09/20/17

Post 43: Obstacles

When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there.

-Zig Ziglar

The past few months have been filled with obstacles and challenges.  Kinda like the last 500′ to the summit of a mountain is the hardest (or so I have heard!). It started with my Dad passing away, then wrecking my truck. my air conditioner broke in the camper, hurricane Irma, and finally, a hernia from Irma prep and clean up.  Is someone trying to tell me something??

We had decided to visit my Mom after Dad passed to make sure she was getting along well.  We loaded up the truck, had a great visit for a week, then headed back to Florida.  When we were nearly home, the front passenger tire blew out, sending us flying off the road into a deep wooded ravine.  Luckily, we didn’t get hurt, but the truck was totaled.

We have hired someone to haul the camper to my Mom’s.  I don’t think I could do another road trip right now after what happened on the last one.  Need a few more weeks to recover!

We had planned to stay in our camper until it got a bit cooler as it’s SO hot sitting in the marina during the summer with no wind and daily afternoon thunderstorms. One day, the air conditioner in the camper simply gave up the ghost.  Instead of dishing out more money from our cruising kitty, we decided to put it on the back burner with the truck.  No need to have both of them unused and waiting for our return.  At least we have AC on the boat while plugged into shore power!

Hurricane Irma came through the Tampa Bay area to pay us a visit.  She was the first hurricane that has been in this area for 100 years.  We prepped the boat as best we could and went to a friends house, Laura and Doug’s,  to brace for the storm’s impact.

We had been through a Cat 3 hurricane before when we lived in Mississippi.  This time, they were expecting a Cat 4.  I was pretty worried we would not have a boat or camper to call home anymore.  Laura and Doug had a few limbs down but that was pretty much the extent.  We were very fortunate to have had minimal damage.  The worst thing that happened to us were the wind generator blades flying fast for the horizon…and we lost power at the marine. This translated to another home without AC!  Fortunately, the camper survived without damage as well.  We moved it out from under the trees the day before.  It’s a good thing we did because a large limb fell in our site and would have likely taken out the rear.

With all the bad luck we have had, I’m happy we had all our good karma saved for Irma.  It’s sad to see what this storm has done to other parts of Florida and the Caribbean islands.  I think it may have changed our travel plans for a few years.  We are going to try to get into Marathon at the end of the year.  I was speaking with someone today that works in Marathon and she encouraged me to try to make it down.  They need the business in order to continue repairs.  We will see where we can get to when the time comes.  So far, (knocking on wood), hurricanes have avoided most of the Bahamas.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this trend continues.

07/22/17

Post 42: Last Few Repairs

My Daddy

Most people go through life thinking their loved ones are going to be around forever.  Then the worst happens and it takes the wind out of your sails.  This is what happened to me.  My Dad passed away a few weeks ago.  I haven’t felt like doing anything. I’m one of those people who never imagined my Dad dying.  He was always such a strong man with a kind heart and a beautiful spirit.  I’m working to get back to normal, but that place doesn’t exist for me anymore.  Now, I have a new normal to adjust to.  I just keep telling myself my Dad would not want me to wallow in grief.  So, with much effort, I’m trying to crawl out of my hole and begin to work on projects once again.

It’s hot!!  It makes it so difficult to get anything done outside.  We have managed to do a few projects between the miserable heat and the rain showers.

After the project

There are some leaks in the boat we have needed to fix for some time.  We are trying to track down our last “known” leak, but it is elusive!  One of the hatches in the salon had a drip that needed to be addressed…done.  It was our belief that this same hatch was causing water to run down the headliner and dripping onto the port cabinet.

We decided to remove it and re-bed it with new sealant.  Our sealant of choice is butyl tape.

We removed the hatch and discovered the previous caulk that was put down was nearly gone.  We cleaned it all up and lined the hatch with butyl tape and set it in.

The drip was gone from the hatch, but water is still draining from the headliner…albeit slower.

Next, I will re-bed the handrails and around the mast.  Hopefully that will do the trick.

We also have a few ports that need replacing due to small cracks and crazing in the pane.  We would love to get the New Found Metal ports, but we have chipped away at the cruising kitty a lot lately, so we will replace with the same Beckson ports as currently installed.  It was fairly easy to remove the worst of the old ports, which was surprising.

Nothing is easy, nor is it done in the first attempt when it comes to our boat.  We put in the new port with butyl tape, but the port does not sit flush to the cabin (too much butyl!).

