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The Beginning

When I was 11 or 12, my grandfather took my brother and I out to his sailboat to spend the night.  His boat was moored in Connecticut.  I don’t remember how big his boat was, but I can’t imagine it was more than 26 feet long.  I remember there was a cabin in the front, and the ‘dining room’ table came out to make bunk beds, which was really cool!  That’s where my brother and I slept that night.  We cozied in and swayed with the waves.  The next morning my grandfather woke us up very early and we got up and ate cheerios on the deck.  I know my memories may not be completely accurate, and may have blurred over time, but those memories are idyllic for me, and that time with my grandfather deeply cherished.

The reason Grandad got us up so early is that across the way from his mooring was the Electric Boat Company, today owned by General Dynamics.  They make submarines.  We got up early and ate our cheerios on the deck so we could watch the submarines come into the river.  It was amazing and memorable, to say the least.

At the time we lived in Florida.  Since we lived less than a quarter of a mile from the ocean, my brother and I spent a lot of time on the water.  As kids we would spend a lot of time at the beach.  We fished, swam, and went out with friends on their boats.  I developed a deep appreciation of the ocean, and the allure of her mystery began to grow in me. 

The ocean is amazing.  She sustains life with gifts of food.  Her currents help transport our goods across the world.  Her waters temper the climate and drive our weather.  And, she can also take life in the blink of an eye.  I remember a babysitter we had as children that drown in pretty shallow water, I think he got caught in a rip tide.  The ocean demands your respect and will remind you of her power in every wave and tide.  Whether you survive that reminder depends on you, the situation you are in, and ultimately, powers greater than us. 

As we were on the boat that night with my grandfather there wasn’t much rocking, although I remember loving that gentle sway.  We were tied up at slip at a marina, well protected from the elements.  I vividly remember the sounds of the waves hitting the boat.  The intoxicating smell of the salt air as we ate our cheerios.  Watching those submarines cut silently through the water.  It was in that moment that I became enamored with the ocean.

It was around that time too that my grandparents gave me a copy of the book, “The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone”.  The book recounted the story of Robin Lee Graham, a 16-year-old from California, and his five-year circumnavigation of the world.  While there’s not a lot of specifics that I remember about the book, I remember thinking I wanted to take on that challenge.  Without a doubt, that story shaped my dreams and started a fire in me.

Not long after that we moved to Germany, where, as a middle schooler, I would sketch out sailboats with living quarters.  I was trying to figure out the best layout for a boat.  I’m pretty sure now that if any of those ideas were ever found by a boat architect, they’d laugh themselves silly!  But, as a young teenager, it was a lot of fun.  It kept me connected to the ocean and that fire in my belly to sail the world continued to grow.  I remember someone looking at one drawing and asking what I was doing.  When I told him I was designing a boat to sail around the world in, he didn’t laugh at me!  But he did jump to all of the dangers of sailing.

Life then did what life does.  I graduated high school in North Dakota and went on to become a teacher.  I fell in love, got married, and had a two amazing kids.  I bought a house and joined the great American middleclass life.  This life has afforded us some amazing opportunities.  Living in Wyoming, there are things that I’ve seen and done that I would’ve never had the chance to do anyplace else.  The Tetons are truly spectacular and having had the opportunity to go elk hunting will always be a highlight in my life.  But, that fire still burns and the ocean still calls.

As we’ve talked about the live aboard life, I’ve felt something awaken in me that I haven’t felt in a long time.  There’s an excitement, and a fear.  Not the kind of fear a child has of monsters under the bed, but fear nonetheless.  It’s the fear of the unknown.  Of all the things that could go wrong.  I remind myself, there’s always a path to get through the unknown.  And, there’s tremendous excitement!  Of knowing we can conquer the unknown and live in harmony with the ocean.  The excitement of living out a childhood dream that I long ago dismissed as fantasy. 

I’m not at all sure what our sailing adventures will bring.  I long to fulfill that dream of a circumnavigation, but I’m not sure if we will complete that or not.  I’m not even sure if we will love or hate the live aboard life!  We might miss life on land, or, we may sail away and never look back.  What I am sure of is the excitement, and sense of peace, and feeling of being alive that pursing this dream brings. 

