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You know you are a cruiser when…

by Daria Blackwell

To amuse ourselves on one Atlantic crossing, the Madlantic cruisers net started an SSB thread about the cruising lifestyle. We all realized that there are certain, almost stereotypical, behaviours that cruisers share, not out of habit but out of necessity. It makes us all kindred spirits with a distinct culture that is unbound by any national boundaries. In fact, what binds us most are the things that happen at the confluence of worlds, where the ocean meets the land. Here are some of the cruising culture factoids I’ve collected over time.

  • You've read 240 books in the past year and only bought one.
  • You have to ask your partner where you are and where you’re heading when you call into the SSB net.
  • You figure out the system for getting free drinks at every race party.
  • You figure out how to mingle with the all-inclusive crowd on the beach or in the resort.
  • The number of tools you have far exceeds the number of toys.
  • You ride standing up in your dinghy so as not to get wet.
  • Dressing up means wearing your cleanest T-shirt and flip flops.
  • You have to go online to figure out what day of the week it is.
  • You consider a sell by date of six months ago pretty good.
  • You fill your tanks carrying loads of water jugs in the dinghy so you don’t have to pay 15 cents per gallon for water at the pump.
  • You organize a group of cruisers to share a taxi to the supermarket.
  • You know the location of every chandlery and hardware store within a 20 mile radius.
  • You anchor near the hotels in case they have free wifi you can pick up from on board.
  • Your laundry is recycled.
  • You become a member of the soggy bottom boys.
  • You take a bath in saltwater and rinse with a cup of fresh.
  • You tie a string onto everything you take to the top of the mast, and tie the other end of the string to yourself.
  • You run out naked to scrub the deck in rain showers and end up scrubbing yourself while you’re at it.
  • You haven’t heard the news in weeks, and don’t care.
  • You scramble to write a blog every week so your friends think you are responsible.
  • You sit on the ground near free wifi hot spots for hours at a time.
  • You learn commands for the hole in the wall bank in multiple languages so it doesn’t eat your debit card.
  • You lock your dinghy as soon as you land.
  • You eat chicken for every meal that isn’t breakfast, and for breakfast you eat eggs.
  • You get land sick instead of seasick.
  • You have photos of every island under the sun and almost all look the same.
  • You have friends whose surnames you don’t know and boat names you’ll never forget.
  • You can fit your body into a small box that’s crammed full of gear.
  • You rate marinas by their shower facilities.
  • You know the best source for ice in every coastal town.
  • You carry one anchor of every kind just in case.
  • You figure out how to re-freshen bread in every imaginable way.
  • You have 30 recipes for mahi-mahi and are always searching for more.
  • Your skin is getting darker, your mind is getting duller.
  • You haven’t worn a watch in years.
  • The first thing you ask is, “Where are the supermarket, the laundry, and the chandlery? ”
  • A trip to the supermarket requires packing up the dinghy with rolling coolers, knapsacks, bags and lists, unpacking and lugging everything to the market, repacking it and yourselves back into the dinghy full, then removing all the excess packaging and labelling everything with permanent markers, before lugging it all on board then below in stages, and finally stowing it.
  • You go to sleep at dark and wake up at dawn.
  • You panic when you can’t find your good pair of flip flops.
  • You say good bye to your good friends 20 times in 30 days because you were heading the same way after all.
  • Laundry day starts by lowering the dinghy … and checking the gas tank in the outboard.
  • When finding a West Marine or a Costco makes your day.
  • Watching sunups and sundowns over the water always capture your soul.
  • You get the urge to move if you've stayed in one place too long.
  • You write lists of lists
  • Your ‘honey do’ list never gets any shorter
  • You go out to dinner and order a drink named "Hurricane" just hours before the hurricane hits! Hey, you know you have already done everything you can do until the real hurricane hits you...
  • You have more spare engine parts than underwear.
  • You talk more about anchorages than your grandchildren!
  • You end up talking about anchors and toilets with people you just met.
  • You go right to "do you have a water maker?"
  • The first things you ask in each new location are directions to the supermarket and chandlery.
  • You need support in convincing your husband you need a washer and a water maker!
  • You talk about the inside rain (condensation) with other boaters waiting out the effects of the hurricane.
  • The first question out of your mouth is "Is there a free town dock? "
  • When you do not get involved in multi/mono hull arguments or anchor techniques/equipment discussions...these are left for "experts" a/k/a armchair experts... after all, cruising requires entertainment ;>)
  • You get into a one upmanship discussion about who has the best anchoring story.
  • You cycle your clothes through stages... 'Clean, good for dinner'... 'Still pretty clean, good for daily wear'... 'Kinda dirty, but still good enough for on board wear'... 'Oooh, that smells, time to wash'
  • You're two favourite topics of discussion are laundry and weather.
  • You realize the people on shore have this questioning look.
  • just do it..............
  • When you say "Roger" instead of "yes" in a telephone conversation with a vendor or other non cruiser.
  • You say “over” on a Skype call when you are done talking.
  • When you get a faraway and excited look in your eyes when people start talking about near-death experiences.
  • You have pictures of your boat in zillions of anchorages and you can name each one.
  • You have lots of friends who you know only by their first names and the name of their boat.
  • ...the first question you ask on the morning net is where the book exchange is.
  • On the morning net, you're always trying to find someone who can fix the fridge on buy, sell or trade.
  • When you get a laugh out of cruisers nets
  • You understand the difference between living aboard and cruising.
  • When visitors want to leave your boat cause all you ever play is Jimmy Buffet.
  • When Eileen Quinn's songs become your anthems.
  • As another boat approaches you pull out your Binoculars and comment on what type of anchor and how they handle their boat ....
  • You're down below in an anchorage and hear a bow thruster which immediately sends you up on deck to see where you need to put the fenders.
  • When you own more Aloha shirts than Hilo Hattie
  • When you wear your Aloha shirts with plaid shorts. (This is strictly American.)
  • When you have no idea which islands in the Caribbean have airports
  • You have collected 205 recipes for preparing fish, especially tuna and Mahi Mahi (Dorado, Dolphinfish).
  • You have eaten flying fish for breakfast.
  • You realize you can have a change of scenery any time you want.
  • When you’ve run out of wishes while watching a meteor shower in the middle of the night on watch at sea.
  • You’re learning to speak dolphin and whale. Spanish can wait.


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