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Old 24-05-2017, 13:03   #1
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Unvarnished opinions

Before I asked this question, I would like to give a qualifier. My wife and I have spent limitless hours on the water throughout our respective childhoods and adult lives. We have operated powerboats and sailboats on both freshwater and saltwater bodies. We have spent up to two weeks at a time on the water in a sailboat. We are certified divers and absolutely love the salt life. There is no question we are very aware of the huge list of benefits that come with living on the water. As I previously posted, we are looking to retire early, buy a monohull sailboat in the 45- 55 foot range, and live on the water with our two young daughters as long as we can before we have a mutiny on our hands. The plan is to base out of Florida on the Gulf Coast and spend as much time as possible sailing around the Caribbean for the first 1-2 years, then take things from there.

That said and with the understanding we are personally aware of the long list of benefits living on the water full time would bring, I am looking for some unvarnished opinions on what the actual downside is to living on the water long-term. I would imagine everything from bad weather to equipment failure, stretches of boredom, medical issues, in fighting with family members are all part of the equation. I am simply looking for some real experiences from people regarding the negative of living on the water full time. With two young daughters it is a big decision. If just my wife and me, I would no longer be at work on the keyboard.
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Old 24-05-2017, 13:13   #2
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

I would think (because I have never done what you are talking about) do it be fore the girls get older . And then who knows maybe they won't want to stop .
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Old 24-05-2017, 19:19   #3
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

One problem I had after being out for only a year was in re-integrating into working. I had had a whole lot of practice in doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. It felt really constricting to me to have to eat before I got hungry in the morning, just so I was fed to start the work day.

Also, after chilling out for a longish time, having to deal with all angst and anger in other drivers on the freeway was stressful.

One goes from a life with all the freedom and non-structured time one wants, to the straight-jacket of gainful employment. It wasn't impossibly hard, but I would not rate it pleasant, even though there is validation in being paid for one's time and effort.

I agree with markwesti, that starting the kids cruising younger is best. By the time they are teenagers, if they're stuck in contemporary society absorbing materialistic values, they will not want to be away from their age cohorts.



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Old 25-05-2017, 03:53   #4
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonCharles66 View Post
............
........................ I am looking for some unvarnished opinions on what the actual downside is to living on the water long-term. I would imagine everything from bad weather to equipment failure, stretches of boredom, medical issues, in fighting with family members are all part of the equation. I am simply looking for some real experiences from people regarding the negative of living on the water full time....................
Bad Weather: As coastal cruisers we always had enough warning, usually about three days, for tropical storm events to allow us to find protection. Our bad weather was more often associated with the "stretches of boredom".

Equipment failure: Most often equipment failures resulted in simple changes of plans,- maybe a longer stay at one location than we expected. Rebuilding a rudder, sail repair, or replacing an oil cooler would keep us longer at some place than planned, but we were not due to be at any place on a firm schedule. In addition, one of the greatest joys of cruising is the self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Repairing things to maintain your independence can be rewarding and far better than just passing the task onto someone else by paying big money..

Stretches of Boredom: As I said above, many of our most boring times were waiting for weather. Four or five days of a rainy nor'easter can take a toll, but I guess the same can be true of poor weather ashore.

Medical issues: I visited an island clinic once with food poisoning and had very good care. We had some cuts, splinters and minor infections that we managed without problems. I think the real problems can come with chronic conditions. Medical issues have ended our 45 year span of cruising as my wife can no longer manage the companionway steps or maneuvering about the boat. Certainly it's wise to be aware that you are often further away from emergency care while cruising.

Fighting with Family: We had our children (Son & Daughter) aboard from infancy to adulthood. We never had our children in a house, so I have no comparison, but there are few doors to slam shut on a boat. I believe that life aboard promotes good communication. Problems are more likely solved sooner in close quarters.
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Old 25-05-2017, 04:33   #5
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

If you and your spouse are flexible, adaptable, and generally optimistic in nature, pretty much all the issues you mentioned will take care of themselves. I've noticed over the years that there are two kinds of liveaboards; those that are positive, and take challenges in stride (with perspective and a healthy dose of humor) and those that are negative, where every problem ends up being an ordeal of some sort.

