I think it's time we answered a few of your FAQs.
I want to address some of the common questions we are getting about our upcoming journey and also bust some myths out of the water!
What's your plan?
After quickly realizing that circumnavigating the globe isn't an easy walk in the park, we lowered our expectations on what kind of route we wanted to take.
There are a few factors that determine this route.
First of all, we have to start where the boat is.
The boat is currently in Chester, Nova Scotia so Chester, Nova Scotia is where it will all begin!
|Honeymoon on the Soren Larsen, Oct 2005|
Other factors to take into consideration: hurricane season (typically June 1 to November 30 in the Caribbean), tradewinds, and budget.
The most popular route for cruisers on the east coast of North America is to make their way down to the Bahamas and/or Caribbean after hurricane season and spend the winter down there.
Before the next hurricane season starts, cruisers will make the decision to either head further south of the hurricane belt (Grenada and Trinidad are popular spots to hunker down), head north of the hurricane belt (New England, Maine, Eastern Canada) or to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
|Sailing in Hong Kong, 2006|
However, if given the opportunity, we would love to cross the Atlantic. Definitely a bucket list item!
Cruisers know all too well that sailing plans are drawn at low tide.
Which means, come high tide, all that could be washed away.
Are you ready?
Well, I don't know if any cruiser is ever ready.
We have been researching, studying and taking as many boat-related holidays as we possibly could since we met and got married.
We honeymoon'ed on the tall ship Soren Larsen in Vanuatu, climbing the rigging and flaking the anchor chain.
We did our Competent Crew and Day Skipper course in Hong Kong when we lived there in 2006.
When we lived in England and the kids were tiny, we chartered a canal boat in Holland and spent a lovely week cruising the Dutch waterways.
|1st Family Boating Trip on the Dutch Canals, April 2013|
After completing my CanSail 1 certification with Advantage Boating in Ottawa, we bought a MacGregor 25 to learn on for a couple of seasons. It was great to take day trips out with friends and family, and for Matt and I to learn to work as a team on a boat.
For fun, we also had a Hobie Adventure Tandem Kayak which we would trailer to various bodies of water and go camping with. We even managed to incorporate it in a 24-hour fundraising campaign for We See Hope.
When we were back in the UK in the summer of 2017, we went aboard the beautiful Grayhound Lugger in the UK and cruised to the Isles of Scilly. See our video here of that trip.
We chartered a C&C 30 from Kingston in the 1000 Islands, once in May 2017 and again in October 2017.
|Houseboat Holiday on the St. Lawrence River, Oct 2015|
In April 2018, Matt and I attended the Annapolis Boat Show.
It was a few days of jammed-packed seminars on rigging, safety, navigation, cruising and everything in-between.
We also had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, those who were wannabe cruisers like us, and those who have been cruising for decades.
|Our MacGregor 25 in Ottawa, Spring 2016|
We left inspired, motivated and determined to make cruising our reality soon.
Not only did we make personal connections to so many people, we have found a very supportive online community who has helped us fuel our dream, answer any and all technical questions and just be there to listen because they 'get it'.
It is a well-known fact that cruisers are extremely helpful and supportive. I feel like our social network has increased 3-fold because of the connections we have made with these cruisers, most of whom we have never even met in person!
|Hobie Adventure Kayak|
Slowly but surely, we have been increasing our experience and knowledge. Deciding when to pull the trigger and actually go full-time cruising was the hardest part.
Once we did, we enlisted some practical help to transition our 'someday' into 'today'.
Meeting Behan and Jamie Gifford at the Annapolis Boat Show was a turning point in our cruising dream. They are a powerhouse couple, knowledgeable and experienced, approachable and relatable.
Along with their 3 kids, they circumnavigated the world over 10 years on their boat TOTEM.
They are very well known in the cruising community and offer a coaching service to people like us who would like to make the jump from land life to boat life.
The first piece of advice they offered: set a date for departure.
After a date is set, everything else can fall into place.
So we set a date: May 29th, 2019.
|Sailing on the Grayhound Lugger in the Isles of Scilly, Aug. 2017|
Will you have internet?
It depends. When we are in marinas, we'll likely be able to access wi-fi.
