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Is cruising as good as it sounds?

Balmy nights, swaying palm trees, wine and cheese on the deck, crystal clear waters to swim in, wind in the sails and sand at your feet. This is what dreams are made of.

It has long been of dream of ours to take our family sailing up the east coast of Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef before they all set forth on their journey of life and leave us for good. So the plan, four years in the making. Deciding on the best time to take kids out of school, resign from that good job and how to make it happen takes time and much thought. For us one son is already living away from home on a super yacht, one daughter is overseas and the other one just starting high school so the time is now or it will just slip through our fingers.

Needing a boat that will accommodate us all we settled on a Fusion 40, good for space, speed and stability. We planned to build her at home with the whole family involved and this we did. Main builder: Dad, purchasing, painting and glassing: mum, IT Dept: Middle daughter, Interior design: youngest daughter and muscles and have you thought of this: eldest son. So forms the crew of the sailing cat INTRIGUE.       

18 months of building, from motor away to completion and she is ready to fulfil the dream of sailing with the family for six to twelve months up the east coast and possibly beyond.

Time of departure from Brisbane, Queensland- May, four on board with one to follow when the career path allows (eldest son).

Having had the busiest time to actually make it happen it seems surreal for the first couple of weeks out on the water. First stop Moreton Island just to catch our breath and to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything mandatory, like leaving one’s wallet in the car after setting sail and promising not to go back, thankfully we have good friends who delivered it to us, to save us having to turn around.

Onward and upward, no time frame, no plans, no limits, is this for real? Well mostly no demands, there is of course still school work for the girls, now in Year 9 and year 12. Yes, it can be done and distance education is something worth considering, along side the fact that cruising can be a fantastic education in itself.

Having settled into cruising life it is important to take the time to adjust to living in such close quarters and ensure each person has their own space, especially when travelling with teenagers. Living together 24/7 on the ocean requires lots of give and take and the sharing of meeting each others needs.

Most families we meet tend to take the days of school on long passages as there is usually someone feeling queasy and make up for it on the rainy or blowy days when they don’t venture to far. A flexible outlook is most important. It all gets done in the end.

Travelling north you soon discover there is a whole community going in the same direction for the same reason. Just look for the boats that seem to have more stuff tied to the decks and washing on the life lines and you will find fellow cruisers. Being friendly and willing to say hi will bring you into a support network unlike those on land. We all know the vulnerability we share on the water and may one day need a hand or lend a hand in a remote part of this beautiful ocean we enjoy.

So much to see and new things to do as we head up the coast. Only hitting the marinas every 3 or 4 weeks mean the simplicity of living and self sufficiency of life really takes shape. Life becomes more social as you share a cuppa or drinks on the back deck as the sun goes down, suddenly you find you have time to do this, just sit and talk and build relationships, that the hustle and bustle of life on land does not so afford.

The number one question we here from the non cruising fraternity ie family and friends is “but what do you do all day?” Well living just takes on a whole new dimension. Tasks do take longer when living aboard but that may be due to the fact that there is no need to rush, I’m not really sure.

When in port shopping for provision can often take a whole day with catching the bus, hunting for the supplies you need, getting bags and bags of groceries back to the boat( especially if you have kids and teenagers) and then finding storage space to stow it for the next leg of you journey.

Then there’s the sightseeing to be done the hikes to be hiked people to be visited and the little luxuries to be had like a meal out or the ice-cream to be devoured. Marinas and landfall are often fantastic times to share a BBQ or have a curry night with whoever is in with you. The word goes round bring a meal to share and meet as the sun goes down, a chance to meet some wonderful people and learn all you can from those who have been before and can tell you what is the best place to go for the perfect snorkel or what is the best anchorage in any given spot along the way.  

Life on the water is a life of extremes some days are absolutely perfect and there is no better place in the world and other days you can’t wait for them to end and to be safely anchored with the strong wind abated. But if you can set out knowing this is how it will be and willing to except whatever you are thrown you are sure to enjoy this very privileged part of your life and may even become your life, that of a cruising sailor.

Cheryn Pounder, “Intrigue”

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