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Old 06-02-2015, 04:51   #106
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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This was just one opinion and not mine. However, there is another thread on the exumas going on right now and the development associated with it.
I'm not surprised that the, "Golden age of cruising is over" statement is not yours, but someone else's opinion. With your over half a kilowatt of solar power on that pretty Cabo Rico, you can do well out in the uncrowded anchorages and far from the crowds!
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:26   #107
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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Hello all! I loved reading these. My husband and I are getting ready to invest in a motor yacht to live aboard. We have both spent plenty of time on the water (he is former navy), and we are both super excited about it. We are playing safe, though. We will be in a marina, and we will limit cruising to the Gulf Coast areas of Alabama and Florida. We lived in a large RV on Keesler AFB in Biloxi for 3 yrs, and we loved it. One question I do have is this; we are looking at buying an older boat (80's), as we can get more boat for the money. We are looking only at well kept boats and understand that there will be "work" to do. Is there anything specific we should look at? We know it is constant maintenance and are ok with it.
GulfGaol, I am sure there are many many threads on this forum specifically addressing your issue. Use the search function to try and find them. The search is only partially helpful though as you get many threads that just happen to have the words you search on. But keep looking - you will find some. And some people on this board may remember some particularly good threads. There are also several decent books that specifically address this topic.

But having bought two older boats - one from 1978 and the other 1981. We looked for those that appeared to be well-maintained but also upgraded in all the important systems. Get a good survey from a surveyor who has a good reputation for being thorough for the buyer. That may not be the surveyor the broker recommends. Ask around from others. Some surveyors are less thorough than others but current boat owners may like that so the insurance company doesn't require more stuff to fix. On the other hand, when you get insurance, the company will want to see the survey and then you may have to convince them you will fix everything on the list. I'd rather go that way. If the surveyor puts some things on there for CYA and don't really need to be done (if you know what the difference is), you can talk them out of it (sometimes).

Some of the most important (not exhaustive):

- the hull and deck must be sound
- any evidence of leakage at deck hardware
- anything that keeps the water on the outside - thru hulls, shaft seals, rudder packings
- the motor(s) - have they been rebuilt, refurbished, replaced. What kind of engine? Is an unusual brand or a kluged together with marine parts? How many hours? If the engine is past its prime, replacing it will be a huge bill.
- interior - cabinetry, sole, overheads, lights - Many sailors are good at the systems stuff - mechanical, electrical, plumbing, but do not have the special skills of fixing interiors. It is not the same as working on kitchen cabinets.
- if the boat needs painting to meet your standards, that could be a big bill
- electrical system - is it a mess?
- batteries - can be expensive to replace but that is a normal every few years item anyway
- fuel tanks - clean, good shape, leaks - can be very expensive to repair/replace
- water tanks ditto
- beware boats where the inside and outside are pristine but under the covers the bilge is filthy, oil floating around, wiring a nightmare with corrosion evident, motor looks like it had set in a junkyard in the open for last twenty years.
- electronics - how old? will they meet your needs. If not - several thousand dollars will fix that.

Check out the reputation for the particular model in that age range. Some boats from that era were notorious for hull blisters because of changes in the fiberglass resins. Not all boats had that problem, and not every boat in a specific model/year. But check around to see how other experienced cruisers think about the model. You see new, inexperienced, people buy boats that they later find out had a history of problems or were just not good boats for what you want to do.

The list is much bigger than this. Most important - try to understand what is important to you to see if the boat has the basics covered that you want. E.g., carries enough fuel and water, good living areas, OK for entertaining with a good cockpit and salon (or not), etc. etc.

Good luck. You have some homework to do.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:50   #108
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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Such good timing for this thread.

Last night, raining February night so wet even the ducks were complaining, woke up to fresh water pump running. Opened sole boards to steam in the bilge, hot water heater hose blew off. Morning fire up stove for coffee, LPG empty... Oooooops.


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Old 06-02-2015, 08:59   #109
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

We always turn the fresh water pump off at night or when not around. Have had the same thing happen more than twice.


What was really annoying was when we blew a high pressure salt water hose coming off the watermaker pressure pumps... that put the bilge pump to the test.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:54   #110
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

I can't find the link, so I'll post the article. This is as good an explanation as I've ever heard. I know from my own experience that in order to dream, ya gotta be sleeping. Here's R. Persig perspective: A little long, but well worth the time. Cruising Blues and Their Cure By Robert Pirsig
(originally published in Esquire, May 1977)


Their case was typical. After four years of hard labor their ocean-size trimaran was launched in Minneapolis at the head of Mississippi navigation. Six and one half months later they had brought it down the river and across the gulf to Florida to finish up final details. Then at last they were off to sail the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles and South America.

Only it didn't work out that way. Within six weeks they were through. The boat was back in Florida up for sale.

"Our feelings were mixed," they wrote their hometown paper. "Each of us had a favorite dream unfulfilled, a place he or she wanted to visit, a thing to do. And most of us felt sheepish that our 'year's escape' shrunk to eight months. Stated that way, it doesn't sound as if we got our money's worth for our four years' labor."

