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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Emotional Debt - How We Annihilated $76,000 of CC debt

Just over 11 years ago, Val and I were in $76,000 worth of credit card debt, plus a mortgage, car payments, and the like. This was before people like Dave Ramsey were so popular. At the time, debt wasn't dumb, and cash certainly wasn't king. We were, however, being morally crushed. While we could service the debt, it was so draining. It was our fault we were in this situation .... we lived beyond what we were actually earning.

Mathematically, that much debt was stupid. Just plain stupid. Hell, I had my degree in Physics by then and yet the mathematics of interest and moving backwards financially wasn't enough to make a damn bit of difference in pulling out of the downward spiral.

What did it? We finally got mad. Damn mad. Mad at paying everyone lots of money for the privilege of using their money. Mad at not having enough self control to wait 6 months to buy that TV with cash in hand versus putting it on the credit card. Mad at having a decent paying job yet having hardly any money in the bank. Mad at myself. Just damn Mad.

It took us about 3 years to pull out. 3 long years. It was hard, but oh so worth it. Before it was cool, we had a big ceremony with each pay off and cut up our credit cards, one by one. We shredded them. We kept their eviscerated credit card bodies stored in a glass urn. We kept the urn on the table. We had a blast calling the credit card companies to cancel them!

If you are reading our blog and dreaming about doing what we are doing, but you are in massive debt, I wanted to share with you that all is not lost. We pulled out, and you can do. What you need is an emotional tug to help you out of the mess. All of the mathematics in the world will not do it for the same reason that the calorie counts don't divert most overweight people from feeding and the cancer warnings on cigarettes don't stop smokers from smoking. Money, and being in debt, is an emotional issue that can only be attacked in an emotional way. Human beings, for the most part, are not logical or rational, so using the language of logic and reason, mathematics, simply won't do.

Find some part of your debt that makes you mad, then harness that anger into getting your act together. For us, it wasn't the positive promise of financial health someday... it was the anger each and every day of giving our hard earned money away. Every day, the first 4 hours of working were spent to cover interest. That was BS. No more. Find your No More. Pull out. You can.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Judgement

As society whirls around, the spear of judgement continually pokes and prods people. People feel judged and adjust their behaviors to avoid negative judgement from other people. People join in the fray and become judges themselves. What is insidious is that it has been going on for generations, and people are no longer consciously aware of this feeding frenzy and cycle. They just do it.

Step back today. Notice all the judgement happing to you and by you. Notice that sizing up and down glance a friend gives you when they first see you. Notice how commercials pass judgement on those who don't partake in their product. Notice your own opinion being offered on how someone else is doing something.

As you observe yourself, consider how ridiculous it is to be worry about what another human being thinks of you. Consider how ridiculous it is for you to offer your own summary judgement.
If you offer glib refrain, "Oh, I don't care what other people think", you probably felt judged by me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Little Girls On A Boat


It sure is cold out! So, what do little girls do on a boat when it is cold out and mommy is doing boat modifications? They watch Princess DVDs and read books! Plus eat very crumbly crackers.

The DVD player is made by Panasonic. It can run attached to a 12 volt DC connection, perfect for us on our boat. While the screen size is small, the player can go for hours and hours while attached to the boat's house battery banks. This device, we expect, will be used by the girls when we allow them to watch movies in their room.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Readi Amp 8 - A Battery Killer?

This month, I've begun focusing in on the battery system. As shared previously, I'm in charge of the electrical systems. As such, I have to ensure we have plenty of charge for our needs, our boat is wired safely, and our components will withstand the rigors of full time cruising.

While dissecting our electrical system, I discovered a Readi Amp 8 battery charger. While doing some google searches, I found phrases such as "Battery Killer" and "Unreliable." How true are these statements? I don't know. The Readi Amp 8 on the boat appears to be original equipment, which means it is 19 years old.

The batteries on the boat are swollen and they need to be replaced. Were they over charged due to the Readi Amp 8? I don' t know.

The documentation for the Readi Amp 8 is very poor, and I want to install a system that I have confidence and knowledge in. Consequently, I will be acquiring a battery charger from Xantrex. These are not only high quality, but they are complimentary with the other Xantrex components we have (such as the inverter).

This change out will be fun and interesting. The spaces are confined. I wouldn't expect, or want, it any other way.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bad Mojo Is Sticky

Have you ever noticed how bad mojo seems to stick to certain people? One of the most interesting observations in life that we've made is that some people just seem to have bad luck.

However, life doesn't really care who you are, everyone has bad breaks. What is different is how people deal with it, and how public they elect to make their misery. Those who pick to publicize their misery and wallow in it act like magnets for more misery.

Over time we've come to the conclusion that many people like misery. By having bad events in their life, they have to focus on them rather than the rest of life that is going on. They don't want to have to engage, command, and control life and by being distracted they don't have to. As long as they have problems, they can always have an excuse about why they aren't all they say they want to be or think they should be.

We also decided a number of years ago to divest ourselves of all those who like to bask in misery. Their views and attitude was infectious. This resulted in some friends being dismissed from our circle, but our happiness and opportunities have increased proportionately.

If you are one of those whom seems to have lots of bad breaks, ask yourself why. Truly poke in and see if you had some elements of self sabotage along the way. Maybe you like it. Maybe it is keeping you from facing and controlling your destiny. That is your choice, and there is no right way. You have to pick. It is up to you.

We will continue to enjoy life as a positive experience. With each bad break, like our washer breaking or my car accident that landed me in the emergency room or having Val's car totaled by a hail storm, we will alway view life's events as an opportunity for growth.

Interestingly, as we set out to recall our bad breaks of the past 5 years for examples in this post, it was very very hard to recall any of them. This further goes to show how we classify events in life. There is no doubt we've had the normal number of issues, but it is all about how we decide to honor them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Raymarine C70 Acquired!

This past Saturday, our Raymarine C70 system that we purchased on eBay arrived!! With all the pageantry a 4 year old and a 1.75 year old can muster, we headed to the complex office to collect our package. Bringing it into the apartment, everyone was all smiles and tense. You never know when you buy stuff like this from eBay. After unwrapping the boxes, we found everything as promised in the ad! We are very happy with what we received. Next step is to install it on the boat. There are a few wires I will need to splice together, then we have to mount the transducer and GPS unit. After that, we will fire the unit up!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Limitations You Argue for Become Real

I received a nice email from someone sharing with me a message board's thread that discussed the reality of living on a million US dollars. In the thread, a link to our site was given as a reference to the discussion (thank you crashjr!).

This thread, titled If you had 1M dollars to live off forever could it be done and how?, has 11+ pages of posts of people arguing for and arguing against the possibility. As I read all the reasons why it couldn't be done, I was struck by the negativity, vehemence, and forceful "NO WAY!" posts. Yes, I live in a sheltered Intenet world where I tread in only positive upbeat places, so seeing so much negativity was quite unexpected.

All of the pundits saying "No" had so much passion behind them. I have zero doubt that those people could not possibly do it. They argued hard for the limitation; therefore it is their limitation and it is doubtful they will ever be able to beat it.

The thread author's post magnified the question, if you were 25 could you live off a million dollars the rest of your life without working? I'm not 25, I'm 40. I have no doubt that it is possible at 40, and even with 2 young children, to have a million dollars and not work the rest of your life.

To answer the original question, I have zero doubt that if I were 25 years old today, with the knowledge and experience I've acquired at this point in life, I could easily live off $1,000,000 the rest of my life without working in the traditional sense.

The how part is tied to knowing what makes me happy and how much I live off of today. If I shared how much our family actually lives off of, as captured by our actual spending statements, most readers would be shocked. I know my friends are when I share the numbers with them.

The fact is, living a happy, fulfilling life with all of trappings of modern life can cost you less than $25,000 per year. Living the life mass media, popular culture, and commercial industries want you to, however, can grow without bound. In fact, it is only bounded by how much one earns.

