'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

That awkward age


So what does a sailing blogger write about when they’re not sailing?

Good question, that. And I wish I had a good answer to it.

Once we’d packed up the boat and made our way back to Maine, I kind of lost my motivation for blogging. No boat, no adventures, no stories to share.

But of course there’s more to it than that. We’re in an unsettled phase.

The last two years of commuter cruising have brought to the surface a few things that had been hidden, some preferences that need attention. The act of living life in a somewhat precarious financial balancing act – hand-to-mouth – adds a layer of stress that’s thicker than we realized. It’s one thing to claim you’re going to see the Universe on less than twenty Altairian dollars a day, (with apologies to Douglas Adams) but it’s a very different thing to be out there, actually doing it. Altair is a LONG way from here, don’t you know.

And so we find ourselves in Maine, wondering what our next steps are. No longer can we blithely assume that we’ll be back to the boat in October – Nicki has decided she needs to become an active income earner again, and that’s going to take some training and time.

The only certainty I can see is that we’re uncertain. We’re not done cruising, certainly. We love our boat, love being on the water, and love the people who choose that lifestyle. But we’re not sure we want to go back to cruising on such a fine shoestring. I could, but Nicki can’t.

And just as we work together on the water, so we must work together on land. When we’re aboard, our rule is that the more conservative opinion rules: If one says “reef”, and the other says “Nah…”, we reef. Period.

So now, on land?

Same deal. If she thinks we need to change our financial picture, then that’s what we need to do.

Stay tuned for further developments.


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. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, we’re back on the boat, with plans to visit the Bahamas later in the winter. Follow our blog here, and follow our progress in map form by joining www.Farkwar.com!

7 thoughts on “That awkward age

  1. I hear you guys! It’s difficult and I’ve run up against a similar challenge. I’m all for frugality and living on a shoestring budget worked for me for a few years. However, it seems less sustainable over the long term as bigger expenses inevitably come up. I was starting to feel trapped by my budget. So right now, I’m working a lot more hours than usual. It means less time for boat work, van work and hobbies but more flexibility for the future. The other thing we still grapple with is having too much stuff requiring our time & money. That’s a challenge that’s an ongoing conversation for us… still haven’t quite figured out the best way to solve it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How you choose to compromise can place your walk through life together on a wide ambling footpath or a swaying tightrope (footrope?)…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith, great post, very honest. As Natalie points out, sustainability is key. When i retired i was trying to run on my lowest monthly income as possible. It was difficult because life became about cutting out the fun and often necessities of life. It was at first a positive challenge, then became a drag on living. There is also a difference in choosing to be frugal and having no choice to be frugal. Luckily i was in a position to draw more from my investments to top up the monthly income. Had i not been in that way, i would have had to question my descision to retire so early. I was even mowing lawns for a while for extra spending cash trying desperately to stay within my super frugal budget.

    Things are allot better now that i live on more, there is often leftover money at the end of the month. The feeling is much more positive than before. I might say that it took some time to figure out the right balanced model.

    Good luck.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. An interesting post, this comes up with my wife and I all the time. We are working because we have too. Devising ways to get off the merry-go-round and go cruising for at least 6months a year. We did this when we were young, with children. Back then it was a 25 ft boat, we went to the Bahamas in that and spent near nothing. As a man approaching social security I can’t do that anymore, or I guess I do not have a desire to live that way anymore. You mentioned a $20 a day figure, You had no context with that so I do not know what it meant exactly. My wife seems to think we can cruise on 33 a day, 1000 a month. As you point out people have different comfort levels. I do see people doing that on the cruising circuit but I do not think that is near enough money for anything but survival cruising. I argue that twice that amount would be a comfortable number for me. So if we had $24,000 a year I think I could make a go of that indefinitely and have an enjoyable lifestyle. I am the first to admit I like to visit the tiki bar, not always be on the hook, spend some time at the dock. I am not even sure $24,000 would do that. When you figure in the need for boat maintenance. Maybe $34,000 a year is more realistic. What do you think? What are your wife’s thoughts on this? What is her magic number to cruise on?


    • Many good points there, Chris. What is bare survival to one may be deep luxury to others. In our case I guess We can’t nail down a specific amount – our basic expenses are wildly different than many folks since we don’t own real estate, and only rent a spot to park our RV.
      But surprises will come. This eye thing of mine, Bad brakes on the car, a toothache… those unexpected expenses very quickly eat away what once looked like a comfortable reserve, and suddenly you’re not feeling comfortable after all.
      We’ve spent two years cruising at the $24,000 level, and found it’s doable, but stressful. Stressful enough to take the fun out of life in the long-term. As for our magic number? That’s anyone’s guess!


  5. Wow, really appreciate your thoughtfulness here and your philosophy of the most conservative decision. Life is about choices and it’s about balance and I find myself constantly assessing where I am in it all. I really only know the life on land, but I know a lot about all the choices I constantly have living here in the city……..and with all those great and fun things to do, there also needs to be some balance in the rhythm of life! I will stay tuned and while we’re all staying tuned, I hope the two of you revel in being together whether on land or at sea for the love is where life really is.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Keith. It’s a difficult decision and balancing act, but I like how the two of you approach decisions like this as partners. I know a couple who just changed their cruising plans in part because they were living on such a tight budget and worried how they would pay for the next thing that broke.

    Liked by 1 person

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