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Old 01-03-2012, 10:50   #1
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The Hidden Dangers of Cruising

Yesterday, my good friend wrote a 'goodbye' note and left her boat. She was depressed and overwhelmed. We feared the worse. She returned 20 hrs later, disoriented and exhausted. During the time she was missing we all feared that she had taken her life.

She retired after the school year ended in 2011. She worked to get the house sold/ rented, got rid of stuff, moved onto the boat. They had been weekend sailors for the past 10 yrs. They brought their son back from overseas to help him with his problems. He is 30+ yrs old. They left late 11/2011 and moved as fast as possible south. They had some mechanical set backs, but made it to the Fl Keys.

It sounds like a dream trip, but if ur self is defined by ur job, and the job is gone, u may lose ur self.

Cruising is not a vacation. It is a way of life. Cruising is not, for us, one long party. You have to be sober to make good choices and decisions.

Keep an eye on your sailing partner. If they seem depressed, take notice and get them help. Please keep each other mentally and physically safe.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:54   #2
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

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Originally Posted by svpattyd View Post
Yesterday, my good friend wrote a 'goodbye' note and left her boat. She was depressed and overwhelmed. We feared the worse. She returned 20 hrs later, disoriented and exhausted. During the time she was missing we all feared that she had taken her life.

She retired after the school year ended in 2011. She worked to get the house sold/ rented, got rid of stuff, moved onto the boat. They had been weekend sailors for the past 10 yrs. They brought their son back from overseas to help him with his problems. He is 30+ yrs old. They left late 11/2011 and moved as fast as possible south. They had some mechanical set backs, but made it to the Fl Keys.

It sounds like a dream trip, but if ur self is defined by ur job, and the job is gone, u may lose ur self.

Cruising is not a vacation. It is a way of life. Cruising is not, for us, one long party. You have to be sober to make good choices and decisions.

Keep an eye on your sailing partner. If they seem depressed, take notice and get them help. Please keep each other mentally and physically safe.
Seems like EXCELLENT "Good Samaritan" type advice to me Patty!

John
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:57   #3
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

It's definitely a big change. The first year living aboard seems to be the hardest adjustment. After that you "get in the groove". Some people are creatures of habit to the point that change is not good. Hope all is well.... If their son has issues and they are all together on a boat... well... that could be awful tough!
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:02   #4
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

Very true, this "dream" is not for everyone. All the more reason to try it before you buy it.

I have several friends whose work/family/community strongly define who they are. They talk about going cruising, but I doubt they ever will because they would lose those self-defining connections. And, as this case points out, maybe they should stay put.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:07   #5
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

I recall reading many years ago about a woman that came up to the Pardeys and told them they had ruined her life.

But, (not that I am a cruiser yet) the difference is not that it's fun and games but it is being alive. Living versus existing. Facing challenges and maybe getting lucky most of the time. I am getting ready financially and mentally for the life style. Problems do not go away in Paradise (or what ever). Most of my older family members do nothing all day but watch movies or TV in retirement. Forget that..... I want to experience life.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:36   #6
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@ Surya - yes u maybe ready, but please watch out for ur sailing partner. My friends' husband missed the signs of her depression make sure both partners are ready to ' live the life'.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:38   #7
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

Had friends of ours, or at least they once were our friends, followed in our path and bought a boat and took off for an extended leave..
They returned in about 6 weeks, and shortly there after seperated..
Even thou they were both fit and had sailing experance, the rigors of offshore sailing for multi days didnt agree with them..
My wife asked Her what went wrong and her only reply was, "You didnt tell me about 3am sail changes in bad weather."
Guess some can cut it and some cant.. Its not for everyone..
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:54   #8
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising


Going cruising has appeal to many people, some people sail towards their dreams other try and sail away from their past and problems. The reality is that problems that are not dealt with before you go will still be there and usually harder to deal with.


At least 20% of people experience depression at some point in their lives and often goes untreated. The social stigma associated with any form of "mental illness" often serves to stop people from seeking help. Lack of understanding by those around often makes it worse, especially the old "just get over" it advice.


Depression and anxiety are often called twins because they are so often seen together. In this case retirement and loss of self definition is cited as being the cause, this may well be one of many triggers in this case. Loss of some thing in the lives of people can be called grief and the grief in this case my well extend to loss of social status, loss of contact with friends and neighbors, loss of pets - the list goes on. Research would indicate that about 70% of people in age care facilities may suffer depression most of which is associated with grief, anxiety and physical pain.


The request to pay attention to others and support them in seeking help is sage advice indeed

This link is very good beyondblue: the national depression initiative?
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:00   #9
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

Many folks are attracted to an Idea, that sometimes dosent live up to their expectations! those weekend trips and even the 2 or 3 week Vacations, just dosent prepare them for the REAL life at sea ! watch on watch, fixing the things that always break! and not to mention the "Captain thing" that sometimes rears it ugly head! LOL even Connie has a little trouble the first week or so at sea!! Its a BIG step and a very expensive one ! be prepared, to possibley hate your partner sometimes ! but if you can make 6 months together at sea, you might just be able to make 27 yrs cruiseing like we have ! just remember everybody has BAD Days and just try to make it as easy as ya can for your partner, and hope she or he do the same for you !! hang in and its a wonderful life ! Go for it with the right attitude and you will do fine !! Just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:00   #10
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

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@ Surya - yes u maybe ready, but please watch out for ur sailing partner. My friends' husband missed the signs of her depression make sure both partners are ready to ' live the life'.
Good point. My partner has stated categorically that she has no interest and to send her a post card. My intention is to travel alone ( I have an autopilot). If I get lonely I will get a dog or cat.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:16   #11
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

