Life aboard has presented us with some unique challenges over the last several weeks and we have already learned a plethora of information which I am eager to share with you all. We have learned to live without the everyday conveniences of life on land but since we were featured in an article from our hometown newspaper The Daily Sentinel and in a story on 9News Denver we have received so many questions about life before the boat. If you haven’t already read them you can find the articles here The Daily Sentinel, 9News Why would you do this? How could a young couple possibly afford to do something I’ve been saving my whole life for? Is it safe? These are just a few of the questions I hope to answer with this post.
First off, Why? The answer to this one is often the easiest for folks with families to relate to, particularly older couples who now have grandchildren and lifetime of experiences to look back on. Our biggest driving factor in choosing this lifestyle is our children, more importantly our TIME with our kids! We have learned the hard way in recent years that our time on this earth can be abruptly cut out from under us. We have learned that each and every moment with our kids could be our last and is far more important than a successful career, a big fancy house, the latest car, computer or television. A sudden and abrupt loss in immediate family often gives you new insights and greatly determines what type of person, son, daughter, father, or mother you wish to be.
This lifestyle will allow us more time together as a family and has already made a huge impact on our family dynamic. No more do we get home from our day and retire to our own devices (tablets, phones, tvs). Instead we are content talking, not texting each other, happy to converse over a home-cooked meal, or simply laughing together as the sun sets or while playing silly games. By cutting the distractions of our modern consumer world we have connected as a family and feel far richer for it.
Speaking of riches, it is amazing how far a small amount of money can take you if you unplug from consumerism, and find a way to live debt free. This leads into the second major question. How can a young couple possibly afford to do something like this? The biggest contributing factor to how we can afford to switch to this lifestyle has already been listed above. When you take the spending and debt away it is truly about how little you actually need to live. You no longer set your financial goals to what is established by a lender, instead you can focus on earning only what you need. I think it is important to establish that we are in no way independently wealthy or living off a large trust. In fact I would say we come from very humble beginnings. Just some small background, before making this lifestyle change we lived very average lives. I (Tyler) worked as an electrician for my uncles company, Kristy was a stay at home mother and we lived in an older home of about 1500sq feet. We had 3 vehicles, a small sailboat, and a backyard with a swing set and sandbox. I won’t give exact figures but I made somewhere between $30,000-$45,000 annually. No we are not rich, however, if you take all the things that you have spent years accumulating, the home that you have feverishly worked to pay down, and eliminate the extras that come along with those things (insurances, fuel, maintenance, furniture to fill your space) and you sell it all off, you are left with more than enough to make the switch to a lifestyle similar to the one we have chosen.
I think it is also important to note that I will still be working through all this, but by cutting costs we will work far less and spend more time with our kids, which again is the our biggest goal! It is also important to know that because this works for us does not mean it will work for everyone. Many couples moving into a small space and making such massive changes could very well find themselves in a divorce. Not to mention that everyone has a line as to how little or how much they can deal with. My family was able to adapt to the changes; able to live without refrigeration or a functioning toilet. Where many may not be able to cope with such drastic changes and may draw the line at moving out of their house. There is always room for improvement though. We found that while living in our home we were often buying items just because we had the space, “Oh, an end-table would look good there!” or “We should get a new blender for the bar,” or ” We should buy a bed for the EXTRA room.” Finally all your spaces are full so you return to the store to begin replacing all those items with the latest and greatest, or you thrust yourself further in debt by purchasing a larger home in which you can cram more STUFF. I think you guys get the idea. We cannot buy new THINGS living on a boat. We simply do not have the room, everything we own serves a purpose, and anything that doesn’t goes. So how do we do it? We remove the EXTRA STUFF and THINGS. Our cost of living has been cut down to the essentials; safety equipment, food, our children’s education, clothing and boat maintenance (which if you do the work yourself is rather minimal comparatively).
The last question I wanted to address was if this was safe and what we have done to make it safe? First off boating is statistically a rather safe activity as long as you are not taking unnecessary risks. Everyone must weigh the risks when they do anything. One of the most common high risk activities that many don’t think about is driving. It is inherently dangerous and in fact Kristy and the children were in a car accident on the way to the airport to fly out to the boat! Yet we all get into our cars and drive down the road without a second thought. The most important safety aspect for us is prevention more than anything. Taking steps to prevent dangerous situations for the kids and ourselves is our first line of defense. Prevention applies to both the equipment we have on board, the boat itself, and also to situational prevention. Rather than spending too much thought on how to rescue the kids from the water (not that it isn’t important) we focus primarily on how to keep them out of the water. Instead of risking our lives trying to get somewhere fast, we slow down and take our time to wait for quality conditions and weather windows. When going anywhere we try to find others to make the trip with. There are far too many aspects on safety to discuss in this post, and I will most definitely speak in much greater detail about the equipment we carry on board, our training, and our philosophies on when to go and when to hunker down and wait. Safety is always at the forefront of our thoughts and actions, and hope our future posts on the subject can shed some light on it and bring some of your worries to rest.
Life aboard SV Night Music is a growing fluid thing that we are continuously learning from and we are happy to share our experiences with all of you. Our deepest thanks go out to Erin McIntyre and Jaime Berg for running the stories linked to above, thank you for helping us reach out to you our audience.
*Leave any other questions or comments you have below and we will compile them into a Q&A in a video in the near future. Thanks for reading and please like, share and subscribe and follow along everywhere!