Friday, September 12, 2014

9/12/14 More on "Fit to Be Tied"

One of the things I really like about writing a blog as a medium is the close interaction one has, as a writer, with the readers.  Whenever I write a post with even a remote amount of controversy involved you can count on someone's feathers to get ruffled.  Sometimes folks get bent out of shape at the simplest things and as a blogger I don't have the luxury of saying, "Hey it's none of your business!"  If I wrote it and put it out there it becomes everyone's business.  So todays blog is to answer the comments.

First of all I want to thank EVERYONE for the comments.  The ones on the blog are not even close to the number I have on our "Wandering Dolphin" Facebook page and even in private messages on Facebook.  I also want to thank not just the folks who have encouraged me but the ones who disagree and told me to stop acting like a baby.

To those of you who sent me encouragement I want to thank you and tell you that it really meant a lot to me.  I have been feeling down for a couple of weeks now and it is a new experience for me.  I am the eternal optimist and to feel like I am falling in a hole and that I cant dig my way out is new for me.  Your comments made me feel like I was not alone.  Some of you shared your own experiences as land bound sailors and others just reminded me that this is just a season not a lifetime.  Thanks also to the reader who encouraged me to read the "Impermanence" blog about the full time RVers.  The feelings I am feeling are pretty normal for any of us who have chosen a lifestyle that doesn't fit into the mold.

I also wanted to respond to the following comment (posted anonymously by the way) and discuss it in depth a bit because I think it hits on what is really bothering me right now.

"I don't know you or your family but I've followed your 'wanderings' for some time now. I have to say I'm more than a little surprised at your comments.
You say 'we' made this move, 'we' spent every dime, 'we' owe money, 'we' have all this debt. So to whom are you complaining? Who told you to make the move? If things were so good in the VI, why leave there?
Did you research job opportunities before moving? Did you plan it? Sure doesn't sound like it.
'Enslavement of a normal American life'? WTF? If you feel enslaved by this move that YOU made, point the finger right at yourself (remember the 'we'?).
Washington is no more "full of restrictions and rules and laws...designed to curb my freedom..." than any other civilized place.
You don't like it here? Well, quit your whining and leave. Just don't let the main sail hit you on the ass on your way out of Puget Sound!"

Whenever I write a blog and post my deepest feelings I expect there to be at least one person who will decide that they need to "put me in my place."  It does take a certain amount of courage to write your feelings out for anyone to stomp on.  It would have been very easy to sit back and let my readers believe that all is well in the world of Wandering Dolphin.  It's all smiles and cotton candy clouds here.  There are a lot of readers who are dreaming of moving on to a boat and living this dream and if what I write is negative or not in a happy tone they sometimes feel personally attacked.  I believe that I should be honest with my readers and share the lows right along with the highs.  This reader was surprised by the blog post because it is usually so upbeat and positive about our life and suddenly it wasn't.

I have reread the blog post and I cannot find anyplace where I was blaming anyone else for our current situation.  I am pretty sure that it was our choice to be here; it was our choice to spend every dime to get here; we willingly took money in debt from kind family members to help us out.  Do I have to be blaming anyone to be feeling like a choice I have made was not, perhaps, the smartest move?  I don't think so.  

Did we research?  Did we plan?  We have been living on our boat for almost 10 years and EVERY year we find work almost immediately.  We are not rocket scientists or brain surgeons.  Beck is a waitress and bartender and I deliver boats.  No we didn't look for a bar-tending or waitress job in Washington for Beck while we were in St Thomas.  Based on past experience we thought it wouldn't be that hard to find a job.  We didn't count on the fact that because of ObamaCare no one is hiring full time anymore for these jobs.  We planned only as far as to make sure we had a slip in a marina because we did know about the restrictions placed on anchored live-aboards in Washington.

Did I know how much I would miss diving off the boat into the clear Caribbean sea for a swim every day after school?  I have to admit, I suspected it for sure but I didn't anticipate the strength of the culture shock I am experiencing right now.  Yep "culture shock" Just think about it for a moment.  This time last year and for the past six I was able to look off my boat at a pretty little beach, the boat and water were warm and we were able to scuba dive and swim right off the boat.  My view now is ... well a marina and we are waking up freezing already.  Do I blame anyone but myself for this? Nope!  My fault!  I don't mean to make you as a Washingtonian feel personally attacked by this comparison either but come on now.  Put yourself in my position.  St Thomas sure has it's problems and we were ready to leave but give me the right to feel a little culture shock will ya?

"Enslavement of the normal American Life."  I really thought there might be more people to get their panties in a bunch over that to be honest with you.  But, "YEP."  Enslavement - the NORMAL American debt per household is $154,000.00.  That is debt not bills.  On top of the payments for that debt most Americans have car, house, life, health insurance, water bill, gas bill, multiple phone bills, state taxes, cable, and a bunch more I am probably forgetting.  As a family who is coming from a phone bill and life insurance payment and .000 debt  I look at the "normal" American and see someone who is enslaved.  We are also used to a very mobile life.  If I can't pull up the hook and leave because I don't like my neighbor I feel trapped.  Once again... I didn't blame you, the poor sap stuck in a dead end job and hating his enslaved life, for this move I made but that certainly doesn't mean I have to like the outcome of my choices so far.  

Washington is no more "full of restrictions and rules and laws...designed to curb my freedom..." than any other civilized place.

