Some people reading this blog may need a little background – how did we get to Florida, and for Pete’s sake, why?!?
Our boat dreams began (yet again) in earnest during the winter/spring of 2015. Joe and his business partners had recently sold their smallish company, and so we suddenly found ourselves with two unexpected gifts – 1. time, and 2. some money that was unaccounted for. We took the opportunity for soul-searching pretty seriously, and really tried our darnedest to flip over every circumstantial rock that came our way: should we start a new business (that’s what smart people would do, right?); join the Peace Corp (I’ve always wanted to do this); go back to our old professions of teaching or nursing (seems safe). As we took time to process through our unusual situation, we thought a lot about how quickly life goes by. We are now (much to our surprise) middle-aged, and have spent the last 25 years doing all the things responsible Americans do: working umpteen zillion hours a week, buying a house, having incredible children (can’t help but brag on them), paying taxes, mowing lawns, washing cars, blah, blah, blah. Not that our lives were blah – far from it! If Joe’s business had never sold, then I’m sure we’d still be very happily working away at our love-filled and satisfying lives. But his business did sell, and so we found ourselves at one of those rare strange moments in life where you have ‘A Choice’. And choosing can be daunting. You don’t want to choose wrong. You want your future selves to look back on your current selves, and be really glad you made the choice you did. One order of ‘no regrets’, please – hold the ‘wishing for a do-over’!
So, we decided to think outside our boxes, and get down to the roots of what we wanted from the second half of our lives. First, our kids are amazing human beings, and they are growing up and out into the world just like they want to, so we don’t worry too much about them – just the normal amount of worry (yea! for them – we love them so much). Second, we have personally known 3 people, about our ages, that have died within the previous handful of years. 3 people our age! It makes you examine how little control we have over our own timelines – how we never get to see what’s coming around the corner that’s right in front of us. This might sound gloomy to some, but that’s not how we saw it. Instead, ‘Carpe Diem’ (Seize the Day) became our motto. So, Third, we started to think, “what if we don’t do the safe thing?” We started to ask the question “what would we regret not doing?” And that question began shaping our dreams.
Mind you, we couldn’t dream a dream based on unlimited funds (that would be a different kind of blog, and a different kind of story). In fact, we had some really personal and challenging financial math to do – and we are still doing it every day! So, our dreams weren’t based on a blank check, but rather, they were based on how we wanted to spend the currency of our time and our energy. If we wanted to do something, could we find a way to make it happen? We concluded that yes, we could find a way to make it happen, without – hopefully – throwing anyone or anything under the bus. In the end, we knew we wanted to spend some time traveling and see parts of the world we’ve never seen. And we wanted to do it by sailboat. There! That wasn’t so hard to figure out, was it?
Next came the hours and hours (days, weeks, months) spent online looking at boats, reading blogs, reading books, listening to podcasts, looking through magazines. We narrowed our search down to a few specific types of boats – ones with heavy-displacement, 37-45 feet long, large fuel and water tank storage, heavy-duty hull and deck construction, easy to change sail configurations, and generalized good reputations among the cruising community. And because of our budget limitations, we were looking at getting a boat that was 25-30 years old. We were particularly intrigued by Whitby/Brewers, but there just aren’t that many of them for sale at any given time (only about 300 of them produced). So in the fall of 2015, we arranged to travel to Florida to see a couple of Brewers, as well as several other boats including Tartans, a Hylas and a Gulfstar. Then we saw the Brewer 12.8 (42′) that we ended up purchasing. I think it might have been love at first sight for Joe. In the end, we felt we found a boat that seemed to have everything we wanted in a blue-water craft. Done deal.
And so we bought her, put her ‘up on the hard’ in Palmetto, FL in January of 2016, and came back to Oregon to deal with real life, until the time came when we could go back to her, and begin to live out our adventure.