Do you ever dream of traveling to new places while taking the comforts of home with you, or spending your evenings relaxing to the gentle sound of waves and watching the sunset? All while living in a confined space and relying on yourself to fix electrical, plumbing, and mechanical problems, often in the middle of nowhere and with limited resources?
Us too! So, we’re making plans to live on a sailboat ⛵
Our current timeline is to:
1) spend two years saving $$$ for a down payment,
2) start shopping for the boat in two years with the intent of purchasing it within a year from when we start looking, and
3) live on the boat off the US coast for another year or two while we prep it for long-distance travel.
If we stick to this loose timeline, we can start enjoying some day trips and overnighters within 2.5-3 years and set off on our first big crossing in 4-5. This may seem like a lot of time, but we have a mind-boggling list of things to do before we can even start shopping, so it’s sure to fly by!
Although my guy has several years of sailing experience, I have none, so while we spend the next two years getting our finances in order, I’ll also focus on taking some basic sailing classes and learning about things like diesel-engine mechanics, solar energy, and watermakers.
But before I inundate my brain with too much info, I’m taking a few moments to reflect on why we want to get into the cruising lifestyle in the first place.
I remember talking to my older brother when I was quite young about what we wanted to be when we grew up. He wanted to be the Easter Bunny and I wanted to be a sailboat. So in addition to fulfilling what is apparently my lifelong dream to get out on the water, here are the top 5 reasons why my partner and I are eager to make this lifestyle change 😀
1. To push the boundaries on self-sufficiency and resourcefulness
We’re both avid cyclists and are accustomed to making on-the-trail repairs and troubleshooting other types of problems. I’ve also been bikepack racing for a few years now, and one of my favorite aspects of the sport is a racer’s responsibility to quickly and effectively negotiate bike mechanicals, gear failure, navigation issues, or route blockage. Such issues often occur in isolated areas with no cell service, so one must develop solutions using whatever is being carried on the bike or can be gathered from the surrounding environment. Practicing such resourcefulness fosters creativity, provides a feeling of satisfaction, and leads to the development of skills that can be applied to other areas of life.
As liveaboard sailors, we’ll be responsible for negotiating similar problems and, at times, we won’t have the luxury of a phone call or internet search for troubleshooting an issue. Improving our self-sufficiency by envisioning potential problems and preparing for them in advance will help us to travel more safely.
The challenge of making a successful ocean crossing while maintaining the boat ourselves is incredibly appealing, and since all of the bloggers/vloggers we follow insist that we can rely on something either breaking or needing maintenance daily, we should have no shortage of opportunities to get creative and continually improve our resourcefulness 🛠️
2. To see places that are difficult to get to by other means of transportation
Of course, seeing new sights and adventuring through beautiful landscapes is one of our primary reasons for sailing!
We love to travel and are often attracted to the same popular destinations as hundreds of other people. While we enjoy meeting others and sharing an experience, sometimes the point of an outing is to unplug and quietly enjoy a nature hike or waterfall exploration. In such cases, having several people in the same spot can detract from the experience, and planning for the off-season isn’t always an option. When we’re in the mood for a more peaceful vacation, sailing will provide improved access to destinations less traveled, as several interesting places are accessible only by boat. We’ll certainly enjoy sailing to some popular tourist destinations and throwing ourselves in among the crowd, but occasionally it’ll be nice to be the only people on the beach!
Visiting places with less tourist traffic can also provide a more authentic experience of the local culture, which leads us to reason #3…
3. To meet people with diverse backgrounds and learn about local cultural customs
It’s easy to get stuck in one way of thinking and living when we maintain the same daily routine and are surrounded by people with similar lifestyles. However, there is so much value in experiencing the diverse ways of living that people practice throughout the world!
Exposure to unfamiliarity often leads to personal growth. Stepping outside of our comfort zones and experiencing things from the perspective of different cultural norms is transformative and can foster understanding, open-mindedness, creativity, adaptability, and positive social relationships.
We’re interested in experiencing how people do things in other regions and why, and we feel that sailing will enrich our lives by exposing us to different music, languages, food, traditions, and ways of living.
4. To minimize exposure to noise, light, and air pollution
We’ve both been living in major cities for decades, so the prospect of getting away from smoggy smells, city noise, and the eternal glow of city lights is fantastic! We’re particularly excited to be able to stargaze more regularly and look forward to getting into night-sky photography 🌌
5. To escape the constant connectivity of our current daily lives
Smartphones, social media, and other modes of modern communication provide many benefits: we can stay in touch with geographically distant friends and family, work remotely, and take a mental vacation through others’ photos. However, constant connectivity through mobile devices is also detrimental to peoples’ health and wellbeing, contributing to things like reduced sleep quality, mental illness, and fewer meaningful face-to-face interactions.
I enjoy having an endless stream of information at my fingertips as much as the next person, but I also appreciate how an occasional break from my electronic devices encourages me to live in the moment and to think more deeply about things.
On a recent camping trip in Colorado, we stayed at a couple of campsites without cell service. Due to my line of work and recreational interests, I frequently experience and enjoy lapses in service, but I was still shocked at how often I found myself reaching for my phone while we were camping. This was mostly because we were wondering what a particular tree was or wanted more information about the places we were visiting and, forgetting we had no service, I grabbed my phone to look up an answer. Sometimes, however, I picked it up purely out of habit.
Once I got it through my head that the internet wasn’t an option, it was refreshing to have a conversation, wonder about something, and contemplate potential answers rather than just looking them up. It was also nice to just sit and look around when there was nothing to talk about. Taking the opportunity to unplug helps us to live in the moment by connecting with the sights, sounds, and people around us. So while we look forward to using the internet to stay in the loop and share our travels, we welcome the meaningful interactions and fulfilling experiences that will accompany our occasional breaks from the constant connectivity that is so deeply integrated into our daily lives.
Bonus reason: Aquatic and coastal wildlife are super cool!
Overall, we look forward to using the liveaboard lifestyle to gain new experiences, maximize personal growth, and pursue healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Some of the exciting things we’ll be doing leading up to boat shopping include scuba certification, learning boat engine mechanics, and stand-up paddleboarding. We’ll be sure to share the fun along the way!