This illness seems to be most prevalent in middle aged males, but it can strike anyone of any age. Often diagnosed as a form of escapism, symptoms include endless surfing of boat for sale ads on the web, subscriptions to cruising mags, obsessive following of cruising blogs, and an unhealthy interest in all things nautical. I propose two approaches to dealing with this disease - one preventative and one curative.
First the prevention: I call this the 'Cruising Simulator'. It is a room 10 by 20 feet containing a mock-up of a cruising sailboat interior, In fact, my first model of this will use a hull from one of the many cruising boats abandoned by terrified and inexperienced crews during their first storm at sea.
The cruising simulator will use a combination of NASA and fun-fair ride technology to simulate the motion of a boat at sea in a wide variety of sea conditions and wind directions. The device will be capable of rolling, pitching, and yawing through 50 degrees every few seconds. The climate of the simulated cabin will be controlled to provide realistic temperature/humidity combinations from Arctic to equatorial. A variety of simulated smells will also be available including 'diesel in the bilge', and 'hot sick'. Finally, digitally sampled sounds of wind and wave in addition to the thumps, squeals, and groans of a boat at sea will furnish a suitable audio background.
Individuals and couples suspected of developing the cruising bug will be locked in the simulator for 3 hour sessions and given a variety of tasks to carry out under typical open ocean conditions. Tasks will include cooking a warm meal from scratch, bleeding a diesel fuel line, drinking from a full cup of hot liquid, plotting a position on a chart, reading a book, using the heads, etc. There will, of course, be an enormous cost for each session in order to provide a completely realistic simulation of the cruising life.
Should the preventative 'medicine' fail to have the desired effect or be refused by the patient, I propose a straightforward cure that will also save on search and rescue costs. I call this the 'Get me the %#^$ out of here' box. Resembling an ordinary EPIRB locator beacon, the 'Get me the %#^$ out of here' box can be used when the patient(s) reaches a point where he/she/they realize that the dream does not match the reality and they just want to get the heck of the boat. Activating the beacon will summon a rescue helicopter to retrieve the patients and place a professional delivery crew on board. The crew will return the vessel to the patient's port of choice where it will be cleaned up and listed for sale with a yacht brokerage. Further curative options include assistance in buying a home to replace the one just sold to finance the cruise and psychological counselling.