It goes without saying, but I’m a writer so I’ll say it anyway: owning a boat is a continual lesson in patience. Jay and I have been dreaming of “sailing away” for about fifteen years, so we’ve had to be patient. Granted, until we almost bought Katie Rose a year and a half ago, it was all just talk. (That’s another story for another time.) Then we took the plunge with Take Two and we are now in year four of a five year plan, but haven’t actually gone anywhere yet. So we shouldn’t be surprised that things take longer than we expected. In fact, that things take longer is actually a blessing, since things are also harder than expected. We have the cushion of time to absorb the shock of drastic change.
Being an all-or-nothing type has its disadvantages. When we talked about making the dream happen, I wanted to sell the house and move aboard in one fell swoop, but now I see the benefit of going slowly. I’m like a bull in a china cabinet; things usually get broken when I’m in a hurry. Jay is careful and cautious, tending toward inaction rather than rash action. In this case, we balance each other nicely: I get excited and light the fire, and he is wise and makes it a controlled burn. The downside is that I can’t stand limbo. It just requires so much…patience. I am now taking care of two households when I was barely managing one before. So I work twice as hard so that things can be one-half as orderly! When I am at home, I can’t wait to get down to the boat, and when we’re at the boat I am thinking about what needs to be done at home. And then there’s the question of daily necessities: do you get duplicates of everything, or carry everything back and forth? We are learning what we can live without.
It’s now been six months since we started this journey. I use that word loosely since we haven’t sailed Take Two anywhere yet. And it might take another six months for us to be ready to go anywhere beyond our backyard. Not only does the boat need work, but we do too. Nonetheless, there’s been a lot of progress since she was delivered from Fort Lauderdale two months ago. For starters, spending every weekend aboard has made us feel comfortable and “at home” in a completely foreign environment. Also, we have cleaned out every nook and cranny and sorted all the junk we found hiding there, so that we now sit about four inches higher than the old water line! Jay has repaired both engines, the water pumps, the electrical system, the hydraulic steering system, the A/C, the dingy and taken on countless other projects. I have altered meal plans at the spur of the moment and managed to feed everyone before the grouchies set in, baked a loaf of bread, pizza, and cookies in my ancient, though trusty Bosch oven, entertained cooped-up children on a rainy weekend without turning on any electrical devices (we set up a mini-bowling alley with plastic cups and the baby’s ball), and taken sailing classes to increase my confidence at the helm.
The kids have also made strides toward adapting to this life aboard, probably with greater ease and grace than we have—the boys help with all kinds of projects, for the most part without a word of complaint, Sarah helps keep Sam busy, and their behavior has been exceptional, so much so that people stop me on the docks in the marina to tell me how great the kids are. We see a lot of growth in their confidence, their ability to meet new people of any age and engage in conversation, and their willingness to “go with the flow” when things are unpredictable. Many of our concerns have been eased as we see the children enjoying our time at the dock. We keep busy with boat chores, reading, visiting the museum and planetarium (which is within walking distance), and swimming at the pool. The public library is across the street from our dock and downtown Bradenton offers a small-town main street feel, so there are plenty of things nearby to occupy us if the boat gets too crowded or people start getting antsy.
In fact, aside from trying to figure out how to keep a one-and-a-half-year-old busy but out of trouble and moments of “can we go home now?” (each of us has had one), we’re feeling pretty comfortable here. Some of that is just getting used to things and some of it is adjusting our expectations. Either way, feeling comfortable is a sign to me that it’s time to get going. Or maybe that’s just me feeling impatient again…