Sometimes I sit here and wonder how the heck we came from being a relatively normal suburban family to selling everything and wanting to move aboard a boat.
While we have only been actively discussing the option of moving onto a boat for a few months – in reality its been a long journey growing in its own time.
Being the self appointed finance manager in our family I have often wondered since purchasing our house 13 years ago and bringing 2 children into the world, how we are going to manage long term to service our mortgage, live comfortably and have a bit of money left over for fun AND have time to actually see eachother.
We both have been lucky really. Tim has managed to feed us all and pay the bills for much of the time as a photographer in rural New Zealand. He worked very hard, all hours of the week often being weighed down by the responsibility of being the main income earner. I worked part time jobs and helped him with the admin,finance and marketing stuff in his business to make ends meet while the kids where little. Eventually I retrained and started my own yoga studio which saw us both working all hours of the week and everybody who owns their own business knows that the work is never finished. We both managed to do work we loved and are passionate about, but the pressure to bring the money in to pay all the bills and the daily grind and pressures of running businesses, a houshold, being parents, partners, gardners, cooks took the joy out of it over time for both of us.
In the last 3 years stress levels have soared and at times had me wondering why we started a family if we never actually see eachother and when we do we are all exhausted and in our own little world distracted by all the stimulations we have to deal with on a daily basis and basically entirely empty, mosly tired and often grumpy.
Our favorite past time was going to Lake Rotoiti here in New Zealand to our trailer yacht on long weekends, since long holidays weren’t really an option for us.. The yacht was Tim’s idea. His family owned a bach there when he was a child and he grew up sailing up and down the lake in his little yacht. I am not really a sailor – quite the opposite – when it gets rough and the wind blows hard and the boat leans over I get scared – the rest of the family laughts about me and enjoys the ride. The kids both loved it, once they were a bit older. We got our first trailer yacht when Nina was a tiny thing. Both kids grew up with the sailing experience and we all love and enjoy being outdoors in nature and leaving civilisation behind for a bit. Its amazing how little we really need to be happy. Our longest stay was 12 days on our 25 foot boat – no showers, no fridge – just us the lake a few books, sunshine, no plan, a few clothes and some simple food.
I can still remember one weekend when Tim and I were sitting in one of the hot pools at Lake Rotoiti and I said “Imagine how it would feel if we could do this every day, just wake up and go and do what we like”. Moments like this felt like just dreaming up some unrealistic scenario that is never going to happen, but it obviously unlodged some unconscious deeper exploration. Those little tasts of freedom certainly made me want more of it. But how???
Tim somehow found some sailing channels one day. It started with “La Vagabonde”, Then came “SV Delos” and then we somehow become hooked and watched more and more until some day after a couple of years I decided I didn’t really want live other peoples adventures and dreams through a screen anymore. It made me feel trapped, so I often stopped joining in watching.
There was a phase where we looked at tiny homes and housebuses to somehow get rid of our mortgage, but looking at the numbers and space for a family none of it was really practical – housebuses were too small to provide a bit of privacy for everyone and for tiny homes you need a property so the mortgage game comes back in. Also Tim always wanted to keep the house and have some security to come back to and to be perfectly honest I rather like that idea too. But the numbers just didn’t add up – we didn’t have anything, other than a bit of equity in the house. So all those thoughts, dreams and discussions got buried one after the other and we somehow reconciled with the idear that we would probably work out butts off and pay a mortgage until we looked at the reddishes from downstairs as my dad used to say.
Then one day Tim said “Well what about a bigger boat to live on?”. They are bigger than tiny houses, you don’t need a property to put it on and they are cheaper too and you can take them places. And somehow he had made peace with the idea that we would have to sell everything we own to make it happen. How did that happen? Somehow I liked the idea of adventure, but moreso I am a creature that loves routine and comfort and that Tim has always been so grounded here gave me some sense of security. My first reaction was a mix of exitment and horror. I would much prefer a housebus or huge campervan to a boat on an ocean – as mentioned I am not a sailer by any stretch and big waves and leaning boats scare me, not to mention that I get car and sea sick and I have deep respect or even slight fear of the big, big ocean. So if I am being honest the horror was way more prominent that the exitement. I had visions of storms, big waves, pirates, injuries, ripped sails, being lost at sea and leaning over the reiling providing compost for the fish.
The excitement eventually won over the horror. That is after many months of research, reading blogs, asking other sailing families many questions. Getting coaching with the crew from Totem, who have sailed with their kids for over 10 years. Buying any book I could get my hands on related to the subject, joining every facebookgroup and instagram profile roughly related to the topic of family sailing and the vague and scary vision of our family sailing at sea in amongst monster waves with pirates boats near by turned into something realisticly possible and enjoyable for us.
We crunched some numbers – o.k. Tim did. For the first time since we have been together I saw him being enthusiatic about figuring out finance stuff and telling me about the projected budget. We started to think about where to start from. We got Luca’s dusty globe out from the corner of his room to look at the where in the world we where, what oceans were between us and the countries we never thought we would be able to travel to, we traced lines with our fingers on the globe uhhing and ahhing and trying to figure out what made most sense. By that stage even the kids got excited. The globe is now a prominent feature ready to be explored at any minute on our eating table. The huge learning curve has already begun with geography lessions, basic finance, detachment from stuff, letting go of fears, embracing the unknown, trust in eachothers ability that we can do this as a family, dealing with reactions of friends and family which have been mostly positive, but there were the nay sayers too, which elevated especially my fears temporarily.
So I think looking back this all just didn’t happen in the last 5 months – its a seed that has been planted long ago and grew without us conscioulsy realising, until one day it somehow had grown roots and we couldn’t ignore it any longer.
Sometimes I stop and wonder if we are completely crazy and if we lost our minds. I almost picture this as carefully and meticulously building and creating a tower with all the different blocks that make our life over many years and now within just a few months we just tumble that tower over – destroy what we built with blood, sweat and tears just like that. But sometimes from that complete “destruction” comes some beautiful new creation that had no space to flourish in that environment. That is what I am clinging on to and hoping for for all of us – that this is a start of something beautiful, exciting, freeing, expanding and light – a journey and an adventure beyond our wildest dreams.
And so I reassure myself every day: I trust that we will be happy. I trust that we will be safe. I trust that our experience will be a joyful and fulfilling one. One we will be able to feed of and learn from for the rest of our lives. And so it is.