Update on Sailing Away

To paraphrase the old quote from Eisenhower about planning:  Plans are useless – it’s the planning that is invaluable.  That’s how I feel about our plan to sail away.  Based on the progress shared in my last update over a year ago, our sailing dream might look like this to many outsiders:

Inadvertent double exposure – a marina in La Spezia, Italy and the beach in Corolla, NC.  Kodak 400TX 

I’d call that confused, error-prone, and not too pretty, but a little funky at the same time. (I’ll share more shots from that roll in the future.)  But in the last year, we’ve gotten into a much stronger financial position.  The catalyst was really the realization that we were going to be able to save up for a boat pretty easily, and that honestly surprised us.  By looking at our entire financial picture, we came up with a better plan that doesn’t hinge on us loving sailing and force us into a less than wonderful situation if or when we pursue another chapter of our lives.

This isn’t a financial or early retirement blog, so I’m not going to share specifics, but we’ve improved our net worth by about $90k in the last year.  Obviously no one knows the future, but if we can approximate that for a few more years, we might be in the position to pursue this sailing dream and never have to worry about looking back, and also never worry about not having a nice home to come back to on land.

What we’ve done is pay off our cars and student loans, started investing agressively in our retirement plans, and then focused on paying off the house.  We just refinanced to a 2.875% fixed rate from 4.5%, so an extra $325 a month of our payment automatically goes to principal instead of interest, and we’re able to at least double up on payments almost every month.  The house should be paid for in 5 years or less, so that gives us 5 years to build the side hustles into a sustainable income, with that income probably reducing the amount of time it takes to pay off the house since none of that is calculated in our plan.

As far as my side hustles go, one of them I could clear $60k if I worked full time, but we don’t need that much and I enjoy it now – I wouldn’t enjoy it full time due to about 25% of the work really feels like work to me; I think in a few hours a week while travelling it can almost sustain the sailing lifestyle, and probably next summer we’ll start experimenting with doing that while travelling, trying to get the work to generate enough income to pay for the trips.  Maybe eventually I outsource most of it, and then it provides smaller returns, but less effort.  The other I think can generate $60k or more annually with minimal work once we build it to a certain size, so we’re laying foundations this summer and starting to work that in the fall.  Both are media-related, niche gigs.

After the house is paid for, the primary question becomes how much longer do we work?  The short answer might be “at least long enough to buy and outfit a boat”, but it will probably be much more complex depending on family situations.  As we get to a point where we can see the finish line on the mortgage, we’ll pick up the plan of taking sailing lessons and spending time on the water the summer before, and we’ll put more details in place. But my goal is still to be financially independent when I’m 48, and we’re largely on track.  Maybe 49…

For now, we’ll take little sailing cruises, maybe eventually we start doing more destination sailing vacations or something.  But we’re focused on our freedom for now; freedom from debt, freedom from needing a job, freedom from the things that are preventing us from pursuing this dream the way we want to pursue it.  In my eyes, our plan looks more like this:

Sailboats outside the harbor in Vernazza, Italy.  Shot on Fuji Velvia the day this dream started…

Maybe not Italy (but why not?) – but anchored near a shore somewhere with the open water in the other direction – free to go when and where we want.  Or not go and enjoy where we are a  little longer.  In the interim, we can enjoy the current journey we’re on.

I think that’s the real point: Enjoy the journey; it’s the only life we’ve got.  But consciously craft the destination, and don’t just go along for the ride.


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