It’s the one year anniversary of our blog! Since our first blog post last October, we’ve posted 90 times, had almost 250,500 views, and increased our traffic to an average of 3000 hits per month. That might not sound like much to people who’ve lived in the blogsphere longer, but to us it represents what can happen if you just keep plugging away. In spite of the fact that I do most of the posting, Mike holds the record for the number of hits on a post in a single day. His post with the photos of Orcas in Commencement Bay got 646 hits. I have yet to forgive him for that (both the record number AND the fact that he was alone on the boat when those Orcas surfaced right by him).
As anniversaries are times of reflection, I thought I would do a sort of interview about our progress in the last year.
Question: How happy are you overall with your blogging experience so far? What is the easiest thing about blogging? What is the hardest thing?
Melissa: Well, overall I am surprised at how much I like it and how many ideas I can come up with to write about. I think that’s the easiest thing; coming up with topics. Since not all of them are any good, choosing what to write about can be challenging. I never thought of myself as a writer, so it’s a whole new world.
The hardest things are keeping the length of the posts down to a mild roar, and also sometimes keeping a light and upbeat tone. I can have some dark days in this process, but no one is going to want to read about that.
Mike: I’m at a 6 out of 10 in terms of happiness. The hardest thing is keeping up with the patches and fixing the bugs. The easiest is writing posts, but I haven’t written that many.
Question: What is the most enjoyable part of blogging?
Melissa: It’s the feedback from readers and making friends with other bloggers, hands down. I know we have a lot more readers than we do commentors. I wish more people would post comments because without them it’s like putting a part of yourself out into a black hole in the universe, never to know where it lands. It sort of like that philosophical question: It a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound? I think the answer to that question is, ‘Who cares?’. Same think with writing a blog. If no one reads it or comments on it, then who cares? I also like the way blogging makes me organize my thoughts. That’s a benefit I would not have predicted.
Mike responds: Getting nice comments from readers.
Question: What have you not liked about blogging?
Melisssa: Sometimes I can have a pretty twisted sense of humor. When I’m writing, I have a certain tone in my head that sometimes does not get translated well onto the page. I always assume that people will know when I’m being humorous, but sometimes they don’t. I guess that’s part of the learning process for me. Believe it or not, my sense of humor is nothing compared to my kids’.
Mike: Trouble shooting the site.
Question: Reflect, if you will, on how satisfied you are about your progress in reaching the goal of voyaging. What feels solid to you? What frustrates you?
Melissa: That is a complicated question. This year we have done a good job of paring down our possessions and simplifying how we live in our home and we are still in the process of doing this. We’ve been married for 30 years and raised two kids, so we have a lot of stuff. We’re pretty much normal Americans that way. So there is still much to do.
On the other hand, we will still be living in this house for a few more years and I’m finding myself unwilling to give up everything as though I’m going to live on a boat, when the ‘living on a boat’ part isn’t in sight. I don’t want to live in a house with no furniture or give up all my craft things before I have to. And we got rid of our truck too fast. With the property we own, we need a truck. So now we are going to have to buy another one. That pretty much sucks, if you ask me.
Mike: We are making progress but I am looking out five years and that still feels far away. It would be nice to have the right boat that we could start making ready for our cruising life so that we could be working on and putting money into that boat. Of course, if we decide to cruise on Moonrise, then the money is going to the right place already. I think our experience and confidence for blue water voyaging is actually pretty good and while finances will always be a little vague, I know that we will be able to make this adventure happen.
Frustration comes from not having certainty about having the right boat and the need to continue working a few more years.
Question: What decisions remain to be made in putting your cunning plan into place? Why have you put these decisions off?
Melissa: The thorn in my side is setting the date for casting off. We know from more experienced people how important it is to set a date and just go, but so far we have been unable to agree on a date. The problem is that Mike wants to go when he retires, which is in 5 years. I will retire from my practice when Andrew graduates from college, but Mike’s is the ‘big’ retirement. Five years feels like an eternity to me, especially when I think about all of the life events that could easily happen in that amount of time that would inevitably delay our departure: things like family illnesses, grandchildren (however unlikely), or our own health (even though we are both quite healthy now). I feel a bit like a woman who has waited too long to have a baby and is now too old to easily conceive: every month that passes is another month I will never get back.
Believe it or not, I also worry that I will lose interest. It seems impossible now, but there are lots of things I’ve been really into for several years, only to be done with them at a certain point. I remember meeting some people at a local cruising club raft up who just sail around this area because they have lost interest in going further. They said they don’t want to be hot, or be cold, or be challenged anymore. They just want to relax and have fun. They were in their 60’s. The tone in their comments and glances at each other was that they didn’t think Mike and I would ever go if we waited that long.
That tone fell on the fertile ground of my own fears. People grow and change throughout their adult lives and interests grow and change along with that. What I do know is if I die before I do something this cool, I am going to be one really pissed off ghost roaming the seas. I soothe these fears by planning to be reincarnated as a child of a wealthy family who sails around the world as a lifestyle. Maybe the Bumfuzzle children will grow up to be sailing vagabonds and one of them can be my new parent. They seem to come from good genetic stock, and the Bumfuzzles would probably be fabulous grand parents. Hey, whatever it takes to get me through the night. Probably the more we get out there and sail together, and I mean sail away from Commencement Bay, which is getting to be a little boring at this point, the more I will remain interested.
The other decision we haven’t yet made is what to do with our house. Aside from being our family home, it’s the only property investment we have. Mike thinks we should sell it; I’m not so sure. Much will depend on property values when the time comes, I suppose. We are in a great area for rentals and we have a friend who manages rentals to military families. If we could turn the management over to him, we would have someone we trust to keep watch over this property, and maybe we could eventually derive an income from it. I hate to give that up. And yet the possibility of being able to leave with no financial liabilities is very seductive, and it is doubtful that we will come back to live in Lakewood. We can’t really make that decision until we see what the market is going to be like in a few years.
Mike: We will need to know which boat we are going to voyage in within the next two or three years. If we can make Moonrise bluewater-ready, then we will be in pretty good shape. If we decide that another boat is needed, then we have to adjust our finances to pay it off and get it ready. Then there is the house. Do we sell or rent? Income during our retirement has to be considered. Which pot do we draw from while we are cruising and still relatively young? These decisions are put off because I have more questions than answers. As usual.
Question: So what’s the next step for you?
Melissa: The next step is to continue honing down our belongings a bit at a time, keeping the goal of voyaging in mind as we do so and simplifying our lives the best we can while still living comfortably in our home. We’ve taken Moonrise off the market for awhile, although we’d sell her to the right buyer. Meanwhile, Mike has been doing a lot of projects on the boat and his skill level with wood working is really improving.
Mike: The next step is to find out if we can make Moonrise the boat we will take. If it is, then I can continue to work on improving her and preparing for the major upgrades (Sails, Windvane, Rigging, Tankage etc) .