My voice echos through my empty house, my suitcase looks like it exploded, and I’ve only eaten sandwiches the past few days to avoid cooking. As I shove the last boxes into a tiny 7’x7′ container, I marvel at the fact that this POD now holds everything we own in the world.
Packing up the POD is more than just putting our stuff in storage for the next 2-3 months, we are also saying goodbye to any sense of ‘home’ for the near future. Giving up our stability and security is an adjustment, but by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones now, our sacrifices will be exchanged for greater gifts down the road. At least, that’s what I told myself last night as I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag.
For the time being, we are adrift. Well, about to be cut loose, anyway—checkout is on Friday. It is terrifying and exciting all at the same time, and we get to discover what we actually need in order to get by day-to-day. Familiar creature comforts are gone as we prepare to live out of 1 suitcase each for the next 2 months, from temporary living at an Airbnb, to driving across the U.S., to our TBD situation on the east coast.
The great news is that I heard from our broker today 🙂 I will update with boat info soon! He’s found us some truly spectacular options.
We are in the final stages of moving out! Sorry there haven’t been as many posts during these last two weeks, but you guys really haven’t missed anything. We’ve been doing more of the same—getting rid of stuff on Bookoo and Craigslist, cleaning out the house room by room, and making numerous trips to the dump.
Here’s the really fun part over the next few days: I get to pack up the POD all by myself! Conor has a field op, and it’s on me to move us out.
Every time I almost have a panic attack, I remind myself that no matter what, by the end of the month, it will all be over, because it has to be. There is no other option. I will do the best that I can to prepare everything, but by the time I need to check out of the house, nothing will keep me here. Didn’t have time to fix the holes in the walls? Charge me, I don’t care. Didn’t mow the lawn? Okay, fine me the $25.
No matter what happens, come March 31, I’m tossing the keys to the housing office and burning rubber out of here. The end result will be the same regardless, I just have to breathe.
I’m daydreaming about April, and our month-long Airbnb vacation in San Clemente. When we get to relax and unwind for a month while still in California before taking a cross-country road trip, all of this will seem worth it. Middle of April is also when our boat broker in New Bern, NC will ramp up the search for our perfect boat!! We should have 4-5 boats lined up for us to see in May.
Taylor and Conor
PS- If anyone you know needs a washer/dryer or a couch, send them my way. They are the last few things we need to get rid of by next week!
Our declaration that we are moving onto a boat has only been met with incredible support from our families and friends. This post is a shout out to all you wonderful people who are cheering us on, who give us confidence in ourselves with your unwavering enthusiasm. Whether it is checking in to see if we’ve found our dream boat yet, calling for an update on the downsizing process, or even offering to help us move, we thank you.
To those who say we inspire them to achieve their goals—know that we will have your back just like you’ve had ours. For the people who embrace our quirkiness and understand the true purpose of this dream—our lives would not be the same without you.
We still have moments of doubt and fear, but we have a safety net of those we love to catch us if we fall. And, most importantly, they do not judge. Our v-berth will always be open to you all to come and experience the dream with us 🙂
As we get further along with our downsizing, it has only gotten easier. It might be the excitement of getting down to the final weeks, or maybe I just want it to be over with because it is EXHAUSTING. Either way, I don’t feel any pangs of regret as our house empties out. The rooms do feel smaller now, though, as everything that made this house uniquely ours is disappearing.
Stuff is just stuff. If we change our minds in 5 years and decide to move back onto land, then we can get more furniture. What really scares me is the thought of forgoing the liveaboard dream because we are too afraid to let go of a favorite bedroom set/couch/dining room table. I refuse to let inanimate objects dictate what we can and cannot do in life.
However, it does make me happy that our stuff is finding new purpose with other families that need it. Donating has been my favorite part (Craigslist and Bookoo are a pain in the butt). Giving to friends and family and neighbors has brought joy to this process. I feel like Santa. Or Oprah.
Three more weeks to go, but we are already sleeping on our mattress on the floor. I’ve never slept better.
Yes, you heard that right…we finally have a concrete plan! I guess all those positive vibes we have been sending out into the universe worked, because we are going to CAMP LEJEUNE! We check out of Camp Pendleton on May 1st. Conor also got his dream job. It feels unreal.
I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have an actual timeline and location. All of the plans we’ve been making over the past few months have been for the best case scenario. We have been holding our breath during the wait, just hoping for it to work out.
We got lucky. So, so lucky.
We decided to downsize, move out of our house, plan a POD pickup, and book an Airbnb for the month of April all under the assumption that everything would fall into place. It was risky (and expensive), but the payoff was worth it, because now the ‘best case scenario’ and the ‘official plan’ are united, and we have already done about 75% of the work!
I also feel like this is the biggest validation that we are on the right path. If our boat plan wasn’t meant to be, it would feel like we were swimming upstream instead. I think the universe is with us instead of against us on this one. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of hard work and planning went into this, and it didn’t just magically happen. However, anyone who has been in the military and rolled the PCS dice for jobs/duty stations knows that the odds aren’t always in your favor. Our outcome is serendipitous, to say the least.
Main requirement for our liveaboard: the boat must float.
