I have sold the sailboat. I am no longer a boat owner nor live aboarder. In fact, I am quite homeless at the moment. But that’s ok. It’s all part of my cunning plan, um, which I’m still sorta, kinda figgering out. Step 1: Sell the boat. Step 2: ?????. Step 3: Profit.
This was not an easy decision, given my current state of finances, but it’s the best one for me at the moment. Staying put in the marina was no longer an option. As nice as this current place is, it’s getting way too expensive. And they are continuing to add more rules and regulations on staying here. I sensed a marked change last year in the direction the marina is going and people like me are going to get squeezed out in favor of those with newer boats and larger bank accounts. The manager here was one of the nicest people I’ve dealt with in all my marina dealings. She wanted me to stay and I would have preferred to stay, but for now, it’s time to go.
Going out on the hook to either the mooring field or a mooring ball would be way more cheaper, but the boat needed a lot of stuff for me to do so. Stuff I was not able to afford at this time. There was also the inconvenience of having to come to shore for every little thing. And still being able to maintain an income. I would have needed to set up a battery and solar system, plus get the computer fixed if I wanted to go out there. More money which I don’t have to spend at the moment when said money would be better spent elsewhere. Spring is always a bad time for me with a lot of necessary expenses coming around. Selling the boat makes things much more easier to take care of and if nothing unusual happens I should be able to coast into the summer months in good shape.
Weather has also been a factor. Even though the worst of the winter is behind us, it looked pretty nasty out there when the last front came through. Being on a 32 foot boat is fairly stable. On a 23, not so much. And with the warm weather coming, so comes the thunderstorms. And there is always the uncertainty of being out there relying on a single line to keep you secured. When you live on the hook and leave your boat to come into shore to do stuff, there is always a nagging feeling when you return, said boat will not be where you left it. Said line breaks, an anchor drags, a bilge pump fails, thieves come by. I’m tired of worrying about leaving things behind.
Going cruising up the islands was a preferred option. Sailing from island to island. Stopping here and there and back. It sounded good in theory. Again, I would need some stuff for the boat. There was nothing holding me here in Key West. No leases, no jobs, no contracts, nothing but a love of the area. But in the end, I was tired.
I’ve been boat living for the last five years and it has not lived up to what I had hoped it would be. It doesn’t help in I have been living on old, beat up, crappy boats. They were all I could afford. But the problems I’ve had with the marinas down here and how they treat live aboards has left a very sour taste in my mouth. Us poor boaters are not welcome here. All the island wants are the rich yacht types. The options for a small poor boat like I had to stay in a slip are diminishing rapidly. At some point in the not too distant future, I doubt if there will be any live aboard slips available for anyone in Key West. You will be limited to the city mooring field and not much else. It still amazes me how an island like this which is so dependent on the boating community, has such a hostile attitude towards it. But as always, it’s about the money.
Even though everyone seems to equate boat living with a minimalist lifestyle, trust me, it’s not. Boats are maintenance heavy things to have. Much like my ex girlfriend, a boat requires constant attention. It always needs something. You quickly become an expert in all it needs, wants, and how it handles. You cannot neglect it. If you do, it can make your life a living hell. And just like my ex girlfriend, you are always looking to upgrade to a better model. Boat living is great if you want to be off the grid. It works fine for that sort of thing. But minimalistic? Far from it.
In terms of a boat being a cheaper way to live down here, well, in some ways yes. You ain’t tied into lease, you can live almost rent free if you are willing to live without the basics of land life like food, fresh water, electricity, and solid ground under your feet. But when you start factoring in the costs of owning a boat, sometimes the numbers just don’t pan out.
And then there was the internet. If you have been reading this blog you are well acquainted with my struggles just to find a reliable and cost effective internet connection. There was not one single day, not once, where at some point in the day I had no internet connection. Poor signals, interference from GPS and radar on other boats, or no available connection options, it never stopped. I could never get the type of internet I needed to make a living online. Perhaps nothing stressed me out as much as the problems I had with getting online whilst living on a boat. I hope that now that I’m back on land, those problems are over with.
I kept debating all during the winter about what to do. Every month was stressful as I struggled to stay ahead. The increase in the slip rent at the beginning of the year was a big slap in the face. The loss of KC pretty much sealed the deal.
If nothing else, one of the main reasons I was holding onto the boat for as long as I had was so KC and Charley had a home. It wasn’t much, but at least they were comfortable and seemed content as cats go. With KC gone it was just me and Charley. As close as KC and I were, Charley never was very affectionate. No matter where we lived, Charley would find a place out of reach and out of site to spend her days. On the sailboat, she would crawl back into the stern area and underneath, rarely coming out except to eat or use the litter box. I was hoping that now that KC was gone and not a threat to Charley she would be a bit more friendly. But she did not change other than she occasionally would come out and occupy some of the favorite spots where KC used to lie around. Perhaps with more time, or another place, she might become more friendlier, but I doubt it.
