Way back when Dave and I started dreaming this adventure, we envisioned buying the boat somewhere in the Great Lakes. We would have the boat for at least a few seasons in Muskegon and get used to her and she to us. That way, when we finally threw off the dock lines we would know her quirks and the kids would be comfortable with their new home. I, being the novice sailor, especially loved this plan because:
- Practice, I feel most comfortable when I can practice in short snippets and learn in familiar waters.
- Moving onto a boat is daunting. If the boat was in Muskegon, merely 45 minutes away from home, it could be a gradual sort of moving.
- Prepping the boat; there will always be projects/things to fix or adjust when you purchase a boat. To work on the boat in familiar surroundings while still living in a house is ideal. Small children, people, small children!
- The route out; the North Channel, the Erie Canal, New England; all hold significant draw to me. I grew up (mostly) in Massachusetts, my extended family lives along the Erie Canal in western NY, and the North Channel boasts some of the most beautiful fresh water cruising in the world.
Two years ago, when Dave and I began boat searching in earnest for THE boat, we quickly realized that boats in the Great Lakes do not often come in the size and condition that accommodates a family of five for offshore cruising and island hopping (shoal draft). Also, boats of the size we were interested in were at least 25% more expensive in the Great Lakes than other parts of the world. We were on a budget so the search broadened.
We looked along the East Coast and the Gulf Coast. All the while, I planned on getting the boat back to Lake Michigan so the plan could ensue. All the while, Dave gently pushed the idea of starting elsewhere.
Fast forward to this summer, and I had wrapped my mind around starting in Florida. We’d drive down, stay with friends, and have a home base while we prepped the boat, provisioned, and sold a car. We would get comfortable with the boat coastal cruising Florida and then hop over to the Bahamas for a few months. Dave cruised in the Bahamas and I lived in the Bahamas. The Bahamas felt doable, a known entity when everything else was changing. Sure, I could live with that plan.
September arrived and the search broadened to the Caribbean AND Dave turned his sights back to catamarans. We oscillated between monohull and catamarans throughout our search and in the end Dave fell solidly in the catamaran camp. When our broker first asked us to look at Kairos5; I saw the price, the funky layout, the location and easily dismissed her.
A month later, after a failed bid on a boat in FL, our broker encouraged us to look again. We did and the rest is history. However, still the plan was that Dave would gather a crew and bring the boat back to FL so Plan B could ensue. He would learn the boat and her quirks and at least one of us would be comfortable sailing her prior to moving the family on board. Also, driving and stuff vs. flying and stuff, I mean, come on, it made so much sense!
The week before we flew down for the survey and sea trial, Dave gently introduced the idea that we start in Martinique, where the boat is located. Sailing friends (multiple sources) who had experience sailing with their families were strongly encouraging us to consider starting in Martinique. Fine, the original plan was already out the window, why not consider a Martinique start as we conducted the survey and sea trial.
This ushered in the new plan. On January 21 we fly to Florida. We will stay with friends for two nights and on January 23, we will board a plane and fly to Martinique. We will show up with five suitcases, five backpacks, and a shipping barrel. We will arrive late afternoon to a boat that is not clean, is not provisioned, and still needs work.
We will get comfortable and provision in Martinique. When we are ready, we will head north, island hopping our way to the USVI or Puerto Rico. From there we’ll head to the Bahamas, perhaps via Turks and Caicos. We will work our way slowly through the Bahamas and land back in Florida sometime in May at which point, significant boat work will be done. After the boat is refreshed, we’ll push north and hopefully make it to Maine for August. Once summer runs out, we’ll point the boat south. That’s the plan.
Amazingly, I’m okay with the plan. Is it daunting? Sure is. Can I fathom packing our belongings and staying under the 600 lb weight limit? Not quite. Can I imagine the last week at our house as we move out, sell vehicles, and prep for leaving? Nope, nor do I want to. But I do have a peace about this plan and so we’ll continue to take one step at a time and see where we go.
After all, cruising plans are written in the sand at low tide.
How very exciting for your family! Your blog makes it so enviable—from my arm chair! Your youth and your faith will make this adventure one to remember for a lifetime, no matter how long it lasts. I look forward to your next report of progress and pray for calm to prevail!