Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting Started

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

A reader asked how we decided to cruise?  How long did it take to decide?  How long from decision to cruising?   I've probably touched on those questions before, but never as a coherent story.

My first time on board a sailboat was in Sweden. I had been there on an extended business trip.  One weekend, I was invited by Karl to sail with him and his family on the weekend.  "Sure," I said.  On the next Saturday, Karl took me, his wife and teen aged daughter out on his boat Fräs.  It was beautiful out in the Stockholm archipelago, but the clincher came after we anchored for lunch.  The girls took all their clothes off and went swimming.  Well that settled it for me -- sailing was to become my new hobby.

Upon return to the USA I bought an O'Day Mariner, 19 feet.  That was a great vessel to learn to sail on. Next was a Clipper 26.   Then we started chartering in Tortola.  Three times we went to Tortola with friends or with family to charter and cruise the BVIs for a week.   I had a trailer for the Clipper 26.  We took it to Maine.

One year, I took the Clipper to Lake Champlain for a week's vacation with my son John (I took John out of school for that week.)  That was one of the best weeks I ever remember.  Lake Champlain was so beautiful, and October such a nice month, and cruising as a way to live were all burned in my brain.  Year after year I returned to Champlain in October.   Then I moved the family back to Sweden again.  There I began sailing with my friends in October.  We also had a little 20' boat that we sailed locally.  That was great in the summer when we had 23.5 hours of daylight per day.   We also borrowed a boat and cruised with friends in June in the archipelago.

After returning from Sweden, I resumed the October trips.  Some years we didn't own a boat so Libby and I camped on Valcour Island in October.

In the fall of 2004 I had just finished a huge three-year project at work.  Before starting a new project, I reassessed my career, and the thought came to me as an epiphany.  It was time to retire.  I consulted with Libby.  She was enthusiastic.  But what to do in retirment?   Well, we thought back and realized that our fondest life memories, outside of children and grandchildren, were all associated with those brief times we had cruising on sailboats.   It was a no brainer.   Significantly, we had both recently read The Self Sufficient Sailor, and that no doubt influenced us.

Libby said we must have a boat that made her feel safe even if caught in a hurricane. I researched that, and the W32 emerged immediately.  I started tracking w32s for sale on the net.  There were a dozen or two, that I tracked over a period of three months.  I could see what the asking prices were, how long they took to sell and how much they sold for.  

24 hours after my retirement in February 2005, we jumped in the car and set out with a fistfull of 14 W32 listings on the US East Coast to look at.   We drove 2000 miles and we looked at 13 of the 14.  The next to last one was Tarwathie.  She was in Fort Lauderdale.  We both fell in love with her at first sight.  Tarwathie was more than a vessel, she was a home, and she was ready to sail away with no work at all.  (Amusingly, the only prior info we had on Tarwathie was a tiny one-line classified ad.)  We made and offer, and within a month of retirement, we closed the deal and took posession.

That's not the end of the story.  We still owned a house and furniture and a car.  To unload all that stuff in a short time, was an awful lot of work.   We left Tarwathie in Florida, and returned to New York for two months.  There, we worked our fingers to the bone preparing everything for sale and disposing of our responsibilities.   We got the house vacant and listed by the two month deadline. Most furniture and belongings we gave to our kids with the proviso that we might ask for it back some day. We  flew back to Florida and retrieved Tarwathie.   It took and additional 6 months  and two more trips to New York, for the house to actually sell (Thank God we didn't decide to retire in 2008!)   Then and only then were we full-time cruisers with no land-based responsibilities.

I remember my primary thought through all of 2005 --- determination.  I was determined to make this work.  Hurdles and obstacles seemed to arise daily.  It would have been so easy to give up the dream and to stick with the status quo.   But no -- we were determined to make it work.  We did whatever it took to make that dream a reality and never let go.

Ever since, we've been enjoying the benefits.   We miss frequent contact with our family but other than that we've been deliriously happy enjoying this life as cruisers.


1 comment:

  1. You are so right that it takes determination, for that is what makes the obstacles surmountable. May you keep cruising for as long as you love it. And keep blogging about it, too, so we can keep our own dream alive!

    Nica, s/v Calypso (BCC #6)


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