#41 – Taking Passions Cruising

A land lubber might be forgiven for thinking that when we commit to the cruising life our main and overriding passion is for sailing. Very often this is true, of course, but we are not one-dimensional creatures. We all have other interests, other passions — some long-standing and others we’ve never had time for before. Some will be the reason we go cruising in the first place, while others will be new discoveries. Many will fit easily with the cruising life-style; but others may take a little adaptive thinking.

Gwen diving with friends For me, scuba diving was a long-standing passion. It is what got me into boating in the first place and led to the dive-sail charter business. When Don and I made our big decision to take off cruising, I foresaw our voyage as one long string of scuba dives right ‘round the world!

Many a cruising boat is steered by water-based passions like scuba diving. Others are snorkeling, kite-boarding, wind-surfing, kayaking, and fishing. All these are passionate pastimes that partner well with cruising.

There is even a contingent of cruisers who are out there following the surfer’s endless summer, anchoring their boats where most of us wouldn’t, all in search of the perfect break!

These sports require equipment most easily purchased and fitted aboard in the first world, but because these activities are also the activities of resorts around the world (not to mention of other cruisers), cruisers who’ve never tried them before can find training and buy gear (often second-hand) almost anywhere they go.

Yvonne birdwatching: is it a duck? But not all cruising passions are sports. Yvonne of Australia 31 and her husband Bernie have been passionate birdwatchers for over twenty years. In their travels, Yvonne has documented the names of over 2500 bird species and is just as excited today when she positively identifies one she has never seen as she was when she started.

Requiring no more equipment than a good pair of binoculars, birdwatching has been an easy passion to share with other cruisers.

“We often take people from other boats bird watching,” says Yvonne’s husband Bernie, “and because of Yvonne’s contagious enthusiasm, we have created birdwatchers all over the world who email us to tell us what new bird they have just seen.”

Sylvie beachcombingSimilarly, Sylvie of Albatros and Judy of Ursa Minor are addicted to shell collecting. It starts innocently enough with, perhaps, hunting for something to eat (Sylvie) or looking for something to use in crafts (Judy).

But, says Sylvie, once hooked on the divine engineering, beauty, and uniqueness of each shell and species, “Every anchorage, every day, becomes a new shell adventure.”

Elena showing her jewelry Elena of Mabel has taken those seashore finds and found her art in them. “A few years ago I started using my skills not only for varnishing interiors and rebuilding cabinets but also to do something more satisfying. Using the tools I had onboard I started creating carved jewelry pieces with the raw materials I found around me.”

The opportunity for creative expression – be it jewelry-making, crafts, writing, painting, photography, or music — is surely one of the greatest bonuses that cruising’s gift of time can bring us, whether we do it for ourselves or whether we do it to share through the Internet, publication or sales. Many of my Admirals write, and often what starts as a way to document their trip, grows into something more personally fulfilling (and perhaps financially rewarding) – be it books, articles, blogs or personal journals.

A lovely photo by Marcie Lynn Others, like Julie of Tapestry and Karyn of Magic Carpet paint. Julie paints the ports they stop in, which for her make them more memorable. Karyn will seek out or start an ongoing art group with other yachties for interaction and encouragement.

For Marcie of Nine of Cups, photography – initially to augment her blog – has now become an obsession in its own right. “Cameras and digital images don’t take up much room on the boat, so it’s a space-efficient, yet incredibly rewarding passion.”

Although none of my Admirals wrote about music, I think we all know that there are few passions that match the passion of a good musician.

Yvonne playing bach on new piano Music can be utterly personal, or it can be something you share, and I’ve met many couples and individuals who pursue their music on board, from the family we spent Christmas with in Costa Rica who all took up bluegrass together to our friend, professional trumpeter John of Gingi, who took his horn cruising across the Pacific.

There are other passions practiced by cruisers that are neither sports nor traditional arts. For Karyn of Magic Carpet and Heather of Wild Hair the practice of meditation is a major passion they’ve carried aboard with them from shore. Karyn says, “I have been meditating most of my life, and it is what makes me a real person.” Keeping it going on a small boat, however, takes some discipline plus cooperation from one’s partner and compromise with conditions and schedule. “My philosophy is it is the most important thing to do; everything else follows.”

Reading, of course, is a huge and worthy pastime for cruisers, as Sheri of Procyon reminds, especially as it is one of the things we can do underway. Cruisers tend to become very eclectic in their tastes, reading most anything we can get our hands on, especially where English language books are hard to come by. The swap shelves in marinas and cruiser hangouts are our best resources.

Many of us find our reading time branching out into self-directed study. Subjects we may have resisted back in school suddenly become fascinating in the context of our experience. It was that way for me. I’ve pored through many tomes on ocean science, geology, bird life, history and world religions all only since I went cruising.

Sally taping the local children in the Solomon islands Because travel is a passion for most cruisers, most of us spend time in endeavors that enrich that experience, whether it is reading guidebooks, histories, or literature relating to the places we are visiting; working hard on learning a new language; traveling inland; visiting museums; attending local dance performances, buying local music CDs or collecting local recipes.

Kathy of Hale Kai, of course, has taken all her passion for language and culture and poured it into projects like her For Cruisers language guides Kathy doing research in the markets of Martiniqueand offshoot endeavors like womenandcruising.com, most of which she has researched and developed while cruising.

“For me, research and fun are closely linked” says Kathy. “They keep me curious, and putting it all together in a project like the books or the website is a passion that allows me to make a positive impact on my community.”

What’s really cool about all of the above is that most of us do a little of all of it! Imagine fitting in ANY of it in your previous land-life.

Marcie and Dave - Nine of CupsMarcie, who now has writing, photography and being a director-at-large for SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) to fill her plate, says, “Before we bought our boat and became liveaboards, we worked 60-70 hour weeks, managed a house and a family, and never seemed to have much time left over. I don’t remember having time for any ‘passions’ (other than David). I discovered many new interests only when we went cruising and had the time to think and explore beyond the workaday life.”

What secret something have you always wished you had time for?

(Take Your Passion Cruising is one of the subjects currently being explored on www.womenandcruising/blog. Check it out for more information on some of the passions mentioned above (including Ellen on Cayenne III whose passion IS sailing!) or perhaps to share how your own passion goes cruising.)

Contributing Admirals: Marcie Lynn, Nine of Cups; Ellen Sanpere, Cayenne III; Julie Danielson, Tapestry; Sheri Schneider, Procyon; Kathy Parsons, Hale Kai; Yvonne Katchor, Australia 31; Karyn Ennor, Magic Carpet; Sylvie Branton, Albatros; Elena, Mabel; Judy Knape, Ursa Minor; Heather Mann, Wild Hair.

This article was published in the December 2009 issue of Latitudes and Attitudes.

Related articles (on this website)

1 comment to #41 – Taking Passions Cruising

  • Hi Gwen – glad to have found your writing!! I am a Canadian currently based in West Africa, but my husband and I have bought a cruising Cat and will be joining the ranks of cruisers in 2011. I look forward to learning as much as I can from yourself and all the experienced cruising ladies between now and then!

    Holli in Ghana

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