But really, because we are so inexperienced, we are not looking for a ‘project’ boat by any stretch. We are on the hunt for a sailboat that is move-in ready, not a fixer-upper. We already feel like we are in over our heads enough without having to worry if the electric will catch fire or if the bilge pump will fail and sink us overnight.
So besides looking for a structurally sound boat, here are a couple of our ‘must-haves’ to make living on a sailboat work for us:
Center cockpit, which means a bigger aft stateroom with enough headroom for Conor
A 3-cabin configuration with aft and v-berth staterooms (basically 2 bedrooms and a main living/kitchen space). Separate cabins with doors allow a bit more privacy when you’re living in close quarters. Enough space, but not too much boat for 2 people to handle when sailing.
Fully-functioning galley with refrigeration
A SEPARATE SHOWER in the head! This is a big one for me. I am not a fan of the idea of a ‘wet head’, where my entire bathroom gets soaked and I have to sit on the toilet every time I take a shower. Gross.
Besides these four things, we can compromise and make most situations work for us. However, if we found the PERFECT boat, it would also include these ammenities:
Low-maintenance (aka no teak) deck
Enough storage space for Conor’s field gear and diving gear
Convertible settee to have extra beds for guests
Notice that these are all liveaboard aspects of the boat, and not a whole lot about thesailing aspect: sails, rigging, navigation systems, engine, etc. That’s because we honestly don’t know enough about that part yet to have a preference. Any recommendations from you experienced sailors? All of our ‘must-haves’ and ‘would-likes’ are pretty superficial, I know. I’m sure by next year I’ll look back at this list and laugh.
Our to-do list is a nightmare. Seriously. It is all over the place. But Conor found this great tool for keeping us organized and on the same page: Wunderlist. We can both access the app and add info/notes when one of us checks something off, even if we’re apart. One-stop access is so nice because some days I feel like we are chickens running around with our heads cut off. I definitely recommend it for anyone organizing a move, vacation, adventure, etc when multiple people are involved in the planning process. (www.wunderlist.com)
Here’s just an outline of what we are dealing with over the next few weeks:
Before we move out:
Figure out what DITY move entails
Boxes for storage/move
Storage for short term/long term in both California and (hopefully) North Carolina, maybe PODS?
Send stuff not going into storage to our families in Seattle
Move-out paperwork with our housing office (Lease ends March 31!)
Sell furniture on Craigslist
Make 5,000 more trips to the donation center…
Clean ENTIRE HOUSE
Move-out inspection at the end of March
Living in limbo (in California still):
Air BNB or month-to-month apartment lease if we have to stay in California through April or May?
Transfer medical records
Any last-minute vet/doctor/dental appointments
Auto appointments for the cars
Sell Conor’s car
TAXES (shit, almost forgot about those)
Forwarding/change of address for mail
Obsessively look at boat listings and daydream about fast-forwarding to the fun part
Heading to new duty station:
Contact boat brokers in the area, start the boat search!
Road trip across the country/where are we stopping? I vote Nashville!
How much PTAD leave can Conor take?
Military move reimbursement?
Getting the BOAT!:
Meet with broker, look at possibilities he or she has found for us
Pick the right boat
Contact surveyor and have them check everything out
Get boat loan
Reserve slip at marina
Get our boat delivered
FINALLY MOVE IN!
Have a headache yet? Welcome to the club. Those are just the big things on the list, not to mention the smaller day-to-day stuff that pops up. There will be a lot more detail added to the “Getting the Boat” section once we get closer. We just have to stay on top of everything and take it one step at a time.
It’s a dangerous one. It sucks you in until you’re so deep down the rabbit hole you have no idea how you got there. You stop yourself, hours later, and try to remember why on earth you are looking at a $1,000,000 yacht that’s in South Africa when you started off searching for a sailboat in North Carolina.
Yes, my friends, I’m talking about www.sailboatlistings.com and www.yachtworld.com. These two sites are great search engines for (trying) to narrow down your boat search. The only problem is, my imagination gets a little too carried away sometimes. It is easy to get caught up in the fantasy of the ‘perfect boat’ and focus everything you would be missing out on if you stuck to your pesky parameters like budget and location.
Despite its addictiveness, it is a fun way to educate yourself on the different boats that are out there and what the market looks like. Every few days I like to check and see if there are any new listings that would be a good fit for us. We have an ever-changing list of possible boats as our favorites cycle out and other options pop up. It can be sad to see a contender get bought by people who aren’t us, but Conor and I firmly believe that the right boat will be there for us at the right time.
There are SO many amazing benefits to living aboard on a military base marina. Gottschalk Marina at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is our dream marina. Here are the perks:
Close proximity to commissary, PX, and hospital
Walking distance to the gym
Central to base
Reasonably priced and it has immediate slip availability (this is the most important part)
SUPER helpful marina staff
‘Clubhouse’ with free laundry
On the bright side, even if we don’t get Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps bases are (almost) always on an ocean. This is different from the Army and the Air Force, where it is possible to be stationed pretty much anywhere. That would be bad news for our sailboat plan if we had to be in middle America! So at least we can operate under the assumption that we will be on a coast, near water, and have a place for our boat, no matter where we end up.