We can not tighten the port down enough to have it seat properly for fear of cracking the frame. We are now going to take that back out and use the 4200 adhesive/sealant for “Round 2”. Grrrrr!

I truly believe ALL boats are in various stages of sinking. As owners, our role is to slow it down long enough to enjoy it before it goes under!

 

05/16/17

Post 41: 5-4-3-2-1-GO!!

“In the worship of security we fling ourselves beneath the wheels of routine-and before we know it our lives are gone.”
Sterling Hayden, Wanderer

Several years ago, I made a decision to start living my life instead of grinding through an endless routine of Monday-Friday.  I am very lucky to have a husband, after some convincing, who agreed to change things up and give it a try.  Since then we have been planning and preparing for the day we start our next chapter as “Liveaboards and Cruisers”.  The days are now quickly counting down to zero, when we cast off for southern latitudes.

Since selling the house, time has definitely sped up.  We are at 5 months and are feeling the pressure of getting our projects done, closing up things locally and leaving behind the security of a job and routine.  I have not returned to work since my surgery, but Marty is still working and getting a bit edgy about how quickly time is moving.

Marty has been working for many years.  He has always had some sort of routine, structure and a definite check deposited at the end of the week.  Changing that routine is a HUGE step. You don’t realize how big until you are standing at the edge of the cliff.  It’s not that I don’t worry how things will be when we leave as far as money, healthcare, repairs, etc. I have always been a person who feels things will work out.  I guess that is the balance between Marty and I.

Although we should have started some time ago, we are adding the goal of “Get Healthy” to the list of things to be done before we leave. I think that will be much harder than “Save Money”.  We are both very lazy when it comes to our health and are easily distracted by ice cream and beer (rum for Marty)!  But, in order to help the healthcare situation, it’s definitely something we need to get under control. Besides the increased cost of healthcare, safety is also a factor. Cruising is physically demanding and requires mental and physical strength as well as endurance.

I think my biggest worry is about leaving my family behind.  I’m not leaving them behind forever, but I have never been far away from my kids.  It’s always easy to call, talk and go see them pretty much whenever I want. While cruising, long periods of time without speaking to them sends worry through me. The next concern is leaving friends we have really gotten close to.  I am hoping some of them will be cruising with us some of the time.  Yes, I mean you Larry and Sheree!!  Hopefully, our schedules will match up for the trip to the Bahamas.  I hope our friends, Laura and Doug, will always be in touch and come out to see us. I promise to work on the towel animals for your bunk! I will miss our camping friends Gary, Vinnie and Taber who have been a part of our lives for more years then I can remember.  Our Frog Creek Campground family are our newest family members who will hopefully remember us when we return for a visit.  Most of our sailing friends I expect to meet up with at some point.  Heather & Syd, Bob’s (last names S & W), I’m pointing at you guys specifically!! I am excited to meet the new people we will add to our list of friends by the end of the trip. I fully expect to reunite with old friends from the Chesapeake Bay area when our travels take us north.

Currently, we are talking about heading up to the Chesapeake Bay after we leave the Bahamas.  As I said previously, I would like to spend time with family and friends and sail the waters we both grew up in.  Our plans are very fluid at this point.  As we finish our first leg in the Bahamas, we will make a decision as to which direction we will head.  Until then, we will keep all plans open.

If we do decide to head north towards the Chesapeake Bay, we could definitely use some advice on ports along the way.  I do plan to stop in St Augustine, Savannah, Orient, but outside of that, I have not really caught up on my cruising guides.  So I open up the floor to you, the readers of this page.  If you have any ideas, hints, tips or advise, please post and let us know.  We will be leaving here in Oct to head for Marathon.  Then the plan is to point the boat toward the Bahamas in January until May.  Then, either head back to Fl and up North or start our way down the island chain.  If we do start south, we will have to leave before May to get the Trinidad before hurricane season. We look forward to hearing from you!

03/30/17

Post 40: It’s Moving Time!!

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.

– Unknown

 

Looking up in the sky today, I see white puffy clouds that stand out against a gorgeous blue sky.  The sun is shining down through the hatches with a mobile of dust dancing in its beams. I hear boats putt by causing gentle wake to lap against the hull.  Seagulls are squawking in the distance, probably fighting over some small piece of food.  Today is a great day!  Why? Because today, I actually live on my boat!