"But most of us had had just about all the escape we could stand; we're overdosed on vacation. Maybe we aren't quite as free spirits as we believed; each new island to visit had just a bit less than its predecessor."

"And thoughts were turning to home."

Change the point of origin to Sacramento or Cincinnati or any of thousands of places where the hope of sailing the world fills landlocked, job-locked dreamers; add thousands of couples who have saved for years to extend their weekends on the water to a retirement at sea, then sell their boats after six months; change the style and size of the boat, or the ages and backgrounds of the participants, and you have a story that is heard over and over again in cruising areas - romantic dreams of a lifetime destroyed by a psychological affliction that has probably ended the careers of more cruising sailors than all other causes together: cruising depression.

"I don't know what it was we thought we were looking for," one wife said in a St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, harbor after she and her husband had decided to put their boat up for sale and go home. "But whatever it was, we certainly haven't discovered it in sailing. It seemed that it was going to be such a dream life, but now, looking back on it, it just seems . . . oh, there have been beautiful times, of course, but mostly it's just been hard work and misery. More than we would have had if we had stayed home."

A husband said, "We find ourselves getting on each other's nerves, being cooped up like this with each other day after day. We never realized that in order to enjoy being with someone you have to have periods of separation from that person too. We sailed on weekends and short vacations for years. But living aboard isn't the same."

Statements symptomatic of cruising depression vary from person to person, but common to most are long periods of silence in a person who is normally talkative, followed by a feeling of overwhelming sadness that at first seems to have no specific cause, then, on reflection, seems to have many causes, such as:

Everything is breaking down on this boat. Everything is going to hell. Considering the number of things that could break down, the attrition is actually quite normal, but now there isn't the time or tools to make major repairs, and the costs of boatyard labor and overhead are out of sight. So now every part failure - a pump that won't work, a loose propeller shaft, a windlass that sticks - looms up as a catastrophe, and during the long hours at the helm while the problem remains unfixed, it grows larger and larger in the mind.

Money is running short. Most of the big supermarkets are too far from the boat to walk to. Marine stores seem to overcharge on everything. Money is always running short, but now that fact, which was once a challenge, is a source of despair. A serious cruising person always seems to find the money one way or another, usually by taking short-term waterfront jobs, and taking them without much resentment. His boat gives him something to work for. But now the boat itself is resented and there is nothing to work for.

The people are unfriendlier here than back home. Back home people seemed friendlier, but now cruising depression has put a scowl and a worried look on the sailor's face that makes people keep their distance.

All this is just running away from reality. You never realize how good that friendly old nine-to-five office job can be. Just little things - like everyone saying hello each morning or the supervisor stopping by to get your opinion because he really needs it. And seeing old friends and familiar neighbors and streets you've lived near all your life. Who wants to escape all that? Perhaps what cruising teaches more than anything else is an appreciation of the real world you might otherwise think of as oppressive.

This last symptom - the desire to "get back to reality" - is one I've found in almost every case of cruising depression and may be the key to the whole affliction. If one bears down on this point a little it begins to open up and reveal deeper sources of trouble.

One first has to ask where those who are depressed got the idea that cruise sailing was an escape from reality. Who ever taught them that? What exactly do they mean? Scientists and philosophers spend their entire working lives puzzling over the nature of reality, but now the depressed ones use the term freely, as though everyone should know and agree with what they mean by it.

As best I can make out, reality for them is the mode of daily living they followed before taking to the water; unlike cruise sailing, it is the one shared by the majority of the members of our culture. It usually means gainful employment in a stable economic network of some sort without too much variance from what are considered the norms and mores of society. In other words, back to the common herd.

The illogic is not hard to find. The house-car-job complex with its nine-to-five office routine is common only to a very small percentage of the earth's population and has only been common to this percentage for the last hundred years or so. If this is reality, have the millions of years that preceded our current century all been unreal?

An alternative - and better - definition of reality can be found by naming some of its components ...air...sunlight...wind...water...the motion of waves...the patterns of clouds before a coming storm. These elements, unlike twentieth-century office routines, have been here since before life appeared on this planet and they will continue long after office routines are gone. They are understood by everyone, not just a small segment of a highly advanced society. When considered on purely logical grounds, they are more real than the extremely transitory life-styles of the modern civilization the depressed ones want to return to.

If this is so, then it follows that those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities.

For many of the depressed ones, the real underlying source of cruising depression is that they have thought of sailing as one more civilized form of stimulation, just like movies or spectator sports, and somehow felt their boat had an obligation to keep them thrilled and entertained. But no boat can be an endless source of entertainment and should not be expected to be one.

A lot of their expectation may have come from weekend sailing, whose pleasures differ greatly from live-aboard cruising. In weekend sailing, depression seldom shows up, because the sailing is usually a relief from a monotonous workweek. The weekender gets just as depressed as the live-aboard cruiser, but he does it at home or on the job and thinks of these as the cause of the depression. When he retires to the life of cruising, he continues the mistake by thinking, Now life will be just like all those summer weekends strung end to end. And of course he is wrong.

