About the Crew

Lately I have had to face the fact that not everybody thinks that what we are doing — selling everything, moving on to a boat with 2 small children, and eschewing the comforts of modern civilization in favor of a simpler, crunchier life — is as plain-as-rain normal as I think it is.

I first started thinking about cruising as a lifestyle when I was in my mid-teens. By 19 (when I met my future wife, Victoria) it had gelled into a Life’s Dream. I’m quite sure it was a formative topic of conversation because, although Victoria didn’t come into the relationship with a passion for cruising, she has since developed one that rivals my own.

We bought our first boat together on my 25th birthday and sold it the week our daughter was born. That boat provided us with 4 years of wonderful memories, and was where Victoria became enchanted with the idea of cruising. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right boat for blue water sailing. Selling that boat was sad and hard and it motivated us to get serious about our dream.

The Dream

So it was that in late 2004 we began to pay off our debt in earnest. Like anything we’ve been passionate about, we really committed ourselves to this goal. It hurt. We went through cycles of lean living only to binge when we felt the strain of our efforts. Slowly we adapted and learned to ration. We gave ourselves each a very small allowance but that was usually enough to keep us from binging. We taught ourselves to buy only what we had earned. Finally in 2007 we were free of all debt. And with that, we set about saving.

The Plan

Initially we intended to save $140,000. That, we hoped, would be enough to buy a boat, outfit it, and sail for 2 years without working. We expected that would take another 5 years. We intended to leave California for warmer waters in October 2012. That was a great idea and $140k probably would have been close to enough.

Unfortunately the itch got us before we had met our goal and we spent all of our savings on closing costs, shipping, and initial outfitting. In April of 2010 we had a dreamy boat, 2 years worth of projects, and (once again) debt. We also had a plan.

The plan was to pay off the boat while living on it, and then save our kitty with the remaining months. On paper it looked great. Paper lies. Not only did the project list take on its own personality, but it turns out that living on a boat (in the San Francisco Bay Area) while acting like a normal person is quite time consuming and expensive.

The New Plan

We had been living aboard for a few months when we met the of s/vBritannia. Krister and Amanda, in the course of a few margarita enhanced evenings, convinced us to leave for Mexico with them (2 months later) and buddy boat through the South Pacific with them in 2011.

At the time it seemed like the most sane course of action. So we got out the lying paper again and started working backwards from the new launch date. No matter how I tried, the facts could not be manipulated to make the new date workable. There were too many details (passports, immunizations, mail forwarding, boat projects) to do and too few days. We relented to the facts but the mental exercise gave us a new appreciation for what was possible.

The New New Plan

… is to leave in October of 2011. This is a year earlier than our pre-Britannia plan, but still in the realm of possibility. Well, it’s in the realm of possibility if we abandon hope of a secure retirement. In order to equip the boat and prepare to sail, we have made the (some will claim foolhardy) decision to liquidate some of our retirement.  In lieu of a explanation for this decision I will submit that parents who are coming from the place that we are coming from will just get it, and everyone else will know that we have lost our collective marbles. If you are one of the folks that get it I beg you to follow your instinct.

So, with marbles scattered to the wind, we approach our deadline. At the writing of this post we have 16 weeks until departure. We will leave in October and it will be the best possible choice for our family. I’ve never been so sure of a decision. But still there are the fears, doubts, and uncertainty.

For example: there is the razor sharp certainty that we will be living on a diminishing kitty for the next 12-18 months (until we reach New Zealand or Australia). Will it last? There is the omnipresent possibility that our tiny home and everything that we own might be destroyed by a force of nature. And there is the nagging doubt that comes with walking away from a career and an organization that I have worked with for 10 years. I will almost certainly work harder for everything that I earn from here on out.

So while I do recognize that many of our friends and colleagues view the 10 years that we have spent dreaming, paying off debt, saving, pouring over lying paper, and working on boat projects as perhaps insanely tedious, misguided, or whack-a-doodle; to us, it just seems like living the life we were made to live.

…This post was originally written as a guest post for the wonderful fearfuladventurer.com. Thank you Torre for providing the motivation and inspiration to finally write the perfect “” page

15 comments

  1. Comment by Barbara Colucci

    Barbara Colucci Reply June 24, 2011 at 4:11 am

    “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” — Margaret Drabble
    It takes a brave person to be able to walk away from security to live their dream. Congratulations to you all for being that brave! Your children will learn very valuable life lessons from you both and how to live life instead of just walking on the sidelines. Safe travels and best of Luck!

  2. Comment by Eric

    Eric Reply June 26, 2011 at 1:34 am

    I didn’t know about all the courageous sacrifices you guys are making to make this launch date. Retirement dollar costs are never greater than the spiritual costs of regret. Good for you. Though we’ll miss you.

    -Eric-

  3. Comment by Robin

    Robin Reply September 20, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I think it’s a beautiful plan, and an incredible gift to your kids, and I am so glad to find the blog to follow just before you leave! Fair winds!

  4. Comment by J

    J Reply December 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I found you today via http://www.tigandserena.com

    This is exactly what I needed to read at exactly this moment:
    “In order to equip the boat and prepare to sail, we have made the (some will claim foolhardy) decision to liquidate some of our retirement. In lieu of a explanation for this decision I will submit that parents who are coming from the place that we are coming from will just get it, and everyone else will know that we have lost our collective marbles. If you are one of the folks that get it I beg you to follow your instinct.”

