Hints of Nostalgia

Taken the day we purchased our 352. Mark Twain giving us a subtle reminder of why we needed to do this.

Taken the day we purchased our 352. Mark Twain giving us a subtle reminder of why we needed to do this.

One of our viewers left this quote as a comment on our most recent episode. It struck a cord deep within me and brought about the not-so-distant feelings of taking the leap from our 2 bedroom home in ritzy Hyde Park, to 150 square feet of freedom. While reminiscing upon the liberating feeling of having all of our stuff finally constrained to a 35' boat, my mind was transported back to the origination of our journey. 

To us, abandoning comfort is leaving behind the excess in pursuit of what truly matters to us. Comfort clutters our dreams and quells our instinctual nature to get out there and explore. Sure, there is nothing better than coming home to a comfy king bed after spending a week on the trail or a hot fresh water shower after a 5-day journey underway. But it always takes the former to appreciate the latter. It reminds me of a quote John Krakauer mentions in "Into Thin Air".

"How much of the appeal of mountaineering lies in its simplification of interpersonal relationships, its reduction of friendship to smooth interaction (like war), its substitution of an Other (the mountain, the challenge) for the relationship itself? Behind a mystique of adventure, toughness, footloose vagabondage - all much-needed antidotes to our culture's built-in comfort and convenience - may lie in a kind of adolescent refusal to take seriously aging, the frailty of others, interpersonal responsibility, weakness of all kinds, the slow and unspectacular course of life itself."- David Roberts

Removing the clutter in our lives brought about our true north. It dialed us back in to what really matters. It reminded us about the intense fragility of life itself and how important it is to pursue your dreams while you have the privilege to do so. Nothing is ever guaranteed. Tomorrow isn't as certain as it may seem. It took us almost 2 years to the day to create this opportunity and it’s something we will not take for granted. The halyards are attached, time to catch some breeze.

Sailing Plans, An Oxymoron

Man, Kelsey and I are planners to a fault. We're your stereotypical Type-A couple and then some. And by then some I mean I grew up in a military household then spent 5 years in the service myself, where my branch's motto was about always being prepared and having a plan. Now being prepared and things having a place works incredibly well with living on a sailboat. Plans, however, do not. 

Our lovely sailboat we call home is not a planner. By her nature, she is always going wherever the wind takes her. Plans are not something she controls but something Mother Nature does. She's a stoic who knows what's in her sphere of influence and what isn't. 

For us, this lesson has been a hard taught one. For example, when we bought Lucidity about a year ago we planned on keeping her on the hard in Indiantown for a month to do a bottom job and install an ice box conversion. Didn't happen. Bottom job is now overdue and we own an Engel. How about our first year cruising plans? Ha! We were bound for Havana & Dry Tortugas by last Fall at the absolute latest. Poor Luci hasn't left the dock in 11 months! 

I could go on and on sharing our other best-laid plans since moving aboard but I'll spare you the monotony. We can plan all we want but at the end of the day, old man universe is going to do whatever the hell he wants. We've found what works best for us is having a few loose plans in place so that way when it comes time for one to come to fruition, it usually involves either a combination or deviation of all of them. 

Sailing the Caribbean by the end of 2017 was admittedly a very loose plan. After founding an early-stage tech company this past October, the Caribbean seemed more like a distant dream than anything reminiscent of a plan. 6 months out it's looking like our reality now. But who knows. We've learned to take after Luci and just go wherever the wind blows us.

 

 

Survey & Sea Trial Basics

Disclaimer: This post is meant for educational purposes mainly for people who have little to no prior boating experience. These are questions Kelsey and I had before we started the survey/sea trial process. Also, these are questions we've been asked by friends with no boating experience who are thinking of pursuing this lifestyle. We hope this helps you in choosing an alternative, location-independent lifestyle! 

First off, what's a Survey?

