April 10, 2013. Home.
It's time for a confession. The charter vacation in the BVIs was more than just a getaway for us. It was also a "trial run". In fact, it was the last of several charter trip/trial runs with our family on a catamaran, meant to see if we could spend an extended period of time together on a boat, and do some serious travelling.
Now, I'm fully aware that 10 days in the BVIs does not equate to spending months on end with a family of five living and travelling in a space roughly equivalent to a small studio apartment. And it could well be argued that it is not much of a trial run for a plan like that. But it has to be a better facsimile than sitting at home, thinking about it and reading about it on the internet (which we have also done a lot of).
In fact, we've been thinking of an extended family cruise for the better part of 7 years now. Over and over again, we have come up with and discarded various plans: sell everything and go now, wait until the kids are all in college then cruise as a retired couple, cruise a few months every year and work in between, or take a sabbatical and do a trip with the whole family.
Finally, after years of discussions, making, and discarding plans, we have finally decided to pull the ripcord, and go for it. So what has changed? Why have we finally decided to go now instead of more waiting and more planning?
Well, we've realized there is no perfect time to go on an extended trip like this. We definitely want to do it as a family, so waiting until the kids leave home is not an option. Also, we are currently fortunate to have our health, and our extended families are healthy and stable. As I see at work every day, things can change in an instant, and plans for future dreams don't always work out.
Another big factor is my current ability to take a leave from work. As it turns out, there are currently lots of doctors in my area interested in taking over my practice. This has not always been the case. In fact, historically, it has been extremely difficult to find locums, especially in a smaller town. So there is a window of opportunity.
Finally, our kids are at the perfect ages to do this now. Alexander is 13 going on 14 – if we wait much longer, he will be a full-on teenager, and while he is a pretty easy going guy, we are aware of important it is to kids to be around their peers as they get older. Christopher is full of adventure and life, and keen to try something different for a while. And Katie, while she has some concerns about missing her friends, is solid, confident, and outgoing. We have no doubt she can handle the change. As for Sara and I – maybe it's selfish, but we want some real time with our kids, uninterrupted by Youtube, play dates, swim practices, committee meetings, on-call shifts and all the other million distractions that creep into our lives. We want the opportunity to connect, explore, learn and see more of the world with our family.
So, what's the plan? We've come up with a scheme that we feel we can swing socially, financially, and career wise. We are going to take a year's sabbatical, and buy a boat with a plan to resell when we are done. We've talked a lot about where we might go – Europe and the Mediterranean, the West Coast of the US and Mexico, or the East Coast and the Caribbean.
While it is tempting to go to Europe, buy a boat in the Med and eventually cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean, the logistics of a boat purchase overseas, getting it set up to cruise, and transporting the whole family just seems too overwhelming.
Instead, we are going to look for a boat on the East Coast of the US. This should allow us to start there, spend some time exploring places like Washington D.C. and New York, then, when hurricane season dies down, work our way south. We are keeping our minds open as to where we will eventually get, since many a sailing trip has been destroyed by too rigid an itinerary. We will probably have to make a choice between the Western Carribean and the Eastern Carribean, as well as lots of little choices in between. We have lots of ideas and dreams, but we will have to see how it all plays out.
So there you are. It feels good to finally come clean, and let you know what we're up to.
You are invited to follow along for the ride, and we will try and keep you posted as plans evolve. I've already got the work situation pretty much figured out for the year. The next step – find a boat!