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Our New Home?

Change can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  Considering the significant change we are contemplating, what kind of boat will we make our next home?  This question ranks right up there with “How much money do we need?”, and “Where are you going to go?”  Fun fact… I haven’t been on a sailboat in over 30 years!  And the one-time Sandy was on one, the boat heeled so much she swore she’d never set foot on one again!

So, what kind of boat are we considering for our next home?  There are definitely options on this.  Consider a traditional monohull.  This is the type of boat most people typically envision when they think of a sailboat.  They are narrow and sleek, the keel is deep, and living spaces are mostly below the waterline.  If you want to see a tour of a monohull, check out this video from S/V Delos.  This S/V Delos video gives a good tour of the boat, the systems, and living quarters on the boat.  S/V Delos is a 53’ Amel Super Maramu sailing ketch boat.  This design has a width of 15’ and all of the interior living space is below deck, sleeping quarters, head, galley, etc.  All that is down below.

This is S/V Delos, picture is from https://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2019/12/brady-trautman_st-barts-drone-0018_356520651_613161751.jpg

Another popular option is a sailing catamaran.  These boats have two hulls, and they are typically wider than a monohull.  In between the two hulls, there is an open space that typically encompasses a living/dining area, galley, and charting station.  These living quarters are above the water at the same level as the boat deck.  Some catamaran designs do have the galley down below in a hull, opening the salon area for larger living/dining room area.  The sleeping quarters, heads (bathrooms), desk/bookshelves are down in each hull.  Sleeping quarters are obviously limited by the size width of the hull, although the size boat we are considering easily accommodates queen size beds.  Here’s a great tour of a catamaran from Sailing Nahoa.  Ben and Ashley live aboard an owner’s version of a Lagoon 410.  This catamaran is a 41-foot-long boat and is approximately 23 feet wide.

This is S/V Nahoa, credit for the image is from sailingnahoa.com

Trimarans, also known as double-outriggers, are another sailing vessel option.   These boats have a main hull with two smaller outrigger hulls attached to act as a float.  Trimarans offer a wide living space above the water line, with additional sleeping quarters in the outrigger hulls.  Here is a virtual tour of a beautiful 50-foot NEEL Trimaran that Sail Oceans owns.  Trimarans have a many great features, and while we have considered this option, it will likely remain out of our price range.

Neel 50 Trimaran, credit for the image is from oceanshaker.com

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to each style of boat.  This video, from The O’Kelly’s, talks a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of each.  Ultimately, this really comes down to personal preference.  One of the key differences most sailors agree on, is that when you are at anchor, catamarans are a bit more stable because of the wider design.  Another advantage that is appealing to us personally is the panoramic windows in the salon of the catamaran.  This gives you a good view of everything around you and lets lots of light inside the salon.  And to be clear, we recognize this can also be a detriment in the tropics as you try to keep your living space cool!

The advantages of monohull also abound!  Most are related to the actual sailing.  It is far easier to sail upwind in a monohull.  Many liveaboard cruisers have pointed out that 90% of your time is spent at anchor, but of course even in that 10% when you are sailing, that can make a world of difference in terms of where you go.  Another big advantage of a monohull is that you have one of everything instead of two, which means you have less maintenance costs.  Only one engine, only one hull…you get the idea.  That is a big consideration too.  I’ve also seen some monohulls with a dingy garage in the back, very cool feature.  The dinghy is out of the way, nothing hanging off the back, keeping clean lines on the boat.

Maybe things will change for us when we start to walk on some boats, but for now we really like the idea of a catamaran.  The stability at anchor, the extra width and living space really are appealing.  So is the idea of sitting up top and seeing what’s going on around you with relative ease.  We also really want a boat with the galley up.  We’ve made 4 houses our home over the past 22 years, and in each one the kitchen has been open to our family room.  We love the connectedness, and don’t foresee that changing just because we live on a boat.  Galley up means that when one of us is cooking, we can still talk to each other.  There’s also just something about the look and feel of catamarans that we really like.  Of course, looks aren’t everything! 

