Our New Home

Can you picture it? A family living their dreams here. A place to call home.

Can you picture it? A family living their dreams here. A place to call home.

Here are the numbers:

  • Hundreds of online listings and videos reviewed over the course of 8 months to create our “short list”
  • Countless early morning and late night conversations about “must-haves” and “hope-to-haves” for our floating home
  • No fewer than three linked spreadsheets
  • 2 whirlwind trips to the East Coast
  • 2 states, 5 hotel stays, 8 flights
  • 3 rental cars covering 600+ miles on the road, driving back and forth between yacht yards, marinas and airports
  • 11 on-site boat tours
  • Some serious contenders, including a most awesome pirate ship
  • ONE immediate feeling of, “This is it. This is home.”

Our hearts are so filled with joy and excitement and relief and about a million other emotions as I type these next words: We got her!

She’s a 2001 Bavaria Ocean 42 center cockpit. And she’s exactly what we’ve been looking for. (See our photo galley below.)

She has been meticulously maintained and upgraded by the previous owners.  It’s a newer boat, but has the design elements and gorgeous woodwork of the older ocean cruisers. She’s built very well and blue-water ready, and very comfortable down below with plenty of living and storage space.

Her topsides double as a outdoor playground, with ample spots to play, have outdoor meals, and luxuriate on the swim platform. She has a good balance of heavier displacement for stability and an efficient hull design for faster sailing.

And she’s fitted out like a dream (most of it recently redone):

  • Furling main and genoa sails with adjustable whisker/spinnaker pole, and spinnaker – with electric primary winches
  • Boat is powered completely by 800 watts of solar panels, as well as a 4.5kW diesel generator
  • Radar, AIS, GPS, SSB and Pactor Modem, underwater 360 sonar, and two EPIRBS
  • 4-person liferaft
  • Custom canvas shade cover for the entire deck (deployed while at anchor for lots of shade)
  • Custom dingy davits with motor hoist (we’ll be getting a RIB dingy and outboard motor)
  • Electric windlass with two anchors, plus sea drogue
  • Huge AGM battery system (nearly 1,000 Ah)
  • Watermaker (Spectra Ventura, six-gallons per hour – solar or genset powered)
  • Multi-zone Air Conditioning
  • Two scuba tanks and accessories, plus fishing poles, hand-line reels on the stern rail, and lures.
  • Two electric heads and a separate shower, plus a hot/cold water outdoor shower on the swim platform
  • Keel cooled refrigerator with secondary separate freezer for longer-term provisioning
  • Hard bimini and cockpit roof, with integrated rain catchment, red/white LED lighting and speakers.
  • Entertainment system in Salon w/ TV, mast-mounted antenna, DVD, surround sound w/ sub, plus second system in main aft cabin.
  • Lot’s of other recent upgrades

We’re currently setting up the final survey and sea trial at some point in the next two weeks, which in house-buying terms is the similar to an inspection. Assuming that no huge issues are found (which we doubt there will be),  we’ll finalize the deal and the keys, so to speak, will be handed over to us toward the end of June.

There aren’t too many times in my life that I’ve experienced tears of joy, but right now, they abound.

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Finding Our Floating Home

Charts

Take chances – COURAGE – eat well travel often – ENJOY THE JOURNEY – every day is an adventure – don’t look back – BE BRAVE – wanderlust

It’s a message I found inscribed on a bracelet a few months ago, and while I don’t usually subscribe to motivational proclamations, it hit me at just the right time, when we received the offer on our condo. I’ve worn it almost every day since.

We’re settling into our temporary home quite nicely, taking full advantage of the beautiful front porch, the proximity to countless restaurants and parks, and the ability to make last-minute plans with the friends and family we will miss dearly during our travels. As we’ve found with every step of this process, as soon as one milestone is passed, the next is up to bat.

With the clock on our temporary lease (and Aaron’s full-time job) ticking down, our boat search has been in hyperdrive, taking up every ounce of our free time. Putting our due diligence in every single facet of this decision, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s much harder than buying a home.

