Saturday, March 29, 2014

Homesickness, The Experts Say To Talk About It

Homesickness, is a terrible thing and I have been battling bouts of it throughout this trip off and on. According to the experts keeping it inside can only make you feel worse, and anyone that knows me, knows I can’t keep anything on the inside, so I thought I would blog about it. Today, is especially bad because it is the lead up to my daughters birthday. I know it’s just a birthday, but for me it is one of the most important days of the year and I’m not going to be there to celebrate. Who is going to make Ashlee’s favorite breakfast? Who could make her feel more loved than me? 

I signed on for this adventure, I helped plan for this adventure, I accepted the well done’s and the, “Boy, I wish it were me going on this adventure,” I wore it all like a badge of honor. I was involved in every decision from the date to leave, to selling the house, but when push came to shove though, or when the dock lines were untied, well that wasn’t so easy. 

The first bout happened continuously and progressively became worse for about the first month after we left. Really though, who could blame me? I was really off, don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, enjoyed the new sites, explored the new locations. I just wasn’t well with me. Frankly, I had periods of deep sadness and became anxious. I missed my family, friends, home, if a Skype call coincided with wine, it was pretty messy. Poor Marc, it didn’t matter what he did, he couldn't do very much right, no matter how hard he tried, yet he remained ever kind and thoughtful.

The second bout, was about three months after we left, and it started about two weeks before Christmas, that was a hard one. I don’t pay attention much to time or dates anymore and was doing fine until we stopped in Duneden Florida, sitting there was Santa cuddling the cutest little girl, music playing, Christmas lights flashing. I missed the lead up, the exhaustion, the cooking, the wrapping, I missed God this Christmas. Two weeks of the weeps, and poor Marc is trying to keep me on board again. Seeing family saved me from that one. 

Now the third bout, I think, is about not being present. Not being present when the kids are sick, birthdays, family dinners, moments, just everyday moments that you want them to share with you. Connections, being connected with the lives of people you love. I miss the familiarity of friends.  Allot has gone on with friends since we left, sickness, weddings, babies, I’m not there sharing in their joy and grief, so I feel like I’m losing out, I’m not being a good friend. In the course of my life I have moved many, many times and know how connections can be lost with distance. Who ever said distance makes the heart grow fonder was full of crap. There are anchors in the place where everyone knows you and loves you. I am learning that, and I guess I always knew it, I don’t tolerate ambiguity in my life as well as others.  I need anchor points, familiarity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not packing in the towel yet, I just have to be vigilant about controlling my emotions. 

During this trip I have also learned that I am not alone and have met many women on board struggling with homesickness and being separated from loved ones. One woman, I met while doing laundry in Mobile, Alabama expressed having a bad day and wishing to go home, we ran into them again two months later and she was happy and looking forward to carrying on. They had been cruising full time for 13 years. Some women we have met have the resources and have ensured they have planned their cruising around relationships at home. We have met many captains sailing solo because of the differences in passions, that's,  just not an option for me.

So, what is working for me

  1. Most importantly, an understanding and patient captain
  2. Keeping myself busy, and fully participating in the journey
  3. Keeping contact with family & friends, but not over doing it
  4. Socializing with others
  5. Do the familiar, like I would do at home; bake, sew, knit, readOK I can't knit
  6. Exercising   
  7. When I am feeling sad, limiting alcohol
  8. Realizing that for me each bout is getting shorter   

Lastly, I think the  experts are right, getting it off your chest helps and I am feeling better already. I know that this won’t be my last bout of homesickness, but I also know that I am enjoying the journey and the option to go home when I’m ready is there. So, for today I have decided to be the happy eccentric grandma cruising the world sending home funky gifts and funny postcards.  