If I were 25, single, and I had one million dollars, this is what I would do:
  • spend $25,000 on a nice used 30 foot sailboat, paying for it in full
  • put the remainder of my money away in safe investments earning 5%
  • aggressively convert all my money into inflation protected securities from multiple countries, as the law allows in those countries
  • board my boat and enjoy a life of adventure and voyaging at a spend of $15,000 per year for 7 years
  • After the 7 years, if I hadn't found the right woman yet, I would begin searching for my life mate
  • The right woman would be one whom is comfortable living with me on this tiny boat, and we would until I was 35, off the $15,000 per year. No adjustments to the amount, only to the lifestyle
  • We would then sell our 30 footer for $25,000, and buy a 40 foot catamaran for $75,000
  • We would have children and up our yearly spending to $30,000 per year
  • After the children are grown, and I've kicked them off the boat, we would sell our catamaran for $60,000 and buy a 50 foot trawler for $100,000
  • For the next 30 years, my wife and I would putter around, living off the remainder of the money ensuring that when we were 95, we would have exactly zero dollars to our name
  • When the 30 years is up and/or we hit 85, we would sell our trawler for $25,000, and move into a old folks retirement community
  • At some point we would expire
Well, that's what I would do. :)

Don't argue for limitations.... otherwise, you will always be bound by them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crew Member Spotlight - Dy

Dy is a Greenhorn. She was born in April of 2008, and she loves the water.


Dy had zero issues with the "I've fallen off the boat" drills we put her through. She demonstrated that she knows how to relax and float.


Dy began taking her exercises classes at the local gymnasium about 6 months ago. She has to get into shape to make the voyage.


Dy will be taking her drown proofing class in another few months. This is critical for her safety and our mental well being.

Dy has mastered letter recognition, and is currently working on her numbers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crew Member Spotlight - KJ



KJ is an able seaman. She was born in October of 2005, and she loves the water. When you ask KJ why daddy works she will reply,
"So we can make money to sail around the world!"


She has already been at the helm, and knows how to make the boat go to port and to starboard.


She has also proven herself to be a fearless mechanic, just like her mom and grandfather. No job is too gross or complicated to frighten her. She constantly wants to help fix things. Perfect.

KJ has already been through her drown proofing class (where the final test is having the kids thrown in the pool fully clothed in winter apparel in the deep end and they have to float for 10 minutes and then make their way, unaided, out of the pool.

KJ has taken a year of gymnastics, ball class, and ballet. Next year, she will be enrolled in Calvert's home (boat) schooling program for kindergarten.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Raymarine C70 Acquired - Almost!

After we made the decision to go for a simple, low power consumption, radar system we spent a lot of time looking, pricing, and even bidding on radar systems. We were rewarded Tuesday night with the right priced Raymarine C70 Multifunction display for our radar system.

For $1,300 all in (shipping, etc.), we secured a "nearly new" C70 main unit which includes a chart plotter, a DSM 300 fish finder unit, a Raystar 125 GPS unit, and electronic maps for the entire East Coast of the USA plus the Bahamas! The MSRP on this stuff was $2,600. Sourcing pieces separately, we could find this stuff new for $2,100. Based on our ebay trolling to date, this stuff, in the condition it is purported to be in coupled with the sellers feedback score, would have cost us around $1,600. All of our research made it obvious this was a good buy.

We have 1 last major component to buy to complete the system, a Radome. Our watchful eyes are on ebay each day waiting in the dark for the right one to appear.

Our budget for the entire system is $2,500. It appears we will not only spend less than our target, but we are getting more stuff than we previously thought possible. More stuff isn't always good, but we agreed that with the self contained nature of these components, we are willing to take on their ownership. We will not only get a view of what is going on around us above the surface, but we now get a peek at the bottoms composition, fish in the area, collect temperature readings, electronic chart plotting, and GPS data in a data stream that I can tap into!

We are now in the "ebay nervous wait" mode .... waiting on the unit to actually arrive, so we can compare what we understood we bought versus what we actually got.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beautiful Day, Let's Go Sailing!

Monday was the first beautiful day that we have had in over a month. As with anything, nice is relative. So given that it has been really cold or rainy in Georgia since November, a sunny day in the high 50's was very welcomed. We had planned on working on our boat modifications, but the weather was too nice.





KJ was so happy that we took Ariel out to stretch her legs that she was dancing all around. This kid
really loves the boat. We all do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Military MREs Are Perfect Boat Food

Mmmmm mmmm ..... there is nothing like a MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) after a long day of marching, covered in camo, and carrying a rucksack. Yep, I served in the military (Army) 20 years ago and I ate many MREs.

The MRE food pack is awesome ... they provided over 1,000 calories (enough to keep a soldier going) in a very easy to carry, small package and the food doesn't require refrigeration. Heck, they even came with mini-heaters so you could warm up the food. I ate many MREs while I served in Korea. I enjoyed every single one.

While considering our food options, I've come to the conclusion that there is no reason why we can't take MREs with us. They have a very long shelf life and they taste really good. We could even throw a few into our ditch bag (our "abandon ship" bag). MREs wouldn't be our main staple, but they could supplement nicely.

Researching MREs, I learned that they are not directly for sale to civilians. I could buy them from an Army/Navy store, but I wanted to get them from the manufacturer or supplier. This lead to 3 main brands that make them for the military and sell their equivalents to civilians.

After reading all the reviews of those who've tried both military MREs and Civilian MREs, it looks like we will be going with Sure-Pak 12 MREs from SOPAKCO. The variety of meals is fantastic, and they can be purchased from TheEpicenter.com.

The Sure-Pak 12 is exactly like the military MREs including the utensils, napkins, main meal, plus desert and drink flavors. Here is an example listing of contents in one Sure-Pak MRE:

  • Chicken Breast Strips with Salsa
  • Crackers (and these aren't grandmas crackers either ... these are hefty!)
  • Grape Jelly
  • Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
  • Oatmeal Cookie
  • Sqwincher Beverage - Orange (this is power to add to water)
  • Instant Coffee (strong stuff)
On the low end (e.g. without heaters included), you can buy 12 full on make a soldier go 1,000 + calorie good tasting self contained meal box for $65 (at the time of this writing). This comes out to about $6 per MRE (when you include shipping). Given our targets of only spending $10 per day as a family of 4, this is steep, but considering the convenience, change of pace of food, and its self contained nature, this is a fantastic option as a supplement to any boat provisioning strategy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inside Hull Aesthetic Improvements

When we unloaded the starboard hull completely, we found the space inside pretty rough and a number of fiberglass splinters make their way into our hands. The space had been used by the previous owners for storing an extra jib, spinnaker, a shadetree system, side panels for the Bimini, and a large amount of headliner fabric from the boats original construction.

This is how it looked once we emptied the space:

Val has just about completed smoothing and painting over the fiberglass. There aren't any more shards of fiberglass entering our hands. The work took about 2 hours, and the difference is dramatic.

We plan on using this space for storing clothing and extra sail material for Val's sewing efforts. Since this is at the front of our boat, we want to keep it light and balanced with the other hull.
The space inside is huge! Not only can Val can get inside of the space, but I was able to lay inside of it and I'm 6 feet tall. Maybe we will turn this into the "Time Out" space for the girls. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Composting Marine Toilet Conversion - Step 5

All bolted in! Wahoo! A dry run, literally, was done with plenty of simulated rocking and rolling. The new commode is secure!

Running the bolts all the way through the fiberglass base of the original toilet was the way to go. It was tricky, though, holding them from underneath and putting the bolts on. The bend of my elbow had to be exactly right. There were a few nut drops along the way resulting in colorful words and starting over.

The hose off to the left side is the vent hose, and it runs up the back behind the new false wall, to the old pump out hole. The next phase of this project involves installing the solar powered vent system at the top that will run 24x7.



In the picture to the left, with the lid open, you can see inside the NaturesHead with the drop shoot opened. This is for working in number 2 mode, as it were. The picture to the right shows the NaturesHead operating mode when taking care of number 1. According to the literature, a female can use the system in number 2 mode
and the appropriate stuff will for 1 or 2 will make the correct journey. A man, on the other hand, must keep things, well, aligned and its recommended he chose a singular mode and use the system accordingly.

Whew! I think I said all that needed to be said, without saying it!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sharing The Load Between Husband And Wife

Val and I are life partners. In March of this year we will have been married 19 years. Over that time, we've learned to divvy up responsibilities and trust the other to cover their area. Our segmentations run the gamut of life's responsibilities from physical security to money. One segmentation that is of interest to others is how we partition our money responsibilities. It is quite simple. My job is to earn money, Val's job is to save money.

