We Bought a Sailboat!

We did it.  We pulled the trigger.  We are buying a sailboat and when we get possession of it in two weeks, myself, my husband and our three year old daughter will move on her…and our lives will be forever changed.

SV Morning Light – Soon to be SV Deosil
1973 Allied Mistress CC Ketch


How did we get here?

That explanation is a book in itself.  We have dreamt of cruising on a sailboat for 12 years.  It was always just out of our reach:  we needed more money, or an online business to give us recurring income.  Just a few more years of saving and investment was always needed.  But as luck would have it the economy turned our savings and investments inside out and after so many years of hard work we found ourselves back at “START.”  Once we brushed ourselves off, and shook off the shock of job layoffs and real estate losses we realized that the glass was half full.  Sure we were middle aged and having to start all over again, but that is beauty of it.  How many people get the chance to have a do-over with so much wisdom and hindsight?  Likewise, if you have to start again, how many people have the absolute freedom to go anywhere and try anything?  We are free.  Debt free.  Obligation free.  Job free.  Our options are way, way open here.  So then we really took a look at this cruising thing.  For twelve years we’ve voraciously read every blog and chat room we could find.  We knew there are all types of cruisers out there doing it, and that the common theme of advice is based to two, often repeated phrases:

Tide and tide wait for no one.

Go now, go small, just go.

We ran across the blogs of a few people that did just that.  They went small:  entire families on boats 10 feet less than I could fathom considering.  They went cheap: project boats and people getting by on meager funds, and mostly prayers.  One thing struck us:  they were doing it and we were not.    A dream that is never acted on is just that, a dream.  So for kicks we discussed our current boat funds.  If we scrimped and saved, and sold everything we owned what number did we land at?  Would it buy a boat that floated?  Yes.  No.  Barely.  Maybe.

When exactly we went from ‘dreamily window shopping’ to ‘boat shopping’ is unclear, but honestly I think it happened the moment we decided to put an offer in.  It was unexpected, frightening and exhilarating.  We had to seriously adjust our list of ‘wants.’  Floating became paramount, a low-hour well functioning engine was important…and I would not give up the fight for two separate sleeping cabins.  We could do projects but we didn’t have the funds to do a lot.  Likewise location was key, (if we never see snow again we wont mind,) and funds were also limited if we had to move it far or immediately, so we then also concentrated the search to the East coast.   Add to that the fact that project boats cant be moved and you can see that many boats were immediately eliminated.  There were plenty of ‘coastal cruisers’ we could get on and that is what we had resigned ourselves to most likely finding, but we still dreamt of a blue water capable boat.  Finding one in good shape at a size that would have two sleeping cabins was rare, finding it on the right side of the country was rarer, finding it in a condition to move it immediately was the most rare of all.

“So I found an Allied Mistress that I haven’t seen before.”  These are the words that started it all.  My first reaction to them?  I think I groaned and rolled my eyes.  Allied’s are completely blue water boats.  They are built like tanks, well respected and hold some value even well used.  The two that had been in our price range were definite projects.  They also are not super sexy inside so a little age, neglect or a captain with no sense of taste and they are straight up ugly.  I hate to get all girly here but I will be living in this space.  I cant hate it.  It needs to at least inspire me to roll up my sleeves and get the sander out.  But this had become a little game between us:  showing each other boats and discussing all the reasons why it wouldn’t work.  So I sat down and started looking at the photos.  It seemed too good to be true.  Matt called the broker.  It was still too good to be true.  It was pretty, well maintained and had almost everything we wanted in a boat.  And THE PRICE WAS RIGHT!  We asked more questions.  Either the stars were suddenly aligned, or there was something seriously wrong with the boat that was not being disclosed.   Screw it.  It was too much of the perfect boat for us to give up based on skepticism.  We made an offer, and then we were in a contract.

In a few days we went from window-shopping sailboats to buying airline tickets to fly to Myrtle Beach to look at The Sailboat.  What the hell just happened?  We would have moments when the doubts and fears set in.  Are we crazy?  Can we really afford this?  Do we know what we are getting in to? Is this the right choice?  Most importantly, are we doing the right thing by our three year-old daughter Cadence?   But, at least for me, those moments were few and far between.  Instead I felt excitement and anxiety.   Both were so delicious because I felt more alive than I had in years.  I felt hope and dare I say, happiness?  My philosophy is that I don’t think I’ll ever regret trying it, but I would regret not trying it.  We flew to Myrtle Beach and had the survey and sea trial.  I stood in the cozy cabin and was happy to consider it my home.  I smiled watching my daughter climb up and down the companionway ladders, and roll around on the v-berth mattress as if it was already hers.  We still sort of held our breath for the survey results, afraid that the dreaded flaw would ruin the deal, but the survey came back fantastic for a forty year old boat.  Perhaps, it is simply a moment of fabulous luck, as we are due our turn.

So we are buying a sailboat.  We will stay in Myrtle Beach for a returned home to wrap up life in Colorado.   Pinch me.  We have two weeks before we will be aboard.  Soon we’ll pack up our car with what few possessions we own and drive towards the East coast.  We still need to find work, and eventually a homeport, but we do not need to find a home.  We have one and it floats.  They say that hope floats too, right?