During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays). I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year. I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat. I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.
|Beginnings are such wonderful times! (image from freeios)|
Like many paths in life, the journey incorporated a combination of taking advantage of spontaneous opportunities and structured planning. The beginning was all spontaneity. At the time, Dan had a kitchen and bath design/remodel business and Jaye worked in an office. One of her colleagues approached her to ask if Dan could replace the countertop on a small sailboat. We now refer to this as "the most expensive job we ever did."
The project was quick and easy -- so quick in fact, that when the colleague asked for the bill, Dan said "Hey, you know, this was such a small job its almost embarrassing to bill for it. Tell you what. I've got about 3 hours labor in this; why don't you give us three hours on your sailboat in return and help us understand why you enjoy this so much?"
One lovely Saturday we drove to Lake Granby in the Rocky Mountains northwest of Denver where the colleague kept his boat. We sailed for a bit, dropped anchor and had lunch (for some weird reason I still remember that we brought homebaked rolls filled with chopped mushrooms), sailed some more, and returned to the mooring. And that was all it took. Dan was utterly, completely hooked.
Six months later in the snowy winter, Jaye's office mate was hosting a candle party. Also attending the party was the office mate's best friend, who was a charter yacht broker representing boats in the Virgin Islands. A tropical vacation sounded really good right about then, so next thing we knew, we were booked on a one-week liveaboard/learn to sail cruise.
|Sailing our first boat on a light-air Lake Michigan summer day|
The rest of the transition was more about planning than the initial luck, except that once we started, things seemed to come our way a bit faster than we expected. An opportunity came up to move to Michigan (lakes! big water for sailing!) and three weeks after we arrived we bought our first sailboat, a 1975 Erickson 27 named "Bassackwards." We weren't crazy about the name but vowed not to change it until it no longer accurately described our sailing skill. We kept it on a mooring in Northport and left home every summer Friday afternoon at 3 PM for the drive to the boat, staying aboard, practicing our sailing skills and escaping our city lives, returning late in the evening on Sunday. We never did get around to the name change; a few years later we were able to trade up to our far more liveaboard friendly current boat instead. Hadn't planned on buying it so soon, but a good enough deal came up that we just couldn't pass it by.
Fast-forward 4 years and we were relocating again (not entirely by choice) to Headquarters near Washington, DC. We quickly learned that even with a cost-of-living differential, we weren't going to be able to maintain our former standard of living -- what we had paid for a three-bedroom house on the river would about cover a studio apartment with a view of a brick wall. What to do? Well, we were going to have to find a place for the boat anyway, right? And, we were planning to move aboard anyway someday, right? Why not just save the money we would be paying on rent, and accelerate our plan to move aboard right now? It would take some frantic downsizing, and a rather longer commute than I preferred, but indeed, why not?