Cruising

We have arrived!

After a long 6 day passage, we finally mad early our way around Portugal and arrived on the southern coast in a region called Algarve. The journey was only about 300 miles but we managed to stretch it out to well over 700 miles!

We started off leaving on a day when the weather was good for leaving our harbor but not good for heading south. We then floated around for two days about 40 miles off the coast from Porto until the winds arrived. We made our way around the southern tip of Portugal where we selected an anchorage and dropped the hook for the first time in over a year!

Shoving off today

We are finally leaving Póvoa de Varzim! We have had a series of hiccups in getting out but it looks like today is our day to leave!

The blog posts will pause while I’m at sea but will resume when we make our next landfall.

If you would like to follow along with our journey in real time, you can become a patron and gain access to the live map.

See you soon!

Preparing to go

We have been in our current marina for 3 months. It’s time to move on!

When I only lived aboard, I dreamed of living on the hook. Swinging around at anchor without a single solid surface in range of our hull. No neighbors, no dock lines, no shore power, just the boat as it’s self contained world. When we set off to go cruising, the beginning was this very dream come true! Every night we anchored in a calm and protected spot. This then continued on as we voyaged internationally. The Bahamas had a bit less of the protection but much more beautiful waters to swim in. Bermuda was beautiful and well protected. Then came the Azores.

The anchorages are very deep, about 50 feet or more of depth and a rock bottom. Not really ideal! By contrast, the marinas are really inexpensive. As you can imagine, we chose to tie up in a marina where 10 months cost us €2100. We then left the comfort of the Azores and reached mainland Portugal where we once again tied up for another 3 months. The cost was a bit higher at €270 per month, but still really reasonable given how the anchorages in this area are similar to the Azores. 13 months and €2910 later, we are finally leaving the marina life and heading back into the hook!

We plan on leaving tomorrow and sailing about 400 nautical miles to the south coast of Portugal where we will once again live on the hook!

We plan to anchor from now until December, when we will be finding a marina to leave the boat in and fly back to the United States to visit with family over Christmas. Tomorrow we begin a three month stretch at anchor!

When Will It End?

To start off, yes, our sailing trip will come to an end in the future.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

When I only lived aboard and dreamed of a cruising life, I was always perplexed by “retired cruisers”. I couldn’t fathom why someone would “Stop Sailing” and move onto land somewhere. I was baffled by this thought and knew that I would never leave this boat.

That was 7 years ago and my thoughts have changed. When we were just starting our cruising life (after living in a marina for 5 years and cruising for only 6 months), the thought just struck me. We were offshore beyond the sight of land, several miles (but looking back, still pretty close to the coast) off the coast of Virginia when I decided that upon our return to the United States, we would buy a house and live on land.

I wasn’t thinking about where I wanted to live or what I wanted to do in the future; it just came to me out of the blue out in the deep blue. I thought this was madness and dwelled on this thought for several days before even mentioning a word of it to my wife, Maddie. She always wanted to live on land and if I mentioned it, there would be no turning back. The fear of leaving the boat made me remain quiet about this thought for several weeks after I first came to this realization.

Then one day, I told Maddie. At first, she thought I was injured or ill; then she thought I was joking! I had to reassure her that this was not a “spur of the moment” thought and that I have actually contemplated this for a long time now. Needless to say, she was very happy!

We didn’t turn around early to get a house, instead we carried on down the East Coast of the United States, down to the Bahamas, back up to Bermuda, across to the Azores, and now onto Portugal. We still have to sail to Greece, then back to the Caribbean, and then back up to Maryland. Needless to say, when we get back, we will have sailed further than most “wishful” cruisers dream about!

So, in short, when we get back, we plan to save up and buy a house. We will not sell Wisdom, and we will not give up on sailing. Sailing is such a huge part of our lives and when we get back, Wisdom will be the longest place I have ever lived! She is so much more than just a boat, she is our home and we can’t just forget about her!

Sailing will become something that we do less often, as we will be working during the week and sailing on the weekends; but it will still be a major part of our lives and not something forgotten as we begin our next adventure: RV road trip through the National Parks in the United States.

It seems that most cruisers we meet are retired. After a lifetime of working and saving up to cruise in retirement, this is their last hoo-rah! We are very young, and if we spent a lifetime cruising, we would run out of waves to sail over! We started cruising when I was 31 and Maddie was 26. Now we are 33 and 28, and when we get back, I will be around my late 30s and Maddie in her early 30s. At that point, we will still have many years left for future adventures!

The journey is still continuing strong, and when this voyage reaches its end the adventure still will have not!

The Costs of Cruising

When people wonder about the costs of going cruising, they often limit their thoughts to just the monetary costs of cruising. How much will it cost to…? Everything is focused on money, the cost of buying a boat, the cost of maintaining a boat, the cost of fuel, the cost of food, the cost of everything! Forget about the costs.

Everyday you live costs money! You don’t think about “can I afford to live the way that I do?” Instead you simply live based on how much money you have, and the same will happen when you are cruising. If you can afford it, you will do it, if you can’t afford it, you won’t do it. It’s that simple!

The real costs that are overlooked are the emotional costs. These really hit me recently and were rather expensive.

When we set off to go cruising, I said goodbye to the world that I knew. Never again would any of this be the same. When I returned from cruising, the world will be different and the place that I departed from will no longer exist. This might sound dramatic but it is the truth.

Friends that you had as neighbors will move away or die, so where you once lived will not be the same upon your return. Family will get older, cousins will grow up, and everything will change.

I thought this was a preposterous concept when I was leaving. Nothing ever changes in my world. I have had the same neighbors for 5 years, my friends live their lives of routine, and my parents are very resistant to change.

In the short time that we have been gone, our old neighbor sold their boat and moved from Maryland to South Carolina. Our other neighbor went cruising, returned from cruising, and is selling their boat to move onto land somewhere. My parents sold their boat that they used every weekend because they thought they wanted to upgrade to a larger boat, only to realize that they really loved their boat and selling it was a mistake. I now have a nephew who is able to walk around (he didn’t even exist when we set off to go cruising). The area around my parents town is almost double in size, with new stores, shopping centers, and streets that make the place look completely different. Lastly, but most importantly, Sammy is no longer around. My pet bird that was attached to me for the past decade is no longer waiting for me to come home. Being how birds are famous for living forever, I figured that I would just leave her in the good care of my parents (they also have pet birds, so they know what they are doing) and go cruising for a few years. I just reached the Portuguese coast and have the entire Mediterranean to sail, but I was already making plans to pick her up as soon as we made it into Floridian waters. Sammy loved boat life because I never had to go to work which meant she never had to be away from me. I knew she would have loved the Florida Keys with their warm weather and fresh fruits! All that is a pipe dream now.

People often said that we would just slip out of the world, cruise around, and then slip back into the world where we left off without anything being different. Nothing ever changes while you are here so nothing will change while you are not here.

I feel like I have returned to an alternate dimension. One that looks similar to where I left from but is just off enough to make me question the very validity of its location in space.

Cruising is a wonderful life experience, it will open your eyes to the whole world that is just beyond your comfort zone. You will be the outsider everywhere you go with stories to tell of your travels across the seas and of distant lands, but those distant lands will be your home when you make your return. When you set off cruising, be prepared to say goodbye to everything because you may never see it again.