One of the hardest things to do when you cast off and go cruising is learning to say "No." Work will always come along and present itself, work will also take time away from cruising and draw you back into the daily grind of work and sleep, no cruising.
Maddie and I have now been cruising for about 4 weeks and our world has slowed down. Each day, we wake up and tackle a project, or sail somewhere, or just relax. We live a very low stress life now, and we also don't spend much money! Not spending anything gives us the ability to stay away from work. If you don't spend money, you don't need to earn money that you would then go spend.
The trouble is when a phone call comes in that offers a very lucrative job, but would also take a long time to complete.
While sitting in the cockpit one morning, my phone rang:
"Is this the Rigging Doctor?"
"I have a ketch and I need to make 12 new chainplates for it, the chainplates are pulled and I'll install them myself, all I need is for you to manufacture them."
At this point, my heart sinks. I have a choice to make and it is a very difficult one for me to do. I could either say "Yes" and sign myself up for the job, make a lot of money, and take up a lot of time; or I could say "No" and pass up the opportunity and the income, but keep the time and go cruising.
All of my tools to fabricate chainplates are at my parents house, so accepting the job would mean getting to a marina where I could leave the boat and commute to shore. I would then have to either live at my parents house while working on the project or face commuter traffic as I would drive to and from work everyday. I would have to order the stainless steel blanks, machine them, drill them, and radius all the turns on them to produce proper chainplates. While I'm near the office, I would probably get called in to do a few hairy extractions that also pay well. In no time, I would get sucked back into the daily routine I have tried so desperately to escape from.
12 chainplates would take about two weeks to make. The first week would be spent waiting for the blanks to arrive. The second week would be spent drilling all day long. Drilling stainless steel is far from enjoyable. The drill bits are expensive and short lived, and the oil you need to use as a lubricant gets on everything!
Each chainplate will have at least 5 holes in it, and can take about an hour to make. This is a tough job that is hard on the body and on the ears. Listening to screeching metal, even with proper ear protection, is murder on the mind. The constant screaming as you press on with the drill press will tear your mind apart as you work. The smell of boiling and burning transmission fluid that you use to lubricate the drill bit will coat your nose to the point that it is all you smell, long after the job is finished. Lastly, you have the time that it takes.
12 hours of hard work may sound like a days, but it can't be completed in a single day. This would take about a week of work. Marking, measuring, and lastly drilling. Then verifying, correcting, and polishing. This job would take a lot of time and a lot of material. The metal alone would cost about $600, and the drill bits each cost about $30 and only last about 2 chainplates. This means that the job would cost me about $800 and two weeks of cruising, but at the same time would pay around $6,000! That would pay for about 6 months of cruising!
This is where it gets so hard to say no. If I say yes, I would work hard and get paid well for my work, which would fund our adventures even further. If I say no, I would pass up this opportunity and its associated income, but get to go cruising now instead of later.
It is a very hard job to turn down, especially for a recovering work-a-holic, but we currently have enough saved up in the bank that we don't need to be desperate about finding work. Saying "No" may be the hardest thing about going cruising. No means that you won't get to work on a new project, and you won't get to earn any more money. "No" also means that you get to relax anchored next to a quiet island that you found in a protected creek.
No is a hard thing to say, but it does mean that you get to enjoy your cruising life sooner.