It was made in the hot tub one night. The Decision, we mean. That was the actual time when we both looked at each other and agreed, yes ... we're going to do it, not just talk about it. Go cruising, that is. Sell the house, the furniture, and cars. Buy a sailboat, quit our jobs, and really do it. Not talk about it anymore.
We had both harbored the desire to go cruising for many years. Larry had started sailing as a boy, had owned a number of boats, and had raced considerably. He remembers looking out at all the sailboats anchored in Taylor's Creek across from the city docks in Beaufort, NC, and telling himself that one day he was going to be one of those people.
For me, it came naturally through a childhood spent racing and teaching sailing, and then was solidly cemented after spending six months with my newly retired parents sailing from Montreal to the Bahamas. After just a few weeks, I knew my parents were on to something.
The Decision naturally required a lot more than just a verbal exchange. As with most things in life, money played a large factor. It's OK to say, "Yeah, we can go out for a few years and have fun," but what about the future? For us (we're both in our late 30s), this was a point we spent a lot of time discussing. Could we deal with the reality of no more paychecks? And then there was the question of whether two goal-and-career-oriented people would be able to break free of what society considers to be normal.
Well, the not-being-considered-normal part didn't set us back for too long. In fact, we kind of warmed up to the idea. We plunged into a very ambitious plan of working the equivalent of two jobs each and practiced scrooge-type spending habits to help achieve a financial level that we thought we would be comfortable with. The Decision began affecting our lives and values long before we even purchased the boat, since it's amazing how much less stuff you buy when you know that you are soon going to be living in a space the equivalent of a large bathroom and walk-in closet.
We then took the buffer step of buying our boat and living on her for a year before quitting our jobs. This gave us a small taste of the liveaboard life and so that we were sure it was something we still wanted to do. In our case, the time aboard Safari (a Beneteau 46) just made us more anxious to leave the dock. During this year we did all of the commissioning of Safari ourselves, which not only saved thousands of dollars, but enabled us to learn the boat from stem to stern. We were living in Charleston, SC, for that year and had plenty of opportunity for good sailing.
As the time approached to really quit work and embark on our new life of cruising, the emotions experienced covered a very wide range. It's always sad to leave good friends and a little scary (to say the least) to leave good jobs. In the back of our minds, we both wondered: Are we doing the right thing? But mostly, we felt excitement, and disbelief that the reality and subsequent impact of the Decision was finally upon us.
We're now faced with the pleasure of choosing where to go. In Jimmy Buffett's words, "The best navigators are not quite sure where they're going till they get there. And then, they're still not sure." We kind of like that philosophy.
Oh, by the way. As we write this article, we're sitting at anchor in Taylor's Creek, Beaufort, NC, and Larry is now looking back at the people looking out over the docks, as he had once done as a boy... with a big smile on his face.