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Old 10-07-2009
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Life Choice Crisis - Call for Adages & Wisdom

So I have a dream similar to many others to cruise with the family. I have a belief that the best time to this is while my boy's ages are at some where between the ages of 6 and 12. My boys are 4 and 6 now so I see the window as rapidly approaching and also see the opportunity having a very limited time window as time seems to FLY by.

We have a cruising boat already. We have done a shake down cruise with the family and I have gone with some adult friends and the experiences have been quite wonderful. The boat needs some work but is by no means a project boat. Financially we are not independently wealthy but have realized some of our equity out of our home into a boat. I am working full time and we bought the boat by down sizing our house a couple of years ago.

Now the big dilemma: My career is high gear and I am in my early 40s, I have a good job with a pension and benefits. I have been doing well and stand to be promoted at some point in the next few years if I keep working and focused on self improvement and job success. But there is also only one small window to cruise with the kids. I am familiar with the adages:
'you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did' and 'go now'

I do absolutely love sailing and luckily we thrive in our local fresh water lake sailing scene as weekend warriors. I grew up doing quite a bit of lake sailing and we put in many days of sailing a year as a family on the lake we live near.

Regarding ocean sailing, although it is filled with allure and intrigue for me, it is also a source of unease as I have only about 5 weeks of ocean sailing under my belt so far. Additionally, although I am fairly good with boat repairs and mechanically inclined, the prospects of spending time and money fixing our older boat while cruising full time is another source of anxiety.

My wife has been hugely supportive which is an incredible blessing. Although she has gotten quite sea sick on a number of occasions she has continued on with sailing and manages the sea sickness with good medication and easing into the sailing on our trips. She also seems to be getting over the sea sickness to a degree, although we will always have to manage it ! She rarely gets sea sick on the lake at all now.

The main source of anxiety for me is the financial and career impact. I think we can pull it off financially, but it is a gamble though if I give up my current job. Alternatively we could just spend four weeks a year cruising on the ocean, which is what we will do this year again without quitting my job.

The bottom line is that I have had a dream to cruise. My vision of parenting also includes a time spent do something memorable and exciting that my kids will remember for the rest of there lives and enjoying them one on one while they want to be with there dad. I too want look back at my time as a parent and say we did something truly special as a family.

I know there are no easy answers but I would welcome any inspiring life choice stories or adages or advice like: 'go now' or possibly contary advice 'save, pay off your house, save for retirement, go later.
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Last edited by GreatWhite; 10-07-2009 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 10-07-2009
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I would recommend you go now. If you wait, you may end up regretting it. There was one sailor I know of who spent years prepping his boat, and two weeks before he and his significant other were to leave for a four-year cruise, he had a massive heart attack and died. You don't know what the future holds... and the economy isn't in the greatest of shape, so chances are pretty good that when you get back it will be a better place to job hunt again...

Your boys are at the age where they will learn a lot by going cruising, yet young enough to be able to adapt to shore life again when you get back. Once they are teens, it will be much more difficult to go cruising...

Be aware that once you are out there....coming back doesn't always end up being a viable option. Freedom, once tasted, is hard to give up.
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Old 10-07-2009
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Do you have to go for ever? anyway you could take a month off at a time each year? They would still love it.
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Old 10-07-2009
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On the one hand, I'm guessing that your job is valuable to you because it enables you to enrich your life and the lives of the people you care about in precisely the manner you're currently contemplating. You may want to ask yourself, "Wait a sec, if I'm not taking my family cruising, what's the point of this job?" If you think that the action that will maximize your family's happiness is switching to long-term cruising, then you should grab at whatever opportunity you see to get started. Your current job is just a means to that end.

On the other hand, you take your family sailing on the ocean every year for four months? If my parents did that when I was a kid, I guarantee I would look back on those trips and remember them as special times spent with family. As it turns out, they did different (less expensive) things with my brother and me that I remember quite fondly. Point is, it sounds like you think your family is missing out on its best years, when really they're having great times and collecting some long-lasting memories.

Sailors like to remind you that you'll regret the things you don't do. They are also notorious for sticking to what has worked reliably, and it sounds like your current lifestyle is working out well for you.

