You’re Going To Do WHAT With Your Dog?

Honey the golden retriever with her Solvit telescoping pet ramp.

I got my boat ramp and I’m ready to go.

“I’m really happy for you. But I’d never do it in a thousand years.”

As we tell family and friends we’re planning to set sail with Honey next year, that’s the typical response.

No one has asked us to explain ourselves. Not until Jan of The Poodle and Dog Blog commented: “As someone whose idea of a water adventure is to wade in the ocean at low tide, I’d like to read about why you are launching on [this] life plan.”

Until Jan asked that, I didn’t think too much about how I’d explain to people why we’re setting sail. But it’s probably time for me to work through why we’re making this major life change.

At least so I can answer people who ask, “You’re going to do WHAT with your dog?”

Living The Good Life

We all want to live a good life.

For me, a good life is one stripped to the essentials. I feel over burdened by stuff, by too many things to do, too many noises and distractions.

One reason I love camping is because on a campsite I spend so much time caring for necessities, leaving little time for superfluous extras. Everything from making a meal to basic hygiene takes longer.

Campsite looking over St. Lawrence River.

Is it worth schlepping water and cooking over a fire? Just look at the evening view from our favorite camp site.

I also love being outdoors and feeling connected to what is going on around me.

Just a few seconds ago I became annoyed by the noise of my neighbor’s air conditioning compressor across the street. It’s 55 degrees Fahrenheit (about 12 Celsius)! Open a window, people!

But when you pull up to your house in a car and immediately go inside, you lose touch with what’s going on around you.

Although a few people try, it’s hard to disconnect from nature on a boat. The wind is in your face and it’s always forcing you to make decisions. Should we take down some sail? Will the winds shift again? How long will it take us to hit our destination?

Even close to shore, everything on a boat is a little bit harder than it is on land. And I like that.

Now, living without a car, it takes me longer to do basic errands than it does my neighbors who drive. I think I’ll find it comforting to live a lifestyle in which everyone around me is in the same, inconvenient boat (pardon the pun).

Honey the golden retriever sits by the lake.

Everything is better outdoors.

Spending Time With Family

I get up early to write while Mike sleeps in a little longer. Some days, he goes into work before 7 a.m. himself. Last night he got home for dinner around 7:30 p.m.

On nights that I teach, I don’t get home until 9 p.m.

We try to spend as many weekends as possible sailing so we can build our skills. But Honey is not allowed on the boats at our community sailing club. So I try to include her in every other thing we do on the weekends.

You wouldn’t think I’d miss my own husband and my dog. But I do.

When we’re home, we three spend as much time as possible in the same room. Heck, even on the same little love seat if we’re watching a movie or reading.

I love the idea of spending every day together on a boat.

Of course, I’m the extrovert. We’ll know soon enough how Mike feels about being unable to escape from his wife and his dog.

Loving Travel

I love seeing new places. Before I was 21 years old I had already visited 10 countries.

But I hate engines. The noise. The smell. Ugh.

Honey the golden retriever loves the car.

What do you have against cars? I love them.

I would love to see more of North America. And I enjoy looking at pictures from my friends who live and travel by RV. But the thought of driving for hours on an interstate makes me a little ill.

Harnessing the wind? Now that’s amazing.

Did you know that you can sail around the world in about 18 months? And you’ll see places only reachable by boat.

We’re not planning a circumnavigation. But isn’t it fun to think it’s possible?

Honey the golden retriever rides in a kayak.

Are you telling me our next boat will be big enough for me to walk around? Yahoo! Sign me up.

Having A Thrill

I’m scared.

I’m scared about leaving my job and making our small cruising kitty stretch. I’m scared about Honey being scared. I’m scared about Mike hating cruising and starting to hate me. I’m scared about hitting rocks with the boat. I’m scared of storms. I’m scared about things I haven’t even thought to be scared about.

But sometimes it’s good to do something you find risky.

Some people think I’m incredibly brave for dreaming of doing something full-time I only learned four years ago.

I think other people are brave for writing professionally, raising happy children, moving on from bad relationships, working with stressed-out and needy dogs.

We all have opportunities in life to do things that frighten us at the start. I think it’s good to take a few of them.

And reinventing my home and sailing from shore touches my heart more than jumping out of airplanes or borrowing money to start a new business or any number of other scary things other people do each day.

Island in Guna Yala.

A Guna Yala island off the coast of Panama. And you can only see it by boat.

Learning From Others

I follow a number of cruising blogs. And I’ve talked extensively with people who have already made the leap to life aboard a boat. Even a couple who have done it with dogs.

Everyone admits to being scared.

And everyone says it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. Let’s hope Honey agrees.

If you’re worried I forgot this is a dog blog, I’ll post a little treat for you. This is one of Honey’s favorite videos. She barked a greeting to the dog in the cockpit. He, unfortunately, ignored her.

Your Turn: What does the good life mean to you? And what are you willing to do to get it? And after my explanation, do you get it? Or do you think I’m crazy?

