12 February 2012

A Cruising Break

Horse in Yoyo's Campground

We've spent the last 3 weeks in a tent in La Ventana, Mexico - a wind sport hot spot. It wasn't until the last few days of the trip that I started to miss the boat and that made me realize that I needed a break. A break from the boat was good, but more importantly perhaps, I needed a break from cruising. Why?

My life simplified dramatically. Contrary to popular belief, living on a boat, at least for us, isn’t living simply. Without the boat we didn’t have logistics, repairs and maintenance to deal with.The only daily maintenance we had was stretching, cooking/cleaning, and finding groceries. Otherwise our life revolved around the wind and our newly evolving kiting skills. We woke up and made french press coffee which we drank on our cushy air mattress in the tent while listening to our daily dose of NPR. Next we made scrambled eggs and tortillas, answered emails and started looking at the wind. When the wind started to come up, we grabbed our gear and headed for the beach. After we had exhausted ourselves on the water, or the wind died, we had hot showers, cooked a dinner and either had a beer with people or watched a movie with popcorn in our tent.

I  enjoyed being part of an outdoor sports community again intensely. I had not realized how much I missed being around people who are super stoked about what they are doing...and perhaps I haSunset in La Ventanad not realized how few cruisers I meet radiate joy about their cruising life. In any outdoor sport, there are some people who ooze anxiety and fear (and I've certainly done my fair share of that), but the majority, at least in sports I’ve been involved in, exude happiness. Although we meet excited cruisers, at least so far, more cruisers we meet seem to be on the anxiety side of the balance. In our limited experience, kiters (and in our previous experience, rock climbers) are more excited about being wherever they are and doing what they are doing. They watch videos about it. They talk through issues with each other. Even after many years, they radiate a quieter joy about their sport. I get a lot personally from being around people like that. I realize many of the people I met were on vacation from their own realities, but about half the people we met in La Ventana were living there for an entire season.

Also, not to get into the gender politics of cruising too much again, but if a woman was on the beach in a wetsuit, she was either into kiting or into windsurfing. Not necessarily so on the docks. This meant that when people met me, they assumed I was a) kiting (or wind surfing) and b) stoked about it. It was a very nice change of culture for me. There are fewer women in kiting, just like in climbing, but they are often the type of person I form instant connections with.

Carol on a SUP in La Ventana Non-boaters reminded me that what we are doing is unusual and pretty darn sweet. When you are surrounded by people who are cruising, it starts to feel normal. When you tell non-boaters what you are doing they say things like “You brought your boat down from CANADA?!”. My favorite comment was from an extreme sports junkie, who had described doing many things that we would never do because they are too risky, and he said “I would never go into the ocean. That would be too scary.”

I started to miss the boat and miss being mobile. It was good to get away from the boat long enough to actively miss my life aboard. Although I enjoyed growing roots in La Ventana, I started getting itchy feet. I also reached that point in traveling where I started missing my home, my things, and my routines. The same simplicity of our life in the tent started to wear a little and I missed all of the other options I had for fun, for comfort and for connectivity on our boat. The break invigorated my cruising dreams.

5 comments:

  1. Alright, hitting the back button but can't figure out how I got here to your site. Doesn't matter.

    I like your thoughts about lack of cruiser stoke. Do you think it is mostly the age thing? In our experience, we (30s) were the exception. At least in MX...well, in the PacNW as well. When we did meet other younger cruisers, we did feel invigorated...

    Anyway...

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  2. Three weeks in a tent while learning to kiteboard .. sounds like a great break! Would love to see some pics or video .. kiteboarding is definitely on our bucket list!

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  3. Hi Nick - Good point. On average kiteboarders are more our age, but there are a lot of older wind surfers and a few older kiteboarders. In fact, I notice them and find them very inspiring.

    Midlife Cruising - I'm mulling over my "how I learned to kiteboard" post. Definitely incoming.

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  4. Well written and insightful post. You're absolutely right.
    I crossed the pond from Toronto to Portugal in 2002 and in the 10 years of strictly summer holiday cruising thereafter I failed to notice what you pointed out and which is so true: many cruisers are actually grumpy, deflated, harassed-looking...fortunately, not all of them.

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  5. Cruisers are a cross section of life. Many are following an unrealistic ideal. You folks appear to have chosen to move 'towards' a life style. Many are trying to leave or escape a lifestyle. That's probably the fundamental difference between happy, invigorated cruisers and the 'less than enthusiastic' one.

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