In addition to our family duties and responsibilities, each week:
  • I spend 45 hours exchanging my knowledge for money.
  • Val spends 5 hours considering all the ways our family can be saving money.
When we say saving money, we don't mean simply not spending .... we mean that we were going to spend $x on this or that, and she managed to get it for $y (where y is less than x).

This approach has worked out very well for us. Not only does Val stay home with our children, but she aggressively and successfully saves us money. Every penny she saves us is noted and counted as money Val brought into the family. Every hour she spends on her job is also noted. Please understand, this is her job. Our family expects her to do her job well.

Why is noting this important? Before we had children, Val was a professional and an entrepreneur. She has an MBA and was quite adept at bringing home the bacon! She needed to continue to contribute and by chronicling her efforts and successes, we can quantify her time and value on the money acquisition front.

Every penny she saves is post tax money, so it is actually more than just the face dollar value.

Here is an example. I come home from work and I proclaim, "Okay everybody, tonight we are going out to dinner. Let's go to Outback!" The kids scream and Val says, "Great! And I have a $5 off coupon!" The decision for Outback wasn't based on a coupon, Val is just good at her job and knows our trends. Other example was the Sony HD video recorder that we bought this year. We wanted one for our trip, so I picked out the model. It cost $799 on every website we visited. Val watched the prices for 2 months, and one day Best Buy listed it for $499! She snatched it up. The price has since gone back up. That was a $300 savings!

How successful has she been? Very. Not only has she been able to stay at home and raise our daughters, but she saved our family $5,325 in 2009! Plus, many of her actions in 2009 will result in savings in 2010. 5 hours a week, on her schedule, and she saved us 5 thousand dollars of post tax money!

We could get crazy here and also add on more money for things like childcare and such, but we don't. We made an agreement before kids that one would stay home, so it doesn't count in the figures.

Way to go Val!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The £200 Millionaire

About 18 months ago, Val and I stumbled upon a classic boating story that is full of inspiration inducing ideas. While written in 1932, there are lessons for anyone interested in one way to live a happy life. Keep everything simple, do everything you can yourself, and enjoy all the little things life has to offer.

If you've never heard of this story before, or if you haven't read it in awhile, I encourage you to take the time to read it now.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The £200 Millionaire
A Story by Weston Martyr, 1932


My wife and I were sailing a hireling yacht through the waterways of Zeeland last summer, when one day a westerly gale drove us into the harbour of Dintelsas for shelter. A little green sloop, flying the Red Ensign, followed us into port. She was manned solely by one elderly gentleman, but we noted that he handled the boat with ease and skill. It was blowing hard, and the little yacht ran down the harbour at speed, but when abreast of us she luffed head to wind, her violently flapping sails were lowered with a run, and she brought up alongside us so gently that she would not have crushed an egg. We took her lines and made them fast, while her owner hung cork fenders over the side and proceeded to stow his sails. Urged by a look from my wife which said, 'he is old and all alone. Help him,' I offered to lend the lone mariner a hand. But he refused to be helped. Said he, 'Thank you, but please don't trouble. I like to do everything myself; it's part of the fun. But do come aboard if you will, and look round. You'll see there's nothing here that one man can't tackle easily.'

We went aboard and found the green sloop to be one of the cleverest little ships imaginable. It is difficult to describe her gear on deck and aloft without being technical; suffice it to say, therefore, that everything was very eff'cient and simple, and so designed that all sail could be set or lowered by the man at the helm without leaving the cockpit. The boat was 30 feet long by 9 feet wide, and my short wife, at any rate, could stand upright in her cabin. Her fore end was a storeroom, full of convenient lockers, shelves and a small but adequate water-closet. Abaft this came the cabin, an apartment 12 feet long, with a broad bunk along one side of it and a comfortable settee along the other. A table with hinged flaps stood in the middle, while in the four corners were a wardrobe, a desk, a pantry and a galley. Abaft all this was a motor, hidden beneath the cockpit floor. A clock ticked on one bulkhead, a rack full of books ran along the other, a tray of pipes lay on the table, and a copper kettle sang softly to itself on the little stove.

'What do you think of her?' said our host, descending the companion. 'Before you tell me, though, I must warn you I'm very house-proud. I've owned this boat for ten years, and I've been doing little things to her all the time. Improving her, I call it. It's great fun. For instance, I made this matchbox-holder for the galley last week. It sounds a trivial thing; but I wish I'd thought of it ten years ago, because during all that time I've had to use both hands whenever I struck a match.. Now I have only to use one hand, and you know all that implies in a small boat, especially if she's dancing about and you're trying to hold on and cook and light the Primus at one and the same moment. Then there was the fun of carving the holder out of a bit of wood I picked up, to say nothing of the pleasure it gives me to look at a useful thing I've made with my own hands. The carving brought out the grain of the wood nicely, don't you think? Now I'm going to make tea, and you must stay and have some with me.' We did stay to tea. And we are glad we did. For one thing, it was a remarkably fine tea, and, for another, we listened to the most entertaining and thought-provoking discourse we have ever heard in our lives. That discourse, in fact, was so provocative of thought that it looks as if it were going to change the whole course of our lives for my wife and me. Said our host, 'I hope you will like this tea. It's brick tea, caravan tea. I got hold of it in Odessa, where it was really absurdly cheap. That's one of the advantages of this kind of life, I find. Cruising about all over Europe in my own boat, I can buy luxuries at the source, so to speak, at practically cost prices. There are four bottles of Burgundy, for example, stowed in the bilges under your feet, the remains of a dozen I bought at Cadaujac while cruising along the Garonne canal. I bought the lot for less than twenty shillings, and it's the sort of wine you pay a pound a bottle for in London. When I come across bargains like that it makes me wish this boat was a bit bigger. It's surprising what a lot of stuff I can stow away in her, but I really need more storage space. If I had room I would buy enough cigars, for instance, in this country where they are good and cheap, to last me over the winter. You see, I like the sun, and in two months I shall be going down the Rhone to spend the winter in the south of France, and the tobacco there is horrible and expensive.'

'Do you live aboard here all alone always?' exclaimed my wife, making her eyes very round. 'Most certainly,' replied our host. 'Now do try some of this Macassar redfish paste on your toast. I got it in Rotterdam from the purser of the Java Mail that arrived last week, so it's as fresh as it's possible to get it. It's really a shame to toast this bread, though. It's just the ordinary bread the bargees buy, but I find Dutch bread is the best in all Europe. Some French bread is good, but it won't keep as long as this stuff will. Sailing down the Danube a year or so ago I got some really excellent bread in Vienna, but it was a little sweet and not so good for a steady diet as this Dutch stuff. The worst bread I ever got was in Poland. I was cruising through the East German canals and I thought I would sail up the Vistula via Cracow, with the intention of putting the boat on the railway when I got to the head of the Vistula navigation at Myslowitz, shipping her across the few miles to the Klodnitz canal, and then cruising through Silesia and Brandenburg via Breslau down the Oder. It was a good and perfectly feasible plan, and I fancy it would have been interesting. But that horrible Polish bread defeated me completely. It was about all I could get to eat, and it seemed to consist entirely of straw and potatoes. So I turned back after passing Warsaw, and fled down the Vistula and the Bromberg canal and on by the Netze to Frankfurt. Do have some more tea.'

We had some more tea. It was a marvellous brew, as stimulating as good wine, and while we drank it our curiosity concerning our host and his extraordinary mode of life welled up within us, to drown at last our manners and overflow in a stream of questions.

'Do you really mean,' said we, 'that you live aboard here always? All the year round? And quite alone? And cruise to Odessa? And Warsaw? And how did you get to the Danube? And the Black Sea? And—? And —?' Thus we went on, while our host smiled at us-the kind of smile that told us we had made a new friend.


