When new acquaintances find out we retired early and left the U.S. to go cruising for six years, the first response is usually “you are SO lucky”. I will admit to feeling very lucky to enjoy the lifestyle we’ve enjoyed for the past seven years. But the next part of the response always floors me … “I could never retire, what would I DO all day?”.
I must admit, before retiring, neither of us gave much thought to what we’d do all day. Our days were so hectic and stressful, we couldn’t wait to “do nothing” for a bit. But after we sold two companies, relocated to the boat six months a year and “retired”, we found we just got busier. Such a flurry of activity getting the boat ready to leave the U.S. and now we know the “boat projects” part of our day never ends. But that’s part of keeping an almost 30 year old boat in cruising condition.
Now our days are always start with the realization that “it’s another beautiful day in paradise” and end with “where did the day go, did we accomplish ANYTHING?”. And that’s just fine with us. The reality is, we do accomplish a lot during any given day — more while still stuck at this dock than when we’re actually cruising. But we are never bored. There’s too much to enjoy in life!!
So I guess I’d say to those that are worried about retiring on their boat to GO FOR IT! You never know when health issues or other complications will pop up and interfere with your dream. Our theory is that cruising will cost as much as you have … i.e. if you have a smaller amount saved for the “cruising kitty”, then it’s SO worth it to scale back the dream rather than give up the dream… or worse yet, never start the dream, always saying … next year … or just as soon as I do … whatever.
I’m sure some day we won’t have the boat and all of a sudden our time (and money) will probably seem out of kilter. But there are so many things I haven’t done yet … learn to take better photos, teach our grandkids to waterski, learn to play a guitar, get really fluent in another language, write a book (well, OK, I’ve co-authored a cookbook, The Boat Galley Cookbook), but that’s not the book I have in mind, read more books, take a long distance bike trip, hike in every US National Park, learn more about the stars I see at night, travel to Alaska … the list just goes on and on.
If you’re thinking about retiring but just can’t quite figure out what you’d do all day, sit down and really think about things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had time — teach your grandson to fish, read more books, learn to take photos or edit your photos on your computer, learn a language, learn about investing, learn about how our marina got its name, learn about the baby starfish we just found… learn … learn … learn. I guess our “secret” is that we’re immensely curious and never intend to stop learning. I have confidence that every one of us can think of a few things they’ve always wanted to do and haven’t had time. And if you’re feeling down, think in terms of some volunteer something you can do for someone less fortunate – there’s nothing to make you feel more worthwhile – and it has the advantage of not costing much money … help paint a kids school where you’re cruising, if you’re handy with tools, volunteer to build something they need. Get involved, mentor a child, teach someone English or to read even if you’re not a teacher. If you want to make it even more fun, think in terms of things you can do that won’t cost a lot of money — that should reassure you that you could retire on less than you might think. Make a game of it and HAVE FUN!
But whatever you do, don’t convince yourself it’s not possible. Because anything is possible!