Well, if you're considering a survey, you are admittedly a novice boater or feel the need to have a professional look over your big purchase before you dump endless sums of money into some POS. Either way, smart move on your part. So, a survey is very similar to a home buying inspection. You hire a "Surveyor", preferably one who is SAMs certified, to inspect your boat prior to buying it. This is what is known as a "Pre-Purchase Survey".

Real life red flag during our boat hunt - a boat's owner says they had a survey done for you so there's no need for you to have one done yourself. Well, the previous owner had an "Insurance Survey" done, about 1 year prior to us seeing the boat and the boat was in the water during the time of survey. Huge difference between pre-purchase survey (extensive inspection 4-6 hours) and insurance survey (start the engine, check dates of flares, roughly 2 hours).

How about a Sea Trial?

Sounds like something that happens in an episode of Game of Thrones. No Hodor, a sea trial occurs at some point in the survey. Think of a sea trial as the boat buying version of test-driving a new car. Except in this case the guy or gal trying to sell you this vehicle (Broker or Owner) is probably behind the helm the whole time. Also, if a surveyor is present they'll be helping with hoisting the sails or line handling coming in and out of the slip. Just sit back, enjoy the ride and the soon-to-be short lived peace of mind of not having to worry about running aground or your engine dying in the middle of a power-boater laden channel. 

Is a survey required before buying a boat?

If you pay cash, no. If you're getting a soul-sucking boat mortgage accruing more interest than average stock market returns, then it's probably required by the bank you're becoming an indentured servant to. Think you can't pay cash for a boat or save up tens of thousands required to make a big purchase? You totally can! If you're born in the U.S. you're born into the top 10% of wealth in the world, regardless of what class you fall under. Give your spending the check-up it deserves by reading this

Should I get a survey?

Depends! What's the boat's value? If you're paying $4,000 for a boat you probably shouldn't be spending 15% of the purchase price on a $600 survey. If you're spending $25,000 on a boat, it probably makes a lot of sense to get a survey done to know exactly what you're getting into.

Have more questions? leave them below for us to answer :)

Don't Let These 7 Things Steal Your Money Next Trip

It's no secret that traveling these days can be relatively affordable. With the widespread availability of AirbnbCouchsurfing, and lower prices of plane tickets, it's not unheard of spending a few hundred dollars on an extended weekend getaway. We all know the feeling of having our batteries charged after exploring a new location is well worth saving for. However, more often than not we end up spending more than planned while on our trips. Typically this isn't because we bought too many souvenirs (People still do that?!) or from splurging on priority boarding for your plane ticket. It's usually from the little things that tend to add up in the end. And more often than not, these little things yield little happiness or add to the adventure! 

We're huge fans of this 64oz bottle and cap.

We're huge fans of this 64oz bottle and cap.

1. Forgetting an (empty) water bottle

Sure, you can't fly with a full water bottle but luckily for you, all airports have water fountains available. Besides, do you really want to be buying bottled water throughout the duration of your trip, when you could be spending that money at the new taco shop with raving reviews? BYOB - Bring your own bottle is what all the cool and environmentally aware kids are doing these days. So, join the club! 

2. Paying for parking

This is assuming you buy a rental car because you'll be exploring the surrounding areas of your destination. Is that parking garage a half-mile closer to your restaurant really worth it? You could've spent that $20 for parking on some kick-ass coffee from the hipstery spot around the block. The best way to understand a city is by foot, bar-none. It took humans hundreds of years to learn how to walk upright, show evolution some gratitude. Ladies, bring a bag big enough to fit some walking shoes if you need to rock some heels for your night out. 

