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Posted on Aug 7, 2013 | 1 comment

Look It Up

Don't know what kind of moth this is? We didn't either so we looked it up!

Don’t know what kind of moth this is? We didn’t either until we looked it up!

Dan and I like to be thoroughly well prepared for big changes and new possibilities in life. When we have a problem, we search Google and figure out how to fix it. When I was pregnant with Carter, I spent hours researching online exactly what to expect and prepare for multiple different outcomes to the point that my doctors were always surprised that I knew exactly what they were talking about and had almost no questions at any of my appointments. Dan visited countless websites and forums along with talking to other landlords before we were confident that we could make well informed decisions about buying rental properties. What can I say? We like to be educated.

Recently, we realized that we had been somewhat slacking in the cruising education division. Sure, we read a lot of other people’s blogs and had spent a lot of time reading cruisersforum and other boating sites when we were first making up our plans, but we hadn’t done a lot of in depth training because we were so focused on the financials of making sure we could get going. That mindset has been able to shift over the last few weeks… We have now reached the point where our rental reserves (six months of expenses per house) and the initial cruising kitty (10k to start, but it will be replenished each month from our various income sources while cruising… think of it as working cash) are established. Now we move into the boat savings stage. It is exhilarating to know that every dollar saved will be building towards a new home. That might not seem like a big deal, but for us it has been a major eye opener. Now we need to make sure that we are ready when the money is!

To start things out right we purchased the full pack of NauticEd* Captain’s courses and have both been working through them together. These courses cover a huge range of topics from diesel engine maintenance and proper sail trim to safety at sea and storm tactics. We have been very impressed with the quality of instruction and depth of information provided from these courses and both of us feel a lot more confident that we will be able to sail our boat safely when the time comes. They even have nice PDF graphs and quick reference guides to laminate and keep on your boat with you as well as practical exercises that we’ll be able to work on together once we get our real boat.

Another course that we are planning to take is the Mahina Expedition seminar that is given at Strictly Sail every year. This seminar is highly rated and addresses a lot of the logistical issues of living on a sailboat. Provisioning, safety, clearing in and out of countries, and having pets on-board are just a few of the topics covered in the all day seminar. The Blue Water Boats list that we’ve been referencing in many of our posts is also created by the Mahina team. These people have a lot of experience under their belts and we’re hoping to take some of that and put it to use on our own journey.

Two other big areas of focus for our studies will be first aid skills and Dan’s SCUBA instructor course. We feel that Dan getting his instructor certification could be a major benefit to us in the future and could potentially give us some additional income throughout the year. The first aid classes we are a little less sure about where to start. Dan is currently EFR/CPR certified as part of his rescue diver certification last year and plans to get his EFR instructor certification at the same time he finishes the PADI instructor certification, which would make it easy for me to get EFR certified as well (which we plan to do.) However as anyone who has taken EFR or the Red Cross first aid class will know, these classes are designed to stabilize a patient until an ambulance or other trained medical staff can reach the patient which usually only takes a short time in comparison to the days it could take if someone was seriously injured at sea. We are currently trying to find other options that would give us a more thorough training, but are having a hard time finding something reasonably priced that we could both be trained in. The most promising so far has been the Wilderness First Response program but that is about $800/person and requires a week of hands-on training so we aren’t sure if we want to jump into that without more … research.

Do you know of any other classes we should consider taking in the next year of preparation? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or shoot us an email from the Contact Us page.

*Use our coupon code followthehorizon at NauticEd to get $15 off any classes! (Full disclosure: we get a very small credit to our NauticEd account when you use this code)

We’ve also done some major updates to our To-Do List page! Click on over to check it out.

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Posted on Jan 30, 2013 | 0 comments

We Interrupt This Winter…

Strictly Sail Chicago 2013Whoever first started scheduling Strictly Sail Chicago in the middle of January was a genius. Winter has never been our favorite part of the year (hello, planning to move to the Tropics for more than just the piña coladas) but this year has been doubly hard with the knowledge that we could have moved to Florida instead of staying here to pad our purse a little more. This past Saturday we were able to leave winter behind for a few hours and spur the excitement we’ve been missing for the last couple months. Just one day of being able to talk openly with people about our dream of cruising does wonders for our attitudes.

