Worst of Sailboat Cruising!
By Trish Lambert

This does not just apply to a sailboat, I am a big fan of reality. When I have an ambition to do something, I like to have the most realistic expectations possible when I set out.

In that spirit, I have thought about what I don't like about the sailboat cruising experiences I have had. I pass them on to you to so that you can work on setting your own set of realistic expectations.

Leaving new friends behind!

This is the flip side of what I love about cruising. It seems like as soon as I've made good friends, one or both of our boats are taking off-usually in opposite directions. 

I hate saying goodbye, and saying goodbye is an integral part of cruising. And for as many folks as I've stayed in touch with, there are more that I haven't communicated with in a very long time. I remember all with fondness, and wish there was a way that we could get together!

Dealing with Government Bureaucracies!

This is a huge frustration for me as I am now well endowed with patience. Whether dealing with agencies in my own country or with officials in foreign ports, there is a similarity to the experience that makes me gnash my teeth and my blood pressure rise. 

Knowing that it is not wise to show my impatience in any way only makes it more stressful. My only solution is to breathe deeply and remember that this experience comes with the territory.

If you dislike dealing with government employees and officials, be warned. No matter where you cruise, you are likely to have more interface with this particular part of the human race than you did when you lived on land.

Gales and Thunderstorms!

As I've gotten older, my tolerance for being on a sailboat in bad weather has lessened. Twenty years ago, when I experienced my first and worst Atlantic gale, I pretty much took it in stride. Now, when I'm in bad weather, I can't help wondering what the heck I'm doing out here. 

I hate having to live in foul weather gear. I hate trying to move around in a bouncing cabin on a sailboat. I hate get tossed from one side of the bunk to the other when a wave breaks over the side. And I am in awe of the ocean in bad weather.

Besides its tendency to grow very big waves that dwarf the boat, it attracts lightning strikes that can be most unpleasant.

Beating to Weather!

This is almost as bad as gales and thunderstorms. Neither Ciao Bella nor Nehalennia are designed to sail well to weather, and if there are any kind of seas, they both virtually stop in their tracks when they plow into a wave. The seesaw movement of the sailboat makes be very crabby, and I again find myself wondering why I'm doing this. 

Heat and  Humidity!

This is another area where I'm getting less tolerant as I get older. I hate being hot, and I hate being sweaty all the time. Really hot weather saps my energy and makes my brain move in slow motion. Nothing motivates me...even just laying on the bunk with the fan on me is uncomfortable. 

There were days during the summer in Baja California where we got up with the sun, did what we needed to get done in the first two hours of the day, then just laid on towel-covered settees until dusk, when we could once again get our bodies moving. 

And I've taken many a shower in tropical marinas where I didn't bother to towel off, using the water as a cooling agent until it was replaced by sweat.

We fought the heat and humidity by either being in the water as much as possible or, if we in port and the water wasn't swimmable, sitting under the nearest roof or palapa to stay in the shade.

Sailboat Boredom!

I feel a little guilty over this one. I mean, it seems totally ungrateful and unappreciative of me to admit that I get bored when I'm out cruising. But it's true. There are stretches of time sometimes when I am out of ideas for things to do, when there are no books I want to read, no writing I want to do, and nowhere I want to go.

When I'm in this mood, no amount of natural beauty or anticipation of new places to go will pop me out. It is an excruciating experience. 

The good news is that I do end up pushing through the boredom, which is fortunate, since I think that's the only solution to the issue. What basically happens is that I get bored with boredom, and come up with something to do or see or read or write that absorbs me. And the up side is that I've ended up reading, doing, and writing things that I would never have read, done, and written without the boredom.

Adverse Effects on the Ecosystems!

I've save this for last because it is the saddest. If you love nature like I do, expect to be grieved by what you sometimes see. Especially in the crucially biodiversity tropics, there is no getting away from the impact we have on the environment. Dead coral reefs, clear cut rain forests, litter along roads and in fields, and plastic bags floating a few inches underwater (dangerous to sea animals and saltwater intakes) were common sights in Latin American waters. 

In Panama, fishermen would come alongside to see if we would like to buy lobsters they caught-and more often than not they were either very small or extremely gravid females. Also in Panama, we made a point to stop at an anchorage on the recommendation of an old salt who had cruised the area a few decades before us; he said that the sea fans were not to be missed. He was wrong. The sea fans were missing, all gone.

This is not a judgment one way or the other. It's simply a fact. Living with this fact has made me more careful about the way I live, both on the water and off. I may not be able to stop the clear cutting or the over fishing, but I can make sure that my habits are good ones within the context of the planet. 


Trish Lambert has been a cruising sailor for over twenty-five years and a first mate three times, with three different skippers and three very different cruising styles.

She knows first hand what makes cruising successful on a sailboat , and what she has to share may surprise you!

Whether you are a skipper or first mate, a singlehander or part of a cruising couple, on a sailboat or power boater, Trish has insights that will help make your cruising dream a reality.

Article Source: Ezine Articles


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