Jump to content

Advice for 40s couple with health problems wanting to cruise

Recommended Posts

Hello all,


My wife and I have had a few years (decade now) of bad luck. Besides my serious health problems (details below), we had bad luck with CHCH earthquakes back in 2011. That lead us to lose a new business and be forcedly moved around for years looking of a home.  When we finally manage to buy house but it turned out our street is full of boy racers, drugs and alcohol.  Another long sad story with this but I’ll spare you details.


Needless to say, we have had enough and been longing for something more. For the last three years we have been looking for somewhere to move but couldn't find the right place.  Then about a year ago we happen to get hooked on crusing vlogs and started to dreamed of the livestyle.  We’ve done a fair bit of research on requirements for certifications and other red tape.  I’m most worried about the CAT-1 requirements to leave the country and issues surrounding my health.


My health started to go down hill about 10 years ago where I lost much of my vision due to keratoconus. I’m legally blind in right eye and have 30-40% in my left. Add to this I have arthritis and auto-immune/inflammatory problems that are of constant problem. In September of last year I injured my shoulder that turned into frozen shoulder syndrome. After months of physiotherapy, countless medications, MRIs, ultrasounds and injections, the doctors gave up and just stuck me on morphine and other medications for pain since November. Thankfully, I’m only taking morphine two-three times a week now and my shoulder is getting better, albeit very slowly. 


Aside from my health, neither my wife or I have any experience in sailing. I know that is also a requirement for CAT-1 certifications.  My thoughts were to try and get some volunteer repair work to help learn yacht maintenance.   Sadly, not much of that down here in Invc.  We also tried the local yacht club but they were only able to offer training to children in dingies and had to turn us away.  At this point selling everything and trying to move up north seems like only option.  House prices not being kind in that regard either.


What advice can you offer us? Would you consider my health issues to be too serious for the cursing lifestyle?


My greatest fear is never trying due to fear. Then having my health/vision get worse and never getting the chance.  I would like to hope that being able to follow a dream might lead to improvements in health that medications haven't been able to realize.  However, I also need to be realistic about our limitations and not do something foolish.


Thanks for your time.  Sorry for the wall of text as well. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 38
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Well done for the bold plan to try a different lifestyle. And for taking a considered approach to the various hurdles - yes there will be challenges both the standard liveaboard cruising ones plus som

Lots of good advice there. A few have mentioned the trailer sailer path, we have a very active trailer yacht squadron based onLake Rotoiti (Rotorua), several of our past members have moved on to keel

So my wife and I have had many long talks over past several weeks. We have come to conclusion that the only way forward is moving North. Once there, we can be in a better place to not only look at pur

Welcome Bluesail - you certainly have had a bad run . I hope the health issues come right soon. 

 Firstly it would be unrealistic to expect to buy a boat , get Cat 1 and head offshore relying on help until you can get enough experience to manage yourselves. Ideally you need to sail on someone elses boat ( and poss an offshore passage) to get an idea of what works and what to look for in your own boat. If your shoulder issue doesnt resolve entirely that would also represent a weak point that you would need to manage as best as you can ie get a boat that is set up to make things as easy as possible with things like electric winches for all the big loads.   

  Identifying a well set up boat will be crucial for you.

   Some people take to sailing v quickly and get to the stage where they feel comfortable taking the plunge to go offshore in a relatively short time- others take longer to reach that point or even decide maybe it isnt for them after all- is always better to get a handle  on where you are likely to be with that while you are sailing on someone elses boat!.

  Good luck on your journey :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a legally blind guy sailed a valiant 40 from san Francisco to Hawaii, may have carried on after that. Eric hiscock was damn near blind and he practically invented cruising.


I would start by running it past a cat 1 inspector. If the result is negative I'd buy offshore and leave from there.


Best bet would be to get someone experienced to come with you until you are comfortable going without.


Lots of people with various disabilities have sailed offshore. To me money is a much bigger problem.


One of my favorite stories is a guy in LA told he has cancer and only has months to live. Decides to spend those months sailing rather than in a hospital bed. He did eventually die of cancer, aboard his boat in Hong Kong 14 years later.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The only one who can tell you if its worth the risk is you.

Sailing dinghies is a great way to learn, but can be cold and wet! Cruisers are often not actually very experienced. So unless you can get some passage experience, its unlikely that you could get cat 1 for your 1st passage without assistance. There are quite a few disabled sailors out there, never give up, and you can do it.... 

Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of the 'cruising lifestyle', there is a hell of a lot of NZ coast that you can cruise around, including in the winter months.

This is a variation of the 'live aboard' option, where you are essentially living on your boat, and cruising, but not doing the international bit. This avoids all the CAT 1 issues. It is also a fairly practical way of easing yourself into the sailing, the boat ownership and the living aboard elements.


For cruising around the Pacific Islands, its is well accepted that the leg from NZ to the Islands is buy far the toughest. So going international is a big step up from NZ. Once in the islands, things are more straight forward, but you need to then get out of the islands before the cyclone season (i.e. sail back to NZ, Oz, or off around the world).


The general path for most people to cruise the islands would be to crew up on someone elses boat, to build experience. At a rough guess, it would probably take 2 years from buying a boat to going off shore for most typical cruisers, just the time to prepare the boat, mechanics, systems etc. Obviously some people do it a lot quicker, buying a boat already fully prep'ed, or have done it before and already have half the gear and the experince all to hand.


It can be done.


Generally, the first step would be to crew on other people's boats for club racing or the like. That sounds like an issue in Inver's as you say. Dunedin or Chch would have better opportunities for that. Perhaps Wanaka? I believe they have trailer sailor racing. Other options could be to charter a boat (could be expensive), there are some modest options in the BoI.

Another option is to start small, get a trailer sailor. This would be good for learning to sail, boat handling etc, which would build confidence for bigger things. Inver's would be a great base for a trailer yacht in the summer, basically caravaning on water. TY's can be fairly modestly priced, the key items to look out for (other than a boat of suitable size and handling characteristics to suit you, and age / condition) is the state of the motor (outboard) and the trailer. Some can be towed by fairly mid sized cars, although this is all closely related to size etc. 

Cruising around some of the Southern Lakes and trailer yacht camping could be good for your soul as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For what its worth i had a frozen shoulder a few years ago following an injury and it barely responded to physio etc but after 18 months or so it slowly came right by itself so lets hope your one follows suit...I'm a real fan of starting the trailer sailer way as fish mentions and certainly you won't get bored with what we have in nz waters. Further to that anytime the pair of you are in the bay of plenty or thereabouts i would be real happy to take you out for a sail for a day or two - pm me if you are keen. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Learning to sail is actually pretty easy. Must say I dont know anyone who does a course on all the other stuff.i still say finding the funding is the hard part.


First pay for a boat. Then spend a sh*t ton more getting it ready, possibly more for you coz of yr problems.

Then the hard bit- enough to live on and maintain the boat without going to work.

Solve that problem and the rest is easy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...