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Old 24-01-2022, 12:25   #1
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Waving not drowning?

I guess Iím posting this thread looking for a bit of encouragement.

We are now t minus 18 months to departure on our family (Captain, SWIMBO, 16 year old son and 19 year old daughter) sabbatical year where we do the Atlantic circuit and itís all getting a bit real.

Preparations thus far have been mainly retrofitting the boat so she is safe and capable to make the trip, minimising possessions at home, and saving as much as we can. All of this is stuff that is desirable whether or not we leave. We havenít done anything yet that would be irreversible should we get cold feet. But we are now reaching the end of the easy-to-do/easy-to-undo stuff and are rapidly approaching things that are going to be poignant, painful, irreversible, or some mixture of all three.

According to the plan, the next step is rehoming the dog with my sister. That is going to be a real heart-jerker that one, and it wouldnít be fair to rehome him a second time so once heís gone, heís gone. I love that dog like crazy, but the kids have a natural break in their education 2023-2024 and if we donít go then, then we will never go as a whole family. Itís a once in a lifetime window of opportunity, so we canít wait for the dog to leave us naturally. If we are going to go as a family, then we will need to part with him.

Directly after he's rehomed we are selling our family home this summer, putting the majority of what is left after minimising into storage, and moving into a rental in town until departure. We have to do this as the house is unsuitable for rental (very high maintenance and poor location) and we need to free up capital presently locked in the house. So from this autumn we will be living more or less out of suitcases while we figure out what to do with all the capital.

Then our beloved car gets sold. Its the first car I have ever had where I bought the car I wanted rather than the one I could afford. Itís an awesome car that we will of had for 4 years by then. Iím going to really miss it. It will be gone by christmas according to the plan.

Three months after that my wife and I hand in our notices and three months after that we move aboard with the kids. From that point on we are living off of savings and whatever we can make off the capital in the house.

A couple of months of onboard preparations and waiting for the dust to settle and then we are off for a leisurely cruise to Madeira before striking out for the Caribbean.

From when we move aboard until we return we will be jobless, dogless, carless, and potentially even homeless. Once we get back we will need to re-enter the job market, get the kids back into education, and maybe even find a home. All this in pretty short order.

Itís all a bit scary and it all kicks off seriously this March.

The actual voyage I am not scared of a bit, but everything around it I must admit to be very daunting.

Is it this scary for everyone?

Are we making this harder by planning for our exit strategy upfront rather than just cutting the land lines and heading out?

Does this always involve so much planning and preparation? Iíve been planning and working toward this now for two years and there is still 18 months to go.

I look forward to gaining from all the experience of those who have gone before me on this forum.

Cheers
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Old 24-01-2022, 12:40   #2
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Sounds very exciting but certainly can be a bit scary. Cutting all the ties is a big step and once it's started it will be hard to go back.

I dropped out an went cruising for a few years long ago but was much easier as I didn't have a house or family at the time. However it was an amazing experience and I have never regretted doing it.

Then years later took off half a year with the wife and infant daughter to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean. Again an experience of a lifetime and one I'll never forget nor regret.

All in all it sounds like you have an excellent plan for the cruise. Have you considered the plan for when you return? Will you buy another house. Go back to the same job or look for a different job? Maybe a plan for how you handle the return to land life will alleviate some of the worries.

BUT, be careful. This is a dangerous undertaking. You might love the cruising life and never come back.
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Old 24-01-2022, 12:42   #3
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Re: Waving not drowning?

All for a 1-year sabbatical?

I would want my house and car waiting for me after 12 months. And wouldn't the house increase in value, offsetting costs if you decided to sell it later?
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Old 24-01-2022, 12:55   #4
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Re: Waving not drowning?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Have you considered the plan for when you return? Will you buy another house. Go back to the same job or look for a different job? Maybe a plan for how you handle the return to land life will alleviate some of the worries.

BUT, be careful. This is a dangerous undertaking. You might love the cruising life and never come back.
We have two plans for when we return.

Plan A is that we have a small flat in the center of Stockholm that we bought before jacking in our jobs and that we rent out whilst we are away. When we return we move back into that flat, the kids start school and uni respectively and me and the missus go on a mad job hunt before the money runs out.

