Cruising Show Stoppers?

Everyone, us included, spends way too much time, energy and money getting  ready to “go cruising”.  I am often envious of those that are less Type A “list-oriented” than me.

But the reality is there are very few things, that can stop cruisers determined to go cruising.  A seaworthy boat is necessary, an appropriate amount of food is good, but beyond that it gets down to JUST GO!!!   We like to think in terms of “show stoppers” whenever we travel, cruising or otherwise — here are a few:

1.  Health.  Your health & your cruising partner’s health can dictate cruising plans.  Remember being healthy is a very transient treasure … being healthy today does not guarantee being healthy tomorrow.  So GO … JUST GO!

2.  Current Passports & Boat Papers … of course, it’s a good idea to have passports if you think it’s possible you might wander into foreign territory — or even if you don’t — who knows what a strong allure the Bahamas might have in conjunction with perfect weather when you’re cruising the Florida East Coast!.

Make sure your passports expire after your expected return date.

Also make sure your boat papers, whether it’s USCG Documentation or State Registration, are current and won’t expire before you expect to return.

If you look really carefully, under the first mountain peak to the far right of the photo, in the distance, you’ll see a spec — that’s Winterlude anchored by Barbaretta in the Bay Islands and the photo’s taken from the Pigeon Cayes.

3.  Health. (bear with me, it’s important!)   Remember, we are all sort of in charge of our own health.  Many factors contribute to being unhealthy and some are within our control.  Exercise and eat right — I know, we’ve all heard it a gazillion times.  Unfortunately medical conditions shorten many cruisers dreams before they have a chance to dream them – we know, we’ve met them in every country we left the boat!  It’s sad to see someone give up cruising for health issues.  It’s even sadder knowing many people never realize their dream because health interferes.  Obviously there are health issues outside anyone’s control.  But try to do everything that IS in your control not to let it happen.

4.  Necessary Medications & How You’ll Get Refills.  Yes, being healthy is important, but many of us take prescription medications regularly that help maintain our health.  So if you’re planning to go cruising, figure out ahead of time how you’ll get enough medication to cover how long you want to be gone… and then some.  If you’re cruising the US Coast, often the easiest way to handle this is to find a multi location pharmacy that you can transfer refills to anywhere you might be…  CVS and WalMart have both worked for us.  Outside the US it gets a bit trickier.

Weaving our way into the Cocos Banderos in Kuna Yala/aka the San Blas Islands, Panama. Aly, my daughter, exclaimed “oh my gosh mom, you live in a corona commercial!” I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I guess we did!

5.   Cash & a Way to Get Money/Local Currency.   You’ll need cash when you make your first international landfall. If you’re not allowed ashore while checking in, you may not have a choice and have to use US Dollars.  But if you have a choice, it’s often more cost effective to pay fees in local currency.   Here’s a post we did on the How to Get Cash issues, and make sure not to forget to factor in foreign transaction fees if you’re using an ATM – they can add hidden costs to ATM fees from both your bank and the local bank!

As long as your boat is seaworthy, the view from the cockpit is the same no matter if you’re a 30 footer or a 50 footer…

So 4 major show stoppers – Health; Passports & Boat Papers; Prescription Meds & Cash/How to Get It.  Everything else can be either bought when you get somewhere or done without.  Did I miss any show stoppers?  Please leave a comment and share!   THANKS!  Jan



  1. Good post, Jan.

    • Thanks Dave! I keep telling everyone I know that’s remotely interested in a trawler about Drift Away — I know how difficult the decision must be to sell, but I also understand building a cabin off the grid in the mountains! ENJOY!!!

  2. I think that self-steering is a show stopper on a short-handed crew. We once hand steered from Tom’s River in NJ to Block Island – 37 hours in 10ft waves left over from hurricane Earl. It was torture and I will never do it again. Rest is critical to safety and you can’t get enough of it if you’re hand steering.

    Good post,

    S/V Kintala

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