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Sailboat Family Pre-Trip 2009 Monthly Journal

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The Final Piece of the Money Puzzle

[JAN09] Holy Crap! We found an incredible book that was the final piece of the financial puzzle. After nearly a year and a half, the money side of the picture is now complete. I`m sure the author of the book must be considered the antichrist of the commercial sailing establishment. Knocking down putative notions one by one, they have confirmed what we believed to be true about such a journey. It is possible for an average Joe to stop working and enjoy the rest of his life! The book is very empowering. The book definitely added fuel to the fire AND has helped us adjust our time lines. We have changed our fixed departure date from April 2016 to a range, or window, of sailing dates. We will now be departing sometime between June 2012 and April 2016! The old date is the latest we will go! Wahoo! Once we grasped the magnitude of this earlier date, all sorts of decisions became much easier ... especially related to money. June 2012 isn`t far away at all and we still don`t have a boat!

Motorsail boat with Junk rig?

[FEB09]This has been an awesome month. Our boat needs are solidifying nicely and we are about to nail the $100,000 challenge! Plus, thinking about 2012 has produced very interesting behavior changes in us. Regarding the boat, we are currently focused on a sailboat that has an engine (motorsailer) and re-rigging it with Chinese Junk sails. These sails are not only simple to make, but they are simple to use and are very efficient. The more I study them, the more I’m perplexed why more people don’t use them. It is probably because of the two attributes I noted as it relates to simplicity. They are so cheap that no one could make much money off of them and that doesn’t make for a good commercial business to support advertising revenue in magazines. Ahh, commercialism feeding consumerism feeding options. The boat approach we are leaning towards is feeling pretty damn good. The accumulation towards $100,000 has really accelerated. We keep finding new ways to bring in extra money. It is unbelievable! Quite frankly, I don’t know how someone could be poor. Money is literally lying all around you. We aren’t special, we’ve just been aggressive in finding ways to bank the cash. Our money list is now just past 70 distinct things we do. Some are "one time only" things, while most are exploitable perpetually. Damn, I wish we had started this whole thing years ago so we could have made this list sooner.

Boat Money Challenge #1 Met!

[MAR09]WE DID IT! We’'ve met our $100,000 goal! HOLY CRAP! Never ever ever ever would I have imagined that we could amass so much money! Damn, and one point in our married lives 10 years ago, we were in credit card hell with a debt of $76K….. what a reversal. The family is even more resolved now. If we could reach the $100,000 in just 13 months, then we will be able to reach our target funding inside our travel window. Further, we will be able to bank $100,000 again but even more quickly now that we’ve got the daily approaches refined. (Yes yes yes, to those who keep emailing me, I am putting all this into text form. Please be patient …. it is a lot of work turning 70 some odd actionable processes into typed words.) We’ve decided to reward ourselves with a trip to Orlando at the end of the month to visit Mickey Mouse and to go check out a few sailboats on the coast of Florida. We’ve not done this before (walked a sailboat “lot”), so we are very excited. Having a nice reward like this is critical when obtaining a goal. Money, sitting in a bank, is hard to feel. Mickey, Ocean, here we come!
Boat being captained by Mickey Mouse

No Refrigerator

[APR09]We’ve begun adjusting our diets and experimenting with food preservation. Our sailing strategy, relating to food, involves going without refrigeration, 1 pot pressure cooker cooking, and eating off less than $10 per day total for the entire family. As such, we’ve begun experimenting with provisions at home, which accommodate this strategy. Of the six dinners we’ve tried, we had mixed ratings across the family. We have also started a food diary to track every recipe, each persons rating of the meal, and the cost. In addition to the adding of food into the mix this month, we did hit Disney!! It was awesome. 2 of us got in free because of Disney`s birthday promotion. Further, we visited 2 marinas and walked boats. We found one boat we particularly liked, an Allied Mistress sailboat. We are continuing to watch her and if she remains unsold and the price drops, we may pick her up.

Endeavour

[MAY09]The latest food experiments include making mashed potatoes in the pressure cooker and making a pot roast. The mashed potatoes turned out fantastic! The taste was so good that we didn’t even need gravy. The pot roast, on the other hand, didn’t turn out so well. The next attempt will be much better since we figured out what we did wrong. The discarding of worldly possessions continues. My sister had a garage sale and we took advantage of it. Lots of “hard to let go” personal items ventured into new hands. We also sold off another big toy, our dune buggy. It was tough letting it go, but the trade off will be worth it. We continue to refine what we want in a boat and are starting to solidify the interior arrangement. Ideally, one half of the boat will be all the sleeping quarters (single separate berths for the girls and a queen berth for us), and the other half will be a large salon. We would rather trade off sleeping space for common space. This month our minds also considered an all-electric boat. That is, no fossil fuels. By swapping out the engine for an electric one, we can convert nearly any boat that fits our parameters. Early study indicates that there would be some serious trade offs (~20 mile range with the supplementary propulsion vs quiet, clean, low maintenance running). As with everything on this quest, it is about trade offs in light of our goal: our boat is an exploration vessel; a platform to allow our family to see the world. Of the boat types we’ve looked at, the leading candidate boat is currently an Endeavour 37, plan A layout. Our money finding continues and this month we have decided to chronicle every single coin found. It feels like we find money every day now that we know where to look, and by logging every occurrence (type, quantity, location, date, etc.) we will have the data to prove the feeling. Plus, it will provide some interesting information to analyze!

