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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Options for Late in the Day

Old age needs so little, but needs that little so much.
- Margaret Willour

Options for Late in the Day

There will come a point, if everything goes well, when the toll of years will curtail our sailing.

While it's easy enough to imagine scenarios, it's very difficult to foresee which will pertain. Will our capacity - in the sense of ability to sail nearly as we have - ebb like the tide? Or will incapacity ambush us from one day to the next? Will the vigor of one linger? Or will we decline as one? The answers will affect our choices, of course, assuming any are left us.

Many of our older friends and relations have described aging as a process of one's world shrinking. They have outlived most or all of their contemporaries. Their senses - especially vision and hearing - often diminish, drawing inward. Their reach - and ours - grows shorter.

With all respect for the choices others make, withdrawing to a marginal living on some urban fringe has no attraction for either of us. Even less does institutional care. When the prospect for life more or less on our own dwindles to nothing, we're done.

But there is that time between the twilight of ability and the end. I see our options of interest boiling down to one of three...

Longer term anchorages - We might limit our major moves to the occasional transition. Meanwhile, the anchor goes down in a rich environment, and we putter together a mix of resources, on board and ashore.

Move ashore with the boat - At some point, even the short commute across the water might be too much. We could pull the boat ashore and 'terraform' it... make it more accessible for elder access by land. A side door, say, that allows us to board with a single step or low ramp.

Move ashore (possibly) without the boat - If, by some miracle, we could be of some use to some form of intentional community and were offered shelter and sustenance in return, we'd consider it. It would surely be interesting. As things stand, the possibility seems remote, but who knows how the world will go?


I see three things necessary to these first two options:

1) A capable, small boat - This would be an adjunct to the bigger liveaboard we no longer sail regularly. Able to be sailed and rowed with little effort, beachable, have shelter for overnighting, and be manageable with our remaining strength.

I see this as necessary since no place (in SE Alaska) we've come across has all necessary resources in one spot. From the First Peoples on, mobility has played an important role in obtaining sustenance from a range of resources.

2) A garden - This can be a purely indigenous Guerrilla Garden, which has the advantage of requiring very little physical input. Merely concentrate productive strains of local plants within easy reach would enrich our diet. Add spuds and we're golden!

3) A larger community - Among all the Oldsters that lived along our shores, even the most independent were abetted by younger, or at least more able folk. Often, firewood was cut and chopped, a bag of grain or coffee gifted, a roof leak patched. The very gift of company was cherished. One can survive without these friends, perhaps, but they helped the Old Ones to thrive.

Making new friends from across the age spectrum has always seemed a habit of the most vital elders I know. These interactions stimulate and involve the aged, and entertain and educate the young. These relationships carry on with gifts flowing each way.

Such elders partake in a multi-partner dance in which it is a joy (as a relative youngster) to participate. Such elders inevitably, one day, bow out of the dance. But they dance to the end.

Something to keep in mind!


To prepare for old age, we pretty much need to live our lives.

Have a boat in hand, and learn how to live aboard. Live in a region from which we can subsist, and learn its ways. Make friends and cultivate relationships.

Anke and I aren't among those who think old age is merely a state of mind. We see it as one stage in a beautiful journey which eventually winds to its end. We love it, from its beginning to that end we face without regret. Oh... perhaps a hint of anxious wonder. But that's only natural.

It's all good.

For more thoughts on aging sailors, see this related post.


  1. Posted on behalf of JOHN:

    A thoughtful post on a topic we will all have to deal with.

    Two points jumped out at me: As we age it's easier to be around other (supportive) people than to go it alone; and it's easier to live on land than it is to live on the water. The second point may or may not be a function of the first?

    [Bob's article here:]

    Your final comment to Bob Wise's VolksCruiser blog discussing "ideal" Volks Cruising boats was:

    "But you know... sometimes I wonder if it's really the cruiser we're lacking, these days, or the Volk?"

    One of the questions some of us not-so-young "Volks" wonder about it just what you've discussed in this blog. Is it really practical, in our "golden years", to join the liveaboard cruising community? How soon will we be forced by ill health to return whence we came? And will those possibly few years spent on the water unavoidably estranged us from the land-based community that we came from and who might have supported us in our twilight years, but now have sort of forgotten about us?

    1. Hi John,

      It's certainly a lot easier to find community ashore.

      Whether it's easier or not is hard to say. There are many obligations, restrictions and costs to living in most towns, from which one is much more free when going it alone.

      Ease of living on the water (longshore) vs land seems a toss-up, to me.

      Houses (cabins) are, in some ways, as much or more work than a boat. Being fixed, they're subject to Gummint - taxes, zoning, confiscation, eviction. Even neighbors... while most might be right neighborly, one or a few are often a trial. In later days, when the ability to cope recedes, such can become overwhelming.

      All depends on where and who, I suppose.

      RE later life transitions - It's a tough question. I doubt there are any universal answers.

      For some, better late than never. For others, the window may seem to have closed. Some live in the moment.

      My guess is that the community that matters will not forget you. Nor do you ever have to leave them entirely behind. As a sailor, you offer a magic carpet that many wish to ride, for a time, joining in your life and journeys as you allow. And remember, too, that there are new friends along the way.

      So... seize the day, or make peace with the life in hand.

      A choice that we all face, wherever and whenever we may be.

      Dave Z

  2. What have you in mind for a small.capable boat?
    Perhaps the Triloboat 16?

    1. Hi Martin,

      No... The T16 isn't efficient for moving around. With plenty of time to explore, okay, but to get out and back not so much. Big drawback is windage from the comfortable, BIRDWATCHER style cabin.

      We'd go for an open cockpit that could be enclosed for sleeping, with enough length to store whatever we were hauling in the ends for the night. 20 to 24 feet?

      We're thinking of a camper cruiser of this sort for WAYWARD. We're going to try out the Wafer Dinghy concept. If it works out, we'll be able to carry that easily, so can tow a heavier boat than our present dory.

      Stay tuned!

      Dave Z