So, with extreme reluctance, Charley and I have parted ways. I was able to find her a new home. Someone who will be able to take more better care of her in her old age than I have been able to do. It was a tough decision, and I feel as bad about it as I do about losing KC, but it’s best for us both. Charley needs a more better home, and I will be doing things that will not be conducive to having a companion with me. I loved my cats very much. They were family and I miss them terribly. But my life is going in a new direction. Unless or until I find one perfect spot where I want to spend my remaining days, I will never have another pet.
So what now? I’m boatless in Key West. I have no home, limited resources, and my timing is not real good at the moment, but then it rarely is. It’s the late part of the tourist season. Spring Break is in full gear. Tourists are all over the Keys and Florida in general. Rates for short term places are high and difficult to find. But that’s ok. There are alternatives out there and I’m ready to do a bit of travel.
I have a long term plan. Spend some part of the year here in the Keys, another part of the year in Maui, and travel about the country the rest. I’m looking at many options: flying, train travel, even the bus. I want nothing more than what I can carry on my back. A few clothes, the computer and iPhone, and little else. Although some hiking/backpacking/tent camping has gained a lot of interest with me lately. Something I may use to develop into an app/book project.
The immediate future is going to be the toughest. Adjusting to life without a permanent home. I have no desire to find any thing involving a lease nor a commitment for more than a few months at a time. Remaining in Key West for the next couple of months may not be feasible until the season winds down. I have a trip coming up to Pa. to visit family over Memorial Day weekend, and from there, the entire country and beyond is there for the taking. Flights to Maui are quite affordable if one can get to the right airport. And surprisingly, if the ads are true, the island has much more affordable temporary housing options than Key West. I may get out there and hate the place. I may get out there and never return. But I have to go see it. This year is as good a time as any if I can finagle the financial end.
I’ve been reading many a blog about travelers who, well, travel, with all their possessions on their back. They use many interesting resources to get around and stay including things like AirBNB, and Couchsurfing. While I’m a bit old in the tooth compared to most, the lifestyle they lead is conducive to anyone with minimalist attitude and a taste for adventure and the unknown. If there were to be a name given to what I am looking to do, it would be: Digital Nomad. One who travels about doing and seeing new things, and making a living online be it through things like websites, apps, writing, or whatever. This is what I am striving towards, at least until I get to the point where I get too damn old or tired to do it anymore. And since I no longer have the boat, said lifestyle is within my reach.
So, will I miss living on a sailboat? Yes, I will. Despite all the bullshit I’ve had to put up with, all the problems involved. There were times when just sitting there on back deck, looking at the surroundings, when living on a boat seemed just right. I’ve had manatee and other assorted sea critters beneath my feet. I’ve had dreams of sailing off to ports unknown. I’ve met some wonderful people who also live on boats, and a few not so nice. I just won’t miss the bad stuff, but then, no matter how or where you live, there will always be bad stuff.
Will I ever move back onto a sailboat? I won’t say either way. Anything could happen. I could be walking along a dock and spot that one special boat. A boat with just the right lines and shape. She will smile at me seductively, shiver her timbers, and the next thing you know, I’m back in another relationship again. So, it could happen. But right now, I own nothing other than what I am toting in my backpack. I have nothing which requires a license, registration, nor insurance. I have virtually no liability. My backpack is not going to break loose in a storm and hit another backpack more expensive than mine. I’m not subject to the whims of landlords or marina managers. I have the ability to pick up and move on at moments notice.
It’s just now starting to dawn on me I have virtually complete freedom to go and do just about anything I want, within my meager budget. Exactly the way I have been striving for since I took up minimalism. Imagine, living someplace and making the decision to go someplace else with no notice nor planning. No uprooting all your possessions. No major career changes. No breaking leases. Imagine being able to get up in the morning, decide to move someplace else, and it takes no more effort than it does to make a trip to the wallymart. That, my fine Fritter Friends, is where I find myself at 60 years old. It’s my ideal of minimalism and I like the way it looks and feels.
So, as for the blog, expect some minor changes. I won’t be spending quite so much time writing about the Keys and Key West. If anything, Manatee Fritters will become more of a travel blog with an emphasis on minimal living. Wherever my travels lead, be it here in Key West, somewhere on the island of Maui, or perhaps a trail through the mountains, I will continue to write about my adventures. There will be good times, and not so good times.
I invite you all to join me in my travels.