Cruising Withdrawal: How Do You Deal with Post Sailing Blues?

Sailing is like a drug.

After a weekend sailing trip I feel like I need to be checked into rehab – going back to work on Monday is really hard. I sort of sink into a minor funk for a day or two, almost what I imagine it’d feel like to be depressed. I daydream – reliving the adventures and challenges of the weekend. I spend my time looking forward to the next chance I’ll have to get out onto the water.

After our month long Vancouver Island cruise, it was really hard reintegrating back into normal life. This is common amongst cruisers, especially those who travel for years before returning to land life. But we had been gone only a month – yet that was enough.

How Cruising Differs From Land Life

One of the big reasons I realized is that boat life is a forced state of relaxation. Although you have some work to do every day, and things may break causing additional challenges, the number of demands for your attention are much smaller.

In our shore life, we have work 8-9 hours a day, commuting, Internet, news to read, bike rides to go on, friends’ events to go to (birthdays, baby showers, weddings, etc), new restaurants to try out, happy hours to hit up, breweries to visit, movies and TV shows to catch up on, family events, holiday parties, and of course all the normal chores of life (laundry, cleaning, etc).

Not all of those things are necessary, but all of them are competing for our time and presenting an overwhelming array of decisions.

On the boat, most of those things were out of the picture. We could cook meals, read a book, go for a dinghy ride, go for a hike, or do basic boat tasks. Our boat life is intentionally simple. No Internet, no TV, and a low-ish number of marina stays (where it’s easy to get sucked back into land life).

Outdoor vs Indoor Lifestyles

When you live from a boat, all of your experience is taking place in the outdoors – often surrounded by amazing natural beauty and constantly changing weather. While in land life, most people who have office jobs spend nearly all of their time indoors.

There’s something that feels incredibly unnatural about sitting indoors all day when it’s a beautiful sunny day out. We don’t even realize how distinctly painful it is to sit in a cubicle all day because we’ve been slowly conditioned into it. Like a lobster slowly boiled in a pot. But this is a 21st century, first world problem kind of thing. What can you do about it? Not much, if you still want to work a traditional information age job.

Dealing with Sailing Withdrawal

When I’m in sailing withdrawal I dive into CruisersForum and sailing publications (like our local ThreeSheetsNW), reading articles to vicariously live out other people’s sailing adventures. Or work on boat projects. Or just get out on the boat again asap. But schedules are tough, and none of these things are ever quite good enough.

How do you deal with sailing withdrawal?

5 thoughts on “Cruising Withdrawal: How Do You Deal with Post Sailing Blues?

  1. Viki Moore

    I get exactly the same feeling. So glad I’m not alone! I start planning our next adventure. I write a blog post about our last trip. I go through our photos and re-live the adventure.
    It’s hard alright! I’m three weeks back in reality since our New Caledonia sailing trip and I think I’ve still got post holiday blues. I guess it’s just time in the end. You forget the holiday euphoria and the work feeling just takes over.

  2. Sailing a 34' Catamaran Named Chiron

    Sailing withdraw- I concur! After spending a weekend sailing it’s hard to go back to the business factory. I can only imagine how it must have been for you after a month away.
    We ofte. pass the time between sails by watching sailing videos on YouTube. We’re waiting patiently for episode 19 of La Vagabonde, catching some s/v Delos along the way and we just discovered Wicked Salty.

  3. Tim Whelan

    Hi Patrick, I really like your writing! Super honest and real. I am always shocked how different life is on the boat, versus life on land. It almost feels like an alternative reality on the boat — you did a great job of describing why.I don’t have any magical silver bullets on how to get through it. Like your other readers I spend a lot of time planning/daydreaming, or watching/reading youtubes/blogs (thanks for the La Vagabonde and Wicked Salty reccos). I’ve tried to extend out shorter weekend trips “on the cheap” by extending the trip and staying in nearby ports (Winslow, Port Madison) on say a Monday/Tuesday and then biking/ferrying into work those days. Basically trying to eek out a little more time on the boat. Its fun to do, but takes a bit of energy, organization and support from the family.

    Cape George 38

  4. David Veale

    Yup, rings true with me as well! One other thing you’ll discover if you ever have the misfortune of moving back ashore… I found that I *hated* not knowing what the weather was. On a boat, I knew if it was windy because we’d be heeling at the dock or hearing wind in the rigging, or waves lapping on the hull. Rain was always seen and heard on the hatches. I always knew if my wife was home and exactly what she was doing. Moving back to a house suddenly felt like entering a sensory deprivation chamber. When someone called the house and asked if Rachel (my wife) was home, I was appalled that I didn’t always know.


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