Way back in my first post ever I promised some back story about how I came to embark on the adventure of living aboard. This is my story.
Sometime in the early 2000’s, before Dave & I were a thing (although we knew each other through work), he hatched a plan to retire a bit early, sell his house, buy a boat, and live on it in the Caribbean. When we started dating he shared his plan with me. It’s not what I’d envisioned my retirement would be like, but I thought it was an interesting idea. I love to travel, see new places, and meet and learn about people. I also find myself increasingly intolerant of the cold. So why not go someplace warm? The plan has morphed a bit, but here we are, about to enact it.
Going from the idea of living aboard in the Caribbean to the reality of doing so has been a huge adjustment for me, and I know there is much more “adjusting” to come. Fortunately, Dave is so excited that I’m willing to give this lifestyle a try that he’s been most accommodating to my occasional freakouts.
We bought the boat in June 2014, and until then I could avoid thinking too seriously about what enacting this plan would mean. The first “freak out” hit me that winter, manifesting itself as extreme anxiety; thinking about it kept me awake at night. I knew I had a lot to learn about boats, boating and what it means to live aboard, but I wasn’t willing to suspend all the things I normally do with my personal time to take on that learning curve. There was no way I was going to go from working full time to retiring and living on a boat right away. I needed time after I retired to mentally prepare myself. I broached the subject with Dave the first night of our 2015 annual XC skiing excursion to the White Mountains, on my birthday, after a glass of champagne (maybe two). As I said, Dave has been quite supportive, and he thought delaying our departure was a great idea. I would retire in June 2018 at the end of my organization’s fiscal year and take the next 9-10 months to prepare myself. HUGE relief!
I know now that there’s no way I could have “come up to speed” in only 9-10 months, it’s actually pretty laughable, but in the winter of 2015 I needed to believe it. So that plan also morphed. We spent a lot of time on Lady the following two summers, including extended trips up the Maine coast. I got comfortable living on Lady and could envision her as a home away from home. Dave taught me how to handle the dock lines, pick up moorings, and to drop and pick up the anchor, so even the idea of handling her was less intimidating. She was on the hard (ashore) for her conversion to solar electric from September 2016 through September 2017 and I actually missed being on her that summer of 2017. I found myself ready and (somewhat) willing to learn to drive her. I took my first boating class the fall of 2017 and am just finishing up my third class this week. I’m not excited about driving her, I don’t really enjoy driving any vehicle, but at least I feel like I can manage it, as long as a more experienced driver is with me, sort of like drivers ed 😉
What causes me anxiety now is the extensive list of preparations that seems to be shrinking far too slowly, the approximately 1500 mile long trek down the eastern seaboard during the unpredictable spring season, and being away from my family and friends for several months. What helps me hold it together is Dave’s support and understanding, the fact my folks will be with us at least to Florida, my intense desire to not be cold, my love of exploring new places, and the excitement my family & friends have for us taking on this adventure. The latter truly inspires me!
So here I am, 3-4 weeks from enacting a life change I never conceived of in my wildest dreams. I’m still both terrified and excited, but I am feeling a little bit more prepared.