Gemini Catamaran and Cinco De Mayo!

[JUN09]This month we continue to eliminate physical assets, and we’ve decided that we should also sell our timeshare in Aruba. We’ve had the timeshare for about 10 years now, and we have fully taken advantage of it. Our tally for last month’s free coin collecting experiment and logging ended up being 118 coins, totaling $4.25! That is so cool… as a part of our normal life, we managed to find a free $4.25. That will go towards the boat. By the end of the year, we expect to have found around $50 in change. The daily blog has been fun for us. We do have some readers and are very excited about that. Plus, some folks have clicked on the Google ads and that results in money for our trip. We’ve had more donations this month towards our trip, so the list of virtual crew members continue to grow. We plan on creating a special, insiders peek, webpage for those whom have contributed (event a $1!) with some of the more gory, low level details. The usage of a catamaran as our primary vessel has returned. We can’t seem to get past the incredible draft these boats draw. For the type of exploring we want to do, a 2 foot draft is quite seductive. Where the catamaran is a problem is the beam. We want a beam of 15 feet or less so we can fit into standard size slips. This puts us in a catamaran of about 35 feet. Our leading catamaran contenders are from the Gemini series with the Gemini 3200 looking mighty good. The Gemini 105Mc would cost us more than we are really wanting to spend for the trip, so that is out. The encouraging emails continue to flow in too. Thank you to everyone. On the days when the trip seems so far away, the emails really help. We also wanted to share that we’ve decided to pull in our possible sail date even further. Our new, earliest possible, sail date is 5 May 2010. That doesn’t mean we will sail on that day, it is just the earliest we could sail (based on finances, the kids cognitive skills, etc.). Making this adjustment to the date puts our count down clock at under 365 days!

Boat Acquired!

[JUL09]The universe continues to conspire to make this life change a reality. Last month, we settled into the exact boat we wanted and we agreed to have it shipped to our local lake (Lake Lanier). We began to track the prices and locations of the Gemini 3200 npsyd religiously, and then, out of the blue, we not only found a Gemini 3200 at a fantastic price and in amazing condition, but it was on our lake! Talk about cool. No need to ship it. We’ve been sailing on it the past few weekends and spending the night on it. It is exactly what we wanted. Because we’ve been saving our money, we were able to buy it outright without any financing. The power of just dropping the cash is incredible. We turned thought and money into a tangible item. Interestingly, it was one of the easiest steps (buying the boat). We were ready for the “second thoughts” to wash over us after the purchase. The thoughts never came. It felt so right. It continues to feel right. One guiding strategy we used that we believe helped in this regard was “if you can’t afford to lose they money the boat represents, the boat is too expensive.” This strategy won’t work for everyone, but it worked for us. We’ve decided to name our boat Ariel. We all love the sound of the name, it suits our perception of the boat, and the association to the Disney character adds fun. Onward we go!

Boat Sweet Boat

[AUG09]What an amazing past few months. Now that we have the boat, we've been out on the water nearly every weekend. Val is in full force boat mode, sewing new curtains, learning how to fix fiberglass, and working on marine heads! We also faced our first real "fix it" issue, with one of the rudder brackets having a weld break. That was an "in the water" marine repair done by yours truly. We continue to put our money away, saving for the sail away date. During the first couple weeks of boat ownership, we decided that we would make the boat our home and our apartment simply our in town residence during working days. This mind shift makes all work on the boat feel right, plus it is fun saying that we are going to our lake home. We have Labor day right around the corner and we expect to spend 4 days on the boat at that time. It will be our second 4 day outing. The boat sips gas, and we find that running the sails provides us the vast majority of the propulsion we need and want. The girls, KJ and Dy, have become pretty comfortable on the boat with KJ running over the entire thing. Dy has fallen a few times, but we suspect she will get more agile over time (she is only 1.25 years old after all). Val swells with pride as she sails it, and sailing it is what she does. I, on the other hand, more drive the boat. I'm not so elegant with matching the right point of sail with the wind. We've continued to add more virtual crew members (those who donate to the trip), and we are grateful to each and everyone of them. As we add those special sections to the site (the more personal details and information like exact costs, exact locations, and so on), they will be granted access. We also continue to received encouraging emails and emails from folks thanking us for being an inspiration. Both of those types motivate us too. Thank you!

