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Old 08-09-2012, 08:23   #1
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The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

We are told in our culture when we are young to work hard, save our money and when we retire we will be able to do all the things we couldn't do when we were young since we will have both the time and the money. Are the Golden Years a myth or reality-- especially as it relates to sailing?
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:34   #2
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

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We are told in our culture when we are young to work hard, save our money and when we retire we will be able to do all the things we couldn't do when we were young since we will have both the time and the money. Are the Golden Years a myth or reality-- especially as it relates to sailing?

If you're very, very lucky. My parents had all sorts of plans for after my dad retired.

Two months before he retired, my mother had a very bad fall that shattered her thigh bone. They pieced it together as best they could, but she could barely walk and most often used a wheelchair.

Don't bankrupt your retirement living the dream today. Be clever, find a way to plan financially for the future but still live life as fully as you can in the present.

I've dodged death four times now. I'm 66. What are the odds that I'll dodge the next one? I know I don't get to live here forever.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:49   #3
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

I didn't wait - I went early. I was working, had a nice house, rental properties, between the two of us, we had 4 vehicles. I was about 47 when I got the panicky feeling that if I didn't go NOW, I would never go. I convinced my partner that it was a great idea. We sold everything, including the rental properties because of the poor management company. Took off in a 35' Morgan, upgraded after about 3 years to a CT47, beautiful boat. We cruised up and down the eastern Caribbean islands for 7 years, then my partner got tired of it all and left - I ended up singlehanding for the next 3 years. I am SO glad I went early, was able to do 5 hour hikes on the islands without problems, snorkeling everywhere, no problems. I think today, it would be a different story. I wish I was still out there - I am positive I would be in better shape than now that I'm living on dirt.

I've written a book about my 10 years out there, it has just been published, and you can find information on the link following my signature.

Don't delay, if you can afford it - go for it. I did and it was GREAT. it didn't bankrupt me and I'm still able to work and support myself. If you really want to go, you won't be sorry.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:52   #4
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I'm still about 15 years from the "golden" zone but I can tell you that life is already getting better year by year. More money (think back to college poverty days, ha!), nice lifestyle, more and richer life experiences, travel opportunities. Wish I had more liesure time, wish we lived closer to family and old friends, but I wouldn't want my lifestyle say back when I was 30.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:58   #5
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

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I'm still about 15 years from the "golden" zone but I can tell you that life is already getting better year by year. More money (think back to college poverty days, ha!), nice lifestyle, more and richer life experiences, travel opportunities. Wish I had more liesure time, wish we lived closer to family and old friends, but I wouldn't want my lifestyle say back when I was 30.
Oh my life was pretty good at 30. It had one major flaw, though. It did not include sailing.

However, it did include snow skiing, so I can't complain too much.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:02   #6
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

I'm thinking the answer is both:

When you are young you are fit and can be comfortable with less. Everything is fantastic, though perhaps you have less to compare experiences with. Your skill set is limited, but you can learn. And it youth is the best time to get a career on track. I spent plenty of time day sailing and on short trips, backpacking, climbing, and cycling. Sure, a real cruise would have been very cool, but it would have cost me dearly.

As I get older it takes more to be comfortable, but not too much. I'm less wowed by what I expereince--been there, done that--but it takes less thrill to make a fine day. My skill set has grown and problems are easily avoided or dealt with. Longevity runs in the family, with parents active in their late 80s, though slowing a bit to be sure.

I'll probably never take the big cruise, but I'll probably not miss it. I've spent many an hour on tropical beaches and snorkeling, staying in 4-5 star resorts, and that's nice too (because I tended my carreer, my company funded these). My wife has mobility problems and I no longer trust my back off-shore (it's good 364 days a year, but a bad day away from the availability rest would really stink). I see no reason I won't be coastal cruising for a very long time, and since I live on the Chesapeake, that will do just fine.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:07   #7
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

The Golden years? More like Titanium i.e. hips and knees.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:09   #8
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

I'm not at all a violent person...but if I could find the sorry SOB that calls these the "Golden Years" I'd stomp on him with my titanium hip until my bypass exploded.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:36   #9
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

As my Dear Old Dad used to say," The only thing Golden about the Golden years are your shorts". Go early, go small, but do it. I managed to get in about 12 years of full time cruising and living aboard before my mid 40s. Had I waited, I probably would not have gotted away at all. The last 20 years have been all tied up with child rearing, aging parents and much less job flexibility than there was in the 80s.I turned 65 last week and as soon as I can unload some California realestate, and a 65 year old airplane I am going to buy another boat and get moving again while I still can. That old sailors saying about time and tide waiting for no one is very true.____Grant.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:48   #10
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

Well, for us it did work out that way. We worked hard, took off a few years in the later years to cruise a bit, went back to work again, retired and now live on a creek in NC with our sailboat in back.

