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What’s in a Name?

Posted in: Breaking Free on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
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What’s in a name?

Names for people, places and things are definitive and have obvious, sometimes hidden and other times abstract meanings.

My parents gave me the name Sarah at the time of my birth, which has Hebrew origins.  Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac, her name was originally Sarai which meant ‘my princess’, but God later changed it to Sarah which simply means ‘princess’ (can you imagine the paperwork required for that?).

31 years ago Margaret and Geoff named their baby boy (now my tall, handsome skipper) Benjamin which is also of Hebrew origin and means ‘Son of the south’ or ‘Son of the right hand’.  In the bible, Benjamin was the brother of Joseph who happened to be the father of Jesus, a well connected name to have.

Our ships cat (whom it should be noted that we didn’t name) is called Fluffy (which we feel shows a lack of imagination), because he’s well, very fluffy. There is no deeper meaning than that, he’s Fluffy because he’s fluffy.

There are a lot of sailing blogs floating around the world wide web, most of which use the name of their vessel for the blog name.  We weren’t aware of this trend when were thinking of blog names and even if we were we didn’t own at boat at the time so it wasn’t an option.

From the time our plan was hatched I spent a further eight months cloistered in an office building cut off from the warmth of our mother sun and the bright blue sky.  Most of that time was spent day dreaming of the paradises and the beautiful shades of blue water we’d sail, with a bit of filing thrown in for good measure (after all that was what I was getting paid to do).

Between the hours of 9-5 I existed in a state of blue water dreaming, willing the fantasy to become reality, fantasising of an escape.

In a bland sea of government grey my cubicle became an oasis, with tropical beach pictures pinned to the walls that had  been made to look like those of a beach shack. Each day different exotic island destinations and sail boats set against brilliant sunsets became the background for my computer screen.  I scattered sea shells and other assorted beach themed curios around my desk and If I could’ve spread sand along the edges and in the corners I would’ve done that too.  The piece de resistance that completed the feel of faux beach heaven was a blue vase filled with frangipani flowers.

The dream table and all our stuff packed ready to go

The blue water dreaming didn’t stop at work, at home I created a dream table, a corner of our home that would be a visual reminder of what we were dreaming of, so we could see it and focus our energies on it while awake.  Seeing it every time I walked into the living room helped keep my spirits buoyed when we encountered setbacks particularly in our boat search.

I would sit in front of that table visualising – and here is where I may lose some people who don’t believe in positive thinking and sending out positive energies into the universe to get positive things in return, and no I haven’t read The Secret and I don’t have a wish board, but I have observed living proof of the rewards of positive thoughts and energies in the lives of those who believe.

So I would light the candles (often leaving skipper programming in the dark) and  spend hours focusing on a picture of a pristine white beach visualising the life we were going to build for ourselves free of city life stress, free of the weight of material possessions. A simpler life of self-determined freedom on the blue water.

Slowly the beauty of the dream table spread up the wall as more pictures and motivational quotes were added. It spread out to the adjoining bookshelf as I scoured book stores for any yachting related books I could get my hands on. And finally it spread out onto the floor as it became the packing station for everything that was coming with us on our adventure.  It became the heart of our home and the dream became the heart of our lives.

It seemed only natural then that our blog be called Blue Water Dreaming. Natural because for so long we’ve been dreaming of blue water and hopefully soon we’ll be able to cast off the dock lines and go out in search of it.

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Becalmed

Posted in: Breaking Free on Friday, January 20th, 2012
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When Ben and I decided to keep this blog of our seachange we wanted it to be a complete and completely honest account of our journey.  Downsizing in a fast paced, money hungry world is not as easy as we thought it would be.

The Porsche hasn’t sold as quickly as we needed it too, it’s still sitting under the house collecting dust and the Stagea can’t go on the market yet.  The proceeds of these sales were going to get Tygress ready for long range cruising, and provide a financial safety net for a year or so.  Without that money and until we have it, we may as well be becalmed, for there is little wind in our sails now.