Plan B is that we return and moor the boat in Stockholm and live aboard while we do all the above. Hopefully, we manage to get jobs and buy and move into a flat before the ice forces the boat back south for the winter. If not then the kids will need to live with family in Stockholm while we live aboard in MalmŲ until we sort out jobs (teacher and analyst) and somewhere to live.

What we will do will depend on how much we clear when we sell the house and whether we can get a mortgage lender on board. Plan A i preferable to plan B mostly because it makes returning easier, but also because if we do plan B there is a risk that we just keep going West when we hit the Bahamas.
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Old 24-01-2022, 13:02   #5
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Re: Waving not drowning?

A lot of people seem to simply up and leave, without so much planning. They may be the ones who get to the Caribbean three months later and end up having to sell the boat shortly thereafter.
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Old 24-01-2022, 13:05   #6
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Re: Waving not drowning?

All sounds good. The only fly in the ointment might be getting a job when your back. Other than that it should be fun if you all treat each other with respect and understand that people have different skills.

Be safe
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Old 24-01-2022, 13:18   #7
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Assuming that I an still healthy, i as a licensed teacher should be able to get some type of reasonable job pretty easily due to the teacher shortage in Sweden. It might not be a great job but it will pay the bills.

My wife’s job is more tricky and it might take her a bit longer. We will need both salaries to be able to afford a place to live in Stockholm. On just one salary we would have to buy way outside the city
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Old 24-01-2022, 13:19   #8
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Re: Waving not drowning?

I am in nearly the same position, on all points, as the OP, except this is retirement for me. Certainly this is the scariest thing I have ever contemplated except for quitting my corporate job to start a business and build a house.

The boat seems to look smaller and smaller, every month.

The rate of progress in liquidating possessions is inadequate. Managing ebay and craigslist listings takes a lot of time that I did not budget! To make the target date, it may be necessary to turn the project over to an estate auctioneer.

And there is still quite a bit of uncertainty over COVID and travel restrictions this year. Plans B, C, and D may need to be formulated and held in reserve.
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Old 24-01-2022, 13:22   #9
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Again though Iím mostly interested in those who have sold up and sailed away. Did you find it as scary as I am finding it? How did you cope with the precarity you were placing your family into?
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Old 24-01-2022, 13:26   #10
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Re: Waving not drowning?

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Originally Posted by toddster8 View Post
I am in nearly the same position, on all points, as the OP, except this is retirement for me. Certainly this is the scariest thing I have ever contemplated except for quitting my corporate job to start a business and build a house.

The boat seems to look smaller and smaller, every month.

The rate of progress in liquidating possessions is inadequate. Managing ebay and craigslist listings takes a lot of time that I did not budget! To make the target date, it may be necessary to turn the project over to an estate auctioneer.

And there is still quite a bit of uncertainty over COVID and travel restrictions this year. Plans B, C, and D may need to be formulated and held in reserve.
We have mostly given up on trying to sell stuff now and are charity shopping or dumping most of it. The wife disposes of a trunk load each weekend.
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Old 24-01-2022, 14:10   #11
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
Again though Iím mostly interested in those who have sold up and sailed away. Did you find it as scary as I am finding it? How did you cope with the precarity you were placing your family into?
Well as I mentioned, my first time leaving it all behind, I had nothing much to leave behind: a nice stereo and a bit of furniture that I stored in a friends basement. As it happened, he had a fire and I lost it all anyway.

The second time we had a bit more. We owned a very small house far out of town that was paid for. We kept the house and rented it to friends very cheaply but they took care of the house and the small bit of furniture I managed to accumulate after the first loss. It wasn't much but it did give us a bit of comfort knowing we had a fallback plan if cruising went bad. We also had a small, 10 Meter boat with very simple systems so less invested and less to maintain and repair.

Having a fallback plan I think reduced the stress and worry a lot. In your case with the flat in Stockholm you do have a place to go if it becomes necessary.

Not sure what stuff you're getting rid of. If furniture, dishes, tools, linens and other things that you will need when you return to land life it might make sense to store them instead of selling cheap or giving them away. The little you gain from selling I don't think will contribute that much to the cruising budget and cost a whole lot more to replace when you get back.
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Old 24-01-2022, 14:30   #12
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Something to remember: After a prolonged cruise you may find that what you now consider a desirable environment has changed considerably. Cruising has that effect on folks... myself included.

