02 September 2016

No house, no job, no car - What's next? Sailing of course!

Captain Linda Perry Riera

No house, no car, no job... I should write me a country song

The lovely home was purged of most possessions and sold 18 months ago. We have focused on preparing Argon and ourselves for offshore and extended cruising. More recently I have stepped away from a career that was both exhilarating and consuming. The cars are sold. Virtually everything we own is within this 40 foot by 13 foot tub of fiberglass. And I have never been happier.

The Three Year Plan is coming to fruition.  It has involved:
  1. Bigger boat; and modifying her for off shore and extended cruising
  2. Smaller house; well, we decided on no house and instead moved on to the boat April 2015
  3. Take off sailing for a year; which is happening in just a few days!
Wow... it is really happening; I am giddy (and a bit nervous)!

Our neighborhood for the past 18 months - Constitution  Marina, Boston.

We could have taken a slightly different path and kept the home... renting it out or hiring someone to oversee while we were gone which seems to be the norm for others taking off for a only year or so. However, we decided that this was not going to be solely a one year sailing excursion, but rather a deliberate pivot in lifestyle... downsizing on many fronts including:
  • dramatic purging of stuff
  • releasing the job in order to truly exhale
  • examining the priorities for the next phase of our lives
Our former 3000+ square foot home was a lovely hiatus for the family for that period in our lives. The process of giving, donating, selling, discarding has been liberating. It is astonishing how little material possessions we now have yet are completely content. With fewer things, comes not only less expense but less baggage. Of course owning a boat always ensures a never ending to do list and outflow of money, but we are able to embrace boat burdens more enthusiastically without also having our house-related responsibility, projects, bills and maintenance. Our lives have focused on preparation these past couple of years, now it is time to cast off.

"What do you miss about living in a house?" is a question we have received frequently this past year. Bob replies "my studio" (see the retired RockScience.net) and "access to more extensive tools and place to work on stuff easily".

The spacious but retired Rock Science Studio.

The extremely scaled back studio on Argon. But Bob still makes music.

Instead of a spacious basement, workbench and garage, our living area sometimes looks like this when we are in the throws of a boat project.

For me, I miss a kitchen suitable for cooking more variety and quantity as well as easy social gatherings and overnight guests with my landlubber friends.

Annual pierogi making event at Christmastime is certainly not conducive to a boat galley. A generous, tricked out kitchen is one of the few aspects of my former life that I miss.

Negotiating a tiny galley. With the limited space, every kitchen tool and utensil is carefully selected. "Is it worth the space?" is constantly asked about anything that may come on to the boat. (The keyboard and guitars were apparently deemed worthy of their space.)

Some items that were a normal part of life for oh so long but are no more include:
  • home owners insurance, property taxes
  • gas, electric, and water bills
  • auto insurance, car maintenance, bicycle maintenance (we use the fantastic Boston Hubway program instead of maintaining our own bikes)
  • mowing and raking the lawn, mulching, planting, weeding, trimming (we enjoy the lovely flowers that abound the marina)
  • vacuuming and generally spending a lot of time cleaning (sweeping/cleaning our tiny boat floor space is quick and easy, and of course the cockpit, which doubles as our open air family room, just gets hosed off)

As we release all of the above, the other side of sailing becomes our new normal. The generous time out sailing is cherished and the never-ending list of boat projects is approached with gusto (usually).

Logistics - Downsizing our lives and preparing to be away

Medical Care:  Routine appointments have been front loaded during the first part of this year and we will pause preventative care while away. Hopefully (fingers crossed) will have nothing substantial arise in the coming year. A driving factor in taking this trip well before standard retirement age is the physical stamina that will be needed and not knowing how long we will be healthy and active enough to tackle this type of adventure.

Courtesy of the wonderfully knowledgeable and efficient staff at MGH Travel Clinic we received counseling, vaccinations and medicine to minimize the risks associated with typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, zika, and general infections.

Stocking our enhanced medical kit with some medicines courtesy of MGH travel clinic. Hopefully most will not be needed.

Since medical insurance is tied to ones employment in our country (when not of retirement age) I ventured in to the confusing and expensive world of private health insurance spending hours culling through the options on the healthcare exchange. I have planned for the major non-boat related expense of this trip being health insurance and am opting for a minimal coverage plan with crazy high deductibles.And the insurance spend continues... Enhanced boat insurance to cover off shore transits and extended geographies; medivac for travelers. Ugh!

