We often receive questions from family and friends that aren’t educated in the sailing world about the adventure we are about to undertake so we’re going to answer those questions here.
Q. Are you really going to live on your boat? Why? What about a house?
A. Yes, we are really going to live on our boat. Why? Because we want the freedom that offers; we no longer want to be tied to mortgages and car payments and utilities; we want to be tied to self reliability and memory making.
Q. Won’t you miss the comforts of home?
A. You mean like hot and cold running water, two bathrooms with showers, a queen size bed, electricty and internet? We have all those things.This is not a camping trip. There will be some differences, but we think the minor tradeoffs are worthwhile.
Q. How did you plan this?
A. This is a dream of Tom’s that started more than 30 years ago…before the internet was born. At the time he first had the dream, in landlocked northern Illinois he mistakenly thought you had to be financially wealthy to tackle such a life; but eventually found out you only need to be self sufficient (thanks to all the research and contacts made possible by the internet). If you can be self sufficient, you are already a very rich person. (If we have to explain that to you, you will never understand).
Q. How are you moving your boat to Florida? Are you hauling it?
A. We will take our boat south on Lake Michigan to Chicago where we will enter the Chicago Ship Canal and follow basically I-55 south to the Illinois River, the Mississippi River, Ohio River, the Tennessee River, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and finally the Tombigbee River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico…it is about 1,100 miles and yes, we have to have both masts removed from our boat because of bridge heights (we will carry both of our masts…the big sticks in the air…on Pearl Lee in cradles we create). We cannot haul our boat; it is 43 feet by 14 feet and 35,000 pounds. Our masts will be reassembled in Mobile, AL.
Q. How will you cook?
A. We have a full galley (kitchen) with a stove, oven, microwave, double sink, refrigerator and 2 freezers. We also have a gas grill. Pretty much everything you have at home.
Q. How will you do your laundry and groceries?
A. We can do our laundry in a bucket and hang it to dry or hoof/bike it to a laundromat. Yes, we are selling both of our vehicles and will no longer own a car; we do however, have 2 folding bicycles. We will have to provision groceries smartly because we will be hoofing/biking the groceries, too. We will also use our dinghy (that’s our small boat) much like you use your family car, for errand running, hauling groceries, etc.
Q. Will you have a TV?
A. Yes, to watch the occasional movie on a rainy day. We don’t miss it right now when we are at the boat.
Q. Where does your poop go?
A. In the toilet. Then into a holding tank we have to have pumped out about once a week. We are switching both of our toilets (heads) over to composting heads.
Q. You know what ropes to pull and stuff?
A. Yes, yes we do; it’s actually Keg’s preferred “job”on the boat. She even knows how to drive the boat! She is learning to dock (park) it this summer.
Q. Are you keeping your house so you can come back to it when you decide you don’t want to do this anymore?
A. No. We are moving into our new home (the boat) later this summer and not looking back at owning a house. Keeping our house would mean we would still have all the bills, worries and problems associated with it. Rather than have those issues and add our boat to the mix, we will make a trade.
Q. Isn’t what you’re doing dangerous?
A. No more dangerous than driving cross country; you have to prepare for whatever you are doing and we have been preparing for almost 7 years, in some ways far longer.
Q. Aren’t you afraid of pirates?
A. That means we would have to be afraid of ourselves! Arrrrr!!
Q. What happens when it storms?
A. You get wet if you stay outside. We have a strong boat and good anchors with plenty of chain. While our home might bounce around a bit, it will stay put.
Q. What will you do in hurricanes?
A. As Mr Miagi says: “best defense, no be there”. We’ll try our best to get out of the way and batten down the hatches. One nice thing about ‘canes is you get days of warning, unlike our Illinois tornadoes. Boats have been surviving hurricanes for hundreds of years.
Q. Won’t you miss your families & friends?
A. We rarely see them as it is…other than holidays, funerals and weddings but they are always more than welcome to fly in to wherever we are at and spend time on the boat with us.
Q. Will you live at a dock?
A. God we hope not. We would like to live at anchor.
Q. If you live in the bay on your anchor, how do you get an extension cord to your boat? (Yes, we have been asked this)
A. We will have solar panels and a BUNCH of big batteries for electricity (we’re installing them this summer before we leave). Our solar should supply all of our electricity since our needs will be small. We also have a generator that could power the average home, but we don’t plan to use it much. This is all about self sufficiency after all.
Q. What will you do for work?
A. Not sure yet but we have some really good options out there: boat repairs, chartering services, Keg’s jewelry pays a little, Tom is an IT guy and folks always need PC repairs…who knows what we will find ourselves doing; we have a comfy 1-3 year cushion depending on how frugal we are and barring any major emergencies.
Q. What about water?
A. We have a 200 gallon water tank and a purification system just in case anything icky grows in the tank. With a bit of conservation we can make that last a long time. Some boats have water makers (desalinators) that turn sea water into drinking water, but for the time being we will put that time and money into other areas.
That’s all we can think of for now, but we’ll probably add more as questions come up. Some people think we are going off half cocked here and worry about us but, we aren’t. There have been many years of research, planning and figuring and discussing, teaching, learning…you name it going into this. We know what we are doing and we are going to be ok.