seeing several posts regarding the “wannabes” and what happens to the people who pop up with a dream, ask several questions, and then fade away. For some reason, it is important to me that I am not thought of in such a way. When I first began lurking around this forum, the ability to take the dream of cruising to fruition seemed all but impossible. On the one hand, I had several things going for me – a bit of sailing experience, some mechanical know-how, a good job, and most of all, a supportive wife. On the other hand, I also had a budding family
, four dogs
, daycare expenses, and lived in Oklahoma. Oh, and a six-figure student loan debt from a life chapter as a helicopter pilot. The latter blighted not only the sailing dream, but nearly all others as well.
Not to be defeated, we bought a boat
and got to work
. My wife had never been sailing, so that was job #1. The boat
was far from dilapidated, but needed love. Although on a smaller scale, she possessed many of the systems with which I knew I would need to become familiar – a diesel
inboard, a head
and holding tank
, pressurized water
, wheel steering
, etc. We spent a couple of summers diagnosing colors of diesel exhaust
, changing the joker valve, re-packing the stuffing box, replacing running rigging
, going aloft, stripping and painting the bottom, revitalizing joinery, re-wiring, and from time to time, even sailing. By the end of it, we had one of the cleanest boats in the marina and were convinced that 1) this was the life for us, and 2) with our current
situation, it would never happen. Ok, not never, but we’d be on a 20-year plan, which kind of spoiled the idea of raising our kids
on a boat. Either drastic measures had to be taken, or we had to let go of this dream and commit to a life of conformity and mediocrity.
Fast forward to August of 2015 and drastic measures were underway. At the last minute, my wife, who is a high school
teacher, landed a job in Texas
. Oklahoma teacher pay is dismal, and crossing the border offered a 50% (literally, 50%) increase in pay. I was granted permission to telecommute, and my mother-in-law agreed to let us move in with her in Texas
. In exchange for a low amount of monthly rent, she’d also watch our soon to be two children
(my wife was six months pregnant at the time) during the day. We sold the boat and eventually sold the house and nearly everything in it. The speed at which everything in our life changed still astounds me. No longer was the prospect of two children
terrifying and we actually saw some brightness in our family’s future.
When we moved here in 2015, just shy of $104,000 of the student debt remained. As of last month, every single
red cent has been paid back. We’ve convinced the mother-in-law to put up with us for one more school
year so we can aggressively save and plan for whatever is next. In our time here, we have become quite accustomed to living cheaply, have reduced our belongings such that everything we own fits in a small U-Haul trailer
, and I have crewed on an offshore delivery
. What was once a 20-year plan (at best) is now tangible and perhaps only 18 months away.
All that to say, I may have disappeared from this forum for a while, but the dream never waned. It is actually more alive than ever. I am not sure why I felt the need to type all that out and I apologize for such a lengthy post! Now, back to boat shopping