How to leave your life
Today marks one month since we moved aboard, and I’m just about ready to start my blog post on preparing. I’ve actually been preparing since we got back from our last sail, three years ago. Certainly I've been getting ready to leave our business for that long or longer. But also in small ways, we’ve been slowly (then quickly) purging. Thank you "Buy Nothing FB group!" We’ve been dabbling in home schooling and avidly following our friends who kept sailing as they discovered new oceans and countries. But things got real last August when we signed the papers to hand control of our business over to a board on which we have just one vote. The months since then have been a whirlwind of recruiting new leadership, hunting for the next Dafne, and preparing to leave our land lives for another several years.
Some things have been easier the second time around. The medical kit was barely used (touch iron, knock wood, all that stuff). It just needed some freshening and regional fine-tuning (hello malaria!). Other things I learned by making mistakes. This time we'll leave the house completely empty and ready for renters, then the next renters, and maybe buyers—who knows, but it’s ready for anything now. We won’t move, then store, then move back heaps of furniture and kids' stuff, this time. Because I don’t know what the next house will look like or if all my long, narrow, perfect-for-a-townhouse furniture will fit. I am fairly certain, however, that I won’t have any children who will be interested in dolls, legos, or even wear child-sized clothing when we return to land. Those decisions were easy to make in front of a computer, at the top level, but much harder to make sitting on the floor surrounded by piles of stuff, not sparking any joy. After many sessions of culling, selling, donating, and eventually foisting onto unwilling friends and family, I accepted the generous offer of my parents' attic and my lovely friends' basement to store the joyless, but needed possessions that remained. Thank you, my dearests.
Finding the right boat was harder this time around. Maybe it's because we knew more and were a bit fussier, maybe it's because there are fewer boats built in the size we wanted, or maybe it was the boat-killing series of hurricanes that wiped out thousands of possibilities in the Caribbean last season. Remember, Irma, Maria, and Harvey? Whatever the cause, we were having trouble finding what we wanted, where we wanted it. The first boat we found was one we had known on our last trip. It was bigger, better, and pricier than anything else we had seen, and it was for sale again. This was back in early 2017, so a bit early, but we were confident, so we made an offer and Paul flew to Australia for a survey. It seems the new owners were selling it so quickly for a reason. They had no idea what to do with a boat and had bunglingly destroyed, or allowed to deteriorate, all the major systems. We dropped our offer and another buyer swooped in, bought our damning survey, and used it to negotiate a good price.
Fast forward 12 months, and the clock is ticking. We've chased and lost two other boats. The Caribbean market has dried up, prices climbed, and we became suspicious of boats that "made it through with minor damage." The kids are adamant that they will share a cabin and not complain, but as Paul and I watch all parts of them grow—most critically their personalities—we are doubtful. We start looking at bigger boats, find a few in the Pacific, in Vancouver, Tahiti, and Brisbane, and plan a trip. The Vancouver boat feels too small, the Tahiti boat gets sold out from under us, and the Brisbane boat is a flip that we've already seen, but its broker has some interesting news. The folks who bought our survey on that big, pricy boat last year are finishing their cruise and selling. We get another survey to find out what's been fixed, and buy it the next week. Slowly, then quickly. Pick up this topic in Paul's blog on preparing the boat. Back to preparing our lives.
The hardest part this time is undoubtedly the schooling. I have two high schoolers, now. One loves school and is really into advanced math and science. And another who is built for homeschooling—she loves to dig deep and move at her own pace. Both have their sights on college and want to get everything, and more, that they would from a traditional high school. No pressure, mom. My youngest is a natural student. She is eager, diligent, and organized. I've decided to get her a classic off-the-shelf curriculum and give myself a break. When the four moving boxes of books show up, I start to wonder how much of a break I will get. With all three kids, I am extraordinarily lucky to have the support of their schools and teachers. The teachers have been open-minded and generous in sharing their course information, reviewing my class ideas, and inspiring the kids to believe that they can do this, and it will be worth it. Counter-intuitively, in my transition to homeschooling, I find myself awash in respect, gratitude, and praise for the teachers who have taught my children and embedded in them a passion for life and learning. I’ll devote a full post to our schooling later for any one who’s interested in the details.
The main thing you need to know now about schooling is that we carried 15 suitcases with us to Australia and books filled four of them. I’ll estimate that another two carried our favorite kitchen and home decorative bits; at least three held the leftover boat-life equipment like wetsuits, snorkels, boat tools; and the refreshed medical kit filled one. That left just one suitcase each for the five of us to pack our clothes and shoes. (I will confess that my stuff leaked into Paul’s suitcase). We dedicated the room in our house colloquially known as "the box room" to packing. We packed, then weighed, then re-packed those suitcases for a month. All the time making hard decisions about what didn’t make the cut. Those suitcases filled with the final selection (a bag of za-atar made it, my collection of hotel soaps did not) made it on and off of three flights and we only had a handful of things confiscated at security, including a set of butter knives and a torque wrench. Who knew?
With the purging completed, the acquiring can now begin. My new boat is huge. The previous sentence is proof that I’ve only been aboard a month. As anyone knows, all living spaces grow smaller with each passing day. Give me two more months and check in on the size of my boat. But anyway, back to now. The fifteen suitcases and their contents disappeared easily into the cupboards, drawers and floors of Dafne. So did many car-loads of provisions, bedding, and kitchen equipment. A couple of exciting new additions to this galley deserve a special mention. Unlike last time, I now have a bread maker, an instant pot, an espresso machine, and a nutribullet. Also unlike last time, I have a full size fridge (yes), and a dishwasher (boo). Yes to frozen meat and a place to keep the fish we catch (or buy). Boo to a huge waste of space, electricity and water, and, wait it gets better, there’s a leak where water pools at the bottom of the dishwasher when not used and it gets rancid. Cool.
There are so many other little things we had to do to leave our lives and start sailing, like rent our house, sell our car, find a home for our dog, Panda, but most are tedious. If any one wants details on any of the following, send a comment and I'll be happy to share in a follow-up post.
Communications including wifi, 4G, and Satellite
Provisioning for passage
College applications and testing
Ditch kit and safety equipment
Digital life, idevices, and computers
Kid chores and responsibilities