Signs You Live On A Boat and know you're a Cruiser IF
02 September 2015 | Tropical
Compiled from various interweb locations and personal experience.
Sleeping in a house makes you feel claustrophobic because there isn't a hatch overhead to look at the stars. You know smaller is actually sometimes better. You find yourself bleeding from random places at random times. Renting a room at a nice hotel just so you can sleep in a REAL bed and soak in a tub turns you on. Leaving the tap running for more than two minutes makes you cringe and you think nothing about taking a two mile walk to the store. You wake up with mysterious bruises and light the stove with a match to make toast over an open flame. You get really excited about a half-way decent one pot meal and when you see a new gadget the first question that pops into your mind is "how many amps does it draw." The doctor assumes your body covered in random bruises is a sign of physical abuse. You rinse your dishes in the galley from a garden hose connected to a faucet on the dock that clearly says "water not potable" and you fill your water tank with 80 gallons of bottled water you purchased from the local tienda. When something breaks your first thought is who to call. You use T-9 and WD40 as frequently as some people use hair spray. You laugh out loud when someone on land complains the "don't have enough space."
You and Captian Wifey define "taking a break" as relocating to opposite ends of the boat and looking in opposite directions. This is only effective if your boat is longer than twenty feet! You avoid telling people you live on a boat just so you don't have to explain personal hygiene... again. You take a bath in saltwater and rinse with a cup of fresh. You are obsessed with the humidity... indoors unless you live in a dry climate. Your convinced that butter only comes soft or in liquefied form in the tropics. When invited to dinner at someone's house you ask if you can use the shower before dinner while your laundry is running in the garage. Laundry done by your own two hands comes out better than the Laundromat which isn't hard as you wear the same clothes day in and day out and no one seems to matter or care or notice.. Or your laundry is just recycled. Laundry day starts by lowering the dinghy ... and checking the gas tank in the outboard. You cycle your clothes through stages... 'Clean, good for dinner'... 'Still pretty clean, good for daily wear'... 'Kinda dirty, but still good enough for onboard wear'... 'Oooh, that smells, time to wash' Doing laundry involves a net bag, a moving boat, and 50 feet of line.
You're two favorite topics of discussion are laundry and weather. You realize the people on shore have this questioning look. You're not interested in the local charity tickets to win a big screen TV and you think CSI is some sort of yacht club racing acronym. Kids think you're the coolest person on earth. When you don't like the neighborhood you just untie and move because you have seen his bare ass one too many times. You are content knowing that sailing is code for boat repair in exotic places. You can assemble a gourmet dinner using only one pot and a fork. When asked for a piece of scratch paper, you hand them 80 grit. You truly don't want anything for Christmas that doesn't come in PDF form or installs on a Kindle. You only get seasick on land. Cardboard boxes, wrappers, and packing foam are thrown away before anything goes to the boat. You define a good anchorage as one where you can get WiFi. A fifteen minute job always takes an hour and a half since you have to pull everything out of all the storage lockers to find the right part, then the right tool, then put it all back. Your wallet contains more boat cards than business cards. When visiting ashore, you wake everybody at daylight screaming "We're aground" when you open your eyes and see trees and realize your on the hard in the yard. You define an easy chore as one where you only had to pull out 3 tool bags. You covet new solar panels more than a new car. You can identify boats by the sound of their halyard slapping against their mast. You have given up shoes for bare feet and flip flops. You panic when you can't find your good pair of flip flops.
You've accidentally put your life jacket on in a grocery store parking lot out of habit. You walk in the rain all the way back to your boat, carrying a backpack, a load of laundry, groceries destined to fall out of their bag at any second... all the while thinking how lucky you are. You purchase a 6k BTU window AC to place in the companion way because you think it beats being in a cold frost bitten climate and hope it doesn't trip a breaker. Filling the water tanks is a full day's work even with a water maker. The only thing you do religiously on Sundays is wonder what day it is. The first thing you do after setting the hook (anchor for you land lubbers) is check to see who you know in the anchorage. Cutting the grass means diving over the side with a scraper to remove the growth that has accumulated on the hull. You find a sea otter lounging in your cockpit when you get home. You think the roof leaking a little is no big deal. You wonder why it's always low tide when taking stuff on or off the boat. A warm rum and coke won't turn your stomach.