We will start our sailing journey learning the ‘ropes’ on a monohull this summer and are planning a trip to Florida next Christmas to set foot on many different boats.  From there we will decide and select our next home.  For now, though, when we peruse Yachtworld.com, it’s the catamarans that we search for!

Knots…and a little more

The past few weeks have been a series of first steps in our sailing journey.  Step 1: Know Your Knots!  Step 2: Our first practical sailing lesson. Step 3: Our first introduction to scuba diving.  Step 4: Booking a trip to Florida to look at boats.  Sometimes the newness and excitement of it all is overwhelming!  But the journey is underway.

We took the “Know Your Knots” course from Victoria Sailing School in Denver in early June.  Excitement, butterflies, nerves… all emotions were coursing through me as we drove down to Denver that Friday night.

When I was in Boy Scouts, even when I was in college, any rope I tied knot in became known as a “Jon Knot”, because it was impossible to untie.  No matter what you did, you couldn’t get my knots untied.  It might have started out as a square knot (reef knot), but it turned into a mess that even Alexander the Great couldn’t have sliced with his sword.  My scout leaders, parents, friends, all tried to help, but beyond tying my shoes… forget it!  I couldn’t seem to learn to tie a knot.

Back in November, when we were quarantined and began conversations to move up our timetable on our adventure, I started to find websites that could teach knots.  I got a section of rope and started working on the basic knots that I could.  Then Santa left a knot tying book and deck rope in my stocking, and slowly I reached a point with several knots that I could tie them proficiently.  As spring rolled around and we did more outside, I stopped practicing, so I was a little nervous going into class.

The knots I had learned over quarantine went well, a few others went so-so, and there was one that just kicked my butt.  But eventually, I reached a place where I could tie the knots that were expected of us.  This was the first requirement before setting foot on one of the boats for the practical lessons.

So, why does it matter what kind of knot you use?  So what if I just tie of bunch of overhand knots to use as a stopping knot for my halyards?  Who cares if I don’t use a knot at all?  Does it really matter if I wrap my line around the cleat a whole lot at the dock?  Given my experience with knots, I will admit that these questions ran through my mind.  I stayed optimistic, and as we learned, IT MATTERS!  The wrong knot and your halyard can slip up through the mast requiring extensive time to rework the rigging.  Another wrong knot, and your boat can slip off the cleat on the dock wreaking havoc in the marina.  Knots matter.

During our knots class, I came to realize that there’s a bit of parallel to life here.  We might not always understand why things have to be a certain way, but there’s usually a rationale for it.  You use a figure eight knot to stop the halyards from going up the mast, but you also use it because it can be undone when you need to remove that portion of the running rigging. 

I understand after going through that class why the school requires you to learn those knots before you set foot on a boat.  The owner of the school told us that on the smaller boats used for the initial courses, they put zip ties in the figure eight knots to keep them from being untied accidentally. It didn’t make a lot of sense until I saw, but when it did, it all just clicked. It felt good to take this class and take the first step toward learning to sail. 

Step 2: On the wet!  Sailing is amazing… when there is wind!  But that is a tale for another day.

In addition to these first baby steps to the ocean, this summer we’ve also enjoyed a trip to Temple, TX to help Sandy’s niece, camping with amazing friends in the Snowies, and a backpacking trip into the Winds.  Life is indeed, good.

Challenges

This is me coming up from the Dunk Wall at a Spartan Race. Spartans are all about challenges

Challenges and change are intertwined.  This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about challenges.  If something in life is a challenge, when you are through it, you will be forever changed on the other side.  The degree of change may vary, but the change is inevitable.

Probably the most obvious place you see this is in the fitness world.  If you are into lifting weights, then you know that when you start it’s small.  You choose a weight that is doable for you, but still pushes you.  Once that weight becomes less challenging you add more weight that stretches you to your new limit, but you accomplish it.  As you move forward you become stronger.  Pretty soon you’re adding more weight than you once thought possible.  Running is similar.  You set a baseline for a distance you want to run.  Then you get into a training program.  Soon shorter distances become longer, and slower paces become faster.  And, before you know it, you are accomplishing more than you thought possible!

