Changes in Latitudes…

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Our little fish, snorkeling in the lagoon off of Peanut Island

We’ve only been here two weeks, and it’s fascinating to me how much my attitude has changed on things that used to be so important to me.

I’m sure part of this was my own personal hang-ups, but back in Oak Park, I would never leave the house without my makeup on and my hair done. Here, with this heat and with our daily routine, I’ve taken to wearing no makeup the vast majority of the time. It’s so hot morning through night that it all sweats off anyway, for one. For two, I’m wearing sunscreen all day, which doesn’t mix well with makeup. For three, we’re swimming all the time, so mascara is pointless. And four, I’ve just come to a point where I don’t care. And you know what? I’m pretty happy about that.

Another thing that was important to me back at home was my clothing – cute dresses, skirts paired with trendy shirts, anything from Anthropologie. Here, what’s comfortable and airy takes the cake. Yesterday, I returned our rental car in shorts and a tank top that prior to moving aboard, I never wore out of our bedroom. And skirts and dresses while constantly climbing on and off and up and down the boat, or on and off the dinghy? Not practical.

Aaron’s also never worn so little clothes in his life – shirtless for the vast majority of the day. And he hasn’t worn socks in 30 days – he actually marked the calendar June 30 – and he hasn’t done his hair in weeks. “What comes out is what it is,” he says. I think that’s an excellent approach to life in general.

Our expectation of a “comfortable temperature” has also changed. Yes, we have air-conditioning on the boat and it has been working well (knock on wood), but we keep it at around 82 or 83 down below (yes, that is dramatically cooler than outside). And of course, we want to get outside, too. So, basically, we avoid the sun midday, but otherwise just put up with the heat – all three of us. A constant state of stickiness has become the norm, and we cool down not with air-conditioning a lot of the time, but with a rinse-down. The first few days, Claire understandably complained about the heat even just from the walk from the parking lot to the boat. Now, she rarely mentions it. Such a trooper, that kiddo.

The “schedule” of a day, for the most part, has also fallen by the wayside. Already, we have to remind ourselves what day of the week it is, and we usually don’t know what time it is. Eating has taken an interesting turn, in that we just don’t do a whole lot of it (save for Claire, for whom eating is an ongoing highlight of her day 🙂 ). Aaron and I either get wrapped up in what we’re doing, or it’s just plain too hot and we don’t feel like eating much more than something light. Aaron also doesn’t have a set time for lunch, like he did when his days at the office included his lunch hour. We’re drinking a whole lot more water, though. Probably the amount we should have been drinking all along.

Oh, and Netflix and Amazon Prime? Cable? What are those again? A staple of my day back in Oak Park (I’ll admit it) has become not even a factor of life here. The marina’s Wi-Fi doesn’t extend to our dock, and though we could connect with Aaron’s cell hotspot to stream, we just, haven’t.

Daily life has become a mixture of projects to tackle, deadlines to meet, and exciting adventures. Since my last post, we’ve found quite a few more issues with the boat, and some that we knew about already have become much bigger in scope. But we’re trying to take it all in stride and pace ourselves as best we can, with the goal of getting this boat off the dock sooner than later.

And we made one very, very important purchase – our brand new RIB (rigid-inflatable boat), which will serve as our family car! More on that in the next post. We want to give Claire as much ownership in our new lifestyle as possible, so we decided to let her name the dinghy. It’s been pretty hilarious hearing her additions to the shortlist. I’m planning a little boat-christening party and name unveiling. You can probably imagine some of the contenders :).

Life is changing quickly for us here! Can’t wait to see what a few more weeks bring.

Getting Settled

Claire swam for the first time without a floatie on Monday. On Wednesday, we were back at the pool with full snorkel gear for the whole family to practice for an outing this weekend to a nearby hotspot. She never wanted to come up to the surface!

My two favorite fish!

Claire swam on her own for the first time a few days ago. Something clicked at just the right time, she remembered what she’s learned from classes and practice, and was brave enough to get over her fear. And once she started, she never went back.

It happened in the middle of the day on Monday at a nearby pool, when Aaron normally would have been at the office all day. Except that he was there, encouraging her to keep swimming to him a little bit further, a little bit further each time. We were both there to see it.

That’s one of the many reasons why we’re doing this – to experience these amazing life moments together.

We’ve been here five days now (has it only been five days?!), and we’ve already had some amazing highs. The lows have been there, too. When we arrived at the boat, I was overjoyed and felt the same immediate sense of “this is home” that I experienced when we flew out to see her for the first time. But truthfully, those first three or four days, I was not at my finest.

After the long road trip from Oak Park, we got here and immediately dove into unloading all of our life possessions from the rental van. In the grand scheme of things, we didn’t bring much, but in cruising terms, we had triple what we should have. We were again buried in boxes, and you all know by now how well I do with that.