3. Overpaying for a rental car

With the recent expansion of Turo, you can get rental whips for less than 45 bucks a day in almost any city. Sometimes, rental agencies can be even cheaper. Especially with a USAA discount! Now you may be thinking I don't have a USAA membership so I'll skip over this non-applicable section. Well, perks of being a previous employee there I know it's open to everyone, member or not! So be sure to click on this link before booking your rental car to score some sweet discounts. 

skyler-smith-104908.jpg

4. Flying on peak travel days

This should come as no ground-breaking Abandon Comfort tip. Flying on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings are more often than not the most expensive. Try to take off an extra day of work to adventure more and you'll probably end up saving money by flying out on early Tuesday morning, as opposed to Sunday night. Also, with the new Hopper app, you can track prices for months in advance and it'll tell you exactly when's the best time to book! Be sure to check out mid-weekday flights to score the most bang for your buck. 

emanuel-feruzi-3167.jpg

5. Eating out every single meal

Boooo! Who is this guy who is telling me I can't be a foodie? Knifing through the local restaurants is half the reason I even travel! Well, check out your credit card statement from your last trip. I'm sure you went to some lame chain restaurant or Chipotle. You've eaten there before and it's available at home, why not just pack a lunch one day or cook some breakfast at your Airbnb? Check out the local market to get some fresh bread, meats, and cheese to create yourself something tasty for lunch. Think about it, if you and your adventure buddy don't eat out for a total of 3 meals you will have saved half of your plane ticket price for your next bucket list stop. 

emanuel-feruzi-3167.jpg

6. Paying $$$$ prices for an expensive restaurant

Here we go again, condoning me for wanting my belly to be happy! Ask yourself this, do you really need to eat at Morton's or Capital Grille in LA when you've had it in NY before? No, you don't. Once is more than enough at those exorbitantly priced chains. Go check out the local Ramen or Thai place which shows $$ or $ on Yelp. I bet it'd be a far better experience and show you how the real locals do it there.

7. What actionable tips can you share that'll reduce our travel expenses? 

 

Potential Social Impact

I recently watched Live like Alex and it left me questioning if what we were going to do was going to give me the answers I so relentlessly sought. Alex, someone who I could relate to in numerous ways, circumnavigated and did it in unprecedented style. I by no means am as charismatic or downright risky as he is but a lot of the things he was searching for I find myself seeking. What impact, if any, am I going to leave behind on this earth? Why am I here? What is my purpose and how can I live a fulfilled life?

Alex did it all, man. He brought people who have never even considered they would be lucky enough to be on a real boat and let them get behind the helm, just so he could bask in the joy they experienced. During his circumnavigation, Alex did something very few sailors actually do, he got to know this world's people. Yet after all of this, he completed his journey and was left feeling unfulfilled. During the film Alex says before he left he was confused, he didn't know what he wanted out of life and thought once the trip was complete he'd have all the answers. In reality, the exact opposite happened. He was more confused when he came back than he was when he left.

This left me questioning a lot of what we had planned to do. If this guy, someone I could only hope to emulate, was unfulfilled after a 3+ year circumnavigation, how could I be fulfilled after sailing the Caribbean for a year? Maybe I wasn't making the right move. Maybe traveling isn't meant to be fulfilling in this way, just rewarding and thought provoking? Once Alex arrived back home after his trip all I was thinking was he needed to do something like his Dad did - embrace his entrepreneurial spirit and do something centered around social impact. For those who haven't seen the film, Alex's Dad was an extremely successful entrepreneur who founded one of the nation's largest egg producers. Now I never had the pleasure of meeting Alex so I can't say for sure but for me as the viewer, I felt like that was what he was missing.

The company Alex's Dad founded

I tried to keep my doubts off my mind. We were pretty much on cruise control at this point, we had enough saved for our trip and were just waiting until next Fall to cast off. Then old man universe decides to throw me a curve ball.

As I'm talking about Abandon Comfort in my graduate class, a classmate of mine pitches me his business idea revolving around sparing Millennials from the burden of student debt. He knew it'd be right up my alley and he was right. Kelsey and I paid off our 50k in debt and we can't recommend it enough to anyone else who feels tied down by their finances and wants to travel. Fast forward 6 weeks and we have an incorporated business ready to launch this week. Our mobile application, known as Spared, has the potential to save our average user $9,000 in interest payments and get them debt-free 7 years faster. I want my friends and my generation to relish in the freedom that living debt-free awards them. I want to stop seeing people put up travel quotes and inspirational videos of people living life on their terms on social media, and start to see videos of them actually doing it themselves. I feel fulfilled in knowing I can get them there quicker and I can't wait to see my fellow Millennials actually out there doing the things they've always dreamed of doing.

