There to Here – The 5-Year Plan – Part 2

Year 4 of 5 - Getting Closer

This year things start falling into place. It’s been a long, uphill slog, trying to stay the course and follow the plan. Granted, not everything always goes as planned, but at least there’s a plan in motion and an endgame in sight.

Review the plan more regularly.

In the first couple of years, we did planned reviews a couple times a year if we were lucky, but now that the goal is getting closer, it requires more attention. Where are you versus where you want to be? Have you accomplished the goals you set so far? If not, why not? What needs tweaking or major changes to get yourself on track? Will it take a little longer? Maybe you can manage a little sooner? Is this what you really want?

This was the year Marcie was diagnosed with breast cancer and it turned our world upside down for a few months, but optimism and good luck prevailed and early detection worked to her benefit. Health issues can certainly curtail plans … both financially and physically. Despite the setback, we were more determined than ever that the sunset route was the path for us.

Our oldest son had graduated from college; the youngest was still plugging along. Through the rumor mill, we also learned that the company that acquired us might now be on the selling block. How would that affect our plans? Some things, like health and this pending sale, were out of our control. It’s important to concentrate on the aspects of your plan that you can control and deal with the uncontrollable events as they come along.

Refine the plan

Start thinking in terms of sooner rather than later. The last three years were large scope planning with lots of what-ifs involved. Now it’s time to refine the plan and add more details.

Boatwise … you might ask yourself these questions again:

  •  What type of cruising do you really intend to do? Coastal, circumnavigating, the Carib? Mexico? Buy a cruising guide for an area of interest … maybe a used one at a yachtie swap meet?
  • *Have you narrowed down the type of boat you want to buy? And why? Does it suit your cruising goals? It takes a while to find “the right boat”. In fact, sometimes it finds you.
  • What’s the current price range of boats of this type and is this what you budgeted for?
  • Is there an on-line forum of current owners of the boat you’re interested in? Can you pick their brains and find out the pros and cons of this type boat?

Keep preparing

What have I learned over the past couple of years and what knowledge do I need before heading out that I can acquire now? The learning curve will be steep, especially if you’ve never really sailed and lived aboard before. Did you ever find time for that diesel mechanics course? Is it time to renew your CPR? Become a HAM! Take more classes, read more books, jot down questions … even the smaller details will start mattering now. Did you join a cruising club and are you active in it? Have you made contact with experienced sailors that might act as mentors?

By the way, there are fun books to read, too, that keep the dream lively. Some of our favorites are:

Sailing Alone Around the World – Joshua Slocum (our all-time favorite)

Blue Latitudes – Tony Horowitz

Longitude – Dava Sorbel

...and don’t forget to listen to a little Jimmy Buffet. He gets you in the mood! I remember dancing to Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Invest in a countdown clock

One of the best gifts we ever received was from my sister, Lin, after we’d set a date for retirement. She bought us a countdown clock that we used for nearly two years. When we were feeling like the day for sailing off into the sunset would never arrive, we’d consult that clock. Only 665 days, 20 hours and 15 minutes to go. That sunset is right around the corner!

Start celebrating more often

One fun activity to keep you motivated is to come up with all the timeline events that might require some celebrating. Mark each 100 days, then the one year mark. Celebrate finishing a course, Christopher Columbus Day, James Cook’s birthday … you get the idea!

Now some specifics for your consideration...

  • Do you need to sell a house? Maybe you’ll rent it out? Need a manager? Research this stuff now rather than scurrying around at the last minute. Get things set up so you’ll know what to expect and whom to rely on. These things take awhile sometimes, so make sure they’re on your timeline.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify! Start getting rid of furniture and “stuff”? Ease into it! Have a yard sale and put the $$ in your cruising kitty.
  • Will you be storing your stuff? We know some folks who put all their “stuff” into storage and paid for it for decades only to find that the stored items were out of vogue (almost retro … but not quite) and just didn’t fit with their tastes when they finally headed back to land life. Give storage some consideration, but decide if the monthly storage fees mesh with your budget and the worth of your stuff. We ended up giving family mementos and anything of value to our kids and relatives. We still have visiting privileges whenever we see them.
  • Set up all the credit cards, debit cards and electronic banking features you’ll need, so you can get used to using them and have some history with the companies. Research what ATM cards offer free withdrawals and which credit cards do not charge for foreign currency exchange. While you’re at it, you might as well get some cashback for charges if you plan to outfit your new boat. Add the cashback to your cruising kitty. We opted for Bank of America because of their ATM no-fee reciprocity with many foreign banks (WestPac, Barclays, ScotiaBank (big in the Carib), etc) and Capital One credit cards because of their no currency exchange fees and cashback programs.
  • What do you plan to do about medical/dental coverage? If you’re still working, will you COBRA? Will you go without health insurance? (possibly without penalty, if you’re out of the USA 330+ days/year). There’s lots to consider here, so do some research. If you’re cruising around the world, you’ll find healthcare much more affordable outside the USA. More on that in a later blog.
  • Speaking of working, do you plan to work while you’re cruising? A little research now will help you know what you can and cannot do and how much you can expect to earn.

We’re still at Lin’s … recovering from the move and the weekend estate sale. Check in on Wednesday for a look at the types of cruising you might be considering … Full time? Part time? In-between time? It'll make a big difference in your budget, the gear you buy and the boat you're considering.