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The following is a post that I originally wrote for Coastlines and Tan Lines, published there at the end of last month. Although this blog has a slightly different audience, I thought that some of you might enjoy reading it too.


Who doesn’t dream of running away to the islands, especially those hailing from locales where the residents are snowbound and frozen for several months each year? I’m pretty sure that most readers of Coastlines and Tan Lines do but for many people, the week or two that they can escape from work for an island vacation only serves to whet their appetite for more. But how does living in the islands compare to a short all-inclusive stay at a resort? In my experience, considerably.

My wife Rebecca and I set sail from Canada a year ago, Caribbean bound. Prior to that we had had numerous trips south, often to all inclusive resorts. I think we were fairly typical in that our vacations where filled with fun excursions and socializing punctuated by great restaurant meals and bar drinks, or was it the other way around? Judging by the comments we received on our blog after having set sail, it was obvious to us that many people expected our days to be filled with much of the same. The truth is, that is pretty far removed from our day-to-day reality.

Cabo, a few years ago.

Similar pic this year, but with longer hair.

Unless one has lucked into a winning lottery ticket, or was fortunate enough to choose some wealthy parents, it is impossible to live long term on a “vacation budget.” And in our experience, we really wouldn’t want to. Some of the best experiences we have had are when we are far removed from the tourist destinations, able to share time with the locals or other cruising friends. Self-guided snorkeling excursions and hikes have replaced lying by the resort pool. Sharing sundowners on a local beach or a neighbor’s boat has replaced expensive evenings at resort bars. Of course, it’s not all fun. How could it be? Living and traveling on a boat as we do includes its own share of work. Not work with any salary mind you but the day-to-day tasks that allow our home to stay afloat and function.

But don’t you get bored? We do hear this all the time, again mostly from those whose island holidays are a whirlwind of activities and parties. While we can appreciate that, having time to enjoy the nature that is all around us is for us, often times, significantly more rewarding. That is, after all, why we moved down here, to enjoy the beautiful beaches and clear blue water.

Even when we did travel to resorts, we were not the type to just sit around on the beach all day.

So the question remains, would a life in the islands suit you? That’s the million dollar question, for sure. An honest assessment of your own personality with some real research into the realties of living in the lower latitudes might help you to make an educated guess. You’ll never really know for sure though unless you give it a shot, so if you’re so inclined, we say Go For It. There’s plenty of room and sunshine for everyone down here.

And yes, we had an interest in catamarans back then too,
even if we did only have the chance to do little day trips on them.

22 Comments

  1. There’s a big difference between someone who heads south for 1 -2 weeks and someone who goes for 3 – 6 months. You are right about it being a totally different budget. I can do frugal fun for months. I can’t afford even a week at a resort. I’d have to get a real job again, and who’d want to do that?

  2. Great Post! For me a vacation is not enough anymore. Three (3) day weekends and/or a ten (10) day trip are only that, vacations or mental breaks. A cruising lifestyle becomes about the people, nature, remote coves, local foods, self accomplishments, but more importantly……NO TIME SCHEDULE!!!! While vacations are fun, they are not the freedoms that you and Rebecca have to cast the lines and be free!

  3. I would live any way and anywhere that I can as long as there is nothing to shovel. Our living aboard a a boat has gotten us as far as southern Florida, less exciting reading that you by far. But we treat our boat (home) like a portable mini condominium. We do enjoy following your adventures though and are proud of the way you represent our country.

  4. Great post! Although we’ve been following since ya’ll were landlubbers, we really enjoyed reading this post because it kind of sums up your overall thoughts. Nice job!

  5. Good article, Mike!

    Thanks for doing such a wonderful job sharing a cool lifestyle. It is bittersweet for me to read your blog some days, but I almost always wear a smile after reading it.

    Fair Winds,
    Mike

  6. A life in the lower latitudes is definitely on my radar.

    I’ll be in Grenada on Nov. 6th for a cruise on the Diamant. Would be great to met you guys but not much time on Grenada.

    Cheers!

  7. I would be interesting if you were to post what you consider to be a ‘typical’ cruisers sort of day. You say you are busy much of the time, but no one knows on what, or why. Your descriptions do sound like a relaxed “vacation” type holiday.

    For example do you have to get up at 0630 every day so that you can start some food cooking, or row ashore to buy fresh food at the market. Are you scrubbing bilges between 10 and 12 each day to keep down bacteria in a warm climate. Is there always a bit of boat to be dismantled and mended every afternoon, etc etc, and then crash out exhausted at 2200 each night.

    I think it might be a bit more relaxed than that!!! 🙂 🙂

    Mike

    • It is no where near that regimented! There are things to do of course but we decide when. We do not have a schedule that says every Monday we apply anti-corrosion to the rigging, every Tuesday we go to the grocery store, etc.

  8. Another way of looking at it is ‘how often do the pressures of being cooped up together in a small (?) boat get to you so you end up having rows with each other?’

    I hope never! 🙂

    Mike

  9. The lifestyle you have is fabulous and so much better than resort living – in my opinion. I haven’t had the privilege of the cruising lifestyle but I have been to all inclusives vs spending a month on two small islands with no resorts to speak of. And I much prefer the latter. I love the non commercialized surroundings, the other visitors who are more adventurous than most resort tourists, the chance to really get to know the local people, the lack of bodies crowding the beaches… I could go on and on.

    And yes, as a boater in my previous life (before divorce), keeping a boat ship shape is a LOT of work. Far more than maintaining a house, even without the lawn to mow! And if you want to extend your time in the islands for as long as possible, you have to constantly think about how you are spending your precious dollars. Because more aren’t flowing in every two weeks like at home.

    I want your life. 🙂

  10. Sad story you might be interested in reading: http://sv-footprint.blogspot.com/
    Good sailing and be safe.
    Ted and Rhonda

  11. 10 days and counting! Love you guys. See you soon!

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