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Old 09-01-2012, 14:04   #1
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Is Family Cruising Dead ?

I know it's not *totally* dead but...

Last year, I took a slow cruise from Steinhatchee, high on the west coast of FL, through the Okeechobee, and all the way up the ICW to New York.

I saw lots of families zooming around in power boats, whether to go fishing, or waterskiing or whatever. But when the sun went down over the anchorage, the boats around me were all filled with old codgers like me.

I remember one special night when a nice double-ended sailboat anchored with a 20-something blond on the helm, and a 30 something guy on the anchor line. Wow! what a treat to see young people (especially the blond!) anchoring out for a nice evening.

But that was it! For 2000 miles!

Was I just unlucky, or is this a general trend? When I started sailing back in the early 70s, it seemed we were all young.

Did cruising (i.e., camping on the water) turn into an old person's game while I wasn't looking? Or are all the 20 and 30 somethings just tucked up into the expensive marinas that I try to avoid?

-- John
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:18   #2
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

Family cruising is here to stay on our boat. We've got two young daughters and another on the way. They'll be raised sailors and cruiser. But to your point, we've been on a couple extended cruises and were also surprised at how few young folks we saw "out there". I think too many of us settle for cruising AFTER retirement.
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:20   #3
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

Well , we are a family cruising.......... smithtribesailing.blogspot.com
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:33   #4
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

John,

Im in a different country but have noticed the same as you. I am 38 and we sold our power boat and bought a sailing vessel instead. I could possibly be the youngest boat owner at our marina and Y.C.

I find that its probably just too expensive for younger people. In our area you have to have a marina berth. Swing moorings are few and far between and authoriteis are making it harder to anchor. Everthing has a cost attached.

Another reason is maybe most want to go fast! In this world of "Everthing Now" we want to be in the water, get to our destination quick, get home quick and be on facebook by dinner to tell everyone about it

Reading older articles and older stories there did seem to be more younger people getting an old boat, doing a bunch of repairs themselves while on a shoestring budget and then just getting out and sailing. Now before you start you need the best looking boat with all the electronics you can pack onto it while wearing all the best sailing gear.

Whatever the changes and situation might be now I am still keeping a look out for the blonde on the bow sprit. Let you know if I see any

Scott
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:38   #5
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

I'd say in the UK it is also a trend towards older people as the numbers of young couples I've met have been very low. You often meet folks with teenagers but that is not quite the same. Where you do see a lot of young people is on liveaboards particularly in inland waterways presumably as it is cheap accommodation. You do see more youngsters on charters so I guess it is largely money driven - so many things are so damned expensive and in general most young families can't afford it.
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:42   #6
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

You are not crazy. Your observations match ours. We have been saint both coasts of Florida and up the ICW as case north as Charleston for the past six years. 90%+ of the cruisers (full and part-timers) we see are our age, mostly retired, 50 to 70 years old. Young cruisers and those with kids are rare.

Not sure why this is but I have a few theories:

There are a lot of us baby-boomers around and we have the time and money to cruise after a lifetime of wanting and dreaming.

The sailing magazines and sailboat manufacturers have made sailing and cruising seem like a BIG BOAT endevour with large expensive boats filled with lots of expensive electronics, watermakers, airconditioning, autopilots, radar, chartpoltters, etc. being REQUIRED to go cruising. And young people have been led to believe that you HAVE to have all that or you can't go cruising and they can't afford that kind of cruising. When we were young a 25 to 32 foot sailboat with minimal systems and electronics were considered to be more than good enough to go cruising or even circumnavigate. Young people could afford that (still could!).

Americans have bought into the bigger is better propaganda and it has killed the cruising dreams of many young people.

Just my thoughts, observations and theories.
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:49   #7
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

I agree it's partially cost driven. Look at the market, boat sizes keep going up. Our marina, the largest one on the US west coast, recently replaced all the 1000' long piers. The new slip layout has far less slips for small boats, and far more for 50-60' boats. Because that's what's out there around here, as the little classic plastics die off. It's getting harder and harder to buy a new small affordable cruise worthy vessel. In the 70's they built boats for the average person here, but that market seems long gone, unfortunately. I guess just not enough interest, too many people watching TV instead of reading books and getting out there to do stuff.
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:51   #8
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

G'Day all,

Well, here in Twofold Bay (the last decent anchorage before heading across Bass Straits to Tasmania) there are 9 cruisers gathered awaiting suitable weather. One of the boats, a Cape Dory 30 from Monterey Calif, is crewed by a delightful couple, approximate age mid to late twenties. They've been out cruising across the Pacific for two years now, seem to be doing very well in a minimalist boat (would be approved by Goprisko, except that they sensibly have an engine, used sparingly).

The rest of us have an average age of at least 60! (Non scientifically determined, but I think accurate). Our boats are larger (by far), have way more bells and whistles and are likely much more comfortable. the youngsters are having at least as much fun as we are, and certainly have fewer aches and pains after their days activities.

This scene echoes our experiences over the past few years here in the South Pacific... don't know about other places.

So, yeah, I'd have to say that the majority of folks actually out long term cruising are post retirement age. The materialism expressed by our western cultures leads folks to work like hell in order to buy toys that they have no time to play with, and that sure interferes with going cruising.

It is a pity, because the children who are raised in the cruising life style and community seem to invariably be superior kids in so many ways. Perhaps ithe life doesn't prepare them to be good little worker bees later in life, but it sure as hell prepares them to be good people!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 09-01-2012, 15:58   #9
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

I guess they don't make kids read Thoreau anymore. It's a pity, really, but I guess if I think of it, none of my 4 grown kids have the time or interest to go cruising, either. They're too wired up (in more than one way) to enjoy it. Even my wife chafes at the idea of going off, until she's out there. Then she calms down and enjoys it.

