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!

Michigan City: A Day in Photos

Michigan City, Ind., was an unexpected delight. It had been quite awhile since Aaron and I had been there, and we’d never been there with a toddler. There were so many things to do within walking distance of the marina that we never even made it to town.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let these speak for themselves. For reference, though, we stayed at the Michigan City Port Authority marina and spent the entire day at Washington Park and Beach. This amazing space included the Washington Park Zoo, a charming little spot with a walk-through aviary, petting barn, 70-foot tower, zebras, monkeys and more, and the Oasis Splash Park, where Claire could have spent the entire afternoon running through the misters and watching the giant bucket fill up and dump.

Also, I’ll be creating another section of the blog that details things to do and places to explore in each port we visit, so stay tuned!

We could have easily spent another day here – a true gem just a stone’s throw away (and a reasonable sail) from Chicago.

Michigan City or Bust

Our first Lake Michigan crossing of the season is complete!

We had been tentatively planning our first family trip for this weekend, but there’s a lot to consider when you’re sailing, and it tends to dictate the destination. I looked into heading to New Buffalo, MI – a stop that we skipped during our month-long adventure last year. But our boat draws 6.5 ft., and some Michigan harbors aren’t that deep (one of the tradeoffs of getting a boat with a fin keel rather than a shoal keel, which is only 3 to 4.5 feet.) So, New Buffalo was out.

We also considered sailing up to North Point Marina, right on the border of Wisconsin, or over to St. Joesph, Mich. But those are longer sails, and yesterday morning, the lake was powerless to a bear hug of fog that the sun didn’t burn off until right around noon. Thirty miles away, Michigan City, Ind., seemed like a great alternative and a comfortable 6- to 7-hour sail. Plus, their marinas are plenty deep.

We cast lines at about 12:30, settled into our 100-degree point of sail and more or less followed it all the way here. The winds were 5 to 10 knots out of the southeast, so we couldn’t just sail the whole way, but we were able to motor-sail for a fair portion of it with both the jib and the main flying.

Aside from a pesky swarm of biting flies that set up camp in our cockpit, the trip was lovely. Claire ate her weight in crackers, took a two-hour nap and played with some of her animals up on the bow.

Cracker break!

Cracker break!

Claire shows her hippo who's boss while Aaron checks our course.

Claire shows her hippo who’s boss while Aaron checks our course.

We also made friends with a passing freighter.

Getting pretty close!

Wanna race?!

These longer sails are also great opportunities to shake off the cobwebs a bit, and we realized that we have a potentially failing battery in our house battery bank. It wasn’t a problem during the crossing, as we switched to our other battery and always have an emergency starting battery on board. But, it’s another project for Aaron to add to his list. The boat does a great job at keeping that full.

Clarity pulled into her slip for the weekend in the Michigan City Port Authority Marina at around 6:30 and I made a chicken stir fry dinner while Aaron took Claire for a walk to scope out the sights. With full bellies and a sleeping toddler, Aaron and I collapsed on the deck with margaritas to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan.

Today, we’ve been exploring our haven right by the marina – a playground, splash pad, zoo and the beach, all a short walk. Details about our on-land adventures to come. For now, it’s time to explore!