What is the Plan?

What is the Plan?

As we’ve start the countdown to our departure, and are beginning our ‘goodbyes’, the two most frequently asked questions are, “What’s the plan?” and “How long will you be gone?”

I find these understandable, yet interesting questions. I suppose in some respects, it depends whether one views this next adventure as a ‘trip’, or as moving to our next home. While wanting to give our loved ones (and ourselves) comfort that we will see each other again, the answer to the questions above are, quite frankly, “There is no plan!”. We recognize this can be difficult to grasp in a culture where we plan for and cram our days with so many organized items that apps have been developed to specifically schedule rest into our days.  

We do know a few things about our no-plan plan: We know where the boat is currently located, so we know our starting point. We know we have two very young children, and they may or may not like living on a boat and we may need to consider something different all together. We know we have weather-related parameters for where and when we go where we go (ie. hurricanes, cyclones, temperature). We know that, from time to time, and internet connection will be essential (if only so Stu can work on managing our savings). We know things happen, people change their minds and, in this current pandemic climate we’re all navigating, anyone’s health can change too.

So, that being said, the plan is to dream:

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.

Gloria Steinem

Sure, we have big dreams, and we don’t intend yet to dismiss any of them:

  1. Since I was a child and watch “Swiss Family Robinson” and read “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, my dreams of the South Pacific were ignited (and yes, I recognize that the former is set in the Caribbean and the latter is technically based off a story of a girl who survived on an island off the coast of California, but I didn’t know that at the time!). Close family friends of my family also set sail for the South Pacific when I was a young girl, and I’ve had romantic notions of their adventures ever since. I remember many days sitting in their living room after their return, holding exotic shells and treasures from these far-off islands, and knowing I would have to visit them one day.
  • Stu dreams of sailing into Belfast Lough, arriving to his home port from the sea, and sitting at dock in the Titanic Quarter (for those who don’t know, Titanic was constructed in Belfast by one of the world’s most famous ship builders, Harland and Wolff. To sit under the shadows of the incredible Titanic Museum and the two enormous ship building cranes, Samson and Goliath would be very special, not to mention the opportunity to show family and friends our floating home.
  • Stu also dreams of crossing oceans. Like, the big crossings. The Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian etc. The thought excites and terrifies me which, if history serves, means there is a strong likelihood we’ll be doing it at least once.
  • Ellie definitely wants to see Moana and her island of Motonui, and recently she’sbeen asking whether we’ll be seeing Mr. Ray, which of course we’ve answered with a resounding ‘yes’!
  • Lily….well, we’re pretty sure as long as there is food to eat, things to climb, and lots of cuddles with her Daddy, she’ll be happy wherever we go,.

To someone that hasn’t done it, cruising likely seems like the ultimate exercise in planning. Planning where you’ll go, planning for weather, planning for maintenance, planning for when you leave and how long it will take, planning for food (or, provisioning for the less educated in boater lingo). But, the fact is, cruising is considerably less about planning than it is entirely about preparation. The reality is, at least as far as I’ve seen, experienced and read so far, is that if one were to truly plan in the cruising life, they’d spend the better part of their time disappointed. In fact, the running joke is that the word ‘plan’ is a four-letter word in cruising. When you’re contending with weather, boat maintenance, paperwork, immigration, different cultures, language and understandings, the best one can do is to prepare oneself, and let go of any notions of sticking to ‘plans’. 

And, as for how long we’ll be gone, as aptly put by our coaches and new friends, Behan and Jamie Gifford of Sailing Totem, the decision to continue rests on a form of ‘three legged stool’: 1) We’ll go as long as we all want to keep going. For us, that means the girls get an equal voice in this decision (knowing day to to day this can be a little blurry), 2) We’ll go as long as we’re all still healthy. Obviously, this has a particular meaning in this pandemic-influenced era. But, honestly, this can mean not just physically healthy, but also mentally and emotionally, and healthy as a family together, and 3) We’ll go as long as our finances are working for us. Stu will write a separate post about our ‘plans’ in this regard, and how we hope to make this work for us.

So, yes, we don’t know really where we’re going yet, nor for how long. For the first time in my life, I’m pretty ok with that.