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Old 24-07-2010, 19:51   #1
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Mind Games

If there is one thing that can destroy your dream, it's the mind game you play against yourself. Each night, I lie in bed, with hesitation and doubt growing, and not a night goes by that I don't think about what it will be like to quit my job and go sailing, but a thousand worries crop up in my mind, insidiously chipping away at my resolve. Battling myself is going to be a rough journey, I can tell you that. Here are some of the things I think about.

Saving and lifestyle change

I admit I'm having trouble saving as much as I'd like. Without going into the nuts and bolts of my finances, I will say this, there are two areas where I spend the most superfluous money: buying miscellaneous stuff, and purchasing food/going to restaurants/drinking alcohol.

I have attempted to limit my budget for food/restaurants/alcohol to $400/month. I have zero doubt that right now someone is laughing at this because it should be easy. This has certainly not been easy for me though, at least so far. In my efforts to improve my savings, I have transitioned from eating out maybe 80% of the time to cooking my own meals and eating leftovers. Spending at bars and restaurants still takes a large chunk of this even if it's only once or twice a week. I'm doing the best I can, but friends don't want to come over and have a sandwich, they want to meet at a bar and drink $40 of beer.


Touring Europe on a motorcycle in 2009 was one of the highlights of my life. Two weeks into the trip, somewhere in the Austrian or Italian alps, I couldn't help thinking that I never wanted to go back. This feeling of despair about returning to the grind is exactly why I want to take up the cruising lifestyle. In fact, I find it very very difficult to go on vacation now due to the dread of returning. Nonetheless, my experience has caused me to run some mental calculations of the pros/cons of touring the world via motorcycle versus touring the world via sailboat. The point is, a sailboat costs a lot of money, and accomodations are cheap in developing countries. For instance, forty thousand dollars that could be spent on a boat would buy a lot of cheap hotel rooms.

I won't like it

Another enormous fear I have is that I will dedicate years to this goal, save while living the spendthrift life, buy a boat, and sail off only to find out that it's really not what I want after all. Maybe I won't like the cramped living aboard the boat, maybe it will be too much work maintaining everything, or maybe I won't have enough to do, maybe I'll be too lonely away from friends and family. Maybe. So many unknowns paralyzes me. I've been around enough to know that you can generally think your way through things that arise, but it's imposing to know you must face these issues and any one of them could be a deal-breaker.

Buying a piece of ****

This worry is high on my list too. What if I work through the rest of the issues I'm facing only to end up purchasing a money sucking black hole of a sailboat, spend the bulk of my money trying to correct the inherited problems, and in the end capitulating due to finite finances? This is such a real possibility with all the douchebags out there trying to scam you or rip you off. To some extent, I feel in my bones that this will happen to some degree regardless of any countermeasures I take. Trusting some stranger to be honest about a major purchase is foolish. Thinking you have all the angles figured out is also foolish.

Sailing alone

Being single has it's perks, but it has many drawbacks as well. For me, chief honcho drawback number one is the idea of sailing alone. Anchoring, chilling, living the easy life, yeah, I can do that by myself, but making passages, overnight passages, sailing across oceans... these are things that scare the hell out of me to do alone. I have nightmares of falling off my boat and watching it sail away from me on autopilot. This is a bit of a murky area for me though because I know that you can use a safety harness to attach to the boat, but still, with nobody there, the smallest mistake if you decide to put safety aside could end up being your last. This doesn't even go into what it may be like alone for bad weather.

I'm taking a deep breath here. I have a lot more to learn in this regard before I raise the threat level to panic. So this worry is still to be determined.

Research and reading

Despite my fear and paranoia, I've spent a lot of time researching things on the web, reading, learning, and taking sailing classes. I've been pouring over sailboats on sales sites, trying to figure out a variety of things like aesthetics, layout, headroom, costs, models and brands of manufacturers. This in and of itself is a bit overwhelming at times.

I've read or am in progress of reading my fourth book on sailing, cruising, or related topics.

In addition to the experience I gained sailing 2 weeks in Greece in 2007, I'm in the midst of an ASA 101 course of which two out of six are now completed. I've learned a great deal and am on my way to my first ASA certification, but I'm hoping for more. I get my turn at helming the boat and doing the other various things aboard, but I want to be responsible for all of them so I can put it together in my mind sans crew. Maybe I need a few private lessons where I just need a supervisor to guide me. Something to consider.