'I'll tell you,' he said, when we stopped at last for breath. 'you understand boats and this sort of life, I think, so you'll understand me. I've been living aboard this boat for ten years now, and I hope I shall never have to live anywhere else as long as I'm alive. It's a good life. It's the best kind of life a man can lead—or a woman either. It really is life, you see. Yes. And I think I ought to know. I shan't see sixty again, and I've seen a good deal of life—of different kinds. I'm a doctor, or was once. And I've worked very hard all my life trying to be a good doctor, but failing, I fear, on the whole. I married and we had five children, and it meant hard work bringing them up properly and educating them. But I worked and did it. Then I moved to London to try to make some money. That was the hardest work of all. Then the war came, and more hard work in a base hospital. The war killed two of my sons—and my wife. And when it was all over I looked around, and I didn't like the look of the life I saw ahead of me. To go on working hard seemed the only thing left to do, but I found there was no zest left in my work any more. My daughters were married and my remaining son was doing well in a practice of his own. I found my children could get on very well without me. So there was no one left to work for, and I found I was very tired. 'I sold my practice and retired to Harwich, where I was born. And there I soon found out that having nothing to do at all is even worse that working hard at something you've lost interest in. I did nothing for six months, and I think another six months of that would have been the death of me. By then I feel I should have been glad to die. But this little boat saved me. I began by hiring her from a local boatman for one weekend. We sailed up the Orwell to Ipswich and back again. The weather was fine, the Orwell is a lovely river, and I enjoyed my little sail. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I hired the boat again. I hired her for a week, and this time I left the boatman behind and sailed alone. Of course, I had sailed boats before. As a boy I got myself afloat in something or other whenever I had a chance, and my holidays as a young man were nearly all spent aboard yachts. So I found I could still handle a boat especially this little thing in those sheltered waters, and I remembered enough seamanship to keep myself out of trouble. I sailed to Pin Mill, and then up the Stour to Manningtree and Mistley. After that I grew bolder, and one fine day with a fair wind for the passage, I coasted along the Essex shore to Brightlingsea. I explored the Colne and its creeks, and the end of my week found me at West Mersea, so I had to write to the boatman and extend the time of hire. While I was about it I chartered the boat for a month. You see, I discovered I was happy, and I could not remember being happy for a very long while. The exercise and the fresh air and the plain food were all doing me good, too. I'd been getting flabby and running to fat, but the work on the boat very soon altered all that. I would turn into my bunk every night physically tired, knowing I would fall fast asleep at once, and looking forward to waking up again to another day of seeing after myself and the boat, and pottering about and enioying my little adventures. The life, in fact, was making me young again—and I knew it. I would get up in the morning as soon as the light woke me and wash and shave and cook my breakfast. I used to stick pretty faithfully to coffee, bacon and eggs, and bread and marmalade in those first days, I remember. I was not much of a cook then, and I had yet to learn the pleasure one can get out of cooking a really good meal, not to mention eating it. Then I washed the breakfast things, cleaned up the cabin and washed down the deck. Housemaids' work, but there's not much of it needed to keep this small boat clean and tidy. And what little work there is soon became a labour of love. When I had made the boat all ship-shape I would sit in the cockpit and smoke, and look at her with great pride and contentment. I still do that. It gives me pleasure to see my home in perfect order and to feel that I've done it all myself. And I know, now, that if I paid someone else to do the work for me I should be depriving myself of a deal of the charm of life. 'When my morning chores were done, and if the weather was fine and I felt like moving on, I would heave up my anchor and make sail. During that first month I think I must have explored nearly all the rivers and creeks that run into the Thames Estuary. Most of them, as you probably know, are charming. If I wanted company I would bring up in the evening in one of the anchorages frequented by yachts, or alongside some Thames barges. There's a delightful freemasonry amongst sailors, whether yachtsman or bargees, and I'd generally find myself yarning and smoking with some congenial souls in my own or someone else's cabin until it was time to turn in. At other times I would let go my anchor for the night in some quiet creek, with never a human being within miles. I liked that best. I needed peace and quietness and I found them, to perfection, in those little lost Essex creeks.

'When the weather was bad, or the wind and tide did not serve, I would have a major clean-up, perhaps, or merely potter about, doing the little jobs of work a boat can always provide for you. Or I'd put my watertank and a big basket in the dinghy and row to the nearest village to replenish my stores. One thing is certain, I never for a moment found time hanging heavily on my hands. There was always something to occupy me and always something interesting to see or to do. The life suited me and I throve on it, body and mind. And the way I threw off the years and turned into a boy again was perfectly amazing.

'My month was up almost before I knew it, and when it did get time to go back to Harwich and all that meant, I simply could not bear the thought of it. To think of returning to the sort of life I'd been leading on shore was as dreadful as the prospect of having to serve a life sentence in prison. I did not like the thought of it but there did not seem to be anything else I could do. You see, I've not got very much money. I had just enough to allow me to live, very simply, and even the expense of hiring this boat was really more than I could afford. What I wanted to do, of course, was to go on living aboard here, but, to my sorrow, that seemed quite impossible.

'Then, one night, I sat down in this cabin and thought the thing out—right out, in all its bearings. First I considered the question of finance. I don't want to bore you with my private affairs, but the figures are, I think, instructive and valuable, as they show what a lot can be done with very little. My capital amounted to a little over £4,000, and my yearly income just touched £200. The problem I set out to solve was: can I buy the boat out of my capital and still have suff'cient income to live aboard her all the year around, and to maintain the boat and myself adequately? The price of the boat I knew already; she was for sale for £200. If I bought her my income would be reduced to £190, or less than £16 a month. Was this enough? It did not look like it, by any means. It meant only £3 17s. a week to cover food, clothing, light and heat, and upkeep and repairs to the boat, to say nothing of depreciation and insurance. The figure seemed so ridiculous that I nearly gave up my idea in despair.

'However, I am, thank goodness, a methodical sort of man, and I'd kept a list of my expenses during the time I'd been living aboard the boat. I analysed that list, and found that my food and oil for the lamps and stove had cost me only £7 15s. for the month. I had also spent 30s. on gear for the boat, such as paint, ropes, shackles and such things, while my bill for petrol and lubricating oil came to 15s. only, as I had sailed as much as possible and used the motor as little as I could. Not counting the cost of hiring the boat, my total expenditure had, therefore, been only £10 for the month, or £120 a year. This left £70 over for repairs, accidents, depreciation and insurance. As far as the finance was concerned, the thing began to look possible after all.

'I was very cheered by this discovery, and I then asked myself: "Can I continue to live aboard this little boat from year's end to year's end in health and comfort of body and mind?" As far as the summers were concerned I knew I could answer that with a whole-hearted "Yes." But what about the winters? Could I endure being shut up in a small confined space while the gales blew and it was cold and wet, and the nights were long and dark? I wondered. And I had to admit to myseif, very much against the grain, that I probably would not be able to endure these things. I remember I went to bed after that, feeling very miserable. But when I woke up next morning the first thing I said to myself was "but why stay in England in the winter: Why be cold and wet when all you have to do is to follow the sun and sail your boat (your Home) south?" 'To cut all this short, I sailed back to Harwich and sent to London for a map of the French canals. And when it came I found my idea of following the sun south was entirely feasible. All I had to do was to choose a fine day in early autumn and sail across the Channel from Dover to Calais. From Calais the map showed me a network of canals and navigable rivers spreading over the whole face of France, and I discovered that a boat of this size and draught could proceed through those inland waterways right through the heart of France to the Mediterranean. I bought this boat that same day. I had a few small alterations made to her, and the following week I sailed from Harvvich, bound south—for Ramsgate, Dover, Calais, Paris, Lyons, and the Riviera.' 'Well done!' I cried. And my wife said, 'Hush! And then? Then?' Our new friend smiled at us again. 'Yes,' he said. 'You're right. It was a bit of a rash proceeding—at my age. But I've never regretted it. That first cruise was perfectly delightful and, on the whole, a very simple affair. I had my troubles, of course. I got to Dover easily enough by coasting all round the Thames Estuary and putting in somewhere snug every night. But I stayed in Dover for ten days before I judged the weather was fine enough for me to sail to Calais. The truth is, I was rather scared. The passage is only twenty-one miles, but I felt a regular Christopher Columbus when I ventured across the Channel at last. It was a fine day, with a light north-east wind, and under sail and motor I got across in four hours. But I assure you Columbus was nothing to me when I sailed into Calais harbour! I felt I had triumphantly accomplished a most tremendous adventure, and I was immensely pleased and proud. And I can assure you it's rather remarkable for anything to make a cynical and disillusioned old man of my age feel like that.

