Frequently Asked Questions …
We’ve received lots of questions about what we’re doing and how. Here’s answers to several of the most common:
John’s Answer – The original idea was definitely mine and was totally, unequivocally and undeniably dismissed by Jane when first presented as a possible lifestyle after retirement. As a matter of fact, as this is a family oriented blog, I can’t even mention the salty sailor language used by Jane at the time. Frankly, after that eventful day, I never mentioned it again. About a year later, Jane surprisingly expressed some interest, and the research began in earnest. We traveled to the Florida Keys to interview full time cruisers and started reading sailing books, cruiser blogs and watching YouTube videos (see our favorite cruising and RV links listed in the right-hand column of this page). Surprisingly, I think it’s safe to say that Jane is probably more engaged in the lifestyle plan today than me. Go figure!
The idea for the RV came later when we realized that the intended journey for our first year of cruising (see Our Plan) didn’t allow us year-round living on the boat. We needed someplace to live during the period we can’t be on the boat. And what a great opportunity to be able to hop in the RV while the boat is in storage and explore this beautiful county (the warmer parts, of course!).
Jane’s Answer – Yes, as above. It did take me a long time as usual, but with lots of thinking, researching, interviewing, some praying for guidance … I’ve arrived!
No! That’s what airplanes are for!
Why a sailboat? People your age are tired of the work involved with sailing and have transitioned to power boats.
Good question. We’ve discussed it. It’s possible that one day we’ll sell the sailboat and purchase a nice comfortable cabin cruiser or trawler for our coastal cruising, or doing the Great Loop. But for now, we want a nice comfortable sailboat suitable for coastal cruising, yet blue water capable enough for short ocean hops over to the Bahamas.
Oh no, not that question again! Because we want a monohull.
Please don’t ask me that question again unless I’ve got an hour to answer, and I’ve had at least three beers.
Our RV is a 2018 Coachman Freedom Express 248 RBS travel trailer. It’s total exterior length is 28′-11″, with an interior floor plan length of almost 25′. We think it’s about the right size travel trailer for two beginning RV’ers interested in actually traveling (see Our RV for our unbiased observations).
We pull our RV with a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 1/2-ton pickup truck installed with the full tow package (5.3L V8, HD cooling, 3.42 axle ratio).
You can read all about our “land yacht”, including interior photographs in the Our RV section.
No. Hence the boat.
Neither was Admiral Horatio Nelson or Captain Joshua Slocum (the first man to sail solo around the world).
However, we’ll still have every high-tech safety and man-over-board prevention equipment known to man on board. Honestly, it’s probably more necessary for John than Jane!
We get this question a lot. Admittedly, we’re novices at the whole sailing thing. We’ve spent some time sailing in the Florida Keys and received some excellent instruction from a licensed captain and his mate – our good friends Jim and Sharon. We’ve read every sailing and navigation book we can find, watched all the instructional videos and attended years of seminars at various sailing shows. However, we’ve got a lot more learning to do. We’ll soon both be receiving some American Sailing Association (ASA) instruction, and John will take the full battery of certification courses through ASA 106 (Advanced Coastal Cruising).
Let’s be clear about one thing, we’re not sailboat racers! You know, the type where Jane is hiked out over the side of the boat straining to keep us from capsizing, while we violently crash through towering waves, and as I scream from the helm, “more sail, dammit, more sail!”. We’re not the offshore, blue water, “hold onto your butt” type. We’re coastal cruisers, the slow-paced, a little bit at a time type. We’ll slowly and methodically make our way, on constant lookout to avoid challenging Mother Nature’s weather wrath. We know she’ll always win that battle.
The way we look at it is that millions of people have successfully learned how to sail, navigate from one point on the map to another, avoid bad weather and manage a big sailboat. We’re convinced that, in spite of our late entry into sailing and cruising, we can do it too!
We will undoubtedly bump into a few things along the way, and put some scratches in the gel coat, but we’ll stay within our capabilities and make arriving safely at the next port more important than arriving on time.
UPDATE: On March 11th, Jane and John completed grueling, four-day, on the water sailing instruction (see Sailing Lessons on Biscayne Bay) and were awarded ASA 101, 103 and 104 certifications. John will soon round out his training by completing ASA 105 and 106 (Advanced Coastal Navigation).
