"In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."
-Kenneth Grahame from The Wind in the Willows
I like lists. They help me plan, they help me move forward, and they help me reflect. The list below is a reflection on the cruise we just completed to Wisconsin's Door County, and really a much broader reflection on what's it's like to be a cruising sailor. If you cruise under sail yourself, take a moment to consider just how unique the lifestyle is. Consider the tradeoffs, ponder the quirks, and cherish the opportunity to live a part of life that's largely unique.
You know you're a cruiser when...
...you define a good "neighborhood" as one with plenty of room to swing at anchor.
...you buy ice in huge blocks and meat that comes in a can.
...your living room also serves as your dining room, your navigation station, and the kids' bedroom.
...you pee overboard on passage because you don't want to fill up the holding tank.
...running water, 110V electricity, Internet service, and refrigeration seem like true luxuries instead of something to be taken for granted.
...a small rubber boat and a 2hp outboard motor are your sole connection to land.
...the alarm you set before going to bed is related to your anchor, not your morning commitments.
...you time your visits to the toilet with a starboard tack (nobody likes to lean forward while on the head!).
...your important daily decisions include whether to have shade from the bimini or extra sail area from the mainsail.
...it's perfectly acceptable (and common!) to go 3 days between showers.
...your wardrobe consists of a couple of pairs of swim trunks, t-shirts, and just enough underwear to make it to the next port.
...your neighbors stop by to borrow propane for a tiny grill and share a freshly caught fish fillet.
...you ration your warm beer and toilet paper so that it last until the next landfall.
...you pick a destination not based on fudge shops or trinket stores, but rather a windward shore and bottom substrate matched to your anchor type.
...your ground tackle is ridiculously oversized and carried in duplicate.
...you wake up in your bed at home on land sleep walking and search frantically for the GPS so you can check the anchor drag alarm.