It has been a very long time in the making, but we now call our boat home.  The house has been sold for almost a year and the campground where we keep our camper is full with people following the sun. It’s sailing season and there is no better place to live.

People are funny.  When I tell someone I live on my boat I get the strangest looks.  They can’t seem to comprehend the idea of someone living in such a small space or in such an unconventional way.  For some reason, they relate living on a boat with being homeless.  As if I had no other choice or I’m a lazy soul looking to avoid work.  Little do they know how much work it took to get to this point.  While we are not rich in wallet, we are becoming more rich in the quality of our lives. Not everyone has this reaction.  Some people are amazed with our lifestyle choice and are excited for us.  I love explaining why we chose this lifestyle.  In case you have forgotten why, I will briefly explain again.

I was working with geriatric residents in an assisted living facility.  So many times I was told stories of dreams lost because of illness or age.  Marty’s Mother left this earth with dreams on the drawing board that were never realized.  Marty and I both refuse to let that happen to us. One of our dreams is to sail and see as many things as possible before our time comes.  We will not be on our deathbed saying, “I wish I would have…”.

We have been on board for a few weeks.  It’s taking a bit of time to figure out storage, but it’s taking no time to adjust. I have not returned to work since my surgery and have decided not to, since moving to the boat means moving farther away from where I worked.  I have been busy sewing new covers for various things and moving stuff on board.  I think one of the most difficult things to get used to is the lack of refrigerator and freezer space. I shop 3 or 4 times a week for food.  I love fresh veggies, but they don’t fit well in the fridge if I buy too many.

I find, living on board, we do not watch a lot of TV.  We are always piddling around fixing this or that, finding better ways to store something or out walking around the marina.  I’m re-reading all my cruising books and looking at charts planning trips here and there.  We talk a lot about our plans and the date we will cast off the lines.  We do watch You Tube videos of other people “living the dream” and look forward to our time to come.

As usual, there are many projects in the works.  One we are currently working on is the aft head.  We pulled out the holding tank bladder and are replacing it with a hard tank. We have painted the cabinet and will be replacing hoses.  We hope to finish that project this weekend. Another project is installing self-tailing winches.  Our boat came with non-self-tailing winches (Lewmar 3-spd 44’s).  Although they are plenty large enough, we opted to go a bit bigger. We were able to get two larger self-tailing winches (Lewmar EVO 55’s) on a BOGO sale from West Marine! We need to have backing plates made and cover the old holes with fiberglass before they will be installed.  So, that project will take some time.  We went to a couple of flea markets this past weekend and found a piece of track to put up for the downwind pole we purchased some time ago.  Hopefully, that will be done this weekend as well.

Marty has been cleaning and repairing all of the other winches on board.  We had one small self-tailing winch on the main mast we rarely used except to hang line on.  Marty moved that one to the mizzen for the mizzen boom sheet and we found a small winch at the flea market for $5 to replace it with.  All it needed was a good cleaning and servicing… it’s good as new! The flea market also provided us 4-45 ft and 1-28 ft x 1.25″ Megabraid lines all for $100!  We are using them as dock lines. These were fantastic finds!

A few months ago, we installed new spreader lights.  They are multicolored LED with both white and blue lights.  Since they are LED, they consume much less power than the original incandescent lights that were previously installed.

We are getting closer to the big day we permanently leave the dock to stern.  Everything we do moves us one step closer.  We are so excited to be living on our boat!  Please continue to follow us as we reach our goals.  We would love to hear from you guys if you have similar plans or ideas we can incorporate.  Fair winds!!

02/8/17

Post 39: The Countdown Continues

“And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came. “

— President John F. Kennedy

The call from the ocean gets stronger everyday.  We hear it beckoning whenever we are on the shore, whenever we are away from our boat.  It pulls on our souls leading us back to it’s gentle motion and soothing sounds.  It welcomes us with the breath of dolphins and the warmth of the sun.  It’s the only place where we feel at peace.  And soon, we will be home.

There has been a lot of activity going on in our lives since our last post.  We pulled Dragonfly out of the water to have some “must do before we leave” work completed.  Having to do this has cost us some savings from the cruising kitty.  We have had to delay our departure in April to October in order to replace those funds.  We can wait out the 2017 hurricane season from the comfort of our dock!

We are also in the process of adding a wind generator to our power mix and I am currently making new hatch, rail and various equipment covers to freshen up to look of the boat.  To add to the activity, we are also going through the boat and figuring out what stays and what goes.  Also, trying to organize as best we can.  This is much harder to do then you would think.

