When I was a kid, I loved to explore.
I never enjoyed playing with baby dolls. I was far more excited to explore the wilderness, real or imagined, of my neighborhood.
Like a lot of kids that grew up in the 80s, I was heavily influenced by blockbuster movies like Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
Harrison Ford’s legendary characters in those films spurred my interest in a life of exploration. A life where being whisked away to a strange land with unusual people was all in a day’s work.
While my interest in Archeology waned over time, I never lost my intrigue with outer space. The idea of exploring a vast open space tucked comfortably within the womb of a vessel amongst a small crew of loyal friends, is my idea of heaven. I imagine most introverts with a small circle of people they trust have imagined living a similar life.
Just a few years ago, I even contemplated applying to Mars One, an organization raising funds to colonize Mars. But I quickly realized that my dance and sales background probably did not lend much to the future of humankind on a desolate planet.
While that would certainly be an adventure, it simply wasn’t the one meant for me.
When I met my now-husband 8 years ago, I was first attracted to his same sense of adventure. He was a California boy that had lived in exotic locations all over the world, unlike the rest of us that just visited them on vacation. And at the time of our meeting, he was working as a Commercial Diver.
(Side note: A Commercial Diver is a construction worker that works 150 feet under the water, inspecting and fixing oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s regularly listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, right up there with the crabbers you’ve seen on shows like “Deadliest Catch”.)
At one point in his career, James lived in the Caribbean as a boat captain and dive instructor. Shortly after we were married, James took me bareboat sailing in his old stomping grounds of the BVIs. From that point on, I was hooked. I had found my starship — in the form of a sea ship!
Here's a photo of La Bella Vita, the first boat James and I ever chartered together:
Every year since we have chartered boats and sailed with friends and family. We have talked longingly about the day that we could retire and enjoy this life full-time. It just wasn’t in the cards for us now. We lived in a land-locked city in Texas near friends and family and had years of work still ahead of us.
So we settled for “one day” and kept the dream alive through a nautical-themed living room and a dock-inspired deck in the backyard.
Then something happened. My oldest friend, whom I have known since elementary school, lost her husband quite suddenly to Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. At his funeral, the pastor read from Ecclesiastes:
"It is better to enter a house of mourning than a house of feasting, since death is the end of every man, and the living should take this to heart."
This age-old wisdom hit me hard. What hit harder was watching my 40-year-old widowed friend comfort her two young children who, only 15 days earlier, had a seemingly healthy father at their side.
It was then that I truly realized that life can turn in an instant, and no one is guaranteed another day on this Earth. It is not cliche, it is the truth.
I decided to do something with this motivation. I went home to my husband and declared that we had a small window of opportunity to pursue our dreams. We were both healthy, our parents were healthy, and we had no one stopping us from moving our imagined finish line up a few miles.
We scoured through our finances and realized that we had saved enough money to live on a boat for at least a year. Furthermore, we had enough in our 401k accounts that if we never contributed to them again, we could still retire in our 60s with a comfortable sum of money.
So, we did it. Or, I should say, we are doing it.
Buying the boat was step #1, and it has catapulted this dream into reality. We are a few months away from living aboard full-time and truly becoming citizens of the sea, but the countdown is on!