Our Exit Strategy

Back in the mid 2000’s it seemed that everything in life was moving along as could be expected.  We had money in the bank, we had retirement accounts, I dabbled in the stock market in a small way.  We were living well and enjoying things as they were.  Sad looking back on how the greedy powers that be have deceived us all and stolen our wealth while we were sleeping.

About five years back, when the economy started to crash, it quickly became apparent that we would have to make some changes in our lives to survive.  The wife and I own a business together, and around mid 2007 our income started to drop dramatically.  We ended up letting our paralegal go and becoming very conservative with our money.  Things would not get any better, and by the time 2009 rolled around, we knew that we had to make

some dramatic changes in our lives.

Around mid 2009 we came to a point where we knew we would have to let our home go.  We had the choice of letting the office go, getting jobs in our respective careers, and hoping for the best, or we could let the home go and keep the office.  The second choice would mean that we would have to live at the office.

We decided to let the home go and live at the office.  We had a storage shed that we had been renting, and so we packed all of the things that we could not give away or sell, into storage.  We had a few garage sales, threw away lots of things, and pruned our lives down to a minimum.

At the same time that we were going through this, we were also planning for

alternate ways of spending our future.  With our retirements in the toilet and not as much coming in from the business as we once had, we knew we would have to rethink how we were to retire.  We were in our early 50’s by then, so we knew we had to start planning.  We had been researching and playing with the thought of retiring onto a sailboat.  There were others that had done this, so why couldn’t we?  We were intelligent, resourceful, people.  If they could, then we could.

After moving into the office, we had a little more disposable income.  We decided to look for a starter boat to “get our feet wet” on.  We decided on

something really cheap, so if we sank her, we wouldn’t lose our shirts in the process.  We bought a Columbia 26 and learned to sail.  We also learned a lot
about sailboat systems and continued to learn from people that had moved aboard to live.

The next year we decided that it was time to upgrade.  We had learned to sail and also learned that we loved it!  We wanted to get ourselves into something that would be more comfortable and something we could stock with food in the event that the economy worsened to the point where we could not sustain ourselves.  We sold our little 26 footer and bought a Harstad 31 Motorsailer.

We really loved that boat.  She was very comfortable and fairly roomy for her size.  She had a center cockpit and a good diesel.  Her drawbacks were that she was a slow boat to sail, and with the price of diesel rising, our plans did not include a boat that could cost us every time we wanted to head out.  She was also more of a weekend getaway boat, and not a boat I would have trusted way out in blue water.  After enjoying her for a little over a year, we knew from all we had learned for sailing her to the islands that we would need a much more heavily built boat if we were going to retire into a boat and sail anywhere beyond just shore sailing.  So the search was on.

We have always had three major prerequisites when we look at a boat.

  1. Sound hull
  2. Sound engine
  3. Sound rigging and sails

Those are the biggies because those are what are the most expensive to repair.  At a reasonable enough price, and as long as the above was met, we would seriously consider any boat that would fit our needs.

Along with the above, we also wanted something in the 35 foot or over size.  We knew from the experience we gained in owning and looking at boats what size would be a good fit.

I also wanted a steering wheel, as opposed to a tiller because of the room at tiller took up in the cockpit and the fact that a tiller has the ability, if not lashed down or in-hand at all times, to flog around and smack into you.  I imagined breaking a rib or two during a storm.  That was not a good thought.

We wanted hot and cold pressurized water, a shower, stove/oven, a navigation station, and the wife wanted a “U” shaped settee in the salon.  Not really a lot to ask considering that most boats would have these things if they were built from the late 1960’s on.

In our search we came upon our current boat.  She’s a 1969 Columbia 36, and she was in really nice condition.  We knew there were upgrades we

would need to do, but she was in close-to-original condition and was sound,
so she would be a great platform.  No one had done any stupid modifications or made changes to her.  She still had the original 1969 toilet that was plumed to flush directly over the side!  She was also VERY clean and had new paint and a new diesel.

I’ve listed the extensive upgrades that we completed HERE, so I won’t go into them again, but she is currently ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  There are two or three more things that we still want to do, but if we had to jump on her and sail away for the rest of our lives, at this point I would feel comfortable doing so.

So, now that we’re ready to leave, what will be the event that triggers our decision that it is time and where will we go?  I will be drafting part two to this story and upload it in the next day.