Big Plans! Big!

You may be wondering why I haven’t written in a while. I know that springtime for us can be filled with lots of things to do, house chores when the weather improves from winter’s stranglehold, various boat projects du jour, and finally getting out on the water for some relaxation. Have I been overcome by a bout of writer’s block? Don’t I have anything to say? I promise you that nothing of the sort has happened! In fact, I have written a lot in the last couple of months, but I haven’t felt like any of it was worthy of publishing in its own right without me seeming like a raving lunatic. It’s all been raw, random thoughts and stream-of-consciousness ramblings. If I had published some of the things I’ve been writing it would have come across as me waving a club indiscriminately and clobbering everyone and everything in my way. I’ve had so many things to write about, things that we’ve been up to, things at this point that have already happened, that I haven’t been able to sit and organize my thoughts. Then as time progresses I get further and further behind in writing so that I really need to go back to the beginning and inform everybody as to what in the world is actually going on! So here, in a “Drinking From The Firehose” fashion I will try to get the words out and catch everyone up to speed.

The Big Plan Revealed!

So, for those of you following along, it’s been no secret that we are outfitting our boat in the hopes that we can take it to the Caribbean one day. Our plan is to cast off next July and begin our grand adventure. We have been working towards this for almost a decade. Those pesky 5 year plans kept rolling over into new 5 year plans that never got shorter, but in 2013 we drew a line in the sand. We set our “cast off” date as Summer 2018, and we have been quietly but actively moving in that direction ever since. Through it all we have made lists of things to do in order to get us to our goal and accomplished them one after another for several years now, and I am excited to say that we are still on track! This grand dream-goal of ours has required us to make a ton of decisions and we will get to them here, but first “The Plan” for those who may not be completely in the loop.

Our hopes are that we can follow a well-worn trail and join up with other east coast live-aboard cruisers in the annual migration between the mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Bay region and the Bahamas and points further south. Our country has an amazing feature that some are unaware of that’s called the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway. It is a waterway link between the Chesapeake Bay and southern Florida that is completely protected from the open Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of cruisers use this waterway to traverse the eastern seaboard every year safely and securely while being able to visit the numerous seaside communities along the way. For many years our retirement plans have included making this adventurous journey and seeing just how many years we will enjoy being part of this annual migration following the summer north and south as the seasons and weather allows. The “Standard” Cruising season is to head south in mid-October/early November and make your way to Miami. Then sometime in December make the crossing to the Bahamas and points further south if desired. In April, boaters will begin heading back north, crossing back to Miami or other points in Florida early in May making their way back to the Chesapeake or points further north before June and spending the summers either on the boat or doing something else for the more temperate northern summer. The main reason for this is that June through September is considered “Hurricane Season” with the majority of the possible devastation occurring further south in the Caribbean. Also, most insurance companies want you to have your boat north of a point somewhere in Georgia to get the best rates during the hurricane season. And in October the process begins all over again. This is our dream, and we wish to give it an honest try and see if it can live up to everything it is made out to be. We’ll see.

So! This brings us to the question of what to do for the summer months? Do we stay on the boat and stay on the east coast all of the time? Friends and others we’ve known who’ve gone cruising are usually of the opinion that some sort of a land-based existence should be practiced during this “Off Season” from sailing. For us northerners, it seems strange to consider summer the off-season because all we usually have for sailing is the June-September time-frame, and we try to fit an entire year of fun into those few short months. But for the Ocean Live-Aboards, that is a time to travel and see family and friends. Conveniently, this coincides with when people are ready to be outside, make their own travel and vacation plans, and come out of their winter hibernation. So, this brings us to the giant, overwhelming, super-important question of what do we want to do? And really, isn’t that the one question we’re all trying to answer?

For years Marge and I have been contemplating what we want to do in our retirement. Sailing, obviously!  But what else?  We’re not one dimensional people, though some might argue otherwise when we never shut up about sailing! We want to be able to travel. We want to be able to see people and probably snow-bird. I know I am mentally done with the whole “Shoveling Snow” thing. I imagine we might keep our boat on the east coast or in the Florida Keys somewhere and be up here in the Great Lakes area in the summers. We built our house originally so that we could be safe and have a home for when we eventually get old. This is what smart people do. This seemed like the best plan at the time and has worked out wonderfully for us. We really wanted to get out of the Twin Cities and move north to Lake Superior. We needed badly to get out of debt. We bought our land and built our house all on our savings and built a nest-egg that is our domicile and a little more. But as we get closer to retirement, we don’t really imagine ourselves just sitting around watching the grass grow. We don’t imagine ourselves being tied to a home that requires maintenance and looking after. And while we do imagine ourselves wanting the security and roots of a home at some future time, it just seems to make less and less sense to us for the time being. So, what to do? Do we rent out the house and hope that it survives the ravages of renters?  Do we board up everything and wish real hard that it doesn’t get broken into or nothing breaks while we’re gone? Not one person we talked with said that renting out our home would be a good idea, and we just couldn’t stand the thought of the beautiful house that we created getting wrecked by uncaring renters.

