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Posted on Aug 4, 2014 | 0 comments

Learning the Meaning of Transience

Enjoying an evening with friends.

Enjoying an evening with friends.

Even though Dan and I have moved a lot in the last few years, our trip down the ICW was the first time that we moved our whole “house” with us. It was surreal to climb down onto a different dock and find ourselves in a place that we didn’t know. New neighborhood, new dock-mates, new stores and restaurants to find. We knew coming into cruising that moving frequently was going to become part of our lives, but I’m not sure that we really had understood what that would mean until this move.

Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.

Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.

The part that I think was the most surprising to us was how sad we where at leaving our old neighbors in Lantana. Though it was a realtively small marina, the community there was very tight-knit. You could find live-aboards enjoying drinks together on each other’s boats almost any night of the week in addition to group gatherings at the marina clubhouse many weekends. Invitations to go out on the water together were common place and always made for a good time.

The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.

The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.

We had always read that the cruising life made for fast friends and faster goodbyes, but I think we underestimated what that meant. We’ve quickly learned that everyone has a story to tell and when you share such a large part of your lives in common, the friendships that form defy traditional time lines. The only consolation to leaving so soon is the knowledge that in mobile community of so few individuals, we’re likely to run into our friends again in the future. We look forward to meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones in the future, but also know that leaving will always be a little bitter sweet.

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Posted on May 11, 2014 | 2 comments

Our First Week Aboard

Our two cars and trailer in the driveway

Ready to head out on Saturday morning.

Dan, Carter, and I have now officially survived our first week as liveaboards. After 20 grueling hours in the car (plus a nice day-long pit stop in LaGrange, Georgia with Dan’s brother Kyle), we were ready to get onto the boat and start making it our home. Easier said than done we soon realized. In Peoria, we loaded a 5×8 cargo trailer plus our two vehicles with all of our stuff and once we started unpacking quickly figured out that not everything was going to fit on the boat. (This is the point where Dan can say I told you so!) About 60% of what we brought is currently on the boat with us, 20% is still in our cars and trailer, and 20% is now in the Indiantown dump.

Carter standing in front of Horizon

In the heat, we are in a constant struggle with Carter to keep his clothes on!

Indiantown Marina is a great place to store a boat over hurricane season and we met quite a few people preparing their boats for summer storage. It is not, however, a place where we would want to live on any extended basis, as there are almost no amenities in town and the nearest area of interest is a significant drive. Not to mention the friendly neighborhood alligator that liked to hang around our boat waiting for our dogs, cat, or toddler to fall in the water. As you might imagine, we were ready to move on as soon as possible since Dan’s job officially starts on Monday.

Loggerhead Marina

This is where we will be staying once we get our boat moved

To help break up the monotony of unpacking, each day we made sure to get off the boat and enjoy ourselves. Carter had been asking to go to the beach since he first found out we were moving to Florida, so we spent one evening touring our future marina home and heading over to the beach and dinner. The marina is part of the Loggerhead family of marinas that are up and down the east coast of Florida and we have been very impressed with their friendliness and beautiful facilities. Because the same group owns multiple marinas we will be able to stay at the Stuart marina for free on our way to our home base. Here are our top impressions of living aboard after our first week:

  • Organization will be very important for our sanity. We have a lot of storage on this boat compared to others we’ve seen, but it’s still a major adjustment for us.
  • Even after only a few days, going on land makes us all sway a little. After the first night on-board, as we got off the boat Carter stopped and started turning his head in a circle saying “Whoa! Everything is moving Mommy!”
  • Little boys skin their knees a lot more when they don’t have the protection of long pants.
  • Systems on a boat are more different than house systems than we had anticipated. Dan is very handy, but we’re feeling at this point that the learning curve is steeper than we’d hoped. We’re seriously considering hiring an instructor to help us learn our boat better.

We’ve been running pretty much in high stress mode over the last few days but we know that everything will normalize soon once we get settled into our new marina and Dan starts working. Thanks to everyone for your help and encouragement through this stressful process. Let us know what questions you have or share your first week stories in the comments below.

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Posted on Apr 29, 2014 | 2 comments

Ready for Liftoff

Mangrove hedges on the beach

We’re heading into unknown territory.

5…4…3…2…1…   We are now in the final week before moving to Florida. The stress and excitement are mingled into a crazy jumble of emotions as we prepare to leave our friends and family and also embark on the next stage of our adventure. I think the mix is the most evident in Carter, who asks every morning “are we going to the beach today Mommy?” but then has been in a rotten mood the last few days, overly concerned that we’ll forget his toys. We’ll be glad to have everything settle down again in a few weeks (hopefully!)

To be completely honest, I think all the hustle has obscured the reality of what’s happening. Knowing how hard and long we’ve worked towards this goal means that I logically see how great it’s going to be for our family, so I just keep telling myself that as I’m sorting through huge piles of junk that have accumulated after being together for 10 years.

We have tried to make a conscious effort to be present in the last few days we’re here, not just stressed, grateful for the path that has brought us this far. We know that everything will work itself out in time, but once these days are gone we can’t get them back. Because our families will be far away, this is most likely our true “sending off” even though we won’t be casting the dock lines for a few more months. We are blessed that our families are so supportive of our dream, even though we know they aren’t happy to see us leave.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes as we get ready to head South. We hope some of you will look us up the next time you are in Palm Beach!

