Mike's Famous Five
15 March 2012
Over the course of the past four years of cruising and in the many, many social setting that we participated in, I have taken it upon myself to pose five questions to the many cruisers we've encountered. I don't do this all the time but if the circumstances present themselves, and the company seems amenable, I will ask people to consider five questions and answer them in turn. You would be amazed at how forthcoming people are (often ,of course, after a couple of sundowners) in responding.
I first started this when we stuck in Great Kills Harbour, Staten Island, due to bad weather on our way down in the fall of 2008. We had finally, after having travelled all the way from Grand Lake to New York, virtually solitary and we were happy for the company we met in Great Kills. I had only been retired for a month and was still in work mode so figured every get together was a meeting and we had to achieve something. So I came up with these questions, which I've posed to dozens and dozens of cruisers in social settings since.
First the questions:
1) Are you more or less content/happy than your contemporaries who are retired but living on land?
2) Are you more or less healthy than your land-based contemporaries?
3) Are you more or less financially secure than you thought you'd be prior to retirement?
4) What are the two most memorable experiences (one positive, one not) since you've been cruising?
5) X plus 5? (Where will you be in five years)?
Now my gathering of this data has been anything but scientific and rigorous. There has been a general overwhelming consensus on the first three of these questions. Now I know that posing these is somewhat like asking the famous question, "Do you still beat your wife"? But the exercise has been interesting.
Virtually everyone said that they felt they are more content than their contemporaries. They also feel that, notwithstanding some of the hedonistic aspects of this lifestyle, they are healthier than their contemporaries. There is a lot of pulling, pushing, tugging crawling, climbing and general physical activity involved in boating, particularly sailing. Some would argue that even sitting around in a boat on anchor involves constant muscular adjustment to the pitch and yaw of the boat. Judy and I try to exercise as often as possible and while I lose my conditioning in the winter and have to work harder in the summer to get back in shape, I don't feel entirely like a sloth. Most Canadians indicate that they are doing fine financially although some of our unfortunate American friends seem to have taken more of a hit from the downturn in the economy. We get an interesting array of answers to question 4; lots of stories about great friendships, wonderful passages, and beautiful vistas, offset by midnight anchor dragging scenarios, engine failures and frightful storms. But the good times always offset the bad.
On the final one, we get a variety of answers. Many indicate that they will be continuing to cruise as they are now and on the same boat. Many indicate that they would like to go further afield (whether they ever will will never be known). Some talk about the progression from sail to trawler and a few acknowledge that they may be forced to surrender this lifestyle to the ageing process.
We've had a lot of fun with this very informal series of questions; it is a great conversation piece and gives everyone at the table equal opportunity to be heard. But more than that I believe it characterizes the cruiser: Happy-go-luck, fit people, of modest but comfortable means living an enviable but sometimes challenging lifestyle, one that they hope to continue doing well into the future.