So what does this mean for sailing the Caribbean for a year or Abandon Comfort in general? As of right now all of my time is being dedicated to Spared but Kelsey and I are by no means giving up on our plans. Sure the majority of my funds have been thrown at the business but I can recuperate if Spared fails and we have the time to sail as planned. But for right now I know I feel fulfilled and am overjoyed at the opportunity that has been laid out in front of me. Who knows what the next few months will hold or even the next year for that matter. All I know is I'm moving towards making my days count and leading a life of purpose. 

For those who haven't seen it, carve out 1.5 hours of your time and learn about Alex and his adventures

Get the Berg to the Burg

We had just cleared through our first lock and gazed upon a welcoming open body of water, riddled with westerly winds and not another boat in sight. Our perfect opportunity to hoist the sails. Up they jostled and consequently off went the engine. I couldn't believe it, after a year full of meticulous planning and unrelenting research we were finally under sail aboard our very own 35' sailboat. Only one problem (at this time) still existed and that was getting her to our soon-to-be home port of St. Petersburg with zero sailing experience between the two of us. Sure we had read our fair share of books and watched copious amounts of YouTube videos in preparation but now we were really in it, no turning back.

An alarm pierces my moment of reminiscence and brief celebration as I'm brought back to the task at hand. Never heard that alarm before, must be something with the engine. Nope, can't be the engine considering its turned off. My significant other and co-pirate, Kelsey heads down below to investigate. Within minutes Kelsey comes back up to answer our pre-voyage question, as if the alarm had coerced her into providing us an answer to if she still gets sea sick or not. Simultaneously the wind kicks up to an untimely 25 knots as one of our sails wraps around the mast and tears our head sail. I prioritize - Take care of your crew first, taking on water alarm second then deal with a shredded sail. Kelsey and I begin to tackle each task individually as we discover the source of the incoming water and take down the torn sail to replace with a back-up. I give Kelsey the helm and she stares at the horizon solely focusing on keeping water under our 6' draw. Ah the perfect cure for seasickness - distraction, some wind on the face and the horizon. The exhilaration eventually subsides as we get everything abated and under control.

I remember being overwhelmed and overcome with brief moments of regret at numerous points throughout our 5-day shakedown sail from the Atlantic Coast of Florida to the Gulf Coast. We planned for stress and feelings of being overwhelmed as any ridiculous/absurd Type-A couple would, we just had a different term for it; leaving our comfort zone. We wanted to be challenged, to finish our voyage with a temporarily quenched thirst for adventure. And our journey did just that, along with reaffirming to us why we opted for this in the first place.

As we made our stoic approach to our new pier we'd eventually call home, I remember being overrun with feelings of accomplishment. As our bow line wrapped around the cleat on the pier, our five-day cruise of overnight passages, high-water alarms, and other stern lessons had become a thing of the past. We wanted this life because it breeds everyday challenges, each day is uncertain with what potential problems may lie ahead. Living in this type of ever-changing environment allows us the privilege to tackle life’s curve balls with a different mindset. A life of cruising and living aboard a  sailboat is a perpetual puzzle; one we are happy to be solving everyday. 

The Green Flash

Here I am: 3 a.m. on an early Wednesday morning lying in our balmy aft cabin, reliving our unrelenting first week living aboard. It's a thick 85 degrees inside the boat, my head’s throbbing, our fridge refuses to turn on and my phone will be dead all day tomorrow…that is until I get to work where I can plug my charger into an outlet without fear of it not working. You would presume, given the above, that I would be missing life on land, but somehow by some unfathomable stretch of my own imagination, I don’t. I know things can only go up from here and the fact that we survived our first week without a thought of selling the boat I say bodes well for us.