I'm also up to lesson nueve in Spanish. Still working on that.

Add it all up

I'm struggling through this. The one hope I have for bothering to post my thoughts here is that others can relate some advice and wisdom to me. I don't want my goal to be a confirmation of my bad judgement or a warning to others who have similar thoughts. I'd like it to be inspirational and actually impart some wisdom to others eventually as well. So, please, if you have thoughts about any of my fears, let's hear that advice

Thank you!

Jack McCracken
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Old 24-07-2010, 20:03   #2
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I don't know about drinking $40 of beer in a single night. That sounds like self-destructive behavior. That would be the only real worry that would concern me about anything you have written. I treat lots of patients in liver failure from drinking too much alcohol.

The rest of the questions and issues that pass through your mind are the result of your mental focus.

I you have a consistent and persistent focus on all the problems associated with the cruising lifestyle, then those problems and difficulties will occupy more and more of your thoughts.

The storm of thoughts blowing through your mind are a result of your mental focus and a result of what you put into your mind.

If you are going to enjoying a cruising lifestyle, you will need a positive focus, and you will have to put positive things into your mind that relate to sailing. It's not a mystery. The wheel of change always turns in the direction of what you put into your mind, and if you want to think new thoughts about sailing, you need to put new and positive thoughts into your mind about that lifestyle.

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Old 24-07-2010, 20:11   #3
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You need to just do it. Let nothing stand in your way. Stop thinking about it as obviously you want to do it or you wouldn't have posted that long text.

None of the issues you mention are as significant as the one your mind is rolling around. Take control of your brain.

You should sign up as crew on the Baja HaHa this year. You may discover how simple cruising really is.
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Old 24-07-2010, 20:49   #4
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@maxingout: the $40 of beer thing was just to make a point about the cost of going out vs. the cost of staying in, not to imply that I drink gallons of beer every night!

I hear you about positive thinking though. Re-reading my post, it sounds a bit negative, like i'm expecting failure, but I'm not, I'm aiming for total success. With probably two years extending in front of me before I can go, and months of planning and consideration already behind me, certain doubts enter the discussion regardless of how positive my outlook can be. Discounting my own internal questions, friends corner me and ask me about things that I have no sunny answer for and have already put a lot of thought into. So, these issues really are my unanswered fears and try as I might, I can't shake them without some thought or logical write-off.

I'm still working my way through your website and I'm very appreciative of the work and effort you and your crew have put into it.

Thank you. I'm trying! lol

Maybe Baja HaHa would be perfect for me, it will coincide roughly with my 40th birthday. I'm looking to crew during that timeframe to gain some experience. I read a little about last year's via some forgotten link, but I had never considered participating as crew. Great idea. This may end up being pefect for me since I have around 3 weeks of vacation saved up for just such an option! Time to get more acquainted with the event!
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Old 24-07-2010, 21:25   #5
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Saving and lifestyle change
You're right, we're laughing at this one. A bit of self discipline and sacrifice for something you want is a self-evident necessity.
This one isn't funny and only you can decide. You can do anything you want with your life, but you can't do everything. There's not enough time.
I won't like it
If you don't like it, you quit. And you sell the boat, then go back to "alternatives," above. You also don't burn your bridges at home/work in going.
Buying a piece of ****
This one is the weakest of all. As a boat buyer, you are in the driver's seat. You are in no rush, there are plenty of options. You assemble a team, YOUR TEAM, to help you. Surveyor, mechanic, rigger, electrician. Whomever you need to help eliminate risk. You should be embarassed by the amount of money you offer to pay for a boat. If you are not embarassed by your offer, it's too high.
Sailing alone
This one is tricky on passages, but you are not going overboard and watch the boat sail away. You don't leave the cabin without a harness, period. You look for a hot 25 year-old as crew for passages. He/she does not leave the cabin w/o a harness. No worries.
Research and reading
Keep it up and remember, when you realize just how little you know, that is the point at which you've been educated.
Add it all up
Everyone struggles with the decision. If in doubt, all I can say is put your toes in the water, don't burn your bridges and just have a taste. Can you take a month or two and cruise locally? That may help you decide. Good luck with it.
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Old 24-07-2010, 21:28   #6

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I had a lot to say on this, but I erased it all. I think the bottom line is take things in moderation and build up to it. Part of the fun and enjoyment is learning along the way, and building the new skills you didn't have before.

