Frank's Blog - Yes, Finally
What Is A Cruiser? - 5 February, 2016
I came across an interesting figure yesterday. In his book, The Cruising Life, Jim Trefethen says that the cruising community
has pretty much stabilized at 25,000 people. What fascinates about this number is not its size, but its specificity. I am not sure
what they - whoever they are - used as a definition of a "cruiser" in order to come up with a number.
How we define a cruiser? Should be easy, right? A cruiser is someone who lives on a boat and moves around from place to
place with no fixed address. Easy-peasy.
Except for the bums, of course? Wait - what? Well, you see, there are a handful of people who have very little money, so
they get an old boat and they live on it. They park it in one place and they panhandle there, until the local community gets
sick and tired of them and starts raising the heat on their lifestyle. The local water police come around and begin to cite them
for all sorts of things. The local merchants get tired of doing them favors and overlooking transgressions like shoplifting a loaf
of bread or hanging around outside the store all day. The local churches/assistance groups get tired of giving them a "hand
up" when it invariably turns into a "hand out." So, someone or a group of someones take up a donation and suggest that the
"boater" in question might find it more comfortable somewhere else. They even offer to tow him out to somewhere where the
wind and current might help him along.
Are these cruisers? They fit the definition - but they are not cruisers "by choice."
How about the people who live in one area during one season and a different area in another? This has been our pattern for
the last couple of years, though not truly intentionally. There are a lot of people we know who travel up and down the East
Coast, spending the summer in the northern climes and the winter here in the tropics. I call it "stick of butter navigation." If the
butter is too hard, go south. If the butter melts, go north. If the butter is firm but soft, stay right where you are.
We have a fixed address, but we don't live there. Are we cruisers? We think so, but compared to people like the Pardeys or
the Paytons, we are barely above day-sailors (they wouldn't say that, of course, but it's true). Lin Pardey, for example, has
sailed almost 200,00 miles and Larry has more than that. Of course, they are not sailing now - but does that make them any
less of a cruiser?
So, maybe a cruiser is someone who went a certain distance - but what is that distance? To join the Seven Seas Cruising
Association, one only needs to have the desire to go cruising (and $55 a year). However, to become a Commodore, you need
to have traveled 1,000 ocean miles, non-stop, or 1,500 miles offshore with not more than one stop or 2,000 nautical miles with
unlimited stops - which is what Suzanne and I have accomplished (we are not Commodores yet, but we are getting ready to
On the other hand, the Cruising Club of America is much more exclusive. You can only join by invitation, so their definition of
a cruiser is "someone we say is a cruiser." Sounds harsh, but it actually makes sense.
It seems like the bottom line is that, if you think you are a cruiser, then you are a cruiser.
Which leads us back to the beginning. How did "they" decide that there are 25,000 cruisers out there (or, technically, out
here)? Did they ask everyone who has a boat and count the ones that said "yes"? Actually, that wouldn't work - because as I
said above, it is possible to be a cruiser and not actually own a boat anymore. It really doesn't matter, since I know that
wasn't what happened. I wasn't asked and, after checking with Suzanne, I have confirmed that she was not asked either. She
may be fibbing to me - maybe they made her promise not to tell - but I don't think so.
So, we are left with an unknowable answer. Where does one go for unknowable information? That's right - Google! Wait
here a minute and I'll go ask!
Google was no help at all - Google actually thinks that people who get on "cruise ships" and go on multi-day trips in floating
hotels are "cruisers" - and we may not know what "cruisers" are - but we know it is not them, right? It couldn't be them -
although, again according to Google, there are over 22 million of them....oh, well...
So - what are cruisers and are there really 25,000 of them....errr...us?
The world may never know.....