In the movie “The Matrix”, Agent Smith explains how the first version of the matrix didn’t have any struggles or difficulties, and the people in the matrix couldn’t accept it.  There were no challenges, life was easy, and everything was ‘perfect’.  What the first version of the matrix missed is that it’s the challenges that help us grow and become better human beings.  People can accept, and even welcome challenges, because at some level we recognize the challenge will bring growth and new insights.  Sometimes we aren’t sure how to get through the challenge, or we might wish the challenge was just a little bit easier, but ultimately we welcome the change the challenge will bring.

I believe challenges give us purpose.  Challenge’s change who we are and prompts us to become better versions of ourselves.  Moving on to a boat doesn’t magically change who we are.  The challenges that come with a live aboard life will change us though.  This past week we had a nasty hailstorm.  It damaged our newly planted garden and left it’s mark on our son’s car.  We were in my wife’s massage studio when it started.  She heard the pounding and insisted we leave.  We only had to endure the pelts for 12 feet from the door to the car, we were well protected.  When severe weather hits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you must know how to handle it!  You must be prepared to survive and endure a challenge that might end your life.  This will change you.

As a family we experienced this when COVID hit our home last fall.  Without a doubt, being forced to leave my wife at the door of the Emergency Room made me question what’s really important in life.  I was told point blank, “You are not allowed to come in with her”.  I left her in tears, clinging to me, in the care of a stranger.  This challenge changed my perspective on things.  I began to reflect on the fact that for 8 to 12 hours a day I’m away from those that I care about most.  Is there a degree of personal satisfaction that comes from doing a good job at work and finding answers to problems?  Absolutely!  Without a doubt.  But, can I find that elsewhere, while still being with people that I really care about?  I think the answer to that is yes.  It requires me to look at life a bit differently. 

When this is your home, you bet there’s going to be challenges. From personal space to storms that can capsize your boat, you are going to face challenges.

The Sailing Family recognized this when their children were young.  They decided to do something a bit different and sail the world with their kids.  Are they going to do this forever?  Who knows, but for now their kids are learning two things that can’t be learned in school.  First, mom and dad gave up successful careers to be with us.  Without a doubt, video editing is still work, and the mom still has a business.  But their kids are growing up with mom and dad, not at daycare.  Second, there’s a great big world out there and you can do things differently.  You can follow an unconventional path.  I’m sure their life is challenging.  They live on a 51’ catamaran with 5 people!  Those challenges change them.  And those challenges change them to be a better people.  I suspect you must reach new level of understanding and patience in that kind of a living situation.

Life is about challenges.  Challenges change us.  We can’t always decide what kind of challenges we are going to face.  The question is how do face the challenges that come our way.   Do we crawl under a bed and hope the storm will pass and nothing will happen?  Or do we face it head on, dig deep within ourselves, and recognize that with the storm we will come out the other side having grown as a person. 

Some might say that our desire to buy a boat and sail the world is running away from the challenges of the modern world.  There might be some truth to that.  Another perspective is that we are setting ourselves up for a different kind of challenge.  Not being able to call a plumber when there’s a leak forces a new level of self-sufficiency.  This adventure is not just about swimming with whales, cliff diving, and eating fresh tuna.  It is about the challenges that will change us.

What will tomorrow bring?

I don’t know who said it, but I have heard the phrase “Change is the only constant in life.”  Although it’s a bit of an oxymoron, it’s still true.  Life always brings change, sometimes we even yearn for the change.  Like a senior in high school who is chomping at the bit to graduate and move on to college, ready to change the world.  Or in the summer, we long for the winds of winter to arrive and bring the wonderful white glory, complete with snowshoeing, skiing, and the cold. 

Other times we don’t want change to come.  We dread it.  We want things to be the same because we are comfortable.  Comfort brings consistency and predictability, a familiarity that feels safe.  We know that when we get up in the morning, we are going to go to work.  We generally know the challenges that we will face, and equally important, we know how to approach them.

