"Maybe we should rethink this."

Change of Plans (November 1999)
As the weather turned colder and the liklihood of a 1999 departure dimmed, Theresa and I did a lot of soul-searching.

October 25 - November 12, 1999: Theresa and I have been doing a lot of thinking since our two-day training cruise with Fiona the week before last. We had planned to leave Annapolis sometime soon, but we only just got the boat's electrical system fixed, and we've already made plans for Thanksgiving with Theresa's family in St. Louis. We won't be able to move onto the boat until after Thanksgiving at the earliest, and we may have to wait even longer for certain personal reasons. The problem is that it's already turning bitterly cold here, and a prolonged sail down the coast is seeming less and less attractive under these conditions. I guess I'm not very "hard-core" when it comes to this stuff, but sailing through snow and living on a boat that's either freezing inside or awash in condensation don't sound like much fun.

Then there's the issue of the house. Though we've been shuttling stuff into storage for over a month, we're still a long way from being ready to put the rest in storage and move onto the boat. Predictably, we're having a really hard time deciding what we actually need on the boat as liveaboards. Where do we store our tax and financial records? Do we put our photo albums in storage, or take them on the boat? How much of my computer stuff do I need aboard the boat? (Given that this is my livelihood, it's hard for me to get by with just a laptop. I also need reference books, software, etc. It all takes a lot of space.) And mobile, high-speed Internet access is still a pipe dream.

Most importantly, though, we've started to re-examine the whole liveaboard dream, trying to determine what it's really all about. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I realized that it's not so much about the actual sailing. After all, a liveaboard's life is only 5% sailing, 5% motoring, and 90% sitting at dock or anchor. While I certainly enjoy sailing, I view it more as a means to an end, and that end is freedom. My liveaboard dream has always been about freedom -- the ability to go anywhere and do anything on a moment's whim. At the same time, it's also about spending more time with nature. Theresa and I both want to spend more time outdoors, and we want to get some relief from the press of traffic and people here in the northeast.

We realized that these goals could be achieved just as easily -- and perhaps more easily -- via non-liveaboard lifestyles. There are many kinds of constraints that keep us from our freedom, and the liveaboard lifestyle imposes some fairly strict ones. We just haven't evolved enough yet to accept all of those constraints.

So we've had a change of plans. We've decided to get an apartment in Florida, then bring the boat down the Intracoastal Waterway in the spring. We've decided on the Tampa Bay area because it's within "striking distance" of the Keys, the Tortugas, and the Carribean by sailboat, yet it's not too far south to get some cooler weather from time to time, and it's relatively protected from hurricanes (being on the west coast). It's also a fairly progressive business center -- particularly for technology and healthcare, our chosen fields -- if and when we decide we need to work again. We'll do many, frequent sails, rather than one prolonged liveaboard experience. We're not ready yet to give up full-size showers, heating & air-conditioning, convenient laundry facilities, and high-speed internet access. Maybe we'll come around eventually.

First half of November, 1999: I bought a Nokia 6160i phone, and signed up for AT&T's Digital OneRate plan. I researched and ordered all of the accessories needed to hook the phone to my laptop, and finally got the whole setup working, thanks to some helpful hints from Britt on Windom, who has the same phone and setup. After all this work, I managed to connect to the Internet at a whopping 4800 baud! [Sarcasm] At this rate, it only took 3 minutes to load the Quicken homepage! [Dripping Sarcasm] I'm connected via cable modem at home, so this just killed me. I decided to send it all back (including the phone), and cancel the service. I'll have to find something different.

Saturday, November 20, 1999: Theresa and I visited the boat today, mainly just to check on her before we leave for Thanksgiving. I replaced all the docking lines, because some of them were dangerously worn. That could be bad news if a late-season hurricane -- or just a bad storm -- came through.

November 23 - November 29, 1999: Theresa and I spent Thanksgiving with her family in St. Louis. It was a nice trip, but our rental car was vandalized in Columbia, MO, and the vandals stole my old Motorola cellphone. I never worried about leaving this phone in the car, because it's only worth $9.99 new. In fact, the thieves also took the charging cable for the phone, which is worth quite a bit more: $29.99. I canceled the service, and now I have to get a new phone. I guess I'll go back to AT&T.

November 30, 1999: I've decided that I can't wait any longer for Ernest and/or Dave to buy the J/24. I called J-Boats Chesapeake to list it for sale ASAP. I hate to part with the old girl, because she's wicked fast, and I like winning races. I just don't have time for her now that we have a big boat, and I could use the money for outfitting our new boat.

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