End of year update on the Sailing Dream

Step by step, we’re getting closer to realizing our dream.  We just made our last mortgage payment of 2016.  Since refinancing late this spring, we’ve made enough progress to be at the three year mark of our amortization schedule.  So that’s 3 years of a 15 year mortgage paid in 6 months.  In respect to our 5 year plan to get it paid off, we’re already 6 months ahead of schedule.  If we maintain this pace, the house is paid off in December 2018 – two years from today!

And as if that’s not motivation enough, I stumbled across a Craigslist posting for a CAL35 sailboat.

Picture from the Craigslist post for a 1983 CAL35 sailboat

The CAL35 was on the shortlist of potential affordable sailboats for us to live on as part of the dream when it was first defined.  We’re in good enough financial shape that we could buy this one right now if we wanted.  I mentioned I saw it to Mrs. Outspoken, and she seemed a little excited too, then responded that she’d rather get the house paid off first. I agree.  Plus, we can’t use a boat this size around Pittsburgh due to the mast height not clearing many of the bridges in the city.  It’s more of a coastal/Great Lakes/Carribbean cruiser.

We have decided to take the vinyl/book selling and try to ramp it up next year, focusing more on the vinyl.  I’m making about 3x the profit on records, although it requires a little more work to clean and grade them.  As long as it stays relatively fun, the work won’t be so bad.  Hopefully we can make a little extra as insurance to getting the house paid off by the end of 2018.

Then what?  We’ll we’ve started down a path of gradually transforming our lifestyle.  We decided that buying a canoe is a good first step to start creating more of a focus on spending time on or around water when we can in 2017.  We’ve saved up some money from our Christmas budget and gifts to fund the purchase.

The next step would probably be those sailing lessons in 2018.  After the house is paid off, we probably would need to take some extended charters in a couple locations we’re dreaming of visiting via sailboat.

We’re not entirely ready from a financial perspective to retire.  Getting the house paid off would relieve much (almost all?) of our financial pressure, and then we’d have to decide where to invest over the coming years to reach financial independence to support a potential sailing lifestyle.   My retirement calculator at work says I’m good to go at age 50, but it will come down to what else is happening in our lives at that time.

I’m also going to really take a look at my spending on alcohol.  I enjoy decent wine and whisky, as well as craft beer, but some months I spend way too much.  Also, the only two times I’ve been sick in the last year (both this month) were after a night of drinking a bit too much.   So for my personal health as well as our financial health, I need to cut back, and cutting the spending by 50-75% should make that happen.

As i discussed in an earlier post, we could cut back a little more.  But I think we’ve done a pretty good job of changing our future outlook.  Sure we could get there (wherever there is) a little faster by doing some extreme things, but I can’t say it would be worth it.  But I do wish I’d started this sooner, which is why I gave a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover to my niece last year at Christmas, and to her brother this year.  I’m also probably going to send them a few tweets in the coming weeks about Mr. Money Mustache.  If I can get one or both of them to see a different possibility for their future, that would be more satisfying than me getting to my destination of Financial Independence a few months earlier.

Whatever it is you want to do, it’s very likely you can do it if you put a clear plan in place.  Start with the “Why”, as in “why do we want to do this, to make these sacrifices or changes?” Then create a vivid visualization of what it would look and feel like to achieve that “Why”.   Next identify what needs to happen to get there, then lay out the simple, often very small steps to make it happen.  For example, why would we buy a canoe if our dream is to sail the Caribbean, Great Lakes, and maybe even the European coastlines?  Because it’s the next small step.

As 2016 comes to a close, take the next step.  Whatever it is, just commit to the next step on your path to achieving your dream.  Every great journey starts with taking the first step.  Where will that first step take you?




Changing perspective

How much stuff can you really fit on a sailboat anyway?
How much stuff can you really fit on a sailboat anyway?

As I consider the possibilities of living on a sailboat for extended periods of time, I find my decision-making is already being affected.  In between the countless hours of reading various blogs about the cruising lifestyle and looking at boats for sale, I find myself considering potential purchases much more critically.  Partly for the money, but more for the consideration of the fact that it won’t be going with us on the boat, so it would just be one more thing to get rid of in the not-to-distant future.

