OK...OK...OK. Yes, we have to admit that we've been at it again trying to plan our escape. While we pride ourselves on writing our plans 'in sand at low tide...and all that', the reality is that we've been racking our brains about how we can cut the lines sooner rather than later. And, we think we've come up with a step that, while not the final one, will more us a little closer to our dream.
WE ARE MOVING THE BOAT TO FLORIDA. We think that by re-orienting the boat from a northern-clime summer home to a southern-clime winter home we will be accomplishing some important intermediate steps that will allow us to cruise full-time sooner. This will allow Cindy to continue working and Wayne to carry on preparing the boat while using the boat as a winter get-away from the Canadian winter.
We will continue to work and live on the boat this spring and summer in Whitby and sail on weekends in our home waters. Then on the labour-day weekend of 2010, we will set out for Oswego, NY where we will drop our masts (yes two, remember we're a yawl) and start down towards the ICW. For those unfamiliar with the route, we will travel through a series of locks called the Oswego and Erie Canals that takes us, first up and then down, the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and deposits us in the Hudson River near Troy, NY where we will put the masts back up.
Cindy has arranged to take 7 weeks of holidays from work and so we can take our time enjoying some of the lovely anchorages and incredible scenery that the Hudson provides in the fall. By following the Hudson River, we will end up in New York City (one of our favourite cities) and plan on spending a few days seeing the sites. The 79th Street Boat Basin is a marina that offers transient boats (that would be us) moorings a few short steps from downtown and at a very reasonable rate, and we plan to take advantage to play tourist, once again, in the 'city that never sleeps'.
Upon leaving New York we will travel down the Atlantic coast and make our way into the Chesapeake Bay where we will eventually join up with the Intracostal Waterway in Virginia. For the non-sailors following this blog, the Chesapeake is the Mecca of sailing on the east coast of North America and provides incredible sailing, untold opportunities to explore, and an abundance of safe, secluded anchorages. We will enjoy all the Chesapeake has to offer for a couple of weeks before sailing into Annapolis to take in the boat show on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Those of you who are familiar with us know that we have travelled to this boat show from Canada for many years and we are looking forward to attending the show while our boat sits anchored just a couple of blocks away. To do so, will fulfill a wish we have had for many years.
After the boat show, Cindy's holiday time will begin running out and we will face the reality of her having to return home. We have planned with several friends to rendezvous with the boat and help Wayne move it further south. From Virginia south the ICW begins and provides a protected, although shallow, highway all the way to Florida. This trip will wander through Virginia, North & South Carolina, and Georgia arriving in Florida in late November or early December.
The first task upon reaching the Sunshine State will be to research suitable marinas and mooring fields which will provide an inexpensive spot to live on-board; offer convenient road and air connections; and, allow for the easy completion of any remaining (or, as always, new emerging) boat projects. This likely will take several weeks to find the right location and fully establish the boat as an advantageous southern base for us.
Once we are established in Florida, Wayne will spend considerable time onboard completing the necessary upgrades on the boat and return home as necessary. Cindy will travel to the boat several times throughout the winter to warm-up from the Canadian chill.
This not only provides a wonderful fall vacation for us but also accomplishes several important things that contribute to our goal. Among the advantages are:
• We no longer will have to forego winter vacations (as we have over the past 5 years as a cost cutting measure) and the boat will provide an inexpensive holiday home.
• Cost of maintaining the boat will drop slightly because of the greater availability of year-round moorings in Florida not available in Canada.
• It provides access to a wider range of products and expertise in Florida that is not readily available in Canada that will help us ensure that the boat is indeed ready to go.
• The boat is sitting on the doorstep of the Caribbean with the Bahamas merely an overnight sail when we finally can go.
So that's the latest plan of attack. Stay tuned and we'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, we still have lots to do.
|About the Plan||
Well there's an old saying among cruisers that the best kind of plans are written in sand at low tide and generally, we like that philosophy. But every successful endeavour has some planning and so here's our thinking about how we got to this point and what may (or may not) occur over the next several years.
Actually we've done a lot more planning than we like to admit to and it all started about twenty years ago when the idea of going cruising full-time began to take firm root. We knew that we'd have to work hard and live frugally if we were to position ourselves financially to retire early (Editor's Note: I tell Cindy that she's young enough that she's not retiring, just quitting); buy a suitable blue-water boat; and equip and outfit the boat with the necessities and comforts that we would need.
During our first 5-year plan, we sailed our first keelboat "Nymbus", a Grampian 26, at every opportunity seeking out both good and bad weather to hone our sailing skills. While not a fast boat by any stretch of the imagination we plodded along for a few years on the club race course trying to build new skills and greater confidence. We took every available weekend and vacation opportunity to sail and while career responsibilities prevented us from going too far a-field in search of new cruising grounds we did manage to take that boat into every harbour on Lake Ontario where there was sufficient depth for her. We threw ourselves into projects that we had never before attempted and went through a steep learning curve about how to develop and maintain an efficient cruising boat. Nymbus was a forgiving boat both in terms of its sailing characteristics and as a teacher of the basic skills cruisers require.
