A Guide for Chick Cruisers
17 November 2009 | Brisbane, Australia
Part I: Introduction
Picture: Your Author at the top of the mast in Bora Bora.
As I approach the deadline to hang up my sailing gloves to return to the real world, I want to share the small bit of wisdom I have accumulated over the course of the year. Not surprisingly, cruising offers different challenges and issues for women than it does for men. There are many technical manuals and professional sailing books out there for men to prep for their trip but not much in the way of a guide for the woman unsure of what to pack or if she is crazy following her husband on such a hair brained scheme. When I received a couple of emails from women preparing to go cruising after my hair care article, I knew I had an audience (of at least two).
What will follow is a series of blogs entitled A Guide for Chick Cruisers but first I want to introduce myself by way of a few bullet points that will help you ascertain if my advice might apply to you in any way. I am not your average cruiser, the older retiree following her husband around the world till death do they part. I am not old fashioned and was in no way used to traditional gender roles. I am young, love big cities, require manicures & pedicures weekly, spend 10% of my income on hair care (or so my husband estimates) and basically I loved my real life in San Francisco. I was not looking for escape but just an adventurous long vacation and the chance not to be average. Hopefully the following background, as it applies to the cruising lifestyle, will enable some insight on all of my future perspectives. So a little about me...
1. I had minimal sailing experience going in. I had been on two sailboat trips: one with girlfriends off the coast of Croatia with a professional captain and one in the Caribbean with my husband Seth and his family. Other than that, Seth and I had sailed around on his family's little sailing race boat but only a few times. I had a lot to learn.
2. I love my husband and this is his dream. It has been amazing and difficult, rewarding and frustrating as I guess all things in life worth anything are. As we near the end, I have no regrets having done it and feel a large sense of accomplishment. Cruising across the Pacific Ocean is not like a yearlong stay at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora as the public at large might believe.
3. My husband and I are best friends. This proved to be more and more important as we lived aboard a 38foot boat and faced challenges. Relationships are hard work always but living in this space and spending this much time together is like the Olympics of Relationships, so be ready!
4. I love the water. I swim like a fish and enjoy snorkeling, diving and surfing. I love the sun. I know sun bathing has gotten a bad rap in the last 20 years or so but boy does it feel good! I love being on the water in a boat (as long as the weather is perfect and the waves calm).
5. I love fashion. Not only did I work in fashion in San Francisco (the perfect job which was very, very hard to leave to go on this trip) but I also I love to shop and I love to dress up. Being over dressed for most occasions is not a new phenomenon for me and in cruising it was only magnified by the blatant disregard the majority of women cruisers show in regard to their appearance. Much, much more on this later.
6. I loved my career. I loved working toward goals and overcoming challenges to create product that I was proud of. Lacking this kind of motivating work was one of the biggest misses in this last year.
7. I did not cook much before this trip. In SF, I cooked a few times a month and never had a grocery bill over about $80. No one in their right mind would have hired me as a Galley Manager but unfortunately since my diesel repair skills are even lower, this is the job I got on board.
8. I love exercise. I used to walk 40 minutes to and from work most days and go to either a yoga class, spin class, or cardio-weights combo class about five times per week. The lifestyle on the boat proved very sedentary and I had to work at making an exercise routine work with life aboard.
9. I was not scared. As I prepared for the trip, many people expressed many concerns for my safety. It just is not part of my personality to think of all the horrible, extremely unlikely things that could happen and focus on those. My Mom did that enough for the both of us as I was growing up and thankfully my worrying skills never developed.
10. We had a set end date to cruise for just over one year. I knew exactly what I was getting into and for how long; we always planned on returning to real life.
So stay tuned - the Guide for Chick Cruisers will follow...