We arranged to look at the boat on a Wednesday evening around 6 p.m.. David and Jenni, the Walker Bay sellers, live in the historic district of Bloomington, on a piece of land that contains a recently renovated carriage house that is now Davids’ boat building workshop. Beautifully accented with wide plank, knotty pine flooring, the interior is reminiscent of a Northwestern fishing cottage.
As we discussed the boat with David, we learned about his dreams of cruising and his current and past collection of water toys. When I mentioned that we were considering long term cruising in the future, David told us about their plans to cruise, which ended abruptly when Jenni backed out of the plan about 3 weeks before their new C&C cruiser was set to be delivered.
After we had struck a deal on the dingy we stood in the garage, just David and I, while Jeff went to get the car and Jenni went to fetch us some celebratory drinks, and discussed how cruising can affect a relationship. He spoke candidly, if not intimately to me, a virtual stranger, about how he struggled to decide between his marriage and his dream to cruise when his wife, as he said, got “freaked out” by the impending alternative lifestyle of cruising. “She decided that she could not give up the comforts of land life, and ultimately, as you can see, I decided not to give up on her.” This conversation echoes a frequent internal dialogue I have which often centers on questions such as what if I don’t like cruising? What will happen to our marriage? How will we compromise? How could I keep Jeff from this life-long goal?
For David and Jenni the compromise was investing in property in Florida near the water and collecting a variety of boats. They had two small sailboats at their home in Bloomington and, from our discussion, it sounded like they had sailed in every sailable body of water imaginable in the region. Meeting them brought up hopes and fears for our journey to life on the water, but also gave us an example of what the cruising community might be like.
I often read about couples who drop anchor and within a short while are sharing drinks and stories with other cruisers like they have known them for years rather than hours. Cruising friendships are often touted as immediate, intense, and very real. Many cruisers say they feel an instant camaraderie with each other, knowing that you have encountered similar seas, storms, and challenges, in both your sailing and relationships. I am excited about the idea of cruising challenging me. I truly believe that downsizing and casting the lines will help me examine my goals and my ideas of happiness, accomplishment, and satisfaction.
With our new-used boat strapped to the roof of Jeff’s 1998 Honda CRV, we drove the 45 minutes home with barely a moment of silence. Our chance encounter with these interesting folks stirred up a lot of discussion and debate about cruising and our timeline for departure. But most importantly, we checked the forecast for the next week to see when we could fit in my first sailing lesson.