Our first several months cruising, we pretty much had the “vacation” and “it’s five o’clock somewhere” mentality when it came to alcohol. Both Dave and I like beer, and so if someone stopped by after lunch, we’d offer one . . . and have one ourselves. Or maybe have one as we were figuring out some maintenance project. And so on. Of course, the first one would taste good and so we’d have a second . . .
But as the “vacation” aspect wore off, we realized that we needed to set some rules for ourselves. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-drinking. And I’m not saying anyone else has to have a policy — or if they do, what it should be. I just thought I’d share what we did.
What we found was that we’d get lazy and maybe even sleepy if we had a beer with lunch. We discovered that we weren’t getting many of our projects done and we were only doing a fraction of the “fun stuff” we’d wanted to do while cruising, such as snorkeling, hiking, exploring towns and so on. It was just so easy to sit in the cockpit with a beer in one hand, book in the other, and maybe decide to take a nap.
And, frankly, we were getting a little bored with the lifestyle. And we were probably boring to others.
One evening (yeah, over beers), Dave and I talked about it. We knew ourselves well enough to realize that just saying “we need to cut back” wasn’t going to work. So we set three basic rules (the first two we’d already followed but had never really stated):
- We would never drink underway or before we were both completely satisfied with how and where we were anchored.
- We would never drink if bad weather seemed possible or likely (squalls, katabatic winds, tropical storms/hurricanes, etc.).
- No drinking before 5 o’clock and no more than 3 drinks.
The first two stayed the same over the years, and were rigidly observed as safety rules.
The last one gradually became 6 o’clock and 2 drinks (generally a beer before dinner and a glass of wine later) . . . and even just one for a while as we were dealing with some medical issues. Yes, we’d be better off if we stuck to one all the time but it’s unlikely to happen.
And, admittedly, the last one is the one that we do break sometimes — say when we’re invited to a friend’s birthday lunch or celebrating the completion of a really nasty 3-day repair job and it’s only 4:30. And occasionally, we’ve been known to have a few extra drinks.
When I’ve told some would-be cruisers about our policy, they wondered if it cut down on the fun of cruising. The answer is a resounding NO — it increased it. We got out and did a lot more. We got up early and sailed to a new anchorage more often. We snorkeled a lot more. We hiked and explored. I wrote and Dave fished and worked on his own projects. And we still had fun socializing. We rarely “just sat around” in the middle of the day any more.Instead of saying “it’s five o’clock somewhere,” having to say “it’s five o’clock here” did wonders to cure our inertia. We also saved some money, had less heavy stuff to schlepp from the store to the dinghy to the boat and less trash. Win-win-win-win!
How about you? Anyone else have formal or informal rules about alcohol consumption? For safety or lifestyle in general? Please leave a comment!