I guess Wyoming and Montana, where I grew up are not civilized... they don't have nearly as many petty laws in those states (actually I am pretty sure that folks from both of those states would consider it a compliment to be told that they are uncivilized.)  We have been to a lot of countries and a lot of States and Washington is certainly not the only place with a LOT of laws and rules that directly impact my freedoms as a boater.  Florida has enough of them that I actually did take your advice and stopped going there all together.  Fortunately there are still those wonderful "uncivilized" places on the planet and you are dead right my friend, I need to set sail for the uncivilized!  Oh, and I ALWAYS put out a preventer so there isn't much of a chance that my Main will hit me in the ass.

Wow!  This whole process was really cathartic!  I feel so much better now!

Captain Tofer


  1. Spot on. Best to you and your family.

  2. Stay free and keep wandering. Looking forward to being debt free some far off day.

  3. Full support for you and your wandering family from ours! My comment to your previous post, evidently, didn't go through but here's the gist of it...
    Two things that have helped me in the past:
    On a note card I write one long term goal, one short term and the reason I chose to make the decision to be where I am at the moment. I carry it around and look at it every time I'm frustrated or need a boost. Eventually we're on to better things and it gets put into a folder with the rest of them.

    The other thing is to get outside, take a walk around some trees! I imagine that it's nature that you've been missing. It's always shocking how much a walk in the woods helps clear my mind.
    I guide camping tours throughout North America, just drop me a line if you want any location info!

    Your honest writing is very refreshing, educational, inspiring and may serve to keep someone else out of a tough situation or to get through a difficult time they're having.

    Keep on keeping on!

  4. You are right, you first admit your mistakes, then learn from your mistakes, and use that knowledge to improve your decision making. If you can't admit your mistakes, then you can't learn and won't improve your decision making.

    Losing is learning, winning is to have learned.

    Most of the slaves who got ticked at you probably fall into one of two groups. 1) They chose their mold they want to live in because it makes them feel safer and more secure with regular income and such or 2) they feel trapped in their slavery and are jealous of your freedom because they are afraid to try reaching for freedom because they might fail not realizing that the most successful people fail a number of times before they succeed. Most people are terrified by the thought of trying to achieve their dreams, being abnormal, and envy or hate those who can. Many even think you are crazy for even trying to achieve your dreams and think everyone should be afraid to try like them. Such people often revel when you fail or have problems because, in their minds, your failure and problems prove them right for not trying. Such people frequently use other people's problems and failures to justify them not trying.

    You have shown the ability to adapt to failure and turn it into success. You did it before and you can do it again. God will show you a way. :-)

    Yes, the civilized world is more restrictive than the uncivilized world because civilization puts restrictions on people. There are always people who think there should be more restrictions on others and, in a civilized world, they usually get their way causing problems for freedom seekers.

    Hey, by the grace of God, you may only be a slave for a little while. Maybe this is a lesson to help you appreciate your freedom even more when you get it back?

  5. Washington is referred to as a "nanny state" by those who live there and those who don't anymore. There are rules for just about everything. Although I've never done it, I can only imagine how difficult it is to be a live aboard in the state. Good luck with this phase of your life.

  6. I live in Washington State and can attest to the relatively high cost of living. Moorage for my 30 foot sailboat is $300/month. And of course you need to demonstrate liability insurance for moorage at most marinas, etc.. If you've got kids, well, you know how expensive they are. I also think Blaine is tough because the nearest grocery/hardware is not really convenient to the public marina. You need a car to get there and back. After recently provisioning at the "Cost Cutter" there, I thought the prices were relatively high compared to quality.

    But to Tofer's point about swallowing the anchor, if temporarily: Living the life of the Wandering Dolphin crew over the past years is an alternate reality that few can, or chose to, pull off. What a wonderful thing for that crew to do it for as long as they have! Going to a more pedestrian lifestyle is just not going to measure up. It's kind of like the first time I moved from Seattle to inland California. It nearly killed me being away from the water. I can totally understand not being able to simply jump over the side for a refreshing dip or a snorkel most days, or being tied up to a dock with the scenery not really changing. Add Pacific Northwest weather (no reliable breeze, not to mention sun), and you can quickly get to a dark place.

    But the reason I live here is for the astounding natural beauty that is available, and the best cruising grounds in North America. We can head North for months, and experience a change of scenery that is truly beautiful. Fjord-like inlets and the ability to sail up to waterfalls. You can round Vancouver Island to explore the inlets and bays on the west side. Mount Baker is close, and the Cascades afford excellent hiking.

    It requires a shift in focus for the family, which is difficult given your extraordinary cruising life thus far. I mean, you can sail over to Sucia in a couple of hours from where you are moored and drop the hook in relative privacy. Grab a mooring ball in Ewing Cove, and you will find it sublime (watch the rock on the chart!). Then go ashore and hike the trails that extend all over the island. Way different from the Blaine Public Marina, and so close! Or sail down for the weekend to stay at Bell Harbor Marina right on the Seattle Waterfront. You can walk to the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, or the Seattle Center without spending a lot of money. Get some discount tickets for a Settle Sounders game!

    Anyway, I've "slaved" here most of my adult life while raising three kids. The last one just went off to college at our fine Flagship university. No regrets, and I have a lot of great warm water cruising in front of me. As you mentioned, this is just a "season." After adjusting your sails, and replenishing the kitty a little, I think the Wandering Dolphin crew will come to enjoy their time in Washington. Fair Winds! Scott

  7. Thanks! The boys and I are sure looking forward to some hikes in the mountains.