Monday, February 2, 2009

Boat and Island Updates

So, here's the deal. If you've been to, especially if you've been following our adventures at sea for years, you're wondering what the hell we're doing right now.

Here's what's going on. Brian and I cruised the Bahamas and Caribbean December through May for several years. From May through October, we worked in the Outer Banks tourism industry and saved money to cruise when the Fall came aound. November was a time to prepare the boat and see family. It was great, and we we were able to sustain a wonderful and fun lifestyle with no debt ever! Yes, thank you... (I just took a bow)...

Anyway, this was all good and stuff, but what if we wanted children or a house or a bigger boat... not in the picture, unless we changed our financial situation. Enter the grand idea of NOT sailing south one winter and savng up for a whole year!!!!

This is what we attempted in the Summer of 2007. We made a plan. This was the plan... We chose a town where we believed we could make a year round income because in the Outer Banks, seasonal jobs just stop.

Brian had been doing construction lately and we believed he could do that anywhere. Me? Waitress, bartender, (licensed) massage therapist, writer... I've also painted houses and sewn boat canvas. Whatever. Anyway, we chose Wilmington, NC based on our criteria to be near the sea, near a boatyard or marina for Puff (the boat), year round population and jobs, and near family (Brian's brother lives there).

It all went horribly wrong. Here's how...

1) There was nowhere to live on our boat, only one marina allowed it and we couldn't get in... waiting list...
2) So we rented a house in nice little suburban neighborhood in July.
3) We both cried when we hauled the boat out and prepared her for months on the hard, we also swore we would be back for her after no more than 1 year
4) I got a job as a massage therapist at a local spa that paid really well until October... then business stopped... I was told this was normal, turns out that in Wilmington massage therapy is seasonal too. I guess we were too close to the beach to escape that.
5) Brian tried and tried to get jobs in the building sector, to say it was difficult is a gross understatement. Wilmington had a moratorium on new construction. He worked for different people here and there.

By October, we realized we were miserable in the house. It was a nice house. We just missed the boat. On a whim, I called the marina with the waitlist. I don't know what happened, all I know is suddenly, we were in! About that time, I got my first article published in a sailing magazine with the promise of more to follow. We were able to re-rent the house and move back onto Puff. Things seemed to be looking up. Except, the whole job/income thing wasn't getting better.

By December, I put out an SOS email to friends in other places asking about work. Our friends Dan in Sara in the Keys answered back with some promising news. There was work in the Keys and the living was cheap, easy, and warm.

In February, we cut our losses and hightailed it out of Wilmington, NC. Sailing down to the Keys reminded us that the boating life is definitely where we belong. We began work at a restaurant called Cabana Breezes in Marathon, (actually Key Colony Beach), the week we arrived. We took a mooring in Boot Key Harbor. There was a gorgeous reef to dive on only a dingy ride away, a park to walk Charlie in, public library, grocery store, etc. all within walking distance.

This was good because we only brought our bikes. We left our cars in storage. The best thing is that it was 80 degrees and beautiful! We rode out bikes 12 miles every day to and from work. We learned that we no longer enjoyed restaurant work, but we had a lot of fun. We would take the $2 bus down to Key West on our days off. It was a crazy year. One thing we knew for sure, we didn't want to be in the Keys when hurricane season came around and we didn't want to be in Wilmington.

So, in April, we headed back up the coast. We had a great ride, except poor Puff's diesel began to break down. The whole diesel thing is another story.... Suffice it to say, we needed a new one and we were true sailors from Florida back to North Carolina. No engine! I think we learned so much that year from June 2007 to June 2008, about what we truly wanted in life and about what it takes to get there. One thing we didn't have after a whole year of bouncing around was extra money, or should I say... any money.

We decided to go back to the Outer Banks, we'd always made money there before. That was our simple logic. In June 2008, Puff limped into Ocracoke's Silver Lake Harbor. We were welcomed with open arms by old friends and new. Within days, we had several job offers. There was so much love, caring, and warmth. There was even a slip for Puff. We stayed.

And though we worked hard, we didn't make enough by the Fall to get a new engine and cruise out of here and we still wanted to have the financial freedom to have a family, get a bigger boat, and build on our Bahamas property. So October came and went and we stayed. It was to be our second winter in NC aboard Puff.

Cold, blustery weather aboard our boat just isn't fun. Once again, an Ocracoke friend extended a gracious offer to rent her waterside cottage from December through March, the coldest months. So, here we are. We see this as an opportunity to put away some money, buy Puff a new engine and find a solution somewhere in our creative minds to our financial situation.

We are working on a mobile, web-based income solution. We also work on inventions and creative works that might give us residual income. These will be the stepping stones to our freedom from conventional living so we can ultimately split our time between a home in the Bahamas and a larger boat. This freedom will also allow us to visit our families for extended periods of time and have a family of our own as well.

So, that's the deal. We haven't gone soft. We're still sailors, adventurers, explorers at heart. We just really screwed up one year and this year we had to re-group. We're getting back aboard the boat at the end of March, she'll have an engine and we'll spend hurricane season here again, in Ocracoke. This is the most fun place to be in the summer anyway. Then, in October... we'll know and you'll know if it was all worth it!


  1. Sounds like a plan. Love the summary and knowing more about how you got where you are. Such an amazing life you're living!

  2. Hey cool! Found you thru S/V Wahoo! We're doin it too.. well we're still refitting our sailboat with hopes of heading for warmer seas soon. Anyway if you get a chance check us out, we could use all the tips from seasoned sea dogs like you guys.