If you had 11 years to plan...
We are planning to go cruising full-time - until our bodies give out - in 11 years. Coming with us will be our then-13-year-old daughter and then-11-year-old-son. We will be 46 and 47 when we cast off. Retirement vehicles that are not accessible until we're 59 1/2 are fully funded. Financially, we're now focusing on gathering funds for early retirement. Equity in our home will probably provide a big chunk of those funds. We hope to be able to afford a nice sailboat (40-50'?) with separate berths for each child. (Can't expect a teenage daughter to share a bunk for five years with her little brother!) It'd be nice if we could handle the boat ourselves after our little crew moves off for college. (They will move off, right?!) Initially, we expect to cruise mostly along the U.S. shores, Caribbean and Mediterranean. We have sailed for years, but live inland where it's all reservoirs and lakes. We love where we live and intend to live here until we push off. We own a small daysailer and intend to teach the children young how to handle it. I'll be homeschooling the kids from the get go, so they'll be used to it when we go afloat. Before we go afloat, we intend to take several week-long or multi-week charters to get a taste of the cruising life. I've also historically had some troubles with seasickness, so I'm anxious to see if I can overcome them!
So, them's our plans as they stand now. Of course, with 11 years to go, they'll probably change. I'd appreciate any and all advice on how to make good use of the decade of prep time we get to have.
One thing you can do right now is to simplify your life. Buy only what you need to have (realizing we all have to splurge once in a while), be thrifty and value concious when you do spend, and sock away as much as you can. Learn skills that will be of use afloat.
Those are some things you can do now, and will stand you in good stead even if your plans change.
Live your life in the meantime.
Sounds kinda like us. 12 years ago, or so we started along with the same dream. We started by purchasing a catalina 22 with a swing keel and a trailer. We droped her in a large lake and kept her moored there until the lake froze over every year. We learned to sail, dock, and repair everything that went wrong with everything that was onboard (just like a REAL boat) we took all of our nieces and nephews and family and friends. We spent every weekend, and every holiday at the lake and had the time of our lives. Once you know what you are doing, look at this forum and find someone who would like crew, and get on the big water for a week night, weekend, or for a week. IMHO go buy a sound small boat, and start next week, the 11 years will be here in the blink of an eye, and by then you will already be competent. Your search for a boat will probably be long, as you try to learn what you want, and what you need.
You're gonna pull kids out of school for their high school years so you can go sailing? Suggest you go soon...or wait for them to finish high school. Why mess with their future and development?
I am not saying that there aren't plenty of good reasons to go cruising with kids and plenty of bad things that can happen at home...but once kids hit their teens...they become people too. They have a right to their own dreams...to the best education possible...to play on sports teams...to make lasting friends...to play in a rock band...whatever etc.
Suppose your son loves to play soccer...suppose your daughter wants to become a scientist. Your choice will supercede their choice. I always thought that the parents job was to help their kids become the best they can be and fulfill their dreams by providing discipline and opportunity.
My suggestion is to defer the dream for a few years. Then if the kids want to hop on before attending college for a bit...great. But let it be their choice.
Having seen many dream and few complete I would suggest taking a two to four month sabbaticle from your current jobs and trying it out first.
Many dream, but very few take a test drive. They then they find they don't like the vehicle because they never test drove it... Bay sailing on weekends or for two week vacations is VERY, VERY different than 24/7 with four people on the same boat no matter how big and is NOT a real world test drive.
I've seen more folks deck out a boat over a three year period only to be back in three months wishing they never sold the house and then they eat thousands of dollars in non-recoverable losses due to the upgrades they put into their boat that they never recoup. S/V Flight of Years is a recent example of this..
Dreams are nice but the realities of a 24/7 three or four month test sail will confirm if you're ready, wiling and able..
Just my .02
I agree with Cam to a large degree, but many people cruise with teenagers. Kids do adapt and a good source for information is Tom Neale. He and his wife raised two daughters aboard and have written extensively about their life cruising. I am a high school teacher and as such, I see the interaction between the kids as a valuable aspect of growing up. Of course, many kids growing up cruising are often well adjusted, can make friends easily and are often not as materialistic as kids I see in high school.
Good luck, Tom
I also have to agree with Cam. Having coached football, and softball and taken my children to numerous activities I could never take that away from them. Just to see the smiles on there faces and the brightness of there eyes, taking about what they just did. My children had many friends and different likes. It would bother me to take that away from them. I know that they will see things that they couldn't ever dream of seeing cruising on a sailboat. But I have to ask is it worth taking away the bonds and friendships they make which can never be replaced.
