More Huge Changes and the Transition to Minimalism

I have a verbal agreement to lease/option a Catalina 38′ sailboat, and although papers have yet to be drafted and signed, I expect this to happen very soon. The lease/option is an almost miraculous opportunity that fell into my lap and will help me greatly towards achieving my short-term goals. Before I cut the dock lines and head out to cross the Pacific, I will develop my sailing skills on the San Francisco Bay and learn how to maintain and repair boat systems to become as self-sufficient a sailor as I can be. I will learn much from this sweet Catalina 38, and she will also be my home on the water. It was still a difficult decision, though.

A Catalina 38 might not be the best choice for my long-term goal of circumnavigating the earth. Although Catalina 38’s are built for ocean racing, from most everything I’ve read, they are not ideal world cruisers. She may not be my “forever boat” (if such a thing exists). In the present, she is the perfect choice for me. However, two to three years from now, I will need to reassess my financial situation and my goals. At that point, I will either buy the Catalina 38 and outfit her for blue water as best as I’m able, buy her and sell or trade her, or walk away from the lease option and buy a smaller blue water boat. Walking away from the lease would mean walking away from all the money I invested in her via past monthly payments. At least I have plenty of time to think about it, and a safe home base from which to create, learn, consider my options, and plan.

Once the deal is inked, this will be my first time moving onto a boat. I’m unable to live aboard full-time as of right now. Typical to the Bay Area, the marina where the boat is berthed has a 10% liveaboard population limit. I’m on the waiting list. I will move my things onto the boat, sleep aboard 3 nights a week, and sleep the other 4 nights in my Honda Element. Ember is cozily outfitted and ready for stealth camping. I have located safe parking areas near work and my gym, so I too am as ready as I can be. It’s hard to say how long it will be before I can live aboard full-time. This is going to be a huge change, a change that I am looking at as just one of many stepping stone adventures to come in the process of reinventing myself from a cubical-dwelling IT support technician to a circumnavigating sailor.

In the meantime, I am grateful to have a nest where I can cook, relax, and especially create. The comfort, space, and peace to write and edit video is especially important to me right now. My creative endeavors are almost as important to me as sailing — the two go hand-in-hand. Creativity would be a lot more challenging if I were living out of Ember full-time. Better still, I will have a boat to sail whenever and wherever I want. This can only help my YouTube channel. (It’s kind of awkward having a sailing channel without a sailboat!) The only limitations on my sailing expeditions are work, finances, and crew availability.

To be honest, although I am willing to live in my Honda Element full-time to save money for my long-term sailing goals, it might not be the healthiest choice for me, especially considering that not only I am working full-time, I am exerting a lot of energy sailing and keeping myself fit. The transition from sticks-and-bricks-dwelling to vehicle-dwelling will likely be stressful, if not a total shock. At least I will have the serenity of my floating home in the evening hours after work.

I started packing last weekend. Half of my belongings are boxed up. I have furniture that I need to decide whether to sell or to keep. At first I leaned towards keeping it in storage, now I lean towards selling it or giving it away. Most of my furniture was bought on Craigslist, and after a few months in storage, I will have spent more storing it than I did buying it. As much as I love my furniture, it doesn’t make sense to keep it. I have to keep my expenses down. Way down. And ultimately, which do I love more — sailing or my furniture? Sailing, hands down.

Fortunately, paring down my wardrobe was comparatively easy. All the clothes I own will easily fit on a 38′ sailboat. The biggest conundrum is what to do with Christmas stuff… family heirlooms, ornaments my sons made when they were little, stockings knitted for me and the boys by my mother, etc. Most of my bric-a-brac were gifts given to me by my sons or sisters, and most of it is fragile and won’t last on a boat that sails frequently. Also, I have a lot of art supplies, some of which I’d like to keep… but not much. Sailing and painting are two hobbies that don’t mix that well.

My sisters’ garages are already full. My sons live too far away to take this stuff. There is no room for it on the boat.

When I’m in the middle of the ocean feeling in harmony with the boat, wind, and waves, I know that I won’t miss my many houseplants and succulents, art supplies, antiques, heirlooms, and bric-a-brac at all. I will only miss my family and and friends in the San Francisco Bay sailing community. In the meantime, with my ocean voyaging future only imagined, letting go of present possessions isn’t easy.

It helps to know that these objects only hinder my goals. Every penny I spend on a storage unit is a penny that could be saved for boat work, upgrades, or the kitty. It just seems senseless to spend money holding onto things that won’t help me cut the dock lines and sail away.

To let go of it all would be a HUGE LEAP OF FAITH. It represents a total commitment to my dream and investment in the belief that it is happening. Being on the fence about what to do with my sentimental possessions reveals my fear that maybe this is too big a dream, that my expectations are too high or too unrealistic. I’m afraid that if I fail, then I will be left with nothing. No boat, no home, no furniture, no savings, nothing but a 2007 Honda Element with over 200,000 miles and an amateurly built bed in the back.

But if you know me… as I know me… I think I already know what is going to happen.

As much letting go as I’ve done in the last six months, I still have a lot more letting go to do.

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