SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Living Without a Car

July 25, 2016

Many people ask us what they can do to start preparing for their cruising lives before the boat is ready. I've written a few posts about can night, cooking with a pressure cooker, conserving water, and downsizing your personal possessions. But our youngest son made an observation a few weeks ago that made me think along a different line. What do I wish someone had told me before we left to go cruising? What would I have enjoyed starting earlier? The answer: getting rid of the car.

Next to a TV and a microwave, a car is the biggest unnecessary item many cruisers hang on to. There is a sense of needing the car to get by. But just like the houses that some cruisers keep, rent out, and then have to hassle with later from a distant, foreign port, keeping a car is just silly. Besides, you don't really need it once you get in the land of public transportation, basically, everywhere but suburban America. Those of you who live outside the US or in major cities already know that a car is an unnecessary expense and hassle. But most cruisers are hard to convince. I'm not saying you sell your car tomorrow, although that would be the best. Instead, try parking it. Tell yourself you're not going to drive less than X number of miles in one direction. If you're going only 3 miles, refuse to drive. Then increase that number over time and as your comfort level permits. But how do you get to the grocery store, work, doctor's office, etc. If you have access to public transportation, it's a no brainer. (The only thing keeping many people from using public transportation is a bizarre stigma that Americans attach to it. It's reserved for "those" people. If you mean "people without cars," then I suppose you could say that. But they are the smart ones. Why is that a crowd some people don't want to be a part of? If you're in one of the many parts of this country with no access to convenient public transportation, try a bike. The following is from an email our youngest son, David (who is 23, living aboard with his wife and toddler, Ashleigh), wrote me after I teased him about buying yet another bike.


The next generation of carless-by-choice

And just so you know, it turns out bikes are actually a lot of fun. And relatively inexpensive. Even if my Schwinn were a total loss, like stolen or accidentally lost to the ICW, I'd only be out $180 bucks. Pretty affordable, Haha. But unless I snap it in half in the next couple of days before I get a different bike, I should only take a loss of about 50 bucks. Not bad considering the 3000 or so "free" miles I put on it last year. And having a "fun" bike is the only way I can ride with Ashleigh. It takes effort to ride that slowly on my road bike. This BMX bike is hopefully as awesome as it looks. It's an old race bike. All original, unfortunately, but it adds to the "rad" late 90s look. I'll send you some pictures if I buy it. Damned thing's nine miles away. Not sure how I'm going to get it here. Might have to employ the neighbors. Fortunately beer is cheap.


They rode their bikes over 25 miles and took 2 ferry rides to take this little boy camping.
The trip certainly would not have been as much fun for any of them in a car.

I had a coworker ask me "Do you not have a car because you don't have a license?" I explained to him that I have a license I just don't need a car. So he went on about how his wife is selling her car dirt cheap "I mean, Dave, really, we're only talking about like 3,000 dollars here." So I explained to him again that I don't need a car or want a car, but you could tell he wasn't getting it. This man lives less than 3 miles away from work, less than 2 miles from the nearest grocery store and like 4 and a half miles from the beach. And he can't even imagine why a fit young couple would choose to live without a car. Not because I have a bunch of DUIs, not because we're poor as shit, but because we actually don't need a car. But nobody thinks about whether or not they need a car. Nobody considers NOT buying or owning a car. It's so totally messed up. I mean, how many kids graduate high school either already making car payments or looking to start. Then they go off to college, and live in a college town on or near campus and have everything they'll need for the next 4 years right there within a 5 to 10 mile radius. There are thousands of people right here in Jax Beach that, just like me, live, work, shop, and play within an easy bike distance of home. And every one of them owns and relies on a motor vehicle. But only like one percent of the American population thinks that it's totally messed up. Everyone else is yelling at cyclists to "Git outta tha darned street ya idgit!" Or proposing bills that would force cyclists in Michigan to have, fixed to every bicycle riding on a numbered street, an orange flag flying at least FIFTEEN FEET above the ground. How can America be so bike un-friendly when everyone knows what an ill effect motor vehicles have on everything. And how are so many people blindly marching in line to the car lot? Even when you consider the cost of long distance travel, cab fare, bus fare, air fare, whatever. For most people, it would be way more cost effective to NOT own a vehicle. Even if you wanted to take a cab or bus to the zoo every month and fly out to visit family every year, and cab or uber ride for bar hopping on the weekend. I guess most people just bend over and take the cost of owning a car right along with their house and student loans. "Pile it on, I'll deal with it later."

Needless to say, he's a bit like his mother. But he has a valid point. Most of us don't NEED cars, but would never consider living without one. I know a woman who drives 3 miles to the gym, where she runs several miles on the treadmill. I don't get it any more than David does. My point is, if you really want to change how you live BEFORE you set off cruising, try biking or riding public transportation when you're only traveling 3, 5, or 10 miles. You might find that you're healthier, happier, and better prepared to live how the fun half live.

MONDAY we'll share a sail trim trick that it took me 25,000 miles to learn. Maybe sharing it will save other sailors from having to wait so long to figure this out.

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Connie McBride's work has been published in Good Old Boat, Sail Magazine, Small Craft Advisor, Cruising World, All at Sea, and Blue Water Sailing. As a full-time liveaboard cruiser for over 15 years, she has written several books and in her spare time, well, who has spare time?

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