Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | April 7, 2013

Two Years of Cruising

N 12° 33.74′   W 81° 41.5′

San Andrés, Colombia

2 yrs_2

We celebrated the anniversary of April 2, 2011 this week, the day that we cast off on this adventure. It has been another satisfying year, a melding of challenges, fun, novel experiences & unfamiliar cultures. It is hard to believe we have been under way for two years.

We traveled slightly fewer miles this year (2050 vs. 2475), checking in to 10 different countries. Twice as many nights were spent in marinas (2 out of 5 vs. 1 out of 5), mostly because of safety and logistical reasons. We had fewer travel days (about 1 in 5 vs. 2 in 7), but made several multi-day passages and spent a few more nights at sea (9 vs 5). We accomplished our longest passage to date, a 3 night 2 day 400 mile venture from Grenada to Bonaire. For being island-hopper-day-trippers at heart we stepped more outside our comfort zone.

This year we transited areas that don’t exactly rank as the safest countries in the world – the Venezuelan coastline, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua. Nothing like the Gulf of Aden pirate haven, but requiring more thought as we charted our course.  We managed to keep operating smoothly in remote locations for longer periods of time, requiring more planning for maintenance and provisioning along with some good luck. We spent considerable time in Spanish-speaking lands where finding an English-speaking person was sometimes a luxury. We grew our horizons a bit more and continued to learn about the world, cruising, ourselves. I think we are just scratching the surface.

Some of the past years revelations include:

  • What seemed like an overwhelming itinerary has been manageable.  One passage at a time.
  • We have been humbled that our ability to communicate in multiple languages is much more limited than that of many people we meet from around the world
  • People who live in huts in communal villages can have a satisfying lifestyle (from the San Blas)
  • There is a lot to learn about batteries
  • It would have been kinder to confine the dogs aboard the first two weeks of our cruise to help them ace boat potty training right from the beginning.  A year and a half later, after our experience in Panama, they now get it and use the facilities when needed rather than holding out for a possible shore trip. Bob was right.
  • We haven’t made great progress with the woodworking project. We must be getting lazy.
  • The way we do things at home isn’t necessarily better.  Simpler and less bureaucratic solutions can be found in what we would consider second and third world countries.
  • We aren’t content for very long without good internet access
  • Much as we both enjoy eating fresh fish, fishing isn’t our thing. Boat design is not conducive to fishing . . . seas too rough . . . We have many excuses and haven’t put forth the effort.
  • Colombia is not nearly as scary a place as most people think. We found Cartagena especially appealing.
  • With a very few exceptions in the places we ventured this year, cruisers, no matter how modest their vessel, are perceived as being wealthy and privileged.  That is a stark contrast to the thought process back home, where liveaboard cruisers are often viewed as inferior and undesirable citizens.
  • It is possible to go for three months between supermarket visits
  • There are even fewer cruising trawlers in the southwestern Caribbean than in the eastern Caribbean.  The sailors have predominated – something like 250:1 on our route.  We stand out more than we thought we would.
  • Unrefrigerated eggs won’t kill you
  • A lifestyle free from so many material possessions feels great. Who needs more stuff? We are going to have another purging party when we wrap up this trip.
  • Two years are a long time to be away from family & friends. The “cruising snowbirds” who can fly home from time to time have the best of both worlds.

The lifestyle seems a perfect match for Bob. He absolutely loves the relaxed pace and finds the inconveniences overshadowed by the joys. I tend to see the highs and lows more vividly. Exciting destinations requiring sometimes uncomfortable sea travel. The most beautiful places with complicated logistics to take care of basic needs. New friends but many good-byes. Tranquility that can sometimes feel like isolation. The scales keep tipping back and forth, never totally settling into a balance but keeping life interesting.

The coming year will bring more assignments. Two long passages, including the 400+ mile stretch from Providencia to Honduras and the 300+ mile run from Mexico to Florida.  Traversing the Gulf of Mexico passage before hurricane season. Transitioning to life ashore in a marina. Figuring out our new roles. Trying not to forget some of the more valuable lessons learned on this voyage.

First we have to find our way out of San Andrés.  Our lives are in the control of Mother Nature at the moment. Bob is content to hang out here, enjoy this beautiful place and wait for our weather window. “Have patience”, he says.

Every morning I count the days before hurricane season arrives (55) and compare that with the miles we need to cover to get across the Gulf of Mexico (1121). Which leads me to the last revelation: while the cruising experience can change many aspects of your life and ways of thinking about the world, our basic personalities, strengths and weaknesses are really quite resilient.

2 yrs_3

Lady says the best part of cruising is being able to constantly be at her master’s side

2 yrs_4

Bandit says the best part of cruising is when we find an island small enough to to lose the leash

Mar Azul_6

Thanks to Dustin and Engelhardt Photography for the first and last photo!



  1. Thank you for bringing us along. I have enjoyed every word. Lord willing we shove off for Mexico on the 24th. After a layover in the Dry Tortugas, we should arrive sometime on the 28th. Looking forward to it, but certainly nothing like the journey you are on. I hope someday to replicate your trip, at least to Grenada and then probably back the same way I came. Take care and stay safe. By the way, love the dog pictures. We take Mimi out any time we can. She loves the boat and is pad trained.

    • Brad, we wish you a safe and wonderful trip! Sure wish we were a little farther along so we could have a Mexican mini Defever Rendezvous.

  2. I’ve enjoyed your adventure almost as much as you have! Keep writing and showing the pictures. I loved the San Blas and native interactions the best. Fantastic stuff and a model for many others to follow.

    • Thanks, Jeff! This has been a fun way to share our travels with family & friends as well as to preserve some of the memories, joys, challenges & frustrations of it all. We have definitely found ActiveCaptain to be a very helpful tool on this trip and now that we are in good internet territory again have no excuses for not getting our entries updated!

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