Throughout our second 5-year plan, we fought rampant "2-foot-itis" and continued to make Nymbus an outstanding pocket cruiser. We retired as much debt as we could; paid off the boat; and, as we bought new equipment for her made sure that everything we bought was oversized and could be transplanted to our retirement boat. We began to get a good sense of the kind of things we were looking for in the next boat and slowly starting looking for boats that possessed the characteristics we wanted in a price range we could afford. For 3-4 years we walked the docks at every marina looking at boats, scoured broker's listings, and started travelling throughout the eastern seaboard looking for our retirement castle.
Early in our third 5-year plan we found and bought a 1984 Alberg 37 yawl that had just about everything we were looking for in a blue-water capable cruiser. We have read several authors who encourage readers to buy their boats shortly before their departure. We never agreed with this approach because over the years we have watched too many new cruisers rush through final preparations as they hurry to leave only to encounter extensive problems with the boat and its systems shortly after they shove off. We thought it much more prudent to buy the boat several years in advance and take your time researching, installing and testing new systems and equipment so that when you finally do leave any unpleasant surprises should be minimized. We purchased our retirement boat in 1998 and have spent the last 12 seasons refining her into, what we believe is, a fine example of a capable cruising boat. During our early years with Leeway we systematically renewed all of her underlying systems (electrical, plumbing, engine, shaft & propeller, rigging, additional fuel & water tanks, etc) often having to forgo some of the more 'sexy toys' and cosmetic niceties but created a sound foundation upon which to continue building.
Our fourth 5-year plan concentrated on positioning ourselves in a financially advantageous position for early retirement, and on creating a comfortable cruising home for ourselves that would allow us to be self-reliant during our cruise. We installed a large battery bank, inverter, wind & solar power systems, large alternators and new sails & reefing as well as creature comforts like TV/DVD, stereo, cockpit enclosure & cushions, propane heating & cooking, new upholstery & sleep systems, new refrigeration, and home-like decorating touches. We seemed just about ready to go but, as the old saying goes "the best laid plans of men & mice".....this phase of our plan came to a conclusion just as the economic downturn of 2009 occurred which had a rather devastating effect on our (and everyone else's) investments. And, so being prudent, we decided to put off leaving until things settled down a little.
And, that's where we are right now. Just about ready to go but not ready to cut the ties just yet. We've pushed back our anticipated departure for a little while in order to recoup some of our investments and to maximize Cindy's pension benefits (Editor's note: The problem with marrying a younger women is that her pension isn't ready when yours is). When the new departure date will be set is unknown right now but it will be sooner rather than later.
So what's on the agenda when we do manage to slip the dock lines? Well, unlike what we often did during our careers, we are not going to announce goals to everyone as a way of forcing ourselves to achieve them. We will do only what is fun, what continues to be fun and new things that might fit into the fun category. So while we'll share with you what we think are our plans they are subject to change (and as they say in business) ...without prior notice.
One of our underlying principles is 'we're sick of cold weather' and so we're heading to where it's warm. So, initially we are heading to the Caribbean and think we'd like to explore it for 2-3 years (or perhaps longer). Right now, we will likely spend our first full season of cruising in the Bahamas and as the season starts closing move through the Turks & Caicos to spend hurricane season in Luperon in the Dominican Republic. In the 2nd and 3rd seasons we'll push further south through the Leeward & Windward islands so that we can get a better look at many of the islands that we've briefly glimpsed during winter holidays. During some of our past adventures, we both fell in love with backpacking as a way of seeing the world, and would like to position the boat to serve as a home-base to travel inland throughout various Central & South American nations during the off-seasons.
Also, lurking in the back of our minds is a love of Europe and the Mediterranean. We've trekked over wide areas of Europe and North Africa with our trusty backpacks and would love to visit by boat. If we find that we have had our fill of the Caribbean we may think about cruising in the Med. Whether that involves a crossing of the Atlantic or putting the boat on a transport we don't know right now, but imagine the opportunity to immerse yourself in all those fascinating, ancient cultures from the deck of your own boat. We suspect that after being out there for a few years that the possibility of an Atlantic crossing might well be within our comfort level. Who knows? And, how will we make the decisions? Remember - if it looks like it'll be fun then we'll do it.
When do we plan to stop? We jokingly say that 'when Wayne starts drooling on himself and the kids have to put him in a nursing home'. Currently the plan is to stay out as long as our health stays with us and we're still having a blast. We're still much too young (at least in our minds) to think about what we'll do after our sailing days.
We'll keep you apprised of our thinking as it develops, but right now that's the current state of our plans. And don't forget, it's all written in sand at low tide.
|About the Plan||