Monday, December 3, 2018

Struggling to Reach the Dream - An Honest Post


Sometimes we have to look at this quote to remind us not to give up. As anxiety creeps in, we get impatient and the "what-if's" take over. It's easier to be a pessimist than an optimist! But, that's why I'm writing this post. I'm keeping it real, and hoping to inspire others to hang in there with whatever dreams they have. The struggle is real, and you're not alone!

Ken & I have been working on "living the dream" for nine years now (see our refit photo album here .. and that doesn't cover earlier years!), and I'm not gonna lie .. sometimes it's really tough! For starters, we thought we'd be cruising within 3 years of purchasing Nirvana, which would have meant "sailing away" the end of November, 2012. We're about six years behind schedule!

Anyway, we continue to miss our deadlines ... the latest one being this month. We had hoped to have enough done on Nirvana to head towards Florida this month, but after an unintended inspection of our standing rigging we were told it really should be replaced before entering the Gulf. We believe the rigging is original (1987), and it did show signs of damage & age so we reluctantly agreed.

The standing rigging was completed about two weeks ago, except for the forestay. The wire has been ordered and the roller furler will soon be disassembled and removed for the new forestay installation. While we hated to miss our deadline, our safety (and peace of mind) is more important. It is somewhat of a relief to now have new standing rigging. After all, it does hold the mast up!


It seems Nirvana has had everything replaced .. except the engine, rudder and a few other things. Wait, what if after all the recent repairs our engine goes out .. or what if we run aground and have to get a new rudder?! You see what I mean? The anxiety creeps in.

It wasn't just the rigging that held us back, but our barely used Tohatsu has started acting up. Ken has spent four days cleaning, draining and replacing parts with no success .. talk about a downer! He finally decided to take a break from that project for a bit. 

We're also in the process of installing our new Raymarine EV100 autopilot, as well as connecting our Lowrance GPS to our new Lowrance VHF with AIS. This means running a bunch of wires down the cockpit pedestal and into other hard-to-reach places, which also meant a few modifications along the way. The wires have been run down the cockpit pedestal and the four components of the auto-pilot have been mounted, so we're getting close. We just need to run the rest of the wires inside of Nirvana and to the components. 

Oh, and here's a little tip .. grill covers are on sale this time of year, and they make great pedestal covers. We got this "kettle grill" cover for $10 bucks! If fits great, and gathers at the bottom. Now our new GPS & autopilot will be protected, as well as our compass.


All of this will be worth it, as the VHF/AIS allows us to see other boats with AIS and we can contact them (via VHF) if it's on a collision course with us .. or just get outta the way! Other boats won't be able to see us, but that's because we chose the less expensive AIS option. Need I say anything about the auto-pilot? Once we get it going, it will be well worth the investment. Who wants to stand at the helm for hours on end?!

With the current state of things, we weren't ready to "just go". We definitely want our rigging complete, and the comfortable weather of November that we'd been looking forward to didn't come. November in Louisiana is usually in the mid-70's .. perfect for finishing our projects and starting our sailing adventure, but Winter (and rain) arrived instead. We also found ourselves with a vacant rental this month, and we spent a fair amount of time making repairs and finding a new tenant. We finished repairs this past Friday, a new tenant moved in this past weekend .. and we have another vacant rental as of today! More repairs & interviews in December. Ugh!

So anyway, things have been a bit of a bummer for the past month. The weather pretty much sucked, our projects aren't finished, and we're still at the dock. Once we finally admitted to each other that we weren't gonna make our goal, things were pretty somber. We didn't wanna spend another Winter on the boat. We hated last Winter on Nirvana .. the condensation & the cold really sucked! I want to keep this blog as realistic as possible, so I'm not gonna say it's all about the journey. We're ready to sail to some sort of destination after all these years, and we're getting impatient. We wanna start having some fun with Nirvana!

If another person tells us to "just go", I'm gonna scream! I know plenty of folks seem to buy the perfect boat and start cruising a couple of months later, but that's not our reality. We bought a project boat and had no idea what we were doing. We also needed to keep working full-time (until recently) to keep up with the boat expenses .. you know BOAT stands for "Bring Out Another Thousand"!