The money from the VSP payment hasn’t gone as far as we thought it would or needed it to, leaving us close to the line and unable to go any further than the marina (yet).  The boat, that was to be a symbol of our new found freedom and the herald of a simpler life, at times feels like it may very well be the sinking of us.  Sometimes we worry we bought too early (well mainly i worry, Ben is resolute in his faith that we have made the right choices) that we should’ve waited until the car sold.  But we were desperate, and myself particularly worried that if we didn’t get the boat as soon as possible, all these plans, like so many others, would amount to hot air and pipe dreams unfulfilled.   So we bought and naively hoped the car would sell quickly and relieve the pressure.

It hasn’t and the pressure grows.

To counter these worries, we check boatsales.com and boatpoint.com to reassure ourselves that we did the right thing. That we bought the right boat at the right time.  And so far we haven’t found any suitable alternatives, Tygress really was meant for us.  If we’d waited we’d still have no boat and someone else would’ve snapped Tygress up.

We cannot insure Tygress until certain survey report issues have been rectified which will take, you guessed it, more money we don’t have.   We’ve been unable to shift our furniture to Bundaberg in the truck we planned on hiring.  February’s marina fees are coming up.  Scotch, that once flowed in abundance, has now become a luxury item.  Times are indeed tough.

Ben is feverishly working to save us, he works to this day on a contract under difficult conditions (Photoshop would make his life much easier), for less money than he is worth (mate’s rates) trying to bring in the next instalment of cash.  Cash that we’ll use to get his boating licence, to repay the generosity of his mother and to satisfy certain credit institutions of their need for repayment.  It won’t be enough and more contracts are on the horizon.

To save money, which is now a main focus and criteria of all decisions made, we hope to be able to take our salty, sea-faring neighbour’s offer of sail training up.  Three months ago we would’ve baulked at the idea of  training anywhere else other than a certified sailing school (with their large fees).  But Ben is a veteran of the world’s oceans for over 30 years and has been a wealth of knowledge so far, and our confidence in him feels well placed.  We haven’t’ seen him so far this year, and we find ourselves missing his Swedish accent, his live-aboard camaraderie,  his keenness to share what he knows and his insistence that it’s all a lot easier than we think it will be.

So for those of you considering your own seachange we have some sage words to offer.

  • It will take more money than you think it will
  • It will take more faith, persistence and hard work than you think it will
  • It will test your relationship more than you expect it to
and because of these things it will be more rewarding than you ever hoped it could be.  To struggle through adversity to bring your dreams to reality indicates that you are earning them, earning the right to dream them and earning the right to transform them through your blood, sweat and tears into a bright and shining reality.

 

 

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Drowning before even leaving land?

Posted in: Breaking Free on Monday, September 26th, 2011

The house is a mess. Our lives are a mess.  Every time I touch something it seems to multiply.  There suddenly seems so much more to sort.  So much more to decide upon.  To say I feel like i’m ‘treading water’ would be an understatement.  It feels more like struggling in quicksand, the more you struggle, or in my case clean and sort, the further down you invariably sink.  I’ve plumbed the depths of over a decade of two accumulated lives (well still in the process), there seems no end to the junk I’ve stored for some reason or another over the years.

I move it here. I move it there.  I don’t think i’ll feel happy until it finally moves elsewhere.  The garage sale is not far off and in my overwhelmed moments I worry I’ve made it too soon.  But i can’t give those thoughts reign for too long,. They’re immobilising and unproductive.  I just keep ploughing on and telling myself that every little bit gets me closer and if i just keep going all will be well.  Whether that be hopeless optimism or delusion, who can say.

Lists (and Ben) are the only thing close to keeping me sane and on track.  Ben has suggested I make lists purely for the enjoyment of crossing items off.  And he is right (there you go darling, in print for the world to see ) He prefers listing large tasks where i favour listing the minute and numerous.  I don’t deny I enjoy the feeling of crossing items off my list. But it’s more than that.  Making a list and crossing items off it helps keep my mind sorted. Helps me feel like i’m progressing through the mire of all that is to be done.  So I make my lists and a path through the mire becomes clearer.

