Does it feel like all the cruisers you meet are brimming with confidence? Do you wonder if you’re the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed?
You’re not. If you don’t believe me, read what Cory Nickerson has to say on the subject in our latest Cruising Stories post.
This is not a plea or desire for encouragement. I write it only because it’s cathartic. And to stand as an example for those who may feel like they are the only ones who feel this way amongst the brash devil-may-care attitude prevalent in the sailing and cruising community.
I’m feeling just a bit overwhelmed.
We are on just our second cruise. The first was 8 months in the Bahamas on our old boat. This second one is on a new-to-us, bigger 44-foot CSY.
This trip has gone well—mostly easy, drama-free, and relaxed. We’ve made way over six weeks from Marathon, Florida to Apalachicola, all on the outside in pleasant, easy weather.
We left Marathon and headed towards Gulfport Mississippi, because we aren’t retired and we need to save money to cruise, and outfit the boat. And the next trip we have planned is to sail south through the western Caribbean, go through the Panama canal, and to travel up to the sea of Cortez. Big dreams for a couple who bought their first boat with zero experience.
While we are over two-thirds of the way to Gulfport, and it’s gone well, I’m nonetheless feeling overwhelmed. The money, of course, is always an issue. But we do okay—people cruise on far less than us. The boat is fabulous. Sure, I have plans for repairs and outfitting further before the long trip. Don’t we all?
But out here, cruising, even in a comparatively easy area, it’s overwhelming at some moments. Getting jobs in a new place–it’s always scary. Heck, I can’t even find a bottom cleaner.
We docked our previous boat—a 37-foot, 20,000-pound boat with a bow thruster—three times.
The 44′ CSY has no bow thruster and weighs twice as much. I’m quite terrified to dock her, honestly. And I am already looking for a captain who will take a day job near Gulfport and bring us in. And maybe follow up later with a day of just docking and undocking a dozen times.
I’m the de facto captain. I’m constantly maintaining the boat, weather, route planning, emergency planning, etc. I pretty much always have a slow simmer of doubt and fear deep down, usually fine and manageable. But man, even a passing rain shower with that 10-degree temperature drop and a slight uptick in wind gets the nerves going.
Yeah, I know it’s a minor rain shower, but what if it’s not? Are we ready?
What happens if I have an engine failure? I’m not in familiar areas. Where do I go, how do we pay for it if it happens where jobs are scarce?
Mendy, my wife, is the love of my life. She’s amazing. The best human I ever met. She trusts me, follows my lead, and leaves the decision-making to me. She’s fearless. I’m not. I want to deliver her to all the amazing places and paradises she deserves. But I don’t always know if I can, or if my courage will hold.
It’s all just small stuff. But it simmers and holds on, and sometimes all of it feels just a bit overwhelming.
I’m fine. We’re fine. All will be fine. But really—one mishap, one stitch of bad luck can turn fine into a disaster in this lifestyle. And, like many, we don’t have a backup plan.
Tomorrow we will probably be underway again. And after the first hour, I’ll be relaxed again, and all will be well. But still, right now, this moment and many more moments awake at 2 AM, I’ll be just a bit overwhelmed.
Cory Nickerson is one of the admins for the Facebook group Liveaboard Sailboat. He originally published this piece there and kindly allowed it to be republished here. Cory and his wife Mendy live on Journey, a CSY 44, while they are building the cruising kitty. They plan to leave this spring for the western Caribbean before transiting the Panama Canal and heading to the Sea of Cortez. Follow along at Amateur Hour Sailing.Some links above (including all Amazon links) are affiliate links, meaning that I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.