Change brings a host of emotions.  It can elicit fear, excitement, anticipation, dread, joy.  It’s amazing how facing a change can bring so much excitement and fear in the same breath.  Back to a graduating senior.  Excited to finally be out of mom and dad’s house, and yet also afraid of giving up the safety net mom and dad provide.  Once you’re out on your own it’s a bit difficult to curl up in your parent’s basement and wait out whatever is going on.  They aren’t necessarily there to bail you out.  It’s all you.  This type of change can leave your feeling like you’re walking a tightrope without a net.

Other times the change we face bring little positive emotion.  It is scary and confusing, and can bring out resistance, stubbornness, and anxiety.  Often, we don’t want to do things differently at work.  We have the mindset, ‘This is the way things are… it’s the way they work… there’s no need to do things differently.  Leave well enough alone!’  People take refuge in the security of the known, the routines.  It is predictable.  B follows A, and it works.  It’s difficult to find value in change, because our minds are closed to new possibilities. Because of this we might throw up roadblocks and work to maintain the status quo.  The change provokes anger and resentment.

We’ve been experiencing change, after change, after change, this spring.  Our oldest graduated from high school.  My wife retired after 35 years in the education profession and is starting a massage business.  Our youngest is rapidly becoming an adult (with occasional jumps back to the toddler years!).  It’s been a season of significant life changes of us.  And as we face each change and come to terms with our new normal, I must ask myself how I will respond.  How will I approach this?  How will I react when our youngest asserts his independence?  How will I support my wife in her ventures in life?  How do I adjust to meet the new life that awaits us with only three in the house?  What mindset and outlook will I adopt?

Change is indeed inevitable, and as life changes, it’s important for us to change with it.  If we fail to adapt to our new circumstances, bitterness and nostalgia await.  We begin talking about the ‘good ‘ol days’, when things were better.  We romanticize about the past and idolize the way things were.  I believe longing for the the good ‘ol days happens because we are unwilling to acknowledge a new reality and move into it.  We remain stuck in the past and are unable or unwilling to embrace our new future.  Yes, with change things are going to be different.  But isn’t that part of what makes this life journey so rich?  We grow with change. 

Another funny thing about change is the speed at which it occurs.  Sometimes it is almost imperceptible.  It feels like a time warp, and we aren’t really aware of it until it’s over.  That kind of change can make you do a double take and say, what?  When did that happen?  My son is 19 now?  Our kids grow up and become independent over the better part of two decades… or was it in the blink of an eye?  Other times, change is immediate.  It challenges, pushes, and stretches you to your limits. The loss of a loved one, for example.  Whether fast or slow, easy or hard, we still must adapt and survive. 

Radically changing one’s location, like selling your house and moving aboard a boat, doesn’t magically, or fundamentally change you.  But, leaving behind the comforts of a traditional life, leaving behind our safety net, and letting go of our routines will most definitely change us.  Our perceptions and view of the world, our beliefs, and our passions will be forever changed!

What’s in a name?

I remember as child being fascinated with the story of how I got my name.  How and why did my parents choose it? What does my name mean?  Later in life, when we were expecting, we spent a LOT of time discussing names for our soon to be born bundle of joy.  Names are so important!  And it turns out, boat names are not a lot different, and we seem to be spending more time brainstorming and discussing ideas for our boat name.

Megan and Nick O’Kelly did a great video about boat names a few weeks ago (you can watch that here) and it was interesting to see why people names their boats what they did.  It didn’t seem like anyone named their boat after a second wife or something like that, people were choosing names that had some meaning to them.  For example, one boat was named “Second Star” after a line in Peter Pan that gives directions to Neverland.  Jason and Nicki Wynn, of ‘Gone with the Wynns”, named their boat Curiosity, because that’s what drives them to explore the world. (check out their website Gone with the Wynns).

On the practical side of buying a boat, we’ve heard many live-aboard owners discuss the importance of having a boat name ready to go.  Once you have the boat is yours, you need to get busy registering the boat… which requires a name.  You need to decide if you will keep the boat name or christen it with a new name.  Very little registration paperwork can be completed without the boat name, and it’s an important decision.  Another consideration is saying the boat name over the marine VHF radio when arriving at a port.  The harbor master will need to understand what you say, and be able to spell the boat name, in any language!  That makes something like S/V Hulkuma (the Estonian word for wander or roam) a bit problematic.  A common word of advice is that the boat name should be short, easy to say, and easy to spell.

