One Year Review + Heading Home Soon

It’s been over a year since we packed up our home and made the leap to full time live aboard.

As I sit here trying to sort out my thoughts, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Where do I begin to put into words what we have learned? More importantly, where do I begin to describe how this experience has changed us?

Even in the Bahamas we do not forget. Thank you for your sacrifice. 🇺🇸 #memorialday

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In 11 days we pull up anchor and head back to the states. We have been living in the Bahamas for 4 months. We haven’t touched a dock (with the big boat) in four months. We haven’t driven a car in 4 months. There are many things we haven’t done, but it’s the things we have experienced that have made all the difference.

Taking a step away from your normal life gives you perspective. It forces you to reevaluate what you want from life and what you don’t want. Here are a few things we have come to realize.

  1. We love spending time together…all our time together. We have grown closer as a family and I have a deeper appreciation for my husband and kids. Since there are no agendas and nothing pulling us to go-go-go, we spend tons of time together.
  2. We really like being together as a family, just us. We’ve spent time with other boating families and our extended family and we truly enjoy spending time with them, but our favorite people are the four of us that sleep on this boat every night.
  3. We don’t miss TV and we definitely don’t miss being inundated with the news. It’s hard to explain the difference it makes in our moods. We realize how much TV and news change our attitudes toward each other and the world. We’re less cynical and more open to dreaming.
  4. We aren’t by consumerism. This isn’t a dig on anyone else, but when we are stateside we are constantly bombarded by ads telling us that we need to buy something new to be happy or fulfilled. It’s hard to not by influenced by those messages every day and start to think that I need to spend money to be happier.
  5. We are more mature in how we resolve arguments. We have plenty of time to work through conflict here. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to distract us, so stuff gets worked out in an adult manner. There’s no ignoring the problem or sweeping it under the rug.
  6. We don’t mind eating simple. Since groceries are crazy-expensive, we tend to eat sandwiches, ramen, toast, pasta, and other simple meals. And you know what, we’re perfectly happy about it.
  7. We fix broken things instead of replacing them. Since it’s almost impossible to find replacements for things here, if something breaks it’s got to be fixed. That’s one thing that we, as millennials, had a bad habit of doing in the states.
  8. We’ve learned new skills to fix things and make life work. Out here, there’s no such thing as calling a repairman or ordering pizza delivery. If something breaks, we learn how to fix it. If we need food, we learn how to make it. If we’re bored, we learn how to entertain ourselves. Learning to fend for ourselves has become second nature.

I think the biggest thing we’ve learned about ourselves is that we can be incredibly flexible. Routines are nice and they can be helpful when things get crazy, but we’ve found a capacity for flexibility that helps us to stay happy even when routines are thrown out the window.

I think that “skill” (being flexible as a family) is the reason for a lot of our happiness while dealing with adversity. When things break, we’re flexible. When the weather turns, we’re flexible. When we’re supremely bored, we’re flexible. When plans change, we’re flexible.

It’s not exactly the same, but there’s a passage in the Bible where the Apostle Paul talks about being content in any situation. Whether being wealthy or being poor, having abundance or having nothing, he was able to be content and happy. His faith in Jesus made that possible.

There are some things we’re looking forward to when we get back. Scott’s excited about Starbucks and Erica is excited about regular yoga sessions (with childcare!). We’re all looking forward to getting back to spending time with our church family again each week.

But as we’re getting things in order to make the cruise back in a couple weeks, we both deeply hope that we will be able to hold on to the best of the things we’ve discovered here. Not the beaches or the treasures found on them, but the time we’ve spent together and the lessons we’ve learned about ourselves.



Getting Used to Boat Life

It’s been a few weeks since we have called Wanderer our home. It’s been an adventurous couple of week of highs and lows. As with every change there comes an adjustment period. We are still learning the boat and the boat is learning us.

That’s okay. We knew it would be like this for a while as we got things sorted out. Things I thought would be difficult (like sharing such a small space) has come easy. However, things I thought would be easy have proved challenging (like washing dishes).

In the very beginning the boys were constantly bickering. In such a small space it’s easy to find yourself in each other’s play area. However, they have quickly learned to respect each others things and there is a lot less bickering. They have both learned lesson of sharing and respects and that makes me happy. They are learning to work together better to figure out their differences.

The sleeping arrangement with them is also challenging because they are sharing a room for the first time. In the beginning they thought it was play time but with enough discipline and late-night spankings they’ve learned that sharing a room doesn’t mean constant play. We can now put them to bed and trust that they will quickly go to sleep. It was a frustrating week in the beginning dealing with sleep deprived cranky kids though.

Boats Require more maintenance than houses and we knew that going into it. We/Scott have already spent a few late nights playing handyman. I’ve stayed up for moral support for Scott while he weaseled himself self under the boat into the engine room to repair things like a broken water pump etc.