'From Calais onward it was all canal and river work. It took me two months to get to Marseilles, because I went a round-about way and took my time over it. I had no need to hurry, of course, but I don't think anything could have made me hurry through the lovely country in which I found myself. I wandered down the Oise to Paris, where I stayed a week, moored in the Seine almost in the Shadow of the Champs- Elysees' tree. It was amusing and comfortable, too, living in the middle of Paris like that. I could dine ashore if I wanted to and go to a theatre, and then walk back and go to bed in my own floating hotel without any fuss or bother. And when I got tired of the city I just moved on, hotel and all. I went up the Marne to Chalons, along the canals to Bar-le-Duc and Epinal, and down through the Haute-Saone and Cote d'Or country to Macon and Lyons. I mention these towns to show you the route I took, but it was all the little out-of-the-world places between them that I used to stop at and which I found so interesting. I met all sorts of people and everyone was very helpful and kind, and by the time I got to Lyons I could speak about four different brands of French quite well. 'The passage down the Rhone to Arles was rather strenuous. The current is very strong and I had to take a pilot, which spoilt my fun; but it was soon over, and I got to Marseilles without any more bother. I had got as far south then as I could get, so I spent the rest of the winter in most of those delightful little harbours which sprinkle the coast between Marseilles and Frejus. I found practically no winter along that stretch of coast, which is much better, I think, than the Riviera proper. I can recommend Porquerolles if ever you find yourselves down that way, while Port Cros must be one of the loveliest places there are on this earth. I enjoyed every minute of that first winter, and by the time the spring came round I knew I had discovered the perfect life. I was happier than I ever hoped to be, and healthier than I had ever been. I found myself looking forward to each day, and every day had some new interest. Life was, without exaggeration, nearly perfect. If I found myself anywhere or amongst people I did not care for, all I had to do was to heave up my anchor and go somewhere else. That's one of the many advantages of living aboard a boat. When you want to go away there's no packing, no taxis, no tips, no trains and no bother. And you haven't got to find a place to lay your head when you get to your journey's end. In a boat you just move on, and your sitting-room, your kitchen, your bedroom and all your little personal comforts and conveniences move on with you. And when you get to your destination there you are, at Home.

'It added to my peace of mind, too, to find I was living well within my income, in spite of the fact that I was living very well and doing myself a great deal better than I had, for instance, in my Harwich lodgings. Of course I had to be careful and not go in for too many luxuries, but I lived as I wanted to live, and it surprised me to find how little it cost me to do it. I'll show you my account book, if it will interest you, but first I'll show you where I've been during these last ten years.

'Look at this! It's the offcial French canal map, showing all the canals and navigable rivers in the country. You'll notice there's very little of France you can't get at by water. It's almost unbelievable where you can go; everywhere, practically, except to the tops of the mountains. It's the same in Belgium and Holland, and in Germany, too, and until I got these canal maps I had no idea of the extraordinary manner the inland waterways of Europe have been developed. The ordinary maps don't give the details, so perhaps it's not surprising that people in England don't realise they can travel in a yacht from Calais through every country in Europe, except Spain and Italy, entirely by river and canal. It sounds incredible, doesn't it? But I've done it myself, in this boat. Including Switzerland!' 'Switzerland!' cried my wife. 'How did you?' 'There are two ways of getting there,' said our extraordinary friend. 'Up the Rhine Lateral canal, or the way I went—up the Rhine-Rhone canal from Strassburg to Mulhause and along the Huningue canal to Basle. That was as far as I could conveniently get then, but I believe the new canal is open now, running right through to Lake Constance and Bregenz. But I'm ahead of my yarn. When the spring . came round that first year I went from Marseilles by canal all the way to Bordeaux. I spent that summer cruising up the coast to L'Orient and from there along the canals, right through Central Brittany from Brest to Nantes. Then I came south again, away from the cold, and spent the winter exploring South-West France, along the Dordogne and the Garrone and its tributaries. I saw most of that lovely country between Perigueux and Bordeaux in the north, Floirac and Albi in the east, and from Carcassonne in the south to Lacave, which is pretty well on the Spanish border. The whole country down there flows with milk and honey, to say nothing of the wine and the scenery. I had a good time.

'Then I went up north via the Midi canal and the Rhone, got into the Rhine at Strassburg, sailed all down that river to Rotterdam, and spent the summer in Holland. I liked this country and the people so much that I stayed here all that winter. Then I branched out. I was beginning to see the possibilities of this game by then, and I had gained confidence in myself and the boat. I won't bore you with all the details of my travels, but I went through North Germany to the Mecklenburg lakes. You ought to go there. More lakes than you could explore in two years, set in a park-like country. Perfect. But take a mosquito-net. Then I sailed south to Dresden and Prague, then north to the Danish archipelago and the Swedish islands. I wintered in the Moselle valley, explored Central France and tried to go through the Loire country, but found a diff~culty there owing to the shallowness of those particular rivers. After that I pottered about in Belgium and up the Rhine to Mainz, and from there up the Main and through the Ludwigs canal into the headwaters of the Danube. I can recommend Bavaria and all the lost country around there. It's the Middle Ages. And, of course, once I got on the Danube I had to go down it. And I am glad I did, because it's a wonderful river and the scenery is magnificent. I drifted down it, taking my time and meaning to go as far as Vienna, or maybe Budapesth. But you know how it is. There was the river, going on and on all across Europe, so I went on too—to Belgrade, the Iron Gates, Rustchuck and Galatz, until I came to Sulina and the Black Sea.

'I turned back that time, because I did not like the idea of venturing into Russian waters, the political situation being what it was. So I went up the Danube again. It took me two years to get to Passau on the German border. The Danube runs very swiftly, so progress was slow, and at times I had to take a tow, but the real reason I took so long was the number of side trips I felt I simply had to take up the various tributaries. I could write a book about it all, and some day I think I must, but so far I've been so busy moving about and enjoying life that I never have time for writing. And I wonder if my book would be readable if I wrote it? You see, I've had few "interesting adventures" or things like that. I got thoroughly lost once on the willow swamps on the lower Tisza, and went down with a bad go of fever in the middle of it. But I got out all right. And some Bulgarians above Sistove fired at me one day, but it turned out they were Customs guards and thought I was a smuggler, and we finished up the best of friends. Beyond that, and a little unpleasantness with a Ruthenian gentleman who tried to steal my dinghy, nothing much out of the ordinary happened. But I met a lot of very strange and interesting people. I had a wonderfully good time. In fact the country and the people along the Danube fascinated me; so much so that, after sailing about over Eastern Germany and a little of Poland, I went down the Danube again. This time I went as far as Odessa. I wanted to go on, either up the Dnieper, or through the Sea of Azoff, up the Don, through the Katchalinskay canal, and then either up the Volga to Nijni Novgorod, or down river to Astrakhan and the Caspian. Unfortunately I could not get permission from the Russians to make either of those trips. Perhaps it is just as well, as the country was rather disturbed and I might have got into trouble. But one of these days, when things have settled down, I intend to make that trip yet, because, bar politics, there's absolutely nothing to prevent it.' I remember it was at this point in our friend's discourse that I interrupted him by crying out in a loud voice, 'By God!' and hitting the cabin table hard with my fist. My wife said nothing, but there was a look in her eyes and a light in them that showed me she understood and approved the wild and fascinating thought that had flashed into my mind. And our friend, it appeared, understood me also, for said he, 'Yes. Why not? All you need is a boat drawing less than four feet, with a motor in her for choice and her mast in a tabernacle. That and the—well, let's call it courage; the courage to step out of your rut. It looks hard; but a mere step does it—as I found out. Of course, it costs money. Following the seasons all over Europe in your own home is a millionaire's life; but I've managed to live it at an average cost, over the last ten years, of less than £150 per annum. Look at this!' He put an open book before us on the table. It was his account book, and it contained. in full detail, his daily expenditures during all the years he had been living aboard his boat. It was, I can assure you, a most engrossing work, and was full of items such as these, which I found on a single page and copied there and then. And I shall regret it till I die that I had no time to copy any more:— 'Sept. 5. Capdenac. 8 duck eggs and I duck (cooked), 3s. ld. 7th. 10 lb. grapes in fine willow basket, gratis. 6 boxes matches, 2s.! Sulphur at that! Note: Smuggle in big stock of matches when next I come to France. 8th. Very hard cheese, 1 ft. in dia., 1 basket peaches, 1 jeroboam peach brandy, 1 kiss on both cheeks, gratis, or perhaps fee for removing flint from farmer's eye. 9th. Mule hire, lOd. Alms to leper, ls., interesting case. Castets, 15th. 6 feet of bread, ls., 1 pint turps, i/:d. 16th. 2 gallons turps, 8d. Castelsarrasin. Oct. 2nd Bribe to gendarme, Sd.' I should dearly love to publish that account book, just as it stands, without any comment or explanation. It would, I think, make fascinating and suggestive reading. 'Look here,' said our friend, turning over the unique pages and exposing the following figures to our devouring eyes. 'This is a summary of my first twelve months' income and outgoings:— £ s. d. Income 190 0 0 Expenditure: Upkeepofboat(at9s.perweek) 23 8 0 Petrol and oil 10 4 0 (distance covered under motor 1220 miles) Charts, canal dues 13 8 0 Food, drink, clothes, light and heat 100 0 0 (at just under f 2 a week) 147 0 0 Balance 43 0 0 £190 0 0 'I managed to save £43, you see, that first year, enough to buy a new boat like this one, every five years, if I continued to save at the same rate. I was extra careful that year. I didn't spend much on myself, but I bought the boat all she needed and kept her up in first-class shape. I painted her inside once and three times outside, doing it all myself, and I had her sails tanned to preserve them. The tanning was done by a fisherman I made friends with in Toulon. He did a good job. In the end he wouldntt let me pay for anything except the cost of the materials, because he said we were amis and he liked English sailors. And one day I came across a broken-down motor-boat, drifting off Cape Camaret, and towed her into port. Her owner was scared to death, and very grateful accordingly. He was no sailor, but he was a mighty good mechanic, and he insisted on giving my little engine a first-class overhaul, just to show his gratitude.