It also doesn’t help that our boat is in a slip that is about as far from the parking lot as you can possibly get, so Aaron and I had to haul countless loads of boxes in small dock carts in heat so oppressive you’re almost immediately drenched. We still aren’t done unpacking, but finally, in the last day or two, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of “stuff.”

We’ve also shifted course a bit from our original plan to maintain our sanity (or find mine) and to not dive head first into absolutely everything at once (after all, isn’t moving across the country onto a boat enough for one month? 🙂 ). Originally, after getting here Saturday afternoon, we were planning to return the rental car on Wednesday and leave Riviera Beach City Marina, on the Intracoastal Waterway where our boat is docked, within a few days. We had our reasons and they were good ones – this marina is extremely expensive and with hardly any amenities, and we are still planning to head north to Georgia or South Carolina to wait out hurricane season.

But the next logical port is about an eight-hour run away. We managed to get all of our boxes out of the van, but our things were by no means put away yet. Aaron and I both had work deadlines. Boat issues had to be fixed (the air conditioner needed attention, there was a fuel leak with the generator, etc.) Not to mention the fact that we have had no time to get the boat off the dock, even for a short run to hoist the sails and check the engine.

Oh, and we have a 4-year-old 24-7 now who needs our attention, too.

It was all just too much pressure, and we thought, at least for this first month, let’s just give ourselves a break. We signed a lease for another month here (though we will likely leave sooner than that), and since there’s not really anything in walking distance here, we thought, what the heck, let’s just rent a car for another week. Sure, all of these decisions amount to more money than we were planning to spend this month. But sometimes, you have to make a decision based on what’s best for the family. There’s plenty of time for us to settle into this lifestyle a bit more gradually.

It’s been a trip, to be sure, but as I mentioned, there have also been unbelievable moments of joy. Like when Claire lit up in a monster-sized grin when she saw her room for the first time, or when she felt the ocean on her feet for the first time. Like when she swam on her own, or when we drove to the local snorkel/scuba outfitters and got gear for the whole family. We immediately went to the pool to have her try out her mask and tube, and right away, swimming underwater opened up a whole new world for her that she refused to leave all afternoon. There’s a highly rated snorkeling spot called Peanut Island almost spitting distance from our boat, and we’re planning to head there in the next few days.

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up with the sunrise, brew some coffee, sneak out while Claire and Aaron are still sleeping, and drive to the beach to start my day with the rhythm of the waves . I think it will be another one of the highs for this first week. And also, something that becomes part of my daily routine. What an amazing thought…

Living Like Gypsies

Traveling is tiring! The elusive nap has returned :).

Traveling is tiring! The elusive nap has returned :).

We bought a boat today.

I say that with a period, not an exclamation point, because it’s been an absolutely chaotic process. And I say that because even though we made the decision to buy the boat a month ago (or more), we weren’t able to sign the final documents for the closing until today. It’s for a number of reasons – just a few of which are the fact that the boat was previously registered in Austria, which requires another layer of documentation, and also because both sides are executing the sale from out of state, so powers of attorney abound.

It’s fitting, too, because this morning, we also signed over our other car. We officially have no (land) home and no cars.

We will get excited – I know we will! But right now, we are just plain exhausted.

We have lived the nomad lifestyle as a family of three before, when we sailed Clarity on Lake Michigan each summer for a little more than a month at a time. Truthfully, we were at our best as a family then, which is why we are pursuing this crazy adventure. BUT – taking your home with you is drastically different than living out of a suitcase, and with no home, so to speak, that you’ll be returning to.

The reality has hit Aaron and I in different ways as we’ve spent the last week visiting family in Michigan. There was the time that I panicked because I couldn’t find my house keys. The times that I thought, “We can just handle that when we get ho… , wait, nope.” The times that I watched Tink settling in at my mother-in-law’s house, which she has beautifully, and thought with tears, we are no longer housemates. Aaron and I have both broken down at one point or another – luckily not at the same time.

Everywhere we’ve gone, family has been so welcoming and encouraging, and such great memories have been made that we’ll take with us down south and use to refuel us for months. But as much as I anticipated some tiredness from road-tripping back and forth between family and friends, I did not foresee the feeling of being unsettled that creeps in when the day’s immediate needs and activities ease up. Undoubtedly, the prolonged process to close on the new boat has been a big factor for both of us.

Now that we’ve dotted the last I, though – we’re done, IT’S OURS! – I’m feeling some of the pressure lift. I hope Aaron is, too.

We’ve spent the last week or so visiting Aaron’s family in Michigan, and today, we jump in a rental to visit my brother and his family in Indiana. Then, it’s back to Chicago to see my parents before trading in the rental car for a rental truck and packing it up for the trip south.

At times, our end goal has seemed a million miles away, rather than the hundreds it actually is, sitting quietly in a slip in West Palm Beach, just waiting for us. We’re coming – I promise, we’re coming!