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New Rigging

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Corroded Mast Step

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Bird Prevention

Rigging was at the top of our list for replacement.   The rigging had not been replaced on our boat and was in desperate need of updating.  Although some parts had been replaced, it was pieced together like Frankenstein.  We also had the mast step replaced as it was badly corroded.

While the mast was down, we added a new anchor light, steaming light, deck lights, bird spikes, VHF antenna and new spreader boots.

The bottom of the boat was next on the list.  It wasn’t in horrible shape, but had not been done in a while.  The boot stripe was chipping off and made my OCD tingle a bit. We decided to raise the water line 2 inches since we would be loading stuff into the boat for our escape.  The rudder skeg was inspected as well.  The through-bolts were in great shape.

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Shine!

The hull of the boat was so dull.  We had entertained the idea of having it painted, but decided against it when we were told it would cost about $10,000.  So we opted to have it washed, buffed and waxed. What an improvement that was! The boat at some point, will need to have the hull painted, but not now.

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New And Old Whale Pump

Another thing to have done was the survey for insurance.  In prep for the survey, we refreshed all our fire extinguishers and replaced the emergency bilge pump.  It was in bad shape!  Thank goodness this was something we found before we had an emergency.  We quickly replaced it because you never know when a problem will arise.

I had made new hatch covers when we first got the boat.  Unfortunately, the material I used was Sunbrella “type” material and not the real thing.  Although the material was cheap, it faded in two years and looked like crap!  So this time I got the real thing.  I was also given a wonderful Sailrite sewing machine from my incredibly generous husband for my birthday.  This has made making the covers a breeze!

The wind generator is Marty’s current project.  He purchased a Rutland 1200. The mount has been custom made to match the design of the davits.  When we received the wind generator it had a small open area on the housing. We contacted Rutland and was told that was a defect. They are sending out a new one as we speak.  Thanks to Rutland for standing behind their product and making this an easy process.  I will post on this as we are installing.

October is coming up quickly!  We are so excited that it is moving so fast.  At the same time, we are stepping into unknown territory.  We have no delusions of everything being perfect but if you don’t go, you don’t know.  We are currently splitting time between the boat and the camper. Not having a house has been the best thing ever.  Yes, sometimes I do miss the space.  But the water is calling us and we must follow!

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09/28/16

Post 38: Seeing the Light

April 2017.  We are officially casting off the lines.  It’s funny, when you begin to make plans to move aboard, time seems to drags by so slowly. Then, before you know it, your cruising date is closing in and you’re not sure if you are truly ready to go. There are always questions of, “Should I fix this”, “Should I save more money”, “Should I buy these things”.  These are the questions and thought processes that will keep you ashore.

To start our journey, we have thought of selling our camper and taking the boat up to the Chesapeake Bay to spend time with our families before heading south. Another option is to drag our camper to Maryland for safe keeping during our cruising years. We could visit with our families for a few weeks before flying back to Tampa and getting on the boat (thoughts of mold and mildew again cross my mind).  We would then head south to Pelican Bay, Marco Island or Naples, Tortugas, then Marathon. Once in Marathon we wait for our window and make the jump before the constant northerlies kick in.

Although we grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, we have never sailed up there.  I would love to get a different perspective by looking at the land from the water.  The water is not quite as pretty as the Bahamas, but all in good time.  There are other benefits such as being near family and of course my most favorite…blue crabs!  13139340_10206100411295944_2669903831941298765_nThe best anywhere!  I picture having a crab pot or two sitting in the water at all times and eating crab until I hate them.  If that is possible!  I would also attend the Crab Derby, which happens every September in Crisfield, Maryland.  Both of us could spend time with people we went to school with.  It sounds wonderful, but we are keeping our plans very fluid.

I will begin making some “You Tube” videos to document our travels to reflect on when we are miles and years away from this point in our lives. Maybe some of you will want to follow us on our dream starting with the first night aboard through all of our sailing days.

Keep a weather eye on the horizon!

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09/27/16

Post 37: Spore Wars

Overwhelmed: To bury or drown beneath a huge mass, over power or overcome, too much of something.

Mold:  Superficial, often woolly growth produced by fungus.

These are the two things that slapped me in the face upon entering my boat for the first time in 8 weeks.