When you try to sleep on land you find you can only sleep in a hammock after rocking it. You understand and pay attention to the entire weather forecast. You spend weekends sitting in your cockpit with a boat hook beside you, waiting to fend off the next rental boat operator. You can heat your home with a Bic lighter. Every time you consider buying something the main consideration is what you'll have to get rid of to make room for it. When going ashore you catch yourself pumping the handle on a convenience called a faucet. You consider a three minute shower luxurious and you covet your neighbor's oven more than his wife. You measure the length of a shower in terms of quarters. You now consider a freezer the ultimate luxury. You have to strap a black bag full of water to your boom, then wait a few hours before you can take a shower. You've sincerely wondered if there are any companies that make fitted bed sheets. You know that Styrofoam was invented by Satan, duct tape by God. When trying to register a new bank account or anything to do with government, their computer won't accept the fact that you don't have a residential address. All of your neighbors have your cell phone number, but only call when they want a weather report or for you to check on their boat. You realize previously as in nine Jimmy Buffett songs have started to carry a deep philosophical significance. You only bring out the clear plastic Dixie cups for fancy occasions. You visit a friend's house and worry that everything on the shelves will come crashing down when the boat heels. Getting the "heat" question for the 1,000th time drives you mad. Trying to find someone to sail away with you isn't being romantic, it's practical. Your first cell phone app was the Weather Channel and your second was a Tides app. Your homepage on the computer is the NOAA National Weather Service.
You've spent mornings standing in your underwear on the deck of someone else boat, adjusting halyards, lashing lines & freezing your ass off. You have given up trying to defend your lifestyle and are content with smugly thinking..... they don't have a clue what they are missing. Waterside dining is Top Ramen noodles and a can of beer. Wearing clothes with holes in them is no big deal. Dressing up means wearing your cleanest T-shirt and flip flops. That mildew in the V-birth can wait a few more days. You have a love/ hate relationship with Teak. You haven't showered in four days. You use funnels, hoses, towels or tarps to collect rain water. You get so good at improvising and repairs, you think MacGyver was an amateur. You are an expert on things your landlubber friends don't even know exist; Like bottom paint and zincs. You have never seen American Idol or Duck Dynasty because you haven't clue what's on TV or in the theaters. You have peed in the sink not because you were drunk again but because it was easier. You know your boat better than most parents know their children and you have given it a name. You only use half a paper towel at a time. You have more flashlights and head lamps than a spelunker and you long for more solar and/or wind power as you ogle other set ups on your neighbors boats. You get ecstatic at a balanced battery meter. When you tour another boat you get jealous of the storage space.
The world stops at sunsets for sundowners. You give names to Sea Gulls. It's not a rain coat, its "foul weather gear". Your entire shoe collection consists of one pair of flip flops and one pair of Deck shoes. You must choose between owning a toaster oven or a microwave, no room for both, (and the ice maker ain't going nowhere). Your would rather spend $200 on a Dometic Ice maker than $2 three times a week for a bag of ice in the tropics. You know the best source for ice in every coastal town because ICE is considered a luxury it is accompanied by a big smile and a high five. You once traded a case of warm beer for a kelo of fresh shrimp. You don't mind warm beer in fact you kind of like it. Your friends have called the Coast Guard because they haven't heard from you in several days. (if I'm lying I'm dying) You have bathed in salt water using dish soap or Castile. You covet your neighbor's dinghy more than you covet his wife because you named your dinghy "Patches" You can judge the salinity of the water based on the rate of barnacle growth on your hull, a rare skill. You consider watching novices anchoring grand entertainment. You can tie a Bowline with your eyes closed. You can lasso a piling on the first try every time and you keep a mental scorecard of how many mooring balls you've missed.
You keep a mental tally of how many tools or other important items you've dropped overboard. When driving a car you turn to Port or Starboard and you think a red light means red right returning. You visit a friend's home and tell them how nice their Galley is then you ask, "Where's the head?" You check NOAA for hurricanes every day, even when the weather is perfect as your life is dictated by the weather and you check it several times a day. Finding a better way to stow something literally makes your day! When prepping to cook a meal requires you to get on all fours at any given point or you break a sweat just getting out the tools necessary to complete a job. The number of tools you have far exceeds the number of toys. You cannot walk into a marine store without buying something and you know the wind speed just by the sound and feel of your boat. You use oil and vinegar not only for salad, but for your toilet - on a regular basis...You've read 240 books in the past year and only bought one. You have to ask your partner where you are and where you're heading when you call into the SSB net. You figure out the system for getting free drinks at every race party and you figure out how to mingle with the all-inclusive crowd on the beach or in the resort. You ride standing up in your dinghy so as not to get wet. You have to go online to figure out what day of the week it is. You consider a sell by date of six months ago as pretty good. You fill your tanks carrying loads of water jugs in the dinghy so you don't have to pay 15 cents per gallon for water at the pump.
The first thing you ask in a new port is, "Where are the supermarkets, the laundry, and the chandlery? " You organize a group of cruisers to share a taxi to the supermarket. You know the location of every chandlery and hardware store within a 20 mile radius. A trip to the supermarket requires packing up the dinghy with rolling coolers, knapsacks, bags and lists, unpacking and lugging everything to the market, repacking it and hauling it yourselves back into the dinghy full, then removing all the excess packaging and labeling everything with permanent markers, before lugging it all on board then below in stages, and finally stowing it. You anchor near the hotels in case they have free WiFi you can pick up from on board, or You sit on the ground near free WiFi hot spots for hours at a time. You become a member of the soggy bottom boys. You go to sleep at dark and wake up at dawn. You tie a string onto everything you take to the top of the mast, and tie the other end of the string to yourself.. You have run out naked to scrub the deck in rain showers and end up scrubbing yourself while you're at it. You haven't heard the news in weeks, and don't care. You scramble to write a blog every week so your friends think you are responsible. You learn commands for the hole in the wall bank in multiple languages so it doesn't eat your debit card. You lock your dinghy as soon as you land. You get land sick instead of seasick. You eat chicken for every meal that isn't breakfast, and for breakfast you eat eggs.
You have photos of every island under the sun and almost all look the same. You have friends whose surnames you don't know and boat names you'll never forget. You can fit your body into a small box that's crammed full of gear. You rate marinas by their shower facilities. You carry one anchor of every kind just in case. You figure out how to re-freshen bread in every imaginable way. Your skin is getting darker, your mind is getting duller. You haven't worn a watch in years. You say good bye to your good friends 20 times in 30 days because you were heading the same way after all. You get the urge to move if you've stayed in one place too long. You write lists of lists and your 'honey do' list never gets any shorter. You go out to dinner and order a drink named "Hurricane" just hours before the hurricane hits! Hey, you know you have already done everything you can do until the real hurricane hits you... You talk about the inside rain (condensation) with other boaters waiting out the effects of the hurricane. You have more spare engine parts than underwear. You talk more about anchorages than your grandchildren! You end up talking about anchors and toilets with people you just met and you go right to "do you have a water maker?" The first question out of your mouth is "Is there a free town dock? " When you do not get involved in multi/mono hull arguments or anchor techniques/equipment discussions...these are left for "experts" a/k/a armchair experts... after all, cruising requires entertainment ;>) You get into a one upmanship discussion about who has the best anchoring story.
When you say "Roger" instead of "yes" in a telephone conversation with a vendor or other non cruiser and you say "over" on a Skype call when you are done talking. You get a faraway and excited look in your eyes when people start talking about near-death experiences. You have pictures of your boat in zillions of anchorages and you can name each one. You realize you can have a change of scenery any time you want when you've run out of wishes while watching a meteor shower in the middle of the night on watch at night. You have lots of friends who you know only by their first names and the name of their boat. When you get a laugh out of the cruisers nets and on the morning net, you're always trying to find someone who can fix the fridge or buy, sell or trade. The first question you ask on the morning net is where the book exchange is. Visitors want to leave your boat cause all you ever play is Jimmy Buffet and Eileen Quinn's songs become your anthems.
As another boat approaches you pull out your Binoculars and comment on what type of anchor and how they handle their boat .... You're down below in an anchorage and hear a bow thruster which immediately sends you up on deck to see where you need to put the fenders. When you own more Aloha shirts than Hilo Hattie and you wear your Aloha shirts with plaid shorts. (This is strictly American.) When you have no idea which islands in the Caribbean have airports You have collected 205 recipes for preparing fish, especially tuna and Mahi Mahi and you have eaten flying fish for breakfast. You have 30 recipes for mahi-mahi and are always searching for more.