Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Leaving it all behind...

The home, the kids, the cat...! One of the questions we are asked is how did you do it? How did you walk/sail away from your life in the UK?
Below is a common question, this one from the YBW Live aboard forum.


I have enjoyed reading your blog too; inspiring. So, the question, how did you cope with throwing away the comfort blanket of corporate life and life ashore? I have my own business and "when?" seems to be the biggest question that I'll have to address. Walking away from one's own business will, I believe, be very difficult. But as (I think) Stingo said above - life is too short to waste.....................hmmmmmmmmm


When I was responding to this yesterday it took me to thinking about that decision. What we did right and the things that, with the benefit of hindsight, we would have done differently.

Leaving behind the corporate life was actually the easiest decision to make.
TBH(the better half) had already decided that he had exhausted that lifestyle and was eager for some space to develop philosophies and ideas of his own. See Yalaworld for the almost completed project.

Once we had made the decision to buy the ultimate bluewater cruiser, a whole story in itself, there were the very big questions of what to do with the children! The youngest was just 16 and still at school, middle one 19 at University, the eldest 22 just beginning his career in the media. For the first 18 months we commuted back and forth to the boat, youngest child was at boarding school so that was pretty easy to handle.The kids agreed to take on running the house and by default looking after the cat!

Actually the cat was one of the hardest issues... Our Bafta (large then 7 year old moggy) was an
inveterate hunter and with a home territory of some 200 acres we didn't think he would settle to the confined 40' floating home we could offer. We did um and err a lot, even having him chipped and jabbed so we could take him if we changed our minds.

We were in a fortunate position of being able to 'stagger' our move to full time cruising. It gave us an insurance policy in case everything went completely pear-shaped. It was interesting that TBH never had a single doubt, he was all for divesting ourselves of everything before we left. Even though I was extremely keen to cruise I found cutting the ties to our home a difficult thing to do. I had lived there for thirty years! Raised my three kids there, made a beautiful garden, had roots in the community. Maybe its a woman thing, its certainly an experience that seems pretty common amongst the female halves of cruising couples.

One of my principle criteria as we began the move was that I would not 'camp' on the boat. I had a comfortable home and intended to recreate that, as far as possible, on the boat. Otherwise I could see myself yearning in down moments for my previous comfort zone just a little too much...

Prior to leaving Europe we shipped a large quantity of household effects out to the boat, which was then in Portugal. TBH shuddered as I packed books, china, crystal glasses! Cooking pots, clothes, special bits and pieces. He sarcastically asked where the kitchen sink was going...
But it all found a place on board and didn't raise the waterline too far!

On reflection I wish I had shipped more, once we had left Europe it was too far and too expensive to top up on the glasses we carry aboard, the dvd's, more books etc. Mind you I've done a pretty good job each time the kids come out to visit in topping up!

The one big cloud on the horizon was the youngest child. She's a bright spark and was increasingly unhappy in the sixth form of her boarding school. She hated the conformity, the injustices ( wonder where she got that from!), and was not doing well academically. After a lot of soul searching we had a long conversation with her about choice. She could stay at school, come with us or strike out alone. To precis another long story she ended up at 17 aboard her own small boat, rebuilding it and creating a lifestyle for herself! It was tough. She learnt many hard lessons but what a young woman she has turned out to be! Individual, resiliant, self-sufficient and a pleasure to spend time with. It was hard when the phone calls would begin, 'I'm alright now, but...'!!

Once these obstacles were overcome that was it, we were truly away. Mentally we tuned out from the previous lives and allowed change to happen. Thats not easy either! We all dream of changing aspects of ourselves, our lives, our attitudes but by sheer definition change is hard, uncomfortable. To be honest at times its bloody hell!

The first Christmas alone was awful, I missed the house which was always wonderful at that time of year, the cold, the food, the family! We got two bars into the Christmas Carol CD and I was a mess of tears, desperately homesick. What I know now is thats okay, its okay to feel
homesick from time to time. To miss the comfort of the past. As time has gone by we have had the most amazing holiday celebrations, sometimes with family, sometimes other cruisers and they have all been different. Rewarding in individual ways.

So letting go is a strange time, but you have to empty the glass to make space for the new to flow in. That's the very best bit of all!

The more we have let go the past, the more rewarding the new experiences have become.

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