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Old 16-09-2012, 18:50   #1
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Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

My wife and I are in our mid 20's, met sailing, rebuilt and outfitted a small cruising sailboat, got our captains licenses together and spent the last year doing the ditch and the Bahamas. Now we come to a turning point. Do we swallow the hook, live primarily on land or get a bigger boat that is comfortable and can goes places and make the cruising lifestyle work for us?

We plan to have kids in the next 5 years, so there is them to think about, health insurance, finding regular work with benefits, retirement etc. And I would love the opportunity to build my own sustainable boat-style house with a workshop.
Or...
We have a good lead on an awesome 40ft aluminum cutter that needs a refit. Roomy enough for kids and the comfort we would like to see on a permanent liveaboard and affordable.

We are torn. One day we lean one way; another day the other. I would love to hear some words of wisdom and experience.

So: What do you think?
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Old 16-09-2012, 19:15   #2
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A fair number of people have cruised while raising kids, and other have lived aboard while raising kids. I love sailing, and have coastal and light offshore cruised my whole life, but I can't imagine permanent stationary life on a boat right now with our 2.5 year old boy and 1 year old girl. They LOVE going on the boat, but often after cruising even just a handful of days, my wife and I are ready for the relative space of home for them to burn off energy. And easily driving out of the garage to go get food, milk, diapers, etc. And climate control for the 1 year old who can't cover herself when it gets cold at night....

The romanticism about the lifestyle is great, so if you are planning on cruising while raising them, then consider the boat. If you plan it as a stationary home, I hope your kids are lower energy than the average toddler. My recommendation would be get the house, and when you are past diapers with all your kids then buy a liveaboard...
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Old 16-09-2012, 19:20   #3
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Originally Posted by malbert73
A fair number of people have cruised while raising kids, and other have lived aboard while raising kids. I love sailing, and have coastal and light offshore cruised my whole life, but I can't imagine permanent stationary life on a boat right now with our 2.5 year old boy and 1 year old girl. They LOVE going on the boat, but often after cruising even just a handful of days, my wife and I are ready for the relative space of home for them to burn off energy. And easily driving out of the garage to go get food, milk, diapers, etc. And climate control for the 1 year old who can't cover herself when it gets cold at night....

The romanticism about the lifestyle is great, so if you are planning on cruising while raising them, then consider the boat. If you plan it as a stationary home, I hope your kids are lower energy than the average toddler. My recommendation would be get the house, and when you are past diapers with all your kids then buy a liveaboard...
Forgot to mention. One of the most stressful things to deal with when you have a new baby is getting them to sleep on a schedule. Even a 40 footer gets small when a baby is crying. Add in an older sibling or two and pretty much everyone will be awake every 3-4 hours. Then, during day, it is tough to get older toddlers to stay quiet enough for the baby to nap....
I am sure people will chime in about how easy the sleep routine is on a boat. I'd be willing to bet most are old enough to have forgotten these early years of child raising, or had otherworldly easy children.
Regardless, having a boat to part time cruise with a land based home is the way to go. Some of the most rewarding moments we have had in our near 3 years of having kids were on the boat, but also some of the toughest...
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Old 16-09-2012, 19:30   #4
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

We had exactly the same dream in our mid-twenties. We waited until the kids were old enough to appreciate the lifestyle and to help with the boat. I think 5-7 years old minimum. We banked the cruising kitty and then left while young enough to enjoy ourselves. Those cruising years were the greatest and the kids have appreciated the experience now that they are in college. WE will go out again in a couple of years and cruise as a couple. That will be a new adventure altogether! Follow your dreams...
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Old 16-09-2012, 19:46   #5
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Throwing out ideas... perhaps try to suit both lifestyles by keeping a smaller boat to go on short cruises while having a life on land?
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Old 16-09-2012, 19:47   #6
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

You sound so much like me 40 years ago. Wife(girlfriend at the time) and I bought a 26 foot boat and sailed the hell out of it. Ran out of money and came home and made more money and bought a 37 footer. Sailed that for a year or two and sold it and made some good realestate moves and bought a 44 footer to finally start a family. Sailed, chartered, and cruised untill the biological clock started ringing at the same time my Dad came down with cancer. Long story short, I became the poster child for the sandwhich generation. Newborn child, father dying, aging mother and a boat 3000 miles away. Sold a Peterson 44 for a song, went back to the sweat shop to make a living and 21 years later I am ready for divorce, and buy a small boat and go do it all over again, except getting younger is tough.____Do it while you can. Dirt living is often times no bargain. When in Tahiti I saw a number of young families go thru, and most looked like they were doing just fine. Its a great life , dont waste it on land.____My 2 cents worth.____Grant.
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Old 16-09-2012, 20:28   #7
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Malbert:

Thank you for the frank points. I often wonder about the fairness of raising the kids in cramped quarters when we have the option of more square footage. On the other hand whole families lived in one room houses the size of most people's modern closets for thousands of years...but liveable and tolerable are two different things. Whatever we do we will never escape our boat addiction and neither will our kids.