Also, you haven't said whether or not your enjoy your job. That would be a big factor for me.
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Old 10-07-2009
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I think you should wait and do some longer passages with your boat and family to build experience and confidence. If there is a dilemma or a dramatic choice, it's probably best to wait until the dynamic changes. When the decision is no longer difficult, it's the right time to go. A bit like the difference between heading to somewhere or heading for somewhere. In my experience, the notion of a 'window of opportunity' is somewhat fluid when cruising. There will be no knashing of teeth if you wait - as long as you continue to keep your eyes on the prize - and doing longer passages in the interim will build your cruising capacity.
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Old 10-07-2009
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I think you should wait and do some longer passages with your boat and family to build experience and confidence. If there is a dilemma or a dramatic choice, it's probably best to wait until the dynamic changes. When the decision is no longer difficult, it's the right time to go. A bit like the difference between heading to somewhere or heading for somewhere. There will be no knashing of teeth if you wait - as long as you continue to keep your eyes on the prize - and doing longer passages in the interim will build capacity.
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Old 10-07-2009
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I can see both sides of this and have some experience with my now 19 year old son. First, your window is correct. After about 12, it's all about their friends and time spent with parents is a drag. The problem I have is that you have only talked about your dream. I'm not hearing that the family really shares your dream. Having been there, I can tell you that you don't need to necessarily do something grand to make great memories with your kids. When my boy was about 8, we started taking annual father-son trips to Vegas every summer. We'd get a suite at the Mirage and spend the week playing in the pool, seeing the sights, seeing kid-friendly shows like magicians, etc and just hanging out with each other. We had a great time and we both looked forward to it every year. If I were you, I'd check in and see what their dreams might be. It would be a shame if you spent their college money to go cruising only to have them one day say, "Gee Dad, I wish we could have gone to baseball camp together".

Mike
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ASK YOURSELF:
do you want memories of work -or- memories of cruising with your family
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Old 10-07-2009
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You will never pay off your house. You will never save enough for retirement. That big career payoff will always be two years away. Your kids will always hate you, until they turn 40 and realize just how hard it is. Your spouse will always be diligently trying to enjoy what you do. Nothing ever works out the way you (I) want it to. The only solution is to just do it and be happy... whatever that is - I don't know either. I do know it is none of the above, nor is it a Harley, or Ferrari, or.....

I do now fully believe it is cruising on a sailboat. I do not expect to be "let down" again. It could, after all, be my last chance. Try not to use up all of yours.
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Old 10-07-2009
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To answer some of the questions:Adam: I love my job most of the time. I have been lucky enough to create my position and my role in the organization I work in, which I generally find extremely gratifying. I get to be a leader which I love. Beyond that I live in a great community that I love and my life now is absolutely wonderful and blessed.
(we can come back to our community, which we very likely will, we would keep our house.)

Secondly, MikeInLA, yes, it is MY dream, but my kids have been raised on boats all there lives (weekends). And they have also been raised with the idea that we will go cruising. They love to fish, swim and play on the beach. The dream of scuba diving and surfing is magic to them. So I think they are IN on the idea (remember they are 4 and 6 - they want to do everything I (there dad) does from painting to cooking from the minute I get up to their last waking minute...this will end someday soon and I want to honour this magic time as a parent...thus the urgency to go SOON.)

My wife, she never wanted to be on a boat at first but slowly over the years she has grown more and more fond of the idea (she does love to travel.) We had an offer from someone very recently to buy our cruising boat, located down south, out of the blue. I offered the idea to my wife to sell it...she couldn't understand why on earth I would even consider selling. I explained that the cruising dream is a huge gamble and massive committment (also I really value my career and we have another small cruising boat here on the lake).

Selling the big boat would provide an opportunity to backout of the family cruising idea and maybe we would charter a boat in the BVI a couple of couple times. (Mind you I did tell her I would very very likely buy another 2nd boat, albiet smaller within a year or two and thought of me traveling to look a boats and hours and hours surfing yachtporn influenced her decision) She said - LETS KEEP THE BOAT. She helped pick the boat and she likes the roominess of it, I would be happy on something smaller and simpler. She appreciates the hominess of the BIG boat (46 feet.)
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Last edited by GreatWhite; 10-07-2009 at 05:41 PM.
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