A reader who meant well told us to "just go" and not worry about having "so much stuff". The thing is, we're not going with all the fancy stuff. We won't have a windlass, a water maker, hot water, radar, or davits. We may leave without solar panels! 

The thing is, we're new to all this sailing & cruising stuff, even though we've been at it for 9 years! We had a lot of projects to make Nirvana safe on the water, and a ton of projects that required hours of research .. everything was new to us and we wanted to do it ourselves. Even with doing everything (except standing rigging) ourselves, the expenses have mounted up.

There have been times we've felt like giving up, moving into one of our rental houses and enjoying the conveniences of mainstream society. A warm shower just steps away, a comfy bed that doesn't require climbing in & out of, no long walks to our car in the cold and/or rain, room to spread out or walk around inside when it's bad weather, a dishwasher .. hot water! But you know what .. we couldn't live with ourselves if we gave up on our dream after so much time and effort. We think the sacrifices will be worth it once we start traveling .. and sailing. Unless something unknown throws us a curve, we're gonna do this! 

It's easy for us to get impatient & depressed, dwelling on the money & time spent and the sacrifices we've made. That's human nature, I think. So, we have our down days but we never forget how lucky we are. We celebrated Thanksgiving with family, and we're looking forward to Christmas with our grandson. It will be his first Christmas, and we're excited about being around at this special time. Our little guy will celebrate his 1st birthday the beginning of February, and we're really glad we won't miss that either. Is he cute or what?!


We spent Thanksgiving in the country .. at my brother & sister-in-law's place in Mississippi. We were lucky to have a break from the crappy weather the days before, and the day after. The weather was perfect! Here's my brother with us, our daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and my mom & step-dad. My dad & step-mom were there too .. wish they were in the photo. My brother and I are thankful that our mom & dad still get along after being divorced since I was an infant. It's nice to spend the holidays with both of them!


Another silver lining ... we're around to repair and rent our properties ourselves instead of hiring someone else to handle it. One more rental to repair, but it should be occupied by the end of the year. We should also complete our auto-pilot & AIS installation, our rigging, and a few other projects (like installing our new Mantus anchor) on Nirvana. I sure hope we get that Tohatsu running! We'll always have projects waiting, but we're focusing on the "must-do's". So, everything always works out as it should.

We've licked our wounds and .. we're escaping to somewhere warm after Christmas! We're headed to a 5-week adventure, and that's what our goals are really about .. making the most out of life. We'll be back on the boat the beginning of February for our grandson's birthday party, then we'll finish up any "must-do's" on Nirvana (shouldn't be much) and leave the dock the end of February/beginning of March. We'll avoid freezing our asses off this January and we'll get to visit a new tropical destination. Yep, things always work out.

When we expose ourselves to so many folks "out there", we sometimes feel vulnerable. We sometimes feel like we need to "just go" this Winter and freeze because ya'll are "watching us" and judging. Not just ya'll, but so many co-workers and friends ask why we're still here. But, I often tell Ken that we're doing what's best for us. Most people who ask what's taking so long don't have a boat and don't have a clue what's involved. We sure didn't! Anyone who judges will be eating their words once we finally do leave. If something tragic happens before then, they'd be cruel to judge us.

If you're reading this and are struggling with turning a dream into reality, know that you're not alone. It may be more difficult than you anticipated, and it may take much longer than anticipated but every baby step forward is progress. As Helen Keller said, a pessimist never "opened a new doorway for the human spirit". Hang in there!

So, we still have our down days but we're looking forward to the holidays with family .. and our getaway after Christmas. More about that later!

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

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest blogs on the net.
I will recommend this site!

Drew Frye said...

Nothing will build confidence, both in sailing and contingency skills, more than time on the water. You should be going out every week, whatever the weather, even if just for a few hours. Anchor somewhere different every time, just for the practice. After enough day sails you will have skills and won't worry as much about "what if..." because you will have a plan for it.

I'm not a "just go" guy. I've never had a new boat and finances matter. But I am a big believer in sailing regularly. Heck, I live in ice country and I sail every few weeks! After a while you get really good at seeing trouble coming and you have a plan for everything.

And day sailing is fun!

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