What You Seek

I imagine that for many, the allure of the cruising life is ease, not ease in the sense of push-button powered winches, but ease in the sense of idleness, of an empty hammock strung between palms.

February 20, 2014
On our way in to town, for the farmer’s market. Turned out to be a bust, too upscale for us, like the pricey organic fare offered at the La Cruz farmers market. Michael Robertson

Is that you? Are you stressed by pressure or mired in boredom, sitting behind your desk in a big-city building and dreaming of your life as a Corona beer commercial?

Stop. That’s not what you seek.

Consider Farley Mowat’s warning:


“Inaction will cause a man to sink into the slough of despond and vanish without a trace.”

Do you want to sink into the slough of despond?

I didn’t think so.


And don’t think you can side-step this fate by arming yourself with a dozen good books to read:

“When I have been idle without any purpose whatsoever, I have not been able to read—the immobility gave rise to agitation, and agitation does not much lend itself to making one’s way through Tolstoy, for instance.”

–Kevin Patterson


You see? And for you, denizen of the pressure-cooker life, agitation is the least of your worries; the idleness you crave is more likely a path to madness. You need something to tend to.

“A conclusion I’ve come to at the Idler is that it starts with retreating from work but it’s really about making work into something that isn’t drudgery…and then work and life can become one thing.”

― Tom Hodgkinson


So it’s good news I have for you today: this cruising life is only five—maybe ten—percent palm trees and trade winds, at best. If you’re fortunate, the rest of your time you’ll spend hauling water, doing laundry, and hunting for solutions to problems there is no point trying to imagine now.

And you know what? You’re going to love it.

I recently walked side-by-side out of a remote Mexican town with a 73-year-old Dutch guy, a fellow cruiser. We each pulled a small, food-laden cart behind us, headed down a long beach-front road to our dinghies. It wasn’t easy. The small wheels of our carts didn’t turn, they just plowed divots in the soft, sandy ground. The sun beat down on us.

“Ha! Before we left Holland 13 years ago, I had a nice, big house, a fancy car, and a secretary. Now I am pulling this cart of food two miles back to a rubber boat.” He smiled and winked to emphasize how great this was.

That doesn’t sound great to you? I’m not sure how best to explain it.

How about this: Just today I stomped on our dirty laundry in a five-gallon bucket on the foredeck.

Not appealing? Not part of your cruising plans?

Well, consider that it’s Thursday. The cool water felt good on my feet. Pelicans dive-bombed the anchorage all around me and I could see for miles in every direction in the warm, clear air. And as is the norm, this vista is only three weeks old to me, not yet faded into the dim opaqueness that the everyday—no matter how spectacular—assumes.

A whale shark-spotting panga raced by Del Viento. The camera-wielding tourists waved enthusiastically. I wondered if any of them could imagine that this laundry-stomping guy on the sailboat once lived in a nice house, with a top-of-the-line, high-efficiency washing machine of his very own. And I waved back, just to emphasize how happy I am, and how great this is.

It’s everything I wish for you.

This guy appears idle, but he’s actually hunting.

OK, so here is the 5-10% time–crashing the Magote condo pool.


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