June 2013 – We’ve been living the Good Life here at Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallarta for three months now. Wow!
This is a wonderful place to hang out, and lots of folks stay for years at a time. But the reason we have stayed here so long is actually because we’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and thinking about our next move.
We’ve had an unbelievable run of good fortune and exciting times this past year.
Last summer in our trailer, and this past winter in our sailboat, we were gifted with one beautiful experience after another.
It seems that everywhere we went we met kind and caring people who quickly became friends.
All year long we have been pinching ourselves, saying, “Is this all possible? Are we really living this life?”
It may seem strange, but on that very high note we have decided to make a huge change in our lives and take Groovy back to California and gradually close the cruising chapter of our travels.
After sailing up and down Mexico’s west coast several times, we have fulfilled our cruising dreams completely — and then some.
Throughout our travels this past year, in the background, behind all our exhilarating escapades, we have been digging deep in our hearts and pondering all the different ways we could move forward with our cruising lifestyle.
Cruising is a unique way to travel. Even though you move from place to place, the focus is always ultimately on the boat and the process of boating rather than on the destinations you visit.
As one seasoned cruiser told me before we started our sailing adventure,
“The boat takes up the majority of our budget and the majority of our time.”
We have found that to be true!
When we started cruising we had already traveled full-time by RV for two-and-a-half years.
We thought that cruising would be much the same as RVing, just doing it on the water instead of land.
But we have found that while RVing is all about the destinations we visit, cruising is largely about the boat.
Why is the boat such an important part of cruising while an RV is so much less important in RVing?
Because a cruising boat is a very complicated vehicle.
The boat’s Plumber, Electrician and Mechanic are all very busy people as they work to keep the boat’s power plant, water treatment plant, sewage plant, mechanical propulsion system and wind propulsion system all functioning.
Aboard Groovy, my sweet hubby Mark filled all these roles while I concentrated on navigation and sailing the boat.
Needless to say, we were both very busy, but Mark bore the brunt of the responsibility of keeping us afloat, and it weighed heavily on his shoulders.
Unlike a sailboat, an RV, especially a trailer, has very simple systems that rarely require any maintenance or repair.
In addition to the boat itself being more complicated than an RV, living aboard a boat at anchor is infinitely more complex than living in an RV anywhere.
In the cruising life, simple day-to-day tasks like provisioning, doing laundry and getting around require forethought, planning and time.
They often involve dinghy rides, crazy beach landings, intense study of the weather forecasts and all-night travel. Just showering is an adventure!!
And then there’s the simple maintenance of cleaning. After every sailing passage the entire boat would be covered with salt crystals, and although it was sometimes a fun adventure to swab the decks underway, it was still a chore that had to be done regularly!
Not only did the decks need swabbing, but barnacles needed to be scraped off the bottom of the boat every few days. Every time I jumped over the side to snorkel and enjoy the reef fish, I took a few tools too so I could to spend an hour cleaning the hull!
One huge surprise was the crazy noises at night. Nevermind the live bands that played at the resorts lining every beach in every anchorage, but the fish were surprisingly loud too! This often made sleeping a challenge, as the boat rolled relentlessly in almost every bay.
In contrast, in the RV lifestyle you’ve always got wheels to get around, the weather plays a much less important role in travel planning, you can let a few weeks go between rig washings, and nighttime is for sleeping.
Therefore, out of necessity, Travel, in the traditional sense of sightseeing, mingling with the locals and becoming immersed in a new culture, is a secondary focus in the cruising lifestyle.
In our sailing travels we’ve found the happiest cruisers are those that have a deep and lasting passion for everything to do with boats and boating. Many are skilled handymen who love working in, on and around boats as well.
We love our boat Groovy. It is our dream boat in every sense: beautiful, sleek, well engineered, meticulously maintained, easy to sail, and as comfortable as a sailboat of its size could possibly be.
We have poured our hearts and souls into making it ultra-efficient for long-term life afloat at anchor.
However, as we have cruised Mexico for the past three and a half years, we’ve discovered we are actually more passionate about Travel than we are about Boating.
We are drawn towards seeing the sights, spending time with the locals, taking photographs and writing about our adventures. Time spent working on the boat and on the logistics of our lifestyle afloat often feels like time away from what we really wanted to be doing: traveling.
Our recent phenomenal trip to Guanajuato was a peak experience we’d love to repeat over and over. We absolutely loved our visit there. But Guanajuato is nowhere near the coast and has nothing to do with sailing, the sea, boats or living aboard. How do you put all this together?
As we spread out our maps of Mexico and Central America and studied our options for cruising beyond Mexico’s border, we pinpointed the many fabulous destinations we wanted to go see and then thought long and hard about whether it would be best to travel there by sailboat or to go another way.
