It’s the breakdowns, stupid!

Here in Cartagena we all hang out on the dock/bar of Club Nautico in the evenings. The other night, after a few cold Costenas, the talk turned to why some cruisers stop cruising. You know, the ones who seemingly have it all: beautiful boat, beautiful relationship, plenty of money, good health, etc. Then suddenly one day you hear the boat is sold, they’ve moved to Montana or New Mexico and none of us boat bums know what they’re doing anymore. We lose touch, they disappear, they’ve retreated to the “real world.”

The yacht club bar wisdom, for what it’s worth, is that the number one reason for this is the breakdowns. We can see it in some cruisers’ eyes as they recount the latest horror show at the boatyard. “Then they launched the boat before the gel coat was dry!” “They didn’t finish the job on time and then they charged me overtime in the yard!” “I hauled out for a bottom job and now I need the whole topsides done!” For others it’s the nagging little repairs and mystery problems. “First I checked the fuses, then I traced all the wiring, then I replaced the antenna, then I replaced the tuner, then I replaced the entire unit, and it still doesn’t work!” “It only leaks when we’re under power and heavy load, but never when I’m checking it.” “The manufacturer says I’ve got to reinstall the operating system and reformat my hard drive first.” Unfortunately, this is a huge part of cruising. We not only have to be plumbers, riggers, mechanics, electricians, programmers, and painters, but we have to like those jobs too. When things go wrong we have to laugh, or at least laugh at ourselves after we’ve solved the problem. We’ve got to let all of this roll off our backs and not weigh us down.

In some ways it’s a good thing that life out here has its miserable moments. If it was all wonderful, all the time, it would be too crowded.

By Ocean Navigator