Just over six weeks ago I moved aboard. My initial plan was to live aboard year-round here in Annapolis, where I have started putting down some roots in the past two-and-a-half years since I moved here. I rented an office, which allowed me to avoid one of the hardest (and most liberating) aspects of moving aboard--letting go of all the "stuff." I dislike the expense of an office without enough clients to cover the costs involved, but could not face losing the various material things that have represented home to me.
I did not set out on this new adventure with the plan of being a "cruising liveaboard," though I certainly did not want to be dockbound, either. But even in this short span of time aboard, my perspective, goals, and priorities are fundamentally changing. Things have been hard. So many things aboard are broken, dirty, and disorganized. The feeling of "camping" has extended beyond my 3-week target with no immediate end in sight. The docks are getting slippery with frost and going ashore to shower in the cold can be a chore, particularly if there is a line to use the facilities. While I have spent a lot of time on the water, I simply threw lines and drank rum runners. I don't know how to run or sail my boat myself, and lack the mechanical fix-it skills to make all the needed repairs and upgrades. At this point it would be easy--perhaps logical--to say "I am in over my head" and throw in the towel.
Instead, I see myself doubling down. I am increasingly apt to sell the furniture, downsize my collection of kitchen gadgetry, let go the collection of shoes and handbags. So many things I felt I could not let go of. But in the past two months I have not even removed the same simple pair of earrings and necklace. So, all the jewelry I could not live without...I have. I lived without all my "stuff" during my nomadic year traveling from Miami to Virginia to Maryland to Oregon to Virginia to Maryland. Do I still want to have some nice things that let me be spoiled? Will I still have more shoes than guys think anyone should have? Of course. But perhaps it is time to let go of all those things which now seem such a financial burden on me to house and which simply tie me down. I would rather be surrounded by good company than stuff, would rather have freedom than stability. I would readily trade my beloved dining table for equipment and repairs I need on the boat. And with looming bills and no income, I am once again forced to consider selling my car. The car is a great dock box for storing things I need handy but cannot fit on the boat, and having a car is a necessity in Annapolis, but bills have to be paid and the equity in the car may better serve me invested in the boat.
Many hard decisions to be made in short order. But if I am to do this, I think I must go all in. I want my boat to be safe and sound, but also comfortable and home; that will require time, money, sweat, and tears. I don't want to continue feeling I do not know my boat, that she is a mystery to me. I want to know every nook and cranny, be able to at least take a stab at most any repair, and be able to take my boat wherever I want, whenever I want.
Ran into a liveaboard friend last night and in catching him up on my liveaboard adventure lamented being left behind when the floppy-haired sailor guy went south for the winter. I am grateful to my friend for reminding me I am one in a million and not to settle for anyone that won't do everything in his power to have me with him. I hope I'm not forgotten, but I have to remember that I deserve to have someone as crazy about me as I am about him.