We have been mulling over our upcoming plans for what feels like forever. With all of the options we are really struggling at choosing one, and our “let’s talk it out” time is running thin. Every time we sit down and have a big discussion about what we should do, it feels like we come out of the talk with more options rather than any concrete decisions. We are so lost within it all that maybe some fresh sets of eyes (and opinions please) could help us come up with a solid plan. By saying “a solid plan”, I mean we just need to make up our minds to go one way or another, if we find out soon after that, “nope this isn’t for us”, we have no problem going back to the drawing board. But we need a start point!
Let me start by being transparent. It’s rare you will find people discussing money, like how much of it they have, but for you to be able to help out in our decision making you need to at least have a general idea of where we are financially. Let’s still leave it somewhat vague, because that’s really on a need to know basis; but in our entire cruising career (6 years!) we have always bounced around between $24,000-$65,000. ($10,000 is what we call our absolute $0. This would be the scenario where we would have to heavily invest our time into making money, but still have that small cushion to survive on until a paycheque came in.) Most of the time we are on the lower end of the above mentioned money scale, and when our “financial alarms” go off because we are getting low we do something drastic to pad the account again (like sell our house, move to land and work for 6 months, or commit to dock life while we make some money).
We are now floating somewhere around mid-scale in our bank account. It’s a comfortable spot to be at for now, but with some of the options we are considering, upfront money would be required, and draining a bank account below $10,000 is not an option for us. So keep that in the back of your minds.
The commitments back in Canada: Eben’s sister Jaala is getting married to Eben’s first sailing buddy Jordan on May 23. This is an event we will not miss. End of July our friend Mark is getting married, and beginning of August Eben’s best friend Caleb is getting married and Eben is the Best Man.
Now for the plethora of options! You ready, get your thinking caps on because this is where you choose our next adventure (just like those books we used to read as kids.)
First off, going back to Canada means we have to do something with our boat. The options we are considering for the boat are:
-Haul the boat out in St Thomas. The upside to this would mean when we return our boat would already be in ideal sailing waters and near a lot of friends. Leaving it here would also mean that we don’t really need to stress for time, we can pack up the boat “at the last minute”, haul here and come back in half a year. The downside is the cost, around $5000 for 6 months, and when we haul out we need to choose a splash date. (Which for people as unplanned as us knowing what date we want to return to the boat in 6 months is insane!) But that could also be a positive, force us to come back by a certain date.
|We’ve hauled out in St Thomas before.|
-Sail the boat back to the Dominican Republic and leave it in the hurricane hole there. The positive is that it is a lot cheaper than keeping the boat in the USVI and we have had our boat in that spot before and trust it. The downside is that I don’t feel like sailing the Mona Passage for a fourth time (we have done the “worst passage in the caribbean 3 times already) so Eben would have to find some sailing buddies at pretty short notice. This would also mean that when we return after Canada our boat is in the “middle ground”, 3 days sailing from the Virgin Islands, and 3 days sailing from the Bahamas. So what then!?
|Our last time crossing the Mona, we all got a little sea sick.|
-Third option, the one that has been throwing us for a loop…sell our boat. After 6 years of sailing I am starting to see the allure to things like enrolling the girls in school, having a set group of friends that won’t sail off into the sunset on any given moment, to have plenty of activities, or even play parks closeby to help with entertaining little ones, becoming more settled, etc, etc. The upside to this is that we would move on to new adventure and have some money (from the sale of the boat) to back whatever adventure we embark on. The downside is that we would be selling our home, the one we have spent the last 6 years building and customizing. We would be giving up the island/nomadic lifestyle, and for what, we aren’t quite sure yet. Another downside is that boats don’t sell overnight, so it could take a while to find just the right person or family that would want to make our home their own. This option is a tough one. One day I am all for it, and others I am saying “No Way!” Saying goodbye to what we have built and become accustomed us to is tough, but change can be good.
|Necesse, our 41ft 1989 Morgan Catalina. Our home.|
That covers the boat, now on to what WE are doing!
