Living Outside The Box

<Written by Rachel>

I want to talk a little bit about living outside the box, outside of other peoples’ expectations. Three and a half years ago, Brenden and I were on a much different path in our lives. We were soon to welcome our daughter into the world, living in a home which we owned in a suburb in a normal neighborhood. Both Brenden and I had been in our current jobs for over 5 years and we were just sort of chugging along, living the normal life that our society tells all of us that we’re supposed to want.

Quickly, I need to insert an addendum that, if you do indeed want that  quote-unquote ‘normal’ life, more power to you. You do what makes you happy – that’s what this is all about.

For Brenden and I, something was missing. We were happy, in a normal sense, but looking back there was an itch for something more. I personally didn’t appreciate working to pay the bills to live the life that we couldn’t participate in because we were always away from it working. It seems crazy to me to have this big house which we could only really appreciate a couple days a week, on the weekends and only then if we didn’t get out of the house to do something, because aside from those days we generally were out working, home only late at night after work and early in the morning before work. See, so much of life revolved around work … it’s crazy.

As I sit here typing this though, I feel a tinge of guilt. Currently, Brenden is out working his second job, on hour .. oh, 50+ of work this week? But, at least now we both know exactly what he’s working toward. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel now that was very very much farther away three years ago…

But I digress. When Kalyra was born, Brenden and I both were privileged to be able to take 12 weeks off from our jobs, Brenden even more so in that his leave was paid whereas mine was not. So we had some time on our hands, aside from caring for the newborn, and it was during this time that Brenden stumbled upon a documentary about a young girl, 15 years old, that sailed solo around the world on her small sailboat.

Click here to read the article.

Brenden’s wheels started turning. He had always believed, as had I though without actually thinking about it, that one had to be wealthy to own a sailboat. But here was this young girl, sailing around the world on a trip that lasted months, and she didn’t seem independently wealthy. She seemed of pretty average means. So Brenden started scheming. And researching. And watching. And reading. He dove head first into the world of sailing and cruising.

At some point, he asked me if I thought we could live on a sailboat, full time, and sail around the world, full time, with our family. My answer? HELL YES.

In the intervening years, as we’ve moved closer and closer to that goal, Brenden has often expressed that, if anything, he’s the brakes in all this. I dove headlong into dreaming and planning and scheming right along with him. See, I had already been harboring a notion to try to convince Brenden that we should live in a tiny house. I wanted more financial freedom, I wanted to live without a mortgage and without other monthly recurring high bills. I wanted to live a more simple lifestyle that would lower our living expenses so that we wouldn’t always have to be working just to get by. I wanted more time with my husband and more time with my children.

It was a very easy transition for me to go from dreaming of a simple tiny home homestead, to the idea of a simple nomadic lifestyle living aboard a sailboat. Yep, this felt right. Count. Me. In. 

So, now that the dream had fully been realized and both of us were in … we had to figure out what to do next. Well, first of all, we needed to curb our spending habits and start trying to cut down our debts and save save save. Plus, we needed to figure out if we even liked sailing! A few months later, in the spring of 2015, we purchased our first sailboat, a used Catalina 25.

We took a lesson or two out on the Columbia River and got to sail her just enough over the course of that summer and fall to feel confident that we both enjoyed sailing.

Some people come into this lifestyle planning for just a certain time-frame. Like they’ll take a year off work and go sail around the Caribbean and then go back to their previous life. From the start, Brenden and I both agreed that, if we could make this crazy plan come to fruition, that it would be a long-term change. We wanted to shake our entire lives upside down and stay out cruising, traveling, for as long as we could make it work. As long as everybody is happy doing it, as long as everybody is having fun.

In March 2016, Brenden and I took a week’s vacation and traveled up to the San Juan Islands and went to sailing school. We enjoyed a week-long Learn-N-Cruise class through San Juan Sailing and loved every minute of that week on a 40 foot Beneteau Oceanis. It was our first experience on a boat the size of what we were planning to purchase to live aboard with our kids, and we came out of the experience with some sailing certifications and a better understanding of what living on a sailboat might be like, and even more motivation to get the ball rolling.

On a mooring ball in the San Juans, after a full day of sailing.

We sold our home and used the profits to purchase Mosaic. We had to take out a small loan for some extra expenses and, unfortunately, are still working on killing off other residual debts. Slowly but surely we’re moving toward our goal and have set a date of departure for spring 2019. Ready or not, here we go! We’ve got major projects happening this winter aboard Mosaic and, hopefully, we’ll get some ocean sailing in next year.

Brenden’s got a great job and we’re hoping he might be able to move to working remotely in the coming year. I recently left my old job working at the local humane society and am now happily employed with a digital marketing company and able to work from home and spend more time with my kids. Evan is in second grade this year and we are planning for this to be his last year in public school. By summer, if not sooner, we will pull him out and begin homeschooling.

I can’t wait to be able to cast off from the dock and move freely from place to place, to actually start cruising. There are benefits to having a permanent slip here, and our marina is comfortable and nice, but sometimes it feels that we’ve just traded our mortgage for a monthly slip-rent (granted, much cheaper) and I want to be out at anchor. But we’ve got obligations to fill and bills to pay off before we can really go, so for now its just time to buckle down, get projects done, and save as much cash as we can and kill off some debt.

Slowly but surely, we’ll make it there.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll follow along on our Mosaic Voyage Facebook Page. If you’re enjoying the blog, leave a comment! The kids love reading comments and you’re sure to get a reply. See ya! ~Rachel

7 thoughts on “Living Outside The Box

  1. I am so glad I have come to find your blog! I love getting to know you better and now I really can’t wait to bend your ear! (Explain that term to your kids!) Truly love being your neighbor and would love to trade some stories. Hurry home soon!



    • Hi Jeri!! Thanks for keeping an eye on our empty slip for us! Haha! I do miss the boat and can’t wait to get her home! Will definitely come over for a chat and hot cocoa when we return. –Hugs!– ~Rachel


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