When we first made the commitment to our live aboard dream three years ago, we had a 1 year old and I was 7 months pregnant. We did not have the exact plans, but a vision of what we wanted, so we began the process of saving, downsizing, and making all decisions based on achieving our cruising goal. We set an arbitrary date of June 2016 as a “departure” date. On June 15th, we cast off and the adventure began.
As I reflect on the last years of planning and then pushing away from the dock, it resembles having a baby. As many say, you are never really prepared for a baby and the same rings true for committing to full time cruising. You get pregnant and begin to prepare for 9 months for this little bundle of joy to enter into your life. Finally, that day comes and you have a precious little baby in your arms and then the true adventure begins…something you could have never expected when you were dreaming and preparing for your sweet baby. The unimaginable love you feel for someone else, the complete exhaustion you have never felt before, and the change in yourself for the better are all outcomes of a baby entering your life.
So, let me be real….we jumped into our current life with both feet. We quit our jobs (a job I loved). We sold our house. We sold our things (we do not have a storage unit). We literally went All In. There is no turning back or second guessing. This is REALLY SCARY. And it has taken me time to adjust, the same way it did when I had my first child. Life has changed drastically. Not only are we living in a tiny space, but we are traveling constantly (in the heat) and I have become a “stay on the boat mom”. It is alot to take in….. and I admit I have had my moments of “holy crap…what did we do?” Plus, despite making this life changing decision, it may come as a surprise that I have a difficult time with change. Yet, I seem to crave change at the same time. We could have taken baby steps at first, such as moving onto the boat and dock it at a marina for awhile in order to help make the adjustment before beginning to travel. Or we could have taken trips out for more than a night at a time with our girls before we moved aboard. Or we could have kept our home, so we would have a landbased house to come back to if needed. But no, we were determined to jump in with both feet, not giving ourselves any “outs” and we are are currently experiencing the highs and lows of this decision and transition period. Very similar to the feelings during the first few months after we had our first child….not know what is normal and if I was doing things “correctly”.
So, I find myself in a middle place between an old life and a new life. The place of adjustment. During this time, I have experienced some of my highest highs and lowest lows…..the extreme opposites of emotions. The good times are characterized by happy children, exploring new places, and meeting new people. The experiences with people, both my family and others we have crossed paths with, have created some wonderful memories already. The Street family in Shallotte who opened up their home to us during our time of distress; the Brennan’s who gave us a place to stay in Vermont while we had our boat repaired, the Bakers in Oriental who we shared cruising stories with, the owners of Spoon River who treated us to tasty treats in their restaurant on a hot day in Belhaven; and Dana at Port Discovery in Elizabeth City who came and saw us off with a sweet gift as we departed are just a few of the people have meet along the way. The kindness exhibited by these people and friendships made would not have happened if we did not jump into this new life. Being able to watch my children experience the nature of wild horses on the beach or learn about sick sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Hospital has been amazing. Working together as a family to solve problems and live simply and purposefully is completely rewarding.
Yet at the same time one of the biggest challenges during this time has been my children. We have some really tough days of fights between the two of them and downright tantrums. Sometimes I can’t decipher between this being normal behavior of 3 and 4 year old sisters or is it the adjustment to a new life that causes the behavior. Both of them want Mommy’s attention all day long and are extremely needy. Between the hot temperatures and the demandingness of the girls, I am emotionally and physically drained
many most nights. Boat issues also come and go, but when we have a problem with the boat, it has been a demanding experience for all involved. We have written about the experience of running aground, but more recently we had an experience entering Norfolk and our engine began to smoke. We quickly pulled the girls into the cockpit as the smoke came rolling out of the engine. The Coast Guard and TowBoatUS came to our rescue. We are all fine and currently trying to diagnosis our engine problem, but in a moment like this one, fear I have never felt rushed through my body.
Only time will tell if the choice we made to jump all in with no out’s was the right decision. I seem to think this was the course our family was meant to take and the challenges are making us stronger and making us grow as a family unit, but we will see!