Monday July 16, 2012
Now that I’ve finally let it slip at work that I’m about to go on this big adventure, and only about 10 of the 120 people in my department knew about it beforehand, I have a feeling there are going to be A LOT of questions asked. And although we’re always open for questions in person or through our new email address on the website (click on Contact Us) I thought it might be a little easier to dedicate a post to the most frequently asked questions we get, which right now are just from friends and family.
Where are you going?
Besides getting to the Caribbean, we don’t have any definite plans. Since our longest cruise so far has only been the 69 mile journey from Muskegon, MI to Milwaukee, WI we’re hoping that we like this lifestyle but won’t know until we try it. Our estimated departure date is Tuesday July 31 (weather permitting) and we should be jumping into the Bahamas in early to mid December. Then we’ll take stock of everything and see what we want to do next which could range anywhere from ‘This just isn’t for us, let’s sell the boat and go back home’ to ‘I’m really LOVING the Caribbean, why don’t we spend all our time here’ to ‘I love the Caribbean but there’s so much world to see so let’s keep heading West’. Should it be the latter we’re going to try for a circumnavigation (going all the way around the world).
What’s your route?
This somewhat depends on the previous question, but we do know the route to the Caribbean for sure. We’ll leave out of Lake Michigan in Muskegon and hug the Michigan coastline while going North. After passing under the Mackinac Bridge we’ll head South down Lake Huron into Lake St. Claire and then into Lake Erie. We’ll jump into the Erie Canal near Buffalo, NY and follow that until it drops us out in New York Harbor and the Atlantic. We’ll slowly be making our way South visiting places like the Chesapeake and probably staying inside the Inter Coastal Waterway. When we get near Miami, FL we’ll make the approx 30 mile jump over to Bimini Bahamas where you go through the island chain and it’s not more than a day sail from one island to the next. Should we decide to stay in the Caribbean we’ll keep heading down the island chains (Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands and the Windward and Leeward Islands. Basically all of the islands leading down to Venezuela). Should we decide we want to travel the world instead, after Bahamas we’ll go to Jamaica and then the Panama canal. After crossing through the canal we’ll go through the islands of the South Pacific until we bunker down in New Zeeland for hurricane season. When we get the ok to go again we’ll start making our way north to Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. We’re thinking of skipping Australia and Papua New Guiena and make our way to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. From there the plan varies on the pirate situation at the time. We could go toward the Red Sea and hop up into the Mediterranean or maybe we’ll go South to Madagascar and Africa. Either route would put us back near the Caribbean island chain and we’d get to experience the Windward and Leeward islands that way!
What made you decide to do this?
There could be so many answers to this question, but a short answer would be that we’re young and there’s nothing holding us down, so why not? The long answer would be you only get one life to live and wouldn’t you love to do something extraordinary with it? We all think that we’re bound to these traditional 9-5 lives, it’s what’s proper and what’s expected. But there is such a big world out there with so much culture and beauty. And once we thought about that more and more we realized the only thing keeping us from experiencing these things are ourselves. So we decided to put tradtion aside and do something unexpected and unforgettable. Plus, reading the stories of others who have done it before us made it sound really really fun.
How do you pay for something like this?
SAVING!! Lots and lots of saving. The old adage of ‘Nothing in life is free’ is definitely true and this trip is not coming free or even cheap to us. On our website is a Cost page which we’re fully disclosing how much it does cost to outfit the boat and pay for for a trip like this and once we get going we’ll also update it with our monthly spending. But to get to the point of even being able to spend that money we had to do a lot of sacrificing. Some of the money coming in has been from the sale of our house and cars and the rest just comes down to not spending. Matt’s mom and step-dad have been kind enough to take us in for the past year where we don’t have a mortgage/utilities anymore. We don’t go out to eat or go to the movies. We don’t go to the bars or take weekend trips to Chicago or Traverse City. Most of the clothes I’ve purchased over the past two years have been second hand. Everything that comes in that we don’t have to spend, we don’t. I can’t say it’s been easy but it will be worth it.
Is it safe?
Just like anything in life there will be risks, but cruising is a lot safer than most people think. As far as danger in the way of storms on the water we will be following the weather religiously and if it’s bad or looks like it could become bad we will not be traveling. If storms come up on us and we can’t get into a harbor it means we’re probably far out to sea which is actually the safest place to be during a storm since there’s not much chance of you bashing into anything. And in the ocean the swells are more drawn out instead of the choppy ones we see now in the Great Lakes meaning you slowly go up the wave and slowly go down it. Plus we’ll always have on lifejackets and be teathered in. Danger from pirates is a possibility but not very likely. We’re avoiding pirate heavy areas and in the big picture, getting captured is only about a 1 in 200,000 chance. And since we won’t be living on land anymore, we actually cut out a lot of dangers in our day to day life. Did you know that you have a 1 in 6,000 chance of dying in an automobile accident each year? I think we’ll take our chances on the water.
Aren’t you going to get sick of each other?
Four years living with another person on a 35 ft boat? Yeah, I can see how people would assume this will happen a lot. But we’re lucky in that we usually can’t get enough of spending time with each other. Just going to work and coming backs feels like we’ve spent an eternity apart. We follow each other from room to room at home. In the twelve years we’ve been together we’ve become so much a part of one other that it feels like something is missing when the other isn’t around. I can guarantee there will be moments that we want a little alone or me time but I think separating ourselves above and below deck or a small excursion on land alone will help cure that problem.
Most of these answers are currently directed at non-sailors as just a general what we’re doing. If you have anything else you’d like to know, sailing/boat related or more general questions feel free to ask us. I’d love to know what else you’re curious about!