I cross items off my list and as is the nature of things there is always more to add.  A list is a fluid thing. It grows and changes and never really shrinks.  It is a map of past and future intentions, sometimes reminding me of all that i didn’t get done.  But that is okay.  It is still on the list for tomorrow.

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Where to start?

Posted in: Breaking Free on Thursday, September 15th, 2011
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Where do you start when confronted with the task of packing up almost a decade of accumulated possessions? Most people would say “at the beginning” and I can’t argue with that logic. The problem with tasks this big is that the beginning is an often indeterminable point. I know where the end is, I can see it, it’s just that there’s so much to do between this point and the finish that it’s easy to be overwhelmed to the point of crippling inactivity.

I try to make lists, I’ve started with the second bedroom, which for years has been the dumping ground for all those things collected that don’t have a home of their own. So they end up in the second bedroom to pile up on top of each other and be forgotten. Until today. Today I must decide the fate of each item in that room. For a person who finds decision making mentally draining, the prospect is off-putting to say the least. Traumatic if I wanted to err on the side of the dramatic.

I need boxes, space to put piles of sorted items `Rehome’, `Dump’, `Garage Sale’. I’m finding it hard to part with things, which is silly. Silly when you think that I haven’t thought about these items for years, haven’t touched or moved them, and yet the sudden sight of them again overwhelms me with memories. They begin to take on the importance of relics, relics from my past, tangible links to memories that feel a little more distant each year. They become hard to part with. I’ve had to allow myself to keep some of my most precious items, only the most significant of treasures, so that I may be able to part with the majority of them. I must save some so that I can sacrifice the rest.

The very nature of the process forces you to question and really evaluate the importance we place on material goods. And why we need to accumulate them and why parting with them is so hard. Our lives and flesh are fleeting things, why do we spend so much time chasing things, working to buy more things or working  just to afford the things we already have? I’m starting to see how the possession of things, the weight of our worldly goods, hold us down, prevent us from truly living in the moment.

People can’t be carried with the winds of spontaneity, they can’t zig when the world expects them to zag, can’t live free to the impulse of adventure when they’re surrounded by four walls. Four walls that need a constant stream of money to maintain and to keep ownership in your name. Four walls that need to insured and cared for in your absence. Four walls that will keep you rooted within them for as long as they stand.

But four walls don’t bring all bad, they provide shelter, security and the continuity of home in an ever changing world. Those aren’t bad things, nor is it bad to want them. I’m just not sure it’s how we were meant to live. There has to be other ways to have those things and be more in tune with the world and it’s beauty. There has to be a way to be secure and safe while not losing the ability to roam free, to head for the horizon just to see what lies beyond it. There has to be a way to experience the richness and beauty of life without being tied to a job, a house and all the commitments that go with it.

We think there is. It’s why we’re now parting with 10yrs worth of collected possessions and the four walls that keep them. Leaving them behind for a life less rich in material wealth and more abundant in the pleasures that give meaning to life. A more authentic existence. One open to risk, challenges, spiritual and personal growth. The full gamut of what life has to throw at us.

It’s not an easy process divesting yourself of all that you own, but it’s a life changing one. One that everyone should go through once, and more importantly of their own volition. This is a distinctly different process than losing all that you own through tragedy or misfortune. This in an empowering process driven by choice with you at the helm. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose all that you own without control or choice. I may have to though, depending on how high the waves roll.

Click on the monkey’s fist to read others bloggers on this topic.