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  1. As they say, at the end of your life, you don’t want your regrets to be the risks you didn’t take! Is this a temporary adventure? You seem too young to retire permanently, unless both of you were supreme savers! What size will your boat be?

    I love the water, be it a river, a lake, or the ocean. I can totally understand wanting to live aboard a boat, for someone that can take that much togetherness.

    PS From my summers on the Chesapeake, I remember the evening raft ups of several boats tied together, with maybe two anchors down. Everyone would sit around, talking, enjoying the sunset and maybe a late evening swim (depending on the sea nettles!), then drop off to sleep pretty early thanks to all the sun and fresh air, and happy hour 😉 Then sometime around 2AM the thunder storm fire drills would start as the wind would come up and start dragging the whole raft of boats toward another raft of boats, all the halyards clanging in the breeze. (Loved that sound.) Everyone was a seasoned sailor so all it meant was some interrupted sleep as they battened down the hatches and reset the anchors. Ah, thanks for dredging up some great old memories!

    • I really love hearing about your sailing trips in the bay. They remind me of the fun part of this life we’re hoping to have.

      Of course, we’re not yet seasoned sailors so I expect 2 a.m. thunder storm drills won’t be so much fun for us. :)

      This is probably a temporary adventure since we will run out of money. We’re simple living folks but I’ve always worked for nonprofits and my husband has always worked for small companies that don’t pay much so we’re hardly wealthy.

      I’m hoping we can stretch money pretty far on a boat.

      We’re also looking to go modest. We’re considering older boats in the 30 to 35 foot range that are seakindly and can do blue water passages if outfitted properly (and the crew is capable).

      Once we have a boat, I’ll definitely post pictures.

  2. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband,
    re “We’ll know soon enough how Mike feels about being unable to escape from his wife and his dog:”
    He’ll be fine.

  3. I get it, less is more! I don’t need all the new gadgets, just basics. Camping, being on a boat somewhere, it’s peaceful, no worries, food tastes better (even burnt) cooked over a campfire. I admire you for having the courage to “live the good life”. My dream, living on a few acres, garden, some part time work, and of course dogs, foster for rescues, probably senior dogs. Honey is lucky to have you!

  4. Love Mike’s comment. Fun to read your explanation – I must say I did wonder why…but I get it. While I’m not an extrovert and hate camping – I understand the need to be in nature. Luckily, we live far enough away from the maddening crowds in LA that I can work on my deck most days and we get to take our daily walks in the beautiful open space in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mts. When do you leave and will you be able to share any adventures with us while away?

    • When do we leave?

      I’m trying to hold things lightly because there’s a lot up in the air. We’re fixing up the house now with plans to sell it in March 2015. The house proceeds will buy the boat.

      We’ve just started working with a consultant to help us find the best boat. Once we buy it, we’ll probably live aboard it somewhere (?) while we get ready to go, about a month.

      And I’m trying to figure out where blogging fits in our plans. While we’re coastal cruising, I can probably continue to post. But I’ll have to learn how to plan and write posts in advance. Now, I blog (for better or for worse) by the seat of my pants. :)

  5. Mom kind of did her life backwards. Her dad’s hobby was travel and he had his own business so they could be gone for long periods of time. She traveled all over the world before she was 18, then she was a flight attendant, mainly international for 11 yrs, following that lived in Germany for 10 yrs. Moving around a lot she always kept “stuff” to a minimum, learned to live in small spaces, learned about living with or working with different cultures, but now, she just likes to have a nice house with some space, rarely travel, and if, then by car with us girls in tow. Alone time is wonderful, she says being locked in an airplane for some many years with demanding, often inconsiderate people has made her more of a loner. She has done a lot and now just likes to hang out and do nothing much. Your adventure sounds perfect for you in your situation and you will love it, no doubt! PS we love a/c on hot and humid days, but nothing beats a nice breeze with the windows open whenever possible!

  6. Is this intended to be a permanent change in your life? I’m not sure I’ve picked up on a timeline for your sails.

    • I suspect we’ll run out of money before we run out of life. :)

      Besides, I want to be available for my parents as they age if they need me. We’re looking at two years (starting in 2015) and figuring things out from there.

      Of course, as you well know, life has its own ideas and it’s never good to plan everything too tightly.

  7. You’ll be fine. Life is to be lived, not watched from the sidelines.

  8. OK, I get it. ..a clearly thought out and presented explanation. You guys are my new heroes to face your fears and follow a dream.

    I’m reminded of why Henry David Thoreau conducted his experiment in living on Walden Pond. He wanted to “live life deliberately” to put his life in perspective. Several years ago I was talked into camping after reading Walden and I will admit I love camping.

    Life on water, however, is a whole nuther story.

    • I love that Thoreau convinced you to try camping. I love it even more that you enjoy it.

      BTW, you do know that Thoreau went over to the Emerson’s house most nights for dinner, right? :)

      Thanks for asking the question that supplied today’s post.