Many of you may know, I recently had foot surgery and have been recovering for several weeks. During this time, I was on crutches with my foot in a hard cast or a post-operative boot. Getting on my boat was next to impossible and just too risky. Marty has been right here with me, doing everything I couldn’t do (laundry, cooking, cleaning) and, I’m sure, grumbling the whole time!  

Last week, the doctor said I can walk without the boot and begin therapy to learn to walk again. The first thing I wanted to do was get on my boat.  Oh my!!  I was not surprised to find mold, after all, we live in the Florida heat and humidity. I am just surprised at how fast it took over my boat!20160924_121640

 

We have decided to move on board in Dec/Jan so, hopefully, unchecked mold won’t be such a problem.  I will be able to keep up with it by preventing it from happening.  Marty did some research to find a natural mixture to get rid of this mess without using bleach.  I cannot tolerate the smell of bleach and this would require a lot.  We mixed 2 cups of Vinegar with 1 tsp of tea tree oil and 10 drops of orange oil together in a spray bottle. I didn’t know if it would take away the grime or just kill the spores.  It turns out it only kills the spores.  After the vinegar mixture dried we still had to spray mildew remover in order to make it white again.  Warning!!  DO NOT mix vinegar and bleach.  It produces a toxic gas (see definition of “Overwhelmed”).  Make sure the surface is dry and vinegar long evaporated if you intend to try this.  I will use the vinegar mixture as a deterrent from now on.  It also adds a nice scent to the boat, almost like sage.  It’s much better than the mold, bleach, or “boat” smell.  I don’t have any “after” pictures right now since we waited to spray the mildew remover until just before leaving, but am hoping it works beautifully!  I will add after pictures to this post when I head back to the boat this week.

 

05/12/16

Post 36: Moving Forward

Picture it.  Everything you once owned is either in storage or now belongs to someone else.  Your house is empty, newly painted, newly carpeted and doesn’t look like your house anymore.  Someone else is planning were to put their sofa, what cabinet to put their dishes in.  You live in your 5th wheel camper in a beautiful place with friendly people and a creek that’s perfect for kayaking and fishing.  Your new home is now just 20 minutes from your boat, so a trip there is no longer a day long event.  Weekends are starting to free up from the house maintenance and packing that has been sucking up all your free time.  Your children are happy and living well, and now, so are you.  You can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s heavenly! This is the beginning of our new life.

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Jordan and Adrian’s Wedding Day

So, were to begin??  I think I will start at our daughters wedding.  So much was hinging on that day.  We wanted everything to be said and done.  All of our focus had turned to planning, phone calls and reservations.  It was a lot of work, but well worth it. To say we were relieved when it was over is a huge understatement. The day after was the start of a new chapter for us.

Our previous post was about the process of moving into the camper, so I will skip over that.  We made the move on New Year’s Day, leaving the camper next to the house and started the ridiculous amount of house repairs.  We had originally planned to leave the house in “as is” condition since a new owner might like to pick their own paint and carpet colors.  Once we started talking to a painter, we decided to paint everything due to increased cost and the level of effort to tape off the areas we hadn’t planned to paint.  We had someone come in to clean the carpet, but was told some of the stains could not be easily removed so we changed all the carpet out.  We ended up changing all the faucets and drains in all the sinks and showers, all the tank bolts in the toilets, the flush handles, the electric and light face plates and some of the electric sockets.  We also put new ceramic tile in all the bathrooms and laundry room.

20160315_120209Just to give you an idea of how much work this was, we have 3 full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.  That’s 5 toilets, 6 sinks, 3 showers.  I think we had around 20+ electric sockets, 10 of which had to be replaced.  Around 22 light switch face plates.  Just that stuff alone was a crazy amount of money.  But if not changed, looked horrible with the new paint.  I won’t even go into the multiple problems we had once we started each and every sink! Geeesh!

The next expense was the roof.  Our roof was about 16 years old.  It was cheaper to have a new roof to put on than to give a roof allowance.  So add another thing to the expense list.  Ok, this was all our fault.  We realize that!  We focused so much on our boats and campers that the house just kind of fell to the side.  Needless to say, we spent way more than we had ever intended and a lesson was well learned in this.  BE MINDFUL OF THE PRISONS WE BUILD!!