I wlll say this though about sailing alone - you're too busy to worry and you train for it. You learn to think two steps ahead. Whats really worse for me is being in port. Thats when the loneliness starts because you have nothing to do every moment.
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Old 24-07-2010, 21:41   #7
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Hi Jack,

I think your fears are quite real and well founded.

Its probably very good that you can see most of the real problems now.

With budgets you just need a firm set of achievable goals, short term, mid and long term. People will always waste money when they have no short term goal saying: 'I can't spend this money tonight as I need to make that payment tomorrow at 9am!' Find some sort of forced savings plan that leaves you with a comfortable budgeted entertainment fund for the week.

When stuff was quite tight on Sea Life we would put the weeks budgeted cash in an envelope, 4 for a month. There was nothing else so we couldn't go over what was in each envelope.
Destroy all credit cards and only have debit cards.

When buying a boat I'd only buy one that can be redily sold i.e. theres a liquid market for that brand and model.

Doing a rally as crew is fun and good experience, but I counsel away from doing a rally for mutual support or having an HF radio for a passage net, with your own boat as they heighten the fear factor of cruising. The only passage I have ever been scared was one where we listened to a HF radio net sked each day and the ominous line forced from each participant: "And is all well on board"? as if there has/is/will be some fricken disaster. The answer 'yes, all is well on board' itself sounds doomfull. No one I heard yell back over the HF Radio: "SENSATIONAL! We're having a sensational time!!". Ditch the doom and we always have a sensational time

Cruising is wonderful for many people, but its not for all. Your fears are well founded. If you spend $40 for a steak and beer meal can you get that into your cruising budget? If you can't then you need to re-jig your numbers I would work for an extra year if I knew I could get the budget to work right

All the best


Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
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Old 25-07-2010, 01:28   #8
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Me too...

What you're going through sounds like what I went through.

Savings and lifestyle changes
I've lost count of the number of times I've drunk too much and regretted it. Now I'm much more careful about how much I drink and my old drinking friends are gone. I miss them but the control that I have over my life now is way more enjoyable. By varying my diet in a way not possible when I was eating out I found that I was gluten intolerant. I'm eating better than I ever have.
In Australia we've found that buying a house is the best compulsory savings plan possible, particularly if done at the bottom of the real estate cycle. It seems like a major purchase but I've found everything to be under control after 3 years. The golden rule of buying used to be to buy when a credit card could be used to make the deposit (Don't do it!). I don't know if that's true in America at the moment.
My purchases have mostly been slightly shabby houses in good areas; renters love then.
I've enjoyed most of what you describe, save the motorcycling (Gluten makes me "fuzzy"). In your place I wouldn't even think about buying a boat. Every other form of travel is way cheaper, easier and more comfortable.
And there are some spectacular countries and places that are best visited on foot.
I won't like it
From what your saying it looks pretty well certain you'd be miserable.
Buying a piece of S&!# (Sorry, Family Friendly Forum)
Despite the glossy photos all boats have the ability to be way less than perfect, particularly if brought to a budget with rose coloured glasses.
Sailing Alone
Single handed sailors are a special breed. Before joining them I'd suggest seeking some out and having a short chat (I don't think most are up to a long one). If you plan to encounter some in your travels bring chocolate.
Research and Reading
There's (unfortunately) nothing quite as educational as having your own boat, and as you have doubtless discovered the nicer cruising yachts are pricey. If you're stuck where you are for now we've had a few Threads on trailer-able boats, most under 22'. Much could be learned on one.
Add it all up
What's missing from your post is mention of a significant other. In a similar position to yours I toured SE Asia and have been married for 12 years (my, how time flies). If checking the internet do remember to ask if they 1) have any experience with boats and 2) can swim
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Old 25-07-2010, 04:09   #9
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Well to me just that you have these thoughts is a good sign. Shows you aren't blindly jumping. Once you first your ASA classes done and get some more sailing time in the picture will become cleared foryou as to all the items, except probably the single part.
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Old 25-07-2010, 05:51   #10
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Originally Posted by daddle View Post
You need to just do it. Let nothing stand in your way. Stop thinking about it as obviously you want to do it or you wouldn't have posted that long text.