The Monkey's Fist

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Signed and sent

Posted in: Breaking Free on Monday, June 27th, 2011
Today I emailed my signed VSP EOI application form to HR. The ball has officially started rolling and it’s now just a matter of time before I find out how the rest of my year plays out.  Whether it be working the rest of the year as normal, taking my 6 months long service next year before relinquishing my position.  Or will I be finishing work in a month or two. Spending my days painting, writing and bringing this dream to fruition. The wait for a final official offer is agonising! I have to keep reminding myself that nothing is set in stone just yet and I may not even be offered a VSP. But I still can’t help dreaming about my last day at work…and the pub crawl home.To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll last the rest of the year here if I don’t get an offer. I struggle to focus on my work most days, and now that there is something so exciting on the horizon, focusing is even harder than normal. When the sun is shining on a clear blue day, and I can see the sparkle of the sun on the river water from my window here at work, all I long for is the freedom of sailing. Freedom which may very soon be mine.

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Chucking in the job

Posted in: Breaking Free on Thursday, June 16th, 2011
My employer, the State Government, has announced a Voluntary Separation Program as part of it’s measures to reduce costs through the abolishment of 3500 non-frontline positions.  This couldn’t have come at a better time in my career (I have trouble calling my working life ‘a career’, this job has only ever been something to fill the time and bring in the money, calling it a career feels like an overstatement).  They are offering a considerable amount of money for me to relinquish my position and not return to the sector for 3 years.This is an invaluable opportunity for our Great Escape! It’s an opportunity to pay off our debt in one foul swoop, eliminating some of our larger outgoing financial commitments.  We will need to reduce our outgoings as much as possible, which is why the cars are being sold. What we save on registration, Insurance (did you know according to our preliminary quotes, it’ll be cheaper to insure the yacht than both our cars combined), servicing and fuel will be freed up to be spent living.

We will of course have different types of expenses living on a yacht, but these are definitely manageable on one income.  Most will go on maintenance and the yearly dry docking.  While we won’t have rent per se, there will be berthing fees to consider.  After a bit of research, most marina’s up the coast to Cairns charge $170-220 a week to berth with a small live-aboard fee on top.  This includes water and electricity while berthed (I’m really looking forward to paying our last Origin electricity bill and ending the contract).

Part of the appeal of sailing is that the power of the wind is free to all those who can harness it.  With the use of sail power as much as possible, we hope to keep our fuel costs to a minimum as well.

I think more than anything the Voluntary Separation Program provides me with an opportunity, one that I’ve been sitting behind a desk longing for, to self-determine my future.  To take the chances I’ve been too afraid to take before, with the benefit of a financial safety net behind me. If I don’t stand up, take this chance to develop my art and my writing, to live life the free then I deserve to spend the rest of my life feeling unfulfilled and wondering ‘What if?’ from behind this desk.

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Leaving fear and doubt behind

Posted in: Breaking Free on Monday, May 30th, 2011

My parents always told me growing up that anything worth having in this life takes hard work and determination to get. I was taught to strive for what I wanted, to aim high and to never sell myself short, through either a lack of faith or a concerted lack of effort.

As it turns out, I’ve managed to do both during the last 10-15 (very blessed) years of my life. I’ve let doubt rule my decisions and keep me penned safely within my comfort zone. I’ve let fear keep me from trying to do the things I want in life.

Now that I’m approaching my 30th year I am feeling a growing determination to change that. I don’t want to spend the next decade watching from the sidelines, futilely making plans that I know I’ll never act on. I want to get out and live. To test myself. To push myself to my limits. I don’t see any other way to grow.

It’s why I jumped at the chance to change my future. I knew in my gut when Ben suggested chucking it all in and buying a boat that it was the right choice. I knew I couldn’t let my fear and doubt sabotage this chance at freedom. In truth, Ben could have suggested any radical lifestyle change and I would’ve been excited by it and willing to give it a go.

For so many years I’ve sat behind my desk wishing that I was anywhere else, and now I’ve been given an opportunity to leave my desk behind and find the fulfillment my ‘career’ hasn’t provided. It is a gift, a test and a challenge I will not fail.

I know we won’t always have sunshine and smooth sailing. So I am preparing myself mentally for the cold, wet days, for the rough weather and for the taste of true fear.