It's a weird world.
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Old 09-01-2012, 16:07   #10
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

Ahhh..., "comfortable" was mentioned in one post. THAT is the problem and misconception in my humble opinion. We are 61 and 65 years old and have been cruising (coastal cruising but that is what most people are doing) full-time for 6 years on a 27 foot sailboat. We hear all the time from the big boat cruisers, "We don't want to camp!" "We are older now and we NEED our creature comforts!", "Why would we cruise without A/C, Radar, GPS, watermaker, chartplotter, etc.?", "Wow! 27 feet! You must really like each other!" Well, excuse me but we are not "camping"! We have a hot shower everyday, sleep on high thread count sheets, eat off real plates, are warm and cozy in the winter, cool in the summer with fans no A/C (yes, in FLORIDA in the summer but anchored out NOT in a marina!), and have little or no "cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places!" :-)

We are still out cruising and hoping for 20 more years before old age or health problems force us ashore while we see others who insist on the BIG boat with all the systems and "bells and whistles" and "creature comforts" give up cruising and swallow the anchor! Rant over! (BIG GRIN) We don't have radar, autopilot, watermaker, air-conditioning, inboard stinky diesel, etc. OK, I admit to having a handheld GPS and a chartplotter app on my iPhone as backup for my paper charts but never really trust them implicitly, a lead-line since my depth sounder died ten years ago, and a VHS radio! ;-)

It IS possible to still go cruising on an older smaller boat and not waste money like a millionaire. BTW, I could pay cash for a 40 foot boat and afford to have all the "bells and whistles" and so-called "creature comforts" but would then be very unhappy "fixing my boat in exotic places" and it would cause me to give up the life I love! :-(
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Old 09-01-2012, 16:38   #11
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Downtothesea View Post
Ahhh..., "comfortable" was mentioned in one post. THAT is the problem and misconception in my humble opinion. We are 61 and 65 years old and have been cruising (coastal cruising but that is what most people are doing) full-time for 6 years on a 27 foot sailboat.

We are still out cruising and hoping for 20 more years before old age or health problems force us ashore while we see others who insist on the BIG boat with all the systems and "bells and whistles" and "creature comforts" give up cruising and swallow the anchor! Rant over! (BIG GRIN)

It IS possible to still go cruising on an older smaller boat and not waste money like a millionaire. BTW, I could pay cash for a 40 foot boat and afford to have all the "bells and whistles" and so-called "creature comforts" but would then be very unhappy "fixing my boat in exotic places" and it would cause me to give up the life I love! :-(
Well, good onya, mate!

But you make it sound kinda one-sided...

We're already in our 70's, been cruising (offshore) for 25 years, last 8 years in a bigger (46 ft) boat of modest complexity. Don't spend all that much time fixin' stuff, find that the more moderate motion of a larger vessel is easier on our bods and have no interest in returning to a smaller boat.

But, this really doesn't address the issue of the dearth of younger cruisers. I don't think that it is only the cost of cruising that keeps them away... I think that many of them just are not interested in our life style. Immersion in the (to me) superficial realities of current American (and other western cultures) behavior doesn't lead them to join us. As someone else said, Facebook friends (and even CF correspondents) are more important to many than the kind of friendships developed in the cruising community.

How sad for them.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 09-01-2012, 16:42   #12
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

Well, as a liveaboard family with 4 and 5 year olds, several factors I think come into play. One is school and shorter summer vacations. Yes you can home-school, but a lot of folks are scared of not being smart enough, not getting their kids a "proper" education, not being disciplined enough, etc... Also there is less time off work for working families,nand unless you come from wealth the fact is you need to work a large portion of your 20's and 30's, more so if you care about your career. Also, and don't take this the wrong way, but it is kinda nice to hang out with families the same age with the same age kids, etc. When there aren't many other families out on the water that can be a deterrent in itself. At our mid-thirties we're over getting talked to like kids, and sometimes that comes out when hanging out with older experienced cruisers. Yacht clubs, cruising associations, rallies? Lotsa older folks in my exposure to them. Maybe if they were more filled with youth, more youth would like to join them. Honestly, I question if at least half the cruisers out there truly want their peaceful anchorage decimated by a couple of boats with cruising kids on them!

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Old 09-01-2012, 16:44   #13
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
But, this really doesn't address the issue of the dearth of younger cruisers. I don't think that it is only the cost of cruising that keeps them away... I think that many of them just are not interested in our life style. Immersion in the (to me) superficial realities of current American (and other western cultures) behavior doesn't lead them to join us. As someone else said, Facebook friends (and even CF correspondents) are more important to many than the kind of friendships developed in the cruising community.

How sad for them.

Cheers,

Jim
Nail on the head. And conversely, this is the exact reason that we plan on long term cruising, so our kids don't end up like that. When they are surrounded by it, totally immersed in that culture, it's very hard to avoid having your kids end up with that mindset. The whole thing is just so calculated to suck them in while they're young and never let go. Trying to dodge that bullet for them, and give them the space and freedom to instill our own values instead of the TV's and popular culture's. Oh, and because Mom and Dad want to go too!
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Old 09-01-2012, 16:53   #14
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

We sail with our 6 year old twins( boy,girl) out of holland mich. The boat next to us have kids 8 and 5 but they are on a powerboat. I dont see many kids on sailboats. I do see kids in dinghys from the club across the lake but not out daysailing or going to the beach down the coast. We have anchored out and dinghy into the beach/dunes but 99% of the boats are powerboats.
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Old 09-01-2012, 16:57   #15
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Re: Is family cruising dead?

I for one could not talk the wife into it and the kid did not want to leave their friend for any lengh of time . So now we cruise on the weekends. I wonder how many couples have that problem.
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