Now before we get ahead of ourselves with the boasting, I should really explain what else happened this week— other than us only losing power tonight in the middle of a Florida summer. This time last week was our first night onboard. It went without malfunction and was surprisingly very smooth. Our greatest fear, after spending our weekends working on Luci, was the heat. I've never sweat this much in my life, but it's been coupled with doing projects outside in a marina, in the St. Petersburg sun, so it comes with the territory. Somehow, we were freezing our first two nights living onboard—our standalone A/C unit was pumping out BTUs with authority. 

This was pretty much the extent of our good luck for this week, because the next morning we were nailed by some chain-smoking GMC Yukon driver on our way to work. This driver apparently didn't see my bright red Prius in the left lane and completely side swiped us as she was trying to make a left turn from the far right lane. Needless to say, Kelsey and I were pretty banged up. Immediately after the accident, I assumed Kelsey would be in the most pain due to her side receiving the brunt of the impact. However, after my gracious tow truck driver dropped me off at work, I realized I had a pretty severe concussion. As the day went on, my co-workers noticed I was struggling to complete sentences and I was not feeling like myself at all. After the workday ended, I reluctantly went to the ER for some CAT scans. Luckily, everything came back ok and the Doc gave me a prescription for some muscle relaxers and some other drug for my head that he coupled with the abiding realization that he knew I wouldn't be taking them. I'm somewhat opinionated when it comes to modern medicine and our healthcare system, but we won't go down that dark, damp road. 

The cherry on top of it all was a named storm heading right for our new home. Tropical Storm Colin decided he needed no invitation to our housewarming party and abruptly showed up two days after our accident. All he brought was some 50 mph gusts and a whole lot of a rain. Which leads to the green flash....

It's 10 p.m., I hear Kelsey tramping across our deck to come down below after her shower and simultaneously our power goes out. I'm inside, winding down for the evening, banking on catching up on some overdue sleep. I immediately reach a guilty verdict for Kelsey as the one who caused our power outage. She was the only witness to the notorious green flash, but apparently a transformer across from our dock (owned by St. Pete's energy powerhouse, Duke Energy) blew up! This led to us having no power and our perishables inside of our fridge, perishing. All the while, my battery on my iPhone withers away and tomorrow's alarm for work with it. With the hatch open above me begging for the slightest hint of a breeze, I lie in the subjective comfort of our bed, and I have an exploding sky full of stars serenading me to a short, much-needed sleep. But all I can do is be excited that it can somehow only get better than this.

$hhhh

I was reminded this weekend why we originally wanted our blog and video series to be 100% financially transparent and to really focus on the planning aspect of our journey to aid viewers in developing their own adventure plans. We were watching a new sailing video series on YouTube, which had unbelievable cinematography and was extremely well put together. Despite it being the best series we've watched aesthetically, Kelsey and I were extremely disappointed once we went back and watched their first episode.

They were speaking about the beginning of their boat buying process, their way of explaining how did they end up where they are now? They went into some detail on how they purchased their gorgeous blue water boat but prefaced it by telling viewers they were searching for a boat with no cash. Granted they are in their young 20s like us so we understand the lack of cash but how the hell do you go from no cash to buying a yacht for 60k? For the sake of lack of transparency on their part, I'll follow their lead and keep the name of the series a secret.

The ocean's plenty big enough for all of us why keep secrets on how you achieved the dream?

People follow, contribute and support sailing series and blogs for a variety of reasons. For me I interpret it as either they want to be entertained, inspired or educated. I believe majority of viewers want to be inspired and educated because they are most of the time dreaming up their own plans to do something similar to the series. Which in turn means the creators of the series not explaining how they magically produced the 60k required for the boat, are doing their viewers and supporters a major disservice. If supporters are backing them financially via Patreon or by donations, the least they can do is arm their followers with the best information possible to support their own adventure dreams. 

