The time has finally arrived to make official our plans for the coming year. Or, at least, to post them here on the blog. It’s been a while since our last post, but we’ve been awfully busy transitioning off the boat and getting our summer itinerary all lined up. From the start, our intention has been to spend this summer visiting family and friends across the Carolinas and Georgia, including attending my brother’s wedding which takes place this weekend in Aiken, SC. Almost an equal influence of our summer plans on land is a lesson we learned last June, July, and August that it’s just too damn hot to cruise during the summer on a small boat with no air conditioning. So we’ll split time between the climate-controlled residences of brothers and sisters, cousins and grandparents, old friends and maybe even visit a few cruising families we met who are sure to become old friends soon enough. But what of next Fall and the coming year?
Here’s what we realized at some point in the Bahamas, perhaps during our stay at Green Turtle Cay or during our time in Hopetown with the BoatFam. First, as we reflected on the past year, it occurred to us that we’d met many cruisers, some of them first-timers like us, who’d boldly stated that their cruising plans revolved around circumnavigating (see what I did there?). Oftentimes it felt like a majority of people, cruisers and non-cruisers alike, assumed that a plan to go cruising must mean a plan to sail around the world. Certainly, many were capable and for all we know they might be well on their way. But it never felt authentic for us to talk that way. Sailing around the world, across oceans, into foreign countries, all on your own skill and ability to survive, is a really big deal and something not to be taken lightly. We were aware of our amateurism and we’d never really dreamed on that scale. Instead, we always humbly chuckled when people would bring up the idea of circumnavigating and typically responded with something like “we just hope to get out of the Lowcountry.” Hence, my attempt at irony in the title of this post. While many we encountered, whether realistic or not, felt driven by this ambition, it was just never our thing.
Our second realization while in the Islands was one of incredible pride. There we were, sitting at the tail end of a year of cruising and we were EXACTLY where we’d hoped we might make it. In fact, our entire year had somehow fallen into place just as we’d kinda-sorta planned. It’s never wise to put yourself on a schedule when cruising as Murphy’s Law and Mother Nature seem to always intervene. So we didn’t do that. But, tentatively, we’d hoped to first travel north up the ICW and into the Chesapeake Bay, possibly as far as Annapolis. Luckily, we somehow made it happen. Then, we told everyone that we’d probably turn around, head back toward Beaufort to wait out any remaining hurricane season before heading to the Keys. And so we did. After the Keys, if we felt we were ready, we’d try to make the crossing to the Bahamas and spend the Spring in the Abaco. There was a time while in Marathon, Fl that we really weren’t sure if it would happen. But somehow, we looked past our doubts and insecurities, route-planned and weather-watched like hell, even took on my Dad as crew, crossed our fingers, said a prayer and went for it. The rest is, well, our history at least.
Accomplishing that final goal was a feeling of achievement and satisfaction and joy that I’ve not known before in my entire life. And the realization that our year had actually come to fruition just as we’d planned was a sign too great to ignore. I mean, when does that ever happen in life? For me, not very often. And so, it was during this realization that we knew we should stop while we were ahead, get back to Beaufort, the town we love, and moor All In one final time. We should close this incredible, joyful, challenging and fulfilling chapter of our lives while it’s still possible to have a fairytale ending.
A lesson we learned over the past year, however, is that life is too short and too precious for the mundane. Your life should be filled with excitement and passion at every stage and you don’t need to live on a sailboat or live “extreme” to feel this way. We also felt the empowerment of being in charge of our own lives and holding ourselves responsible for our happiness and survival. Because of this, we’re making changes to the way we will live and work when back on land. We’re going to build a house. Actually build it. In fact, residential home construction will be my next career pursuit. Laura is going to start her own business as an educational consultant providing an array of services to students, parents, and schools. She’s already even picked out the name…All In Educational Services. We’re enrolling Avery in kindergarten, a structure and routine we feel she needs and, as it turns out, she is very excited!
A few people close to us, who we’ve shared bits of our plans with already, responded with “We thought you loved the boat life?!” Our answer is that we did and we do and now we’re incredibly excited to transition those feelings to our next stage. The assumption that people only make changes and mix things up because they are unhappy is unfortunate. We’ve become big proponents of multiple mini-retirements throughout life, career changes, and short-term goal setting simply to provide motivation for growth and learning and to have something to look forward to. Did you run out of money? This is a topic we’ve really never written about on the blog, but I’m proud to say that we’ve finished our first year, through all the ups and downs, with approximately 85% of our cruising kitty (your savings you live off of when you cruise) still in tact! This also plays a role in our decision as it will give us the time and resources to re-establish ourselves the way we want without being influenced by the need of a paycheck right away. Will the blog continue? This remains to be seen. We definitely still have a few posts in mind that we’d like to write to bring our year of cruising to a close, but beyond that is uncertain at this point. Can a cruising blog successfully transition to a lifestyle blog about home building and small business development?
Finally, we’re also excited to share that big ideas regarding the next chapter of our lives aren’t the only things that are conceived while boating in paradise. Yes, our family will be adding its newest crew member in January! Coincidentally, our plans for moving back to Beaufort were already in motion when we discovered that Laura was pregnant (actually, the day we arrived back in Florida and had access to a CVS!), so we’re taking it as a sign, among many others not mentioned here, that we’re making the right decision.