In the summer of 2014, our lives changed forever. We stumbled upon a dream that would see us selling our home, buying and moving onto a 40-foot sailboat, and casting off for the horizon.
Let’s back up a step.
Brenden and I met in early 2006 and moved in together that summer. In 2009, our world changed when we found out that we were going to become parents and we greeted our son in the spring of 2010. In 2011, we bought a house and got married, and started settling into this routine that was the classic American Dream.
Within a few years, we were starting to feel a little trapped and bored of the life we’d built. I was dreaming of tiny house living, free of a mortgage and able to spend more of my time with my family instead of working to pay for the house that we barely spent time in because we were always gone working. By 2013, we knew we wanted another baby and our daughter was born in July of 2014.
While home from work caring for our baby and enjoying our days together, Brenden stumbled across a documentary called Maiden Trip. It was the story of a 14-year-old girl that had sailed alone around the world. Brenden started to think that maybe you didn’t have to be super rich to own a sailboat. And we found out that, wow, there are actually people in the world that live on their sailboats, traveling the world, and some of them were even doing it with kids in tow.
He asked me if I might want to do that.
Adventure was calling and I was ready to say yes.
So, we bought dozens of books and followed countless blogs. Brenden read them all and we discussed the possibilities at length. We scoured YouTube for content, anything that we could find about those living on their boats. We joined Facebook pages and groups and talked with others all along the pathway from just realizing the dream to those out there doing it, living it, every day.
Gradually, we introduced the idea to our parents. They watched as we learned and as the dream developed, as we made plans on how we might go about this while keeping our little ones as safe as humanly possible.
We bought a small sailboat and took a few lessons on the mighty Columbia River. We’d never even been sailing before! We didn’t know if we would even like it!
In late 2015, we drove a few hours north from our home to Seattle to look at a boat. It was the first “big” boat that we ever looked at in person. The first one that could actually house our family. She was a 1978 Fuji 40, and we LOVED her from the very first visit. Of course, we weren’t ready to buy yet. We still had to sell the house.
In the spring of 2016, with gifted funds from both of our parents, we journeyed up to the San Juan Islands and spent an entire week living and sailing on a 40-foot sailboat with an amazing captain and a couple other students. It was glorious and further cemented in our minds that we really did want to take the leap.
In May, we sold our house, eeking out enough profit to have a budget of about $70,000 for our dream boat. Of course, by then the boat we’d looked at the previous winter had sold. And there were only about 13 of those boats ever made so we doubted we would have another chance of buying one.
We looked at dozens and dozens of other boats, always mentally comparing them to that first boat, that Fuji 40, that we’d looked at in Seattle.
By the fall of 2016, we were admittedly starting to feel desperate. We’d been living with my parents for several months and still hadn’t found a boat! Then, in Portland, basically in our back yard, we found a boat that we nearly purchased. Whitehawk was a Tartan 37 and in good shape. She sailed like a dream and we made an offer basically out of desperation of finally wanting to find Our Boat.
Looking back, I’m so thankful that we did not buy that boat. I truly think that boat would have killed our dream at the dock. She was just too small for us and, for many reasons, not the right boat. But, anyway, as we were working through the process of having the Tartan surveyed, and we were finding some things that were throwing up red flags for us, BOOM, a Fuji 40 popped up for sale in San Diego. She was in our price range and the pictures looked good. Pitter-patter went my heart.
We called and made an offer immediately. Brenden flew down to see the boat that weekend. She checked all the important boxes and we started to get really excited.
Two weeks later, Brenden and I both flew down to San Diego for the survey and sea trial and I just fell in love all over again. There was truly magic in these Fuji 40s. Something that just pulled at my heartstrings and I felt like I was coming home. In reality, I was.
We bought that Fuji 40, hull number 2, and named her Mosaic.
In the following weeks, we worked through all the logistical nightmares that came with buying a boat out of state and having it shipped home. We road-tripped down to the boat with the kids to help with final preparations for getting her on the truck that would move her to Portland and, at last, in October of 2016, we moved our family of four into our new floating home.
We spent the next 2 ½ years learning to sail her, learning to live on a boat, and spending basically all of our money on fixing her up. I’m not joking. I’ve heard it said, when asked how much it costs to buy and outfit a boat to go cruising … “It takes everything you’ve got, and then a little bit more.”
In 2018, we spent about $50,000 on a major refit (you’ll find posts on all that on the blog) and we set a date.
May 1st, 2019. Do or die.
Ready or not, that was when we would leave Portland on the next stage of the adventure.
Well, we were 4 days late, but close enough! After all, cruisers know that schedules are your enemy!
On May 4th, 2019, we left our Portland Oregon slip for the very last time and headed downriver toward the great Pacific Ocean. We left the kids with my parents briefly, took a trusted captain and crew, and Brenden’s dad, along on the journey as we cast off from Astoria headed for the open waters of the Pacific and then up to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the protected waters of the Puget Sound.
Since May 2019, we’ve been cruising the glorious waters of the Puget Sound. It’s been everything we hoped it would be, and more.
Our plans now sit on a departure date of 2021. We’ll be Mexico-bound and, from there, who knows? Maybe the South Pacific? Wherever our dreams will take us.
It’s taking everything we’ve got, and a little bit more. But it is so, so worth it.