So, what are we thinking?  We have talked a lot about our why… why are we doing this?  What do we hope to change? Or see? Or become?  One of Sandy’ favorite quotes is by Tolkien, “Not all who wander are lost”.  S/V Great Wander doesn’t quite fit the bill for a boat name, too long and maybe too obvious.  We started getting nerdy and looking for the Elvish word for Wander, something that Tolkien would approve of. But alas, there isn’t a standard English to Tolkien Elvish dictionary out there.  We found a few ideas, but they just didn’t ring true for us.  Next, we started to look at other languages for the word wander… and, not surprising, in most languages… wander translates as wander!  The German word for wander is wander (pronounced van-der), just not what we are looking for.  We stumbled across the Latin word for wander, which is errant.  Then I looked at the other definitions for errant.  One of them really jumped out at me.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary,

errant /’erənt/

1 formal, humorous: Erring or straying front the proper course or standards

2 archaic, literary: traveling in search of adventure

What exactly is the PROPER course?  Where did the social mores that guide our beliefs about the proper course for middle class America arise?  A former student, now in her 30’s, travels the U.S. in van picking up work here and there when she needs money.  I’ve heard statements about her ranging from, “I bet her parents are disappointed”, or “I wonder when she’ll settle down”, to, “You can’t tame a free spirit like her”.  She’s a beautiful young woman, experiencing life, and very happy.  I would argue that she is on the proper course, albeit not a traditional course.

Back to the definition of errant.  Both definitions definitely fit this adventure.  Without a doubt we be straying from the traditional course of doing things.  We are considering doing something that not a lot of other people do, and in part, that’s why we are doing it.  So, S/V Errant is starting to stick.  We’d love to hear your ideas too… what would you name a boat and why?

Here are a couple of practical updates.  We are fast approaching the end of the school year.  Our oldest son is graduating from high school, Sandy will be leaving her current job, and we are looking forward to summer and a change of pace from the regular routine.  Selling things has slowed down some too.  It’s been a bit much to try and manage that, graduation, getting ready for a career change, spring cleaning… you get the picture.  We have scheduled our first sailing lessons for this summer.  We are also signed up for our first scuba class. Throw in 3 Spartan races, backpacking and camping, and a trip home… it’s going to be a great summer.

Nine to 5

BZZZ!  BZZZ!  BZZZ!  Get up.  Go to the gym.  Come home.  Shower.  Go to work.  Come home.  Cook dinner. Eat. Go for a walk.  Clean the kitchen.  Homework.  Look at the phone.  Watch TV.  Go to bed.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Oh yeah, and on the weekend, we spice things up!  Laundry.  Meal planning.  Grocery shopping. Housework. Home repair projects and maintenance.  And occasionally a drive to mountains to hike or snowshoe. 

It’s the day-to-day grind, and somehow over the past 2 decades we have allowed our grind to dominate our time, leaving little extra for us to pursue our passions. 

We all do it, our lives become routine, and that’s OK.  It doesn’t matter where you live, what your job is, how large or small your family is, we all have our own variation on life routines.  But I wonder, is there something different?  Or is it just a different routine in a different location? 

In the past few months, we have started following several sailing YouTubers and have grown to love their weekly updates (which is now a very enjoyable part of our weekend routine!).  When we first started watching it was, “Let’s just see what kinds of things you can expect.”  Then it became, “Wow, these people are making money by sailing the world and making videos of doing cool stuff.”  And somehow it became, “They are our new best friends!”  OK, it’s hard to be besties when they don’t know we exist!  Maybe we also lost our social life along the way in our grind.

As we’ve watched several of these families on their sailing adventures, it is clear there are some routines on a boat.  In passages it’s sleep, trade watches, eat, and make sure you don’t run into a cargo ship.  In anchorages, it appears to be, wake up, get a cup of coffee, dive off the back of your boat for a swim, do some boat projects, fix lunch, maybe go scuba diving, maybe go to shore and explore an abandoned village, or hike to the top of a mountain in an archipelago.  You have a routine, but what happens in the routine is not routine. 

