Update on the Sailing Dream

Harbor at Naples, Italy – February 2015

Since we’re at mid-May, it seems to be a decent time to provide an update on some goals, specifically on the sailing goal.  We went to the Miami Boat Show as planned in February.  While there we attended a Couples Cruising seminar, as well as checking out probably 50 boats.  Most of these were new sailboats, and a handful were powerboats.  The Beneteau Oceanis 35 (actually the entire Oceanis line), the Salonas S44, and the Catalina 445 were probably our favorite sailboats.  We found the Catamarans very appealing, in fact the FP Helia 44 was very enticing; the amount of space is amazing, and the stability was noticeable.   But really, we found all the boats we liked to be more stable than the docks themselves.  We also liked a few of the Mainship trawlers, and even a Carver powerboat was pretty nice inside, if a little challenged on the external aesthetics.

So then it was off to our initial “Learn to Sail” course in March, which also went well.  But we ran into a problem:  our desire to have a boat and live that lifestyle got the best of us.  We started doing some financial calculations and asked “how much could we save up in  year?  How about in 2-3 years?”   We started to realize this whole dream is entirely possible, but we could probably even keep the house if we play it right.  Meaning no boat loans and  delaying any boat purchase.

So we got into high gear.  We paid of both cars, and are knocking on the door of being debt-free except the house by paying off our last student loan.  Then we’ll focus on getting the house paid for.  I don’t think this realistically changes our timeline for long-term cruising, and in many ways will probably extend the length of time we can be on a sailboat.  One of the primary drivers of a departure timeline has been aging family, as we’ll be in our current area to support them for several years.

So we’re now following Dave Ramsey’s guidelines on building wealth, and hopefully that leads to the same early retirement I have dreamed of, just with more assets and financial resources.   We’re not quite on the “beans and rice, rice and beans” plan, but we are cutting back a good bit.  Hopefully in 4-5 years we’re be in the position to have the flexibility to do what we choose, including going sailing/boating for extended periods of time – even if it’s just on the Three Rivers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia most of the time.

Of course, any time I put my mind to doing something good or better, temptations or challenges seem to be thrown my way.  So what have they be building right outside my office window the past several weeks? A marina.  Seriously, they’re building a new marina right outside my window on the other side of the river!  How lovely!  We could have the boat a five minute walk across the river from my office if we stuck with the original plan to buy a boat this year.  Oh, temptation!

I feel strongly that we’ll be in much better shape long-term if we pursue the ‘and’ solution instead of the ‘or’ solution.   Meaning answering the question “How can we have a (sail)boat  AND the house and still retire early?” instead of   “Do we sell the house to take a break from working and go sailing OR do we put it off until retirement like most people?”

All that means is there will probably be limited sailing updates this year, and my goals of taking sailing lessons and skippering in races are torpedoed for now.  But my wife shares the dream, and we’ll get out there hopefully sooner than originally planned.


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