There is no way to escape the mechanism of depression. It results from lack of a pleasant stimulus and is inevitable because the more pleasant stimuli you receive the less effective they become. If, for example, you receive an unexpected gift of money on Monday, you are elated. If the same gift is repeated on Tuesday, you are elated again but a little less so because it is a repetition of Monday's experience. On Wednesday he elation drops a little lower and on Thursday and Friday a little lower still. By Saturday you are rather accustomed to the daily gift and take it for granted. Sunday, if there is no gift, you are suddenly depressed. Your level of expectation has adjusted upward during the week and now must adjust downward.

The same is true of cruising. You can see just so any beautiful sunsets strung end on end, just so any coconut palms waving in the ocean breeze, just so many exotic moonlit tropical nights scented with oleander and frangipani, and you become adjusted. They no longer elate. The pleasant external stimulus has worn out its response and cruising depression takes over. This is the point at which boats get sold and cruising dreams are shattered forever. One can extend the high for a while by searching for new and more exciting pursuits, but sooner or later the depression mechanism must catch up with you and the longer it has been evaded the harder it hits.

It follows that the best way to defeat cruising depression is never to run from it. You must face into it, enter it when it comes, just be gloomy and enjoy the gloominess while it lasts. You can be sure that the same mechanism that makes depression unavoidable also makes future elation unavoidable. Each hour or day you remain depressed you become more and more adjusted to it until in time there is no possible way to avoid an upturn in feelings. The days you put in depressed are like money in the bank. They make the elated days possible by their contrast. You cannot have mountains without valleys and you cannot have elation without depression. Without their combined upswings and downswings, existence would be just one long tedious plateau.

When depression is seen as an unavoidable part of one's life, it becomes possible to study it with less aversion and discover that within it are all sorts of overlooked possibilities.

To begin with, depression makes you far more aware of subtleties of your surroundings. Out on a remote anchorage, the call of a wild duck during an elated period is just the call of a wild duck. But if you are depressed and your mind is empty from the down-scaling of depression, then that strange lonely sound can suddenly bring down a whole wave of awareness of empty spaces and water and sky. It sounds strange, but some of my happiest memories are of days when I was very depressed. Slow monotonous grey days at the helm, beating into a wet freezing wind. Or a three-day dead calm that left me in agonies of heat and boredom and frustration. Days when nothing seemed to go right. Nights when impending disaster was all I could think of. I think of those as "virtuous days," a strange term for them that has a meaning all its own.

Virtue here comes from childhood reading about the old days of sailing ships when young men were sent to sea to learn manliness and virtue. I remember being skeptical about this. "How could a monotonous passage across a pile of water produce virtue?" I wondered. I figured that maybe a few bad storms would scare hell out of the young men and this would make them humble and manly and virtuous and appreciative of life ever afterward, but it seemed like a dubious curriculum. There were cheaper and quicker ways to scare people than that.

Now, however, with a boat of my own and some time at sea, I begin to see the learning of virtue another way. It has something to do with the way the sea and sun and wind and sky go on and on day after day, week after week, and the boat and you have to go on with it. You must take the helm and change the sails and take sights of the stars and work out their reductions and sleep and cook and eat and repair things as they break and do most of these things in stormy weather as well as fair, depressed as well as elated, because there's no choice. You get used to it; it becomes habit-forming and produces a certain change in values. Old gear that has been through a storm or two without failure becomes more precious than it was when you bought it because you know you can trust it. The same becomes true of fellow crewmen and ultimately becomes true of things about yourself. Good first appearances count for less than they ever did, and real virtue - which comes from an ability to separate what merely looks good from what lasts and the acquisition of those characteristics in one's self - is strengthened.

But beyond this there seems to be an even deeper teaching of virtue that rises out of a slow process of self-discovery after one has gone through a number of waves of danger and depression and is no longer overwhelmingly concerned about them.

Self-discovery is as much a philosopher's imponderable as reality, but when one takes away the external stimuli of civilization during long ocean hours at the helm far from any land, and particularly on overcast nights, every cruising sailor knows that what occurs is not an evening of complete blankness. Instead comes a flow of thought drawn forth by the emptiness of the night. Occurrences of the previous day, meager as they may have been, rise and are thought about for a while, and then die away to return again later, a little less compelling, and perhaps another time even weaker, until they die away completely and are not thought of again. Then older memories appear, of a week past, a month past, of years past, and these are thought about and sometimes interrelated with new insights. A problem that has been baffling in the past is now understood quickly. New ideas for things seem to pop up from nowhere because the rigid patterns of thought that inhibited them are now weakened by emptiness and depression. Then in time these new thoughts wear town too, and the empty night dredges deeper into the subconscious to tug at, loosen and dislodge old forgotten thoughts that were repressed years ago. Old injustices that one has had to absorb, old faces now gone, ancient feelings of personal doubt, remorse, hatred and fear, are suddenly loose and at you. You must face them again and again until they die away like the thoughts preceding them. This self that one discovers is in many ways a person one would not like one's friends to know about; a person one may have been avoiding for years, full of vanity, cowardice, boredom, self-pity, laziness, blamingness, weak when he should be strong, aggressive when he should be gentle, a person who will do anything not to know these things about himself - the very same fellow who has been having problems with cruising depression all this time. I think it's in the day-after-day, week-after-week confrontation of this person that the most valuable learning of virtue takes place.