Diagram

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Comic is from sarahsteenland.com

One message we have heard loud and clear is that boat projects are a constant and consistent part of the boat life routine.  But there’s a great deal of appeal to the options we will have to break up that routine.

There is the safe zone, the comfort zone.  Go to college, get married, buy a house, have children, work until retirement, and then enjoy the golden years.  But this new direction is about pushing us out of our comfort zone.  It’s something we really hope that our boys will see, that doing things that are comfortable is OK.  But you can experience life in other ways if you leave your comfort zone in a meaningful way.

It’s an idea actually that we are trying to incorporate into our boat name.  No, we don’t have a boat yet, but it’s going to be important to know the name of the boat for registration purposes pretty quickly.  We’ve been pondering the name Errant.  S/V (Sailing Vessel) Errant.  One definition of errant is ‘straying from the proper course or standards.’  That’s what this adventure would be, straying from the proper course. 

This adventure definitely strays from the path we have been on, the path laid before us since we were young.  And it is anything but comfortable! 

So, what’s the end game for us?  The end game is to do something different, see something different, live a different life.  It’s to see the world and explore and grow as people.  And even though our oldest is headed to college and will not be joining us on the boat, both boys will see there is a different way to live.  Living the 9 to 5 is cool, it works.  But knowing that there are other ways to live is important too. 

By the way, at the time of publication, we’ve signed up for our first scuba and sailing lessons.  Granted, it’s going to be scuba diving in a pool and sailing on a reservoir in the middle of the US with minimal waves, it’s still a start.  It gets us moving forward. 

The Joy of Storms

As a small girl growing up in Texas, I vividly remember the power of the thunderstorms.  The lightening casting shadows in the dark and the ensuing crack of thunder.  I remember feeling scared, mostly of the unknown, but also feeling awed and amazed by the sheer force of nature.  I always knew I was small and insignificant in comparison.  Much later in life, after we moved to Wyoming, thunderstorms became one of my favorite things.  I love the smell of sage after a hard rain in the high desert prairie.  The cool breeze as the storm passes and the sun creates a full rainbow on the horizon.  But mostly, it’s the smell of sage that fills me with joy.

When I was three years old a Category 2 hurricane hit Galveston, TX.  I have a picture of my dad holding me on the beach about 30 hours before the storm made landfall.  The winds were easily over 50 mph, and you can see the strain as he tries to hold still for the picture.  I have no memory of that storm.  When I was nine years old another Category 4 hurricane was on a direct path to Houston.  We lived in Alvin at the time, and I remember vividly the preparations for that storm.  We lived in a wooden clapboard house and my parents heeded the warnings to evacuate.  I remember packing our most valued possessions and loading both vehicles to the brim.  Then we nailed plywood over all our windows, locked the doors, loaded out pets and left.  I remember looking out the back of the car as we drove away.  The sky was dark and ominous, and it was just starting to rain.  I was too young to understand that we may be returning to total ruin, I only understood that it was a big storm, big enough to swallow us if we didn’t get away.  We drove inland and weathered the storm with friends.  And when we returned home our house was still standing.  I remember the joy I felt at that sight.

I remember my first winter storm and blizzard.  Those familiar feelings of fear of the unknown were less intense than what I experienced as young child.  I watched the snow circle around as the wind howled, visibility no more than a few feet out our windows.  I remember the beauty of the ice crystals when the sun finally peeked through the clouds.  I love winter storms.  I always make our favorite soups and stews.  I love sitting by the fire with a cup of tea and watching the snow fall, blanketing everything in white.  We all snuggle under blankets, the kids, the dogs, and we watch movies.  I love the day after the storm, shoveling snow as a family, making a snowman or a snow cave, and watching the dogs tromp around and play.  It’s the family time that makes winter storms fill me with joy.

