(CNN) — Think about disposing of most of your worldly possessions to stay on a sailboat you got on the Web — maybe with out even seeing it, or figuring out the best way to tie a knot or hoist the mainsail.
For some beginner sailors who launched into boat life in the course of the pandemic, the previous yr offered an sudden push to make what could have as soon as appeared unattainable immediately inside attain.
Randi Hitchcock was 30 days into lockdown final April together with her household in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when she hit the wall.
“The hours upon hours we had been sitting in the home once we weren’t strolling our canine on a necessary journey to the park made us assume lengthy and arduous about our future,” says Hitchcock.
After just a few household discussions together with her husband, Steve, and their then 12-year-old son, Cody, the Hitchcocks determined to promote most of their issues, put their home up for hire and head to St. Augustine, Florida.
Cody, Randi and Steve Hitchcock (from left to proper) have been residing aboard their catamaran.
The household had no crusing expertise. However due to the G.I. Invoice, Steve, a veteran, was capable of take free American Crusing Affiliation courses and Skilled Mariner Coaching within the Florida Keys and Stuart, Florida.
The Hitchcocks spent a number of months crusing in Florida earlier than crossing to the Bahamas in mid-February of this yr, the place they’ve since logged some 400 nautical miles.
When their Bahamian visa expires in Might, they plan to return to Florida to stay in a marina or at anchor so Cody can attend in-person highschool this fall. And whereas Steve’s VA pension can assist the household, he may choose up jobs delivering boats and Randi may work in a marina retailer for reductions on boat elements, she says.
One factor’s for positive, says Hitchcock — as quickly as they’ll, they’re placing their Colorado home up on the market.
“I do not assume we have now any want to stay in a home once more figuring out how simple and enjoyable it’s to journey on a ship,” she says.
The Hitchcock’s very first Gulf Stream crossing was from Lengthy Key, Florida, to Driving Rock, Bahamas.
Boat life is booming
Life the van life motion that exploded lately — and much more so in the course of the pandemic — boat life shouldn’t be new.
It’s, nonetheless, stylish.
And like RV gross sales in the course of the pandemic, boat gross sales, too, have boomed.
“We’re promoting all dimension yachts and the stock has shrunk to an all-time minimal,” he says.
In accordance with the Nationwide Marine Producers Affiliation, the US leisure boating trade noticed a rise in first-time boat patrons in 2020 for the primary time in over a decade.
Damien Williams and Maggie Jay traded RV life for boat life in early 2020.
One couple’s transition from van life to boat life
Maggie Jay and Damien Williams, who’re digital nomads working in advertising and marketing and finance, are amongst these first-time boat patrons diving proper in.
The Denver, Colorado, couple made a brisk transition from RV life to boat life after an accident claimed their beloved motor house.
After 4 years touring throughout 35 US states in a 1974 GMC Painted Desert motor house that Jay says “appeared like a stretch Scooby Doo van,” an engine fireplace in 2019 put an finish to the journey.
“We had restored it ourselves, it was heartbreaking for me,” says Williams. “I did not need to begin over again with a brand new motor house. I simply needed to do one thing completely different.”
He’d all the time been intrigued by crusing however thought it was one thing you needed to develop up doing — or a minimum of have some huge cash to afford, he says.
When he proposed the thought of residing on a crusing boat to Jay, she says she imagined it like “tough tenting on the water.”
“I simply sort of heard tales from my aunt and mother, who sailed, about peeing in a bucket and cooking on a Bunsen burner,” she says, “I used to be questioning how that labored for one thing greater than a weekend.”
She quickly discovered.
In late February 2020 — after testing roughly 20 boats whereas driving alongside the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida with their schnoodle, P-Moe — the household discovered their new house.
With pandemic lockdowns simply beginning as they have been settling into life at anchor, Jay and Williams realized to sail by watching loads of YouTube movies and crusing channels, poring by way of books and bartering Maggie’s shed-organizing expertise for crusing classes from a captain they met.
By mid-April of this yr, after logging lots of of nautical miles whereas studying to sail round Florida, they crossed from Miami to Bimini within the Bahamas and plan to reach in Puerto Rico by January 2022 for his or her wedding ceremony day
“Even in comparison with life on land within the motor house, I’ve by no means felt a lot privateness and freedom,” says Williams. “On land in an RV, you are all the time frightened if somebody will trouble you, in the event you’re parked okay.”
“Everywhere in the world we will anchor free of charge, it feels actually releasing,” he says.
Damien Williams did not know something about crusing earlier than they purchased their boat.
Is it for you?
As glamorous because the crusing liveaboard life can look on YouTube and Instagram, not everyone seems to be lower out for it.
And simply as there are coaches for almost every little thing nowadays, there are sailors who focus on serving to folks determine if residing on a sailboat is likely to be for them.
After that, if friends are nonetheless within the boating way of life, Brown says, the subsequent step is to hit the books to review and get licensed to securely function the precise sort of crusing yacht that sparks their curiosity.
A typical misperception for folks new to the crusing way of life, he says, is that you will “glide alongside to your subsequent vacation spot with truthful winds and calm seas.”
And that does not solely apply to altering climate.
“Folks don’t understand how costly this way of life is, even with prudent budgets,” Brown says. Even ordering a easy restore half that may price $15 on-line might price many occasions that by the point it is gone by way of customs and processing charges, he says.
New sailors may additionally be shocked by how lengthy it takes to get locations on wind energy.
“If man might stroll on water, it could be a greater choice in case you are in a rush,” Brown says. “Most crusing yachts common 5 miles an hour, so endurance is vital.”
The Sueiro household has been studying to sail since they purchased their boat in August.
Jessica and Will Sueiro
A slower way of life could be a reward
For households who like the thought of a slower, extra minimalist way of life (and do not thoughts shut quarters), the liveaboard crusing way of life could be interesting.
The household had been touring full time since 2014, homeschooling the youngsters whereas visiting each county in Europe in an RV (amongst different adventures) earlier than touchdown in Japan in late February 2020.
Residing on a sailboat was all the time a part of their “endgame,” says Jessica, and the pandemic accelerated that.
“We realized that Covid was going to go on for much longer than all of us initially anticipated,” she mentioned in an electronic mail. “And the need to tackle a mission whereas we needed to pause journey appeared like the right alternative for our household to discover ways to stay on a ship and sail.”
Storage is tight for the household of 4. Overflow groceries go in lockers underneath the flooring.
Jessica and Will Sueiro
In August 2020, after returning to Europe, they purchased their sailboat, S/V Friendship, a Broadblue 38 catamaran, for round $160,000 within the South of France and have been studying to sail it since.
The household plans to cruise round Spain’s Balearic Islands this summer season earlier than crusing throughout the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.
“There’s a large studying curve in case you have by no means sailed earlier than,” Jessica says. “Rent an teacher, crew on different boats, rent a coach, learn books, attend boat exhibits, choose brains, watch YouTubers, take specialised courses in CPR/navigation/climate/engine restore and extra.”
And remember to faucet the huge crusing neighborhood in port, at anchor and at sea.
“Aside from social media buddies, we did not expertise a lot neighborhood within the van and RV life in any respect,” says Williams. He thought transitioning to crusing life from RV life would “be a lateral transfer,” he says, and has been shocked to seek out it an improve.
“Sailors have been so beneficiant, useful and pleasant towards us, regardless that we had by no means sailed a day in our lives once we moved on our sailboat,” he says.