That’s what a ship is, you know, not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is – is freedom.”

Captain Jack Sparrow

Living The Dream

The dream of most boaters, if not all, is freedom. Breaking away from the crowd. To be on your own and be self reliant. To accept the challenge and be your own master.

Perhaps exploring the freedom and challenges cruising brings through our real life experiences, stories and adventures will inspire you to follow your dream. 

Whether that dream is to visit far away places . . .

Cruising to Channel Islands Harbor

Cruising to Channel Islands Harbor

Or visiting nearby ports . . .

Morro Bay Moon Rise

Morro Bay Moon Rise

Overcoming Your Apprehension Is The Challenge

When we purchased Mai Tai some 18 years ago I had visions of cruising. Exploring the California coast and it’s islands. Mai Tai was equipped for extended cruising. For many years we did nothing but local outings lasting no more than a couple days.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was invited to crew on a boat with a couple friends from Puerto Vallarta to Ensenada that I got my first taste of cruising life. That experience changed my life.

The apprehension I felt about going it alone fell away. My confidence got a huge boost. I was inspired.

Gaining Experience

My first experience was so impactful that I accepted an invitation to crew on a friends boat over on the East coast. What an adventure that turned out to be. I was getting into the boating lifestyle. Cruising the ICW (Inter Continental Waterway) from Florida to the north end of Long Island, NY. 

On this cruise we anchored out when traveling between the many ports. We spent enough time to really get the feeling of what cruising is all about . . . freedom.

I realized at this point that I had been missing out on the best part of boating. And that was the cruising lifestyle. I was, at long last, experiencing what I had long dreamed of.

Going It Alone

With a couple thousand miles of cruising on other peoples boats I made the decision to get Mai Tai ready for her first adventure. It was time to take command of my own boat and put her, and myself to the test. 

There are many options on the Southern California coast cruisers. Including small towns, large cities and interesting islands. Combined with the mild climate this is a fantastic area for coastal cruising. And an ideal area to gain experience as we set out on our first cruise.

The feeling onboard Mai Tai as we cast off from our home for the last several years and headed out to sea was mixed. We had been preparing for this day for many months. When the dock lines were finally drawn in and stowed away and goodbyes were said, emotions were raging. The excitement was high but also mixed with tension.

Although we had many miles and days of experience as crew we had very little experience being in command and responsible. Being responsible for everything onboard and everything that could happen along the way added a higher level of tension. . 

This tension lasted for at least three days. But, as we encountered challenges and overcame them we quickly became more confident in our abilities. And, we began to develop a routine that suited each of us.

Getting In The Groove

After three days of wind, poor visibility and having to adapt to our new reality we were beginning to feel more confident. At dawn on the fourth day we left our safe haven and headed out to Catalina Island.

Here we began to experience the freedom we only imagined up to this point. Unlike pulling into a port on the coast arriving at an island like Catalina was like the first explorers must have felt. Approaching the unknown with feelings of wonder, anticipation and freedom. This is the magic of cruising.

When we arrived we had no plans. The goal was to get there. And now we were.

It is no wonder that Catalina is the most popular of the Channel Islands. The waters are pristine. Crystal clear and abundant sea life. The island itself is lightly developed and offers a lot of onshore activities. We ended up spending several days here and wouldn’t hesitate to go back and spend many more days in the future

Our journey continued for several more months and hundreds of miles. Whatever your dream is we hope you will find value in the stories and articles we share here. And that you will use this site to further your adventure into the world of cruising. 

Learn more about cruising through our series “Coastal Cruising”.  Living the dream and experiencing the freedom can be achieved.

If you are a cruiser feel free to share your stories here on the BetterBoating.US website. I’m sure we’ll all benefit.