'My fuel bill was very small, because I never use the motor if I can sail. The £13 odd for dues, etc., was mostly spent on maps and charts, not that many charts are necessary, but I simply can't resist buying the things. I spend hours poring over them, and planning more voyages than I shall ever have time to make. As for the canal and harbour dues—they're ridiculous; generally some fraction of a penny per ton. And this boat's registered tonnage is only two ton. The only expensive piece of water to travel over in Europe is the Rhone. It's got a terrific current, pilotage is compulsory, and to get up it you have to be towed. But everywhere else the only trouble about the charges is to find change small enough to pay them with. £2 a week for food and so on sounds very little, but all I can say is I live well on that sum. You see, if I want, say vegetables I don't go to a shop in a city for them. No. Perhaps I see a good-looking garden on the river bank. I stop and have a yarn with the owner, and when I depart I'm richer by a basket full of fresh vegetables, and maybe a chicken and some eggs and fruit as well, while the gardener is left with a fair price for his produce and something to talk about for weeks. He's pleased and I'm pleased. I've paid less than I would if I bought from a shop, and he's received more than he would if he sold to a dealer. And when I say I've got fresh vegetables I mean fresh—which is something you can't get from a shop.

'Clothes don't bother me much. It's not essential to dress in the latest style, living this life. I keep my goashore clothes in that tin uniform case, and when I get to a city and want to see the sights I put on a civilised suit. Otherwise I use soft shirts, jerseys and flannel trousers. I do my washing myself; half an hour a fortnight does it, which is nothing to grumble about. I use paraff'n oil for light and cooking in the summer, and in the winter I keep that little stove going on coal and wood. I find I burn wood mostly, because I've got a passion, apparently, for collecting any odd pieces I find drifting about. There must be a strain of longshoreman blood in me somewhere, I think, for I can't resist picking up bits of driftwood, even though I have to throw most of them overboard again, and I generally have a bigger collection of the stuff on deck than I can ever hope to burn.

'So you see, one way and another, my expenses are very small. The £30 or f40 I save every year I put by for accidents, major repairs, depreciation and a sort of insurance fund. I've bought a new suit of sails and had the whole boat surveyed and recaulked and the engine practically renewed, all out of the fund, and I've still got enough left to buy a new boat if I want one. I'm getting so rich, in fact, that I don't know what to do with all my money. I tried to get rid of some of it by buying extra fine gear for the boat, but I found that scheme merely saved me more money in the long-run. For instance, I scrapped my Manilla running rigging and replaced it with best hemp at twice the cost, but I'll be bothered if the hemp hasn't lasted four times as long as the Manilla already! And to make it worse, people will persist in giving me things, bless 'em. I've made a lot of friends in pretty well every corner of Europe. Can't help it, living this sort of life, it seems. And most of them have an idea that, living as I do, I am to be regarded with compassion. A poor old man, living all alone aboard a little boat—that's how they seem to feel about me, I fear. So, whenever I turn up, my compassionate friends appear, bearing gifts! It's quite embarrassing sometimes. And sometimes it's a real nuisance. The Middelburg canal is barred to me, for instance, because the keeper of one of the swing bridges refuses to let me through until he's been aboard to greet me and give me a box of cigars or a jar of schnapps; which things he really can't afford, as he's a poor man with a very large family. He does it, it seems, because I'm leading just the kind of life l~e'd like to lead if he hadn't been blessed with a wife, his mother-in-law and nine children. The result is I have to go round now by Terneuzen, instead of through Middelburg, whenever I want to pass from Holland into Belgium. And I always have to go through Strassburg by night to dodge a dear old gentleman, who invariably presses on me about a stone of the smelliest cheese on earth whenever he catches sight of me. He calls me his brave ancient ami so lonely. Lonely! Why, I should think I must have a larger and more varied assortment of friends than any man in Europe. And I keep on making more all the time. For instance, I hope I've made two today.'

He had; and we are glad to say he dined with them that evening, entrancing them with his talk until far into the night. He talked of gentle rivers wandering through valleys of everlasting peace; of a quiet canal, lost amongst scented reeds and covered with a pink-and white carpet of water-lilies; of a string of tiny lakes, their blue waters ringed with the green of forest pines; of a narrow canal, built by old Romans, but navigable still, that climbs up through clouds into the high mountains; of aqueducts spanning bottomless ravines and a view from the yacht's deck of half Southern Germany; of a Red Ensign flying at the peak and a Black Forest eagle's screamings at that sight; of the Croatian mayor who had never heard of a certain country called England; of a thousand square miles of bloodred swamp, studded with giant willows; of Wallachian water-gipsies and their cats who catch fish; of the mile-long log raft commanded by a Russian exadmiral; of a spiked helmet dredged from out the Meuse by the yacht's anchor; of the warm-hearted kindliness of Bulgarian brigands and the barbarous fines of Frs. 25,000 extorted (unsuccessfully) by 'the most civilised country in Europe'; of pack-ice and ice-breakers in the heart of old Amsterdam; of the 1000 ton motor-barge that trades each year between Groningen and Sulina; of the 300-ton barge proceeding from Bruges to Dunkerque in tow of a jolly old lady of seventy; of a spilliken-like traff'c jam in the old moat at Furnes and the Fordson tractor that extricated twenty-eight barges; of the Flemish barge named No. 27 Park Lane, because the wounds of her skipper had been succoured at that address in 1914; of pig-manure, chemical fumes and rotting flax on the Lys, and the barge with a deckload of potted hyacinths that outdid all those scents; of the ten-knot currents on the Rhone and the silent waters of the Oude Ryn that ebb and flow no more; of the charm of this old earth and the fun of living on it, if only you understand the proper way to live. Said our friend, 'I've found one good way to live and be happy. There must be other ways, too, but I don't know 'em, so I mean to stick to my way—till I come to the end of it. The secret seems to be, to do everything you can yourselJ: It's diff~cult to explain, but take an example. Take travel. Allow yourself to be carried about the world in Wagon-Lits and cabins-deluxe, and what do you get out of it? You get bored to death. Everything is done for you and you don't even have to think. All you have to do is to pay. You're carried about with the greatest care and wrapped up and fed and insulated from—from everything. You see about as much of life as a suckling in the arms of its nurse. No wonder you get bored! But get yourself about the world, on your own feet, or in your own boat, and you're bound, you're bound to fill your life with interest and charm and fun—and beauty. You'll have your disagreeable and uncomfortable times, of course, but they merely serve to make the good times taste better. "Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas ." Old Spenser knew. He'd been through it. Sail all day in the wet and cold, then bring up in some quiet harbour and go below and toast your feet before the galley fire and you'll realise what bliss means. Travel in a steam-heated Pullman and then put up at the Ritz and see if you find any bliss there! You see what I mean? Stewart Edward White put it all much better than I can. He wrote, "I've often noted two things about trees: the stunted little twisted fellows have had a hard time, what with wind and snow and poor soil; and they grow farthest up on the big peaks."