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Old 24-01-2022, 14:54   #13
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
Again though Iím mostly interested in those who have sold up and sailed away. Did you find it as scary as I am finding it? How did you cope with the precarity you were placing your family into?
We sold up and sailed south in 2013 (sold our condo and got rid of almost everything... except the car, which we needed to the end).

In Mexico, we decided to stay a second season (with a few month rental back home during hurricane season). Before we returned to Mexico, we had decided we preferred home (both for cruising and for mountains, plus more) so planned to return for good after 2 years. Though we no longer wanted to live in Vancouver.

Having sold everything, it made coming home and buying (a smaller condo, in a ski resort) easier. But it sure was nice to still have that car... which we still own).

One never knows.
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Old 24-01-2022, 17:29   #14
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
I guess I’m posting this thread looking for a bit of encouragement.

We are now t minus 18 months to departure on our family (Captain, SWIMBO, 16 year old son and 19 year old daughter) sabbatical year where we do the Atlantic circuit and it’s all getting a bit real.

Preparations thus far have been mainly retrofitting the boat so she is safe and capable to make the trip, minimising possessions at home, and saving as much as we can. All of this is stuff that is desirable whether or not we leave. We haven’t done anything yet that would be irreversible should we get cold feet. But we are now reaching the end of the easy-to-do/easy-to-undo stuff and are rapidly approaching things that are going to be poignant, painful, irreversible, or some mixture of all three.

According to the plan, the next step is rehoming the dog with my sister. That is going to be a real heart-jerker that one, and it wouldn’t be fair to rehome him a second time so once he’s gone, he’s gone. I love that dog like crazy, but the kids have a natural break in their education 2023-2024 and if we don’t go then, then we will never go as a whole family. It’s a once in a lifetime window of opportunity, so we can’t wait for the dog to leave us naturally. If we are going to go as a family, then we will need to part with him.

Of all the things I gave up to come cruising with Jim, re-homing was far and away the hardest single thing for me. I wept and wept. I had nightmares for years afterward, that my dog was back, but something missing from him, a leg, a front paw. I felt ashamed of myself for not following through on my commitment to him. Re-homing him hurt so d--n bad, I still tear up a bit when I think of it. He was such a sweetie. Do be prepared for people to not understand that you love your dog "like crazy". They will think you're making too much of a fuss. I did get that feedback. And, since you plan on coming back in a year, your dog shall not have forgotten you. He'll probably want to go home with you the first time he sees you. I could imagine that might be painful.


Directly after he's rehomed we are selling our family home this summer, putting the majority of what is left after minimising into storage, and moving into a rental in town until departure. We have to do this as the house is unsuitable for rental (very high maintenance and poor location) and we need to free up capital presently locked in the house. So from this autumn we will be living more or less out of suitcases while we figure out what to do with all the capital.

Then our beloved car gets sold. Its the first car I have ever had where I bought the car I wanted rather than the one I could afford. It’s an awesome car that we will of had for 4 years by then. I’m going to really miss it. It will be gone by christmas according to the plan.

I actually got my older son to sell my car for me after I left, so that one wasn't too hard, though I was attached to it (owned it from new for 14 years and 264,000 miles. Plus, one's contract with cars isn't for life, like it is for me, with animal friends.

Three months after that my wife and I hand in our notices and three months after that we move aboard with the kids. From that point on we are living off of savings and whatever we can make off the capital in the house.

A couple of months of onboard preparations and waiting for the dust to settle and then we are off for a leisurely cruise to Madeira before striking out for the Caribbean.

From when we move aboard until we return we will be jobless, dogless, carless, and potentially even homeless. Once we get back we will need to re-enter the job market, get the kids back into education, and maybe even find a home. All this in pretty short order.

It’s all a bit scary and it all kicks off seriously this March.

Of course, it's scary. It is somewhat financially risky: you won't get near what you hope when you sell the boat, plus, you may not WANT to sell your ticket to freedom. If you really enjoy the cruising (you may not, it's not for everyone), your plan on return may be vastly different from what you now think. Cruising is an interactive process that you do on your own terms, and it changes you, willy nilly. Be glad your present plan keeps you from also having to take on the problem of leaving your culture of origin. You and your wife will still have to cope with what it's like for you to not be paid for your work. That was a big one for me. It created an uncomfortable emptiness in me.

The actual voyage I am not scared of a bit, but everything around it I must admit to be very daunting.