Three Cruising Budgets, Snapshots from the Life of Jimmy Cornell, and Perspectives from a Cruising Couple seminars filled our schedule. These seminars weren’t really intended as fact finding for us, in fact we hardly learned any really new information at all. What they lacked in new information, they made up for in validation and motivation. It’s one thing to read a bunch of cruising blogs and forums and compile a $1000-$1500/month budget that we think is realistic; it reaches the next level to hear the founder of Blue Water Sailing confirm that for us in his Three Cruising Budgets seminar. (He actually described four budgets, but the highest was labeled “Silly and Unnecessary” aka why are you even in this seminar, just go hire a 5 man crew for your million dollar yacht.)

The boats were what we really wanted to see. We won’t be buying a new boat when we leave, of course, and we probably won’t even be looking at buying a used version of any of the brands available to tour due to quality and dependability recommendations; what we wanted was to feel the size of the living space. Last year, we hadn’t done a lot of research into boats when we came and toured all of the boats. We left that day saying, “yeah, the smaller ones are okay, but I think we should look at boats in the 40-45′ range.” And look I did…at the price tag. There are hardly any good boats on the used market in the 40-45′ range that are under $50,000, and especially not ones that are close to being ready for ocean voyaging.

This year we needed to go in with the question “what can we do” instead of “what do we want to do”. It’s amazing how much that question changes your perspective, because we quickly realized that 30-35′ boats would probably do just fine for us and one little boy. (Depending on the boat, of course.) We are now looking for boats in that range with one cabin/quarter berth layout or two cabin layout (which is much harder to find in older boats that size). To be honest, I was a bit shocked to see how much that downsize of 5-10 feet slashed the price tremendously. If you search yachtworld.com for boats 38-45′ in the US between $30k-$50k, you get 197 boats boats to choose from. And let me tell you, they aren’t exactly the cream of the crop most of the time. If you search 30-38′ instead, you get 757. That’s a significant difference in selection, making it much more likely for us to be able to find what we are looking for in our budget.

While we had intended to stay for 2 days of the show, winter fought back and forced us to return home early with a nasty ice storm that came through Chicago on Sunday. We didn’t want to brave the ice in my mom’s car that she let us borrow – Thanks Mom! – because my brakes went out just as we were getting to their house Friday night. (Whole story in itself.) It seems that we will have to wait until next year to get a good second day, since last year Dan spent most of the day on his back on the floor outside of the bathroom of Navy Pier or puking his guts out inside of said bathroom. Even just one day though was enough to refuel our systems until the end of the dreariness when we can start sailing and diving again.

 

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Posted on Oct 10, 2012 | 0 comments

A Sense of Loss

Dan recently took this photo while on his day off with Carter

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a leadership seminar through my department at work. There were many excellent points discusses throughout the entire course of the seminar, but the portion on change is what really hit a chord with me. Hmm, I wonder why? The speaker, Chuck Stoner*, spoke specifically about the fact that every change in life comes with a sense of loss and grieving, even when the change is something positive that we are looking forward to.

When change comes, there is always a different path that will never be available to us again. Dan and I are currently standing in that divergence of choices and the other paths that we will be walking away from are so clear to me I can almost physically see them. I can see Carter at his first day of kindergarten, baseball game, and a host of other things that every mom cherishes and it does fill me with a sense of longing for that path. I can see that our grandparents are getting older and know in my heart that there is a very real possibility that being gone for 5-10 years or more means we might not get to see them again before they die. We may miss births of nieces and nephews, friends’ weddings, and a lot more events that we can never get back once they are over. We will be moving away from Dan’s very close-knit family that we spend time with multiple days a week.

All of these things and more impose a real weight to the decisions that we are making. They give more value to the good life that we are leaving behind to follow our dream of cruising. Does that mean that we will regret the choice to leave? I don’t think so. The excitement of moving forward and doing something new is far too great for us to look back wistfully for very long. But it does make me appreciate the time we have left a little more.

Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.

*Dr. Charles Stoner and his speaking partner Tom Bower gave one of the best seminars I have ever attended. If you ever have a chance to go to one, I would highly recommend it. Also, you can find some of Chuck’s books on business and leadership here.

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Posted on Aug 2, 2012 | 0 comments

How-To: Inform the Fam

Dan’s mom, Shelly, and Carter at the pumpkin farm last year.

Step 1: Put a big sign in front of your house that says it is for sale.
Step 2: Wait for your family to freak out.

Okay, this is exactly what we didn’t do and hopefully anyone reading this blog will try to avoid this approach as well.  We were not looking forward to telling Grandma and Grandpa that their adorable grandson would soon be living on a boat out of easy cuddle range, however we decided that it would be very unfair to put our house up for sale without letting them know first.

Let me just insert a little history here to help everyone understand why we were hesitant to tell our parents. First of all, we have a very good relationship with Dan’s parents. They live only a few blocks from us, which means that we see them a lot. It will be a major change for us (and them) to not see each other basically every day. Secondly, sailing off on a boat is not the first time that we have told our families that we are moving somewhere else, but it will be the first time that we actually do it. We wanted to make sure that we were far enough along in the planning and preparation that we would be taken seriously, as well as have as many answers to their questions as possible. Finally, over the last year we have been trying to prepare them for the idea of cruising by talking a lot about sailing and other people that we have met who are currently cruising.

To be honest, I think our general preparation worked to make the idea sound feasible, but I’m not sure that we overcame the obstacle of being taken seriously. We told Dan’s parents at dinner at Cracker Barrel (his mom’s favorite restaurant, mine less so) that we were putting our house up for sale in August and that we planned to move to Florida as soon as possible to find a boat to live on. And then…nothing happened. It was extremely anticlimactic. Eventually they did ask some of the basic questions like “What about pirates?” and “How do you make sure Carter doesn’t fall in?”, but the overall mood was so subdued I almost wished someone would cry or yell or something. It felt like being a kid again…

“Hey mom! I’m going to be an astronaut when I grow up!”
“That’s great, honey, now wash your hands for dinner.”

Since that day, a week and a half ago, there still hasn’t been much reaction. Things have been mentioned in an off-hand kind of way, but no more questions or concerns have been voiced. I have a feeling that may change once we are actually leaving, but for now I just don’t think that it is real to them yet.

Note: some of you may have noticed the lack of information on my family’s reaction to the news. That’s because we would like to tell them in person, but we haven’t been able to get up to Chicago to talk to them about it yet.

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Posted on Jul 25, 2012 | 0 comments

We’ve had a busy week

Zoe during better times

It’s been a hectic week! We weren’t kidding when we said There is a Lot Going On Around Here.

As a follow up to Good Bye Awesome Car, Hello Future our second awesome car has been sold! We have been looking for an opportunity to sell it, as eliminating our last car payment will really boost our savings. We’re now driving my parent’s Jeep which they are selling us for a very good price that we think we should easily be able to recoup when we sell it. Parting ways was much easier this time… each step forward is a step closer to cast-off day. The bedroom has been painted, the carpet is on the way, and I’m done with the classroom portion of Divemaster training. Next up is assisting with classes and student training dives.

Of all of the progress made this week, perhaps the most momentous was telling my parents. My family is very close (we live 2 blocks away from them)… so we weren’t exactly sure how they would take the news that we are planning on moving thousands of miles away. More on that in our next post.

On a much sadder note, our dog Zoe passed away on Saturday. Although she was only four years old, she had been battling Addison’s disease for three of those. Steroids twice a day for three years allowed her to live an active life but also took a toll on her small body. Even though we understand the necessity of giving up our dogs before leaving for life at sea, this was definitely not the way we had planned on saying good-bye. It also has given us just a little reminder of the good things that we will be leaving behind. Even fulfilling your dreams can be bittersweet at times.

Follow your dreams. Follow the Horizon.

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