But if one will allow it time enough, the ocean itself can be one's greatest ally in dealing with this person. As one lives on the surface of the empty ocean day after day after day after day and sees it sometimes huge and dangerous, sometimes relaxed and dull, but always, in each day and week, endless in every direction, a certain understanding of one's self begins slowly to break through, reflected from the sea, or perhaps derived from it.

This is the understanding that whether you are bored or excited, depressed or elated, successful or unsuccessful, even whether you are alive or dead, all this is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever. The sea keeps telling you this with every sweep of every wave. And when you accept this understanding of yourself and agree with it and continue on anyway, then a real fullness of virtue and self-understanding arrives. And sometimes the moment of arrival is accompanied by hilarious laughter. The old reality of the sea has put cruising depression in its proper perspective at last.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:26   #111
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

Krogensailor, the link to that article was in post #67, page 5.
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Old 06-02-2015, 11:16   #112
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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Originally Posted by GulfGal73 View Post
Hello all! I loved reading these. My husband and I are getting ready to invest in a motor yacht to live aboard. We have both spent plenty of time on the water (he is former navy), and we are both super excited about it. We are playing safe, though. We will be in a marina, and we will limit cruising to the Gulf Coast areas of Alabama and Florida. We lived in a large RV on Keesler AFB in Biloxi for 3 yrs, and we loved it. One question I do have is this; we are looking at buying an older boat (80's), as we can get more boat for the money. We are looking only at well kept boats and understand that there will be "work" to do. Is there anything specific we should look at? We know it is constant maintenance and are ok with it. Thanks in advanced.


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Everything about a boat is expensive and maintenance intensive. Just insure it is not eating all your income such that you are not planning financially for when you can no longer keep up with it.
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Old 06-02-2015, 15:30   #113
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

My wife and I have been taking cruising trips since our son was 2 years old. We sail on the family boat, a 1962 Pearson Triton my parents bought new.

I grew up cruising on that boat with my 3 siblings. It was a cramped experience. My parents would challenge us to go on the foredeck and find an island or a ship or something and promise a quarter to the first person to see it just to get us squabbling kids out of the cockpit. We were allowed 2 shirts, 2 pants, some underwear and one toy, preferably a Frisbee because they were flat and easy to store. Some of my best memories were as a kid on that boat.

Fast forward to 1994. Our son was 2 y/o then and I had just spent most of the winter doing some major work to upgrade the vessel to make it sailable and safe. Still used the old sails (more like pillow cases - but they caught the wind and we moved) and rigging. Over the years I would work during the winter to add more upgrades. We cruised farther and farther - not long passages - we sailed Green Bay, Northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Our son stopped mentioning all the fast motor boats - "I want one of those" after a few years. Just the three of us was still cramped since we had more room to bring stuff, we brought it. The last cruise we did some SCUBA diving off the boat - the wreck Sandusky lies in 85' of water just west of the Mackinac Bridge - mostly intact after having lain on the bottom since 1854.

Just before graduation, our son asked if we could start up the restoration of the 65 y/o ketch I insanely bought (before our son was born) and tinkered with over the years. We said yes and that brought more joy - I worked in the shop with my son along with the shipwright hired to teach the boy the skills needed to work on old wooden vessels. Our son completed his promised one year and then joined the USMC, where he is now. The project was going to lapse back into the tinkering until we retired and then we would seek to finish her and seek more distant shores.

When we were in San Diego to watch our son graduate from boot camp, I got a call from my younger brother. The kind of call you do not want to get. Cancer. Serious cancer. It developed that it was caught early enough to have a decent prognosis. After chemo and radiation, the tumor was surgically removed. He was recovering nicely and then, lightening struck. He suffered a pulmonary embolism and died before the ambulance arrived at his home. His daughter was devastated. She had already lost her mother to cancer several years previous. We were all in shock. Perfect specimen - ocean swimmer and everything.

That was it. It didn't take much and my wife and I decided we were not going to tarry any further on land. The restoration process has been restarted. The house is for sale. Most of our stuff has been sold or donated. That my wife is as gung ho as I am is a blessing, truly. I am finishing up another week at work, counting down the days to retirement (less than 9 months away). My wife retired in 5/14.