25 April 2014 Some time ago I posted a blog about being homesick, I also posted the content on a closed women’s sailing group that I belong to. I have the utmost respect for and use this group as a constant source of information, support and camaraderie. I have decided to post anonymously the comments that were posted because I was so moved at the support of these, woman and I want there words to be out there for other women who may need their encouragement.
  • You’re doing great! Thanks for the post
  • Thanks for sharing this post Linda. As you mentioned, your not alone. This cruising lifestyle is like the ocean itself with many humongous highs and gut-wrenching lowsboth more extreme than in traditional society. I also miss my friends and family, incredibly. This is my sixth year on this voyage, and while I have certain moments of missing “home” I work hard to stay connected to family and friendsMostly, I believe that as time goes on I’ve embraced this lifestyle more and more, and become one with it. Therefore my cruising IS “home” But it takes time. One small trick that I’ve learned is to buy one way tickets homeI used to fly home and rush around to “fit everyone and everything in”  and then zoom back to the boat. Now, I allow enough time to visit everyone in greater depthand when I finally feel ready which is usually around six weeks, I’ve caught up with everyone, enjoyed all my Canadian amenitiesI quite frankly am excited to return to the boat and this lifestyle. Best wishes
  • I’m glad you posted this, I was feeling the same. Heading home after 7 months. This was planned, we teach sailing in Maine in the summer, this being our longest cruise. Your suggestions are great, I wish I saw them 2 months ago when homesickness really set in! Thanks for sharing! We are not alone sistah!
  • I’ve always found it’s almost always “further to turn back than it was to go forward” wise words 
  • I am not living aboard yet, but your post is certainly enlightening. I anticipate I will feel homesickness and it is nice to be forwarned. I wonder if any of our longer term ladies can tell us if they still get homesick or how they handle it when it strikes. Thanks for your honesty…
  • It manifests in different ways but we all get it. For example my family has always been spread out so I didn’t think it would be a problem for me. But once we came to the Bahamas and I couldn’t just pick up a phone, I felt guilty somehow, that I couldn’t talk to my family whenever I felt like it, or whenever they wanted to talk to me? Now I don’t mind not getting some of my sister whinier calls, butand it can go the other way to, My husband said he wasn’t sure he wanted to keep going, with the stress of things breaking, and weather, and the lack of creature comforts. But we talked about it and he started to feel better, so I think communication is huge. We feel this strange kind of homesicknesswe aren’t homesick for a “home” we don’t miss our former home in NYC, it’s a general weird feeling of perhaps not having a place. Anyway you are not alone, even with those of us who don’t have kids and grandkids and a house or whatever…
  • i just want to thank you for your emotional honesty. The cruising lifestyle has long been a dream, and I applaud your adventurous spirits and admire and respect each and every one of you ladies! I grew up in Corpus Christi basically on a trawler and its in my blood. I’m in my mid fifties and I just have to do this! On dirt, on a lake but it is NOT the same as sailing!!!Period. Bless you all. You are my inspiration!
  • It took a lot  of courage to post such real emotions, Linda. I’m sure some women must handle being “out there” better than others, and you may not know what category you will fall into until your out there! But I appreciate your honesty and foresight and will sock your experience away when it is MY turn. Thanks for sharing
  • It’s not all cocktails and sunsets LOL
  • Those are great ideas for staying in touch with little ones. And I am pretty certain there are physical books that allow one to record the words in the book so your grandchildren can read along as grandma’s voice reads the textI think grandchildren would be the hardest element to miss out on. However, all grandparents involved in my life were far away and were not involved in my daily life. My point is living on land does not necessarily mean you would see your grandkids all the time either. That is how Im going to think about it for now, since my kids are years from having children (I hope)
  • Thanks for writing sometimes I wonder why we are doing this. I like having home with ground and my stomach flips when I think of the final transition and I question everything. Insurance, broken bones, everything that we cannot control is it an adventure yes, but this lifestyle I never gave a thought to until a year ago and it scares me to death. 
  • Not much to add after all  these great posts, except it does get less painful with time. And in a similar way to fear being a natural emotion and making you careful. Homesickness makes YOU more missed and appreciated as well. We cruised for a decade during which three granddaughters were born and two parents died. We missed only one of those events as we were able, with careful planning, to afford to return home most years for a few weeks or months and were fortunate in that most family and friends lived in our home city of Melbourne Australia. So hang in there Linda, it was well worth it!
