These people have gone all-in on boat life. Here’s how they did it


(CNN) — Think about getting rid of most of your worldly possessions to dwell on a sailboat you obtain on the Web — maybe with out even seeing it, or realizing how to tie a knot or hoist the mainsail.

For some beginner sailors who embarked on boat life through the pandemic, the previous yr supplied an sudden push to make what could have as soon as appeared unattainable immediately inside attain.

Randi Hitchcock was 30 days into lockdown final April along with her household in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when she hit the wall.

“The hours upon hours we had been sitting in the home after we weren’t strolling our canines on a vital journey to the park made us assume lengthy and exhausting about our future,” says Hitchcock.

After just a few household discussions along with her husband, Steve, and their then 12-year-old son, Cody, the Hitchcocks determined to promote most of their issues, put their home up for lease and head to St. Augustine, Florida.

There, they moved onto the 38-foot catamaran, Konstantina, that they purchased “sight unseen” for roughly $125,000 off Fb.
Cody, Randi and Steve  Hitchcock (from left to right) have been living aboard their catamaran.

Cody, Randi and Steve Hitchcock (from left to proper) have been dwelling aboard their catamaran.

Randi Hitchcock

The household had no crusing expertise. However because of the G.I. Invoice, Steve, a veteran, was capable of take free American Crusing Affiliation lessons and Skilled Mariner Coaching within the Florida Keys and Stuart, Florida.

The Hitchcocks spent a number of months crusing in Florida earlier than crossing to the Bahamas in mid-February of this yr, the place they have since logged some 400 nautical miles.

When their Bahamian visa expires in Might, they plan to return to Florida to dwell in a marina or at anchor so Cody can attend in-person highschool this fall. And whereas Steve’s VA pension can help the household, he may decide up jobs delivering boats and Randi may work in a marina retailer for reductions on boat elements, she says.

One factor’s for certain, says Hitchcock — as quickly as they can, they’re placing their Colorado home up on the market.

“I do not assume we have any need to dwell in a home once more realizing how straightforward and enjoyable it is to journey on a boat,” she says.

The Hitchcock's very first Gulf Stream crossing was from Long Key, Florida, to Riding Rock, Bahamas.

The Hitchcock’s very first Gulf Stream crossing was from Lengthy Key, Florida, to Using Rock, Bahamas.

Randi Hitchcock

Boat life is booming

Life the van life motion that exploded in recent times — and much more so through the pandemic — boat life is just not new.

It’s, nonetheless, fashionable.

Widespread crusing YouTube channels like Sailing Ruby Rose and Sailing SV Delos, amongst many others, function enticing {couples} and households masking their dwelling bills (and infrequently much more) with YouTube advert income, paid sponsorships and help from Patreon — a subscription-based crowdfunding platform utilized by content material creators to make cash.

And like RV gross sales through the pandemic, boat gross sales, too, have boomed.

“The pandemic has had an unimaginable impact on the acquisition and chartering of yachts of all sizes,” says gross sales and constitution dealer Mark Elliott, of the International Yacht Company. “In my over 40 years of yachting, I have by no means seen the market so lively.”

“We’re promoting all measurement yachts and the stock has shrunk to an all-time minimal,” he says.

In keeping with the Nationwide Marine Producers Affiliation, the US leisure boating trade noticed a rise in first-time boat patrons in 2020 for the primary time in over a decade.

Damien Williams and Maggie Jay traded RV life for boat life in early 2020.

Damien Williams and Maggie Jay traded RV life for boat life in early 2020.

Maggie Jay

One couple’s transition from van life to boat life

Maggie Jay and Damien Williams, who’re digital nomads working in advertising and finance, are amongst these first-time boat patrons diving proper in.

The Denver, Colorado, couple made a brisk transition from RV life to boat life after an accident claimed their beloved motor house.

After 4 years touring throughout 35 US states in a 1974 GMC Painted Desert motor house that Jay says “appeared like a stretch Scooby Doo van,” an engine fireplace in 2019 put an finish to the journey.

“We had restored it ourselves, it was heartbreaking for me,” says Williams. “I did not wish to begin over again with a brand new motor house. I simply needed to do one thing totally different.”

He’d all the time been intrigued by crusing however thought it was one thing you needed to develop up doing — or no less than have some huge cash to afford, he says.

When he proposed the thought of dwelling on a crusing boat to Jay, she says she imagined it like “tough tenting on the water.”

“I simply form of heard tales from my aunt and mother, who sailed, about peeing in a bucket and cooking on a Bunsen burner,” she says, “I used to be questioning how that labored for one thing greater than a weekend.”

She quickly discovered.

In late February 2020 — after trying out roughly 20 boats whereas driving alongside the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida with their schnoodle, P-Moe — the household discovered their new house.

