We were recently asked to share our experiences and a bit of our background for the blog Newly Salted. Our interview is below, but please also check out the experiences that many other cruisers have shared on their site: http://newlysalted.blogspot.com/
Stacey was born & raised in Milford, CT and grew up power-boating on Long Island Sound and the Housatonic River.
Jesse was born & raised on the South Shore of Massachusetts and grew up sailing on Buzzards Bay and fishing the Cape Cod Canal.
Summer, our dog, is an Australian Cattle dog-mix. She is now about 10 years old. We adopted her as a pup and she has been sailing with us since we got her.
Being typical “Type A” personalities, we spent most of our adult life dedicated to our careers. Jesse was a geologist and worked in the consulting industry cleaning up petroleum and chemical spills. Stacey
was an accountant and worked in public accounting firms and private investment companies. The two of us had become disenfranchised with the idea of defining ourselves by our jobs and didn’t want to wait until retirement to live life. So, we sold everything (house, cars, etc), quit the jobs, and, in September 2015, a couple days before Stacey’s 40th birthday, we sailed away. Now we are trying to fill our lives with experiences and fun.
Our sailing vessel is Smitty, our Catalina 310. We have owned her for almost seven years now, mostly cruising the coast of New England and living aboard her prior to our departure (yes – we lived aboard in Boston during the snowiest winter on record! See Blizzard of 2015 as a Liveabord ). In September 2015, we untied the lines and set sail south from Hingham, MA (Smitty’s home port – just south of Boston). We sailed all down the US East Coast (primarily via the ICW), Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, and British Virgin Islands.
Q & A
As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Both of our jobs required us to manage various projects at the same time and still meet all deadlines. For us, the most difficult transition was to learn to slow down and enjoy life.
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
When we bought our boat our initial intent wasn’t to cruise on her full-time; we bought a boat that worked for what we wanted at that time. That being said, the Catalina 310 was produced to be a coastal cruiser and does not have capacity to hold a lot of water. We were ok with this fact and set sail anyway, we assumed we could get water in most locations we were going. This was correct, until we wanted to cruise in more remote areas in other countries. We have since installed a water maker.
What pieces of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Our Catalina 310 came with a microwave. We would often have microwave popcorn or heat up leftovers. Once we left our homeport dock, we very rarely stayed at marinas, therefore, we very rarely used our microwave. We learned how to make popcorn the “old-school” way (stove top) and gave away the microwave while in Puerto Rico.
What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?
I’m not sure if it was necessarily a mistake, but we spent way more money then we anticipated. We were in “vacation mode” and did not stick to a budget. Our thought was that we would likely only see some of these places only once. I am glad we enjoyed them to their fullest, but I do wish we had more of a spending plan or budget in place.
What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
To describe it in one word: Beauty
The locations, the people, the sailing (well, except all the “Easting” of the Mona Passage), the wild life (we still get excited when we see dolphins – especially swimming off our bow while under sail!), the color changes of the waters we have sailed, and of course the sunsets! It’s been an amazingly beautiful experience.
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
I have been very surprised to see some cruisers (both US & foreign flagged vessels) having a complete disregard for the environment and ecosystems. We have seen them anchor on reefs, fishing and taking conch and lobster out of season or from no-take zones, and keeping undersized fish, conch and lobster. Even when we have gone over to let them know the rules they did not care!
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?
We were told that when you slipped away from the dock you were leaving behind so many of the hassles of land life. Often we heard the term “Stuff being left to dirt dwellers”. Unfortunately, we often found that we would be on a beautiful beach, sitting around a fire with other cruisers and there would be talks of politics.; too much talk of politics. We thought that would be left on land but there seems to be lots of talk of politics at sundowners and pot lucks.
What is something that you read or head about cruising, that you found to be particularly accurate?
“Just Go – Don’t Wait!” We read and heard this often. I can tell you from experience, this is a very true statement. If you don’t set a date and just go then you won’t do it. The boat is never going to be 100% ready, there will always be more projects to complete or things that break that need to be fixed. If you wait until retirement or until the boat is done then who knows what your health or life circumstances will be in the future.
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
I wish someone had told us that it is ok to live “outside the box of normal society”; that it is ok to live life and you don’t have to do things that are “expected of you” . We regret investing our hard-earned money into things like a house and cars – we wish we had invested those funds into cruising at an earlier age (like in our 20’s).
What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why?
Prior to leaving to cruise, both of us got our Captains license, with the expectation that we would need to pick up some work at some point, doing something, so why not do something we love! We are currently anchored in Elephant Bay next to Water Island and St.Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, where we live on our boat and go out sailing as much as possible. Jesse is a Captain – taking guests out sailing and snorkeling daily. Stacey has been both Crew and Captain on various vessels but has most recently transitioned to an accounting-financial management position. Our current plan is to continue to enjoy this beautiful paradise, build up the cruising kitty, complete more projects, and contemplate getting a bigger boat. We are not done cruising, just on a break for a bit. But we continue to live on Smitty in the Caribbean as we explore these options.