As for other issues, a lot of it all depends on where you are and are traveling, your resources in terms of funds and the equipment of the boat, and your circle of friends and family and your ability to visit or be visited by them as time passes.

I agree, do it when your kids are younger, when the experience is formative. They'll thank you for it when they are older.
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Old 25-05-2017, 05:51   #6
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

We haven't been out here all that long. We still have stars in our eyes. But there has been one down side for me - increased contact with nature means I am seeing more sick and injured wildlife than ever before. It's heart breaking not to be able to do something. And people, seeing more people that live in poverty is hard too. I've always been a bleeding heart, but I am no longer insulated from some of the harsher realities of life on planet earth. That is much more of a down side than I bargined for.
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Old 25-05-2017, 06:58   #7
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

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Originally Posted by JonCharles66 View Post

(...)

That said and with the understanding we are personally aware of the long list of benefits living on the water full time would bring, I am looking for some unvarnished opinions on what the actual downside is to living on the water long-term. I would imagine everything from bad weather to equipment failure, stretches of boredom, medical issues, in fighting with family members are all part of the equation. I am simply looking for some real experiences from people regarding the negative of living on the water full time. With two young daughters it is a big decision. If just my wife and me, I would no longer be at work on the keyboard.
Imho. It will all depend on what your present lifestyle is. Also a bit on how far you venture off.

A boat is a boat and spending much time sitting and doing otherwise undemanding boat jobs is a big NO AND NO for the human animal. I mean it. So, if your present lifestyle is a sporty and active one, you will suffer.

If, on the other hand, your present lifestyle is boring and sedentary, well, you will find living in a boat and traveling a HUGE POSITIVE change.

So, it all depends on where and what you are TODAY. You will always compare your new lifestyle to the past one. Promise.

I used to work for a huge international and my partner was a freelancer. We had all the money we wanted and ZERO time to spend it the way we like (hiking and saving the world). Now we have zero money to spend and the days are all ours to live it, full 24 hours of it: walking, talking, reading, writing, dreaming, sailing too, at times, and sleeping as much and when we want (except on passages). This is the life we simply like better. And so here we are.

When we stop liking it, we will move on to something different in a week or so.

Bueno. So this is about our 1 cent of human experience.

When in doubt, ACT ;-)

All the best,
b.
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Old 25-05-2017, 07:04   #8
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

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Originally Posted by JonCharles66 View Post

I would imagine everything from bad weather to equipment failure, stretches of boredom, medical issues, in fighting with family members are all part of the equation. ............... With two young daughters it is a big decision.
I think you got them and the degree of each varies.

But since you and the girls have been living on land I think you need to add storage!
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Old 25-05-2017, 09:45   #9
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

Given the nature of this topic, some fairly powerful comments. I want to give the courtesy of responding directly to some of those comments.

JPA Cate, one of the reasons we’re planning this carefully is so that we do not have to re-integrate back into the workforce. Given the nature of my job, once I leave I don’t think I really could go back emotionally. It’s one of the reasons we are asking the questions and planning carefully. It is not just me and my wife but we do have two little girls. My wife and I have always been readers, explorers, people that love the water. Our hope is our daughters will be the same.

Hudson Force, two children on board from infancy to adulthood. Unbelievable. You might want to consider writing a book. I am hoping some of the downtime is a bit easier in warmer waters of the Caribbean. With regard to medical issues, I have actually found people get much better medical care outside the United States at various places in the world, which is certainly a juxtaposition of what is asserted by our medical system.

Suijin, you have clearly hit on the core issues for us. Where we are traveling, how much money we need in the bank to walk away from employment forever, and doing something for our girls which will be a life appreciated experience they can look back upon.

Barnakiel, actually chuckled as I read your post. You could actually be describing me. I often found myself sitting in the office staring at my computer thinking that sitting on your butt 10 hours a day at work, talking on the phone, making deals and earning money no matter how much you make is not exactly “healthy for the human animal” as you say. When you get home after a long day of work and you are so physically and mentally exhausted you can’t even motivate yourself to work out, something does need to change.

