Making New Friends

A couple weeks ago I received an email through the contact page on the blog. It was from a lovely couple on Camp Lejeune who had been following along with our journey and were also looking to make the leap to the liveaboard life. They wanted to meet us and learn more about everything we’d gone through over the past year.

My answer? “HELL YES!” I couldn’t wait to help out somebody else out. This was the entire reason I started the blog—to connect with people, encourage them, and be there to answer any questions. Transitioning to an unconventional lifestyle is an overwhelming and difficult process, and the blogs of my sailing role models were instrumental in getting us to where we are today. During the most difficult times, when we questioned if we were making the right decisions, I remember thinking, “If they can do it, we can do it, too.” Following in their footsteps helped us navigate an unfamiliar trail. Without them, we would have been lost. So, I decided that if I could help out at least one other person realize their liveaboard dream, then my blog would have served its purpose.

I excitedly showed the email to Conor and said, “Look! We have friends!” It was inevitable that we would click—Military family? Stationed on base? Interested in sailing? Wanting to live aboard while in the military? Have a cute dog? They were us, only the us from 6 months ago!

We met up this past weekend and it went great! Hopefully we were a good resource for them as we laid out our own experience and what to look out for. I can’t wait to see what boat they end up with and have my fingers crossed that they will be our neighbors soon. In the meantime, we’ve invited them to come check out our boat and sail with us anytime.

So if anyone is reading this blog and wants to hang out, please reach out! We don’t bite. We love nothing more than to make new friends, and want to meet you just as much as you want to meet us!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

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A Reader Lives A Thousand Lives

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I grew up in the suburbs, in the same house for twenty years, and had never even heard of a liveaboard until three years ago. So what spurred this examination of different types of living, and gave us the courage to do it ourselves?

Books.

My first ‘ah-ha’ moment came from reading Timothy Ferris’ 4 HOUR WORKWEEK. It talks about travel, escaping the bonds of a traditional 9-to-5, and alternative ways to make money. Most importantly, it discusses ‘dreamlining’ and laying out goals for what YOU want to accomplish out of life (not what is expected of you). Though with Conor in the military, we weren’t able to take the ‘4 hour workweek’ part of it literally, the message of the book got us thinking about how we could make the most of our lives and try new things while he was still in the service. If you’re wondering how to break out of a rut, start with this book. He talks about things I had never assumed were possible, and will truly make you re-examine the validity of “The American Dream”.

If that book inspires you, here are some more that have influenced me along the way:

THE ART OF POSSIBILITY is a great non-fiction for examining personal and professional fulfillment. It gives a set of twelve practices for bringing creativity, and thus unexpected possibilities, into your life. It was helpful in slowly changing my perspective to embrace change and challenges.

Another one of my favorites is called THE ORGANIZED MIND: THINKING STRAIGHT IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD. This book made me realize the importance of living simpler, and how it would affect my overall happiness. It got me to look into tiny living and minimalism, which eventually led to boats! It is good to read in conjunction with FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE because they have a lot of parallels. Focus on what makes you happy, instead of spending useless time worrying! Don’t waste your brain power.

This is one that I just finished, so I can’t really say that it inspired us to get the boat, only that it reinforced my belief that we made the right call! DEVIATE by Beau Lotto teaches how to think, not what to think, and how by changing our perspective of the past we can influence our future. It explains why human hardwiring makes it difficult for us to live with uncertainty, and how to reengineer our brains to perceive a different reality, one that encourages creativity and innovation. The picture at the top of this post is an excerpt from the book.

As you can tell, I LOVE to read, and if anyone has other recommendations for me, I’m all ears! Please share your favorite books and what they have inspired you to accomplish.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

How to Buy and Live Aboard a Sailboat in Your 20s (with little experience)

In honor of moving aboard our Catalina 380 this weekend (!) this post is dedicated to the people who want to do the same thing, but don’t know how or where to start. Having just been through this 6 month process, here is a step-by-step list of how we did it. Keep in mind, we aren’t cruising yet! This is about living at a marina in the U.S.

(NOTE- This is a LONG technical post. If you’re looking for an update on “Conor and Tay’s Big Adventure”…hi Mom, hi Dad…it will be up tomorrow)

1) Take a sailing 101 class. Make sure you actually like sailing. If you hate it but like the simplicity of small living or dock life, think about a trawler.

2) Make sure you and your partner (if you have one) are on the same page. Go to your local boat show, and tour different models. How small are you willing to go? Which boats do you fit comfortably in? Are you a fan of catamarans or do you like the traditional feel of a monohull? What would you need to live day-to-day? And last but not least: what kind of use are you looking to get from your boat? Coastal cruising or bluewater?

