On this particular day we had just consumed a huge lunch at our favorite Cuban restaurant, El Caney on Stock Island. Later that afternoon, we drove to downtown Key West to…
Why? More Flexibility!
When we look back at our on our years together we fondly remember how we discovered that one of our mutual passions was boating. It all started with a 20-foot Four Winns runabout. We used that runabout, as a family boat, to water ski, to overnight on (under the stars many times – very romantic) and trailer places a little farther from home. We hauled that little boat all over our little corner of northwest Michigan, and surrounding areas, exploring the many lakes we’re so blessed with in the Great Lakes state. We found that we could easily tow it to a spot on the Great Lakes, or any of the inland lakes, plunk it in the water – all in a matter of minutes. I guess we were always in the moment as it related to boating and we never thought too much about a larger boat until one day Jim started to think about buying an old car, more specifically, a 1970 Dodge Challenger.
It all started so innocently when we figured that if we were going to buy an old car we’d need somewhere to store it. We had a two-car garage but neither of us wanted to give up parking and storage space for an old, not much used car, so somehow we rationalized that a cottage on a lake with a garage seemed logical. We could rent the cottage out during the peak weeks of summer and have storage, and a workshop, for an old car. Well we spent an entire spring driving all over our targeted area looking at cottages and, after not being happy with anything that was available, we came to the realization that what we liked, we couldn’t afford what we could afford, we did not like, mostly because it represented a lot of work to get into shape. So instead, we bought a larger boat – a 32-foot Silverton Convertible, because we really didn’t want to spend all of our summer’s flex time fixing a cottage – we didn’t want to see our current boating time compromised. Several years later, we moved up to a 42-foot Silverton Convertible and then to our more recent boat, the 40-foot Fathom trawler.
It was with the last two boats that we spent five years as full-time liveaboards. So, you see if it wasn’t for Jim’s old car bug we might still be happily cruising around in our 20-foot Four Winns oblivious to adventures that waited just outside a future adventurer’s “comfort zone.”
We’ve always tried to squeeze as much out of our boating experiences as we could by trying to absorb every aspect of an area as we were cruising in or through it. We’ve tried to focus intensely on our cruising plans and our lives have more or less revolved around these plans. We’d kept in touch with family and friends with visits home over the years and the time spent was very rewarding but at the same time – very fleeting. Our mother’s each cruised with us at different times as well as our three son’s Bart, Skyler and Ross. We had friends join us along the way over the years and it was all very fulfilling for us, but now we had to acknowledge that we were starting to worry about getting burned out on too much of a good thing so, we made the surprising decision to make a change in our lifestyle.
One day as we were cruising up the east Coast ICW we began to talk about some of our concerns and how perhaps we needed to make a revised chart for our future, this discussion was the catalyst that put the new plan in motion. New house – new boat – new boating lifestyle.
The best way we could describe the revelation we had is this way… Just as the all consuming and passionate need overtook us, five years ago, to sell all our accumulated “stuff” and head out for parts unknown as free spirits – now, we’re starting to feel the pull as the pendulum began its swing back. We became more aware of our need to reconnect with family, hometown friends and experience the good things about being landlocked. We wanted to spend more time with long time relationships and at the same time, we didn’t want to get burned out on boating. If the decision and action of leaving one life behind to experience another has taught us anything over the years it’s that we should always take time to listen to our hearts and those who we share our time with. Be open and ready to redefine the paths we want our lives to follow so that we can truly maximize the quality of our time spent on earth. One of our new mottos is, “if you’re stuck – unstick yourself.” This really says it all. Life is sticky; don’t get caught getting stuck in one “spot” forever. Change is good; it means you’re growing your potential.
When we embarked on our first Great Loop in 2005 we never, EVER could have fathomed that we were to become full-time liveaboards and certainly not for five whole years. We didn’t start with this as an objective, it just kind of fell into place as we fell in love with the nomadic lifestyle of full-time cruising. So, after five years of cruising the waters from Washington States’ Puget Sound and San Jan Islands, the Bahamas, Canada’s Trent-Severn Waterway and North Channel, along with many of America’s east coast rivers, bays, sounds and bayous we decided to sell our two-year old liveaboard trawler, the Fathom 40. We haven’t completely lost our sense of adventure though; as a matter of fact, we think life will become even more rewarding with our new plan!
We decided to buy a house in our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan and downsize to a smaller, trailerable trawler. What we hope does not change is our passion to explore the unfamiliar. We think we’ll gain more flexibility – this means we can leave our home in Northern Michigan, trailer our boat south in the fall and be cruising on the Tennessee River in a matter of two days. If we wanted, we could then follow the sun farther south and head to Florida’s St. Johns River. Many new summer trips could include the Chesapeake Bay, Erie Canal, Canada’s North Channel, Trent-Severn Waterway, or Rideau Canal. Once we get on a role, we’d like to branch out and explore area’s that are harder to reach with a big boat sitting on the east coast, for instance: Lake Powell, the Pacific Northwest’s Inside Passage, Columbia River, Lake Yellowstone, or Washington’s San Juan Islands. Not to mention that during most of the summer months we could further explore areas close to home by just dropping the boat in for a long weekend, a week or more.
As we look back at our early boating days on our small runabout, we would never have imagined we’d become full-time cruisers, it just kind of happened. Likewise the epiphany we had recently to move back to land for part of the year with our new plan to explore parts unknown in a trailerable trawler for the balance of the year just happened out of the blue – but only after we had five glorious years living full-time on our boat, Kismet.
2010 was a very busy year for us! We purchased a home, moved five years of our life off the Fathom 40 into our new home and sold the Fathom – all before the end of the year. With two of the three elements in place, we’ll now turn our focus towards researching and finally purchasing a suitable trailerable trawler so we can start to experience the “upside” of “downsizing.”
See more on this topic at BoatU.S. Cruising Logs: