First…. get a million dollars. That seems to be our favorite saying around here whenever Mike and I start dreaming about our little cunning plan to live the cruising life on board a sailboat. This is a saying that reflects the daunting task before us: to uproot our lives and set sail to exotic (we hope) locations before we get so old our teeth fall out. It seems like if we just had a ‘million dollars’ the distance between our lives now and the life we want to lead would almost disappear. Heck, with a million dollars we could probably set sail tomorrow! Well, almost.
We’re classic. Really, we are. Both in our early ‘50s, after 29 years of marriage, child rearing, home ownership, and careers, the wick of the proverbial ‘candle of time’ is getting short. Also, we’re sick and tired of working. And I mean that to be inclusive of all kinds of working, including keeping up with all the stuff that owns us like the house and gardens and all the detritus of an American life lurking in the garage, attic, and various other areas with closed doors. Don’t get me wrong. We’re part of the lucky few who really do enjoy their professions. It’s just that if someone walked up to us and gave us a million dollars today, we’d retire.So what makes this worthy of a blog? It’s not like this situation isn’t repeated ad infinitum in households of 50-somethings all over the USA. We’re no different than any other couple our age in that way. Except that we have a plan! Cunning it may be, but it’s, well, complicated. There are lots of steps and they are not as straight forward as all the self-help books lead one to believe.
Here’s the crux of the matter: In 4 years, when our son graduates from Western Washington University (knock on wood), we want to be in a position to rent out our home and set sail. It sounds easy, no? No. It does not. Like I said, it’s complicated. First, we have to ‘downshift’ our lifestyle: reduce the amount of stuff we have accumulated over 29 years. I understand this is a freeing experience. At this point, I take other people’s word for it. At the same time, we must prepare our home to be a rental. This alone may take the better part of the next 4 years as we make needed upgrades and finish projects that have been waiting around twiddling their thumbs. We’re talking refinishing floors, replacing flooring in the office, finishing the tile in the laundry room. You get the general idea. Oh yeah, I forgot finishing painting the trim in the family room. This requires a ladder taller than what we already have, which is why it remains unpainted after 10 years.Then there is the choice of boat. This is where the million dollars would really be helpful. At this writing we are the proud owner of a 1975 Cal 34, S/V Moonrise. She is a great boat. We love her. She is safe and sea kindly. She is stout of heart and her V berth is as comfortable as our bed at home. But she is not really our choice of boat for the extended cruising we have in mind. She is almost paid for, though, and we struggle with whether we should take the plunge and get something else now, or wait. More on that later. Suffice to say that I wax and wane about this, knowing that whatever boat we have, we’re going to be working on it and upgrading it. We can work on and upgrade the Moonrise for the next 4 years and then try to get something else we’re more comfortable with, or we can take the plunge and buy something else now and spend the next 4 years upgrading that. Did I mention that we have a kid in college?
So, again, why the blogging? Mike’s a computer programmer so he’ll give his own answer to that. For my part, I got serious about thinking about it while reading the book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. The book describes how Julie makes a goal of working through Julia Child’s cookbook on French cooking by systematically creating every recipe in the book over a period of one year. What struck me, other than the sheer genius and insanity of such an idea, was the support she received from the followers of her blog. It kept her on track; it motivated her when she wanted to quit. Selfishly, I want that. I think.
I figure this is a good way to keep myself organized, set goals, and if I put those goals in print, follow through with them. Our little cunning plan is a complicated one and will take a lot of energy and direction. We need to carry on with it in a measured way, accomplishing one small task at a time. So this blog is entirely a selfish exercise on the one hand.
On the other hand, I have noticed that with few exceptions, people who make these kinds of huge life changes talk about them after they have accomplished their goals. (One notable exception is the Robertson’s blog Log of S/V Del Viento. Check it out.) There are plenty of interesting blogs written by people who are already living the cruising life. Lots of their stories are punctuated with the advice that one should ‘Go now! In the boat you have!’. Thanks for that. Give me a million dollars and I’ll ‘go now’, but not necessarily in the boat I have. I get the point, but it’s not realistic for us. I believe there are many, many more people who are like us and need to take some time to extricate themselves from long and fruitful land-based lives than there are who can drop everything and go. So I will write things I think will be helpful to others who are in our same ‘boat’.
So this blog will be a little bit of ‘Downshifting’, a little bit of ‘Midlife Musings’, a few ‘Mental Health Moments’, and more than a little about our love of all things sailing and boats. It sounds like it’s going to be all over the map but it’s really not. All of these things will be involved as we implement our Little Cunning Plan. Stay tuned.