Address: What is one's address when sailing the open ocean and island hopping for a year? We have decided to maintain a Massachusetts residence using my son's home as our legal residence. I suspect Christian secretly fears that I may just move in with him one day stating that this is where I live after all. Christian has kindly agreed to also serve as our mail triage and forwarding service. We have endeavored to get all bills and other mail electronically although there remains some antiquated hold outs (mostly municipal and government related). We have also scanned important documents and filed in Drop Box (insurance policies, boat manuals, etc.) thus we are about 95% electronic regarding paperwork.

Our official address for the next year while out on the seas will be in North Reading MA. Thank you, Christian.

Phone and internet: Both of our cell phones have been unlocked to allow us to purchase local SIM cards to avoid exuberant roaming charges. The WiFi router/booster will allow us to tap in to open WiFi signals when lucky enough to sniff them out. We also have two unlocked WiFi hot-spots with accounts on two different global providers (3G only) in case we can't find a better local option. This is the last resort as data on these plans is $90/GB!

Laptops, phones, mobile hot-spots will all help us stay connected.
A modest storage locker will be maintained to store boat supplies not needed on board, personal effects such as photos, and Bob's studio equipment for when we (probably) have a house again someday.

And saying good bye...

Friends and Family:  These final weeks before departure have been filled with wonderful visits and social engagements. My schedule, now unencumbered by a job, has allowed me to relish these times with friends and family while also attending to the myriad of trip preparations and logistics.

Our marina gatherings in the cockpit will be missed.

Dinner with Christian.
Final Connecticut visit with many including my brother, Tom, and his family.
Our former Arlington land based neighbors gathered with us at the marina for a send off dinner.
Biogen friends on Argon.

Wonderfully fun D Dock send off at the marina.

Sailing with D Dock friends.

Stachyra crew from upstate NY.
Ya think these two will stay outa trouble while we are away??
Another farewell dinner; this one in Portsmouth with Ken, Ginny and Justin.
A recent family reunion at cousin Geof's vacation home in Hillsdale NY was perfectly timed a few weeks prior to our departure.

Then there is the emotional component to all of this; the preparations have been a huge part of our lives for about three years. Now that departure is imminent, a mixture of excitement and anxiety swirls. Being away from Christian will be the most difficult aspect for me although I greatly look forward to fairly regular visits from the boys along our journey (as soon as early November in Bermuda). When asked how he felt about my upcoming trip recently, Christian replied "you're never more than a day away, mom". I will try not to overdo the texting and FaceTiming between our island visits.

My relationship will morph with these fine young men over the next year. I look forward to family gatherings in perhaps non-traditional and exotic places.

Lots of "Probably's"
We will probably return fall of 2017, probably to the Boston area, and will probably find a (small!) house; I will probably return to biotech research. However, nothing is definite. A welcome uncertainty lies ahead. This will also probably (hopefully) be our first extended cruise, not the only one; and we will probably be changed individuals continuing on our new, pivoted direction in life.


  1. Very psyched for you! How can the "sailboat stalkers" track and follow you? Please update regularly!

    1. A track of the most recent 10 hours underway is always on the desktop version. On the mobile version, there is a "Where is Argon Now" button that you can click to get that same track. (This of course relies on me remembering to press the record button on MY tablet). Hopefully soon, the tracks will be overlayed on a real Navionics marine chart, instead of google earth. The dev team is working on that now.

  2. Have a great time Linda and Bob! Look forward to reading about your new adventures to come! Jason M

    1. Thank you, Jason. As we are starting to experience cooler evenings here in New England, it of course occurs to me that summer is not over for us :-). Must be similar to how you feel living in southern latitudes these days. Extended summers are wonderful!

  3. Linda and Bob, wishing you safe travels and looking forward to reading along from Boston!

    1. Thank you, Catherine. And I wish you much success and fun as you tackle your new lifestyle, too, as a city dweller!

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  5. Wishing both of you a happy and safe adventure! Looking forward to reading about your new discoveries and adventures online!

    1. Thank you, Peggy! I miss my Biogen friends but am definitely excited about this break and the adventures ahead.


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