The trouble is, hardly anyone ever writes about the tough side of living on a small boat, and how the average person manages to achieve it. Even when they do write about, say, weathering a major storm, or a sinking, most people think it won’t happen to them, or they won’t make the same mistake as the writer.
The groundwork stage is hardly ever covered in depth. The friction from friends and relatives, who think you are really mad. Selling the house, furniture, cars, (for half what you thought you would get), then finding yourself living in what amounts to a single room. I suppose it’s because people don’t want to know about that stuff, only the sailing off into the blue yonder.
Reality can be pretty brutal.
We did it when I was 35, for eight years with a small family. I’m not particularly intense, but it took me two years to really adjust and during that time I admit I sometimes took it out on those nearest to me.
Twice we were in fear of our lives and not many families experience that once, never mind twice. Many times I wished we had never moved off the land, but we stuck it out and have memories and stories which our landlubber friends could never experience. When we finally went back I missed it so much.
That was a long long time ago, and now we are preparing to do it again. Hopefully this time with all the advantage of experience, more money and a bigger more comfortable boat. But then, you never know…….
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Old 01-03-2012, 14:40   #12
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

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@ Surya - yes u maybe ready, but please watch out for ur sailing partner. My friends' husband missed the signs of her depression make sure both partners are ready to ' live the life'.
You definitely have to be on the same conceptual page. We aren't "selling up" and completely severing ties to the land; we are turning the house into two apartments. We are also bringing our kid, who will be 12 or so, with us.

That's a big difference from most, where the couple retire, work like dogs to prep the boat, sell EVERYTHING not "boat" and then live in a confined space with a spouse in late middle age to whom they have nothing really to say.

The result is either frustration that sees a 95% decent boat abandoned to the broker vultures in Panama or south FL, or frustration turned inward, which can manifest as depression.

I hope it sorts itself out, but it is my conviction that the mental aspect of cruising, the permanent confinement in close quarters, the mercy of the weather and the generalized rootlessness are liberating for some and terrifying for others who need external stability.

It's also, unless you are in the "one percent", a lot of repair in exotic places. You work a great deal to stay in readiness. Some people think it's about a hammock and a fat, trashy novel on the foredeck. While it can be that...you have to do six boat jobs and two tender trips to shore first.

It's not the permanent vacation one might assume.

On the other hand, a lot of people like the process and never tire of tropical sunsets or cockpit showers and never quite getting the grease from your fingernails. Others would be bored stiff with that. It's best to find out beforehand, and separately.

That's why my wife and I have made two salt-water deliveries each, on three different boats. Not only did this address the risk of both of us drowning on the same delivery, leaving our son an orphan...yikes...but it meant we have entirely separate "sea stories" and can bring different experiences to our own boat adventures.

The boat's easy, ultimately. Apply money, grease, crimpers and labour. The mental and indeed spiritual aspects and adjustments are harder.

I read a great book about couples aboard trying to solve these aspects recently. I reviewed it here.
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Old 01-03-2012, 14:56   #13
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

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You definitely have to be on the same conceptual page. We aren't "selling up" and completely severing ties to the land; we are turning the house into two apartments. We are also bringing our kid, who will be 12 or so, with us.

That's a big difference from most, where the couple retire, work like dogs to prep the boat, sell EVERYTHING not "boat" and then live in a confined space with a spouse in late middle age to whom they have nothing really to say.

The result is either frustration that sees a 95% decent boat abandoned to the broker vultures in Panama or south FL, or frustration turned inward, which can manifest as depression.

The boat's easy, ultimately. Apply money, grease, crimpers and labour. The mental and indeed spiritual aspects and adjustments are harder.

I read a great book about couples aboard trying to solve these aspects recently. I reviewed it here.
Great review S/V Alchemy

You are addressing probaly the most important part of the cruising lifestyle and why most IMHO fail though they had wanted to suceed!
Kudos!

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Old 01-03-2012, 15:43   #14
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

Wow, a very cool and pointed post. Great actually. As far from the practical aspects of cruising such as diesel filters and whatnot but as close to the mark as far as cruising on a small boat with a small crew is concerned. As it is, cruising for an extended period - more than 6 months - is a life changing experience, and the outset is bound to be as diverse as life... But to insure a minimum degree of success, cruising on small boats (less than 75 feet!) has to rely and be based on: preparation, prevention and observation. Accent be put on preparation... Some things do not change. Go see the Hiscocks, Smeethons, Moitessier, Pardeys.
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Old 01-03-2012, 16:06   #15
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Re: The hidden dangers of cruising

I always say take baby steps. Not sure how these folks went about it so I can't comment, but in general it is worthwhile to try things out.

Get a smaller boat at first, don't spend a fortune, don't sell everything, spend the summer in Maine onboard or maybe take a couple of months and go to Bermuda and back. Get used to things. Get used to how it is together onboard. Everything won't be how you planned it. Expect that. Go with the flow. You need to be adaptable.

A lot of people have had everything under total control most of their lives, and they have a very difficult time with things like waiting until the weather is right, waiting for the tide, not finding the coffee they like in the little store in the Bahamas, things breaking down, having to wake up all night to make sure the anchor isn't dragging, etc.

It's the break downs that get to a lot of people--it is really true that cruising is repairing the boat in exotic locations. You can't hate it--that is a large part of your new life.

Preparation is good to a point, but flexibility and adaptability is more important. No matter how many parts you bring, it is something else that breaks. No matter how well you plan your schedule, you quickly find that schedules are the worst thing on a boat.

Go with flow--you can't fight it, so go with it.
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