We’re never too old for adventure! And besides, this lifestyle will keep us young!
And yes, we realize that a full-time RV lifestyle is the norm for retirees our age. However, the whole sailing thing has got many thinking we’ve lost our minds. What we’ve discovered is that when you get into areas of the country where sailing is the norm, you find lots of people our age, and much older, living a full-time cruising lifestyle, traveling with the seasons up and down the east and west coasts, and into the tropics.
Yes, we’re getting started a little late in the game. However, we’re good learners. We’ll catch up!
We both enjoy traveling and exploring and the fact that we’re traveling in such a unique fashion is merely a reflection of our desire to see things a little differently.
We know that one day, hopefully many, many years from now as we “check out”, our lives will flash before our eyes. We just want to make certain that it’s something worth watching.
The buying experience was smooth and very enjoyable. We purchased from a well-known RV dealer in south St. Louis (Midwest RV) and had a very helpful salesman patiently walk us through the process (thanks Rey).
However, because we purchased in the dead of the winter during one of the coldest periods, we had to head south immediately without putting the RV through its paces for a few weeks. It was so cold we couldn’t de-winterize the RV until we arrived in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We soon began discovering problems that we wished had been discovered while close to our dealer. They were small things, but annoying.
The biggest issue was the mattress. RV manufacturers should be ashamed of themselves for installing such poor quality mattresses. Four nights is all it took and our backs were killing us! We found a nice mattress store in Gulf Shores and purchased a proper mattress. They even helped us dispose of our “old” mattress. Problem solved.
Another assumption we made was that the couch and dinette cushions were of quality materials. They’re not! One week out and they began to collapse. We will soon be replacing all the pathetically low quality foam with high quality foam.
As our experience with the RV increases, we’ll have more to say. Generally though we’re pleased. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that a new RV is without problems.
We think it important to be patient, especially just starting out, and not be to quick to make decisions regarding upgrades and purchases for your RV (the same will be true with the boat). We’ve learned so much from the very helpful RV community and many of the assumptions we originally made regarding our needs have been altered by our observations and discussions with seasoned RV’ers.
We really haven’t been on the boat long enough to fully answer this question. However, here’s what we think so far.
John’s Answer – When we purchased the boat, it came with a Rocna 20 (44 pounds) anchor. While this is a super anchor for this boat, I wanted something a little larger on the bow. I installed a Rocna 25 (55 pounds). So far (with limited time at anchor) we love it! It sets quickly and has given us confidence (and a good night’s sleep) during some pretty high winds.
We also added several Caframo Ultimate 757 fans around the salon, galley and master bedroom. These babies really move air! We’ll be adding more soon.
Although the boat was installed with a Garmin GPSmap 740 Chartplotter, I added to the helm station a mount for our Apple iPad containing the Navionics USA HD app. While the Garmin does a great job, I love the Navionics app! I have both of them mounted and running while underway as our primary and backup navigation. However, it’s sometimes difficult to decide which is primary and which is backup.
When we purchased the boat, it didn’t have an electric anchor windlass. The previous owner was much stronger than me (Better looking, too. Right, Pam?) and chose to pull up chain and anchor by hand. As I mentioned earlier, I upgraded the original Rocna 20 to a Rocna 25. I also had 150′ of new 5/16″ HT chain installed, along with a Lofrans’ Cayman 1000w horizontal electric anchor windlass. This thing is a beast! As two people that will be doing lots of anchoring, it’s a welcome addition to the bow.
For cruisers that tend more towards doing a lot of anchoring, a good anchor alarm, or two, is a crucial tool. While we are yet to find our favorite, we’re currently testing out, SafeAnchor.net, an app for both our Apple iPhones and Apple iPad. It was recommended by one of our favorite cruising blogs Sailing Britican. We’ll let you know how testing on SafeAnchor.net goes.
I also have next to me at night, when at anchor, our Garmin GPSmap 78sc handheld with the anchor alarm function set. It, however, burns through batteries quickly and I’m not entirely pleased with its performance.
Also, our Sport-a-Seats provide great seating comfort in the cockpit.
Jane’s Answer – No answer here for me yet.
