Monthly Archives: September 2011

Happiness = ??

We have been spending the last week finally getting settled in our new beautiful boat. After being homeless for the last two months, I can not even tell you how good it has been to start to settle in and feel like we have our own space again! This summer has taken quite a toll on us, and even though we have tried to keep our focus on the positive, especially in our blog posts, the truth is the last few months have been incredibly stressful on many levels. Even though we have had the great fortune of staying with wonderful friends and visiting some of our favorite spots in New England, it has still been unbelievably difficult to work efficiently, stay on top of things, and feel stable with such unsettled conditions. Add on top of that the challenges of Cap’t K. getting sick with Lyme disease, the loss of a pivotal family relationship, an unbelievable number of very expensive and inconvenient car repairs, as well as a few other unexpected financial setbacks,… short, we’ve been dealing with a lot of stress. We have been experiencing the downside of our gypsy life.

I’ve even been questioning whether we are doing the right thing. Maybe we should just settle down and “be normal”. Get a life, as we’ve been told by some to do. When we were at the bank getting the money out to pay for our boat, we saw a sign in the bank that said “Nothing brings happiness and a sense of freedom like a great rate on a home mortgage.” We thought, “Wow, that’s quite a statement, equating unparalleled happiness and freedom with being in debt for 30+ years.” We were lucky enough to buy our boat without a loan, and so we are free from a mortgage, and that feels like a sense of freedom to me. However, we are seriously strapped for cash now, and that doesn’t feel so free, and that is definitely not making me happy….it’s a tradeoff either way, and some days I’m not sure which choice is best. Would we feel happier if we were settled with normal jobs and had a great rate on a huge mortgage? A few years ago, we almost went down that road. We were both working full time jobs, and we put in an offer on a house. We offered the guy the amount he was asking for. And he rejected it. So we didn’t get the house and eventually went down this gypsy boat path instead. Now the value of that house is a fraction of what he had been asking for, and we feel pretty lucky that we didn’t get it, because if we did we would owe way more on the mortgage than the house is now worth. Lots of people we know are in that situation, and they aren’t too happy about it, and they definitely aren’t experiencing “freedom”!

What is happiness anyway? It seems elusive sometimes. In the end, we are about as happy as we decide to be with the deck of cards we’ve drawn. Sometimes this whole sailboat adventure seems to be an experiment in exploring what happiness is made of. We have made our choices, taken our risks, picked our cards, and now we have to play them. Some days we feel pretty happy about it all and other days totally suck. Whether we like it or not, it comes down to the fact that for now we have chosen this road and we just need to keep going down it, even though it sometimes feels super scary and stressful. So our next move is to get ourselves south, park it somewhere, and get jobs for the winter. I’m sure you were all hoping for something more exciting than that, but hey, this is our reality right now.

We didn’t plan on getting on this boat and heading south with no money in our pockets, but that’s what is happening. The same car that conspired to keep us in the harbor back in our last post has also conspired to eat up every last cent we had been saving for our trip south. Now we just have to PRAY this boat will get us to where we need to go without expensive repairs as well!

So…we are preparing to head south. Destination, south of the frost line. Florida will enter the picture at some point. Money making opportunities will be a deciding factor. As soon as the car sells, we’re outta here. It’s getting cold! The forecast for the next week is rain, rain, and more rain. Good thing we just got our foul weather gear mailed to us from Florida! We also got all our charts, and we are starting to study them to plan our route south. We REALLY, REALLY don’t want to be stuck on the ICW again all the way down the coast. We feel more confident in our sailing skills now than we did last year, so we are planning as many legs as possible on the ocean to avoid both the cost (of fuel) and the extra time it would take to stay on the ICW. In fact, we are looking for crew…anyone out there interested in sailing part way down the coast with us? We have room now for another person!

Meanwhile, our cats are also getting settled on the new boat, and they seem pretty content about it. Here are a few pics:

Slomo in the cockpit

Standing Headroom!

the new galley!

A new lady in our life

We’ve dropped hints, and for some the word is out, and here we are to declare the news:

We got a bigger boat.

What?  The proponents of all things Wee got a bigger boat?!

Yes.  We did.  We can barely believe it ourselves.  It’s all happened quite fast, and in many ways Divine Providence seems to have stepped in and placed this boat in our path.  Even though we’ve been fantasizing about a bigger boat for awhile now, we weren’t seriously shopping for one.  But a friend’s father was selling his boat and suggested we come look at it.  It was way out of our price range, but at his urging, we went out to the Cape to take a look.  The boat in question is 37′ Islander, a fiberglass sloop of about the same vintage as Wee Happy.