-Canada: Eben’s family have a large plot of land in the ROCKY MOUNTAINS that they have so kindly offered to let us build on if we so desire to be closer to family and friends. We have been considering the idea of a tiny home, a cabin, something small in the mountains of Canada. That’s quite the adventure in itself. The upside is that we would be closer to family, if we stay long enough (1 year) we would regain residency and be able to send our kids to school for free (which is saying a lot when school in the VIs is up in the $1000’s), we would be planting roots and building our own home that we could either live “long term” in, or have it as a seasonal home (6 months there, 6 months abroad). The downside is that building a home, no matter how tiny, is not cheap. Money is a factor for us so we need to consider this. We have no guaranteed source of income in Golden, BC. Canada also involve a lot of other costs, like flights, a car, food, travel/gas, higher cost of living, etc. The Rockies, although super cool, were not necessarily OUR dream, it is something we would appropriate because of the other benefits, but it is not tropical, and honestly after 6 years away, a Canadian winter is quite terrifying! But a cabin in the woods could be pretty cool.
|More time in Canada would mean more time for the girls to spend with their cousins.|
|This is the property, look at that view. And look at those cute little faces.|
|Ellia was not a fan of the cold the last time she experienced Canada in the winter!|
-Move to the Dominican Republic: We really enjoyed our time in the Cabarete area of the DR. The upside is that they have good international schools there, a ton of activities, kiteboarding daily, they speak Spanish (mastering a 2nd language is a huge plus), the people are kind, and we already have the lay of the land. The downside is that this area of the DR is still slightly pricier than what would be “ideal”, and a source of work there is not clear. We would not live on our boat, because from the hurricane hole to the town we enjoyed is about a 2hr drive, so we would be left either renting or buying property there, again $$$.
|We enjoyed the DR.|
|This pic was from St Thomas, but its to show that with 2 kiters in the family now, an area where they can kiteboard is a plus.|
-Move to Mexico: Just two days ago we were Skyping with friends that we met in the DR, and they have recently moved to Todos Santos, Baja. From all their travels and living abroad they said that this town “checks a lot of the essential boxes”. The upside is that we would already have friends there, it is completely unknown, there is a good/cheaper Montessori school in the area, work is a possibility although vague, they speak Spanish, and it would be a totally new adventure. The downside is that we have never been there, so how to know if we would love it, and we would find ourselves either renting or buying something to live in. This is new on our plates and my brain hasn’t fully processed this possibility.
-Go back to the boat in the Virgin Islands: We could choose to keep the boat, and either haul it out in the USVI or sail it to the DR and then sail it back to the USVI after hurricane season. So when hurricane season is done we could come straight back here to our boat home. The upside is that sailing here is so much easier than any other sailing we have done. We have made an awesome group of friends here that we really enjoy. We are living in the tropics on our sailboat. And we know that plenty of friends/people could use Eben’s sewing services for cash. The downside is that we could not afford to enrol the girls in school here, our work here is “temporary” and not actually moving us towards a specific dream or career but rather sustaining where we are currently, and lastly, sadly enough, I have sort of lost my “fizz” for sailing, so I am much more content with dock life than sailing life.
|Hard to consider giving up a view like this.|
|These guys (plus their newest addition Graiden) are what MAKE st thomas for us.|
|Our beach bums quite like it here.|
All of this is why our brains are working non-stop, and with this wedding fast approaching it leaves us with about 4 weeks to decide what we want to be doing with our lives…or even shorter if we choose to do the passage to the DR, then Eben would have to sail out sooner. This is why we are feeling like maybe an outsider’s view may help us out.
-oh yes, and then there is also the opportunity for Eben to go and work in Tanzania again this upcoming July, with the next Ngalawa race. That would be 3 weeks of work, and this time he would most likely go on his own, because the cost of bringing our family of 4 was quite high. But that could be a little burst of income.
|The first Ngalawa Cup where Eben and Ryan participated as guinea pigs. At least now Eben is getting paid for it!|
So there you have it, 3 boat possibilities to choose from, 4 lifestyle scenarios to choose from. WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? And are we missing anything, is there another affordable haul out or hurricane hole we should be considering? Is there a life destination or job we should be gearing towards? If so, let me know, if only to throw more confusion into our decision process!!! I look forward to what you think.