Next morning our friend must have risen with the sun, and we were still beneath our blankets when the incense of his coffee and bacon drifted down our cabin hatch. Presently the sound of ropes falling on deck warned us he was getting under weigh, and we arose to say goodbye to him. 'Good morning,' said he. 'I'm sorry to disturb you so early, but I want to catch the first of the flood. With luck it'll carry me into the Rhine and I'll be in Germany by evening. Now I'll cast off and go and see what this good day's got in store for me. A fair tide and a fair wind is a fine beginning, anyway. Good-bye, you two. We'll meet again somewhere, for certain, if only you follow that impulse you had last night. I don't want to influence you unduly; but, remember—one step does it and you're out of the rut for good. Good-bye. God bless you both.'

He set his jib and the little green yacht fell off before the wind and headed for the harbour entrance. She sailed away with the sun shining bright upon her, and upon the white head of the man at her helm. Presently she entered the broad river, and we saw our friend look back and wave his hand in farewell. Then the boat was hidden by a bank of golden sand, and the last we saw of her was her little Red Ensign, a tiny flame outlined against the sky.

This seems to be the end of the story, but I do not know. I am not sure. I am not sure, because the words of that elderly adventurer seem to have set us thinking. I notice we do not say very much, but I know we think a lot. For, at intervals during the cold and fogs of this last winter, there have passed between my wife and me some detached but significant utterances—such as: 'I don't see why I couldn't get on with my writing aboard a boat just as well as I can inside this flat.'

'Only £200 a year! Hang it! We ought to be able to earn that much between us, you'd think?'

'I think, my dear, one of those steam-cookers would be a splendid thing to have if we, for anyone living aboard a small boat.' 'What a foul fog! It hurts to think of the sun shining, now, in the south of France.' 'May the Devil run away with that damned loudspeaker next door. You know, if this flat was a boat, we could move it out of hearing.' 'If I get bronchitis again next winter. My dear, I don't think I could stand another winter here.'

Also we have purchased a monumental work entitled, Guide Officiel de la Navigation Interieure, published by the Ministere des Travaux Publiques. This is a fascinating work, heartily to be recommended. It has a lovely map.

Also we have just heard of a little boat. In fact, we have been to look at her. She is sound and very strong. She has two good berths and a galley and lots of stowage space. Also she has a little auxiliary motor. And her mast is in a tabernacle. And she is for sale. And we have fallen in love with her. So perhaps this is not the end of this story. In fact, we hope and we pray this story has only just begun.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Atlanta Boat Show

Tomorrow we are going to the Atlanta Boat Show! KJ and I went 2 years ago and we had a blast. There were tons of freebies for kids, and I was in sponge mode. Everything was new.

This year will be different. We now have a boat. We have acquired a lot of knowledge. We have very specific items we are looking for, like a Luke anchor, Decca batteries, 200 feet of 3/8 anchor chain, a D-400 wind generator, a Raymarine radar system, auto-inflating life vests, hundreds of feet of lines, a 5 hp outboard engine for the dingy, and so much more.

While the show has lots of focus on power boats and freshwater, there are seminars for sailing and much of the gear applies to either method of propulsion. We will be walking into the show with a list of about 30 items that we still need to acquire for our journey, along with the best price we can find the item on the Internet for. If a boat show price, along with the shipping or lack there of, beats what we can find, we will drop some coin.

We will blog on some of the interesting things we find at the boat show. Heck, even Spongebob Squarepants side kick Patrick will be at the show. How can this not be good!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Speedos!

Nice and chilly out, and I'm focusing on Speedos! Why? Because right now they are on sale. Speedos are out of season here in the USA so they are cheap!

In my aquatic life, I've had 2 people I admired. Both were SCUBA instructors of mine ... one named Gary Covington who was my NAUI instructor back in 1990 and who educated me through NAUIs Advanced Diver, and Henry Delcampo who was my PADI instructor in 2003 whom educated me through PADI's Dive Master. It was Henry's Scuba shop and boats that I worked on in Florida. Both of these guys were in their late 40s, and both of these guys lived in Speedos. I always thought those articles of clothing were silly, but now with us spending more and more time in the water, I completely understand why.

Speedos are remarkable ... no chafing, quick drying, and easy to cover up with normal clothes. Now when we are out on the boat, that is all I wear!

I plan on living in Speedos when we take our trip, so the time to stock up on Speedos is now while the stores have them nice and cheap.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Composting Marine Toilet Conversion - Step 4

The flooring is now being painted and sealed. You can see the 2 holes drilled into the board where the brackets to the Natures Head composting toilet will be screwed in.

The Natures Head toilet does not come with any bolts, so we had to acquire some. They were Stainless Steel, the only way to go in a sea water environment. We've dry fitted everything and it goes together nicely. One issue, however, is that the throne is very high now and we will need a step up for the kids.

Once the paint is dry, we will put everything together, and bolt it down nice and tight.
You will notice that one of the bolts is shorter than the rest. This is because of where we elected to seat the toilet. We pushed it off center so that the cranking arm of the compost agitator and the exhaust port/hose could clear the sides.

When drilling off center, I ended up in a thin part of the fiberglass flooring, and this necessitated the shorter bolt.

Almost time to put it all in, and then we will have to attack the ventilation part of the system.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Making Money While Sailing Around The World

When we first started our knowledge journey, we had no idea how we would fund our trip. After a few years, we were finally able to figure out the puzzle using pieces that work for us. We have, however, continued building a catalog of the ways others fund their voyages.

This catalog is like a magicians book of secrets as those who've found their way don't want others intruding on their turf. What has become clear, however, is that the key in funding your journey is to identify something that is complimentary to your talents, tastes, and desires and packaging it up on your boat. One such family recently came to our attention that has successfully done this.

Please allow me to introduce the family aboard the La Loupiote. Since they publicly advertise, I feel okay sharing their story. They are a family of acrobats that do their show from their boat! Your marina, harbor, restaurant, boat, or whatever can pay to have them set anchor near your place and conduct a show! Truly inspiring. Our hats off to these entrepreneurs whom leverage their unique talents and desires to fund their way around the world.

If you're still searching for your method of funding your journey, the family aboard the La Loupiote should provide you a great example of looking beyond the obvious. Oui!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Composting Marine Toilet Conversion - Step 3

Upon arriving at the boat, the smell wasn't bad at all. In fact, it smelled better than it has since we've owned the boat. There was a slight hint of stink, but we believe the odor is due to the few hoses that we still have connected to the seacocks. Those will be removed post haste.

We now have 2 holes, or open spaces, that we need to fill. The first one is towards the top where the holding tank was previously, and then at the base where we are going to install our Natures Head composting toilet. We made patterns for both.
For the upper
backing, we used Luan 1/8th inch board. We picked Luan because it was light, cheap, and once painted sealed. It can tolerate light splashes of water quite easily.

For the bottom flooring, we used a standard piece of 3/8th inch plywood. We will drill holes right into the flooring where the original toilets holes were drilled.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ariels in the Snow!

2 days after Atlanta's great snow storm, we were finally able to make it up North to see our boat. Many of the roads we take to get to Ariel were too treacherous to go any sooner as demonstrated by the 13 different crashed cars we counted on the way up to the boat.

We were greeted by snow and ice covered docks.

Poor Ariel was covered in snow and ice.

Expecting our teeth to chatter as we stepped inside, we were pleasantly surprised to read 50 degrees on the thermostat inside.

We fired up our heaters and continued to work on the composting head. :)

We told Ariel that this would be her last full winter in a cold climate as long as we owned her. She was happy to hear this.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Custom Rear Arch for Gemini 3200

A previous owner installed a beautiful rear arch on our Gemini 3200. It serves to hold not only our solar panels, but fishing rods, boat hook, life sling, and can it can even hold up our outboard engine. A pulley system has been created for this later function. We've also used the rear arch as our on board gym for doing pull ups.