3) Start saving money. You will need to put between 10-20% down on your boat. Also, a lot of extra fees will pop up, so leave some wiggle room. We saved 25% of our max boat budget. (Make a note: figure out your own max budget/expenses projected at least 3 years out)

4) Research marinas in your area. If you are west coast, you might have a harder time finding marinas that allow liveaboards (some only allow 10% of slips to be liveaboards). What is the wait list? In California, it was up to 10 years. Price to dock per foot of boat? Are the facilities nice? Is it a reasonable commute to work? It would really suck to buy a boat, only to find out that you can’t live on it! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLACE TO PUT YOUR BOAT BEFORE YOU BUY IT!

5) If the stars are aligning and you’ve found your perfect marina, contact a local BUYERS boat broker. They work for you, like a real estate agent. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Look at sailing forums, see what people have to say about certain agencies or brokers. Call around, and find someone you mesh with. I decided on our broker based on his great reputation, his bio (lived aboard for 15 years—can’t beat that expertise!), and the fact that the brokerage company as a whole promised to help newbie buyers navigate a complicated process. I wanted someone who would be patient with us and answer questions we didn’t know we had. If you don’t get that vibe, look for a better broker. They’re honest and they’re out there, you just have to do the legwork.

6) Start getting rid of all of your shit. Donate it, sell it, store the important stuff with family—and even though you THINK you’ve downsized to your bare minimum, you will still have way to much. We downsized to a 7×7 POD (only half full, too!) and I’ve discovered we will only need about a third of it all. Once it is gone, you won’t miss it, I promise.

7) Remember what I said about the boat show? Make a list with your broker about your wants/likes. You can talk make/models, but if this is your first boat, keep an open mind. Then let him or her do their thing. Our broker came back with 3 solid choices, and 2 additional boats that he thought would be a good fit, even though they didn’t fit our minimum length requirement. Lo and behold, we went with the smallest boat!

8) Once you’ve found your dream boat, you’ll need financing. You will put an offer on the boat, making sure that the deal is CONTINGENT ON SECURED FINANCING and a SATISFACTORY SURVEY. This clause is important, because if you can’t get the money or your survey sucks, you can walk away from the deal. 10% of the boat cost will go into an escrow account (remember when I said to save money?) while you find someone to finance your boat. Such a large loan that is not a house is difficult for some credit unions and banks to wrap their heads around. If you’re younger like us, they will basically laugh at you. Be prepared to have someone older than you with a longer credit history cosign the loan. Our cosigner will never pay a CENT of our loan, but he was needed on the paperwork. We went with LIGHTSTREAM for financing, a division of Sun Trust Bank, because their rates were reasonable and they allow liveaboards.

9) Schedule a survey with a certified surveyor. This will include a thorough check of the boat’s internal and external systems, as well as a haul out to inspect the bottom/keel (Ding ding! Surprise fees! See my post about our survey for more details). Your boat broker and the current owners will accompany you for this. It is an excellent time to ask questions about the boat! What are her quirks? What is their favorite thing about her? If no major issues are found during the survey, then is no need to counter-offer back and forth with the current owners regarding your original offer.

10) Now for the tricky part—GETTING INSURANCE! We hit a snag on this one. Nobody wants to insure first time boat owners, especially when your boat is a lot of money and you want to live on it. Add in the fact that we have never actually sailed a boat this size, and we were in trouble. Forums will tell you all the time to just get regular boat insurance and not tell your insurance company that you live on it, but I refused to lie. I was not going to deal with the anxiety of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and plus, this blog would give us away in a heartbeat! WR HODGENS MARINE INSURANCE was willing to work with us, thankfully. They don’t care if you want to live aboard, and we were able to get insurance by adding in a “Captain’s Clause”. This was basically our promise to not take the boat off of the dock unless we were accompanied by a certified captain. Once we have fulfilled a certain number of private instruction hours on our boat, our captain will send in a letter to the insurance agency stating that we have enough experience to be on our own. Then voila! Restriction removed and we will be the sole operators of our vessel.

*Remember when applying that ALL boat experience is experience, even small powerboats. Every little bit counts.

11) Once you have insurance, then you wire the rest of the money into the escrow account, the old owners sign the paperwork, and you’re the proud new owner of your boat! Everybody wins.

12) MOVE ABOARD YOUR BOAT! The old owners (absolute saints that they are and knowing that we are newbies) left us a detailed manual on how things work (galley, head, AC., etc) that we’ve been slowly working our way through. Even the simplest tasks become so much harder on a boat! We’re learning, though, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our first private lesson is next weekend, and until then, I’m just focusing on not hitting my head on everything.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

PS—If you have specific questions pertaining to your own situation, please feel free to email or comment and ask! I would love to help you out 🙂

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

My voice echos through my empty house, my suitcase looks like it exploded, and I’ve only eaten sandwiches the past few days to avoid cooking. As I shove the last boxes into a tiny 7’x7′ container, I marvel at the fact that this POD now holds everything we own in the world.

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Packing tip: Use stackable Rubbermaid bins and Pelican cases. Their durability is great for long-term storage and life on a boat!

Packing up the POD is more than just putting our stuff in storage for the next 2-3 months, we are also saying goodbye to any sense of ‘home’ for the near future. Giving up our stability and security is an adjustment, but by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones now, our sacrifices will be exchanged for greater gifts down the road. At least, that’s what I told myself last night as I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag.

For the time being, we are adrift. Well, about to be cut loose, anyway—checkout is on Friday. It is terrifying and exciting all at the same time, and we get to discover what we actually need in order to get by day-to-day. Familiar creature comforts are gone as we prepare to live out of 1 suitcase each for the next 2 months, from temporary living at an Airbnb, to driving across the U.S., to our TBD situation on the east coast.

The great news is that I heard from our broker today 🙂 I will update with boat info soon! He’s found us some truly spectacular options.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

6. More. Days.

We are in the final stages of moving out! Sorry there haven’t been as many posts during these last two weeks, but you guys really haven’t missed anything. We’ve been doing more of the same—getting rid of stuff on Bookoo and Craigslist, cleaning out the house room by room, and making numerous trips to the dump.

Here’s the really fun part over the next few days: I get to pack up the POD all by myself! Conor has a field op, and it’s on me to move us out.

Every time I almost have a panic attack, I remind myself that no matter what, by the end of the month, it will all be over, because it has to be. There is no other option. I will do the best that I can to prepare everything, but by the time I need to check out of the house, nothing will keep me here. Didn’t have time to fix the holes in the walls? Charge me, I don’t care. Didn’t mow the lawn? Okay, fine me the $25.

No matter what happens, come March 31, I’m tossing the keys to the housing office and burning rubber out of here. The end result will be the same regardless, I just have to breathe.

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Re-creating our move-in photo, with our furry little helper

I’m daydreaming about April, and our month-long Airbnb vacation in San Clemente. When we get to relax and unwind for a month while still in California before taking a cross-country road trip, all of this will seem worth it. Middle of April is also when our boat broker in New Bern, NC will ramp up the search for our perfect boat!! We should have 4-5 boats lined up for us to see in May.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

PS- If anyone you know needs a washer/dryer or a couch, send them my way. They are the last few things we need to get rid of by next week!

Full Hearts

Our declaration that we are moving onto a boat has only been met with incredible support from our families and friends. This post is a shout out to all you wonderful people who are cheering us on, who give us confidence in ourselves with your unwavering enthusiasm. Whether it is checking in to see if we’ve found our dream boat yet, calling for an update on the downsizing process, or even offering to help us move, we thank you.

To those who say we inspire them to achieve their goals—know that we will have your back just like you’ve had ours. For the people who embrace our quirkiness and understand the true purpose of this dream—our lives would not be the same without you.

We still have moments of doubt and fear, but we have a safety net of those we love to catch us if we fall. And, most importantly, they do not judge. Our v-berth will always be open to you all to come and experience the dream with us 🙂

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Sleeping on the Floor

As we get further along with our downsizing, it has only gotten easier. It might be the excitement of getting down to the final weeks, or maybe I just want it to be over with because it is EXHAUSTING. Either way, I don’t feel any pangs of regret as our house empties out. The rooms do feel smaller now, though, as everything that made this house uniquely ours is disappearing.

Stuff is just stuff. If we change our minds in 5 years and decide to move back onto land, then we can get more furniture. What really scares me is the thought of forgoing the liveaboard dream because we are too afraid to let go of a favorite bedroom set/couch/dining room table. I refuse to let inanimate objects dictate what we can and cannot do in life.

However, it does make me happy that our stuff is finding new purpose with other families that need it. Donating has been my favorite part (Craigslist and Bookoo are a pain in the butt). Giving to friends and family and neighbors has brought joy to this process. I feel like Santa. Or Oprah.

giphy oprah

Three more weeks to go, but we are already sleeping on our mattress on the floor. I’ve never slept better.

Love,

Taylor and Conor