Alicia and Brian of SV Sarabande (Pearson 45) have been cruising since October 2008*. You can learn more about their travels on their website.
A: We wish someone had just calmly sat us down and said, "Throw out all your preconceived notions about how you’re going to feel, where you’re going to go, and how long you’re going to take." There are going to be surprises and curveballs coming at you all along the way, and you’ll make the most of these if you stay loose. It's been a good philosophy for us to apply to life in general as well!
Q: As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
A: Spending 24 hours a day together takes it toll, and it took a while for us to figure out how to work “alone time” for each of us into the plan. So important! Also, coming from New York City, a place where, given the proper amount of effort, you can make a lot of things happen in a day, it was a little difficult to adjust to how much time it can take to accomplish things in other places.
Q: What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?
A: We provisioned as if preparing for the aftermath of WWIII, and didn’t know nearly enough about weather. Turns out people eat food all over the world, and the weather is the single most important variable in a sailor’s life! Cruising makes you interact with weather in such an intimate way. It teaches you to respect, and to pay attention to nature in a way that many people in affluent countries, who spend much of their day indoors, no longer need to do. So after years of living in the city at a dock, sort of oblivious to weather patterns, we made some weather-predicting blunders during our first year.
A: We love that this way of living is the antithesis to the modern trend of moving too fast and not paying attention to all the little details and small moments that make life richer. Our style may be simpler and slower than it once was, but we're much more relaxed and aware of simple pleasures than we were before we started. That's exciting, in a quiet way. You only get X amount of days in your life, after all, and we know we'll never regret the way we're spending these. We also love that there are so many beautiful places that can only be seen from the water, and we get to take our whole home with us when we visit them!
Q: What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
A: The holiday season just isn't the same. It's the time of year we miss our families the most, and feel nostalgic for cold weather. Then we remember what it's like to live aboard in a New York winter, and we feel better. Also, Alicia hates potlucks and it seems they are inescapable.
Q: What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
A lot of the cruising literature that we read made cruisers, as a group, sound like some sort of utopian community, where everyone can be trusted and nothing bad ever happens. While it’s true most members of the cruising community are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, a few of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing. We've learned to be friendly, but not relax our guard too quickly. Just like in any group of people, there are a few thieves and crooks looking to abuse the trust of others.
Q: What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
A: That it takes about 6 months to a year after you’ve left to truly calm down from the pace of the rat race. I think we read that in Beth Leonard’s cruising handbook (which is excellent). Also, that it takes as much money as you have, meaning you don't have to be a trust fund baby or retired to sail off. There are lots of ways to make it work.
Q: Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
A: Yes: a good RIB dinghy and reliable outboard! We left on our cruise with a very sub-par dinghy setup. When you live at the dock, it’s easy to overlook the importance of how you're going to get to shore when you're at anchor. But when you’re out cruising, your dinghy is so crucial! We now finally have a great RIB dinghy, an outboard engine that consistently works (knock wood), and a small rowing dinghy for those times that it doesn't, or those times where we simply feel like rowing. Also, solar panels. Our boat came with a wind generator, which has been great, but many times the wind completely dies. Likewise, people with only solar panels bemoan cloudy days, which are often windy. Diesel costs are higher than ever these days, not to mention you don't want to pollute, so definitely consider both wind AND solar power - they will pay for themselves quickly.
Q: What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why
A: We plan to continue doing this until it's not fun anymore. Since we've had our baby boy, we're wondering how we'll feel when it comes almost time for him to go to school, but we have a few years to go before then, so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We'll know when it's time for us to stop.
Q: What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
A: Well, one question we have for the world in general is where are all the younger cruisers? Not that we don't love all the older friends that we've made, but the people we meet that are closer to our age (early thirties) are few and far between. We hear that this wasn't the case 30, 40 years ago, that there were lots of lots of young people cruising then. The same generation that was out cruising back then are the ones still out there doing it now! What's up with our age group? Where are they?!
*Editor’s Note: Through my error SV Sarabande was asked to give a Newly Salted interview rather than an IWAC interview.