'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

Working – the search for Cruising Chips

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“So how can you afford to go cruising?”

We’ve heard this question, in one form or another, several times since we started out on this little adventure. Actually we started hearing it before we started out, back when we were still planning and dreaming.  

And the truth of the matter is that we can’t.

Not that we haven’t managed to make it happen, but it isn’t like we’re just blithely rolling along, never a worry or care about money. We’re scrimping and saving and giving up things like a permanent land-home (sold the house and gave up the lease on our rental), and we’ve not been able to do many of the restaurants, museums, tours and sights we’d once hoped to enjoy. Those things all cost money, and with all my medical B.S. this last year, money is scarce. Read about The Eye Thing Here.

The good news is that Nicki and I are not without saleable skills. We once owned a business called “Handy-Hands Home Maintenance & Repair”, which we closed in order to go cruising, but we still have the skills…

So when we got an email a couple weeks ago from a friend back in Maine, asking if we were interested in picking up a little extra cash, it didn’t take too long for Nicki to say “Well yeah!”, and for me (who lives in a constant state of financial denial) to be convinced that we should take the opportunity presented.

So with Sionna safely tied to a mooring in Marathon and watched over by friends and fellow cruisers, we rented a car and drove the 7 hours from the Keys to St. Petersburg Florida. There, a friend we’d worked for back in Rockland had just purchased a condo that desperately needed some sprucing up – and we became her helpers.


Repair and paint three rooms, replace all the switch plates and outlet covers, replace both bathroom light fixtures, adjust numerous closet doors, install kitchen cabinet knobs, replace the fridge water filter, repair the ice maker…. The list gets longer as you work, much as it does for a boat. Unlike boats, however, in a house you do reach a point where you can say you’re “done”.

The before shot – quite a color!


And after! Same wall…

So that’s been our last week. But not constantly working, no. We also fit in some family visits (Nicki’s brother and family were down for several days from Vermont), as well as a get-together with Lisa & Tim, a Facebook-friend couple we’d not seen in person before. Turns out they’re neat people, and she makes very decent homemade wine – and shares it too! Plus they have two aging but very sweet bulldogs, so we got a little “doggy-time”, too.  

AND we made almost enough cash on this job to put the boat in storage for the summer!  

Now, if I can just avoid the medical industry…

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Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. We've paused in Boot Key Harbor, and are now exploring the Keys until we leave the boat and return to Maine for a summer of employment. Follow our blog here, and follow our progress in map form by joining www.Farkwar.com!

7 thoughts on “Working – the search for Cruising Chips

  1. What a great turn of events! Sounds like a win-win for all – you got some extra cash and she got good work done by people she can trust.

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  2. You’ve hit a sore spot with me on this one. I’m actually glad to hear you were able to work for a month. Choosing to give up the steady income and stabile way of life that the land life offers is very hard to do. We’ll have Mike’s very small pension, but it’s definitely not enough for us to get by in the US. And healthcare? I’m looking at how much we will have to pay for our retirement insurance, which we will never be able to use outside the US, and it’s a very large chunk of that very small pension. This keeps me up at night. Glad you got a bit of a break there.

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  3. I enjoyed reading your article – being in much the same place but a year or two behind you. When you come back to Maine this summer I would very much like to meet you – hear your stories – gain some wisdom – make new friends. I sail out of Casco Bay. In the meantime I’ll keep following… Thanks again – Kelly Marcena

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  4. Wow. That was a nice opportunity and so great that you guys can be flexible and go with the flow, or go where the cash might be! What are the plans for the summer?

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    • It was a fortuitous circumstance, for sure!
      We’re here in Florida (but hopefully not just Marathon!) until May first. The boat will be stored on the hard while Nicki and I return to Maine. Originally the plan was to both work like mad so we could return to cruise again next winter, probably in the Bahamas. Now, Nicki will work, and for at least part of the summer I’ll be chasing eye doctors to finally lay this whole vision saga to rest. Then working, soon as I can see well enough!

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