Whoever 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.
At the risk of going along with the obvious theme for the week, I’m just going to go with the obvious theme for the week and say Happy Thanksgiving!
One year for Thanksgiving when Dan and I were dating, we rode with his parents and brothers to my mother-in-law’s (Shelly) family event at her mom’s house about half an hour from Dan’s parents’. On the way there, Shelly asked everyone to go around and say what they were thankful for. Being the adolescent boys that they were, Kyle and Alex (Dan’s younger brothers) immediately started complaining about how they were tired of having to do this every year, it was so overdone, and they just were not going to cooperate. And so, she didn’t make them say what they were thankful for, but I could tell that they had really hurt her feelings by not participating in her tradition.
I would guess that the majority of American families have their own little traditions that make the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays unique to themselves, and most families will have to face the day when those traditions are challenged. Sometimes this comes from challenging children, busy schedules, or adding new members to the family, but when it happens it is always a little disappointing for someone.
This year is the first year that we won’t be spending Thanksgiving with any of our grandparents due to family schedules and it is may also be the last Thanksgiving that we live within easy holiday travel. If our plans continue moving forward, Dan and I will be in Florida next year, preparing our new home for traversing ocean passages. Not exactly the tradition we are used to. Because of that, I’m trying to do a little extra savoring of the season this year. Being a little more gracious with our family differences, and a little more thankful for the time we have left.
This sums up why we wanted to move there. Bay of Islands, NZ
NaBloPoMo asks “What sports did you play as a child?” Michele and I certainly didn’t sail. I played pretty much every sport an American child in the Midwest can play, just not sailing. We’re talking basketball, baseball, football, floor hockey, soccer, swimming, track and field, you name it I played it. So how did Michele and I come up with the crazy idea to sail full time?
A few years ago I had watched the documentary Ice Blink… At the time I thought little more about it than “Wow that’s cool.” The seed of sailing (and crusing) had been planted however. As Michele and I became more and more disillusioned with money and “stuff” we began searching for alternatives. Cruising was not at the top of the list, surprisingly. We seriously explored moving to New Zealand. New Zealand is in the midst of a brain drain as most of its young educated people move elsewhere, primarily Australia. Because of this brain drain, IT workers (and especially network engineers) wanting to move into the country are on somewhat of a fast track approval.
We went so far as to tell our families we were moving to live the life of Kiwis… but what was the life of a Kiwi? Our primary motivation was to reprioritize our lives away from what is fake and towards what is real. We started talking to people from New Zealand to get a feel for what life there really is all about. We would still need to work full time, if only to keep our fast track status. Slowly, we figured out that the freedom we were searching for doesn’t have as much to do with “where” as with “when” and “what” you are doing. Time-freedom is hard to come by. Cruising fulfills both aspects of what drove Michele and I to want to move to New Zealand: time-freedom and exploration. The ability to set sail within a few hours notice for whatever port you would like definitely is quite alluring for the both of us. The time-freedom to explore those ports, as well as ourselves, is what calls us to the sea.
This post is part of our NaBloPoMo series. Follow the Horizon is participating in National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). NaBloPoMo is for bloggers who commit to post each day in the month of May.
A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep. When this happens, I usually find myself watching a TED Talk. Michele and I were in the middle of trying to sell my car (see Good Bye Awesome Car, Hello Future for the whole story) and I was thinking about stuff. The kind of stuff that fills up our basements, attics, kitchens, garages, houses, and lives. We have a lot of stuff. Michele, Carter, and I live in a normal sized house… but we have rooms that we haven’t opened the door to for months. That brings me to the talk I was watching a few nights ago. In it writer and designer Graham Hill explores if having less “stuff” can actually lead to more happiness. Michele and I think so. Check it out for yourself below.
Americans have so much stuff that its possible to have shows like Hoarders and Storage Wars… maybe its time to look at the alternative?
Carter is our smallest-in-stature, biggest-in-attitude crew member. I’ll refrain from any 2-going-on-20 cliches, but this kid definitely thinks he is running the show around here (and he might be right!) He loves all things “boy”- trucks, cars, trains, and of course boats a.k.a “buhts” to him. Since he was only about 2 months old, the best way to get Carter to relax has been to take him outside. He will be in a terrible tantrum mood, but as soon as you get him outside he will play peacefully for literally hours.
Carter not only has the love of the outdoors going for him, he is completely obsessed with water. Talk about a boy meant for the ocean. He’ll splash in anything he can find: pools, ponds, dog dishes, and (as a mother I am ashamed to admit) the occasional open toilet. Yuck. He will even pour out drops of juice on the floor just to rub them around on his hands. He LOVES water.
One of our biggest motivations for wanting to live on a sailboat and travel is to give our son the opportunity to grow up with an open mind. To experience humanity instead of being just a passive member of it. To learn by touch and feel instead of by being told. Carter may not want to live on a boat for the rest of his life, and maybe we won’t either, but that’s not our ultimate goal for him. We want him to know that anything is possible, no matter what his horizon is.
We are normal (well ok, not so normal) people that have a dream to see the world and live life as it was meant to be. We both have successful careers in the healthcare industry, even in this terrible economy. We want to break free of the current cycle of trading time for dollars and dollars for more and more things we don't need. So, we have decided to forego the fruits of our economic success and "retire" well before we are 30 and set out to see what is over the Horizon.