Once completed (fantasy, 6/16 - reality ?) we will travel down the Mississippi River to the gulf, down to the canal and west from there. Can we do this? Things in our favor: we believe we have completed our earthly task - we have raised a fine son, now a Marine and moving forward with his career, we have the means to make it happen, we have experience being cramped up on a small boat with minimal amenities for weeks at a time. Things not in our favor: age (I am 59, my wife is 60), some medical issues (my recent flare up of a herniated disc in my neck is the latest), my susceptibility to mal de mer, our limited blue water experience, my wife's relative inexperience with navigation, helm work, boat handling.

I spend much time here soaking up the info from others (this has been a good stream). We have much experience sailing in rough weather and have done so on well found vessels. The one we are restoring has an excellent reputation by the designer (John Alden) who was inspired by the Gloucester fishing schooners he grew up watching go out to sea. It is being rebuilt using fine materials in generous proportions. She may not be fast but she will be strong.

My wife and I have our moments. We don't get on each others nerves but we do have our disagreements. We are comfortable hanging out with each other and don't feel the need to be doing the same thing with each other all the time. We have been married since 1983 and have been thru a lot together. We were live in care-givers for her father who suffered dementia. We had an addition built on our house, while we were living in it. Many people we know who did that, or built a house together got divorced.

She is looking forward to this - I sometimes wonder if she really knows what she is getting herself into. I sometimes wonder that about myself. We are heading into the unknown. The best part is we are doing it together.
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Old 06-02-2015, 15:35   #114
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

CrazyOldBoatGuy....
Your story, just expertly told, should be sent into all the Cruising Magazines because it my friend tells the story so well. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-02-2015, 16:07   #115
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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Originally Posted by Krogensailor View Post
I can't find the link, so I'll post the article. This is as good an explanation as I've ever heard. I know from my own experience that in order to dream, ya gotta be sleeping. Here's R. Persig perspective: A little long, but well worth the time. Cruising Blues and Their Cure By Robert Pirsig
(originally published in Esquire, May 1977)


..................... There is no way to escape the mechanism of depression.

It results from lack of a pleasant stimulus and is inevitable because the more pleasant stimuli you receive the less effective they become. If, for example, you receive an unexpected gift of money on Monday, you are elated. If the same gift is repeated on Tuesday, you are elated again but a little less so because it is a repetition of Monday's experience. On Wednesday he elation drops a little lower and on Thursday and Friday a little lower still. By Saturday you are rather accustomed to the daily gift and take it for granted. Sunday, if there is no gift, you are suddenly depressed. Your level of expectation has adjusted upward during the week and now must adjust downward. .........................
This is the point where I opt out of this long tale of depression. I have difficulty accepting that we are subject to the classical conditioning of the rats on B.F. Skinner's electrical grid. I have not been subject to succumbing to the mechanisms of depression during our 43 years of liveaboard cruising. It might be argued that we did not have another life that we had left for cruising, but we did grow up in houses and spent some time as young adults in college before moving aboard. I can understand the depression trap if people look for and expect some kind of utopia, but that seems imature to a fault. I can't imagine that level of ignorance by imagining that you are off to a carefree adventure without strife.

I think Livia in post #62 had the best answer for why couples quit cruising. They were accomplished. They were successful and it was done without the expectation that they would never be finished cruising.

Nancie and I will definitely quit cruising. We're not looking at it as a loss, but an expected transition. Maybe in another ten years or so we'll rent some small place ashore. It will be a wonderful adventure!

BTW.... I am rejecting the content of Robert Persig's article and not the presentation of Krogensailor who has kindly shared the article!
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Old 06-02-2015, 16:09   #116
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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CrazyOldBoatGuy....
Your story, just expertly told, should be sent into all the Cruising Magazines because it my friend tells the story so well. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. Much appreciated.
+1
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Old 06-02-2015, 16:52   #117
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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Originally Posted by Krogensailor View Post
I can't find the link, so I'll post the article. This is as good an explanation as I've ever heard. I know from my own experience that in order to dream, ya gotta be sleeping. Here's R. Persig perspective: A little long, but well worth the time. Cruising Blues and Their Cure By Robert Pirsig
(originally published in Esquire, May 1977)


Their case was typical. After four years of hard labor their ocean-size trimaran was launched in Minneapolis at the head of Mississippi navigation. Six and one half months later they had brought it down the river and across the gulf to Florida to finish up final details. Then at last they were off to sail the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles and South America.

Only it didn't work out that way. Within six weeks they were through. The boat was back in Florida up for sale.

"Our feelings were mixed," they wrote their hometown paper. "Each of us had a favorite dream unfulfilled, a place he or she wanted to visit, a thing to do. And most of us felt sheepish that our 'year's escape' shrunk to eight months. Stated that way, it doesn't sound as if we got our money's worth for our four years' labor."

"But most of us had had just about all the escape we could stand; we're overdosed on vacation. Maybe we aren't quite as free spirits as we believed; each new island to visit had just a bit less than its predecessor."

"And thoughts were turning to home."