The photos are provided for others considering adding arches to their Gemini sailboats.



Friday, January 8, 2010

Composting Marine Toilet Conversion - Step 2

Oh my! Talk about STINKY! When we entered the boat, with the hoses disconnected, the putrid smell knocked you back. We elected to eat lunch out this day.

With the original toilet removed, Val started with a small exploratory cut with her Dremel tool so we could gauge the dimensions of the holding tank on our Gemini 3200. The exploratory cut is the small cut out section you see at the bottom of the photo. With this cut made, it was time to open up enough of the wall to pull out the poopy tank. Using her cutting tool, this took about 2 hours total. This was spread over 2 different days since her battery powered Dremel ran out of charge.

Once the holding tank was pulled free, we found an outstanding space that we will re-purpose storage location for the Peat Moss and extra toilet paper. Proudly, and very carefully, the offending holding tank was extracted from the boat and placed on the dock cart for removal. This was a proud moment indeed, and one could almost hear the trumpets as it was paraded up the dock.

Time to create new coverings for the holes we've created.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What To Wear To Sail Around The World?

With the master suite being redone, we've been thinking about the closet space in the room. How much do we actually need? That depends upon how much clothing we will take on the trip.

So how much clothing does one need to sail around the world? Not much really, if you stay in the warmer climates. Maybe 5 T-Shirts, 4 swim suits, 2 pairs of blue jeans, a light jacket, 3 pairs of under clothes, 2 sweatshirts, 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of sneakers, 3 pairs of shorts, and 1 pair of flip flops plus one set of "presentable" clothes (button down, under clothes, simple slacks, black socks, and nice shoes).

Why so little? Because you can always pick up what you need as you go.

But why the "presentable" clothes? If you find you have to meet with local government officials to obtain visas or to address some law infraction you were unaware of, showing up in flip flops, swim suit, and a t-shirt won't help your case. In many 3rd world countries, one is expected to show respect by dressing more formally. No, an Armani suit isn't appropriate, but neither is t-shirts, flip flops, and a swimsuit.

There is a balance of course. If you dress too fancy, then the locals may assume you have lots of money and you can afford to pay bribes. Having traveled to over 25 countries, this is an all too real situation. So, wear nice clothes, not bum clothes and not a 3 piece suit.

Each of us will have 1 set of "presentable" clothes kept in sealed bags to keep them clean. When we arrive at a new country and we have to disembark the boat to visit a local government office, we will dress in our "presentable" clothes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Is Buying When on Sale for a Future Need a Good Idea?

While discussing the approaches of saving money, people often share with me that they are always on the look out for a good buy and when they see one, they stock up. Sometimes this is a good idea, and sometimes it is not. The question is, how do you know when it is good to do?

Removing any psychological gain one may have when a good buy is found, let's look at the decision to buy now versus buy later from a mathematical perspective.

Let's say that you normally spend $2.59 per tube of toothpaste. You walk into your favorite store and wham! .... your tube of toothpaste is for sale for only $2.49. Do you buy it, even if you don't need it? If you do buy a few tubes ahead, how many should you buy ahead?

In our house, 1 tube of toothpaste lasts the 4 of us 2 months. So, the real question becomes, where should we invest our $2.49? Should we lock up the $2.49 into a tube of toothpaste that we won't need for 2 months or more? Or do we put the $2.49 into an investment vehicle?

In our easy access savings account that we use for daily living, we earn 1.3%. This means that for every year a tube of toothpaste is sitting in our stockpile, we could have earned 3 cents in interest on that same $2.49. That is far less than the 10 cents of savings we had in our example! In fact, our toothpaste tube could sit for 3 years before interest earned equaled the amount saved!

Another interesting factor is if you believe the cost of the item will go up once you buy it. If it does, you are even further ahead.

Always keep in mind spoilage and changing tastes if you buy ahead. Items do spoil, and your tastes do change. There is nothing like having a pantry full of Cocopuffs and deciding that you can't stand chocolate cereal anymore.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Composting Marine Toilet Conversion - Step 1



(Update: The Entire Conversion Is Here: Composting Toilet Conversion)

In late November 2009, once our Natures Head compositing toilet arrived, Val began the process of converting our traditional wet marine head to a dry composting one. This odyssey would be the largest modification we've made to the boat to date. The photo here is of the original marine head in all its stinky glory.

Step one in the process was motoring the boat over to the sewage pump out station and emptying the holding tanks of all the stuff.

Tanks as dry as possible, with chest high and nose pinched shut, Val attacks the project by removing the first hose. Our boldness and conviction would be tested as we faced obstacle after obstacle. Enjoy the smelly journey!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tracking Our Whereabouts with a GPS Tracking Key Pro

One interesting set of data that we can collect during our round the world voyage is our exact location at any given date and time. Not just where we sail the boat, but where we ride, train, cycle, horse, camel, or walk to. Being able to do this consistently will require the usage of a device that is simple and reliable. After much searching, we've elected to go with LandSeaAir's GPS Tracking Key Pro unit.

The Tracking Key Pro is a passive and compact unit that simply collects Latitude and Longitude data every second from GPS satellites. It stores the information internally and can be connected to a computer via USB connection to retrieve the data. According to the specifications sheet, not only can the device can run up to 80 hours on a single charge, but it can be wired to a larger battery source so that it can run indefinitely.

The plan is to acquire 2 of these units. One will always stay with the boat, and the other will go with us whenever we leave the boat. Having 2 will also provide a certain amount of redundancy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pushing the Envelope in 2010 : Don't Be Denied!

I am worried. In 2010 we are pushing closer to the edge of being too anemic with our life spending to remain happy. The I Ching suggests, and my experience validates, that anything that goes to an extreme, for an individual or situation, always flip flops to its opposite. In our case that means if we push to the extreme of money savings that we would flip flop at some point and spend lots of money.

2010 will be our most savings aggressive year yet. Each year we find ourselves saving a larger and larger percentage of our money by reducing our living costs while not sacrificing an enjoyable life. It is this latter criteria, enjoying life, that is tricky because it is so individual.

There are those that talk about enjoying life without spending money. Can life be enjoyed without spending money? Absolutely. To a monk in the mountains, living in a cave is not only perfectly acceptable but in many cases preferable. No rent or mortgage for that guy. For us, such a life would be dreadful. No lifestyle is right or wrong, we are all individuals with different needs and desires. The fact is, there are certain things I like to do that cost money. There are certain experiences I want my family to have, and they cost money.

However, if I can keep focused this year and we can save to our targets, we will be able to start our around the world sailing adventure in December! That is one heck of a reward for staying vigilant.

It is now a question of staying focused on the prize and not feeling too denied. We shall see. It will be quite a challenge.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Peat Moss

Nothing says "Welcome to the New Year!" like a block of Peat Moss! Oh yeah, Peat Moss.

Now that we've gone with a composting toilet, we need something to take care of the ... um ... poop. The magic ingredient that helps convert the waste to dirt is Peat Moss, aka Sphagnum.

Peat Moss serves to desiccate, or dry up, all the moisture in the stuff. Once all of the liquids are absorbed, what you have is dried out stuff that isn't smelly and has the consistency of dirt.

Since buying our first block of peat moss, we've learned that we can also use coconut fibers. Given where we will be sailing, getting coconut fibers may be a better alternative.

Coconut husks need not fear immediately however. From studying composting toilets and using Peat Moss, we understand that our 1 cubic foot of it will last us between 6 months to 1 year.

Friday, January 1, 2010

HAPPY NEW SAILING YEAR!

WAHOO!!! We are in 2010!! This will be the biggest change year for our family ever! If we can stick to our plan, in 2010, 3.25 years of planning, saving, and focusing will pay off by allowing our family the opportunity to sail around the world!!

2009 was a fantastic year all around, but it goes into the history books providing us with information on what worked and what didn't. Only one night of reminiscing was allowed, now it is time to return focus on the now and cast a planning eye for the future.

Be sure you've got your 2010 goals planned out. Without a plan, it really doesn't matter what you do because you aren't really trying to go anywhere. Decide what you want, make a plan, and GO FOR IT!