TIGER LILLY - A LETTER FROM THE HEART
23 July 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
Hello Ladies (and you lurking, inquisitive men as well),
We are often asked about the how-to and where-to of the cruising lifestyle, and those concerns are certainly important, but I would like to take just a few moments and share with you something of what I have learned about the why and who of cruising under sail. Recently, we were asked about finding other cruisers who pursue a spiritual life in faith, which is something we are interested in as a couple.
The process of retiring from my business (I was more than ready), selling my home and all my personal possessions (stuff), putting aside my passion for the sport of cycling (it was tough to watch my bike ride away with a new owner), and then stepping into the unknown with a new husband, was certainly going to be a challenge - but very doable, one bite at a time. (But somehow, I had envisioned that my husband would have more hair and less attitude!) However, for me, the most difficult part of coming to this lifestyle was to leave my then 21 year-old son, Ryan. Of course, my head realized the time had actually come (he was enrolled at university, and studying for a business degree), but my mother's heart was in a much different place. Truth be told, Ryan is doing just fine without me by his side; he completed that degree, is on his own, and is off to life with beautiful and powerful Mia. (Tom-Tom said that he knew she was the one when we heard Ryan say, "Mom, she's just like you!") Moms everywhere - OMG it really can happen! Our children can - and importantly, should - continue to grow up on their own, feed themselves, and figure out what they want for their own life. This process is all part of our spiritual walk in faith. Remember, God doesn't have any grandchildren - only children! After lots of prayer (and a shove from the Bald Guy) I put my son in God's hands - where he belongs - and today, Ryan is flourishing!
Sailing half-way around the world aboard TIGER LILLY during the past 5 years has certainly opened my eyes to this wonderful lifestyle. Here are three aspects of the live-aboard cruising community that I did not know before we left:
First, the price of admission to this lifestyle is high, as is the long range cost to sustain a life afloat - for many of us, it requires all that we have. No matter what your financial level, this lifestyle is a personal choice which takes sacrifice. It is about personal responsibility.
Second, tour any popular anchorage on the far side of the world and it will become quickly evident that although the boats and the crews come from the four corners of the globe, there is a commonality of spirit, and a shared philosophy of "enough" among sailboat cruisers. It is about making do with what we have.
Third, the people who actually cast off the dock lines and sail for the horizon are extraordinary in the fact that they are able to step forth in faith and leave behind what they knew, in exchange for what they hope to find - an interesting, challenging life of simplicity and adventure. It is all about the challenge of change.
Few of these ideas were attributes to my normal life back in Suburbia USA; but they certainly appeal to me now. So, that said, perhaps you can see that what I really love about this cruising lifestyle is the wonderful mix of PEOPLE we meet, and the solid, rewarding, relationships that seem to quickly and naturally develop. We are a varied and interesting community; we don't all think or act alike - nor do we need to.
My hope is that you don't get the wrong idea about the cruising life-style from what is posted on the Facebook sailing pages. I have read lots of posts about heavy drinking, smoking marijuana, and daily partying. From reading Facebook and some blog posts, you would think that this is what living aboard a cruising sailboat is all about; but this could not be farther from the reality of our lifestyle. Most of our sailing friends live a quiet, conservative, sober lifestyle - cruiser's midnight is 2130. If you take a moment to check out the current status of the fake pirates, rum guzzlers, and gun nuts, who frequent the Facebook sailing pages, it will become readily apparent that most of them are Internet wanna-bees, people working ashore and living aboard marina queens which seldom venture into the open sea, or derelicts (both the people and their boats) clogging the backwaters on ratty vessels that could not possibly venture outside the anchorage. We hope that you won't confuse these people with active sailors; and please don't form your opinion of the sailing lifestyle by what they say - for they seldom DO anything akin to the cruising which I have come to know and love.
I certainly do miss our friends back at Christ's Church in Jacksonville - but this is one of those sacrifices that this lifestyle requires. Over the past 3 years we have been pretty much on the go, sailing from the backwaters of the Amazon Delta in South America to New Zealand in the South Pacific; and I have found it challenging to connect with other women of faith. Hey, we can't enjoy the adventure of travel and at the same time enjoy the comforts of home; unless of course, you carry your comfy home on your back - as do turtles and cruisers! I have been able to find wonderful women of faith along the way. Here are just a few of them:
- Lisa Nicholson, the Grand Dame of Antigua - I loved the beautiful traditional English Christmas hymns at Baxter Memorial Methodist Church - skillfully played on steel pan by the children's orchestra; and morning tea at Lisa's quaint home on a hill overlooking the sparkling Caribbean.
- Joanne at the Iles de Saintes in the French West Indies - She is a lovely South African friend aboard S/V Out of Africa; and she is married to John, a gregarious pastor's son.
- Rosie in Dominica - my very dear friend aboard S/V Exit Strategy, we cruised the Lesser Antilles together; and she flew out to Curacao in the ABC Islands to spend part of Hurricane Season aboard TIGER LILLY.
- Debbie Nicol at Chaguaramas, Trinidad - We spent a memorable Christmas with this very sweet and kind West Indian lady of Scottish heritage.
- Sarah, Mark, and their children Elizabeth and Michael aboard the catamaran S/V Field Trip - We had a fun Bible study with this Christian family in Curacao, and we have been together in the South Pacific.
- Kim Parker of New Zealand - She is studying to become an Anglican priest, and we enjoy walking and talking our way around the Town Basin River Walk.
- Kristen Montgomery in Whangarei - Her husband Mike is the pastor at the Calvary Church, and we found a bit of home there under the same umbrella of churches where I first found Christ, in New Mexico.
Here are just a few of the fun ways which we enhance our spiritual life aboard TIGER LILLY:
- We make a Saturday morning adventure out of finding a place to worship on Sunday morning. Arranging transportation to get to church on Sunday can be challenging in Developing Countries; but we just need to find a way there, we are usually offered a ride back to the boat after church.
- A significant part of our walk in faith is Tom's participation in AA, and I am always made to feel welcome by the Fellowship. Up in the islands it is often difficult to find a meeting, but if there are other cruising boats present, then someone else may be looking to make an AA contact as well. We simply get on the VHF radio and ask if their are any friends of Bill W. out there (he was one of the Founders of the Program).
- Psalm 91 is the basis for our being able to overcome the usual fears and concerns associated with the unknown parts of cruising - or any of the uncertainties of life. We do our homework and preps, and then we trust in God; we cruised through the amazing Amazon Delta on Psalm 91. Call on His name, and seek shelter under His wing.
- We are supporters of the Salvation Army, and we very much enjoy fellowshipping with these wonderful people. If you are missing your friends and family at Christmas, head for the Salvation Army, lend a hand, and sit down to a holiday meal with the people from the local community.
- When we are in a remote area where there are no churches, we use the VHF radio and organize an informal Bible study. Combining a Bible study with a pot-luck meal, is a great way to make new friends.
So you see ladies, there are many opportunities out here on the cruising circuit to develop meaningful relationships with other like-minded women of faith; but first, we must reach out. On second thought, maybe it isn't so challenging - if we just step aside and let God direct out lives.
S/V Tiger Lilly
Whangarei, New Zealand