To address some of the other comments and issues, simply put, my wife and I have grown tired of turning on the news and seeing murder, rape, robbery, and insurrection at an alarming rate. We get tired of seeing cops killed, violence in the streets, and people complaining about how they should get more when they have never worked a day in their life (and politicians with no problem giving them something for nothing when we are $20 trillion in debt). I am certainly a pretty fair guy. However, I am 50 years old having been working full-time since the age of 16. My wife and I are getting tone deaf to excuses from people who create their own problems. For me and my wife, we are to the point we just want to get away from it all. Perhaps every prior generation has said this but the world is getting to the point I just want to get my kids away from the insanity that seems to be escalating and spreading certainly in the United States. Right now having our family of four together on a 55 foot sailboat in the Caribbean and putting all of this craziness behind seems like Nirvana.
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Old 25-05-2017, 14:04   #10
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

Dishonorable people and their actions seem to be spotlighted by the news, but everywhere we've been we have found a dominance of people with the principles and behavior that we favor. Like you, most people seem to be wary of the future and that does seem to be a condition that has occurred through all generations.

Wherever you choose to seek the best life for your family, my choice would be to focus on your goals and not what you are escaping.
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Old 25-05-2017, 15:14   #11
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

Missing extended family and friends becomes a divisive issue for many. In our case, I check out for six months each year, everyone I know including family, friends and work knows this. I'm gone.

My wife doesn't check out, she continues as if she's just taking 3-4 two to three week long vacations. She's unable to sever the ties for more than three weeks, she misses everyone, family, friends, cats and co-workers. Sometimes it becomes a PITA.

This is also one of those issues which tends not to surface until after you've gone cruising for a few weeks.
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Old 25-05-2017, 15:15   #12
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

Hudson Force, respect the comment but I do think that sometimes to protect our family and make good choices, we need to be objective. Whether at sail on in our daily life planning, you always need to be weary of storm clouds on the horizon. Sometimes you do make goal choices that involve escaping.

My paternal grandfather made the same choice when he left his European homeland early in the 20th Century. His family was wealthy, successful, and prominent but he saw the storm clouds on the horizon. His mother (my great grandmother) told him he was crazy and what was he trying to escape? He left with the shirt on his back and walked across Europe until he could get on a boat for America. He did very well in the US and I am a proud American grandson. I adhere to those traditions of hard work and obeying the law. My family members have served in high levels of the US military, including my father a military surgeon. The storm clouds my grandfather saw was the rise of anti-Semitism. My grandfather’s country of origin was Germany and he was a Jew. His parents, siblings, relatives and everyone he knew died in the gas chambers. Yes, my grandfather was the only surviving member of his entire family. Sometimes escape is a good plan.
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Old 25-05-2017, 15:38   #13
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

I cannot think of any family with young children I know, who didn't strongly prefer living on the water, once they tried it. The more active lifestyle, full of shared adventures on a daily basis, shared work, continuous acquisition of new skills and knowledge, and lots of responsibility, seems to be particularly good for children and particularly good for bonding children with their parents. Once it's good for the children, it's pretty much automatically good for the parents.

There are plenty of challenges, and some couples I know didn't like it, but it's a terrific lifestyle for families with young children in my opinion. Boat kids are the smartest, most confident, and most mature kids I ever saw.
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Old 25-05-2017, 18:48   #14
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Re: Unvarnished opinions

I think we can all agree, if you have a desire to be at sea for any period of time, you have certainly characteristics many lack. Fierce independence and an adventurer spirit. Confidence and a certain discipline to learn what you need to be proficient and survive. A level of organization to be always aware of weather threats and to act accordingly. Not fearful of disconnection from the daily buzz and connections many need to fulfill some sense of belonging. I remember reading about Shackleton and Endurance. One word comes to mind and that is “leadership.” That guy was all the above characteristics on steroids x 10.

I also found the comments from friends regarding our thoughts of living on a boat at sea with two young girls to be interesting. My military friends to a person were extremely encouraging, undoubtedly due to their own independence and sense of adventure/duty. Although some other friends were supportive, I have been amazed at the number of friends that have roundly criticized such a decision as dangerous, irresponsible, a threat to the safety of our girls, etc. The idea of crossing the Atlantic one day is in their eyes tantamount to requiring a call to child protective services. I get it…to each their own.

I have been encouraged by the people on these forums that have expressed how taking children on a boat was a life enhancing experience. I find those comments to inspiring. I started the thread to get some ideas regarding the unexpected down side to a life at sea. Great comments from all.
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