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New Roof

The house is now under contract and the deal is scheduled to be closed on May 25th.  After the inspection was completed, we had a couple of small things to fix.  The inspector was very tedious with his work. Meaning he nit picked every small detail.

house for saleLuckily, the buyers were not worried about every detail.  We met them one day when they came to the house to peek in the windows.  Very nice people who are excited to move in.  I’m excited for them and glad they choose our house to buy.

So, in March we moved the camper to our new home.  Frog Creek.  It’s such a beautiful creek3place.  Not your typical RV resort, but more of a campground.  It has trees with Spanish moss hanging everywhere.  A creek that runs out into Tampa Bay.  Some amazing people.  Just the place you would want to call home.  Not sure at this point how long we will stay, but I know where I would come back too!

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creek

Even though we are closer to the boat, we haven’t been able to spend much time there yet.  We are planning a couple of trips before summer sets in.  In June, we plan to head back out to Pelican Bay and maybe Fort Myers Beach.  We just want some quiet time where we can fish and walk the beach for a week.  After all the craziness since last September, we could sure use it!

We are going to start a few projects over the next couple of weekends to include a larger holding tank for the aft head, and maybe an electric head.  Re-bedding some stanchions and hatches to close up a few leaks and putting some mats down on the shelves to keep everything from getting wet when we do have leaks.  Also, cleaning up some mold and mildew that has gotten ahead of us.  Not as bad as last time, but we don’t want it to get that way again.  I will be posting these projects, so keep an eye out for them.  Until then, Happy Sailing!camper2

Marty and Jordan

Our kids

01/8/16

Post 35: Moving out

Christmas has come and gone and the new year is upon us.  We have been hard at work for some time cleaning and clearing out the things that don’t matter anymore.  This weekend, we take the first big step on the path to moving aboard.  We are moving out of the house and into our camper parked on our side driveway!trailer4

While moving into the camper may not seem like a big step, it’s actually our first attempt living long term in a confined space with limited storage, rationed water use, and being power conscious. Sure, we have been on extended boat cruises and camp-outs in the RV, but in the back of our minds we always knew we would be going back to our house full of things when the trip was over. This time we are not going back…..

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It ‘s very exciting but at the same time, a little scary.  We have been in this house for quite a while.  Our kids have done the majority of their growing up in this house and I suppose we have too.  I am very sentimental about the smallest things.  I still have the fortunes from cookies when Marty and I were dating and going  to Chinese restaurants.  I left my hometown of 18 years and didn’t think I would ever get attached to another place since I enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle with my military hubby.  The closer we get to selling this house, the more I realize I am actually going to miss it.  Walking through these empty rooms hearing the faint echos of memories of our lives in this house leaves me a little sad. However, I am looking forward to the new life we are embarking on and focusing on the exciting things to come.trailer2

For the past few weeks we have been putting the things that mean the most to us in a storage unit.  This is actually much harder than it sounds especially to a sentimentalist.  I have managed to squeeze all of my memories into a 10×10 unit.  We plan to gradually slim this down if possible, but one step at a time.20151227_115058

The next thing is to move my most favorite bed and any remaining furniture to my daughters apartment.  Yes, I have decided to give it to her and if she knows what’s good for her she will take care of it!!  This was a handcrafted and beautifully carved teak frame commissioned by my in-laws during their tour of duty in Taiwan back in 1965. This was handed down to us when they relocated to Florida. We upgraded the mattress and have enjoyed years of blissful slumber…. bed22

With the bed, flat screen TV and anywhere comfortable to sit gone, we will move into the camper completely. We will now be working on the final cleaning and staging phases of selling our house.  Our plan is to put it on the market in February and are working with a realtor to help us market and sell. With much luck, it will move quickly.

Once the house is sold we will relocate our RV to a nearby campground and be 50% campers and 50% liveaboards. Our plan is to use the next year to maximize our savings, address our “to do” list and work on our resignation notices. It is doubtful we will ever be fully “ready” to go cruising….Is anyone? When we reach a point where it makes no sense to stay, we will take a road trip to store our camper in Maryland, visit for a short time and fly back to our boat in Gulfport. Casting off our dock lines will involve goodbyes to family and friends…..another sad but happy moment marking our adventure to Trading Latitudes…….

camper 2 camper inside

 

12/4/15

Post 34: Funding the Dream

Egmont Key sunriseSome of our first questions to each other upon deciding to pursue our dream were, “How long can we survive without income? And, What is a realistic budget we can both live with comfortably?”  Truthfully, no one person can answer this question.  There are too many variables to consider.  Can you honestly change your lifestyle or way of thinking? What are you used to? Do you have health issues that require meds or doctors visits? Do you plan to work? Do you have any savings now? Are you high maintenance? Do you require a marina to dock at every night? What are you willing to do without, and what can’t you live without?  These are just some things to consider when deciding on a cruising budget.