You have not written anything about your experience as sailors. I would not even attempt your plan if I did not know I enjoyed being at sea.

Is it this scary for everyone?

How could another person answer that for you? How do we know how scary stuff is for someone else? Better to look at your own track record for coping with big changes. You grew up and left home; you met and eventually married; you had children and saw them through school; so you're no stranger to life changes. Your and your wife's flexibility and communications skills are important traits for cruising, as well as land based life. Negotiation skills are really handy. And giving the others space to feel and be different from you.

Are we making this harder by planning for our exit strategy upfront rather than just cutting the land lines and heading out?

Probably, but it can't be helped, because you need to turn the house into a suitable boat and a cruising kitty. We didn't just bring aboard the dock lines and head out. We left, and hoped we could continue, but didn't have the $$ to do it. So we went back, both of us to our old jobs, lived aboard, worked a little over a year, in Jim's case--myself for a shorter time; and I sold my house and we got married before we left for good. The point being that we each have to accommodate to external realities to get to the point of doing what we want.

Does this always involve so much planning and preparation? I’ve been planning and working toward this now for two years and there is still 18 months to go.

Yes, meticulous planning is necessary. Also, the money end of it takes a lot of working out. I lived most of my life little better than a starving graduate student, in order to save money.

I look forward to gaining from all the experience of those who have gone before me on this forum.

Cheers
Well, Na Mara, Jim and I have lived aboard our last boat, and this one since 1986. So, yes, we've been there, and our path was different. We took his 30 footer from San Francisco to Hawaii to see how we liked ocean passages. Our previous experience had been low level club racing (for both of us) and coastal cruising. Then he sold the 30 footer and bought the 36 footer. We lived on and sailed her for 18 years, and then we bought this boat, and have done the same. We're slowing down, now, Jim's 84, and I'm about to be 82. The world has changed a lot since we first left the US.

Honestly, if you're going only to the Caribbean, and then back to Sweden, and you all have sea time enough to know what you're getting into, I don't see why you couldn't take your dog. It will mean boat training him for toilet needs. It will limit your freedom, too, but if the dog's small enough to be boatable (my Malemute was not), why not get him vaccinated and tagged, and just bring him along? In my opinion, it is just too hard on big dogs to be on boats, except in very exceptional circumstances, and their claws are hard on varnished surfaces, so they are just not belonging on the usual size of family sailboat.

We do not have a re-entry strategy--just a few ideas is all. Sometimes that is scary for me.

Good luck with it. And fair winds.

Ann
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Old 24-01-2022, 20:44   #15
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Re: Waving not drowning?

Thank you for such a comprehensive reply Ann.

Unfortunately the dog is a 155lb greater Swiss mountain dog. He barely fits in our 4 bedroom Villa and I sure as hell am not lifting him in or out of the dinghy.

Itís also true that we have accomplished big projects before. I emigrated to Sweden. We have moved cities. We have raised two children. I have changed career four times. Indeed when I emigrated to my wifeís country we had no jobs, no car, no where to live and I couldnít speak the lingo. The difference is that when we did that we had hardly any responsibilities and we were young. Iím 43 now and the wife is 42, and we have all the responsibilities that a couple in their 40ís have. We have to provide for our family and get our kids through college and university. We have to earn our pensions. So this plan of ours to take a year out from all that just smacks of irresponsibility. No one says this to us when we talk about it, but I feel it. Itís all a huge unnecessary financial risk. There will be a reward in terms of amazing life experiences for me and mine, but the upheaval is scary.

Sailing experience wise, I have been sailing since I was 5. That has mainly been 2-3 weeks per year of family cruising. There were two longer trips in my adult life one 8 weeks and the other 7 weeks. The longest offshore leg I have sailed is a 4 day Northsea crossing. I grew up sailing the Atlantic coast of Scotland and Ireland so big seas and harsh weather doesnít scare me. My wife has sailed with me for the last 20 years. She is very capable but less secure in her own knowledge and experience than myself. The kids grew up sailing. My daughter likes the lifestyle and fair weather sailing but is less keen on the rough stuff. My son loves everything about sailing as much as his dad.

The boat is a 43ft Regina in great basic condition. I am presently upgrading and replacing her systems so she is in good working order for the trip. I love this boat so I have no plans to sell her when we return. We own her outright.
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