This leads me to my next point - if you look on all of the major sailing creator's blogs or video series, their number 1 question on their FAQs is how did you afford to do this? Some people might say they have no obligation to provide us with how they afforded the dream or that speaking about money should remain hush hush. And I wholeheartedly disagree, unless the creators aren't asking for any donations or support.

Not everyone in their early twenties can go from no cash to bluewater boat in a matter of minutes.

S/V Delos & Sailing La Vagabonde both provide at least a little background on how they originally funded the dream, one offshore on rigs, the other Windsor knotted to a desk in Seattle. Both sites also go into how they almost had to give up the dream at one point due to running out of cash. Which not only makes for a good story but also a very realistic one that doesn't only show the romantic side of sailing around the world. 

Maybe I'm wrong in thinking this way and if so, someone please comment and let me know so I can rethink the purpose of our blog and video series (just kidding it'll take a lot more than that). Now let me be clear that I'm not calling for sailing series to release their tax returns like some zealous politician. All I'm saying is when people are contributing to your dream in return for fueling inspiration of their own, the least we as creators can offer is transparency so they know exactly what it takes to make the dream a reality. 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed

Why couldn't we have been raised to live on a boat? I mean c'mon Dad you were the one who showed me your passions for surfing, boating and everything else related to water, didn't you foresee this coming? We really could've used the foresight and background of having lived aboard previously throughout this process to know where to begin. But therein lies a victory, albeit a small one but nonetheless a victory for us, just to begin

To say we envisioned ourselves being overwhelmed and having an exploding to do list chock-full of daunting hand scribed only documents and DMV visits, would be a lie. As with most when they are infatuating over their dream, we only saw the romantic side of it all. Yes, we are overwhelmed, or at least we were, but this is exactly where we wanted to be. Only difference was we had a different, nay sexier term for it when we were planning out our adventure, being outside of our comfort zone.  

A quote from one of the greatest modern day adventurers. 

A quote from one of the greatest modern day adventurers. 

So here we are now as a fully insured, USCG documented, antique registered sailing vessel and an incredibly relieved pair of not-so-green anymore owners. Don't get me wrong we still don't have the slightest clue of where to begin on properly tacking, bleeding a fuel line or what amps we draw but man can we tie a mean bowline and furl the shit out of that headsail. Oh yeah by the way Lucidity is now in her home port of St. Petersburg after her maiden voyage from middle of nowhere Florida, I mean Indiantown but we'll dive more into that in the next post.

So where to start on the documentation process? I'd prefer to not relive it so how about the cliff notes version - you'll thank me later. So why USCG documentation? Well first off we liked the idea of not having to smear some random combination of Home Depot purchased letter & number decals on the front steps (port bow section of hull) of our home.

Mermaid added for flavor.

Secondly, being documented facilitates clearance with foreign governments when cruising their waters and provides certain protections while sailing under Old Glory. As for antique registration, easy answer is its crazy cheap. Cheap as in $5.25 per year. Lastly insurance, yea I saved the most exhilarating for last. We decided on going with hull insurance and 300k liability, due primarily to our lack of sailboating experience. What hull insurance does is provide pay out if you were to lose your boat to a hurricane, fire, what have you. They pay out what you have stated as an Agreed Value or Market Value, which for us sounded like a great way to be screwed out of what our vessel is truly worth due to the insurance industry's best friend, depreciation. Needless to say we decided on Agreed Value, paid for the full year and got unlimited towing as well.

That face looks familiar to me as well when dealing with insurance, Flo.

Relieved is a subtle way of describing how I feel now that it's all done. We're legal, we're still afloat and we can somewhat back our boat out of its tight slip, lookout world. We are learning something new everyday, being challenged in more ways than we could've imagined and enduring the feeling of going from almost-experts at our current jobs to complete sailing novices. This is what we signed up for, we're happily overwhelmed and stoked to have you here for the duration of staying outside our comfort zones.