In April 2018 we left our boat Mazu in San Carlos, Mexico. Like many cruisers with no immediate plans to sail beyond Mexico, we de-commissioned Mazu and left her on the hard in advance of hurricane season, then headed back to Canada. With hurricane season now winding down, we are asked regularly when we are returning to the boat, and what are our plans? Our answer – “We are taking a break from Mazu.”
Four and a half years ago we bought Mazu with the intention of preparing her and ourselves to sail to places near and far. Although both of us are sailors, we did not have experience with large keel-boats or blue water sailing. The learning curve was steep. Besides the boat, navigation and weather, we had a lot to learn about one another and ourselves.
Choosing to moor the boat at a remote marina where we were the sole live-aboards provided a quiet, yet isolated, environment for daily living. This arrangement accelerated the rate at which we learned and got things done on the boat, yet we skipped over developing other vital parts of our lives in the process. We lacked a community in which we could get a break from one another and develop friendships to fill the emotional and intellectual gaps not filled by one another. Unlike some others preparing for offshore adventures, our floating home was not based in a community in which we had deep relationships with friends and family. The Bluewater Cruising Association provided a vital place in which we met people on a regular basis and formed friendships. Still, those meetings did not break us away from all things “boat”. Then, being away sailing, whether in the nearby Gulf Islands or as far afield as Mexico, did not help with community building. Of course we did meet people when anchored and at marinas and have made new friends as a result. Community, however, is something sustained and sustaining. People we would only see occasionally, if ever again, cannot provide much needed emotional grounding that is the hallmark of a healthy, well-rounded life.
Kurt Vonnegut has noted that when couples are getting on each other’s nerves, the problem is generally about loneliness – “Women want a whole lot of people to talk to … about everything. Men want a lot of pals – and they don’t want people to get mad at them.” So when people start getting annoyed with one another, really they are saying, “You’re not enough people.” And to become more people it is necessary to join groups, different kinds of groups, forming a synthetic extended family. (Vonnegut, K., 2013)
For now we are taking a much-needed break from Mazu. Creating a home and a community in downtown Victoria has helped us to take better care of our physical and emotional health. We’ve joined groups to feed our intellectual and spiritual needs; (thank you Kurt Vonnegut). In a year’s time we’ll reconsider what our plans are for Mazu. In the meantime we are rejuvenating and rediscovering who we are beyond our boat.
- Kurt Vonnegut, “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young“, 2013