Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lubbing Land: Staving off "Boat Fever"

Coming home for a couple months during hurricane season has it's merits. Just as islanders oft refer to what is widely know as "island (or "rock") fever", so too do some of us boaters. Let's call it "boat fever." You see, living on a sailboat - while incredible, beautiful, adventurous and exciting - does have it's downsides. Like living on a "rock" (a.k.a. "island paradise" to a landlubber), living on a boat becomes a sort of island unto itself, and islands can be...isolating. Just as people on land need to head to a beach to "get away" for some R&R; sometimes we, too, need a little break from our daily lives. Instead of flying to an all inclusive hotel on St. Somewhere, however, we head for hustle and bustle and "vacation" (dun, dun, dun) in the suburbs of Chicago.

And it is bliss.

I know I am sort of beating a dead horse when I say that living on a boat in the tropics is hard work. But it is. The extremely close quarters, the eternal race to stay ahead of the ever-growing project list, the mind-numbing frustration that can result from dealing with government agencies, the fact that our neighbors are never the same for very long, the sometimes-oppressive heat, the constant attention to the weather, the rough passages, the periodic loneliness and - (gulp) - the bouts of tedium that can sometimes punctuate a life afloat can all build up and lead to a case of boat fever.

Yep, people can actually get a little burned out from living aboard in paradise.

There it is.
[Ducks the virtual tomatoes being thrown at head].

Don't get me wrong; the beaches, the water, the sunsets, the bars, the community, the camaraderie, the pace, the "vibe" and island life, in general, are all incredible. I mean, we wouldn't have signed up for this life if it wasn't - but no matter where you live, be it the beach or the 'burbs, sometimes change is good. Especially if you are like us and "cruise" very slowly, and predominately in one area, for an entire season at a time. Just because we live in what many would consider a vacation-worthy paradise, doesn't mean that we, too, don't need little breaks and a change of scenery from time to time.

Land breaks, for us, mean a time to soak up the beauty that is friends and family. Having three small children makes this even more of a priority to us. We want our girls to have relationships with their cousins, to have visceral memories of playing with them and growing with them. We want our daughters to know and love their aunts and uncles, and we want them to adore their grandparents just as we adored ours. We, too, want to see our nieces, nephews, brothers', sisters, parents and friends. These relationships with friends and family are very important to us. The pursuit of a life less ordinary doesn't mean we don't value these things, and this is the very reason why we are setting up our life in such a way that we can return a few months every summer. Coming home and spending quality time with the people we love most is the most refreshing kind of re-charge.

Shore leave also gives us a little time to indulge in all the modern day conveniences that we do without on the boat; laundry machines (though I do love doing laundry by hand), dishwashers, large refrigerator/freezer combos, great restaurants, customer service with a smile, amazingly stocked grocery stores, sidewalks, super fast internet (yay!), television (love/hate here), movies, play parks up the whazoo, and no shortage of fun places to take our girls, from splash water parks to children's museums (to name a few). We also have the luxury of a three bedroom guest house at our disposal and the use of a (borrowed) car. We're catching up with friends, indulging in new restaurants, taking in a few movies (we've not watched a single film in 6 months!) and enjoying the presence of babysitters. It's a nice change of pace.

For a spell.

Because as much as I appreciate the land breaks that we are fortunate enough to take, I always miss the boat and island life. Living in a house with all the extra space is fantastic, but it means more to clean, more areas for the kids to get into, more places for things to get lost and more stuff in general. In some ways, living in a house is harder than living on our (relatively) tiny boat where our girls are never more than ten feet from us. Furthermore, land life truly is more hectic and busy; there's so much to do, people to see and places to go. We get pulled in so many directions and end up feeling more frenzied than we do on the boat. It's exciting for now, but long-term I think we'd want to slow down. The simple fact of the matter is that the pace of life on the boat is rather unhurried, and while that aspect of boat life (aka "island time") certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone, it works for us.

For now, however, we are relishing in all things land-lubber. It's giving us the factory reset that we so badly needed. Our batteries are getting recharged, we're topping up our "love" tanks with friends and family, and we'll go back to the boat - and our 'rock' in the BVI's - appreciating them more than ever.