The sheer amount of conversations we have had over the last couple of years about what to do with the house is simply overwhelming. In the end, we figured that we couldn’t do everything we wanted and hold onto the house too. So it has to go if we are to get to the next stage. We are going to forego the fixed house scenario for a while in favor of a more mobile existence.

We will now take a break and let what I just said sink in…..

“Whoa!”, you say! “You’re selling the house?”. Yep! We expect there to be lots of questions and we hope to have time to answer them all in due time. We made the tough decision to sell the house this winter given that the housing market is really “Hot”, and every possible factor is in the favor of home sellers right now. If we waited we may lose an opportunity and get stuck without options until another opportunity came along. We are too close to our goals to turn back now! We are “Move Forward” People! And Move Forward We Will!

So what next? Well, we’ve made a decision! It involves keeping our options open, being able to travel, having a home-base, having a place to call home, not being tied-down, being able to see different parts of the country, being able to get off of the boat for a break, being able to enjoy the northern summers, being able to spend more time with friends and family, all the while not having to worry about summer house chores, lawn mowing, yard maintenance, and not having to worry about what’s happening to the house in the winter while we are in far-flung locations.

Marge says, “We bought a Zoo!”. No, not really, but we did buy a Motorhome!

Once the realization that what we were gravitating towards was a form of mobile land-based travel unit (being intentionally vague, as we still didn’t know exactly what we wanted), we began to look around at what was available in travel trailers. We explored a few dozen in person and probably hundreds of them online before getting serious. When it became clear that a travel trailer just wouldn’t allow us to carry much of anything with us as they are built so light, it became a question of what would work then?  Also, neither of us really liked the idea of driving a big truck and hauling around a giant trailer everywhere.  We want to be able to explore the country!  We want to be a turtle in a shell that takes it’s home with it wherever it goes. What really seemed to be a better fit was going to be a normal full size Class A Motorhome. We didn’t even know if we could afford something like that, but undaunted we began looking and very quickly stumbled into our new Motorhome. We did our research quickly and bought “Verne” in April. He has been busy making himself a part of our lives this spring and we just can’t wait to show him off to everyone.

Plus driving him is really fun! Marge loves to drive him too, and we will write many more posts about “Verne” in the coming years as he will be our constant companion as we travel around the country every year from June to October.

We are aware that this will be quite new to everyone, and getting used to us living in a Sailboat for part of the year and in a Motorhome for part of the year may be a strange idea to get used to. Take a deep breath, and realize that millions of people retire and travel in Motorhomes all over the U.S. and Canada. A million Americans live full-time in a Motorhome, and I don’t know how many are live-aboard cruisers, but a lot.

We still have a year left of “normal” work and life, if you can call what we are doing anything approaching normal. Our plans are to get an apartment for the winter and keep saving our pennies as we pack what we need and have room for into Verne and Wandering Toes. Then the adventure begins!

I promised you a Fire Hose didn’t I?

Consider yourself drenched with new information.

More to follow…..  Lots more!

David and Marge Back
s/v Wandering Toes and Verne!

15 thoughts on “Big Plans! Big!”

  1. Tally Ho! Here we go! Loved your update and photos. I hope to sail with you sometime down the intercostal. YES!


  2. Congratulations. I stepped aboard Verne in late May. He’s everything you say and more. I hope you drive him 20,000 leagues and beyond.


  3. Well hello “Vern”!!!! James and I are very excited for you guys to start your new adventure 🙂 Can’t wait to visit you in the Bahamas!!


  4. Beware the squirrels at the grand canyon if you go. Sedona is beautiful. Have fun on your land/sea cruisers! : )


  5. Well, first of all – finally an update! Good to read about what is going on. Glad to know how plans are coming along. Sending hugs n snorts. J R


  6. Congrats on “your plan”. Since AZ has no major water, I figured you would never be down this way. But now that Verne is part of the plan you should come see what we have to offer. The Grand Canyon is only 4 hours away and Sedona is even closer. You should come down & explore when you get a chance. We have room for you and Verne. Follow your dreams! Life is too short not to do what you want.


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