Travel versus sailing

Among cruisers, there’s a tendency to self-categorize between those who sail to travel–experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, seeing new things; ¬†and those who are in it for the sailing–feeling the breeze in your face, listening to the sound of the waves, moving your boat through space with just the power of the wind. Michu and I can’t quite seem to take sides.

Certain sailing t-shirts were recently sacrificed...we needed some rags!

Certain sailing t-shirts were recently sacrificed…we needed some rags!

Michu and I met while teaching sailing. Our non-sailing friends seem to think this is wildly romantic and adorable and somehow unusual if not unique, but our experience has been the opposite–we know dozens of people who’ve met and then married thanks to sailing, and meeting someone while covered in stinky lake water with a shocking sunglasses tan is not particularly meet-cute. We were both deeply sunk into the sailing life before we met, and while we might have individually harbored rose-colored ideas about the live aboard life, our focus was on going fast. Especially on Lake Michigan keelboats, E scows, or Badger Techs (ok, maybe there was not a lot of “fast” going on in that last fleet, but…pretty fun!).

Certain sailing team hats...remain

Certain ancient sailing team hats remain

Nothing about our boat is set up for racing, including the two available sailors for a boat designed to be raced by eight, but the racing mentality is hard to shake. This summer, we were motoring past Sheboygan in flat water when we were joined by two other boats, both motoring. Of course, we immediately started racing them. While motoring. “Looks like the blue one is gaining…should we maybe put up the main, try and catch this little bit of breeze? It might be filling in a little bit further out…”

We totally dusted them, by the way. I can’t believe they didn’t pop their kite.

The best day we had this summer was not a day spent exploring a new town, or relaxing on a beach, but a 10-hour reach¬†down the Wisconsin shore in 12-15 knots. We baked bread. We read. We played games. Mostly, we sat in the cockpit and stared at the sails…because we love it. Our hearts sing and our minds clear and it is our best place.

Happy place

My happy place

However. That’s not why we’re taking our kids on this adventure. Having lived abroad for a few years in my impressionable youth, I know something about the character-forming nature of travel. We’re driven to expose our kids to other worlds, and broaden their experience beyond this lovely little patch of Wisconsin we call home. Two of their four grandparents were born in Cuba, but they couldn’t tell you anything about that country; this way, they’ll be able to spend a whole month there.

Preferred vantage point. Milwaukee Art Museum from the water

Preferred vantage point. Milwaukee Art Museum from the water

At the same time: we love traveling for ourselves. Since having kids and putting the lockdown on our finances, we have barely left the state. Our kids haven’t been on a plane since T was a baby, and Michu’s previous passport was issued when he was not long out of high school. Michu has lived in Madison for twenty years straight, and I’ve now spent more years here than I lived in my hometown growing up. We feel the need to move, to shake things up, to change the view.

Bottom line: we’re in it for both. It’s pretty much the best mix for us–sailing, exploring, and having a home to stay comfy, with a kettle on the stove and all.


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