The Dark Side: Cruising Fatigue (aka The Cruisin’ Crummies)

Cruising is not all palm trees and rum punches, sometimes stuff sucks. I’ve given a lot of thought about whether or not to write about the crappy stuff, but a main reason I started this blog was to help would-be cruisers. “The Dark Side” is a little series that talks about stuff that sucks. Read at your own risk :)

I mentioned in our coming home post that JR and I suffered from something I began calling “cruising fatigue.” The first time I had heard about this fatigue, we were in Nassau. We ran into some friends who were heading north after a good long run in the Bahamas. We were still heading south and still very enamored with our new lifestyle. This couple had just spent about 5 weeks in George Town, Bahamas and when I asked them why they stayed so long in George Town (at that time, I had no idea we’d beat their record ;) she answered, “Well, we were tired of dodging weather, and researching anchorages, and staring at charts, and rolly anchorages. We needed a break.” I was like, “Whaaaaaat?” We were just moving south and still so excited! I kinda’ just brushed it off, admittedly thought “That wont be us!” and continued with our visit.

Fast forward several weeks and JR and I found ourselves sitting out yet another front, this time “Between the Majors” near Staniel Cay. And guess what? We were tired! It seemed we were dodging daunting west winds at least once a week, worrying about Chris Parker’s constant threat of squalls, freaking out about the odd anchorages we had to hide in and their lack of good holding, we were on edge and afraid to leave our boat because a big, giant squall might come through and pull out our anchor and push us into 1 of the 30 other boats who have all squeezed into this small, crappy anchorage to be protected from weather! Breathe!

Tired? Dodging? Worrying? Freaking out? Hiding? On edge? But, Drena, you don’t work and you are in paradise! I know, y’all, it sounds whiney and ungrateful, but problems are problems and worries are worries!  As my dear friend Penny would say, problems are relative! Sigh. JR had it worse than me, saying on multiple occasions that the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas are not worth the stress! It was a taxing time. And guess what? Once we made it to George Town, we relaxed. It’s so protected and lovely that we were able to take a break from checking weather, and moving anchorages, and checking charts, and we chilled out! We also finally understood exactly what our Nassau buddies were talking about. It made sense, it was relevant, it absolutely happened to us too!

Leo says, "Take a break, Dad!"

Leo says, “Take a break, Dad!”

We were good again for a long time, but once we made it back to Staniel (just a few weeks ago) to dodge another front (surprise!) it was 2 months later and we were stressed again! I won’t rehash the whole coming home thing, but not only were we experiencing cruising fatigue, it was compounded with hurricane season sneaking up on us, insurance expiring, and a new deadline upon us: August 1st! Needless to say, we are very pleased to be back in the calm and protected waters of the US :)

I haven’t read a whole lot about cruising fatigue, but Jake and I know it exists. When I started asking around and really listening closely to what my friends were saying, I found out it was pretty normal but gets discussed and dealt with differently per person.  We are all so happy to have this opportunity, it sometimes feels wrong to grumble about it. But the stress makes sense, right? An experience like this shouldn’t come too easy, if you want it, you gotta work for it!

So, if you’re a cruiser or an aspiring cruiser, remember to give yourself a break once in a while to decompress. It’s tough out here. Beautiful and peaceful and lovely and amazing, but tough. Be on the lookout for the cruisin’ crummies and take care of you (and your crew!)

If you’ve had an experience like this, please share.  It would’ve made a world of difference to me to really know it existed before I came down with a case of it myself ;)

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11 comments

  1. Forgot about those feelings. For us they only lasted a short time but we took many breaks. This year we never really had them at all but we were in the states on FL west coast. What really hits us at times is missing family and friends. I can’t say at home because our home is where ever we are. I think we feel more of that “cruising fatigue” when we are back at the house in DC! Prefer the simpler life of cruising. Notice I didn’t say easier.

    1. Agreed, David! And overall it has been spectacular! We had A LOT of fronts come through, I’d say weekly, it took it’s toll at times. We definitely missed people too, it was nice to have my mom and BFF visit! Looking back, with some experience, we’d do it again in a second! We love it out here!

  2. “7. Embrace everything. This isn’t going to be fun all the time. That pristine anchorage in turquoise water off a deserted island comes with a price. You’ll have moments when you hate the boat, the ocean, the wind, the waves, your spouse, yourself and sometimes all at once. It’s okay. It will pass — and it will make a great story.”

    It’s not real until you’ve experienced it. :-)

    Glad you’re back in more relaxing waters. Cruising fatigue is so intense.

    xoxo,
    t.

  3. We are still part time cruisers, but can relate to your comments! We had worked really hard on our yacht to get prepared for our summer holidays in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. It involved a 36 hour coastal journey to deliver the yacht there, and all the logistics surrounding that. Then when we finally returned with the kids for the holiday the weather was horrendous! Pouring rain and gales almost the whole time! All the anxiety about whether the new anchor would hold or not, the unknown areas we were visiting – where was the best place to go and shelter. The kids all cooped up inside, windows leaking on to beds, everything damp and cold and everyone on board getting a bit over it! Thankfully each day the sun would pop out from behind the clouds for about an hour and the wind would die off for a bit, giving us a chance to get outside for a bit and regroup before it changed to howl from a different direction.
    Whilst at the time it was challenging and stressful, in hindsight it really built my confidence in my yacht, the new anchor and my ability to cope in the situations that we came up against.
    As I sit here in my warm office writing this, I would swap it in an instant to be out sailing in the rain instead. The grass is always greener on the other side? :)

    1. What a story, Vicki, and yes, it sure beats a day in the office! I hope I didn’t come off as complaining, I didn’t mean it that way. And I agree so whole heartedly about the experience and confidence. JR and I have talked extensively about it and those few days of stress were SO worth three and a half months in the Bahamas! And next time, it’ll be a little smoother! We aren’t home yet, we are slowly heading up the ICW on the east coast of the US. We know what waits for us at home, and we are doing our best to enjoy every moment out here! Thank you for reminding us about warm offices and dreaming about boats :) Take care and thanks for reading.

  4. Cruising fatigue is a very real thing and I really suffered from it last year. We have been out living aboard our boat and constantly sailing Europe. In summer we anchor all the time and in winter we go in the marina. Five or six months of worrying if you are dragging, weather, where to go next, boat problems just gets to you and slowly wears you down.
    This year I looked forward to actually getting into the winter berth so we could tie up,and I could turn everything off including myself. I was well and truly worn out.
    This year we are going to take it very easy I said. Our first quick sail was 14 hours, the genoa got stuck out and we had to drop the lot on the deck.
    There are times when you need just to take a year out and mellow.

    1. Thank you, Mark, for sharing! That is way more intense than anything we’ve done! Wow! It goes to show that cruising is stressful and yup, take some time off! Thank you for reading.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. Cruising fatigue is something I worry will happen to us. There were days when we were cruising over the summer in New Zealand when I wondered why we were doing this. Especially when we had day after day after day of high winds and little sleep! We’re off to the States to buy our next boat to continue our cruising adventures. We’re hoping to find a way to balance out all the good with the bad and minimize the cruising fatigue. All the best for your future adventures!

    Cheers – Ellen

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