It turned out that most of our bucket-list locations were well inland from the coast and not easily reached by boat. Cruising further south just doesn’t make sense for us.
If we could use the boat for just three months each winter and temporarily leave it behind inexpensively and with confidence that it would not deteriorate during the rest of the year and need loads of work upon our return, we might continue cruising.
Then we could enjoy all the things we do love about boating each winter. However, that’s not possible, at least not in the areas we’ve explored that are within a reasonable distance of Pacific Mexico.
We will miss the lively day-sailing we’ve had in Huatulco, Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and near Loreto. It will be really sad to give up swimming off the back of the boat and living in our tiny home in the middle of beautiful tropical bays.
However, we have lived that dream — and loved it — and we have three-and-a-half years of vibrant memories, tens of thousands of photos, and hundreds of stories that we bring away from the experience.
So we have made the most of our time in Puerto Vallarta as we have waited for July to approach. The 1,100 miles between here and San Diego are a very difficult voyage.
Sailors call it the “Baja Bash” because it can be a very long, scary, miserable and dangerous slog directly into huge winds and waves. After making the trip last month, a cruiser said simply: “I thought I was going to die.”
The advice from experienced sailors that have made this trip many times is that the best months to go are July and November.
We are waiting for a weather window to make the first 280 mile (48 hour) jump across the Sea of Cortez to Cabo San Lucas. From there we will take it section by section, trying to catch the best conditions we can as we make our way up the 850-mile coast.
If this post has surprised you, or saddened you or just seems strange, because you thought we would be out cruising “forever” — or at least a lot longer than three and a half years — here are some parting thoughts:
In the end, going cruising is all about dream fulfillment. The most important thing is to HAVE a dream and then to make it come true.
The thrill of having a dream and making it come true is being able to live it, to live WITH it, and to find its true essence.
Only when you are actually living your dream, day in and day out, can you decide which parts of it are dreamy and which parts need a little adjustment.
Many people allow themselves to be scared away from pursuing their biggest dreams. The fear that pens them in is fear of the unknown.
However, if you don’t jump into your dream with both feet, you’ll never know what that dream might have become once you wrestled with its limitations and figured out how to make it even better.
It is said that cruising is about “The Journey,” and in our experience the most important journey you end up taking is one that goes within.
It is a journey where you learn a little more about who you are and what you truly want out of life.
As we have lived our cruising dream, we have learned that we are Travelers more than we are Cruisers. It took us a while to understand this.
While we love doing both, our preference is to spend our time seeing new sights and experiencing other cultures rather than taking care of and living on a boat. We can’t wait to see Mexico’s Caribbean side — by plane, bus and hotel!
Once we get settled in San Diego, we will be offering our beloved boat Groovy for sale so she can continue her own adventures with new hands on her helm. She has been our “dream boat” in every way.
We so appreciate all of you who follow our travels. We have many many more adventures ahead, not least of which is this upcoming voyage (yikes!). We should have internet in many locations along the Baja California coast, and we expect the trip to take about three weeks, so stay tuned for more stories from the sea and for many future land-based capers!
Note added later: Our Baja Bash trip had exciting moments but went very well in the end. Here’s the story:
- Baja Bash – Sailing on the Coattails of a Hurricane! – From Puerto Vallarta to Cabo San Lucas
- Baja Bash – Being Chased by a Hurricane! – Cabo San Lucas to Ensenada
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For more comparisons of the cruising and RVing lifestyles, see the two articles I wrote for Escapees Magazine, “RVing by Land and Sea” and “Life Afloat and On the Road” which are about 1/2 way down this page in the Other Articles section.
More thoughts on Living the Dream in a sailboat or RV:
- Polaris RZR 900 XC – A New Ride and A New Chapter in our Travels!
- Merry Christmas and Thank You for a Great Year!
- Lessons Learned in the Full-time RV Lifestyle – Tips & Ideas!
- Camping World Video Shoot — RVing is for Everyone!
- Full-time RV Pioneer & Escapees RV Club Co-Founder: Kay Peterson
- 10 Years of Life on the Road by RV and Sailboat – The 2nd Half!
- 10 Years of Full-time RVing and Sailing!! – The Early Years…
- 9th Anniversary of Full-time Travel by RV and Sailboat – Reflections!
- What Does It Take to Live The Dream?
- What Is Your Dream?
- On the Road to your Dreams, Stay the Course!
- What’s It Like to RV Full-time? – A Snapshot of Pure Joy (as the banking world collapsed)
- Why Do It? – Why We Left Home to Live in an RV!
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