All Aboard! (June 2017)

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The house is (almost) empty.  The car and minivan are packed.  The bicycles are loaded onto the back of the car.  Half of our human crew are minutes from driving away, viewing our home in the rear view mirror.

This is the town where Steve spent the majority of his childhood.  This is where we intentionally (though hastily) moved our family five years ago from Maine.  For community.  For neighborhood.  For riding bikes to school and the summer swim team with friends.  For…”Mayberry”.

Though we loved most everything about living in Maine (ticks the primary exception), our move to Terrace Park was right for our family at the time.  With our oldest about to start kindergarten, the allure of friends across the street and neighborhood playdates was strong.

The friendly and safe community that we immersed ourselves in provided the elementary school foundation that we hoped for.  We were home.  We were here for the long haul.  Like the strong, majestic trees throughout the neighborhood, we were setting down long reaching roots.  Or so we thought.

It turns out, we are movers.  For those who know us, or at least for those who know Steve, this is probably obvious.  This statement likely elicits a chuckle, a smile and knowing nod.

Despite the fact that we have moved and changed gears every 4-6 years since getting married 17 years ago, each place we’ve called home has been, in our minds, where we would stay.  Involved in the community.  Committed to work.  Enjoying our home and property.  Investing in our children and family.

Why then, has this family in the photo above sold almost all of their possessions and packed up what remains into 2 cars to drive to a new home on the ocean?

We are movers.  We crave change.  We hope for adventure.  We long for different cultures and languages.

We want less…”stuff”.  Fewer spaces to clean.  Fewer commitments that capture and drain time and energy.

We want more…time together.   More experiences together.  More learning about ourselves and our world.

Steve has been an adventurer since his late teens.  Moving from town to town, job to job, country to country.  Acquiring skills, knowledge and experiences that continue to be a constant and reassuring resource to our family adventure.

Our talk of adventure, travel and cultural experiences has been an undercurrent in our relationship since the very beginning.  It was important to us, at some point, to invest in experiences in the world with our children.

Despite these conversations early on, we had become entrenched in life.  It happened so quickly.  So quietly.

School.  Work.  Homework.  Riding bicycles.  Swim team.  Soccer teams.  Art enrichment.  Music lessons.  Playdates with friends.  Volunteering.  Volunteering.  Volunteering.

With our oldest quickly moving towards middle school, we realized that if we wanted to have the experiences we discussed early on, we needed to change tracks.  We needed to fully commit and make this dream happen.  If we didn’t make a conscious decision to do it now, it was easy to see how we could look back in 5 years, kids solidly in high school and preparing for college, and wonder “where did the time go?”

So, we made the decision.  We made the commitment to make this happen.  To give it a shot.  Even if it didn’t work out how we envisioned it, we didn’t want to look back and say “why didn’t we try?”

Was it easy?  The decision…actually yes.  Once the idea of sailing came up again, the dream had a form.

The reality of making it all happen.  No!

It took time.  SO. MUCH.TIME!  And energy!!!  All in all, it took about 18 months from the time we started talking about the possibility of changing gears, to this moment you see in the photo above.

Though you see smiles in this photo, there is so much more behind them.  Excitement.  Exhaustion.  Stress.  Strain.  Questioning.  A recent emergency hospitalization we thought might derail all of our plans.

Was it worth it?

This post comes 13 months after the photo above was taken and we can say, “YES”!

Though it hasn’t been all sunshine and snorkeling, and though much about this first year hasn’t looked at all as we envisioned it, we have had an incredibly intense year of learning on many fronts and we would do it again.

Downsizing.  Living in a small space.  Living at dock.  Living at anchor.  Conserving water and electricity.  Driving a dinghy.  Provisioning.  Learning boat systems.  Projects.  Projects.  Projects.  Cooking on a boat.  Boat schooling.  Motoring.  Sailing.  Stowing.  Being cold.  Being hot.  Being dirty.  Being tired.  Making friends.  Exploring new places.  Learning more about each other.  Snorkeling with sea turtles.  Fearing and learning about sharks.  Surrounded by gorgeous blue/green waters.  Finding a new, wonderful and interesting community.

We are finally at a place in our journey where we are beginning to find pockets of time to reflect back on this first year.  We hope to continue this journey back in time to share with you some of our first year afloat.  We hope that following along gives you a sense of both the adventure and the mundane of our lives.

Maybe, just maybe, it will give you some inspiration to rekindle a flame for something adventurous you have dreamed of.

-KJ (and the SV TouRai crew)

Tougy and Steve about to hop in the car to drive into the proverbial sunset.

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Nurai and Dave-the-girl-dog settled in for the drive to the boat with KJ about a week later.

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A beach day soon after we were all living on the boat together.

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The ambulance drive to the hospital for KJ mere days before the planned departure to the boat.  Luckily the small bowel obstruction was treated medically.  We are hopeful this was a once in a lifetime experience!

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