Once we made the decision to buy a sailboat and sail off into the sunset, we needed to take small, baby steps to realize the dream. For Joe and I, we started off by reading lots of sailing travel essays, adventure sailing books, subscribing to magazines like Practical Sailor, Blue Water Sailing, Cruising World, Sail, and Cruising Outpost. Also attending sailing shows help to “feed the dream.”
Then came the “how to” sail type of classes. Joe already knew how to sail, but we decided to go through the American Sailing Association classes together. Basic Keelboat, Basic Coastal Cruising, Bareboat Cruising, Coastal Navigation, Advanced Docking and Anchoring, etc. We also did our offshore sail training in the South Pacific, too.
Hint! My advice to women reading this is to take your first 2 sail training classes at a club offering “women only” classes. Why? Because as women, our brains work differently than the guys, especially when it comes to how we learn and directions. I learned this lesson the hard way, but that is a story for another day.
Now we needed to practice what we learned. We purchased an 1984 O’Day 23 off of Craigslist to sail locally in Northern California. We cut out teeth on this boat and learned about motors, finishing teak, fiberglass repair, rigging and boat maintenance. More importantly, we practiced our sailing skills. We also went bareboat chartering in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as often as possible, which gave us experience on larger boats.
On the money side of things, we lived frugally, paid off our home and land, and saved like mad. Once the house was paid off, we started our boat fund. At the same time, we also saved for early retirement. I credit Joe completely with wise financial management. He likes to save and invest; I like to buy things.
A joyful hiccup in our plans happened in 2011- the birth of our grandson Ethan. Overnight, we became primary caregivers after years of enjoying an empty nest. 3 and 1/2 years later, we were able to adopt Ethan as our legal child. Rather than give up our dreams, we decided to bring Ethan along. After all, there are lots of cruising families our sailing the world right now.
Early retirement (Joe) and a sabbatical (me) was next on the master plan list. Joe planned his retirement when his company offered an attractive voluntary retirement package. His company also announced a new “Bonding” benefit for new parents, including adoptive parents, so Joe took a bonding leave, then his sabbatical before he retired. The timing was perfect!
Now we had to locate the boat. After a slow start with a first broker, we found broker Philip Thompson with Dream Catcher Yachts in Newport Beach and Dana Point, CA, who worked very hard to help our find our dream boat. Joe and I highly recommend Philip, who has an impressive sail racing pedigree, including representing Australia in 3 America Cup races. As I write this post, Philip is racing in the Transpac 2015 race from LA to Hawaii on board Patriot, a J-44. With his help, we found our cruising sailboat.
Once the purchase is complete, we will be moving aboard and then delivering the boat around the southern tip of Florida and the Keys to Fort Lauderdale. That is where we will add any necessary equipment and prepare the boat for cruising in The Bahamas in the fall.
Downsizing your belongings and deciding what will fit on your boat is actually pretty emotional. Admittedly, I have had a hard time with this. I am still doing this step. Saying goodbye to family and friends is another traumatic part of leaving your home base and moving aboard. Luckily, in this day and age, there is Facetime, Skype, and other ways to keep in touch with loved ones.
So that is where we are at in our journey to become full time cruisers. Stay tuned!