Cruising & Plans

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2016 • all rights reserved

Cruising plans are often said to be written in the sand at low tide. It took us a couple of years to understand what that really meant.

It’s often been said that cruising plans are written in sand . . . at low tide. Or in Jello . . . in the tropics. Or in invisible ink.

In other words, don’t plan on the plan.

Before we started cruising – and even in the first year or two of our own cruising – we took that to mean that we might change our mind about what we wanted to do. Hear about a fantastic anchorage. Stay a few extra days because the fishing was so good. Avoid a place that was over crowded. Time our stay to coincide with a great band playing at the beach bar.

In other words, we saw ourselves as being in control. The plan might change, but we’d be the ones changing it.


We soon realized that outside forces were far more likely to cause changes in our plans. Weather. Health. Politics.

Some things that we thought were “out of our control” turned out to be largely in our control. Boat repair doesn’t throw as many monkey wrenches in plans when you are a fiend for preventive maintenance and can fix most of your gear yourself – or do without. Money is always an issue, but having a realistic budget that includes maintenance, repairs, upgrades and a little fun helps.

At the same time, we learned that some things were plain and simply out of our control . . . at least if we weren’t reckless.

  • Politics can make a certain location off limits, unsafe or prohibitively expensive. The places will vary from year to year and what seemed great when you planned your route can suddenly turn dangerous and cause you to change the itinerary.
  • Weather doesn’t always cooperate. Anchorages can become untenable or passages virtually impossible. Windows can slam shut and stay that way for weeks. If you’re aiming for comfortable cruising, schedules are out of the question.
  • Health overrides everything else. A simple cold may not keep us in port but we don’t leave a locale with good medical care when there is an ongoing issue. We do our best to live a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes issues arise. What’s a relatively simple medical issue in a city with doctors, labs, pharmacies and hospitals can turn into a life-threatening crisis in a remote area. And frankly, illness can lead to cloudy thinking and bad decision-making, as well as poor reactions to emergencies.

We had hoped to be heading to the Bahamas in the next couple of weeks. But that’s going to change. Dave hasn’t been feeling great and it’s finally been diagnosed as a prostate infection. Nothing life threatening if treated, but can be stubborn to eradicate. He’s got a great doctor here in Marathon (and Dave’s brother is a doctor who is also keeping tabs on the situation) so we’re staying put for a while. With luck, we’ll head for the Bahamas in May.

There are far worse things than staying in the Florida Keys . . .

Cruising plans are often said to be written in the sand at low tide. It took us a couple of years to understand what that really meant.

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  1. Hope all goes well. We are just beginning our Crusing adventure. Hope our paths cross in the Keyes.

  2. I trust Dave’s condition will improve in time for a perfect window of opportunity to travel.

  3. Hope Dave’s infection clears up soon. Glad you were someplace where he can get care and treatment. I’ve been lamenting the fact that we’re not out cruising this season, but just had a medical issue come up that makes me kind of glad I’m “stuck” here in Florida for the time being. Funny how things work out.

  4. Prayers for better health Dave and wind behind your sails when the right time comes.

  5. Our best to Dave and a speedy recovery.

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

  6. Jessica Heinicke says:

    Thanks for sharing! Your positive attitude is admirable and will no doubt improve Dave’s health as well. Salud!

  7. A very wise friend of mine say, “Make plans, don’t plan the outcome.” Words to live by out here!

  8. What a good reminder, and super timely as I lay here on the couch, laid low by the nastiest cold I’ve had in ages! Not much boat work getting done here.
    And who knows, if our plans work out (HA!) , we plan to be cruising the Keys ourselves sometime between January and April – maybe we’ll meet up? That’s something to look forward to! Best to Dave going forward.

  9. We have no plans and we are sticking to them.

  10. sorry to hear bout Dave – speedy recovery. The Bahamas are not going anywhere

  11. Hope Dave has a steady recovery. Thanks for sharing the issues that we, as future cruisers, will be taking under consideration more often in the future.

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