When we started this blog, our full-time cruising plans were open ended as to all but duration. That, we said would be about 2-3 and then 3-4 years (when we got off to a slow start thanks to the housing market). It has ended up being three, which is where I would have put my money were I a gambler, which I am not.
Would we do it again? Of course. Would we do it differently? Of course. Could we have done it differently? Not really, or we would have. All sorts of factors shaped our cruising. The very best were one another, our boat, Bahamian weather & water. The very worst were much of the ICW and summer marina living.
And now we no longer cruise full time. What does that mean? We live in a very nice house. We travel with a very nice boat. But where?
This part of Florida is not sailboat friendly. We could go up the ICW but we would be in the Chesapeake before we found much sailable water. We can sail offshore to the Keys, where the sailing is offshore and the anchorages are few and the natives don’t like people who prefer to anchor out. Or we could go back to the Bahamas.
Living in a house again, we don’t want to be gone for extended periods. We can’t rationalize the distance, expense, and hassle of the eastern Abacos for just a few weeks at a time. At least with the Keys we could rent a car and come home if need/want be. Also we now live in the “there” a lot of folks are trying to reach each winter. While the Bahamas and the Keys are better than the Chesapeake in winter, They aren’t better than here — except for the constrained sailing here and the clear water there. Perhaps we should winter store our boat in Maine and go there during the hot, humid, lightning-laced* Florida summer. Nah.
We haven’t figured it out yet. It’s not a bad problem to have, but we know we don’t plan to go back to the Bahamas this year. We may give the Keys a try if we can convince ourselves it would be a pleasure not a misadventure (as in rough seas, bad anchorages, official hassles and boat bums).
PS: Interestingly, quite a few of the folks we know who go to the Bahamas each winter are deciding not to this year, opting instead to absolutely pack the local marinas. Even transient docks are being partially blocked by wintering cruisers.