Tuesday, November 18, 2008


As we field questions about our new life, it has become clear that we know a lot more than others about how this will work, which makes us leave out some important details that we think are obvious. Here's a short synopsis of how we imagine cruising life unfolding.

We are selling everything: business, house, cars, furniture, everything that won't fit on a 35' sailboat, which has two cabins, a living area, a bathroom and a kitchen. That's a picture of the Island Packet 35 salon.

Part of the money from cashing out will go to purchase the boat for about $100-120K (remember, it's our house). We will allow ourselves to use the interest from the remainder of the cash, but the rest has to come from gainful unemployment. Ideas for that are still forming.

As of now, November 18, we have the house and the business on the market. We're starting to get serious action on both. Once we sell the business, we expect to spend up to several months training the new owner. It's likely to be 4-6 months until we are ready to float.

The sailboat will be our full-time, year-round home. We'll travel from place to place, much like in an RV but on the water. There's an engine we can use to motor in and out of marinas, through tight places that are too narrow to sail and be a backup if there's no wind. The goal is to sail as much as possible, because wind is free.

Some amenities will be similar to living onshore. for instance, cooking will be about the same only with propane instead of gas. Others will be more akin to camping. For instance, we will charge the batteries with the engine and solar panels, but we will have to use power sparingly since it takes a while to renew. Also, we will wash clothes either by hand or at laundromats onshore.

The boat we hope to get is beautiful, spacious (to us) and comfortable. there is an onboard shower (tiny) and a toilet that flushes into a holding tank that has to be pumped out regularly, like an RV. Eventually we plan to install a composting toilet, which naturally decomposes the waste into fertile soil, which can be dumped safely just about anywhere -- eliminating one more land tie.

It will have holding tanks for more than 100 gallons of water, but we plan to add a watermaker. Onboard watermaking gives you more freedom without worrying where your next source of drinking water will be. It also eliminates the hassle of carrying bulky and heavy containers to and from shore to fill up your tanks.

We will most often anchor the boat rather than being at a dock, because anchoring is usually free. However, that leaves us at least 20 yards, sometimes more, from shore. We will have a small boat or "dinghy" with an outboard motor for ferrying to and from the boat. Everything that goes on or off the boat will be hauled with the dinghy, which will be raised and lowered from the boat using either pulleys on the stern (see on left) or using the same halyards used to raise the sails. The dinghy rides on either the pulleys or on the deck.

We will have folding bicycles that we will carry to shore in the dinghy and use to run errands, sightsee and buy groceries. The bikes will be stowed belowdecks either in the back cabin or in a locker in the cockpit.

Ideally, we hope to be as green and as self-contained as possible. It will take a while to get there, but that's the goal. We will buy diesel fuel, which is available all over the world, and food as needed, provisioning long-term for passages and unexpected periods of either no access to food or only to food that's too expensive for a cruiser's budget.

Where will we go? The beauty of this is that we don't know and don't have to know. We will likely start by heading north if hurricane season is at hand. We'll spend time in and around D.C., the Chesapeake and New York visiting friends and family while we get to know a new boat and fit it out before heading offshore.

Once hurricane season has passed, we will head south to Florida and across to the Bahamas. Our first season will be spent island hopping in the Caribbean. That's as far as we've planned. Eventually we'll Cross the atlantic and cruise around in the Mediterranean.

Any questions?

--ordered a zipper for the sail cover

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