We’ve narrowed down the potential pool from thousands of boats to four strong options. Two are located in North Carolina and two are located in Florida, and these options fall into two financial categories.

Two of the boats are older and smaller (though well-maintained and well-equipped, and certainly not small in the grand scheme of things), making up the more “affordable” category. The other two boats are more expensive: one because it’s much newer, and the other because it’s larger and supremely outfitted for the ultimate cruising life (it’s already completed two circumnavigations!).

We’ve found ourselves at a pretty significant fork in the road, and the only way to make any sense of it (though we haven’t picked a course yet) was to map out each boat in an algorithm that includes both quantifiable and unquantifiable factors:

  • Build quality of the boat
  • Initial financial impact
  • Initial refit costs before the vessel is cruising-ready
  • Maintenance costs from year to year, based on both age and size
  • Livability of the space and quality of life at sea (and at anchor). With the larger boat, we’d have so much more space to spread out, so much more room to store the gear for our hobbies and water toys (like our paddleboard, our floating island and some snorkeling and scuba gear in the near future), the ability to actually find some personal space when needed, etc.
  • How she sails, with both of us working together, and when it’s just one of us (called single-handing). The last part is extremely important, as it allows Aaron and I to take shifts during longer sails and gives us both confidence that we can sail the boat alone in case of an emergency
  • Ability to navigate the Caribbean (some islands are very shallow and inaccessible with a boat that has a deeper keel)
  • Desire to dock the boat in a slip on occasion (with the cost per foot, dock fees with the larger boat would be significantly more)
  • Quality of cruising life. If we trade in on size or newness of the boat, for example, and go with the more affordable older boat, we could have more funds to rent a car on the islands when we want to, treat ourselves to a decadent meal or maybe a hotel stay in a ritzy port, hire a local guide to give us an “off the beaten path” tour, etc.
  • Given the initial financial investment, an estimate of monthly expenses, and an estimate of monthly income (as both of us plan to do some work), how long can we cruise without having to dip into savings?
A little light reading as we prepare for the next chapter.

Some light reading in preparation for the next chapter.

And there are others. Are your eyes crossing yet? :). Mine did a long time ago. We came to the conclusion that while we continue to weigh these factors, we just need to get out there and see these boats (one of the four we saw on our previous trip east). So, to the east coast we go again this weekend for another whirlwind tour! First to North Carolina, then back to Florida. By Monday night, we will have seen all four, and Tuesday morning, we’ll meet with our broker, who has served as an invaluable resource for us in navigating this decision, as she, too, cruised the Caribbean with her two children a few years back.

My hope is that once we step aboard (whichever boat it is), we’ll just know. It’s that consideration that there’s no slot for in the algorithm, that gut check that puts everything into perspective… The feeling of this is it.

I can see Claire learning to read her first words cuddled up in that cabin… I can see us sitting down to a sunset dinner of freshly caught fish in that cockpit… I can see us sprawled out on that bow, gazing up at the stars, gently swaying back and forth at anchor…

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?! If all goes well, we will have made a decision by end-of-day Tuesday on which boat will be our floating home. Sure, we’ll still need to make an offer, do the paperwork, have the boat surveyed (which is the boating equivalent of an appraisal on a home). But the biggest part of this next step – the decision – will be done. We’ll be sure to spread the news – and pictures, of course – once it’s settled.

take chances – have COURAGE – eat well travel often – ENJOY THE JOURNEY – every day is an adventure – don’t look back – BE BRAVE – wanderlust.

A Hop, Skip and a Move

 

Claire's last look at her very first home.

Claire’s last look at her very first home.

Sometimes, you just need to rip off the Band-Aid.

Now that I’m sitting here, fully moved into our temporary home and with all of my comforting things around me (namely a warm mug of coffee), I can calmly look back on the last week and just laugh.

