You guys remember the old cliche?
Question: "How much does it cost to go cruising?"
Answer: "It costs as much as you have"
Its a cybernetic thing - self limiting.
I remeber the 1984 Olympics
here in LA. There were dire predictions of gridlock. Anarchy. Riots.
Oprah would return, riding the 7 headed flaming beast of Babylon...
You know, the Apocolypse.
And then, something funny
Traffic remained normal, or actually decreased. People rearranged thier schedules. Deliveries were scheduled in the wee hours.
Oprah never materialized. Instead, she ran and finished a marathon.
Same with electricity on a boat. When your resources are limited, you start monitoring them carefully, and you look for alternatives. You adapt and you conserve.
This is a very human trait - we are perhaps the most adaptible animal on the planet, able to survive and even thrive above the artic circle, in parched deserts, and high in himalayan mountains. We survive at sea, as well and we as a species have been doing so long before industrial technology came along and skewed our perceptions of what is neccessary.
To move aboard a small boat and go cruising is to make a concious, deliberate decision to downsize. It is also a decision to live an active life, foregoing many of the comforts of "civililization" in favor of simplicity and traveling light. Well, this means you have to "work your boat" - though I still maintain that living aboard
and maintaining a small boat takes much less effort and time and is much more rewarding than living in a even a small house with a yard.
People like the Pardeys have set a baseline that makes my boat look like a marvel of luxury and technological indulgence.
And it is from thier minimalist perspective.
From the perspective of a typical LA Appartment dweller who knows nothing of the Pardey's however, it looks likes an exercise in costly self flaggelation.
Same goes for the typical wanna-be cruiser who only reads the popular (advertizing supported) magazines and goes to boat shows to educate themselves about what is "needed" for cruising. "38 feet, minimum - inboard diesel
, roller furrling .....well, you know the rest. The advertisers dont exactly encourage the dreaming public to carefully wiegh the trade-offs that go along with upsizing - they focus on three things to seduce buyers:
- and to neophites, Size = safety
2) Comfort - Ditto - And this is true: Size = comfort and convience.
3) Status - Size matters, at least socially - a large boat certainly confers status and prestige on its owner.
So the size and complexity of a typical cruising boat has grown substantially over the past several decades, along with its cost and complexity. This is arguably the result of the growing affluence of capitalist cultures, especially the expansion of wealth in its upper echelons, because the taste of these scions tends to filter down to the middle class.
We can argue weather
the quality of boats has increased or decreased, I'm gonna guess its a wash - for every oilcanning hull
or detabbing bulkhead in a new boat, their's a blistering hull
or poorly sealed deck in an old one.
Electric propulsion and regenerative energy represent a "good" step backwards IMO using advanced technology to make what really matters better for cruisers:
The actual experience.
Low or positive impact on the environment
and cultures you visit.
Slow down, relax, and smell the sweet salt
air. Feel the sunshine on your face, the wind in your hair, and warm water
lapping at your feet. Watch wild animals
go about thier business as you glide by them in silence. Notice how the tiller tugs at your hand and how your boat rolls over and charges ahead with each puff of wind. Meet new people and set an example of intellegent, ethical technological advancement that defferes to nature, rather than defiling it.
None of this is going to be "perfect" or without compromises. Eliminate the evil stuff as much as possible, corral it into a corner, and keep jabbing it with a sharp stick, rather than embracing it and encouraging the wastefull bloated boats that now abound.
The happiest, most laid back cruising couple i've met so far were 30 something, and cruising an ancient 25 foot wooden classic boat they bought for $1500 and fixed up themselves.
It has a huge main, a tiny jib
, a jib-boom, and a wood mast
was a 5 foot long lapstrake.
And they recharged thier batteries with two 30 watt flexible stainless steel
solar panels that they stowed under thier bunk at night and placed in the sun durring the day.
Nice couple - they were very social, and seemed to be having a hell of a lot of fun anchored for free, just next to me, in the shallows of Cat harbor where large contemporary boats fear to tread.