Hail, let’s talk hail.  Thunderstorms in Cheyenne are unlike those I have memories of as a small girl in Texas, or even those on the prairie in western Wyoming.  These storms pack a different kind of punch.  They brew and build, and I love watching them form in the distance almost every summer afternoon.  And when they finally unleash, they are violently spectacular.  They often bring hail, downburst wind and hurricane force winds, torrential rain, and flash flooding.  And they are over as quickly as they begin.  We were pummeled by softball sized hail stones the first summer we lived here.  They left divots to rival a golf course in our lawn.  That year we replaced the roof, gutters, the front door, and several windows.  The next summer we hunkered in the basement while the tornado sirens screamed.  We listened as 2” hail stones shattered our sky lights.  Another new roof.  And my flowers and garden plants were shredded.  Every time one of these storms passes, I feel joy at the power of nature.

I know living on the ocean will usher in new storm experiences, and I look forward to the joys hidden in those storms.  Living aboard means that you are living in the power of nature.  Squalls come up from nowhere and calm seas can become huge swells in no time.  There is a false sense of security with modern technology, but ultimately, we are all at the mercy of nature.  I look forward this new relationship with nature.

Downsizing…And Buying?

We headed out for a 15-mile bike ride this morning.  In retrospect, it might have been a might much for the first ride of the season, but it was fun.  As we were riding, we were reminiscing about when we bought our youngest son his current bike, easily 5 years ago.  He’s loved that bike, covered it in stickers, and put many miles on it.  Given that he’s grown 4 inches this year school year alone, it’s a safe bet to say he’s outgrown it.  We’ve been gifted some other very nice bikes, but there isn’t one in our collection that is really his and that he is comfortable on. 

That got Sandy to thinking, we should buy him a new bike.  I’ll admit my gut reaction was, what?!  But after thinking about it, it does make sense.  He’s getting to be as tall me, we’ll be riding a lot this summer and boating and bikes are not mutually exclusive, so yeah, we should get a new bike.

But it also got me to thinking.  We’re selling stuff, slowly, but we are selling stuff.  Furniture, artwork, stuff for hobbies, tools, etc.  Things aren’t flying out the door, but they are migrating to new homes.  Just because we are selling things doesn’t mean we don’t want to still enjoy our other hobbies while we are here.  Biking as a family is something that we enjoy, so let’s continue to live, and not deprive ourselves of all enjoyment.  Ben and Ashley from Sailing Nahoa  talked about that in one of their videos.  Ashley pointed out that she loved yoga, so even once they made the decision to sell everything and set sail, she kept her yoga studio membership.  Sure, that’s potentially $100 a month.  In our case, dropping Crossfit would save us $125 a month, not buying a new bike would save us quite a bit.  But then life becomes more of a drudgery than enjoyment. 

Even as we are downsizing, we’re still going to be buying things that we need or want for life on land.  It’s just a function of still living life.  I’ll buy new running shoes when mine get close to the 400 mile mark.  I’m being a little more picky about when I buy them, and how close to that mark I am going be, but yeah, I’ll get new shoes.

Selling things right now is funky.  What I mean by that is, we have a 4000 sq ft house.  We have two living room sets.  One probably could be sold, but then if we move the other into the main living room, where does anyone sit in the other living room.  Do we wait and have a fire sale just before we go, or just let things sit on Facebook Marketplace.  It’s a hard call.

As we’ve been listing things, I’ve determined some rock bottom prices.  For example, my grill.  It’s older, but it’s in excellent condition, so I’ll let it sit for the next year at the current asking price because I can.  Once we are ready to go, sure, if it’s still here… I’ll have to take what I can get.  But at the same time, starting to sell things early gives us time to say, yeah, here’s what I’d like to get, and I can wait.

My mom recently asked me for gift ideas.  She pointed out that with us downsizing, it’s hard to know what gifts to get us, other than money.  The truth is, there are still things we need and want.  We adore good coffee, we love to read, we still eat out on occasion, and we still have hobbies.  Her questions did get us thinking, so we started an Amazon Wishlist of things that we think we might want or need for the boat.  Like a really large filet knife for the tuna I hope to catch 😊.  What do we keep?  What do we get rid of?  And what do want to enjoy life on land while we are here?  Those are all questions we get to wrestle with now that we’ve made this decision.

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