We don't cruise as much as when we took off (my wife says she got it out of her system, but I didn't) but we do go out for an overnight every now and then. We are both healthy, thank goodness.

But our story is atypical. Today the average person has only a few thousand dollars in the bank and hasn't a clue how they are going to live in retirement. Their golden years may be spent working under the golden arches.

David
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:59   #11
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

A well known custom cruising sailboat builder once told me that it is uncommon for him to tell a potential customer that he waited too long to build the dream boat. The reason is that people lose their nimbleness before their strength.

Most people seem to do pretty well through their '60's but by 70 the great majority lose the nimbleness to handle a sailboat in all but the most benign conditions (without younger crew aboard). They are no longer safe on a moving foredeck or able to keep their balance in a cross swell.Even at 56, I'm reminded of the march of time when I reach for a handhold instead of just jumping into the dinghy.

Carl
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:02   #12
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

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A well known custom cruising sailboat builder once told me that it is uncommon for him to tell a potential customer that he waited too long to build the dream boat. The reason is that people lose their nimbleness before their strength.

Most people seem to do pretty well through their '60's but by 70 the great majority lose the nimbleness to handle a sailboat in all but the most benign conditions (without younger crew aboard). They are no longer safe on a moving foredeck or able to keep their balance in a cross swell.Even at 56, I'm reminded of the march of time when I reach for a handhold instead of just jumping into the dinghy.

Carl

I do know people who sail well, even single-handed, into their seventies, but they are live-aboards who have stayed extremely active on their boats.

Personally I think the 30-somethings should be grabbing the hand-helds more often. Boats are shifty!
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:12   #13
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

The retirement time has turned out good for us. We are live aboards. We rarely sail 24 hours a day. We stay in a place for 2 or 3 months and then sail to the next place. We rent a car and drive back and get our car so that we can also take road trips when we want to. We have been onboard for three years. We have been to the tip of Texas and to the Dry Tortugas and most spots inbetween
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:17   #14
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

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We are told in our culture when we are young to work hard, save our money and when we retire we will be able to do all the things we couldn't do when we were young since we will have both the time and the money. Are the Golden Years a myth or reality-- especially as it relates to sailing?
Mostly a myth, for a few reasons:
  • Health - most people have at least one chronic issue by the time they're 65.
  • Ability - health aside, many people can't (or won't) do at 65 what they can or are willing to do at 50 or 55
  • Self-delusion - it's often foolish to plan to do something in retirement that you aren't doing now, especially a big commitment like distance cruising? How do you know you'll even like it if you haven't done it yet?
  • The Retirement "Crash" - how often have you heard of people who work hard til retirement, and then fall apart (eg heart attack) in retirement?
  • Disappearing pensions - fewer and fewer of us have solid pensions and this trend is on the increase. Plus, the bastards are raising the legal retirement age. It's less of a sure thing for most of us.

Our philosophy is that anything after age 50 is gravy. If you make it to 50 and you have health and are comfortable financially, you've beaten the odds, you're now in life's bonus round. We took the summer off and went to Europe when we turned 50. My wife was able to use a big severance to get out of the rat-race and into a lower-paying occupation that she adores... I'm planning something similar. We grab every opportunity we can to explore, to party, to vacation. I don't know if we'll ever become live-aboards, but we have some long cruises in the planning.

Frankly, it might be better to 'retire' at 50 or so, then take a menial job again at 65 or 70 if/when the money runs out. It's proven that people who stay engaged and active live longer and stay sharper.
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:08   #15
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Re: The Golden Years: Myth or Reality?

Stories of people who waited too long abound. Here's an alternate: we had the opportunity to retire when I was 47, with a modest pension and health care; or wait 8-10 years with a fat pension and health care. We already had the paid-for boat and shared the cruising dream.

"Time, youth, money - choose two of the three." After much soul-searching we decided to continue working, accumulate more money, and wait.

Four years later, cancer struck, very suddenly. Would have been fatal had we been out cruising and away from medical help. Instead, we were 15 minutes from a good hospital, after a few months all was back to nearly normal, and a few years after that, we started cruising, fat pension in hand, and the golden years are golden indeed.

Statistically, our situation is very unlikely - but ones like ours do happen. More often than not, you're better able to cruise when young than old, but not always. (Of course, you're better able to establish a career and financial comfort when young too, so what does that prove?) You make your best estimate of the tradeoffs and move forward, knowing that luck will do what it does. You can influence, but not control, the trajectory of your life.
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