We signed the rental agreement for our temporary home a week ago. We got actual tangible confirmation that the close on the condo was happening on Wednesday – less than 24 hours before our movers were scheduled to arrive. We moved all day Thursday, settled in on Friday while waiting for the all clear from our realtor and attorney on the closing, and on Saturday, we all slept in from utter exhaustion.

This. Move. Was. Insane.

I’m sure plenty of you who have been through a real estate closing before know that these things can happen last minute, and that most of the time things fall into place. I have not, so the uncertainty was eating away at my sanity. But I also noticed that it had another effect on me.

It allowed me to continue to nest at our condo, even with all of the boxes around, even with things scheduled as best they could be. There was still the smallest bit of uncertainty in the back of my mind, that if it all falls through, we won’t be moving, so I hadn’t fully let go. I was nostalgic. I was mourning the potential loss of our home while still being tethered to it. I was worried that I wouldn’t handle the transition well. I was sleep-deprived.

The last thing I did before locking up our condo for good was sign our names in an "undisclosed location." Maybe the new owners will try to scratch them out, or maybe they will paint over it. Maybe they'll leave it. But whatever happens, I know in my heart that a part of our family grew into those walls, a metaphorical mark that can never be erased.

The last thing I did before locking up our condo for good was sign our names in an “undisclosed location.” Maybe the new owners will try to scratch them out, or maybe they will paint over it. Maybe they’ll leave it. But whatever happens, I know in my heart that a part of our family grew into those walls, a metaphorical mark that can never be erased.

But an amazing thing, at least to me, happened. As everything was hauled out on Thursday, I started to feel better. Still appreciating our place and all of the memories that were created there, all of the dreams that were born there. But it felt right. It was time. Looking back, I realize now that I couldn’t really get excited about this next chapter and truly embrace it until we were out of there.

In general, I don’t handle big changes as well as I’d like to admit. I get stuck in the comfort of my routines and my surroundings. And sometimes, I make the mistake of believing that my hangups are shared by others. Claire has taught me so much in this move already; I am so unbelievably proud of her. We tried to explain to her as much as possible what was happening and allow her to ask questions and process things in her own way and in her own time. We showed her the condo after everything had been cleared out and let her say goodbye to her room.

Though she seemed sad in some of our initial conversations, Aaron and I quickly realized that she thought that none of her things were coming with her. When we explained that of course her favorite toys would come with us, her whole mood shifted from sadness to excitement – especially about our end goal of living on a boat. From our very first night in the temporary place, she’s been a gem. As long as Aaron and I are there, as long as she has some of her familiar things, she is happy – it doesn’t matter where we are. Even Tink handled the transition amazingly well, settling in to her usual all-day nap routine after a day or two of intense sniffing and exploring.

All that matters is that we are together as a family. The rest is just details. And stuff. So. Much. Stuff.

Box mountains, taller than Claire, were everywhere!

Box mountains, taller than Claire, were everywhere!

When we scheduled the movers, I thought for sure we’d be able to knock out the move in three hours, four hours max. We had already gotten rid of so much! But more than six hours later, after the job was finally completed, we realized we have so much more work to do. And with the weight of all of the uncertainty lifted, I’m ready for the task.

Things that seemed so important to me as I was sitting around them at the condo just don’t matter anymore. What matters is continuing to shed the weight to get us toward the end game.  Though going through all of our possessions was so overwhelming and oftentimes miserable for me even a week ago, I’m looking forward to it now. I see the need for it.

The condo was my security blanket. I had no idea that getting out from under it would feel so freeing.

For the next two months, there’s a lot of work to be done – but SUCH FUN WORK! Let’s ditch all of this stuff that we don’t need! Let’s find a boat! Let’s finish out Aaron’s full-time contract and Claire’s school year and GET GOING!

Turning your whole life inside out … what an amazing rush.

Nothing makes a house feel like a home quite like the smell of brownies baking in the oven.

Nothing makes a house feel like a home quite like the smell of brownies baking in the oven.

A Claire needs: A masterful tent crafted by her No. 1 guy.

All Claire needs: A masterful tent crafted by her No. 1 guy.