Great question! Barnikiel provided a very wise response. I'll throw our two cents in here.
We employed a hybrid process. When we did sell the house et al and take off our girls were 1 and 4 (4 and 7 when they crossed the Pacific). We were in out early to mid 30's.
Our hybrid process? For the decade before we took off we shared a Huges Northstar 40 with a friend who was in a similar business. For those years we would each go sailing for about 2-3months on then off. In the off time we would manage and grow our respective business' (we were never partners) while the other cruised. The rule
was "leave the boat and the business better than you found it".
What we learned from this was that after about the 8 week mark both my wife and I were itching to get back and do something different. Just endless "cruising" without purpose "which is generally a destination
for us" just go old. Please don't hang me from the gallows! Just sharing our experience :-)
So this went on until kid number 1 arrived (found out we were expecting in Grenada
but that is another story). We sold the boat, built "the" house and settled into "life". That lasted about 3 years until she got the bug. I found her one day sitting on the floor of the playroom staring at the world map on the wall and we had the "conversation". That turned into selling the house et al and taking off.
The hybrid part is that we kept the business and worked over the next two years to get it running by itself more or less so that we had a steady income
and something to return to which we did after 10 years in 2012. Hybrid is also about doing different experiences and living in different places at different times of the year-see the "mobility home concept" :-)
After buying the boat we spent a season in the Bahamas
after doing NOTHING to her short of general service
. We went back to Alaska
for that summer then the next season we added all the bit and pieces we knew we needed, tested them for another season and took off.
There were MANY anxious nights discussing if we were doing the right thing (see poem below written by Becky)....MANY. As many others have said in hindsight we would not change a thing. (that's not totally true but true enough) :-)
We ended that part of our lives in 2005 in New Zealand
with the realization that the girls needed more and that the magic part of the globe was behind us for the time being. We immigrated (legally) and stayed there until our tax holiday ended and realization of how punitive their tax system was hit home. It was time.
What we learned was that we love the variety of life, time cruising (enough to really be "in it", time with family
and home, time on the road in an RV (we did 3 cross country trips over that period) and the blessing of having a regular income that did not require us to be there 24/7.
There are many paths to this lifestyle and yours will fit you and be yours and it will be right. The hardest part indeed is casting off those lines and heading out. Here's a poem my wife wrote before we left for Mexico
and points south:
THE RIGHT THING – a poem for sailing Mom’s
by Becky Berger, S/V 'Ohana in Exumas
Mother of 2 little girls
Last night I cried.
The tears just kept flowing and I couldn’t stop.
Are we doing the right thing?
A beautiful house with cozy beds, soaking tubs, newly planted gardens
Neighbors who wave and smile as they pass by
humming with 24-hour internet
Stainless steel appliances
Scheduled playdates, Gymboree, music
lessons, soccer practice
Leaving it all
Kids screaming in the backseat
An organizer so jammed I can’t close it
A house so big I can’t clean it
Running on the same treadmill – scenery unchanging
CNN buzzing with the same stories
on the shelf unread, waiting
Glancing wearily at my husband, too tired to talk
This morning I woke to a brilliant sunrise
Coffee brewing on the galley
He was sitting with the girls, giggling and waking them with kisses
I stole a smile from him as I walked out on deck
The cool breeze awoke my senses as I sat at the bow with my warm mug
I pan our surroundings – coconut palms, white beaches, a sailboat, an old wooden dock
Breathing and stretching, I listened
Waves slapped gently against our hull
A seagull calls, breaking the silence
Clocks and schedules gone
Days spent together
We talk. We laugh. We share
I am alive and life is simple
And then I decided…
We are doing the right thing
Enjoy every moment!