After our first whiteboard exercise, we had some fits and starts. By October last year, we regrouped and set out a plan to change our lives and begin a voyaging life. When first we saw Rachel J Slocum, we were smitten, however we took the time to see what other options were currently available at BOOT in Dusseldorf. We also decided, after a trip to San Diego on our anniversary, that it wasn’t fair to see any other boats until we had a chance to have a first look at Rachel J Slocum in person.
No boats would ever stand a chance.
In the interim weeks before the first look trip, I really wrestled with the changes going on: trying to find a way to stay in the present, redefine my relationship with money since I was retiring early, and realize that there are tools I could leverage to navigate my way out of the storm, go with the flow, and conserve my energy for the marathon of life.
As the RJ Slocum first look trip came up, we realized meeting Bill was just as critical as seeing the boat. News of coronavirus was also breaking and so we checked in to see if Bill was having second thoughts about meeting us. At the time, we thought it would be a great post-apocalyptic plan to be in a remote anchorage and survive for months spearfishing. So we went ahead and spent two days in Ft Lauderdale seeing RJ Slocum and getting to know Bill and realized he is exactly the person we will want to learn from to begin this voyaging life.
When we returned home, we had a huge go/no-go decision to make. Due to lockdown measures being placed across the U.S., we decided to put everything on hold and set our own way point rather than be influenced by the media.
We focused on some leveling up our skills in self-sufficiency:
- cutting our hair at home every 6 weeks
- curbing the appetite to spend and upcycling whenever we could
- going green and discovering ethical sailing practices
- downsizing in 30 weeks (including dealing with sentimental items)
- cooking at home rather than going out, sometimes 100% from pantry items, and figuring out ways to extend a meal through its lifecycle
- conserving water
- learning how to better make decisions together
- finding ways to support local businesses during the pandemic
- practicing a watch system while on passage
- focusing on activites such as fiber arts and photography which makes us happy
We didn’t take our plan to downsize lightly, although it did take time going through our house room by room and match up to the requirements in the comparable area of the sailboat: owner’s stateroom, the head, the galley, and the rest of the living space. To the extent we could, we tried to match gifts to the appropriate recipients, which takes a while, but it’s worth it.
I’m not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~ Louisa May Alcott
Part of transitioning to the new lifestyle included widening our social circle and so with the help of Hugh and Bill, we joined the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. We had also been in touch with other friends of Bill, including full-time cruisers and yacht designers such as Tanton. We also thought about leveling up other skills such as learning a second language, preparing as much as we can even if it’s from books, studying maps and charts, and figuring out ways to beef up our sailing resumes.
At the same time, we worked on various aspects of serenadewind.com including a website redesign to future proof our needs when we’re in remote spots, coming up with a logo and typography, launching our brand, and thinking about ways to ensure this lifestyle can be self-sustaining over the years.
It isn’t lost on us that the stories we tell here are at times meant to entertain such as talking like pirates or to inspire when we talk about connection, philanthropy, culture of character and everyday leadership as well as the difficulty of being in the arena, dealing with naysayers, and in the end acknowledging that we are not beautiful people.
So while most boat purchases occur within 30 days from opening to closing escrow, ours took 6 months. As you can see in this recap, we found ways to manage this transition during the coronavirus pandemic. By the time we went through the pre-purchase survey and sea trial, we had cleared a path forward to jump into the new life with whole hearts.
One of my favorite television series is the West Wing. The White House portrayed is a highly idealized world of intellectual debate and listening to the merits of an argument before making a decision. In this 60-second clip, President Barlet asks, “What’s next?” which is his way of communicating that he is prepared to take on the next weighty issue as he grinds through each day while in the Oval office.
When looking back at the past year of changes in our lives, we are not resting on our laurels. We recognize that there is a lot more to do, and we eagerly look forward to tackling what’s next.
In June, we had mapped out our future log in a few “swim lanes” and we’ve made progress on multiple fronts. Across the top we have each of the swim lanes, and down the left side are the months, beginning with March 2020 and ending August 2021.
After accounting for the hurricane seasons in the Caribbean, Florida, South Pacific and Australia, we then layout our plan on the following fronts:
- Project Slocum - negotiating and closing escrow on the purchase
- Purge - pick out remaining items to keep; schedule move-out dates for remaining furniture
- Study - tracing boat systems and inventory spares
- Sail Plan - evaluate weather windows for maiden voyage
The final column is devoted to items that we’ll need to address at some point during the year. It allows us to keep an eye on the bigger picture. This 18-month calendar view gives us a high-level snapshot and since I’m a visual person, helps me remember and internalize a lot of moving pieces in a succinct way.
Given the higher risk we took to travel by plane, we are spending the next 2 weeks in self-quarantine and minimizing contact with family and friends. For this reason, we tried to see many of them before our trip to Florida.
Rather than dwell on what could have been, we will focus on a welcome back get together some time in the future rather than a farewell send off.
During this time, we are finalizing the inventory of items we are taking aboard. We have scheduled dates for the final pick up of the remaining 20% of our items, dropping off some items with my mom, see Xiaolong one last time, eat our way through the freezer of mystery meals, and prepping the house for the next tenant. The goal is to be done in a week or two so we can get back to Florida as soon as we can.
Now that we have a better idea of stowage aboard RJ Slocum, we are setting aside the remaining items we will be taking aboard. As we talked about in Living Space, tools, linens, galley equipment were the big unknowns prior to the trip. Now, we can close out those items and pack them up. We have a POD scheduled to come later today and will deliver our personal items to Florida within 12 days.
As we look around, we are amazed to see how much progress has been made. We’ll elaborate on each of those steps in our next post on minimalism. A few smaller items still remain. Luckily, my cousin Janet offered to include them in her family’s semi-annual trip to Mexico to donate to the missionaries.
It feels good to be able to give away these items to those in need. The spreadsheet that helped us track roughly 150 moving pieces going to roughly 30 recipients was really the only way that we could stay on top of this process. It was also a great tool to consolidate information on the items in each room, the dimensions, a description that we could use to post on various online marketplaces, as well as tracking the original price, asking price and final sale price.
We are embarking on a lot of changes this year, one of which is, pursuing a life of philanthropy. To date, we have given away over $150,000 in cash and assets since February, and we are still giving to causes that we connect with. Much as we had described in matching gifts, we wanted to place the resources to those who needed or wanted them most. We have also reassessed our relationship with money.
More isn’t better. More is just more.
Thanks for reading!
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