You can organize your next cruise by delving into every little detail prior to departure, or you can simply wing it. But is there a third option?
I guess if you asked a modern psychologist whether you can reasonably divide the human race into two basic personality types, A and B, he’d probably answer, “Yup.” And if the guy happened to be obsessed with boats, I’d guess he’d most likely go on to admit, if pressed, that these personality types influence the way most of us get ready for our next cruise—whether we go the Type A route, featuring, of course, lots of research and prep work beforehand, or opt for the Type B thing, which will probably entail little more than a romantic vision of an intriguing destination as prelude, accompanied by a burgeoning sense of adventure and a full fuel tank.
The category I’d file myself under? Hmmmm … Now, that is a tricky question.
Consider, for just a sec, the cruise I am presently lining up for later this summer on board the ol’ Betty Jane II. At this very moment, my scheduled departure is well over two months off, but already, I’ve got courses for the whole shebang laid out, as well as mileages, waypoints and anchorages. I did all this stuff only a couple of mornings ago, while kicked back in the Eames chair in my office, with a cup of hot coffee at the ready and a mouse-driven cursor roaming around the Rose Point Coastal Explorer nav program I’ve got loaded on my laptop. Armchair electronic cruising at its finest.
Moreover, I’ve already made marina and other reservations. Got ’em lined up like droll pelicans sitting on a railing, with names, dates and phone numbers listed on the outside of a manila folder I’ve dedicated to the jaunt and appropriately labeled with a Sharpie. This way, to handle arrangements for any given evening, all I have to do is haul out the folder, scan the exterior and call ahead with my cellphone.
The cellphone, by the way, is my chosen form of communication with marinas these days. I seem to get a better, faster response than with VHF. Maybe—and I could be totally wrong about this—it’s easier for a busy soul at a marina to temporarily ignore a radio at half volume than it is to ignore a smartphone that’s rockin’ and boppin’ in hand or pocket.
And finally, on top of everything else, I’ve already spent quite a bit of time and money on getting Betty ready for the trip. Her fuel filter elements (both secondary and primary) are clean as a whistle and backed up with plenty of extras. Her shaft log is properly packed, adjusted and ready to boogie. Her electronics are functioning smoothly (including the latest addition—a new Garmin GPS 742xs plotter complete with a SiriusXM Weather package) and the rest of her systems, from sanitary to electrical, are, as far as I can tell, percolating along nicely. Does all this research and prep work, the depth of which I’ve only hinted at here, qualify me for Type A status?
Heck, I hope not.
Some years ago, I joined a very good friend of mine, a Type A guy, on a Type A cruise he’d been premeditating for months. The first part was nice—I enjoyed myself—but then something happened, a mishap that set us back time-wise. My good buddy instantly morphed into Capt. Ahab and began constantly -bemoaning our fate while maniacally boosting running times in the vain hope of getting back on his clipboard-driven schedule. Nice became not-so-nice in a hurry.
What I learned from this was simple. Sure, applying the Type A mindset to your next cruise is probably advisable, even necessary, in some cases. But don’t forget to slosh into the mix a couple of Type B addendums, the most critical of the lot being the inclusion of some free time, so you and your crew can have an off-script adventure or two along the way. You might even call such a double-dip deal, “Type C,” although I’m not sure what a boat-lovin’ psychologist would have to say about that.