None of the issues you mention are as significant as the one your mind is rolling around. Take control of your brain.
Lots of good advice here, but I like this best. I'm guessing the best thing for you is to DO more, and THINK less. We all have a tendency to over plan, analyze, etc., probably because its safer. Anything you can do to get out of your head is going to be beneficial. Of course, as the title of your thread indicates, I think you already know this. Maybe start by taking a break from all the passive activities like the research and reading (here as well) and focus on the active aspects like the sailing lessons and getting on the water as much as possible.

It will all fall into place as it should if you let it.
Mundis Ex Igne Factus Est
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Old 25-07-2010, 08:35   #11
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A little different take?

One of great things about this forum is that there are folks from all over the planet contributing. The sailing conditions vary all over the world. We both live in the PNW and things are a bit different in our corner of the world. Any kind of off shore sailing up here requires preparation and planning and really good equipment not mention considerable experience. In addition to all that, winter season sailing is really cold and wet.

I say, get a boat you like and learn to work on it. Get in with some good folks and learn the ropes. Take it one step at a time. Have fun at each step and let evolution take it's course.

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Old 25-07-2010, 10:41   #12
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Buy, borrow, or rent a smaller boat. Spend time on it alone. The little swirls coming off the transom and rudder will answer most of the other questions, one way or the other. If they don't, then that is an answer too!
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Old 25-07-2010, 11:49   #13
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Thanks everyone for the varied advice. I particularly like the "Do more think less" approach that Doodles and others suggest.

For now I just need to buckle down, save, and try to gain experience. There seem to be opportunities to crew for a few weeks at a time, so I'm planning to use my vacation for the next few years to do that in the Caribbean, Mexico, or somewhere else sunny. The hope is that I can answer some of my questions about whether I like cruising by doing this. I spent two weeks on a Bavaria 50 in Greece a few years ago which gave me my first taste of sailing, and let me know that I do enjoy it and have interest. Being a vacation though, I didn't really do much other than have a good time. I'd like to go on some extended trips where I'm more involved with the sailing and other aspects of cruising.
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Old 25-07-2010, 15:20   #14
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It sounds like you are in the same lifestyle i just gave up. The key for me was moving out of the house and onto the boat. As soon as you do, you are immersed in a community of people that generally have pot-lucks and dock parties on the cheap instead of living the expensive urban lifestyle. Get a boat quick and start living on it.

You will save an amazing amount of money, learn a ton about sailing and boat care, lean to pay 1/3 price for all the stuff you need for your boat, meet people who have done all you a thinking about, and get a small taste of the cruising lifestyle without having to leave the dock for more than a day or two at a time.

All that should help with your lifestyle change, savings, and give you an idea if you would prefer and alternative or don't like it. If you don't, spend a few weekends varnishing and sell the boat for what you paid for it or even a little more. You will still walk away with more money and an improved lifestyle for you next adventure.

It will also get you sailing so you will build the skills you need to not worry about single-handing. Few thing inspire confidence like regularly associating with people in their 60's and 70's who think nothing of single-handing 40+ foot boats. They will give you the confidence you need to take the leap and you may even pick up a great mentor along the way.
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Old 25-07-2010, 16:08   #15
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A well considered post - especially the point about "will I like it?", surprisnigly (to me) don't get a lot of that question around here.

I recognise the beer thing Simply a habit though. Helpful to replace one habit with another - I'd buy a boat, a cheapish / smallish one (and something easily saleable)......use it to create a new part of your life away from the $40 bar experiances - if you like it these will probably dissapear completely by choice, not willpower - even if replaced now and again by the $10 slab ..........will also learn a lot that will save you money on a bigger boat purchase by knowing where / what to look for and will help you answer the questions "do I like sitting on a boat?" and "do I want more?"...........and it will be fun, and help address a few other things on your list.

But having a plan B (or C) is always wise

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