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Posted on Apr 17, 2014 | 2 comments

Moving to Florida

Sailboat under a Blue Sky

This doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore.

As of today, Dan has officially accepted an offer as an IT Director in Southeast Florida. We are extremely excited and more than a little stressed, because his start date is only 3 1/2 weeks from now! In the next 2 weeks, we will be attempting to pack (again) all of the contents in our small house and drive the 18 hours to get to Indiantown Marina, where Horizon (our Irwin 37) currently sits. We officially closed on her yesterday and it’s not a minute too soon, since we plan on moving directly onto her when we get to Florida.

In the meantime, our heads are spinning from the amount of work to do here in such a short time. First on the list is putting in our 2 weeks notice and finally telling our coworkers about our plans. Welcome to any of you reading this! It’s hard to keep a secret this big for so long and I know some people knew about the general plan, but Dan and I decided at the beginning that we would try to avoid talking about our plans at work. Frankly, we weren’t sure how long it would take to get to this point and we wanted to have the potential for raises and promotions if we chose to stay longer or the dream never became a reality.

Our second major task is getting all of our houses rented and hiring a property management company. Luckily, we had already started the footwork on finding a good company, but we have yet to meet with them in person and go over specifics of how our relationship will work. When we first started in the World of Rent, we had no idea how much work goes into placing new tenants. We’re hoping to make a choice by the end of this weekend and get leases signed quickly so we have time to do all of our packing.

Oh the packing… in my opinion this is the most daunting task of all. In just two weeks, I’m hoping to sort through everything in our house to determine what is staying and what is going. Let’s just say, most of it is staying. Since we are planning to move directly onto our boat, we will be trying to sell as much of our furniture and other large items as possible. If its not sold by the end of next weekend, come pick it up! We aren’t intending to rent a large moving truck, only a 5×8 U-haul trailer to hitch onto our Jeep, so there isn’t a lot of room for junk.

I have a feeling that we’ll be in shock for the next month or two as we fly around in a whirlwind, but hopefully we’ll find ourselves in the right place in the end. Check out our new What’s Next page for our basic plans until cast-off.

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Posted on Apr 9, 2014 | 2 comments

Introducing Horizon: Our Irwin 37

Horizon under sailLet me start by saying that I never expected our 100th post to include the introduction of our boat. When we first started almost three years ago, we didn’t really know where to begin. We Learned to Sail the Hard Way and then decided it would be better to just take some lessons. Dan got certified as a Dive Master then Instructor, and we also learned that it’s better to just pretend to be a Rescue Victim. The Search was on for a boat this year but some days it felt like we might never get to this point, especially when we received the call from our broker that the Cabot 36 had sold. With a little luck and a lot of prayer, we’ve made it to the next stage of our journey.

We spent nearly 8 hours in the boatyard this last Saturday looking at boat after boat, but none of them felt like home. That is until we looked at the last one on our list: the Irwin 37 center cockpit. To be completely honest, we had all but written off this boat during our search. Generally, they are known for being a mid-range quality production boat from the 70s and 80s and frankly didn’t have the best online reputation. When our broker mentioned that he had one he would like us to look at, Dan and I basically just did a bit of an eye-roll and shrug “might as well look at it”. Little did we know.

Let me stop here to say that we had a fantastic experience with the broker we used but by request have not listed his name, since he would like to go cruising eventually as well and would prefer not to be known as the “broker guy”. He was extremely professional, very easy to get a hold of, and has a true passion to help people get into boats that they are going to love. His listings are some of the most thorough that we have seen throughout the country. If you are looking for a boat or thinking of selling yours in South Florida,  just shoot us an email through the Contact Us page and we would be happy to recommend him.

As the broker described Tortuga (current name until we can close the deal), the one word he kept using was anomaly. This boat may be nearly 40 years old, but every major system on the boat had been completely redone in the last 3-4 years. New rigging, new masts (its ketch-rigged), new staysail (make that cutter-ketch), brand new full suite of sails, top-of-the-line electronics, new beefy windlass, dodger and bimini, and the list goes on. Over $100k of upgrades and renovations really sweetens the honeypot when our total budget for boat and outfit is only $50k.

What’s the ketch you ask? Okay that was bad. Well, the person who did all of these upgrades (the owner of a major sail maker company we found out later) decided after pouring in all of the money that he actually wanted a bigger boat. So he dumped it before the interior was completely spruced up. Some of the cabinets need to be rehung, the headliner needs old holes filled and painted, the wiring needs to be organized, and some of the plumbing needs help. Luckily, everything that needs to be done are fairly easy and cheap fixes but they currently make the interior somewhat less than desirable to most buyers, especially when compared to what you expect to find after seeing the immaculate exterior. Bad news for the seller, great news for us.

Some people might be wondering right now what happened to our Blue Water Boat criteria? Well, the fact of the matter is, we’ve come to realize like so many others that every boat is a compromise. After seeing what types of boats were available in our price-range we quickly came to the conclusion that the heavily built offshore cruisers just were not going to work for our family. With our short to mid-range plans being to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean, we believe the Irwin will be a safe and functional home for the three of us. If in the future we decide to head offshore, we will meet that challenge head-on as we always do.

We hope you will continue to Follow the Horizon with us as we continue into the next exciting stage of our journey.

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