Why go cruising?
Cory Nickerson answers the question with eloquence.
As cruisers, especially youngish ones, the most commonly heard question is always some variation of:
Aren’t you worried about (pirates, storms, healthcare, fallback plans, etc)?
My answer is yes, of course. I am a well-documented coward. As the de facto captain of a boat with a first mate who is quite content to nod politely and let me make all the decisions, I am intimately aware and well versed in everything that can go wrong.
I worry about every passage. Every anchor bite. Every system on the boat, every cloud on the horizon. I worry about old age and having no material assets beyond what fits on a 44ft sailboat. I worry about having no connection to a single location. I worry about 6 armed men in a skiff off the coast of some poorer unstable country. I worry about money.
Why go? Because security is an illusion. There is none.
Sure, we can and do everything we can to tilt each roll of the dice in our favor, but ultimately luck and happenstance will determine all our fates. I can prepare for and plan for as many eventualities as possible and hope the shifted odds work out in my favor, but in the end, luck will decide.
It is the same on land in more traditional lifestyles as it is at sea, it’s just different, and different is inherently scary to the human brain. I could have kept the house and decent job, kept adding to the 401k, and with a bit of luck and hard work, got a little house by a beach somewhere to retire to and live out the days until there were no more.
But nothing is promised. I could have done that, got sick at 45, died at 47. Could have lived to 90 in comfort and surrounded by family and friends. But who knows. Visions of the future are just that, visions. So I decided the future will handle itself. Now matters. And right now, I want to see as much of this small floating blue marble and meet as diverse a group of people as we can before it ends. Maybe it’s today. Maybe it’s in 40 years, either way, it makes no difference at all as I won’t be around to lament either case. But I’m here now.
All the trappings of traditional life, houses and cars and jobs and savings accounts and investments and friends and family and pets and cable tv and x and y and z are all just things to occupy our time and minds beyond that fact that our time is so short and no one knows what time it is.
So if you want to go, go. If you don’t, don’t. The rest is nothing but smoke and lights and an effort to exercise control over things of which we have none.
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. Follow along at Amateur Hour Sailing.