s/v Uliad

Life at sea...


So here are a few of the questions we keep getting asked since we announced our plans:

Now just what is it that you're doing?

In the fall of 2007, we're moving aboard Uliad, which is currently parked in a marina in Delaware.  We plan to sail down the East coast until we get to Florida, then hop our way through the Bahamas...then on to the Dominican Rupublic, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands...then island hop our way through the Caribbean until we get to South America before the summer hurricaine season sets in.  To see the voyage map, click here.

We haven't made any definite plans beyond the first year, but if we're still having fun, we'll probably just keep on going!

Are you crazy?

Well, maybe, but we don't think so.   We've decided to pursue this dream while we're still young enough to do it, and while Emmett is still young enough to enjoy spending time with his parents.

Steve worked for ten years at a job that could call him away from family any time day or night.  We hope that this trip will give us an opportunity to slow down, enjoy each day, and spend more time together as a family

How can you afford this?

First of all, once you own the proper boat, this lifestyle can be pretty inexpensive:  For exampe, we no longer pay for things like water, electricity, mortgage & property taxes, car expenses, etc.  And when your life is a voyage of exploration, we don't have to spend much on "vacations".  We also find we don't really "need" so many consumer goods that Americans spend money on.  Besides, we don't have much room to put anything more on the boat anyway!

We've also worked very hard for the past decade to make this happen.  We lived well below our means, saved money, and invested wisely.  We never won the lottery or had any huge stock windfall, just patience and attention to all the financial details.  We now have some comfortable nest eggs to come home to, and Steve will probably come back to work brief jobs from time to time to fill up the checking account.

Aren't you worried about storms/sharks/pirates?

Sailing involves risks--so does driving in rush hour.  It is human nature to fear unfamiliar things more than common things.  Statistically, it is far more likely for a commuter to die in a car crash than for a sailor to drown in a sinking boat.  Yes, there are a very few places in the world where piracy is a danger, so we won't go there.  It is no different than recognizing that in any given US city, there is probably a neighborhood that would probably not be a safe place to stroll through.

By doing quite a bit of sailing and travelling over the years, we've become pretty familiar with some of the risks of the sea.  We're pretty cautions sailors, but we don't get paralyzed by irrational fears.  And yes, we do promise to be ever so careful.

Will you sail around the world?

We might.  But it seems pretentious for us to make such a claim just yet.  We're planning to spend a year in the Caribbean, and we'll make the rest up as we go along.

Click here for a map of our voyage plan through summer 2008

What about Emmett's schooling?

We'll enroll Emmett in the Calvert School--a well known correspondence school that seems to be popular with cruising families.  We'll have "school" every morning on the boat, and probably a lot of "field trips".  With the growth of the homeschooling movement over the past decade, there are a lot of resources out there for committed parents to teach their own children.

As for social development, we expect to encounter other "boat families" and local children along the way.  We'll plan a route that takes us places where yachts tend to congregate so that Emmett will have lots of chances to find playmates as we go.

But Steve, what about your career?

I admit that I'll miss my patients and colleagues terribly.  I have loved being a family doctor in rural Wisconsin.  But ultimately, I had reached a point in my career where I had achieved all I had set out to do and more.  So it felt time to take a break and do something different. 

The truth is, a good family Physician in the USA need never worry about finding a job.  So I am quite fortunate in that regard.  Because of the huge demand, I expect to have no difficulty finding a locum tenens position from time to time to dust off my skills.  And someday, I'm sure I'll come back to practicing full time again.  What good is a successful career if it doesn't, at some point, give you the freedom to do what you want?

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