Thriving on the unknowns

“I tell people that you guys are annoyingly content.” Our friend Chris said with a chuckle while sitting at Yahtzee’s nav desk. “It’s a good thing. What I mean is that you’re the most content people I’ve seen handle the unknown. Most people have a hard time dealing with that, and you do it so seamlessly.”

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve had several conversations with friends and family about what we’re up to next aboard Yahtzee. And several of those have led to quesitons about the precarious nature of it all and how we deal with it: Are you nervous about what’s next? Is the uncertainty frightening?

There’s a big world out there to explore.

Our answer to the basic question of where we’re going next is that we’ll head north to British Columbia in March and see what happens from there. How far north and upon what route, we’re not sure, but we’re thinking Alaska.

The lines of questioning then become less about where we’re going and more about our lack of concrete plans and dates. The underlying concern here is how we deal with the “maybes” of it all — the unknowns of not having an exact route and time frame. And how some days we might not even know where we’re going that day.

Plans can always change on a whim.

We learned long ago that making too detailed a cruising schedule or trying to stick to a step-by-step plan isn’t a realistic way for us to cruise, and tends to only lead to stress. It’s that level of uncertainty in our lifestyle that we understand doesn’t sit right with some folks, especially non-cruisers, and I’ll try to explain it like we do to them.

The day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year journey of living and cruising on Yahtzee is what we loveand we don’t plan to change it. The unknowns of weather, boat issues or where we might be anchored even one night from today are what we’re comfortable with. And sure, there are times when the lack of schedule still takes some getting used to, especially for Jill, and it can be difficult at times. But we know that if we get too set or excited about one idea or plan, it’s likely to change.

Being together is what matters most.

What makes us truly nervous is when life feels that it’s getting too scripted, planned or scheduled. The thought of living in one place, of owning a car and lots of stuff, and the monotony of doing the same things over and over makes us uneasy. Being locked into specific dates, times and places is fine and it happens for work, family, etc, but to a point it starts to feel uncomfortable.

This is one reason why we don’t talk a lot about cruising plans in the too distant future on the blog. Some cruisers enjoy planning out exactly what they’re “going to do” while cruising, and that’s fine, but we’ve found it to be a slippery slope to start proclaiming where we’ll be when and what we’ll be doing past a couple months out. And to do so would make it feel like we have to.

Yes, we have long term goals and dreams that we’re excited about, but they are many, and, just like where our day-to-day lives take us, they are extremely fluid. Though we work towards those aspirations diligently, we also know that if the future becomes all consuming, then we wouldn’t be happy living in the moment.

It’s the small moments that can be the most memorable.

We’ve also found that we don’t necessarily have to go far and fast to make contentment with this life a reality. If anything, it’s one of the things that we’ve come to understand most about our style of family cruising. We love exploring the world by sailboat on our own terms without feeling the need to proclaim that we’re “sailing around the world” or to “XYZ location.” We want to sail far and wide someday, but we’re taking it at our own pace, not the expectations of others. This means that we make miles when we need or want to and take advantage of opportunities when they happen. Or we don’t.

Dealing with these unknowns and relative unknowns is what we live for. It’s exhilarating, and it teaches us to adapt to the people, places and things that we encounter along the way. What keeps us grounded while living these uncertainties is that our daily routines are largely the same. Even though the boat moves along, our everyday schedules rarely vary. Maybe that’s what makes it all work so well for us.

Porter and Magnus are right at home on Yahtzee, wherever that happens to be.

This adaptability is especially important with the boys. All they know is Yahtzee and the style of life we lead. We try to exemplify living life to the fullest in a fun and responsible way, yet doing so with a sense of adventure and wonderment that sparks their creative and analytical minds. Hopefully because of it, they’re growing into curious, sociable and thoughtful little guys that know numbers and their ABCs but can also tell the difference between high tide and low, and a sheet from a halyard. In an odd sort of way, the unknowns for them are actually known and routine. And waking up in a new anchorage can be as regular an occurrence as brushing their teeth.

Moving from place to place is all part of the routine.

All of this is the reality we’re in right now, and we figure there’s more sense in flourishing off of these unknowns than letting apprehension paralyze and stop us. If we’d done that, we’d still be at the dock. The bottom line, then, is that we don’t truly know what our future aboard Yahtzee will bring tomorrow or three months from tomorrow — and not only are we fine with that, we thrive on it.


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6 thoughts on “Thriving on the unknowns

  1. Great post! I know exactly where you are coming from. When our plans changed from traversing the NWP to something different, but just as wonderful and amazing for our family, a lot of people found it hard to understand why we weren’t more disappointed…. Still to this day (2 yrs after we decided to change our plan) we get asked if we are going back to attempt it again, but honestly, we’ve moved on from it and are looking at other horizons. Plans change – often when people ask what are plans are for our sailing we say something along the lines of “our plan is to make one of those plan things….ha ha” as it is hard to grasp that we don’t set deadlines and schedules to our sailing. Instead we go for a rough outline and wing it – best way to live life!! Plans are made for changing and some of the best experiences happen ‘off plan’.

  2. While our family doesn’t cruise nearly as much as yours, we can relate to your approach. I love it when we are out a “cruising about” and our daughter nonchalantly asks “where are we going next?”

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