The thing that’s given us the most grief is the air-conditioning. The boat is equipped with a central AC but it’s not efficient enough to beat the Florida summer heat. We had to add two additional AC units in order to keep the boat efficiently cool. It’s been quite the challenge trying to figure out the best place to put them and where to vent them properly. After what seemed like an eternity of back-and-forth trial and error we have finally found our AC sweet spot.

We’ve had to give up some conveniences we are used to such as dishwasher, microwave, and a normal washing machine. I think what I miss the most out of those three is a normal washer and dryer. I bought a washing machine but it’s a small portable one and it doesn’t dry the clothes. I’ll do a video soon that will show you how we overcome not having these modern conveniences. All this to say I’m learning a steep lesson in contentment and that’s never a bad thing. God is teaching me to be happy with less. To be thankful for the little things. Not just thankful. Happy! To be happy with the little things. The simple things. At the end of the day we have the most important thing which is a happy and healthy family.

Enough negative. Let’s talk about the pros of boat living!

The boys absolutely love it! They think it’s one huge adventure and that the boat is one big playground. They love to make believe that we are living on a pirate ship and that we have battled with the other boats pulling into the marina. We even bought a pirate flag to hoist on the stern to let all boats know to beware of The Wanderer.

Another advantage to living on a boat is traveling and having your house with you wherever you go. It’s extremely convenient. There’s nothing like living ON the water. It’s an entirely different vibe than just living near it.

I feel as if the boys have grown closer (after the initial adjustment period) and have become better friends sharing a room and a small space.

We are forced outside more. We are outside. All. The. Time. We eat outside, do laundry outside, lounge outside, etc.

Saint Augustine!

Our first destination. Living here has been a constant adventure. I’m enjoying small town life. The buildings are ancient and gorgeous and the history is rich. The boys love the fact that it’s the pirate capital of the world (I may have made that up) and they are having a blast watching the Pirates and visiting the pirate museums.

Marina life is so much fun. There’s always something to see and do. Whether it’s watching the scuba diver clean the bottoms of the boats or watching sea turtles swim by in the harbor.

There’s a pirate ship that stays in our marina and the boys look forward to watching the costumed Pirates pull in every day coming home after a long battle at sea. There is a plethora of fish in the marina. All we have to do is step out our door and throw a line in the water. Dinner. Done. (Ew.)

All this to say we are extremely happy with our decision to move our small family onto a small boat. The pros outweigh the cons and we couldn’t be happier or closer as a family. God has done so much and our marriage and family and every day I wake up thankful. I’m overwhelmed with how far God has brought us.

Living Differently

Scott and I have been talking for years about how we want to live differently.
We want the kind of lifestyle that reflects our values: quality family time, trying new things together, and exploration.
We want the kind of lifestyle that challenges the limitations and expectations that culture tries to place on us: “the American dream,” busy schedules, and lots of stuff.
We also love the water. Erica grew up on the river. I grew up at the beach. We both gravitate to open waters.
After dreaming and planning and praying about it, we decided to move onto a boat.

Moving from a 2,000 square foot home to a 300 square foot home will physically bring our family closer together (maybe a little too close at times). We believe physical closeness will result in more emotional closeness, too.
More team work will be required. More respect for each other and our things will be required. I’m also counting on more cuddle time since we will be sharing one couch.
Another reason for our move is that it will challenge us to live simply. We understand that stuff doesn’t make us happy and we want to focus on experiences and people rather than things. With such a small living space, we will be less tempted to purchase unnecessary things.
Why a boat? We have a portable home so we can explore more freely. In the beginning, we plan stay around North Florida, then explore the Florida coast, and then cross over to the Bahamas (we may travel farther later on).
We can expose our boys to different cultures and ways of living for extended periods of time. They will be have a broader perspective and hopefully have a greater respect for people from different cultures.
But isn’t it expensive? Actually, living on a boat is cheeper than living on land. We will have solar panels for our electricity and a water maker for our water needs. Just like any home, we do expect to have to make repairs along the way, but we will try and do most of it ourselves. It will challenge us to learn lots of new things.
Constraints force creativity. Limitations can guide you to creative solutions. I’m most excited to see this play out with the boys. There will be a limited number of toys they can bring on the boat. This will force them to be creative with their play time. They will have to think outside the box to entertain themselves and that will exercise their creativity. 
We’ve lived in a house. There’s nothing new about it. Living on a boat will be a new experience every day for both of us. We’ll sleep with the sway of the water and the sound of ripples lapping at the hull. We will open the hatch above our bed and gaze at the stars as we fall asleep. 
We’ll decide from one day to the next what our “backyard” looks like.
Yes, thats right. We are going to live on a boat. Are we crazy? Yes. Will we know if we can do it unless we try it? No. So we’re going to try.