Simple vs. complex
Similar to many people who blog on a regular basis, I imagine, I have an entire list of topics that I intend to write about “some day.” While a few of those posts can be put together in very little time, with little effort, I know that others will take considerable energy to complete. This post falls a bit more into the latter category.
For some time I’ve been meaning to write about the subject of simple vs. complex boats, and how this ties into the go small, go simple, go now philosophy that separates many actual cruisers from their perpetually dock-bound cousins. Why post about it now? I was inspired by two articles, this piece on Cruising World that I read yesterday, and this one on Attainable Adventure Cruising that I read a couple of weeks ago.
When we left Canada in 2010, we didn’t have a lot of experience sailing on different boats. In the last 5+ years though, we have had the good fortune of meeting, visiting with, traveling with, and getting to know numerous cruisers. We have been invited onboard their boats for dinner and cocktails, and have gone sailing with some of them too. Remembering that, for our first 3 years cruising, we were cruising on a beautiful, but relatively small and simple boat, I will admit to frequently during this time being envious of some of our friends’ more spacious and tricked-out vessels. Even now, after having lived on much larger boats, we still feel mild pangs of jealousy at times. A good example of this is our friends’ Antares catamaran, Two Fish. If ever there was a cruising boat that was fully tricked out, it is that one. Jason and Gail have spared no expense outfitting their boat for their Pacific journey (now underway), and it was exciting and educational to travel on it. On the other hand, if that had been the only boat that we’d ever been cruising on, we may have come to believe that all of that technology and gear was 100% necessary, and if so, it would have set the bar impossibly high for us. Unless we win the lottery, and we’ve stopped purchasing lottery tickets (what we used to refer to as Antares tickets), we will never own a boat that well-equipped. But maybe that’s not a bad thing?
I mentioned that our first cruising boat, ZTC, was relatively simple. Countless times, when we were on shore enjoying ourselves, our friends on boats with more complicated systems were stuck making repairs. Repairs to systems that were often non-essential! The other day I had a chat with one of our internet friends who is presently residing in Patagonia. He shared his belief that we waste a lot of time messing around with stuff that we don’t really need, stuff that should be in a house, not a boat. It’s hard not to agree. As an example of this, I just read a post where a boat owner was looking for advice on how to fix his dishwasher. Now, you’ll never hear me bad-talk a dishwasher, because I hate doing the dishes more than almost any other thing (I hate doing plumbing repairs even more), but I think most people would agree that a dishwasher is a pretty non-essential system on a cruising boat.
So, the question is then, what is essential? A watermaker? Refridgeration? Radar? That is the great debate, isn’t it? While some of this will depend on the geographical area that you’re cruising in, at least a portion of it will depend on the level of convenience that you require. Everyone enjoys touring the shiny new yachts at the boat show, the ones outfitted with all of the latest conveniences, but I think it’s even more important for would-be cruisers to get onboard some smaller, well-traveled, older yachts, ones that are actually on the water cruising. Additionally, as we prepare our boat for our future travels, I think it’s important for us to do that too as it helps to keep us grounded (mentally, that is, not the boat ).