    Thank You.

    • Comment by Tucker Bradford

      Tucker Bradford Reply December 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      J, your comment made my day. Let me just put that in perspective by saying that today we arrived in La Cruz which may be the coolest most kid filled city we have been too. I had two cheap as dirt meals with awesome cruiser families and watched my kids play with dozens of kids on beaches, at a kids club, and around town. Today was awesome and your comment made it awesomer. Touching just one person and giving them support when they need it is more than enough reason to keep a blog like this going. Thanks for commenting, and feel free to email me (crew at svconvivia dot com), if you want to ask any questions.

  5. Comment by megan

    megan Reply January 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I came across your blog whilst googling how to purchase a sim card in India ( I head there next week for a month), read your story and was impressed by the choices you have made for your family. It takes a lot of strength, motivation and self belief to choose to sail the seas less travelled. My partner is a keen sailor and his father spends his days living on a yacht sailing around the Caribbean. We live in Wellington, New Zealand and would love to meet/host you and your family if you make it here.
    Wishing you safe and exciting travels.
    🙂 megan

  6. Comment by Lisa (Pelletier) Harmon

    Lisa (Pelletier) Harmon Reply February 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Vicki, Tucker & kids ~ I am SOOO proud that you are pursuing your dream! So many people dream of a wonderful, adventurous future. To share the world with their children and experience life to the fullest. VERY few people actually follow their dreams, but yearn later in life for the adventures lost. I am enjoying your posts and blogs so much, that I am now sharing it with friends here in Kennebunkport and they TOO are following you! Your children will have an experience and adventure unparalleled to any other. They also will miss 10 hours a day of television, dangerous exposure to the unknown on the internet and so many other scary things most kids today are exposed to. You should be very proud of the life you are providing your children with and the fact that you are living the dream! Please keep the posts up and explore, be safe, take pictures and by all means, share! Love Lisa

    • Comment by Victoria Bradford

      Victoria Bradford Reply February 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks so much Lisa! It’s great to hear from you. It’s awesome how life gets when you jump and do the thing you’ve been wanting for so long.

      • Comment by Lisa (Pelletier) Harmon

        Lisa (Pelletier) Harmon Reply February 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

        Makes me wish I had gone on more adventures with my kids when they were young. I will most certainly be planning more adventures for my husband and I though and who knows, maybe we’ll meet up with you folks somewhere along the way!

  7. Comment by susan millar

    susan millar Reply June 7, 2012 at 5:19 am

    so every day my husband and i dream of sailing off wih our 2 young children, we have even made a little room with all our boating mags, shells and memorabilia from the coast. We spend every moment together looking at boats and marinas. One problem WE CAN’T EVEN SAIL!!!!!! I sailed as a teenager bt can’t remember much. So we are going to do our competant crew with the RYA well thats on that paper you talk about. We have 2 different ideas first get a small marine mortgage on a larger boat approx 30 – 40ft and live on it on a marina until we get everything sorted to move on. 2nd idea get a small trailer sailer approx 20ft and have a play around on it and still live on land. It is the more practical idea I know. My husband and I are both self employed and he could work from anywhere aslong as there is wifi. What should we do people????

    • Comment by Tucker Bradford

      Tucker Bradford Reply June 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      Don’t let sailing ability stand in the way of fulfilling your dreams. I think it’s great that you are taking classes, also look for “beer can races” where you can just show up and sail on other people’s boats. Don’t forget to bring a six pack. If the lure of foreign ports is your personal siren call, don’t get a dinghy, sit down with a bunch of paper and makes lists, try to flesh out what you think you will need to cruise and add up the costs. That number should go down as you do your research, if it doesn’t you are doing something wrong. Also start looking around at boats and see what attracts you. When you decide your are fully committed write an email to Bob Perry and hire him to help you pick out your boat (best $500US we spent).
      If you go the trailerable route you may find you are stuck there and will never get offshore. A 20′ boat is still a money pit but you can’t live on it to save up for a big trip.

      Walk the docks, talk to people, and dream boats.

  8. Comment by SV Fluenta

    SV Fluenta Reply August 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Great website and story. As we prepare the boat and ourselves to leave Seattle for Mexico we are heartened to read your blog.

    Windarra suggested we check your blog.

    Cheers,

    Max

  9. Comment by Pat McIntosh

    Pat McIntosh Reply January 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Just re-read the SIGHTINGS article in Lat 38 and visited your web site. I wish we had met you in The Bay before you left, or down in Mexico, but I’m sure our wakes will cross sometime in the future. Loved some of your posts, they brought back lots of good times and places.
    We’d like to mention the 2012 article in Lat 38 in our seminar at the Jack London Sq boat show and in a section regarding cruising with kids in a book we are writing if that’s OK with you, but we won’t include your names or your web address. Have fun & stay safe. Pat

  10. Comment by Mary Larson

    Mary Larson Reply March 1, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Hi.

    So glad to read this. We are cashing out, casting off. May 1 we leave Duluth, MN bound for Brisbane in our 1989 PSC 34, Sea Change. My husband is originally from Brisbane. Thanks for sharing this. I totally “get” your logic and the choices you’ve faced, risks you take, to make this dream come true. Here’s to the Dreamers and the Do-ers!

    Fair Winds,
    Mary

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