Every cruiser is different!  You have to be realistic and honest about the desires and needs which impact your quality of life aboard.  Luxury items and needs are based on what you can and cannot live without. For example, for us, refrigeration is a necessity.  Yes, some people cruise all over the world without it, but if we want to cruise happy we require cold beer and ice.  I do not consider myself high maintenance at all. I love being outside, don’t necessarily worry about my hair or nails but damn it I want a cold beer!  As many of you know, I am also a camper.  I love hiking on trails, building camp fires and cooking over open flames, but I refuse to primitive camp.  No peeing in the woods for me.  In-turn, I will not sail primitively either.  I like a proper potty not a pot.  Maybe these are luxury items to some, but to me they are a necessity.  Make a list of the things you cannot live without and then rationalize the luxury items. Compromise, compromise, compromise…..

We have planned a sailing budget of approximately $1500 a month, give or take.  We added “just in case” money into this budget.  Those “just in case” items are boat parts, occasional excursions, dinners out, drinks out, etc.  What ever is not spent during that month will be added into emergency savings making it easier to pay for things that come up to include big boat expenses, flights home , unexpected medical expenses, etc.

Another thing we have to include in our budget is medical insurance.  We are not sickly people, but we are aging.  Things happen unexpectedly and with today’s requirements for insurance and penalties for not having it,  it really encourages participation in some kind of plan.  I’m thinking just major medical and foot the bill for the small things.  This is something I have to dig much deeper into, but it’s something else we need to add to the list.  At the same time we are trying to save money for cruising while we are still working, we are also planning for our distant future.  We are not rich people nor do we plan to be….at least in terms of $$$.

We do know that at some point, depending on how long we cruise, we will have to stop to work and replenish the kitty. Things plan out well on paper, but in reality, they can be much different.  My job as a nurse is OK, for now. But it’s not something I want to continue to do as it is very stressful (something which I am trying to reduce!).  I have been wracking my brain to come up with something that is portable and more personally desirable than nursing.  I have cut hair in the past, but I’m no pro.  I do sew, but not perfectly.  So, in a pinch, those are possible.  But I’m trying to envision what we refer to as our second life.  What do I WANT to do?  I haven’t figured it out yet.  Marty has been working on a few things.  He just got his Captains license!!  He also got his Sail and Tow endorsements and is working on his Master 100 GRT upgrade. He plans to take his Master upgrade test the first week in January.  He may or may not use these in his second life, but there may be opportunities that present themselves when he can use them to make a few dollars.  But seriously, we will do what we have to in order not to starve…even if it means dusting off the RN and IT credentials.

The boat is nearly ready for cruising.  I believe it will never be perfect, but at some point you have to stop getting ready and just go.  As I said before, everyone has their own idea of what they need to be “ready”.  Our next projects address fresh water and electrical power. Even though we can carry 200 gallons of water, we still feel a water maker is a great idea. Sometimes,  it doesn’t rain for weeks so collecting water is not possible.  You may be somewhere that the water is terrible for drinking, costly or just not available.  For us, this is a direct impact to our quality of life (QOL). Another QOL impact is our ability to generate and store power. While we have solar, charging at night or during bad weather is also needed. We like music, movie nights and as previously said, cold beer.  A wind generator will help keep the batteries topped off when the solar panels have stopped charging.  Which leads me to the last important item.  A new battery bank.  Ours is not that old, but they don’t seem to be holding charge like they used to as it is just not sized to accommodate our electrical budget. We have continued to dig into the charging reserves much too deeply which has shortened their life span. We have about 400 amp hours currently but will triple that in our new bank to support our life aboard.

The whole point of this is to be realistic and honest.  What do you need?  What can you live without?  What are you willing to do to make it work?

This weekend is the St. Petersburg Boat Show.  We will be attending, not really planning to buy anything significant, but to look for ideas and such.  We are not taking the boat over this year, which is a little disappointing as I love looking at the Christmas lights in the Vinoy Basin.  Maybe next weekend!  My next post will be some updates on our progress with the house and with the boat and maybe some boat show stuff.  Keep an eye out for that one!