The exclaim I hear most often from people when I tell them what we are doing is "What about storms?". The second most common comment is "What about pirates?". The truthful answer to the first is that modern weather tracking and careful itinerary planning means we are likely to be able to miss anything really hairy and if we do roll bad odds and get terrible weather, we have a stout little boat and we are putting together a contingency plan to make sailing in weather as safe as possible. As to *pirates, well we aren't planning a coastal cruise of Somalia or Malaysia so the odds are far greater that we would get carjacked in our hometown than run afoul of pirates. My flippant answer is if we can survive the refit and getting ready to leave everything else will be easy.
Getting a boat ready is a tough gig.Seriously. If you have buckets of money, you can throw it at tradesmen and have it done for you but then you run the very real risk of not having the work done well despite the extraordinary expense. This is largely why Mark has been doing the work himself. While it slows down the departure date, we can rest easy knowing the work is done to perfection. Its not really a money saving scheme because when Mark is working on the boat, he isn't working for the nice people who give him a paycheck. Pick your poison I suppose.
Then there is the emotional cost. With such a ridiculous schedule (non-stop work/boat work for 3 years. 3. Years.) and with all of us feeling so transient- not really putting down roots, not really traveling, in this bizarre state of refit induced suspended animation- tempers can get short. It happens to each and everyone of us but thankfully, for the most part it seems we don't hit the lows at the same time. It has happened a couple of instances that both Mark and I have hit a low spot at the same time and it was NOT pretty. Fortunately, we tend to bounce back fairly quickly and come back to being best friends again. Even more fortunately for Mark I am a very forgiving person and can forgive him for the fact that all of his tools are stupid tools and his projects are stupid projects and I really don't like boats anymore because they are stupid too.
And then there is the budget. We are not fabulously wealthy trust fund kids. We are able to do this adventure by carefully watching the pennies. Mark can tell you where he has spent every single penny since he was 10 years old. (naturally) I on the other hand, am not the most organized and numerically savvy of people so you can imagine the difficulty that can pop up between Mark and I on this. Numbers are not my thing and I struggle to keep track of everything while running a house with kids in the suburbs. The good news is that I am a fairly frugal person anyway. The bad news is that getting the budget ready requires more than just being frugal, it means knowing where Every.Single. Penny. is going. A mistake in budget projections can have me feeling certain that we will run out of money somewhere between here and Kuala Lumpur, we will be forced to eat the salon cushions to stave off starvation and we will be forced to sell one of the kids for diesel and beans. We are really under the gun budget wise because Mark is planning on leaving work at the end of this year to work full time on the boat. So dinners out (which were already pretty darned rare) are off the list and while we know we desperately need a vacation, it pains us and worries us to spend the money on fun when what we really need is a completed front cabin, plumbing, rigging, sails and brand new deck hardware.
Its hard on the kids as well. Kitty is young enough to just go along with everything but Maura is having a rough time. She wants to make plans for the near future, but the fact that we are leaving hangs over her head. If you ever had to move when you were a teenager, you will understand. Now add in the fact that she has no idea what environment she will be living in and you can see why she might be a bit more than nervous. You remember being 13 don't you? I know that the rewards will far out weigh the sacrifices and I keep coming back to how HAPPY she is when sailing but sometimes, it can be hard for her to keep it all in perspective when all she sees right now are the things she has to give up.
And then there is trying to get a house ready to go on the market, and deciding do we home school this last year or let the kids have as much time in a typical school situation as they can, and we really need to get a handle on budget and oh did I mention the glacially slow pace of the refit and....and... and...
So why am I writing about all of this? I am writing this because this is reality. Getting a boat ready, getting your finances ready, preparing a house to be sold, working as much as you can before you pack it all in for a few years and working on boat projects every single day while trying to keep up with a job is definitely stressful stuff. It is not easy and when the reward for all of the sacrifices everyone has made seems so far away (and has slipped FARTHER away) it can feel down right craptacular.
I am comforted by the fact that every single one of my cruising friends who have had to spend a few years getting ready will tell you that getting ready to leave SUCKS. No two ways about it. The thing that keeps me going is their assurances that they did manage to get through it all without divorce attorneys, the kids refusing to speak to them ever again and without going completely insane. They also, without exception assure me that every bit of stress and upheaval has been worth it 10 times over.
I keep reminding myself, this too shall pass. While things are definitely difficult right now, we are so, so fortunate. Fortunate to have each other and to be able to plan a dream together. Lucky to be able to cobble together a little team that will get to discover the world together. Like the titles says, if it were easy everyone would do it. Its not easy, but I have absolute, unshakable faith that it will all be worth it in the end. Mark has never, ever in his life not done what he said he was going to do. I have always been one to do completely audacious things and for them to all come out in the end. We will get there but to say its an easy trip would be an absolute falsehood.
Pirates and storms? Not what frightens me. What frightens me is the strain all of this puts on our relationships but we have looked that fear in the eye and we are still here, still friends, still moving forward, still dreaming and still on the same team.. Now bring me that horizon...
And hurry please.