Things like new clothes and new shoes; glassware; artwork.  We like to go to estate sales and flea markets, but lately I have been finding little of interest.  Even my desire for guitars is somewhat tamed right now – not that I buy a lot of them, but I’m always drawn to them.  On the other hand, my list of books that I want to read is getting longer, so it’s not like I’m considering ceasing all purchases.

As I was cleaning up the downstairs “man cave” and listing the espresso machine for sale, I found several other things that could be moved onto new homes.  An old subwoofer, a chair, a few cameras, some miscellaneous things.  It might even be time to thin the blu-ray collection; I’ll keep that under consideration.  And I’m buying less wine and drinking some of my older bottles in an effort to start reducing the total number of bottles instead of working to increase it.

I don’t expect us to have a boat until next year, so maybe this is all pre-mature, but I think that I’m starting to work towards simplifying now so it will be easier to transition later.  Whatever happens with the sailing dream, it seems that one thing I’m looking forward to is simplifying our lives.  And that I can start on now.

Italy’s Cinque Terre Region – July 2014 – Part 1: Riomaggiore

The Village of Manarola

Every once in a while, I get to spend a weekend somewhere while I’m travelling for work.  In July, I was fortunate enough to get a weekend in the Cinque Terre region on the Ligurian coast of Italy.  “Cinque Terre” translates into “Five Lands“, the lands being 5 villages.  I spent Saturday morning in the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola, which are the first two villages you encounter when heading Northwest from La Spezia. I then went to Monterosso, Corniglia, and Vernazza, then returned to spend the early part of Sunday in Vernazza prior to catching a train back to Napoli for work on Monday.

The combined experience of the Cinque Terre region and La Spezia were inspirational to me.  As much as I enjoyed Florence, and as much as I love the people of Napoli, the “CT” or “5 Terre” just felt like a second home to me.  What follows is the beginning of a nearly chronological series of posts of my travels through the Cinque Terre.

Street Cleaning in La Spezia – Kodak Ektar

I left my room in La Spezia around 6:30 am.  After stopping by a local caffeteria to enjoy a cappuccino, a chocolate sfogliatella, and washing those down with a caffe espresso, I headed towards the train station.  That’s when I saw the traditional brooms on the street cleaning cart. The light was low, I had Ektar loaded, but I had to try to get a shot of it!  It’s a little blurry, but I have the memory captured on a negative.

I bought a 2-day train pass at La Spezia station.  The pass allows unlimited rides between La Spezia and Levanto, ad every stop at the CT villages.  The transaction went smoothly.  The elderly lady at the ticket counter understood all I said, I understood her, I was even able to ask where to get the ticket validated.  30 minutes into my day – everything had been in Italian with no repeating what I said or misunderstanding other people.  It was going to be a good day!

As I got off the train in Riomaggiore, I was happy to finally be visiting the Cinque Terre.  I just took a few minutes to soak it all in and “be there”.   As I headed towards the marina, my first real glimpse of what I expected the CT to look like appeared in front of me:


First glimpse of the Ligurian Sea…

Even though the light was low – this is about what it looked like to me – walking through a dark, narrow passage in the ancient buildings, the soft, cool light of pre-sunrise accentuating the blue and whites and banishing the red and orange into the shadows.

Sunrise had technically happened, but the hills rise so sharply out of the sea that it is a few hours before light actually filters down to the coastline.  I hadn’t thought of this, so I had Svema 64 and Ektar 100 loaded in my two Maxxum 5’s.  A disadvantage of film – you can’t just change ISO settings for the light conditions.  I took one photo of the houses on the rocks at the marina, and happened upon a couple locals preparing for  a day of fishing.

I then decided to head up the Eastern slopes and explore the village while getting some photos as the sun gradually worked higher in the sky.   I remember thinking as I walked up the countless steps and pathways to reach the road high up on the hill that comes into Riomaggiore that I probably got my 10,000 steps in before 9 am!  This was a great way to explore the village, and it seemed most people weren’t really active yet.

By the time I had completed my circuit and arrived back at the marina, I looked like I had gone swimming while fully clothed.  It was already hot, and it was humid.  After I took a few photos I sat down, took my shirt off, draped it on some rocks to dry a bit, and relaxed for about half on hour while I drank a liter of water.   I also snapped a few pictures, and spent much of that time watching a sailboat anchored just outside the marina, which I think inspired my newest early retirement objective to live on a sailboat.  In my next post in this series, I’ll retrace my visit to Manarola via the “531” trail.