I know every day will push me physically and mentally, it will challenge our relationship and push us to learn new ways to communicate and support each other. Ben said to me one night not long after we hatched our escape plan, that I would need to start trusting him more. Not trust in the sense of fidelity, but trusting in him and his abilities. I will need to have more faith in him. I think that’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to the most, the deepening of our bond.

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A Step Back

Posted in: Breaking Free on Sunday, March 6th, 2011
The photos of ‘Warlock’ arrived today and heralded our first disappointment.  We realise this will be the first of many small disappointments and compromises between what we envision in our heads and what is realistically possible.  It won’t taint our excitement or our determination.  We will find our perfect boat, it is out there waiting for us as I write this.  (Ed’s note: six months later we found her)It is hard to define what exactly is wrong with ‘Warlock’.  We knew buying a second hand boat that it would not look all shiny and perfect but we at least expected it to be well, if not lovingly, maintained.‘Warlock’ looks like it hasn’t been used and enjoyed for a long time nor looked after very well in the meantime.  To be honest the owner’s keenness to sell didn’t sit comfortably with me. That coupled with ‘Warlocks’ obvious period of neglect raised concerns about the diligence and care the owner had taken with her maintenance in recent years. Or I could be reading too much into it, it could just be he really needs the money from the sale and despite some cosmetic imperfection the boat is totally seaworthy and sound.

Although the Captain was not happy with the size and layout of the cockpit either and flagged the possibility of changes being needed which would add extra costs to the project.  Something we really only want to consider in order to increase self sufficiency and roaming range i.e. installing solar panels, larger batteries or maybe improvements to the galley etc.

So ‘Warlock’ has been bumped back from fore-runner to the short list and our search continues. (Ed’s note: she never was considered again)

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A Step Closer

Posted in: Breaking Free on Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Today as planned, I phoned the RQYS (Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron) about the possibility of receiving on-board instruction on our own vessel.  I am relieved to report that it appears we can.  They have recommended that I contact ‘Southern Cross Yachting’, so that has been added to the agenda.

Tonight we shared our plans with friends for the first time, we let our excitement convey the passion and determination we feel.  A determination that has centred us, that has unified us and a determination that is shaping our future.

As expected, we have received only encouragement and support.  We feel so positive and positively giddy it’s hard to tell if we’re still grounded in reality or if we’re existing in some sort of dream state.  A state of blue water dreaming perhaps?

We were contacted yesterday by the man selling ‘Warlock’ and it appears he’s very keen to sell, we’re not sure though if he’ll accept a reduced offer. Before we think any further we’re still waiting for more photo’s to be sent.

We need to get a better idea of the galley and cockpit areas before we can make any realistic assessment of it’s suitability.  It’s just a matter now of dealing with my impatience until they arrive in my inbox.

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‘Warlock’

Posted in: Breaking Free on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Today I think we may have found our boat. ‘Warlock’ is an Australian built Wright 11M, a beautiful vessel and one that appears to meet all our needs, especially that most important one, price.

We believe we may be able to talk the price down, but it is a bit sooner than we planned to be looking and buying.  This has driven us to research more immediate options.

So far tonight we’ve explored the possibility of semi-permanently mooring in the Brisbane River near the Botanical Gardens.  I am to visit the Dock Master next week to enquire further about mooring fees and what facilities are available.

Our other options include the East Coast Marina and the Moreton Bay Boat Club.  Initial research indicates that they could be very affordable  and just what we require for the first few months.

Because we face purchasing the boat much more quickly than anticipated, we have had to reconsider our sailing training program.

My task tomorrow is to enquire with the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron about the possibility of receiving onboard training from a qualified instructor.  This will give us the benefit of learning to sail on our own vessel and getting to know ‘Warlock’ in the process.  This boat is going to be our home, the three (four if you count First Mate Fluffy) of us will need to work as a team and the sooner we build that relationship the more innate and natural it will become.

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