Subjective vs. objective cruising goals

Imagine my surprise to find our fun-to-suck ratio as the subject of a post on John Vigor’s blog. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, John Vigor is the author of many books including Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere.

He makes the interesting point that having a concrete or objective cruising goal can give people a sense of accomplishment that having subjective, fluid cruising goals does not.

Friends of ours aboard SV Bella Star had the goal of visiting 100 islands while they were in British Columbia on their shakedown cruise which I thought was a great excuse to get in the dinghy and go exploring.

As with many things, I think the best answer to the “A or B?” question for us is “both”. I like the fun-to-suck ratio because it focuses us on our own desires and dislikes rather than someone else’s. What is fun and what sucks can change over time so we don’t end up focused on an outdated goal. Of course, you can change your objective goals as well but that fluidity is built into the ideas of the fun and the suck.

Still, I also like the accomplishment of achievable goals. We haven’t set them specifically because they seem to occur naturally in cruising. For example, making your first multi-day passage or arriving in San Francisco after dreaming about it for years.

It’s very individual and I often analyze things to death (this is part of the fun for me). Do other people think in terms of goals like these or do you avoid the analysis and just go DO IT?


  1. The fun to suck ratio is extremely important to me so I stick to just the fun things. It is very liberating to keep the goals to what should I do today. It keeps me from burning fuel for something that would probably suck anyway. What sounded fun a few weeks ago may sound sucky today. :)

  2. I like Mr Vigor's writing about seaworthy boats.In fact I had a photocopied chapter from a book of his at hand during some bad weather a while ago.

    Here is a quote from him about what makes a cruiser :

    quote "The older ones, particularly the males, will continue to drink from containers of glass or metal, talking all the while and rhythmically rocking on their heels until they fall over sideways in the sand, whereupon their grumbling females will drag them off, tumble them into their small boats and transport them back to the mobile floating shelters they call yachts.

    This scene repeats itself on popular beaches in tropical regions all over the world " end quote.
    Here is the link , for context:

    Maybe that quote is more of a natural history observation , than a definition. Whichever , the 'suck' content in that scenario seems way high to me.

    I agree with you, Livia, that 'fun' and 'suck' are totally subjective. Other words that might be used for the same purpose could be 'interesting' or 'challenging' or 'thrilling' , even 'scary'.

    Here in Valdivia we have WAY too much time and the wifi is way too good. But it's all fun.

  3. I'm more of a fun to suck ratio person (however subjective), as far as goals - well they are more general for us (so I suppose, both have their place) - I think one of the best bits of advice we've gotten from seasoned voyagers - is be flexible - don't be rigid with your plans and goals - life and mother nature will always throw a wrench in at some point. But I see what you mean - goals are good if there's flexibility. Having said that, I certainly got a sense of accomplishment when I first took the boat out without Rick, which had been my personal goal.

  4. Success has been defined as "the progressive accomplishment of worthwhile goals."

    To me, being/becoming a successful cruiser includes setting goals and accomplishing them.

    I don't see the fun to suck ratio and Mr. Vigor's point as contradictory.

    Part of the fun in living aboard a cruising sailboat is the progress I have made in my goals.

    But defining my self, my worth, my happiness on goals/accomplishment is a definite "suck" in my life's experience.



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