Thursday, March 15, 2012

From Dream to Reality: Our Timeline

A lot of people ask us how long it took us to turn our dream into reality...while the beginning stages of this "journey" are well chronicled deep within the bowels of this blog, I figured I'd sum it up for those of you who are planning/dreaming/scheming a similar adventure.

First of all, this life was both of our dreams.  I can't recall for sure, but I'm pretty certain our intentions of living a gypsy life at sea came up during our very first conversation.  I mention this because I think it's important.  Neither of us had to spend any time convincing the other that this is what we should do.  I hear from a lot people (men, mostly) who have been dreaming of a life at sea who's partners are either flat out against it or reluctant participants.  Scott and I lucked out when we found each other and we knew it.  Almost the instant we got together in August of 2007, this plan of "sailing around the world" was hatched and steps were taken to turn this dream into a reality.

The first year was spent talking about the plan, mostly.  After all - we were in a new relationship and while we both had the underlying feeling that we were in it for the long haul, we took it slow.  Things didn't really get kicked into high gear until mid-2008 when we got really serious about each other and this "plan" of ours and started looking for boats.  This is usually an incredibly exciting and equally daunting part of the process for wannabe cruisers.  Many people spend years looking for the "right" boat - fortunately for us, we didn't have that much time.  We opted to look for boats in our immediate area (namely, the Great Lakes) so that we didn't have to spend time or money flying from coast to coast looking for a boat.  Surely there had to be something in our neck of the woods, right?  They say the first boat you buy is the easiest because you don't know what want and what to look for and we found this to be true.  Blissful ignorance!  I did a lot of online research and poured through piles of sailing books and magazines and the picture became a little more clear for us when Scott and I came up with a very specific list of things we thought we wanted in our future boat.  That list, combined with the fact that we had both a location and a budget to further define our parameters helped narrow our search considerably.

I started looking online for boats in late 2008 and we found our Rasmus in the beginning May of 2009 and she was surveyed by the end of that same month.  We bought her in June and sailed her to Chicago in July.  That's about a seven month turn around which, from what I've gathered from other cruiser's, is pretty dang fast.  Again - Scott and I lucked out.  The stars were aligned and, despite being totally green in the whole "boat buying" thing, we found ourselves a fantastic cruising boat.

Once we bought our boat in July of 2009 we knew there was no turning back.  We set a 'tentative' departure date of August 2010 to shove off via the Erie Canal and started making lists.  Lots and lots of lists;  what needed to be replaced, what needed to be fixed, books we needed to read, items we needed to get...  Our life was (and still is) measured by project lists that seem to grow and shrink daily with the Dow Jones.  We had just over a year to prepare our boat for hard-core live-aboard cruising and we had a lot to do.  We didn't do much (if any) real work on her that summer, and that winter we hauled her out and started work.  I'm not going to break down everything we did, as that is all documented on our refit page but suffice it to say we did a LOT.

Because getting out of dodge sooner rather than later was our #1 priority, we opted to hire out help to refit our boat in order to save time.  While DIY'ing is fantastic (we actually did a lot of this as well), it will take you a lot longer to get to the starting line especially if you are learning as you go.   We enlisted the expertise of C&E Marine Group to help us with our boat electronics and we hired Rentner Marine to install our new Yanmar engine as well as install our new Edson chain and cable steering.  These were probably two of the smartest decisions we made.  Both of these companies proved worth their weight in GOLD and not only did they do incredible work to our boat, we learned a TON working alongside them.  To this day we call and talk to them if we have questions or need advice and, after working together for nearly a year, are happy to call them our friends.

Our boat was "splashed" in July where Scott and I continued to work on her just about every spare hour we had.  Oh yeah, we also got married.  I quit my job in August to work on the boat full time and Scott followed suit in early September.  We worked on Rasmus like crazy having passed our August deadline and set a new one.  We knew we had to leave by the end of September or else we would have been forced to take the Mississippi River down south - something we both did not want to do.  We were burning the midnight oil working from 8am till after midnight most days in a desperate attempt to beat the clock.

On September 28th, 2010 - Scott and I left the dock for the last time, and have sailed over 5,000 nautical miles since.

So, while both Scott and I had been dreaming of sailing around the world since our early teens, we really went from "dream to reality" in under three years.  Not too shabby!

Brittany & Scott


Carolyn Shearlock - The Boat Galley said...

Somewhat similar story here . . . Dave and I were both life-long sailors, although we raced small dinghies and had never thought about cruising. Dave and I met racing, went through other relationships, finally got together and got married.

We spent more time discussing it, but even less time making it happen once we decided to.

I had done lots of travel before, and got the bug to bite Dave as well. We retired in 1997 and moved into a small apartment to make it easier to travel. Everywhere we went, we'd walk marinas. Then did a charter with friends, a couple more charters, and finally in May 2002 -- while in Turkey on a charter -- said "if we're ever going to do this, we need to DO IT."

We thought we'd be heading to the Caribbean and I began researching boats for sale there. One day, instead of hitting "US-East Coast" in the search, I hit "North America" and found what looked to be an ideal boat in Mexico.

We visited it in June (yep, less than a month of looking), signed on the spot (with survey), and it was final in July. Made several trips down over the next few months and fully moved aboard in November and began cruising immediately . . . working on her as we went (one reason we picked her was that she'd been outfitted for cruising when she was brought to Mexico, so didn't need much work).

We kept our apartment until the following March, when we went back and sold most everything, put a few sentimental pieces in storage, and then headed back to cruise!

And I agree, it made a HUGE difference that it was something we BOTH wanted to do -- neither of us had to do any convincing. And we both knew how to sail and are pretty mechanical. Yes, we sort of developed "specialties" on the boat, but not always along traditional lines: I did most close-quarters helming, Dave the bow work and dock lines. I did most electrical work, navigation, route planning (although we both knew what was going on) . . . and virtually all the cooking. And yeah, Dave did most of the "muscle" work -- hoisting the dinghy and outboard, raising sails, etc. although we made sure that everything was rigged so that I could handle it if I ever had to.

In case you couldn't tell, I absolutely LOVE this post on how you can make it happen pretty quickly . . . if you BOTH want it to!

Windtraveler said...

Carolyn!! Awesome stuff - you guys hit the fast track for sure...and yes, I completely agree that if you have two heads working together it is much easier to accomplish! Fantastic that you bought a semi "turn key" boat too...I have another post cued up on how to fast track the dream and that is one way to do it!! Thanks for sharing your story, always a pleasure!!!

Emily said...

Thank you so much for summarizing your journey! It's great to see how far you have come and I always love your practical tips. Thank you for always giving me the inspiration to someday do what you two (three) are doing!

cath and Dan said...

Good to hear your story, Dan and I have similar plans and we are currently at the refit phase. It's good to hear that it is possible and that after all the efforts there is hope:)

Last Paradise said...

Jeff and I often comment on how lucky we are that it has been "our" dream. I clearly remember Irish's boatyard in Harbor Springs, 1999. The rest is history :). We met many couples/families who are constantly trying to convince the other (usually the man convincing a woman, but we've seen it the other way too) and it never seems to work out, at least not smoothly. We are on hiatus now, but still loving the "dream"
Xoxo Abby

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