Monday, March 12, 2012

Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer

Don't fall in love with a dreamer... a great old tune by Kenny Rogers. 

Yesterday's blog was written by Pam and it seems to have hit a note with cruisers, especially women.  This got me to thinking about cruisers and live-aboards in general, and brought me back to the beginnings of Al Gore's internets and a letter I received from a cruiser in American Samoa, Michael H.  First, let me go back a little further, though.

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, I was an outdoors kid.  I loved to hike through the woods, or ride my bike to explore new places.  I sometimes went with friends, and if they didn't want to go, I'd go by myself.  I found it boring to play baseball all day, and although I sometimes joined in, I often decided it would be more fun to tramp through the woods.  I loved nature and finding new things.  Even in the winter, I'd be outside riding my sled at night, all by myself, or hiking through the woods, listening to the snow falling through the tree branches.  It was a magical time.

In the 1970s, I married a woman who sailed, and so I began sailing.  Part of sailing is reading sailing magazines, and I was amazed to learn that people were cruising on boats, and some were even sailing around the world.  Imagine that?  I didn't know a person could do such a thing.   Wasn't the ocean a tumultuous place, ravaged by storms?   Who would purposely go out there, besides those whacky Pilgrims? 

I became a regular library patron and read every cruising book I could get my hands on.  My favorites were by Hal Roth and Herb Payson, authors who had a folksy way of relating what cruising was really like.  I particularly like this quote from Herb Payson, who said...

"Money isn't the only thing you get to spend in your life.
you also get to spend.... your life.
and the difference between the two, is,
you can always look in your bank book and see how much money you've got left."

The internet was just catching on in the 1990s and I found myself frequenting sailing message boards.  I befriended a fella who had been cruising the South Pacific for a number of years.   His internet handle was "Michael H".  We exchanged ideas on the message board and through emails, but I was stunned when I received a letter from him.  In it, he talked of cruising, and the kind of person who is a cruiser.  His reasoned opinion was that cruisers come from many walks of life, but one thing they have in common is wanderlust.  He thought that a cruiser may do so in a sailboat, but would be just as content doing so in a trawler, an RV, a motorcycle, or by thumb (hitchhiking).  Michael's message really hit home.  He was describing me to a T.

I think I can add to that a bit.  Cruisers don't get attached to things (besides boats).  We get attached to people, certainly, and places, but material things don't matter much to us.  We get antsy when we're in a place too long (like now!) and run out of places to explore.  We don't care too much about financial security, and as long as there's enough money to support our lifestyle, we're fine.  If we don't have enough money to support both the house and the boat,  we'll sell the house.

Are we an odd lot?  No doubt.  Sitting here at Isle of Hope Marina in Georgia, I'm watching the start of the Great Migration.  Boats of every shape and size are beginning the trek north, while a few oddball stragglers are still making their way south.  Sailboats, powerboats, big boats, small boats... there must be an Eric Burdon song in there somewhere.... spill the wine.  Anyway...  I've seen big yachts pass by, but they're not really cruisers.  The cruisers are the young couple in the old 25 foot Cape Dory with yellow and blue jerry cans strapped onto the lifelines, motoring south for their adventure of a lifetime.  They're the retired couple in the Monk 36 trawler fulfilling a lifelong dream of doing the Great Loop.  They've stopped with all the excuses why they couldn't go, and they went.

Are we crazy?  Is cruising a form of mental illness?   Well, yes.  Of course.  No sane person would shed all his and her worldly possessions and wander off in a boat of all things.

A decade ago, I was motoring to my mooring in Westport, New York on Lake Champlain.  I overtook a grossly overloaded square sterned canoe piled high with camping gear and with only a few inches of freeboard motoring slowly along, pushed by a tiny outboard.  Helming it was a scruffy bearded middle aged guy.  I waved as we passed and he waved back. 

"Where are you headed?" I asked.

"Key West!" he replied.

I have no doubt that he made it to Key West.  Not in that canoe, of course.  Probably at the end of his thumb.  He's a cruiser.

Don't fall in love with a dreamer
'Cause he'll always take you in
Just when you think you've really changed him
He'll leave you again
Don't you fall in love with a dreamer
'Cause he'll break you every time
Put out the light and just hold on
Before we say goodbye.


  1. "Money is not the only thing one has to spend; the other thing is life. The difference is that you never know how much is in the bank, or what your balance is. Your life is your inheritance. As soon as you realize this, you start trying to spend your life wisely." - From "Advice to the Sealorn" by Herb Payson.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

    Good post, thanks Dave.

    Rick & Lori

  2. At the end all we can hope to say is,

    Some of it's magic,
    Some of it's tragic
    but I've live a good life all the way

    ~Jimmy Buffett

  3. Not to get of the subject of today's Blog but...


    I thought I would let you know that the Shipping Dept. Finally sent the new Navi Nuts to you today for your approval...

    1. Good news! I was getting worried that something had happened to the Black Duck Research and Development Lab. I'll be looking out for them, and hopefully the competition won't.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.