up; we have to store Starry Horizons someplace we are comfortable, plus the flights, dining out, and other travel expenses.

Join a Rally or Buddy Boats

While, in general, rallies aren’t our thing, we understand that they can be really important to a lot of cruisers.  They provide a safety net in the form of being near and talking to more experienced cruisers.  They make decisions easier – the route and anchorage are chosen for you – and help get you set up in your new location.

Rallies also provide opportunities to socialize more often in a lifestyle which can be isolating.  While cruising with the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally, I was always able to find someone for a shore excursion to spend some time without David.  And I often attended rally events – social and cultural – without him.

Buddy boating can be a similar balm.  Instead of being with a larger number of boats, you can pick and choose who you want to hang out with.  Buddy boats often have similar interests or demographics to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.

We greatly enjoyed bonding with Slow Flight and Mirniy Okean while in the rally, and continued our buddy boating beyond that – we spent a month with Slow Flight in the Maldives!

Carlos, David, Amy, Linda, Kimi, Trevor.

End Result: Happier Cruising!

We’ve implemented three of these strategies since we arrived in Seychelles – we flew home (for a memorial service), had two sets of friends visit, and then have spent a month in the marina.  When we were at the airport in Houston, boarding our flight to come back to Starry Horizons, I said to David; “this is the first time I’m not excited to get back to the boat”.

Now, I’m feeling 100% different.  I’m excited for Madagascar (one of the places I was most excited to visit from the start).  We’ll be merging back together with our buddy boats Slow Flight (coming from Reunion) and Mirniy Okean (coming from Chagos).  Before I know it, it’ll be my birthday, then Christmas, then we’ll be crossing our wake in the Caribbean and throwing one hell of a party to celebrate.

And I can’t wait to share it all with you!

19 Comments

  1. Great Read Amy! My husband and I are back on land after 2 years, and we can relate to many of the ups and downs! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Its always interesting to see a different perspective on things. My husband and I plan to set off sailing within the next five years. For now, we’re traveling around North America in our fifth wheel RV. Making the leap into a sailing catamaran will more than double our current living space. We’ve been living in our RV full time for four years now.

    Although the lifestyle does have some challenges, we have found it to be overall carefree, enjoyable and very rewarding.

    Again, thank you for sharing a different perspective with us. Best wishes to you both as you continue your journey.

  3. Hi Amy: This post feels very real. My heart hurts for both you and David experiencing some of the challenges of marriage in such an isolated environment – I hope that it also makes some of the joyful moments even better. Your family does love you sooooo much and are always excited to hear from you or see you. Thanks for the post.

  4. Thank you for this. When you see videos, yours and others you get a feeling you and others are happy and content all the time. And that you get along all the time. And that you love sailing and moving all the time. Makes me a bit worried, since I know life is not all sun and roses. I used to work at sea and love it. I also hated it in parts. I was away for many many years. I’ve lost track of all the white beaches and palmtrees and they blend. After a few years, if you’ve seen one white beach you’ve seen them all. I lost the joy of sun and water. It has now returend and I long for the day I can get out on my own boat and go cruising. It will not be ocean passages, since that doesn’t interest me. But coastal cruising can get you far if you plan. I hope your last party is one hell of a party! Thanks for taking me along your journey.

    1. Aw, thanks Zarih. Yes, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (or in our case, white sand beaches and palm trees) but it does have it’s trials. Thankfully I have such a great partner!

  5. Loved this article. Before living on our boat full time, my husband and I scoffed at the idea of staying at a marina. They cost money and we didn’t realize the importance of each of us being able to leave the boat whenever we wanted. When we stayed at a marina, I always felt guilt. Like I wasn’t a real sailor. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who enjoys a marina every once in awhile.

  6. Great post Amy,
    I appreciated the gist of these challenges but it’s interesting and useful to have your expert perspective. I am keen to break out of my marina and quit my job but you have to be realistic about what will make you happy.
    Danny (a Houstonian too)

    1. Hey Danny! Thanks for reading. Cruising is not for everyone, it’s great to be aware of what makes you happy and have a plan to make it happen!

  7. I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing. We have been out one year and have experienced some of the same feelings. Everyone always says living the dream which is true but still quite a challenge like the dream of flying but what about the fall back to earth at the end. And will you wake up in time? We miss our kids and grandkids but they didn’t live close anymore anyway. The 24/7 th hung can be amazing. And boring. Such is life. And we get to spend it together!

    1. Thank you, Michelle! We’re pretty lucky that our dream looks so good, but yeah, you are right, every dream has its challenges.

  8. Excellent post Amy! You guys are great and have inspired me in so many ways. My wife and I will soon be FP Saona owners in a couple of months. I’ll be taking possession in La Rochelle and sailing our boat back to FL in November…similar to what you did back in ’14, oh so long ago, right?
    Keep up the good work with your valuable blog posts and amazing videos. They are much appreciated by me and so many others.
    Take Care….

    1. Thank you Mickey! We are so glad you feel inspired. Congratulations on your boat! It is hard to believe that it’s been almost 5 years since we left La Rochelle!

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