Change the point of origin to Sacramento or Cincinnati or any of thousands of places where the hope of sailing the world fills landlocked, job-locked dreamers; add thousands of couples who have saved for years to extend their weekends on the water to a retirement at sea, then sell their boats after six months; change the style and size of the boat, or the ages and backgrounds of the participants, and you have a story that is heard over and over again in cruising areas - romantic dreams of a lifetime destroyed by a psychological affliction that has probably ended the careers of more cruising sailors than all other causes together: cruising depression.

"I don't know what it was we thought we were looking for," one wife said in a St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, harbor after she and her husband had decided to put their boat up for sale and go home. "But whatever it was, we certainly haven't discovered it in sailing. It seemed that it was going to be such a dream life, but now, looking back on it, it just seems . . . oh, there have been beautiful times, of course, but mostly it's just been hard work and misery. More than we would have had if we had stayed home."

A husband said, "We find ourselves getting on each other's nerves, being cooped up like this with each other day after day. We never realized that in order to enjoy being with someone you have to have periods of separation from that person too. We sailed on weekends and short vacations for years. But living aboard isn't the same."

Statements symptomatic of cruising depression vary from person to person, but common to most are long periods of silence in a person who is normally talkative, followed by a feeling of overwhelming sadness that at first seems to have no specific cause, then, on reflection, seems to have many causes, such as:

Everything is breaking down on this boat. Everything is going to hell. Considering the number of things that could break down, the attrition is actually quite normal, but now there isn't the time or tools to make major repairs, and the costs of boatyard labor and overhead are out of sight. So now every part failure - a pump that won't work, a loose propeller shaft, a windlass that sticks - looms up as a catastrophe, and during the long hours at the helm while the problem remains unfixed, it grows larger and larger in the mind.

Money is running short. Most of the big supermarkets are too far from the boat to walk to. Marine stores seem to overcharge on everything. Money is always running short, but now that fact, which was once a challenge, is a source of despair. A serious cruising person always seems to find the money one way or another, usually by taking short-term waterfront jobs, and taking them without much resentment. His boat gives him something to work for. But now the boat itself is resented and there is nothing to work for.

The people are unfriendlier here than back home. Back home people seemed friendlier, but now cruising depression has put a scowl and a worried look on the sailor's face that makes people keep their distance.

All this is just running away from reality. You never realize how good that friendly old nine-to-five office job can be. Just little things - like everyone saying hello each morning or the supervisor stopping by to get your opinion because he really needs it. And seeing old friends and familiar neighbors and streets you've lived near all your life. Who wants to escape all that? Perhaps what cruising teaches more than anything else is an appreciation of the real world you might otherwise think of as oppressive.

This last symptom - the desire to "get back to reality" - is one I've found in almost every case of cruising depression and may be the key to the whole affliction. If one bears down on this point a little it begins to open up and reveal deeper sources of trouble.

One first has to ask where those who are depressed got the idea that cruise sailing was an escape from reality. Who ever taught them that? What exactly do they mean? Scientists and philosophers spend their entire working lives puzzling over the nature of reality, but now the depressed ones use the term freely, as though everyone should know and agree with what they mean by it.

As best I can make out, reality for them is the mode of daily living they followed before taking to the water; unlike cruise sailing, it is the one shared by the majority of the members of our culture. It usually means gainful employment in a stable economic network of some sort without too much variance from what are considered the norms and mores of society. In other words, back to the common herd.

The illogic is not hard to find. The house-car-job complex with its nine-to-five office routine is common only to a very small percentage of the earth's population and has only been common to this percentage for the last hundred years or so. If this is reality, have the millions of years that preceded our current century all been unreal?

An alternative - and better - definition of reality can be found by naming some of its components ...air...sunlight...wind...water...the motion of waves...the patterns of clouds before a coming storm. These elements, unlike twentieth-century office routines, have been here since before life appeared on this planet and they will continue long after office routines are gone. They are understood by everyone, not just a small segment of a highly advanced society. When considered on purely logical grounds, they are more real than the extremely transitory life-styles of the modern civilization the depressed ones want to return to.

If this is so, then it follows that those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities.

For many of the depressed ones, the real underlying source of cruising depression is that they have thought of sailing as one more civilized form of stimulation, just like movies or spectator sports, and somehow felt their boat had an obligation to keep them thrilled and entertained. But no boat can be an endless source of entertainment and should not be expected to be one.

A lot of their expectation may have come from weekend sailing, whose pleasures differ greatly from live-aboard cruising. In weekend sailing, depression seldom shows up, because the sailing is usually a relief from a monotonous workweek. The weekender gets just as depressed as the live-aboard cruiser, but he does it at home or on the job and thinks of these as the cause of the depression. When he retires to the life of cruising, he continues the mistake by thinking, Now life will be just like all those summer weekends strung end to end. And of course he is wrong.

There is no way to escape the mechanism of depression. It results from lack of a pleasant stimulus and is inevitable because the more pleasant stimuli you receive the less effective they become. If, for example, you receive an unexpected gift of money on Monday, you are elated. If the same gift is repeated on Tuesday, you are elated again but a little less so because it is a repetition of Monday's experience. On Wednesday he elation drops a little lower and on Thursday and Friday a little lower still. By Saturday you are rather accustomed to the daily gift and take it for granted. Sunday, if there is no gift, you are suddenly depressed. Your level of expectation has adjusted upward during the week and now must adjust downward.

