Closer to Living Aboard: The last few days on Whidbey

Headland lost in the fog, seen from Mukilteo ferry

We Really ARE Leaving Whidbey

When we run into friends these days they say, “I thought you’d be gone by now.”

Almost. Almost.

On July 25th Tom and I are setting off eastward to start our living aboard life. At least that’s the plan as of now …

We’ve sold, given away and stored most of our belongings. We’re renting our house. A week from today we’ll stuff the things we really need into our van and head for Boston, where our sailboat is waiting for us.

Finally Making the Living Aboard Dream Come True

When we were first married we planned to get a boat, live aboard and cruise. It’s taken a few years, but we’re finally doing it. We’ll be living the location independent lifestyle – to an extent. Our location will be wherever the boat is.

The Route: Planned, but Flexible

From Boston we’ll travel the Intercoastal Waterway, heading south, watching for hurricanes and stopping here and there for internet connection, work, historical sights and clam cakes. When hurricane season is over (late November, give or take) we’ll head for the Bahamas, then hop through the Caribbean.

That’s as much as we have planned right now, once we’re sailing we have no set map, no set schedule and no set end point – that appears to be typical of the living aboard life, and that’s the way we like it.

The Leaving Schedule: Can We Stick to it This Time?

Right now though, we do have a schedule. And I’m having some trouble believing it’s all going to happen on time. Will we actually leave on our planned day? That’s only eight days away and we still have a lot of work to do. I’m cleaning and painting, Tom’s finishing various projects, and we still have some things for sale on Craigslist. It’s going to be an intense week.

Will we survive? Our backs are sore from moving furniture, our knees bruised from cleaning and building, and my arms are a mass of scratches from wrestling with blackberries.

And then there’s the road trip. We’ll spend a couple of days with our daughter in Montana and then drive almost non-stop from there to Boston. I hope at some point we can find a couple of days to just sit and recover.

In Boston we’ll start working again – we have to paint the bottom of the boat, do some fix it projects, clean (of course) and get her in the water by September 1.

Living Aboard: As Opposed to Moving Aboard

Then the real work begins, as we learn about our new boat and how to change our habits into some magical kind that will make living aboard in a very small space not just possible, but wonderful. She’s only 32 feet long, so after 20 years in a 3,000 square foot house, we know there are many big adjustments coming.

I love that feeling of butterflies. It means my life is a daring adventure.

With all that’s going on I haven’t had much time to feel nervous about stepping off into the unknown, but just today, writing this, I felt the first stirring of butterflies in my stomach.

Life has already changed a lot. Having sold most things, in some ways we’re already acting as if we’re living aboard:

When no toaster is available ingenuity must take over. Cake rack supported over flame works fine.

  • We no longer have a microwave – huge adjustment! Not only do we have to use the stove to heat up the smallest thing, but it had our only clock on it.
  • We no longer have a toaster – which is why I’ve devised the Rube Goldberg contraption shown above.
  • We’re down to just a few plates, knives, forks etc. We wash cutlery constantly.
  • My “office” is now contained in my laptop bag which I move from place to place around the house.
  • We buy small bottles of things we used to get in the large economy size.
  • Life is mostly about being here, in this house, doing things to it. Much like it will be when we’re living aboard the boat, where survival is all about daily maintenance.

None of these things represent a hardship. In fact it feels good to let go of things, give up luxuries, make do and do-it-yourself. We’re becoming minimalist – sort of.

Online life is changing too. Many things I don’t have time for are dropping off my bookmarks bar. Added now are:

Though we like to think we’re doing something wild and unique we’re really following a well worn path. There are lots of folks out there who have done it before us, know more than we do, and are glad to share their knowledge. We discover a new source every day.

How did those intrepid sailors of yesteryear (like the 1980’s) do it? Imagine sailing off on a voyage without all the resources we have available at the swipe of a screen.

But techie gadgets or not, we are leaving soon, we really are. And finally the plan is starting to feel real. Settle down butterflies.

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    1. Hi Candace,

      Thanks for that link to the Cape Cod Canal transit information. I learned some valuable pointers from reading it. The bit about the time limit for the trip was quite enlightening.

      The other day I read about why the canal was built. The seven mile stretch of coast off Cape Cod is particularly treacherous. Prior to the building of the canal, one vessel sank there every 14 days on average! Yeah, I think we’ll be taking the canal.

      You and Bob are of course, a couple of those trailblazers whose advice we’ll be seeking at every step along the way.

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