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Monday, June 7, 2021

Major Pivot

Plans and decisions don't always align. Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Have you ever hovered on the precipice of a major decision, wondering if the path you planned is the right one?

Not a life-and-death decision, but still a difficult one. Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

We did, but we plunged ahead anyway. At one point, Wayne pondered aloud, "Are we doing this because it's what we really want to do, or because it fits some image of what others expect us to do?" We tried to convince ourselves it was the former. 

The Backstory: How did we get here?

S/V Gallivant, a Gulfstar 45, sailing the Bahamas Grand Banks February 2021.
Photo courtesy Christine of s/v
Scintilla.
Late summer 2020 we decided on "COVID plan #27"—buying a sailboat to return to the Caribbean. We sold the trawler we'd lived aboard since 2017. 

Our Puget Trawler, M/V Serendipity, at Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia, Canada.
Sold, to buy our sailboat.

We bought an RV to move us and everything we owned to Florida to find a sailboat. 

"The Beast" our RV before it got hit.
Here it's parked at BLM land, in Torrey Utah, near Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park; one of the many stunning places we saw on our cross-country RV trip
as we headed to Florida to buy our sailboat.

Along the way, another driver whose interpretation of merge was overly assertive slammed our RV into a guardrail. Everyone walked and drove away, and her generous insurance company gave us two years to turn the RV over to collect a check.

We arrived in Florida, parked our RV in Fort Pierce and started boat shopping in earnest.

Decisions, Decisions: What Boat to Get?

S/V Journey, our boat from 2012 to 2017—a Pearson 365. At 36 1/2 feet it was just right for the two of us but too small for all but Wayne's dad and his wife Gunnel, both intrepid sailors, to join us.

Wayne wanted go with what we knew, and buy another tried-and-true, affordable Pearson, like the 36 1/2 Pearson 365 ketch we took through 31 countries, across the Pacific and sold in Australia

I wanted a bigger boat because when I asked our friends and family who said they wanted to join us if they'd be willing to do without having their own closed-door cabin, most said no. I also wasn't ready to recommit to another 3-5 years with no home base and 150 square feet of living space.

Gulfstar 45s like our s/v Gallivant are designed with a captain's quarters and a guest room;
each with doors that can close for privacy.
Wayne reluctantly agreed to a bigger boat. 

Because boating is a COVID-safe activity, the boat market went crazy and inventory was at an all-time low. We put in an offer on a larger Pearson, but I was concerned it was too much of a fixer. Then our friends Don and Maryann decided they wanted to sell their sailboat and get a trawler and asked: "if we knew anyone interested." Of course, we bit. Then we got cold feet. Then we came around, but we were still nervous about whether this was the move for us.

We Buy the Boat & Go

Taking the plunge. Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

We signed the papers. We sold our bicycles, loaded everything from the RV onto our new-to-us-boat. With a lump in our throats, we bid the RV goodbye as we turned it in for our insurance check. By the time we left the parking lot, it was already gone. We sold my car, and off we went to the Bahamas with plans to sail the US eastern seaboard this summer then head to the Caribbean this fall.
My Prius and our RV, before we determined the towing it wouldn't work.
I drove it cross-country, then sold it, as well as the bikes you see on the back of the RV.

Back to the Beautiful Balmy Bahamas: The Same Only Different

This is not Photoshopped. The Bahamas water really is this clear and blue.
This photo shot from Gallivant in the Bahamas earlier this year.

I posted photos and videos of how well our sailboat sailed, of the Bahamas' clear aqua waters, of luxuriating in the warm weather while our friends in the Pacific Northwest froze. 


In Georgetown's Elizabeth Harbour, with only 125 boats versus the usual 300-600, there was plenty of room to anchor. We were often the first dinghy at the town dock when previously getting to the dock might mean getting past triple-parked dinghies.

