What do cruisers do all day?

What do we do on board, to keep busy and have fun?

Totem in paradise- Navadra island
Does this get boring? Well…no. Navadra Island, Fiji

It’s an understandable question from someone who hasn’t yet had the chance to dip into the cruising life. The way spend our days shifted radically once we started living on the boat. There were a few brief months of living aboard and continuing our “normal” life of work and school routines, but really, it’s because the move aboard coincided with departing on our cruising adventures.

Many days, what we do is driven by meeting basic needs. What needs fixing (and how urgently)? Do we need food? Do we need to do laundry? These deceptively simple questions can become complicated and time consuming tasks on a boat that’s far from the streamlined shopping cart at home.

I think when non-cruisers ask this question about “what do we do?”, this kind of mundane life maintenance is mentally pushed aside- it’s an expected part of everyday life fabric, which disappears into the mesh of busy days…and is facilitated with easy power, water, laundry machines, dishwashers, supermarkets and handymen.

Really, though- we do have a lot of time. When Maslow does not press us with urgent demands, we usually choose to explore the world around us: especially, the world underwater.

looking for morays
Niall looking for a moray under a coral head – French Polynesia

I find it hard not to set out on foot, with anyone I can convince to come in tow, and see what lies beyond that ridge or far point.

Isla San Francisco- ridge hike

My most avid pre-cruising hobby was knitting, which fell completely by the wayside. I still love to knit, I just found it hard to get motivated to work with yarn and wool in a tropical climate.

I always need a project
This hat for Laureen’s baby girl Aurora as we sailed south to meet her in San Francisco is one of the last things I made… until we reached Australia, where a cool winter in Sydney inspired me to pick up the needles again.
For our first years as cruisers, the children were usually a less involved in the “maintenance” aspect of life- although that’s changed as they’ve grown. 
Helping with the netting
Siobhan helps rig netting on Tintin. Sydney, Australia

Pre-cruising, we had an ample suburban home with  a playroom for the children that was about the same size as the boat…packed with more games, puzzles, space-takers and noise-makers than were at all necessary, but which crept up on us. 95% of it went away and isn’t missed. For them, much daily life has been exploring their world with friends.
Buns in the air
They have encyclopedic knowledge of the sea and its creatures

We have found it valuable to keep a myriad of materials for projects and crafting on board

applying crepe
Mairen makes a shade for our cockpit light with papier-mâché
A few good books to help with recipes and ideas for things they can make bring it all together.
Mixing up a batch up Flubber, from a favorite crafty “cookbook”
One of my favorite projects with them has been to build a beaded necklace that traces our journey. Each day is a bead, and charms mark special events (here, sailing through the Golden Gate Bridge at the beginnign of our voyaging).

And… what about sailing? Arguably, sailing was our single biggest pastime as a family. It’s still an experience of pure joy, and a favorite way to spend leisure time. 
Sailing the Tinker in the marina
Niall with friends from s/v Whisper in a borrowed tinker dinghy
We had a recent getaway from our parking spot on the Brisbane river, and spent a few days out in adjacent Moreton Bay. The sea breeze coupled with protected flat water made for an exhilarating sail, one that was over all too quickly. And how, then, did we relax in the anchorage later- what did we do?
We rigged a dinghy, and went sailing. Why not?

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The Monkey's Fist

10 Responses

  1. We need to put netting on our lifelines for the dog. Can we borrow Siobhan?

    Love all the pics too, but really love the one of the kids all looking over the side of the dock.

    Sometimes buying vegetables took all day… or finding a needed part. The cruising day is amazing ~ so much better than this work life we are back in!

  2. Hi Totem Family,
    We saw your parents at PAB this weekend. S/V Trillium is on the hard at Free State Yachts waiting for us to ready her for May 2013 ARC Europe! We had a wonderful winter in the Caribbean. Thanks for being an inspiration to us “old folks” who just started cruising. Stay safe and love your life!
    Skipperette (Sherry Day)

  3. My name is Dana and I write a blog that profiles interesting families and how they are exposing their children to different walks of life. My goal is to inspire other families to live uniquely – having a family doesn’t mean you have to give up on adventure. I was wondering if I could profile your family as it relates to your adventures out at sea. I would send you a brief list of questions and you would share some of your photos (or I could find some on your blog). My site is http://ohdarlinglove.wordpress.com if you would like to check it out. If you would like to share your story, please let me know.

    Thank you for your time,
    Dana Yeakel

    Oh and I grew up on Bainbridge! Small world…we are actually contemplating on moving back soon.

  4. * Cidnie- the book she’s using in that picture is Crafty Concoctions. Full of great ideas! http://www.amazon.com/Crafty-Concoctions-Sue-Hannah/dp/0689030185 We also love The Children’s Year, which is full of Waldorf inspired crafts.

    * Dan/Jaye, thanks!
    * Heather, she’s a bargain but the plane fare is steep. You are SO right about how sourcing for our daily needs could take all day… that is another post!
    * Tammy- thank you. 🙂
    * Sherry, we can’t wait to follow you across the Atlantic- you’re our Mediterranean scouts!
    * Phyllis- I hope someday, but time is elastic. Maybe you’ll come our way someday. 😉
    * Dana- sounds like fun, I’ll email you.

  5. What a great post! And I love your pictures. I’m a big fan of knitting though often in the summer I put my knitting away because it’s just too warm. (It hasn’t gotten that warm yet on the gulf islands!) I love the way you’re raising your kids to be curious. That is, imho, one of the most important things. xoxo

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