Everyone knows that September 6th is Jeff Foxworthy’s birthday. Of course, that’s a stupidly obvious thing to say. It’s like saying that everyone knows that the sun rises in the east, or that water is wet. It’s a truth so fundamental, so important, so basic, that it’s part of what defines us as human beings. One can be forgiven for forgetting that anything else of consequence has ever happened on that date.
In a very small and humble way though, September 6th has become important to me for another reason. It is also the day that I moved aboard Sylphide, and this whole… thing… got started.
Regular readers will know that the decision to go all-in on this harebrained scheme was definitely not an easy one for me. It’s something I’d wanted to do for as long as I’d known it was an option, but it took years to talk myself into it. Years of thought and counter-thought, of confidence and doubt. Years of thinking out loud ad nauseum to family and friends and forums and coworkers and myself and any poor bastard who stood still within 20 feet of me for more than nine seconds.
Eventually I ran out of people who would indulge my rambling fever dreams, and decided it was time to either do it, or shut up about it already. Time to shit or get off the pot, as Mother Theresa was so fond of saying.
I made the decision that I would go for it as soon as I could afford to. I put together a five year plan, and started saving aggressively. Two years later, with nowhere near enough money saved up, I found a boat that was perfect for the job. She was a one-of-a-kind metal boat from Canada with a funny name, and I was in love. I resolved to buy her, and make her my home and traveling companion.
On September 6th, 2019, I had the keys in hand and most of my junk stowed aboard. I had no idea if what I was doing was going to work. I told myself that I would try it for a year before I made any decisions about it.
As of this writing, that was just over one year ago.
And what a year it’s been. In the past twelve months, Sylphide and I have traveled over three thousand miles. We’ve visited 48 different ports and anchorages in two countries and seven states, most of which I’d never been to before. We’ve made 92 lock transits, run aground three times, and bumped into more logs than you can shake a stick at. I’ve made dozens of new friends, and spent hundreds of hours with old ones and family.
In the engine department, Chief Perkins has almost exactly five hundred new hours on the clock, and has been as faithful and reliable as a well fed Golden Retriever. Other bits of the engine room have cost me thousands of dollars, and some of my sanity.
The last year has most definitely not all been smooth sailing. There were days early on when I was overwhelmed by the scale of the changes I’d made, and was convinced that I’d made the biggest and most expensive mistake of my life. There were cold days, wet days, rough and seaskicky days, brutally hot days, and days spent in the engine room contorted and sweaty and swearing. I’ve even had literal crappy days, where my bilge was full of turds.
Boat life can be really hard.
Thankfully, those days have gotten much fewer and much farther between. I’ve gotten quite comfortable with life aboard Sylphide now. Most days are just sort of… normal. I clean, cook, and do laundry. I shop for groceries, stub my toes, and talk to neighbors. Sometimes I’m productive and get things done, and sometimes I spend hours sitting on my ass watching youtube videos. In many ways, it hasn’t been a big change at all.
There have also been some truly excellent and soul filling days. Days when I looked out at the view and felt like the luckiest jerk in the Solar system. Days when people complimented my boat, and told me how they envied what I was doing, and wished they could do the same. Days when everything came together, the sun was out and the seas were calm, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was meant be doing.
There’s something special about waking up on the only boat in a beautiful, calm anchorage, knowing that you’re part of the scenery for the folks around you. There’s just something special about traveling by boat. It somehow transforms ordinary places that you never would have bothered to visit by car, into charming and interesting destinations. It’s a little bit of magic when you tie up in a new town, with all of it’s promise and mystery laid out in front of you.
Those are the days that make the adventure. Those are the moments that make all of the trouble worthwhile.
So, with a year of experience under my belt, the question is: do I regret it? Have I made the biggest and most expensive mistake of my life?
No. Not a chance. Not even a little bit. In fact, that brings me to the next milestone. Today I closed on my house, and I feel great about that. It might have something to do with my new bank balance, but either way, it’s great. I think that even if the first year of living aboard had turned out to be a disaster, I’d still at least be glad that I gave it a try. At least I wouldn’t have been left wondering ‘what if…’ forever. I think I’d have regretted not trying a whole lot more.
So that’s it, I’m officially all-in. I’m houseless, and I’m very okay with that. Here’s hoping for another wonderful year of fabulous new places, swell new people, and excellent new Adventures with Sylphide.
Thanks for reading <3