Elizabeth Harbour, the Bahamas, near Georgetown in "the height of the season" April 2021
—drastically fewer boats.
While we buddy-boated with our friends on Scintilla, none of our friends from Jacksonville left Florida. There were no bonding cruiser potlucks on the beach from years of yore. High winds kept us from making it back to the Raggeds, and friends who did, told us Duncantown's population shrank from 70 to 20. I'd hoped to see Marjorie in Duncantown again, but her shop no longer existed.

Our friends Chris and Chris' boat, s/v Scintilla at Warderick Wells, Bahamas.
Gallivant is parked further in the background.

We also spent a lot of time hunkered aboard in 20-knot-plus winds. We didn't like it much but our wind generator loved it; it did a great job of keeping our boat powered up.

We always wanted to spend more time there and less time getting there, and this time we did that a bit more, especially taking our time in the Georgetown area and in Eleuthera. 

The Journey vs the Destination

It took us over a month at sea to sail from the Galapagos to the French Marquesas in Journey.
But we've decided we're done with passages for a while.

We came back a bit earlier than planned, to give ourselves more time to spend exploring the US East Coast. 
We've always liked arriving more than sailing, which may seem odd for a couple who's sailed halfway around the world. Although we spent 31 days sailing from Galapagos to the French Marquesas in our Pearson, we found ourselves dreading overnight passages. This time we did only one overnight passage, and we didn't want to do more. 

We started rethinking whether we wanted to sail to the Caribbean again, which would require some multi-day overnight passages or a very slow trip down island-hopping. Wayne still pined a return to New Zealand (by air, not boat), though I doubted New Zealand would booking from American early enough for us to go there in our winter/their summer November-ish 2021.

We Noticed We Were Dragging Our Feet

Once we got to St. Augustine, we stalled on or progress up the eastern seaboard. Over the years, I've learned to recognize that not to decide is in itself a decision—one that begs for soul-searching. 

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Sunrise, Hatchett Bay, Eleuthera, our first time there in 2014.

We named our boat Gallivant, which is defined as traveling for pleasure because that is what we wanted to do. So w
e asked ourselves, were we having fun? Was the fun-to-suck-ratio more fun or more suck? 

Other than the stress of boat-shopping, we thoroughly enjoyed our winter in Fort Pierce—more than we did our time aboard. I craved more stability, routine, a normal toilet, a shower that didn't require a bilge pump, the ability to participate in video conferences without killing my internet access, a stationary address. Wayne missed the RV couch—simple pleasures most folks we know take for granted.

Pivot Time

We turned around and headed back south to Fort Pierce. We found marina space, contacted a broker, and listed our boat (here's our listing).

We are working on where we'll live once the boat sells. Even if we get an offer right away, it's still at least a 6-week to 2-month process before offers, surveys, haul-outs, insurance verification, etc. reach the point of the final sale. Worst case, while we figure out where to call home, we'll still travel the east coast this summer—by car or camper or RV and just rent an apartment somewhere. 

This is where we stayed when we boat-shopped and may be where we'll call home.

I know I will miss seeing the sun rise and set over the water and the starry sky far from city lights too much to give up boating forever. I am sure our boating days and adventures are far from over, whether we join friends on their boats, charter, or buy something trailer-able. Our goal is to spend less time on the journey and more time enjoying the destination. 

I still have some great stories to share from our Bahamas trip, but for the last few and the next few weeks, my focus is on making our transition. 

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Takeaways

For those of you who find yourselves struggling with those big life decisions, give yourself some grace, then look into your hearts with unstinting candor and come to terms with what it will take to be happy. Be true to yourself. The only wrong decisions are the ones that you refuse to move on from.

Any hey, if you want to trade places and give sailing and cruising a try, we know about a great sailboat ready to go right now! Here's a 1-minute tour (click the "video" tab if this link doesn't take you to the video).

Location Location

Dana and Wayne aboard Gallivant in Fort Pierce City Marina.
Photo courtesy Rolf.

We're at Fort Pierce City Marina, Fort Pierce Florida, 27 27.039N 80 18.219W, until our boat sells. 
Wish us luck. And we wish you a most excellent summer!