John’s Answer – We purchased and had installed two “Fan-Tastic” roof vent fans, one in the bedroom and one in the bathroom. They really are fantastic – like having two powerful attic fans.
There are several pieces of equipment that are on the potential favorite list (weight distribution/anti-sway hitch, WiFi range booster, etc.), but I’d like to see how they hold up over time before my full endorsement.
I forgot, 3M Command products are the “cat’s meow”!
Jane’s Answer – No question here for me. The RV systems win: shower, heat, A/C and frig. I’m still working on the stove. It’s propane, and I’m used to electric. Kind of scary and it has an “easy bake” oven (remember those 50’s Christmas presents).
Here at our beginning I’m learning to most efficiently organize the tiny cabinets and tiny closets. Although I’m struggling with this, what I learn will also work for the sailboat and for our eventual small shelter.
We sure hope not. Been there, done that. Give us something smallish, simple and easy to maintain. About 1,200 square feet, with a full wrap around screened-in porch would be perfect. We don’t consider ourselves minimalist, but we’ve tried the mega-consumer, got more stuff than we know what to do with lifestyle, and we’re done with it. We’d like to think we’re moving more towards the philosophy of a terrific movie we watched lately, “Minimalism“. Everyone should watch it. Here’s a link.
As for where we might settle one day, we think the location of our next “stationary” home is yet to be discovered. In the mean time, traveling by boat with the seasons – north in the summer and south in the winter – is the idyllic lifestyle for us.
Surprisingly NO! We’re both shocked by how quickly our attachments to our “stuff” quickly diminished. We like to think that we’ve exchanged our stuff for the experiences brought about by our adventures.
Jane’s Answer – John and I have different personalities. But we both value peace, quiet, reading, independence, solving our own boredom, sharing new learning, and each other.
So … all that said, it’s fine (sometimes better) when one of us goes off to do something alone or with a group. Also, we spend most of our time out of the 200 square feet.
P.S. – We’ve had practice too. Almost always, John has worked from home and when I was teaching we had months together.
Another thing: Since I’ve retired we start mornings with a sit down, no electronics, lots of coffee staff meeting which can move from short and long-range planning, to finances, to (oh my gosh) feelings. We’ve learned – the hard way sometimes – that making decisions together is paramount.
John’s Answer – As long as we have a dinghy on the boat and the truck continues to detach, from time-to-time, from the RV, we’ll be fine.
We’re not sure. We think we could easily spend a couple of years cruising the east coast of the U.S. from Maine, down the ICW to Key West. The Bahamas would be the likely next step. If we’re still enjoying the journey after that, maybe we’ll try heading to the Dominican Republic, or the Virgin Islands, or the eastern Caribbean, or the western Caribbean. Jane wants to go to Cuba. We’ll take it a day at a time. As long as we’re both enjoying the adventure and our bodies cooperate, we’ll continue.
At some point, one of us will look at the other and declare, “I’m done!”. We’ll sell the boat and do something different. It may be time to buy another house, a condo, or a cabin. We may decide to buy another RV and visit all the National Parks.
We don’t know. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.
We use a variety of equipment, depending on the application and the amount of time we have to prepare. Much of our video work is “Run ‘n Gun”, providing us little time to grab and setup the best tools for the job. Our handiest cameras are those we have with us at all times – usually our Apple iPhones. Otherwise, here’s the list of video and audio equipment we’re using:
Main Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5
Lenses: Panasonic Lumix G X Vario II 12-35mm f/2.8, Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7, Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8, Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2
Action Cameras: GoPro Hero 7 Black, GoPro Hero 5 Session
Other: Apple iPhone 8
DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
PolarPro ND Filters (ND4, ND8, ND16)
Rode VideoMic Pro Plus On-Camera Shotgun Microphone
Rode VideoMicro On-Camera Microphone
Rode NT-USB Studio Microphone (for Voiceovers)
Zoom H4N Pro Digital Recorder
Zoom H1N Digital Recorder
Rode Rodelink Wireless Microphone System
Movo LV4-O Wired Lapel Microphones
Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Laptop, i7-7700 @ 2.80 Ghz, 32 GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro (x64)
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 for Video Editing, Color Correction & Grading
Adobe After Effects CC 2019 for Video & Map Animations
Adobe Audition CC 2019 for Audio Editing & Processing