Tookish:

That is our consolation prize if we go the landward route. We will definitely take the kids cruising. How long did you cruise with your kids? Did you quit your jobs and sell the house or sneak away for a bit and come back? As for following our dreams, there are not enough lives to live for all the wonderful things I would like to do.

DDabs:

An idea we have discussed. My concern is the warm work and cold cruise seasons we would use for that lifestyle do not at all conform to the usual education system for kids. I would be fine homeschooling, but the time frames don't quite fit.

gjordan:

That is quite a story. Life definitely likes to get messy. The balance between Carpe Diem and buttoned down practicality can be tough to find. I hope you enjoy getting back to the barefoot lifestyle.

Thank you all for the wisdom and thoughts, keep 'em coming!
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Old 16-09-2012, 20:49   #8
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

We did it with 4 kids ! they all got there schooling on board till high school ! 3 went on to collage 1 went to the Marine Corp. 2 are RNs like there Mother, I owns a Spa Biz In FLA. all 4 still sail. It can be done ! if ya really want to ! just our 2 cents
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Old 16-09-2012, 22:09   #9
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Topsail: We quit our jobs, leased our house, put everything in a van/uhaul/storage unit and moved onboard where the real work began. We were out for 2 years - Bahamas to Trinidad and back (and 2 hurricanes) Wouldn't have traded any of the blood, sweat and tears for anything in the world.
If it's in your blood you will go. The boat is just the vehicle so get what you can pay cash for, sail safely and afford to fix.
No regrets!
-Capt. Jon
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Old 16-09-2012, 22:46   #10
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Hi Topsail

We are in our early 30's (oops - nearly mid-30s!) and planning to have our first junior crew. We are on a 38ft sloop and have been aboard for 18 months (10 full time cruising). The thing that has struck me is how easily we have adjusted to the space on board. We have a large cockpit/pilothouse with plenty of safe "play space". We have two cabins, one aft and one in the V-berth, which gives us some personal space if we need it. And best of all, we have the whole world as our backyard! Any time we feel a bit boat-bound we jump in the tender and go ashore, or jump off the bow for a swim. I agree there is a big difference between liveable and tolerable, but I can tell you from our perspective it is infinitely more joyful and fun than being dirt-bound with huge debts and jobs we hated!

Im sure there will be big challenges in the early days with a newborn, but I dont think space is going to be the hardest thing! Its touch to be a parent on land, and the rewards of the life we've chosen are HUGE! If you love the sailing life, and want that for your kids, I say go for it! You can always move ashore if it doesn't work out.

Good luck!
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Old 16-09-2012, 23:38   #11
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

I would suggest if you stay on land, stay small and save money for when you do want to take off. We had planned to have kids and stupidly (in retrospect) started upsizing in anticipation. Of course once you have the rooms and cupboards, you have to fill them and on it goes. As it turned out, kids were not in the cards for us and then a serious health issue struck. We're managing okay but downsizing and really realizing we have loads of stuff we just don't need. We wish we had stayed in our small one bedroom and think how much money we would have saved!
Have you read bumfuzzle.com?
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Old 17-09-2012, 01:21   #12
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Swallowing the anchor would cause me severe gastric distress... don't know about you!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 17-09-2012, 06:32   #13
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Topsail, it sounds like maybe you could have your cake and eat it, too. Get that cutter now, spend 3 or 4 or 5 years sailing round the world, or wherever you please, and then have your kids and move to dirt if necessary.

The big question might be money -- do you have enough to get the boat and to sustain yourselves for several years of cruising, or do you have ways of making money as you go?

Speaking as a 49-year-old dad who wishes he had taken off cruising in his 20s, I say get as much cruising done now while you're young and relatively free of constraints. Family life is wonderful, but it does complicate things immensely. . . .
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Old 17-09-2012, 06:57   #14
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

bumfuzzle.com. best resource for those desiring to initiate cruising and kid planning simultaneously.
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Old 17-09-2012, 06:58   #15
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Re: Swallow the hook or get the dream boat...?

Topsail:

It sounds like a lot of people have an opinion about this. Us too! It started 23 years ago. Our son in now 22 (get the timing on that one?) and in the Navy.

When he was 13 we started to ready ourselves and boat. We were already homeschooling him. Needless to say it takes time to unwind a life and we didn't shove off until he was 15. A 15/16 year old is not as interested in cruising as he might be in say...girls and cars. We got a a year of cruising with him before we went back to land -- for awhile.

We just finished 4 years of our empty nest cruise. It has been awesome and challenging both.

I am absolutely glad we did it, but are now back on land, selling the boat and readying for our next adventures.

The point for you, from me, I think it would be easier to raise kids on a boat than to bring a teenager on. I'm sure there will be a lot of opinion about this!

Check out Dave and Jaja Martin. They are an inspiring family (all grown up now). Excellent writing, I recently read Into the Light. They certainly have a lot of insight on what you are trying to decide.

One last opinion...Any boat will do, and no boat is big enough. It is all about desire.

Regards
David Rock
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