Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Long Does It Take to Leave the Dock?

Photo credit:  Mermaid Musings

I was going to name this post, "How Long Does It Take To Become A Cruiser", but becoming a cruiser takes more than leaving the dock.  After all, I can't imagine that Ken and I will leave the dock for our first passage South and officially label ourselves as "cruisers".  Without much sailing experience, we'll have so much to learn.  But then again ... perhaps I should have gone with that title because leaving the dock is probably one of the hardest parts of becoming a cruiser.

After all, pulling one's self out of the depths of society's "success" to the surface of a cruiser's freedom requires a lot of planning, discipline and patience.  The dream is planted, it grows, we feed it, and we sometimes neglect it.  We never give up, and the dream continues to pull us through.  We slowly cut the anchors that weigh us down ... we get closer to the surface.

Ken and I first got the idea of cruising back in the Summer of 2009, after a vacation in Hawaii.  Before the year's end, we purchased Nirvana and have been working towards making her our home ever since then.  I swear sometimes it seems we've been working towards cruising forever, and sometimes I can't believe we're closing in on six years!

In the beginning, we were naive enough to think that we'd be cruising by now.  What were we thinking?!  We're pretty realistic, logical people so how did we underestimate the time it takes to leave the dock?   For starters, we had no idea how long it would take to sell our house.  We also didn't wanna think about how difficult it would be to pay off all debt, purchase stuff for the boat AND make repairs to the boat ... all while working full-time and avoiding new debt!  Then there's life itself ... stress, illness and even injuries.  Family, friends and a bit of fun are squeezed in to keep our sanity.

I think we all have these similar challenges, but I wondered what the average length of time is from the beginning of the dream until reality.  Were we in the average?

 Of course, there are those folks that don't quite fit in the mix.  There are those that didn't get "bitten by the bug" until they retired (ignorance is bliss, I say).  By the time they came up with the idea, they were already at the stage in their lives to make the transition an easy one.  Then there are those that got the idea early in life before kids, cars and a house.  I don't call them "lucky", as we wouldn't trade the years raising our daughter in our house for anything.  But, cruising before having any responsibilities sure makes things easier.  Finally, there are those that are financially set for one reason or another.  These are the lucky folks that have enough money to get the idea, buy a boat, and sail off in a matter of months.  

Nirvana before leaving the dock .. to the boatyard.

We definitely don't fit in any of the above categories, but we figure that most people don't.  While I sometimes have a pity party and feel like we have more than the average amount of "anchors" to cut loose, I know that most folks have their challenges as well.  So, I figured I'd take a little survey on our "Facebook" page, and ask folks like you to tell me how long the dream took to become reality.  I wanted to hear from those who are already cruising, but also those working towards cruising.

I had a good response, and as I figured ... we're right in the average.  We plan to leave within a year, which will put us just past six years from buying the boat, and about 6.5 years from the time we got bitten by the bug.  Most folks seem to take at least 3 - 6 years, some over a decade.  There was one guy that only took 4 months. but he was the only one that took less than a number in years .. he's a very lucky man.

Anyway, I thought my little survey was interesting and I really appreciate all the great stories and feedback.  If you're like us and still swimming towards the surface, let this be an inspiration and reminder that you're not alone.

Once we break through the surface to "freedom", we will become cruisers.  While we've grown in so many ways since adulthood, I'm sure that we will grow in even more ways than we can imagine.  That's what it's all about, right?

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cockpit Blues ...

View from Nirvana's cockpit ... and our old backyard.

Since selling our house and moving Nirvana to the boatyard, we've been missing our cockpit.   I guess it's human nature to want something even more when you can't have it ... especially when it's cold outside and Spring fever sets in!

Ken and I are anxious for the cold weather to be over so Nirvana can be painted and outta the boatyard.  We're looking forward to Nirvana's new home at the local marina, and we conjure up thoughts of warm weekends sleeping on Nirvana and getting her ready for cruising.  After a day of boat work, we'll settle in Nirvana's cockpit for an evening of burgers on the grill, a drink in hand, music playing from the salon ... and a great waterfront view.

Aaahh ... a glimpse from the past of time in our cockpit!

Living on Nirvana in between workdays will give us a chance to adjust to living on her permanently while slowly packing her down for cruising ... and downsizing one last time.  While we have quite a list of projects, we don't plan on getting them all done before "leaving the dock".  We figure that cruising is "boat work in exotic places" (hopefully not too much), so there's no need to get it all done here in Louisiana.  We plan on spending a few months in Florida and taking our time sailing South, so we're hoping that we may even be able to find a few better deals along the way.