The same is true of cruising. You can see just so any beautiful sunsets strung end on end, just so any coconut palms waving in the ocean breeze, just so many exotic moonlit tropical nights scented with oleander and frangipani, and you become adjusted. They no longer elate. The pleasant external stimulus has worn out its response and cruising depression takes over. This is the point at which boats get sold and cruising dreams are shattered forever. One can extend the high for a while by searching for new and more exciting pursuits, but sooner or later the depression mechanism must catch up with you and the longer it has been evaded the harder it hits.

It follows that the best way to defeat cruising depression is never to run from it. You must face into it, enter it when it comes, just be gloomy and enjoy the gloominess while it lasts. You can be sure that the same mechanism that makes depression unavoidable also makes future elation unavoidable. Each hour or day you remain depressed you become more and more adjusted to it until in time there is no possible way to avoid an upturn in feelings. The days you put in depressed are like money in the bank. They make the elated days possible by their contrast. You cannot have mountains without valleys and you cannot have elation without depression. Without their combined upswings and downswings, existence would be just one long tedious plateau.

When depression is seen as an unavoidable part of one's life, it becomes possible to study it with less aversion and discover that within it are all sorts of overlooked possibilities.

To begin with, depression makes you far more aware of subtleties of your surroundings. Out on a remote anchorage, the call of a wild duck during an elated period is just the call of a wild duck. But if you are depressed and your mind is empty from the down-scaling of depression, then that strange lonely sound can suddenly bring down a whole wave of awareness of empty spaces and water and sky. It sounds strange, but some of my happiest memories are of days when I was very depressed. Slow monotonous grey days at the helm, beating into a wet freezing wind. Or a three-day dead calm that left me in agonies of heat and boredom and frustration. Days when nothing seemed to go right. Nights when impending disaster was all I could think of. I think of those as "virtuous days," a strange term for them that has a meaning all its own.

Virtue here comes from childhood reading about the old days of sailing ships when young men were sent to sea to learn manliness and virtue. I remember being skeptical about this. "How could a monotonous passage across a pile of water produce virtue?" I wondered. I figured that maybe a few bad storms would scare hell out of the young men and this would make them humble and manly and virtuous and appreciative of life ever afterward, but it seemed like a dubious curriculum. There were cheaper and quicker ways to scare people than that.

Now, however, with a boat of my own and some time at sea, I begin to see the learning of virtue another way. It has something to do with the way the sea and sun and wind and sky go on and on day after day, week after week, and the boat and you have to go on with it. You must take the helm and change the sails and take sights of the stars and work out their reductions and sleep and cook and eat and repair things as they break and do most of these things in stormy weather as well as fair, depressed as well as elated, because there's no choice. You get used to it; it becomes habit-forming and produces a certain change in values. Old gear that has been through a storm or two without failure becomes more precious than it was when you bought it because you know you can trust it. The same becomes true of fellow crewmen and ultimately becomes true of things about yourself. Good first appearances count for less than they ever did, and real virtue - which comes from an ability to separate what merely looks good from what lasts and the acquisition of those characteristics in one's self - is strengthened.

But beyond this there seems to be an even deeper teaching of virtue that rises out of a slow process of self-discovery after one has gone through a number of waves of danger and depression and is no longer overwhelmingly concerned about them.

Self-discovery is as much a philosopher's imponderable as reality, but when one takes away the external stimuli of civilization during long ocean hours at the helm far from any land, and particularly on overcast nights, every cruising sailor knows that what occurs is not an evening of complete blankness. Instead comes a flow of thought drawn forth by the emptiness of the night. Occurrences of the previous day, meager as they may have been, rise and are thought about for a while, and then die away to return again later, a little less compelling, and perhaps another time even weaker, until they die away completely and are not thought of again. Then older memories appear, of a week past, a month past, of years past, and these are thought about and sometimes interrelated with new insights. A problem that has been baffling in the past is now understood quickly. New ideas for things seem to pop up from nowhere because the rigid patterns of thought that inhibited them are now weakened by emptiness and depression. Then in time these new thoughts wear town too, and the empty night dredges deeper into the subconscious to tug at, loosen and dislodge old forgotten thoughts that were repressed years ago. Old injustices that one has had to absorb, old faces now gone, ancient feelings of personal doubt, remorse, hatred and fear, are suddenly loose and at you. You must face them again and again until they die away like the thoughts preceding them. This self that one discovers is in many ways a person one would not like one's friends to know about; a person one may have been avoiding for years, full of vanity, cowardice, boredom, self-pity, laziness, blamingness, weak when he should be strong, aggressive when he should be gentle, a person who will do anything not to know these things about himself - the very same fellow who has been having problems with cruising depression all this time. I think it's in the day-after-day, week-after-week confrontation of this person that the most valuable learning of virtue takes place.