They purchased their 1979 Pearson 35 (which they plan to christen Sailing Dipity) for $12,600 in Dunedin, Florida.

With pandemic lockdowns simply beginning as they have been settling into life at anchor, Jay and Williams realized to sail by watching numerous YouTube movies and crusing channels, poring via books and bartering Maggie’s shed-organizing abilities for crusing classes from a captain they met.

By mid-April of this yr, after logging a whole lot of nautical miles whereas studying to sail round Florida, they crossed from Miami to Bimini within the Bahamas and plan to reach in Puerto Rico by January 2022 for his or her wedding ceremony day

“Even in comparison with life on land within the motor house, I’ve by no means felt a lot privateness and freedom,” says Williams. “On land in an RV, you are all the time apprehensive if somebody will hassle you, should you’re parked okay.”

“All around the world we will anchor totally free, it feels actually releasing,” he says.

Damien Williams didn't know anything about sailing before they bought their boat.

Damien Williams did not know something about crusing earlier than they purchased their boat.

Maggie Jay

Is it for you?

As glamorous because the crusing liveaboard life can look on YouTube and Instagram, not everyone seems to be minimize out for it.

And simply as there are coaches for almost all the things lately, there are sailors who specialise in serving to people determine if dwelling on a sailboat may be for them.

Sailing Totem provides “mentoring, steering, assets, and sensible help to assist YOU make a profitable transition into the cruising life,” in response to its web site.
Jim and Judy Brown of Sail Dauntless invite would-be sailors aboard their 55-foot Jeanneau crusing yacht (primarily based out of Sag Harbor, New York this summer season) to “get soaked and go crusing for per week with a seasoned crew with offshore and island hopping itineraries” whereas experiencing the realities and rewards of a liveaboard way of life, Jim Brown wrote in an e mail.

After that, if company are nonetheless within the boating way of life, Brown says, the subsequent step is to hit the books to check and get licensed to securely function the particular kind of crusing yacht that sparks their curiosity.

A standard misperception for people new to the crusing way of life, he says, is that you will “glide alongside to your subsequent vacation spot with truthful winds and calm seas.”

And that does not solely apply to altering climate.

“People don’t notice how costly this way of life is, even with prudent budgets,” Brown says. Even ordering a easy restore half that may price $15 on-line may price many instances that by the point it’s gone via customs and processing charges, he says.

New sailors may additionally be shocked by how lengthy it takes to get locations on wind energy.

“If man may stroll on water, it can be a greater choice if you’re in a rush,” Brown says. “Most crusing yachts common 5 miles an hour, so endurance is essential.”

The Sueiro family has been learning to sail since they bought their boat in August.

The Sueiro household has been studying to sail since they purchased their boat in August.

Jessica and Will Sueiro

A slower way of life is usually a reward

For households who like the thought of a slower, extra minimalist way of life (and do not thoughts shut quarters), the liveaboard crusing way of life might be interesting.

Jessica and Will Sueiro, who run a journey teaching firm, WorldTowning, to assist people navigate the logistics of longterm journey, not too long ago determined to embark on liveaboard life with their two youngsters, Largo, 13, and Avalon, 16.

The household had been touring full time since 2014, homeschooling the children whereas visiting each county in Europe in an RV (amongst different adventures) earlier than touchdown in Japan in late February 2020.

Residing on a sailboat was all the time a part of their “endgame,” says Jessica, and the pandemic accelerated that.

“We realized that Covid was going to go on for much longer than all of us initially anticipated,” she mentioned in an e mail. “And the will to take on a mission whereas we needed to pause journey appeared like the right alternative for our household to be taught how to dwell on a boat and sail.”

Storage is tight for the family of four. Overflow groceries go in lockers under the floors.

Storage is tight for the household of 4. Overflow groceries go in lockers below the flooring.

Jessica and Will Sueiro

In August 2020, after returning to Europe, they purchased their sailboat, S/V Friendship, a Broadblue 38 catamaran, for round $160,000 within the South of France and have been studying to sail it since.

The household plans to cruise round Spain’s Balearic Islands this summer season earlier than crusing throughout the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

“There’s a enormous studying curve should you have by no means sailed earlier than,” Jessica says. “Rent an teacher, crew on different boats, rent a coach, learn books, attend boat exhibits, decide brains, watch YouTubers, take specialised lessons in CPR/navigation/climate/engine restore and extra.”

And do not forget to faucet the huge crusing neighborhood in port, at anchor and at sea.

“Apart from social media pals, we did not expertise a lot neighborhood within the van and RV life in any respect,” says Williams. He thought transitioning to crusing life from RV life would “be a lateral transfer,” he says, and has been shocked to search out it an improve.

“Sailors have been so beneficiant, useful and pleasant towards us, regardless that we had by no means sailed a day in our lives after we moved on our sailboat,” he says.


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