Slowly our days at the job will be replaced with days on the boat, and Nirvana will become our home.  It's kinda surreal sometimes that we've finally made it to this point.  Working less and retiring (somewhat) ... it's hard to wrap our heads around that!  We've been working towards this time for so long, and it's finally getting close.

By the way, I'll be writing another post soon about the survey I recently took on our Facebook page ... it's about the average length of time it takes to make the dream of cruising a reality.  Hint ... we're in the average.

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Day at the Mardi Gras

Yet another year has flown by, and another Mardi Gras has turned up.  As long as we're still living so close to New Orleans, Ken and I have gotta spend at least one day in the French Quarter to take part in the Mardi Gras festivities.  There's no floats or parades in our plans ... that would require leaving the French Quarter, and why would we wanna do that?!

I imagine that most visitors to the city would want to stand along the parade routes to catch some beads and trinkets.  As a New Orleans native, I've been to countless parades and have become burnt out on them.  Don't get me wrong, I've got some amazing memories of our days on St. Charles street.  There's nothing like waking up on the floor (you sleep where you can) of a friend's St. Charles residence on Mardi Gras morning ... the sounds of friends chattering on the balcony, revelers on the streets, and music in the air ... great times!  But, our friend no longer lives on St. Charles so ... the French Quarter it is the past few years.  Not to mention, we've been lucky enough to have another great friend with her own balcony hook-up ... on Bourbon Street ... with free food and alcohol ... and bathrooms!  Thank Judy!

As in the past few years, we start the day on the balcony to fill up our stomachs ... and our red solo cups.  We then walk up and down Bourbon Street, while taking in the sites and making new friends. When we need to refill our cups (and empty our bladders), we head back to the balcony.  While there, we may as well throw a few beads down to the party below before hitting the streets again.

Me and Judy at the "Funky Pirate" bar on Bourbon ... one of our favorite places for live music!  Ken took this picture ... have you noticed he hates to be in a picture?

I've been terrible lately about taking pictures for our blog.  New Orleans' Mardi Gras ... what a perfect opportunity for pictures right?  Well, I guess we were having way too much fun to pull out the camera.  I've only got two pictures!

Oh well, if the small amount of pictures is a reflection of the good times ... we had a great time!  If there aren't pictures as evidence, then we got away with it, right?

Um, I guess there is evidence that I hogged the king cake.  What's a girl to do when she's been drinking Crown  & 7 all day and they've run out of all the other food?  Let us eat cake!

Like last year, today's "Fat Tuesday" is a crappy weather day.  Highs in the 40's (feeling like the 30's) with a drizzle throughout the day ... there's not enough alcohol for this Southern girl!  So, just like last year, our Mardi Gras has been limited to only one day.  Oh well, one day on a Bourbon St. balcony is better than none.  But damn it, I really do miss those grilled oysters that we're used to enjoying at the Acme Oyster House party Judy take us to every Mardi Gras day. 

For those new to our blog, here's a few pics from those days ... Ken's dad joined us in 2012.

and he threw a few beads too.

The streets start to fill up, and things get crazy.  You won't see all the pics I've taken over the years ... oh, the stories I could tell.  The girls, and guys, will do some ridiculous stuff to get a pair of beads.  I had a guy pull down his pants and sing ,,, and I even had a guy do some other crazy stuff, but I don't wanna scar you with the image, so I'll spare ya.  

Now don't let the peek inside our adventures scare you from visiting.   Actually, the Mardi Gras days are pretty mellow and things don't get crazy until after dark.  It's been many years since we've taken part in those times, as we leave before dark nowadays.

In 2013, the Honorary Mayor of Key West, Sammie "Gonzo" Mays joined Ken, Judy and I for a day of fun.  She wore her Margarita bullets, which we a hit ...

and she enjoyed some time on the balcony too!

Homer was also there that year ...

In 2011, we ran into these folks from Key West at the "Funky Pirate" ... they had just gotten married!  

Aaahh ... a picture with Ken in it (also from 2011).

Here's a few more pics from 2011, when I took out my camera more often.  Wanna see more from the years?  Just hit the Mardi Gras tag on the right of our site.

There were a few celebrities that year ... Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen & the "Hangover" guy!

New Orleans may get some bad news sometimes, but doesn't every large city?  I tell ya, this place if full of great culture, architecture, food and friendly folks.  We love our city ... you gotta come visit!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

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