After 2 years of courses, chartering, and boat ownership, both my wife and I have decided we share the same desire to go cruising. Now the tough part..are we actually going to do this? We have built a successful business that once we walk we cant return..it has provided us the funds to do this with a lifelong income. We want to have children..is it practicle to live on a boat with an infant many people say yes but its hard to comprehend being on a boat with a newborn..everything else including our finances are in place and we have no other issues preventing us...but its that giant step forward that scares us. Over and over I hear of the liveaboards and cruisers who say they wouldnt change their life for anything..many say they waited to long..I dont want that to be us. Based on our current life it has to be all or nothing..we dont have the opportunity for a "trial period" I guess we are just looking for all that profound advice that the decision we are making wont be the wrong one.
We would love to hear from anyone who struggled with this and what the final result was....
Hello Jim :
You've asked one of the greatest questions of cruising..."when is it really right to make the move" ??
Only you can make a decision that's right or wrong...& then live with the consequenses...the trouble is, as you stare out into the great abiss...it's pretty foggy out there...& so do you cast off into the unknown, or wait till things are a little further evolved & the view into the future is somewhat clearer ?
What I'd suggest is simple...do things in "Baby Steps".
Have you considered moving aboard & disposing of land based "tie-downs" to try it out ??
Lots can be learned about cruising right from your own dock, without totally giving up your land-based life...& from the sound of what you discribe, I'd say you sound like you're young enough to brave THAT sort of dockside trial run, which will help you decide when the time is right.
From what you've said, I'm hearing several things...
1) You have the finances in place,
2) You have the desire,
3) You're fairly young...(30's ??),
4) You have the boat that's you're happy with right now...and...
5) You're apprehensive about the "finality" of casting off into this new way of life,
However...I'm not hearing anything about you're eventual "re-entry" !!
Since all cruisers someday return to land, I'd urge you to give that aspect of all this it's fair share of thought & pre-planning.
In our case (& we've yet to cast off too...) I've bought two canal access building lots which lead out into Lake St Clair & these will be our "land holdings" along with setting up our son in a small home (his actually, however, we'll retain title...) for him to watch over our "things" that will be stored there while we're away.
With our (stuff) assets in order, away we'll go with the knowledge of being able to check things online to make sure payments are made, deposits are going where they need to, etc, etc.
We are presently 51yrs & plan on retireing by the time we're 56'ish & casting off after that for our cruising years...but enough of that...
As to your question of "babies aboard"...I'd express to you a deep concern as to tiny ones on a boat & suggest that until they are old enough to understand that they are going on a great adventure with Mom & Dad, they belong on land, with the support of your family.
I say this because I subscribe to the "wisdom" that it takes a villiage to properly raise a child, & by sailing away, you'll be sliceing off a healthy portion of that support.
For this reason, I'd say to stay on the boat as much as you can, have your kids ashore in a home (you're planning for 2, right ??) & when they hit about 5ys-6yrs old...tell them that the Admiral is promoting them to 1st mates & then...
Bring them to that horizon...yo, ho, ho !!!
Good luck to you
Most everything PaulO writes is valid and important to consider except the part about young children. Over many years of cruising I have observed some of the best parenting and child raising being done by cruisers living on boats with their children. There is a vast community of cruisers with children onboard so you are not "all alone" out there. Children bond to their parents in ways simply not available in this modern age of government approved schools and daycare centers raising your children for you according to politically proscribed criteria thought up by bureacrats.
On board your boat, you, your spouse, and your children are the world. You are their parents, their teachers and their playmates. That quality of relationship between you and your offspring does not exist on land. On the other hand you have really love being a parent because you are with them 24/7/365 days and more. And you get to raise your children according to your values and desires. But that is not necessary for everybody - some people cannot be that much of a "parent." So consider your own personalities and realities before cutting the docklines and sailing off to sea.
And as PaulO mentioned - do consider what you would do if you needed to return to land. Living in a "house" that is constantly moving, rolling and rocking is not for everybody - well, maybe folks living in California are more used to that than others.
The above posts cover your questions very well, but I would like to add my 2 cents on boat babies.
We have 4 children and sail with them. I know others have done it with babies on board, but honestly, for me, the thought of having a crawling 9 month old at sea?........I think I would rather put needles in my eyes. The safety issues just are too numerous to count.
My brain melts and oozes out of my ears when I even attempt to imagine an 18mo toddling around a boat.
Seas get rough, boats get tossed around as does everything in them. Now add a fragile newborn to that mix. What do you do if both mom and dad are needed on deck in a storm?
We know some people that went cruising on a Cat with 4 kids. They went the ICW down to Isla and then on to Belize. The mom told me that when they took off offshore, she had her toddler strapped into a harness and tied next to her at all times because she feared if he was left sleeping in his own berth he might toddle out on deck and fall off without anyone seeing him. That would be worse than any nightmare imaginable.
I know it can be done, and there are plenty of sane, fantastic people doing it. I have read a blog online about one such family, and their kids are fabulous.
Our youngest is 4, and completely capable of of walking on deck without falling off.....but I watch her like a hawk. Kids are unpredictable, and you never know when one might wander on deck without their life jacket on. It has happened on our boat in the bay in a dead calm, withour 4 yo, so I always watch for the unexpected. Imagine the reliablility of a 1 year old. As a parent, you are their protector...but you are also foredeck, helmsman, mechanic, cook, etc etc. You have duties in a stick house, but while you attend to other tasks, your baby can crawl around at your feet without falling in the drink.
So, that is my 2 cents. Like I said, I know it can and has been done with outstanding success,....just not our cup of tea.
It's as simple as the words of Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Have fun! Irene