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.

Cruising & Plans

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.

I origninally wrote this in the spring of 2016, when we had hoped to be heading to the Bahamas. But Dave hadn’t been feeling great and it was finally diagnosed as a prostate infection. Nothing life threatening if treated, but can be stubborn to eradicate. Doctors were able to get it under control and we spent four months over the summer in the Bahamas.

In December, we were within a week of taking off for the Virgin Islands when the infection reared its ugly head again and made it impossible to think of leaving. So maybe we’re not quite living our dream right now, but 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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  • Chuck Weldele
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

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

  • The Cynical Sailor & His Salty Sidekick
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

    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.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

      Sorry to hear that but as with us, glad it’s in a place where it’s easy to get the services you need.

  • Janice
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Mark & Cindy - s/v Cream Puff
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

    Our best to Dave and a speedy recovery.

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

  • Jessica Heinicke
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Kimberly Fain Ward
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Keith & Nicki, s/v Sionna
    Posted at 11 March 2016 Reply

    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.

  • Annual Salvador Rally
    Posted at 12 March 2016 Reply

    We have no plans and we are sticking to them.

  • Jim Allen
    Posted at 12 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Anne
    Posted at 15 March 2016 Reply

    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.

  • Eric Hendricks
    Posted at 28 April 2017 Reply

    the sailor plans, God laughs.

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