Choosing the Life Less Ordinary

Taking a different tack isn't easy, but it's definitely worth it.

sea life

Green Brett

I don't really consider myself a brave person. Raised in suburban South Florida, my formative years were about as normal as they come. Stable and pleasant. I wasn't really exposed to alternative ways of life—heck, I didn't even know that average people could live on boats much less sail around the world—themselves. Talk about brave! Never could I have imagined that I would be a boat dweller and cruising sailor. But here I am.

While still in college, my husband (well, then boyfriend) and I bought a 1965 Pearson Vanguard for $9,000. She was Smurf blue and had a bit of hurricane damage. For two years, we finished school, worked on the boat, and fed the cruising kitty as much as we could. And then we untied the docklines and left! Our journey took us down to the Florida Keys, over to the Bahamas, through the Turks & Caicos, and to the Dominican Republic. We had an absolute blast, met some great people, and changed in ways that were unexpected.

Fast forward about eight years. Now we are firmly in our thirties, have started careers, currently live in Rhode Island (far away from sunny Florida), and have two little girls. And we live aboard our 44-foot Reliance ketch, Lyra, year round, with a plan to go long-distance cruising once the kitty gets fat enough. (And preferably after our youngest is potty trained!)

While most of our friends are caught up in the trap of consumerism—buy a big house (if you can get approved for the mortgage) and then proceed to fill it—we are constantly trying to downsize. Which isn't easy with two kids who like to collect "treasures." While our responsible friends are putting down roots and saving for retirement, we're saving for the next big adventure. Not bad for a former mall-rat!

Are there times of doubt and uncertainty? Sure. Are there times that I wonder if I'm totally screwing up my poor kids (no yard, no pets -yet, minimal toys, minimal electricity, limited space)? You bet. I'll even admit to longing for the "safety" of the proverbial white picket fence from time to time. But, fortunately, those feelings are all fleeting.

Choosing an alternative way of life is not easy. Going outside of your comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. Making these choices has been difficult, and I've toughened up in the process. But when we're snug in our cozy boat for the evening and a cool breeze is coming down the hatch, when my kids spot sea creatures, practice rowing, use their imagination, and actually know what to do when I ask "sheet in the main" or "put the engine in neutral," I know that we've made the right decision. For now.

In this blog space, I'll share the ups and downs of living aboard, detail the boat projects that we're doing, show you the places that we cruise when we're lucky enough to have the time, and fill you in on the stuff we're learning along the way. And, with any luck, this will turn into a real cruising blog someday! If you have any thoughts or living aboard questions, please email me at jen.brett@cruisingworld.com, and I'll try to cover the topic in a future post. I look forward to hearing from you!