“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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The Hardest Part

In countless blogs and books we had read that getting off the dock is the hardest part. That now makes so much sense. Between the stress of saying good bye to friends and family, the stress of getting the boat ready ( well, as it will be) and the stress of the unknown it can all add up to conspire against actually leaving.

We worked to set us up to minimize this as much as possible.  This last summer was not the most fun boating season we have had.  Many days we watched our friends head out for a fun day on the water while we stayed tied to the dock working on projects.  Even the times we left, projects followed.  We rafted up with friends out at World’s End and we would alternate between working on projects and having some fun. We knew we were being ambitious with our Epic To-Do List.  An no, we didn’t finish everything on it.  But we pushed to get the safety items done first, followed by some comfort items.  We made this push early because we new the last month would be much harder to get things done.

We also knew that the boat would never be done.  If we waited for the boat to be perfect we would never leave.  Smitty is more than serviceable and we could probably take her all the way to the Vigin Islands without doing much more.  But we will do more.  There will be rainy days or bad sea days or days we just don’t feel like traveling where we can work to get other things done.  We have a list going of things that need to be fixed or projects to do.  I have a box of parts for various projects.  Eventually we will get through most but new things come up while you are cruising and new priorities are set.  Like Captain Ron says…

The last month was filled with friends and family.  We had cookouts, dinners out, lunches and drinks with colleagues and even a good bye boat trip to Gloucester with our friends from L Dock.  That even continued into the trip.  I am finishing up this post about 2 weeks after leaving and we are sitting in Milford, Connecticut to see my Bride’s family.  We will do a separate post on saying good bye, but as a preview our friends from L Dock gave us the board below.

Yup, that’s the eight from our Slip 8 post.  Our friends conspired to steal the “8” from the dock after we left for our annual trip to Gloucester.  While in Gloucester they gave us the board that they had all signed and put the “8” on.  It was a very touching gift and it had my Bride in tears (I might have been a little teary eyed too).

What we read was soooo true.  Cutting the lines and heading out for that first day was the hardest part.  There were lots of things pulling you back.  Trying to get you to delay the departure.  At times it was a struggle to keep the motivation going to work towards the departure.

The whole thing felt surreal.  A mix of feeling like you were just getting ready for vacation and “is this really my life now?”

On September 4th at 03:20 we departed Hingham Shipyard.  There was very little moonlight as we powered into the darkness.  The lack of moonlight was probably a good thing.  It kept us focused on spotting for lobster pots and other obstacles instead of thinking about what we had just done.  At around 05:30 we started getting the predawn sky with enough light to see any obstacles coming.

With that beautiful sky came time to think.  Time to reflect on what we just did.  We were 40 years old (my Bride was not technically 40 for another week and a few days). We had quit well paying jobs that we were unhappy doing.  We had packed up all of our shit onto our little 31 foot boat.  And we sailed away from our friends and family into an adventure of unknown duration or true destination.  And all of this financed by a relatively small cruising kitty.

It’s an unknown feeling. Extremely hard to describe. I’m still unsure about how I feel. For the first week or so it felt like being on vacation. Now its starting to change but I don’t know what it feels like. But that is part of the adventure: new feelings; new experiences; new adventures!


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989 Days

It’s taken us 989 days to get to today.  We had set a goal to be houseless, jobless, carless sailing bums.  Today we are.  It’s our last day of full-time employment.  The house is gone, the cars are gone, and along with them the stuff that kept us anchored to a life on the dirt.  Our boat and everything on it is all we own (except for a couple boxes of keepsakes at my Dad’s place).

December 19, 2012 is when we first put our plan in writing.  We had recently returned from a great vacation chartering a boat in the British Virgin Islands with our friends Pam and Chris.  On this trip is where the idea to go cruising now first became a real thing for us.  A few months prior to that trip Frank (my best friend and my Bride’s cousin) had a heart attack in his mid 30’s.  Thankfully Frank has recovered and will be joining us on multiple occasions during our travels. But these two events solidified our desire to live our lives now instead of waiting for retiring.

We are not entirely sure where we will go.  We have a rough plan to head south along the Inter Coastal Waterway, cross over into the Bahamas and then continue through the Caribbean.  We have some things we would like to do or see along the way.  But we don’t have a time table, schedule or any significant goals.  In fact goals are one of those things we are trying to leave behind as well.  Just take life as it comes and try not to plan it out in advance.

We are also not sure on how long we can go.  We have some money saved, no debt and some hopes of making some more money here and there.  I am sure my Bride will be writing extensively about our finances as we go. But we are far from independently wealthy and we know we don’t have enough money to keep this going more than a couple of years.  As Sterling Hayden wrote in Wanderer,  “to be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… ‘cruising’ it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.”

To us the most practical approach was to adopt the philosophy of Lin and Larry Pardey: Go Small, Go Now! Our boat is not as simple as s/v Seraffyn. But keeping with a small boat with less systems is definitely a key to making this possible. We won’t mind being the smallest boat in the anchorage.

Today our source of steady income is gone, too.  But with that is the last line holding us to land.  Some time early next week we will head out and start voyaging.

 


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Slip 8

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Past Grape Island, past the commuter boats, and past the fancy part of Hingham Shipyard Marina, just before Stodders Neck and the Back River you will find Slip 8 on L Dock.  This spot has been our home for the past two summers and our summer retreat for at least eight summers before that.  A very far walk down the dock from the parking lock, the next to last double slip at the end of a neglected wooden dock formally known as Landfall Marina – now lovingly known as L Dock and is part of Hingham Shipyard Marina (which used to be Hewitt’s Cove). There are certainly fancier docks, the new concrete type, in other areas of the marina.  But those are far more expensive and come with more rules.

With 120 slips on this dock, many of the boaters have been here for mores years then we have, we’ve gotten to know our dock-mates very well and they have become our extended family.  They are great people who are always up for a good time. They will be missed!  Cheers to L Dock!

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Another great aspect of our slip is the sunsets.  I will miss these beauties but hope to replace them with some new views.

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Slip 8 you have been great to us.  I hope the new occupants have as great a time there as we have.


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Last Week

One week….

Very strange and mixed feelings.  It’s Monday morning of our last week of full time employment.  We’ve both had jobs of some sort since our teens. Since graduating college I have basically had the same morning routine: wake up, take a shower, walk the dog(s), get in the car, get a coffee, sit in traffic (anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours).  It will be really strange to not have this morning routine dominate my life.  But there is still a lot of work to get done in this last week.

Our last two weekends have been filled with get togethers with friends and family.  Many of whom we won’t likely see for several years.  Seeing relatives and friends, eating some great food, sharing old stories.  It’s bitter sweat to see everyone and know we won’t see many of them again for some time.

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Project wise it has been a bit of an epic fail.  My Bride somehow managed to climb into the back of the boat to change out the fuel tank sender unit.  But this didn’t fix the problem and another hour of trouble shooting still hasn’t identified the source of the malfunctioning fuel gauge.  We tried to fix the holding tank level sensor but no luck.  Still have piles of stuff we need to find space for on the boat.  This week will be a busy one between work and dealing with the last of our stuff.