We are working on simplifying our shore lives some. In fact, this is a process we're going through right now. But, part of the reason we're delaying is so we can enjoy some of the complexities of shore life, including land pursuits and hobbies.
We have owned a couple of more complex boats, both West Wight Potters. The 19' was in a local marina. But, while we love sailing, we decided that was more boat than we wanted to fuss with during our landlubber years and it tied us to the local reservoir which isn't pretty and is full of powerboats. We'd rather spend weekends camping in the mountains, bicycle riding, hiking, backpacking - and using our daysailer at various places. We hope to live on a sailboat for a couple of decades at least! We are trying to become fairly self-sufficient around the house, handling repairs ourselves, etc. My husband did do some upgrades and repairs, including fiberglass work, on our WWP19.
We will not be pulling the kids out of school. They'll never be in school. They'll always be homeschooled, before and after we set sail. But, they will indeed have a strong community here. They will have friends. That'll be tough, but it'd be tough when they left for college, too. I believe that we are doing this for them. We picked 11 years to ensure that our daughter got several years aboard. Sure, they won't get to play high school soccer, but they'll have a far more exciting and enriching experience. As for my daughter wanting to be a scientist, I don't see why that's incompatible with sailing? She will be schooled by us. We both have genius IQs and college degrees. I think we'll do OK schooling her - probably better than the local high school. (She's already ahead of her peers in learning at age two.) Nowadays colleges respect and actively recruit homeschooled children. We'll even have a microscope (got one all picked out) aboard. Our nieces and nephews are spending their high school years hanging out at the mall, smoking, doing drugs, worrying about pregnancy and wrecking cars. (One niece was quite popular with lots of friends and she's a train wreck with a bunch of problems. She's also superficial, irresponsible, materialistic and unfocused. She graduated from high school, but I wouldn't consider her particularly well educated.) Ours will be crew members on our boat, learning much more about the world, having responsibilities and learning foreign languages. Everything I've read about cruising kids has nothing but the highest praise for them. Few things I read about your average high school kid in America is so glowing.
I like the idea of a longer term sabbatical. It's not impossible, but might involve quitting the job completely and hoping to get a replacement if we come back ashore.
GO FOR IT !!!
I have friends doing it right now...The Rard family..with twin teenage girls. Below I will post their website you can read about them and even email them and ask them some questions.
This is a family from my church, and they are very nice people. They are in Australia right now....As you read you will see the girls are not missing a thing but gaining and giving to others so much more then most.
I have 3 teenage girls...all home schooled from day one..this is the first year my wife decided to try something a little different ( we dont have Guinness IQ's ) and entered them into a home school CoOp run by our local school district...enrolment is oh, maybe 50 kids. Anyway I have mixed feelings about this but we dont want or kids to peak out scholastically either even though we have them scoring at a 3.5 gpa. They do like the new interaction with the other kids but we have always gotten lots of compliments on how well adjusted and engaging our children have been with out school interaction, I have to say though that they have always been really active in youth group at church and sports which gives them friends.
All of my girls do and have competed in High school and Junior High sports, Soccer, track, volleyball, all the while being home schooled. Two are also in select club soccer, and one in rec soccer. I am only bringing this up because my oldest blew her ACL out the first game of the High School season this past November, and is out of the year now, even in her club play. We still hope to have one go on to collage on a soccer scholarship if she can stay healthy... but this brings me to my point... We/you cant know the out come of your kids futures even with the best intentions... My daughter may never realize a collage scholarship now...or be as confident on the soccer field again, learning that life is a mixed bag of wins and losses...I believe your kids would revel in the new challenges, experiences, conquests and advertises that the cruising life would provide.
I think it would be wise not to sell your home!( or at least downsize and keep a smaller but workable one ) The Rards didn't, It sounds like you have your finances more in control then most ( I for sure ).
Rent the house out and give cruising a 2 year trial. With the option of cutting it short if things dont work out or continuing on.
I also dream of a cruising life someday albeit a little less hardcore then most you read about, keeping a land base to "come home to" when ever we want. I think it is foolhardy for most to sell all and cut the ties unless it has been your way of live before and you know what your up against. I bet you dont have all your retirement investments all in one basket? Why would you put your life all in one basket so to speak? Your not going to recoup all your investment in your cruising endeavor to regain what you had. Maybe half.
Oh.... by the way the Rards were on a 2 year plan then sell the boat...The KIDS..however, now want to keep it and continue...:)
PS: The Twins post a lot to the web site so make sure you know whos doing the writing...enjoy
The Rards link:
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