But if one will allow it time enough, the ocean itself can be one's greatest ally in dealing with this person. As one lives on the surface of the empty ocean day after day after day after day and sees it sometimes huge and dangerous, sometimes relaxed and dull, but always, in each day and week, endless in every direction, a certain understanding of one's self begins slowly to break through, reflected from the sea, or perhaps derived from it.

This is the understanding that whether you are bored or excited, depressed or elated, successful or unsuccessful, even whether you are alive or dead, all this is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever. The sea keeps telling you this with every sweep of every wave. And when you accept this understanding of yourself and agree with it and continue on anyway, then a real fullness of virtue and self-understanding arrives. And sometimes the moment of arrival is accompanied by hilarious laughter. The old reality of the sea has put cruising depression in its proper perspective at last.
Virtue here comes from childhood reading about the old days of sailing ships when young men were sent to sea to learn manliness and virtue. I remember being skeptical about this. "How could a monotonous passage across a pile of water produce virtue?" I wondered. (I thoroughly enjoyed this summation of R. Pirsig's, regarding his take on why depression overcomes the thrill of the voyage!) I, from my own experience, found that sailing teaches us one of the 7 Virtues I know of that is often overlooked, but it one which was ever so present in The Fisherman that calmed the seas in the bible, it was HUMILITY! I learned humility, from my time soul searching at sea, it had a way to put my total being in perspective with the universe, something you don't get at a nine to five job, or kick'n it in front of your big screen tv. I realized I am not McGiver, not even close, a trait that helps you while far from the shoreline, and ships store. You have to be prepared to be a Psycologist, a MD, a Sailmaker, a Master Diesel Mechanic, a conversationalist, and requires that and much more. Being able to test your own tinsel strength, in long periods of aloneness, using every resource at your command to take you safely from point A to point B, and you realize how the things you learned about celestial navigation are much more important than your reliance on modern technology, you have always multiple double and triple redundancy to guide you through the most troubled of waters. I was a Marine in Vietnam, during the Tet Offensive in the 68-69 era of the Vietnam war, and never did I feel fear, it prepared me for a storm I was in at sea, that gave me the courage to look Satan in the face and laugh, as I had never seen seas, not even in movies, that resembled what I was facing, with only novice seamen accompanying me on this 5 day trip to Marathon Key, when the Spirit of America ship went down, not far from where we fought to get to our own destination. Most where heading to join the celebration in NY, The Statue of Liberty Celebration, but that was not where many found themselves after this storm. I got a crash course on this trip, and the exhilaration I felt, during and after the storms had subsided, could never be compared to anything I had ever experienced in my entire life. The calm was my only destination after the storm, when I felt I was headed to the gates of hell, like in some Indiana Jones movie. The calm was the most beautiful seas I had ever seen. At night, on a 57' tall masted ship, listening to the twin masts creaking, as I layed my head upon the sailbags on deck, and stared at the heavens and across the waters watching the moonlight reflect, and seeing the experience for what it was, a lesson to me about nature, something I could never find comparable unless I was under a F5 Tornado, in it's path. This my friend, is what I remember, and it didn't break my spirit, it strengthened it, and gave me confidence in myself. I wouldn't wish to live a life for endless periods of time, taking long long journeys, without a pause to help me miss the next one! Too much of a good thing spoils it, and never again shall I return to the scene of the crime, as they say, never will I get an experience that could duplicate that one exactly, not at my age wish to but you never know what you are made of until you are tested. It was surreal, an experience is waking from a dream and finding you were in "West World" I would enjoy it for a while, but wouldn't want to remain there, as it would impede me from my next big adventure!
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Old 06-02-2015, 17:13   #118
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

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I'm not surprised that the, "Golden age of cruising is over" statement is not yours, but someone else's opinion. With your over half a kilowatt of solar power on that pretty Cabo Rico, you can do well out in the uncrowded anchorages and far from the crowds!
I was a little bit dissappointed when I heard that. This is not something that I would like to hear! We are just starting out and a good two years from really being able to step away. I saw his point though. Everything is relative to your experience. If you have never been in an anchorage for a summer all alone (naked SOTB - yea baby), enjoying your own private beach for months on end, you would never miss it.

We love our power! Between the wind and the solar today we were putting in 25-30 amps. Sweet. We are looking forward to choosing between Rich's water maker system and Tellies system when the time comes.
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Old 06-02-2015, 18:21   #119
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

I loved skiing. I broke my leg in 2010. I STOPPED skiing.

My doctors and therapists all said sailing was good for my recovery.

I am still sailing.

Skiing? Nope, never again.

But I always liked, and will still enjoy, apres ski!
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Old 06-02-2015, 20:59   #120
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Re: Why Do Cruising Couples Quit

It sounds so simple, maybe even simple-minded, but first, you must love sailing and being out on the sea. If the boat becomes merely a means to end, the brain will efficiently seek a shortcut to that end and the boat will be sacrificed, either whole or in part. I have seen it happen and have even been tugged in that direction more than once myself.
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