Poop, Buckets, and Money

[SEP09]Our knowledge and sailing fund continues to grow like crazy. On the knowledge front, Val’s membership in various Internet sailing forums is paying off huge dividends. She has opened a number of dialogs with people whom have more experience than we do and their feedback and guidance has saved us from frustration, lost time, and wasted money. One topic we spent a lot of thought time on is the septic system: the toilet (or in nautical terms, the head) and the holding tank. We’ve decided to rip out the existing water centric system and go with a composting toilet system. Our experience with this one system helps highlight one of the alluring aspects of this whole trip: we will be responsible for, and understand, all the systems we take for granted in modern society. On the money front, we’ve had some great gains here too. In addition to progressing towards our next $100,000 goal following the techniques we used before, we also placed a large chunk of the first $100,000 goal monies into the market (recall, we don‘t count any money gained by interest as counting towards our goals … it is a whole separate category for us). The market has done very well for us. We decided to hedge our bets and move the money back out of the market. Regardless of where the market goes now, we are winners! What we put in grew nicely, and we’ve pulled it out so the gains are ours to keep. An area that we need to do better on is on the “stuff” front. We’ve not done as much thinning out of worldly possessions as we would have liked. We still have too much stuff to take on the boat. Fortunately, we’ve not added more stuff either. We’ve settled on a “bucket of toys” approach for the girls. We will give each of them a bucket (the larger ones that you get 5 gallons of paint in), and they can take any and all toys that will fit into their bucket. Val and I each get a bucket too, for our toys.

399, 398, 397, ...

[OCT09]The month of October blew by faster than any other month this year. Even so, a number of wins came from the month. Psychologically, a huge barrier was crossed as we went under 400 days until we can set sail. The phrases that begin with “Do you realize that this could be the last time we...” have started. Do you realize that this could be the last time we renew our apartment lease? Do you realize that this could be the last time we renew our annual car insurance? Ahh, that feels good. Another gain of the month included reverse engineering our power systems. We spent a few hours one Sunday and unraveled what goes where. The confidence we gained in knowing how the boat is wired cannot be underestimated. It became clear, for example, why the circuit breaker for the hot water heater had to be on for the Air Conditioner to work. Another great win out of this was fully understanding how the solar system was wired to the batteries. This month we also created our punch list of all items that must be done for us to be able to leave. We have 87 specific things to be done. Working through this list also brought to the forefront of our minds that the boat must be shipped to the ocean in 10 months! We have only 10 more months of the boat living and working on the lake. Financially, 2 new revenue streams were identified: one an active stream (requiring continual work) and one passive (once set up, it flows in on its own). We also reduced a yearly operating expense that will continue even when we are on the boat taking this journey. Our yearly website hosting costs were dropped nearly 50 dollars! Further, we purchased the hosting for the next 4 years up front. October was a great month.

Lost 75 lbs!

[NOV09]This month saw the removal of our Air Conditioner! Taking this system out marked our first foray into modifying the boat to better suit our needs. The beast weighed 75 lbs!! That is 75 lbs we could better use for food and water. We also secured our composting head. The switch over from a liquid system to a dry one, we believe, is a good/right move. We've also begun ripping out the nasty cloth centric headliner in the master suite. Over the years, it had absorbed the nasty odors from the head and looked grungy. The final large big-boy play toy asset was liquidated .... we sold our Aruba timeshare. That eliminates another operating expense, the yearly "maintenance fee." With the passing of November, we've hit the phase of saying, "Do you realize that this could be the last time that we [fill in the blank]?" That feels good. We've also started initial discussions on 2010s fiscal goals. By next month, they should be set. October went by fast, but November went by faster!

Less Than A Year!

[DEC09]The last month of the year is closed, and with it 2009. It was an incredible year. We not only reached our $100,000 goal in March, but we also acquired our boat!! We've met so many wonderful people online as we've shared our adventure with more and more people. Our virtual crew member list grows weekly with people from all over the world. The Natures Head Composting toilet wasn't installed this month as we had planned, and it further proves that every task we undertake on the boat takes 5 times longer than we estimate. The new toilet should be in place in January. We've established our financial goals for 2010, and they are our most aggressive yet. We still have more "stuff" to liquidate, and a few more obligations to fulfill. Mentally, the entire immediate family is ready to make the trip, but the extended family is now struggling with the reality that we are really going within a year. When the trip was years out, it was easy for them to take. Dy still needs to complete her drown proofing class, and we are planning to do that by the end of April. Life is amazing, and we continue to flex and bend it to our will! See you in 2010!