  9. I absolutely love Mike’s comment. It seems to me that you have a deep understanding of the fact that this lifetime is about collecting experiences, not things. You’ve dreamed an incredible experience and you’re bringing it into reality. Yes, it’s scary … terrifying at times, but you will never, ever regret following your dream. Good for you for being so brave!

  10. Not that you owe anyone an explanation – but I enjoyed reading this! I’m afraid of open water so I can’t even imagine what it may be like – but I see you are all excited about this and so I am excited for you – for however long the adventure lasts! I really respect the fact that you’ve planned for this and are about as prepared as you can be. There will no doubt be some bumps along the way – but that is part of the fun of the adventure!

    • I really thought I’d be frightened of open water. But I’ve built up courage over time.

      First, I swam a mile across our lake. Now I’m willing to swim miles in the Caribbean sea.

      We’ll build up our sailing courage by sticking close to shore while we build our skills. But in truth, the open ocean is safer for a sailboat than land.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  11. I love your explanation, you are inspiring, thank you for sharing! I so agree about the joy of quiet water travel.

    • I find that the quiet water club is a rare group. Most people would rather have speed than silence.

      Glad to see you’re a member too. :)

  12. Very interesting to read your explanation. It’s good to do things that are scary – within limits I guess! I’m sure you guys will be fine. I’ll be interested to hear how Honey does. (You’re still going to keep the blog going, yes? Although I imagine you’ll be posting less frequently??)

    I have spent almost my whole life living near the water and love to be near it/see it/smell it – but I don’t enjoy being on it. I’m just not a boat person. I feel too confined. I do love to drive though and love road trips. Once the hubs retires we hope to get an RV and do some long trips with the dog, and just take our time going wherever we want. I’m already pretty much living the good life – got my hubs, my dog, I get to write, we live near the coast. Not much more that I need! (Except for the hubs to be less stressed at work – but the end of that is in sight!)

    • I’m going to try to keep the blog going. But I’ll have to learn some new writerly habits to deal with lack of internet access–like planning posts, writing in advance, and editing. Horror! :)

      I hope you follow through on your travel dreams. But don’t wait too long.

  13. Sounds wonderful and romantic! There is nothing better than following and living your dream. I enjoyed learning why you want to do this and you putting your heart out there. It is that heart that will see you through…and Honey and Mike of course. :)

  14. The ex and I discussed moving to France. I was very keen but it never came off – good thing too! However I do want to travel and see the world, maybe try living in a different country. I would love to go somewhere, wait tables and just work minimal hours to ensure I had enough to live on but not much more. Not full time, just for a little while.
    But I’m not brave enough to do it alone. When I see the world I want to see it with someone. I always find memories shared are the most fun.
    Maybe that’s why I’m so keen to find someone, you can’t take off and see the world when you have children (can you?) and time feels like it’s ticking by…

    • Stay open to possibilities, Lauranne. And don’t say “can’t.” People do all kinds of things.

      I know of families cruising around the world in 35′ sailboats with 3 kids. I read about a family of four who bicycled from Canada to Chile. I even know people who decided to have an adventure alone and met someone along the way.

      You’re making a beautiful home and you’re a loving dog person with lots of friends and family who care about you. You’ve already met dreams many people are still wishing for. You have time for many more.

  15. thank you

  16. I’m still extremely happy for you and I’m excited to hear all about your adventures at sea. Do you girl, do you!

  17. I don’t think you’re crazy at all. In fact I think you are oh so brave!! I’m thrilled for you and I hope you will still blog to some degree and share your exciting new life with the rest of us.

    As for me, I think a small little house out in the woods would be perfect. :-)

  18. Oh come visit us in Annapolis! We live in Severna Park, on rivers off the Chesapeake. It is full of boat people with dogs! They walk our neighborhood every day. It’s totally doable and good luck to you
    LeeAnna and Cole at not afraid of color

  19. I totally get it, especially your love of the outdoors and wanting to be connected to it. A/C only comes on in this house when it’s unbearably hot! I admire that you are following your dream. I sometimes dream of living on the seacoast, or traveling in an RV out West like Mary and Al. But in some ways I feel like I’m already living my dream….we have a beautiful home in the country with two acres of land and a yard for the dogs to play in. I have gardens to work in and feel connected to nature. Our house is full of windows so we can always see out, and we have a deck and a screen porch as well. My hubby and I have fairly low stress jobs…we don’t make a ton of money but we make enough to be content. We are both homebodies and that’s really where we are happiest.
    I think your home will be on that boat with Honey and Mike and that will definitely make you happy.

  20. I’m afraid of many things and Sugar helped me face those fears (and my husband :-) ) Hopefully, Honey will love and learn how to swim. Love to live a simple life but it is hard and unavoidable when you need resources to help you. Wish you the best. Golden Woofs

  21. I’m so excited for you! This sounds like an exciting adventure. I used to love adventures. Me and my dog Smokey went on a lot of adventures together, mostly hiking. I went sailing with my dad once, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy it for long stretches at a time.