In Preparation for Our Life Afloat…

To tell you the truth, and it may be of no surprise but, we have been preparing to cast off for salty waters and tropical climes for some time. It’s always been our dream to live a life afloat with the long term goal of sailing the world. Gordon and I met as Captain and Mate aboard a Tall Ship, both of us having already traveled extensively by sail so it was a natural decision for us to buy a boat when our Son came along. Looking back, our dream really started to become a reality when we began the process of purchasing and then moving aboard Monster, our 47′ Bruce Roberts Spray.

After an extensive search, and many many nights perusing yacht world for the ‘right boat’ we eventually found Monster down the street from Gordon’s Parents country home. It was an unforgettable day to launch our new home on our first Wedding Anniversary. We then had a couple months before we made the transition from land to live aboard. The number one thing we had to do was to downsize extensively, and rid ourselves essentially of a furnished house. We were living in a 3 bedroom, 2 story rental house, with a basement and a back yard and all that accompanies such a lifestyle. Minus a car.

In the weeks leading up to the big move Gordon was actually away: working on a Tug boat on the St. Lawrence river, pushing barges from port to port. The job took him away for months at a time, and in order to get the time off for our move he had to bring in his own relief. Much of the responsibility for downsizing and preparing for the move therefore fell upon myself, and our Son that had just turned 4. In the weeks leading up to our move I sold whatever I could on Kijiji (a Canadian buy and sell website): the crib, a stroller, bookshelves, a dishwasher, lots of clothes and toys too. There was plenty of ‘stuff’ we simply have to give away; tables, chairs, a bed frame. Even my Mother’s beloved faux Christmas tree.

With a moving truck booked, I also took it upon myself to disassemble and move whatever furniture and boxes I could to the ground floor. Our house was divided into many, many piles, and we really didn’t have a lot of time. It was in our favour that we had Friends whom at the very same time were transitioning back to a life ashore and they were grateful to take much of our furniture, those items I mentioned that we just gave away. It all came down to a 4 day window to make the move itself, first and foremost I had to make a lengthy 5 hour drive to pick up Gordon from the Tug! Upon his homecoming he quickly set off to pick up the rental truck. Our boat was situated at a marina nearly an hour and a half away, and we had a couple stops to make with our possessions and the truck was packed in particular order. Darkness was settling as we finally came to moving the boxes on board Monster herself. It was a non stop day, full of excitement and exhaustion.

The following day we had to relocate Monster herself to our new berth, in a new City. It was mid October at this point, and winter was on the horizon. Winter live aboard marinas are hard to come by here on the Great Lakes, and we decided early on that in making the choice to move aboard full time we had to go where our boat took us, and so it was that Monster took us to a City I had barely visited, apart from the day I registered our Son for school. We had one last day of Gordon’s leave to settle into our new surroundings, and get the boat and systems up and running before Gordon had to return to the Tug and work. Our Boy and I spent the next seven weeks, our first seven weeks aboard on our own on a new to us boat.

This Fall marked 5 years living aboard, and I can say I’ve never had a moment of doubt or regret in the choices we made. I only recall feelings of excitement and happiness, as we are manifesting our dreams. I was living on a boat! It was the craziest move I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. At the time we were a long way from casting off, and we are still a couple years away but we are grateful to be able to share aspects of the lifestyle with our Son. We often say that at this stage of his life, after growing up on a boat for 5 years our Son doesn’t know much different, his life in a house on land is just a distant memory.

It really isn’t easy to part with some of your belongings, there are so many memories attached to the most benign of things. To this day, we still keep a storage locker. With every visit, we open that storage unit door and realize we still have way to many possessions. Well over a year ago we had a good sort out and cut the storage unit contents in half, including the monthly cost. Off went two heaping shopping carts of goods to a second hand shop. Then more recently, we again pulled out more items, including my childhood dresser that I gave to a co-worker. Several baby items were given to friends with a new young one that would get more use out them more then we were. As time passes it is becoming easier and easier to purge and part with our belongings. It’s really hard to move forward when you are holding onto the past.

We are growing into the mindset that it’s time to depart with every passing day. However, there is still plenty to be done. I can admit we’ve gotten comfortable aboard with more possessions than we really need to go sailing. Fortunately, a good deal of clothing will stay behind…no need for parkas, toques and winter boots in the tropical latitudes! Our recent haul out last fall and the subsequent new paint job definitely spurred a ‘what’s next’ project list. While we will need to do some touch up’s on the paint, and also apply a coat or two of non skid to the decks, there’s another set of projects underway. Mainly building a new hard bimini. We also recently acquired a beautiful bolt of fabric for new settee cushions. As one project gets accomplished it begets another, to the point that we will come to feel we are ready, and come late September 2020 we will cast off our dock lines, and set sail.

This post was inspired by and written to be included in a ‘Raft Up’ aboard Cruising Mom Blog. To read more articles from other families sharing their story of transitioning from land to live aboard click here.

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