  • Homesickness barely begins to describe my first year full time on board. I literally felt homeless, largely because of what I went through in the months before leaving. My mom died unexpectedly, we had to sell the house I grew up in. I felt so uprooted and when my eight year old daughter said to me one day, crying “I don’t know what home means anymore” I couldn’t have said it better. I got a photo of my family home in winter via e mail one day ( on one of those rare days I could get e mail) and was so instantly heartbroken I was openly crying in this lovely place in the Bahamas in front of everybodyAnd that’s another thing, you feel so weird feeling so broken while being surrounded by such beauty. This is your dream right? WTF??? Anyway, everything you describe I went through too. It got better. And yes it was worth it. But there will always be things that happen to remind you that you just are not there everyday or even every week or month. Sometimes this is one of the prices you pay for the privilege of a life most people will never understand or appreciate. Hang in.
  • I’ve lived aboard for 1.5 yearsIn the beginning everything was wonderful. But me and my husband couldn’t find a way to get money for our dream. So we had to come back home, cause he had a daughter that lives with her mother and he needs to guarantee her lifewe thought it was just for awhile. But when we decided come back I was to much tired and feeling homesickwe didn’t have to much money and all the facilities when I was home and all the love of my family were coming all the time in my mindnow!!! I miss a lot the cruising lifeI wanna come back! But Im planning come back with a plan, to go and been there forever!
  • I have gone through the depression. One day, not long ago, when the head broke, I just sat down and cried. It can be overwhelming. I have been single handling for almost two years. At a marina I find it easier to meet and socialise. Anchorages can be very lonely. Many people I have talked to said they only do it half a year so they can go home and do other things. Maybe get their sanity back? I plan on doing that. I am putting the boat on the hard for hurricane season and living on dirt. Bubble bath here I come. I will come back to the boat refreshed and ready for adventure. 
  • Wow, how do I thank you all? I am so honoured and humbled by the comments posted in the form. I am not alone. What good advice was shared, what valuable insight you all have. what heartfelt reflections were made. Aren’t women wonderful! Thank you for sharing back. 
  • Wonderful words. I miss my family and friends too but after being home for 3 months I’m getting itchy feet again. I have a restless gypsy soul that needs appeasing more often that not…Thank goodness for Facebook Skype FaceTime e mail and all the wonderful communication we have now. 
  • One thing I’ve learned while cruising is that if I am experiencing homesickness, loneliness, ect at one point in time or another someone else has as well. Reach out to another woman boater—go for coffee, a swim in the sea, lunch, a walk, provisioning , whatever. Just getting to know another person and making a new friend can make all the difference in the world. Putting your thoughts on paper in a journal can help too. Trust me, you are not alone in your feelings 
  • I had to write again. Here I as ready to go north. I saw a pod of dolphins this morning that seemed to be calling my name. It has been a while since I saw dolphins. Came to No Name Harbor and saw fish being chased everywhere. Beautiful blue sky, lovely weather, aqua water. I changed my mind. I am going south. LOL Homesickness depression is gone and I can move forward. Not giving up yet. There are good days and bad days. Too many bad days in a row are hard on the system, so I see I need to see more nature and beauty. Anchoring out.
  • I’ve been living aboard full time for almost 8 years and you could write my story! I only wish that I had found this site 8 years ago! Wow thanks for sharing!
  • Anchoring out takes most of the pain away
  • Heading to Bimini at 2 am. It is amazing how attitudes can change so quickly. I now feel great and got over the blues. I hope you do too


  1. Oh, oh, oh, I am so right there with you. Our lines are still tied because of exactly what you just wrote. I can go on little trips, but not full time go. My hubby promises there is a Kitty $for me/us to go to grand babies and daughters anytime I need. Knowing that... Helps. Blessings. I'll Betty it gets easier. Keep blogging.

  2. Hahaha. I'll bet. not Betty☺

  3. I've been living this vagabond life for about 11 years now, and after going through "I'm living in a boatyard and want to commit suicide" for about the tenth time, I finally realized it's actually not the boatyard. Depression and homesickness have similar symptoms. In my case, I don't have a home to be sick for, so it must be depression!

    The folks back home often think this life is a bowl full of cherries (or a martini full of olives). It's thoughtful, honest writers like you that help them see that our lives have deeper challenges than just where to anchor and how to fix diesel engines. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Just take each day as it comes, live for now!!! Your blog helps you keep in touch! Use this technology we have now... to feel there... as long as people know you are at the end of a modem then you are connected... Sometimes it can be hard, but remember they say you never regret the adventures you have had, just those that you let slip by you! As for Knitting... just stated though am still very rubbish... but find that it does help blank out my mind when it decides it wants to go into a little spin! :-)