There will be no continuous YouTube or Netflix streaming, but we will be connected.
How long will you be gone for?
It depends. There are basically 2 criteria which will determine how long we will cruise for:
1. As long all four of us are enjoying it.
2. As long as we have enough money.
So we could be gone as long as 6 months, 1 year, ?
Which brings me to the next question.....
How can you afford all this?
The short answer: we can't. Well, not really.
First of all, it is important to understand that there are many variations of cruising.
There are those that are cruising full time and long-term. They've sold their house, cars and possessions and basically make living aboard a permanent way of life.
There are those who are cruising part-time, switching from land to boat depending on the season and if they need to work now and again to refill the cruising kitty.
Then there are those who are taking a sabbatical of some sort and are only cruising for a set amount of time.
Each cruiser has to decide what is important to them, assess what is practical (read: affordable) and then forge their own way.
I would classify ourselves in the sabbatical category. We don't have unlimited funds so at some point will need to find paid work again. We are renting our house, so keeping ties to land-life. Although we have pared down significantly, we haven't sold/gifted/donated all of our possessions.
We also sold our apartment in Nanaimo, British Columbia, last year. This paid for the boat.
We have been dreaming and planning this sabbatical for many years so have been (somewhat) diligent in our spending habits.
Every major purchase in our lives has been based with this dream in mind.
Was it really worth going out to eat if we could save that money for the boat?
Was that Starbucks coffee really necessary?
Secondhand toys and clothes are part of the norm in our household.
It became a mindset and a way of life I suppose, to live as frugally as we could. Of course we splurged and treated ourselves on occasion. But we tried to keep our eyes on the prize.
|1st Day of Unemployment!!|
Over the years we managed to save enough money to cruise for the next 12-18 months. This is based on a $3000 US per month living cost.
This does not include major boat repairs or major travel expenses. We have factored in a budget for this category, but then again boat repair costs are the wild card in this whole equation.
They can be minor or major. And if we incur major costs to keeping the boat safe and maintained, this may severely limit where we cruise and how long we cruise for.
All we know is that we have a set amount of funds, and since we are not willing to dip into our retirement savings or the kids' education funds, we will know from month to month how we are doing.
However, we are leaving open the possibility that if we are enjoying the cruising lifestyle so much but have run out of disposable income, we might get creative (not illegal!) and see what we can do to refill the cruising kitty - wherever we are.
We also started a "Family Sailing Adventure Jar" a while back. The kids would sometimes throw in part of their allowance and we would chuck in some spare change now and again.
This was more of a teachable moment for the kids, to make them realize that we can all do our bit to save for this sailing sabbatical.
This weekend we will count it all up and see how much we have accumulated.
My bet is about a dozen ice cream cones' worth. Possibly even waffle cones and sprinkles included!
Are the kids excited?!
It's hard to know what exactly goes through their minds, but if I had to guess, I would say YES.
They do know what is happening and have been part of the planning and preparation over the last year.
They have heard us talk about every step of this journey. How much they understand I'm not entirely sure.
They haven't seen the boat yet since only Matt and I went out to do the boat inspection last October.
While the kids have some experience with cruising and living aboard on holidays, I'm trying to explain to them that this isn't a holiday kind of trip.
There won't be special treats every day, like popsicles and candy and all that good stuff.
Instead, there will be daily chores, schoolwork and less screen time than they're used to.
However, despite my efforts in trying to temper their expectations, there are certain clues that lead me to think that they are excited.
For one, they keep coming back home from school and Kids Club with some sort of boat or sailing-related art, composition or creation.
Aila made a gorgeous rock painting with a sailboat. She also made a play-doh boat with her and I on it. She's regularly drawing boats and flags.
The one that impressed me most was the paper origami boat that I made with her.
She then went on to tape the boat onto 'water' and hang an anchor down below.
The impressive part was that she knew which part of the boat the anchor hung from, at the bow.
Just yesterday, Tai brought home a hand-written copy of the popular Mark Twain quote which he had seen on a poster and copied down from Kids Club.
It made us very happy.
We have laminated it and will stick it in our salon when we get to the boat.
When things get a bit hairy or we are questioning why we're doing this, we'll read it and remember how it all began a long, long time ago.