This woman is incredible. She is my grandma. She had 12 children, has 30-something grandchildren, and 23 GREAT-grandchildren. A visit with her is always a top priority. 91 and still going strong.
Dr. Haven checking x-rays in the natal until of the Children's Museum. 
We don't take many long walks in the islands, but in the burbs is a major activity. Here is Isla at the neighborhood "fairy house" where kids can come and take a small treasure one time every day. It's a highlight of our walk and is maintained by the parents of one of my best girlfriends.  
We have this awesome swing. In our backyard!! Our little adrenaline junkies LOVE it. 
Grandpa doesn't much care for rules, and took Isla on a spin round the block so she could "drive". 
Pony Rides! 
My beautiful nieces (the middle girls) and our awesome neighbors (outer girls) LOVE Isla. They wanted to make a fort and asked if I could help, so I did. Apparently, knowing knots and such is very helpful. "You just solidified your place as the coolest aunt EVER" they told me. The fort was cool, if I do say so myself.
Lucky for us, we are never far from Lake Michigan and beaches. Our girls will always be at home on a beach near the water!
Beach babies back in action. They were happy campers.
Three Generations. I love it.

12 comments:

Josh said...

Very sweet and nice dose of reality.

wayne said...

I feel your love and pain at the same time in your script. Your sharing your feelings of joy for family and longing of paradise adventure. Hope to meet y'all some day if our journeys cross on island time. Take care and Happy sailing or fora short time your land hiatus.

wayne said...

I feel your love and pain at the same time in your script. Your sharing your feelings of joy for family and longing of paradise adventure. Hope to meet y'all some day if our journeys cross on island time. Take care and Happy sailing or fora short time your land hiatus.

wayne said...

I feel your love and pain at the same time in your script. Your sharing your feelings of joy for family and longing of paradise adventure. Hope to meet y'all some day if our journeys cross on island time. Take care and Happy sailing or fora short time your land hiatus.

wayne said...

I feel your love and pain at the same time in your script. Your sharing your feelings of joy for family and longing of paradise adventure. Hope to meet y'all some day if our journeys cross on island time. Take care and Happy sailing or fora short time your land hiatus.

Rachael Brennan said...

I really love your blog, and the fact that you have chosen to live such an unconventional lifestyle with 3 small children.
My family and I moved to Okinawa, Japan on a whim for a job I was offered 6 months ago, and although it's nowhere near the isolation of living on a boat, we definitely get island fever and need to plan regular trips off the island to stay sane.
www.seachangeokinawa.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Hey Brit! Love your blog , but you, gramma and Isla are FOUR generations. Your mom isn't in the pic but she's def the 3rd generation!, we stopped cruising after almost 30 years post-retirement only last year. We will always feel the connection even if we aren't physically there. love . Xo

Dawn Wheeler said...

I love this, and I know exactly what you mean! Enjoy this time with family and friends and hope to see you all again on the water!!!

jdsailor888 said...

We love your blog! Thank You for inspiring us to take steps to pursue our dream of living on a sailboat. I have a question because I want to learn if ours is a dream or a pipe dream. Neither my wife or I have a trust fund, are set to inherit huge sums of money, or have parents who are financially able to help with our dream (although they would be willing had they the resources). In a nutshell not a ton of money. My question to you would be, if your father had not paid for a new engine and your uncles had not paid for new sails, do you think you would be living the dream or still saving for the dream? Also, if one did not have parents to live with during hurricane season and were forced to own and maintain a residence or rent a living space, do you think that the cruising lifestyle would be too cost prohibitive? Thanks, and happy sailing!

Windtraveler said...

@JDsailor. While those things certainly helped us get on our way more comfortably, we'd absolutely be "out here" without them. We'd just have an older engine, older sails, and we wouldn't come home for hurricane season (like most full-time cruisers who live aboard all year). There are countless examples of young cruisers out there without that sort of support who are doing it on their own respective budgets - every story is different, but it is 100% possible, you just might have to make certain sacrifices and probably forgo certain amenities. Good luck to you, we wish you the best.

jdsailor888 said...

Thanks for the advice! It's good to hear there are other young people out there pursuing this dream. It's gives us more motivation, to keep on keeping on. Although I am not sure I am ready to ride out a hurricane in the Carribean. There must be some brave souls out there.

Windtraveler said...

@JDsailor, most cruisers head to a place considered out of the "hurricane zone" and hunker there for the season. The reason we did not do this this year is because sailing long distances with our tiny tots is VERY difficult and we wanted to avoid the stress of that all together. Most people really enjoy hurricane season! It's a nice break from being on the move! Grenada is a very popular place, as is the Chesapeake. Good luck!

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