This is the year. Or, is this the year? I think so. I hope so. 2014, the year we move permanently on board Carina and finally set sail for distant shores. I never imagined, when we bought Carina in late 2011, that in early 2014 we would still be living in Exeter, still splitting our time between rented houses and living aboard Carina. But they have been a magnificent two years. We have learned so much – about ourselves, about our boat, and about the realities of living aboard. In the past two years we’ve lived aboard Carina for a total of eleven months – six months in 2012 and five months in 2013. We’ve grown used to the confined space, the realities of day-to-day living – laundry, cooking, washing, ongoing maintenance and repairs to Carina, and the freedom from convention that comes with living on a boat.
In 2012, neither ourselves nor Carina were ready for long-term cruising, and in 2013, though we were ready, Carina was not. So here we are, the start of 2014, and it feels like we’re all ready.
How do I feel about that? To be honest, I’m bloody terrified. But it’s a healthy fear. It’s a fear that drives me to acquire knowledge and skill, to work out plans, to read, to work hard, to be ready. I can only overcome my fears – or at least learn to live with them – by being prepared. Here are the primary things I worry about:
1. Do we have enough money and how will we support this endeavour? We have some savings – not much – but frugality is the key. Living within our means, fishing and foraging, living simply but smartly. But we’ll need to earn money too, and Julian and I have been planning and thinking and figuring out how we can do that. We’ll find ways to make this work.
2. Are we up to the job of handling the boat? In previous summers we’ve lived aboard and have sailed to Ireland and France. We’ve coped with high winds, choppy seas, engine failure. There are many situations we haven’t yet encountered, but each day sailing aboard Carina our skills and abilities grow, and we gain confidence and expertise. It’s easy to forget that pre-existing knowledge and those experiences when I’m in the confines of a house or an office in the middle of winter. It will come back to us. We will learn by trial and error.
3. Is Carina up to the job? She’s old, but she’s seaworthy. She proved she can cross the Atlantic (albeit under a different skipper and crew) and she’s made us (relatively) comfortable in the worst conditions we’ve endured. She’s wide and beamy, and she’ll never win the America’s Cup, but what she lacks in speed she makes up for in comfort and stability.
I have other worries too, but they’re subsumed somewhere within those three. And underlying these fears, and the drive to be prepared for what is to come, is a great excitement. A desire to see the world in the company of my husband and daughters, to explore, to learn together, to grow together.
We have a plan, but I’m not yet ready to share it. Because it might change. It probably will. All I know for sure is that Julian plans to spend this weekend on board, working through his never-ending list of maintenance and repair chores. And one step at a time, our dream grows ever closer.