When we arrived at the yacht club, our car “conveniently”  broke down, forcing us to seek a place to spend the night until we could have it looked at by a mechanic the next day.  Well, how about staying on the boat?  It would be nice to try out the bed in the big v-berth….and it was our wedding anniversary the day we went to look at it.  As it turns out, it was also the wedding anniversary of Mark, the owner of boat.  (he’s been married about 45 years longer than we have)

Anyway, we looked at the boat with Mark.  The boat is classy, with gorgeous, well maintained wood everywhere.  Mark, a well seasoned sailor, has owned the boat for over 30 years and has taken meticulous care of it. It’s got all the wonderful conveniences that were missing on Wee Happy.  In addition to the things one would expect on a sailboat, like good sails, intact rigging, a solid hull, gps, etc, this boat (called the Nobska Lady) also has amazing luxuries like running hot water, a stove, a real bathroom, and a table.  And STANDING HEADROOM.  For Cap’t K, that was a major selling point.  Because, as much as we love Wee Happy and think the Albin Vega is a great boat, it was becoming literally painful for Cap’t K. to inhabit.  And I had reached my absolute limit in living without a fully functioning bathroom.  So those things combined have led us to the conclusion that we can not continue to be long term liveaboard cruisers on Wee Happy.  At least not happily……

So anyway, we looked at the boat, and then we spent the night on the boat.  We were basically impressed with the boat when we got the tour with Mark, but it wasn’t until we woke up on the boat the next day that we realized we were in love.  We simply fell in love with it.  The warm beautiful wood covering the interior, the space, the actual kitchen, the wonderful cockpit……we could get used to this…..

Our car continued to conspire against our departure from the harbor and was not able to be fixed the next day.  So Mark took us out for a sail.  She sails beautifully.  Does 6 knots no problem.  We fell in love some more.  We spent another night on the boat.  We fell in love some more.  And then we made an offer, and now the boat is ours.  We ended up getting it for the exact amount we sold our yurt for, which felt perfect.  It’s like we traded one home for another home, an equal trade.  (except that now we have waterfront property!)

Getting her bottom wet after Irene

Right around this time, Hurricane Irene came blasting through.  At first we were worried about Wee Happy, and then we realized the storm was actually headed pretty much straight for our new boat near Cape Cod.  We hadn’t yet paid for and taken posession of the Nobska Lady yet, and happened to be way up on Lake Chaplain taking care of some other business when the hurricane approached.  So as it turned out Mark did the responsible thing and had it hauled out of the water for the storm, and she weathered it just fine, to everyone’s relief.  The following week we went and helped put the rigging and sails back up and got to inspect Nobska Lady’s bottom.

Since the purchase we have been stuck on land dealing with the last of our car nightmares, work, and wrapping things up for our departure south.  In a few days we will be finally ready to move onto the boat for good.

While we have been landlocked we have continued to have the pleasure of spending time with good friends. Many thanks and hugs go out to our friends Erin, Josh, and their daughter Sasha for opening their home to us, making yummy food for us, and even cooking homemade chicken soup when Cap’t K. was sick! We are eternally grateful! And a special mention also to Cap’t K’s sister Sas, who has been lovingly babysitting our cats for 3 months now while we have been in transition.
And we would also like to thank our sailing friends Mimi and Rich who hosted us in their wonderful Adirondack camp during the hurricane. (we weren’t really camping….a “camp” is a term commonly used in the Adirondacks for a big family lodge or house on the lake. We were cozy by a stone fireplace while it rained buckets outside!)

This weekend we had a marvelous reunion with our sailing buddies Roark and Sherry, along with Roark’s daughter Aisling and friend Morgan from s/v Good Goose.  Some of you may remember them from our journey down the ICW last year.  They were some of our best friends we met while sailing on Wee Happy and we were relieved to discover we could be friends with them even on land — we spent the weekend at Roark’s family cabin in the deep woods of the Adirondacks and didn’t even see water the whole time we were together but loved each other’s company just the same!

Reunited and it feels so good!

Roark gets a ride in Vanny!

I know some of you out there (like Wes!) are going to give us crap for ever for getting a bigger boat. You are all invited onto our new boat for a big dance party and sleep over!

But to put the “bigger” concept in perspective, we are currently using the boat as our home. On Wee Happy we were living in a space about the same size as some people’s walk in closet, now we are in the space about the size of a small living room….it’s still Wee! Not to mention that both Wee Happy and Nobska Lady combined cost less than an average new car!

For those of you wondering about what we are going to do with Wee Happy, we are still in a decision making process about it, however she is being taken care of by some friends for now.

We are also in the process of coming up with a new name for Nobska Lady, as her name had special meaning for the previous owners but not so much for us. Maybe “Way Happy”??

More details to follow, stay tuned!