The super condensed version.
In Oct 2011 my wife and I came to Marathon with our kids
on a whim for vacation
. We both worked high stress jobs, were in debt, overstretched and tired, we needed it. The trip ended up being a week of torrential non stop downpours that forced us from camping to staying on a houseboat. We spent all week talking with people around town at stores, restaurants etc. They all had one thing in common, they lived on a boat
in Boot Key and lived cheaply. We had one day where the weather
broke and we took a snorkel trip that ended up returning through Boot Key Harbor. We saw all the boats anchored, mooring
balls and both looked at each other and said "we could do this". Two things collided right then, my desire to live simply and my fascination with sailboats. The only problem, I had never sailed a boat
, or even stepped foot on a sailboat. That night while the family
was sleeping I was up, mind racing
and I hatched a 5 year plan to get us from 3br house, 2 cars and a mountain of debt, to living on a sailboat in Boot Key.
We returned home and within 2 weeks I had drug my wife down to the dock
to look at a Catalina
22 I found on Craigslist. That night we bought the boat after spending about an hour discussing how we could use it to learn. I went out with the owner for about an hour the next day for a crash course, by the weekend the whole family
was out sailing. Ok well it didn't go that smooth, but we did it. Within two months I had purchased an Endeavour
32 and less than 1 month later we found ourselves selling every single thing we owned at 2 different yard sales until it was all gone, we moved on the Endeavour
32 in February. Crunching numbers I figured this would cut us down to 3 1/2 years instead of 5. That summer I bought a 26 Balboa
for a song and between the two boats, sailed almost daily. I would sail with other people if I wasn't sailing my boats. I sailed at times nobody else on the lake would even dare go out. 24 San Juan
with no engine
in 35kts, CHECK! Hey it wasn't my boat lol. I spent my 24 hour shifts as a Paramedic reading books
on sailing, cruising, repairing, basically anything I could get my hands on.
Fast forward to Oct 2012 (exactly 1 year later) we took a trip to the Key Lime Sailing Club in Key Largo
. That was a week spent sailing that none of us could deny, this was it, we had to make it happen sooner. When we got back this lead me to a crew position in November 2012 on a disastrous trip from Port Canaveral FL to Puerto Rico
(hey go big or go home) this was my first offshore
trip and we were taking the delivery route
. We almost lost
the boat, due to system failures and problems that should have been taken care of and I ended up in Abacos with no passport 4 days later. I'm a quick study and have always relied on a strong dose of common sense to get me by. It was only 4 days but 4 days full of experiences that would take a lot longer if you had common sense. A blown thru hull
, no electronics
, all night watches, hand steering
alone, only paper charts
, you name it, it happened. I don't think I ever returned from that trip. I got some quotes for shipping
the boat from Nashville to NC for a repower
and massive amount of work
and planned on going in the spring. Fate would have other plans.
One rainy winter day in the middle of December I got a knock on the cabin
top, I popped my head
up to see what they wanted and heard "is this boat for sale
?" to which I responded "depends, are you looking to buy one?" He looked me dead in the eye and said "I'm buying
this one" 30 minutes later I had a check written on the bow for 50% more than I paid for the boat. An hour later I called a friend and sold
for what I paid and by the end of the week we were going to be homeless! To shorten the story even more.. We found a Watkins 36AC in Indiantown FL and within the week we had our car packed and were on our way to FL. Christmas
was spent in Indiantown and we left for Marathon 2 days later. Keep in mind I had no previous trip planning experience, and was doing this all based on common sense, what I learned on my 1 offshore
trip and whole lot of reading. We arrived in Marathon about a week later, picked up our mooring
ball and our 5 year plan, had been reduced to 14 months by sheer determination.
We have spent the time here sailing all over the Keys, Dry Tortugas
, Contents etc. I learned how to work
on my boat by watching, listening and helping others here in the harbor. I completely redid almost every aspect of the Watkins, electrical
, the boat was done.. We were saving for the Bahamas
and planned on leaving in February, then life threw us another curve ball and about a week ago an opportunity came knocking again. We are now the proud owners of a CSY 37
and our Watkins is now for sale
From no boat, never sailing, and a mountain of debt to where we are today within 2 years. We both have great jobs here and are saving with plans to next fall leave for as far south as we can go on an open ended trip. But plans for this family are like the wind
, likely to change quickly without notice so we will see..
In Oct 2008 (stuff always happens for us around this time of year) I was diagnosed with stage 3A cancer. I fought with everything I had and after all the chemo, sickness and self reflection, I decided to go out and live my life, this was the catalyst for our decisions. We do what we feel we are supposed to do, do not question it, and leap, we sort everything else out on the way down. We are debt free, living in the Keys, I work 3 days per week driving a boat and have an almost stress free life. I say almost because I have 2 kids
Actually the kids are some of the most polite, well adjusted children
you will ever meet, more people know them then me!
You have nothing to lose by going for it, if this is what you feel like you should be doing, DO NOT question it.. Jump and figure the rest out on the way down.. Good luck, and if you ever pull into Boot Key Harbor look us up
S/V Thin Line