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?
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.