34 Things I’ve
Learned in 33,000 Miles
1. Mom likes to say “the journey is the destination”. She’s right.
Although we sailed from point to point on a map, locations were only a
skeleton on which to build our adventure.
2. You find what you’re looking for. The cruises who talk about the
dangers lurking in each location are invariably the ones who find trouble.
Cruisers who make smart decisions and keep a positive attitude somehow
manage to find good stuff in the same places and enjoy themselves much more.
3. Cruising is a great investment of time.
4. If I have children, I will take them cruising. They will thank me.
5. There is no shortage of adventure in the world but most of the
real ones aren’t easy.
6. For every Paris or Rome there are a thousand hidden corners of the
globe where people like you and me make a life. The corners are usually
where my favorite memories originate.
7. Cruising let’s you share a back porch with a billionaire. In
Turkey we anchored next to a diamond merchant’s 200 foot megayacht for two
days. He spent 50 million dollars to visit the same destination as us. Some
people buy floating condominiums and some people buy the sailing equivalent
of a cargo crate, but we all meet at the same barbecue pit on the beach.
8. There is always something to do on a boat. You are never,
9. The Caribbean is high quality cruising. The Bahamas are shockingly
beautiful. Who knew there are such awesome destinations so close to the
10. Ocean crossing is mostly about persistence. Just point the boat
in the right direction, don’t hit anything for a few days, and you’re good
11. Reality TV is stupid.
12. One of my favorite things about cruising is how every day is
different. You never know what wrinkles will be thrown into your schedule so
you might as well take off your wristwatch.
13. Don’t use pens from the desk of an Immigration officer without
asking for permission first.
14. Lost in an arid, desolate land? Shipwrecked on a deserted island?
Trapped in a canyon by a pack of hyenas? Never fear. They'll build a new
Starbucks at your location within the week.
15. When locals point to the next island as “dangerous”, there are
usually people on that island pointing back at them and saying the same
16. Other yachties refer to you by your boat name (for example, if
our friends on Duetto were talking about us they might say “Exit
Only are brilliant mariners”). Remember this when you get the urge to name your vessel La Cucaracha.
17. There is something wonderfully mysterious about harnessing the
wind to travel.
18. Always learn a few phrases in the local language. People
appreciate the effort and it’s a great way to make new friends. (NOTE: be
sure to know the exact meaning of your newfound phrases before you
shout them across crowded rooms at sword-toting strangers)
19. Never overestimate the common sense of charter boats when it
comes to anchoring. I don’t want to sound negative but you would not believe
some of the stuff we’ve seen in the Caribbean. Usually the accidents happen
because they don’t observe the First Rule of Doing Anything on a Boat (see
20. Slow is better than fast. Disasters usually happen because
someone is trying to accomplish something too fast. It's similar to
operating a chainsaw in this respect.
21. It is OK to say "no, thanks" when pressured to buy something. If
the vendor still refuses to acknowledge your right not to part with your
hard earned cash, shout newly learned local phrases (NOTE: unless the seller
has a sword...in which case, buy something from them. Preferably a shield or
a larger sword).
22. On the extremely rare occasions when we’ve been pressured for a
bribe, a polite “no” has worked. This seems to be the consensus opinion of
most cruisers and travelers I know.
23. You find good people wherever you go.
24. God loves every single person on this planet. I know it sounds
glib but this thought keeps popping into the forefront of my mind as we
travel. That Maldivian lady fishing on the end of the pier? God loves her.
The rich Italian punk who ripped by in a speedboat and rocked us with a huge
wake? God loves him. The guy in Grenada who snuck onto our boat at night and
didn’t see anything worth taking, but left muddy footprints? God loves him.
The lady who smiled and gave us extra bread at the market in Sudan? God
loves her. The list goes on forever. It is such a mind-blowing idea and it
makes me want to treat other people better because we when you get right
down to it, we‘re all the same. By the way, God loves you too.
25. Cruising isn‘t always fun. Long night watches, rough passages,
boat maintenance, getting trapped on board for days of non-stop rain, living
in close proximity with three other adults (two of whom are your parents),
lightning storms, relatives who don’t understand, living at the mercy of the
weather, frequent discomfort, traveling at speeds which make a snail on a
unicycle look fast, and intermittent contact with shore-based friends are
all part of the deal. But it’s worth it.
26. All ocean passages include a few hours when ice cream is the sole
topic of conversation.
27. It would have been nice to have a freezer on board.
28. A good hat is worth it’s weight in ice cream. I lucked out and
found an Australian cowboy hat with enough stiffness and brim width to serve as my
29. Never trust a strange camel.
30. Every Diet Coke manufacturer uses a slightly different recipe.
The flavors range from "Throat-chokingly Harsh" to "Heavenly Nectar". Always
check which it is before you buy 12 cases.
31. You know how all the pictures from the 1800s and 1900s show
people with serious faces? I guess photographs were too rare to waste on
tomfoolery and goofy smiles. Interestingly, many eastern cultures are modern
day proponents of “straight faced” photography.
People are affable and smiling in conversation until I ask if I can take a
photo, whereupon they straighten up and get serious.
It makes me wonder about my natural inclination to act like a goofball
whenever anyone points a camera at me. At the very least I usually smile.
Why? Am I trying to inject happiness into a memory which might otherwise
appear bland? How many times have you seen an arguing couple on vacation
stop and smile while a stranger takes their picture, then go right back to
arguing? What will they remember of their trip when they look back at their
32. Daily radio nets are a great way to keep morale up on the open
ocean. Especially if you are the one with the best fishing story.
33. Humanity has a startling history of warfare. Sometimes I felt
like we were touring the world from fortress to fortress. Leading me to my
34. This might not be a popular point of view but I think it is worth
considering: How arrogant is it that Europeans (and I include my own
ancestry in this category) had the gall to land on islands populated by
natives and claim them in the name of their homeland? In school I was taught
that European colonial expansion was motivated by “God, gold, and glory”.
They achieved these goals thanks to superior military technology (they had
Imagine if aliens from the nearby Chewbaccan galaxy landed a spaceship on
South Beach (in Miami) and claimed Florida as part of the Chewbaccan
Republic…never mind the high rise buildings full of Canadians….or the
sun-drenched beach revelers angry about the spaceship blocking their sun…or
the fact that no one wants to subjugate themselves to a Republic named after
a sidekick (“We bow to no one but Han Solo!”). The aliens aren’t
concerned because they have energy cannons, sonic blasters, and shields
which make them impervious to anything Will Smith or Tom Cruise can do. If
the Chewbaccans want Florida, we are helpless to stop them.
THE RED SEA CHRONICLES - A FIRST CLASS
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