While we certainly did not plan it that way, and I didn’t even notice until we arrived in Annapolis, MD, I will never forget the day we moved aboard our new 2015 Outbound 46, Ubiquitous (who has since taken on the fun nickname gifted to us by her former owner: “UbiQ”) as it was April 3, 2021. As in four … three … two … one … BLASTOFF! On our new adventure.
The sun was just starting to set over the interstate when we set off on what we jokingly called “our first overnight in the Prius.” It was roughly a 15-hour drive from our home in Florida to Maryland, where the boat was docked, and we had too much ridiculous boat/cruiser stuff to even think about flying with it all.
Think kite gear, wake boards, pots, pans, tons of tools (including big ass tools), spares, dishes, bedding, foul weather gear, pumps, gadgets, … the list goes on. Phillip and I were both a bit amazed at the sheer quantity of stuff we had been able to cram into our “little” Niagara 35. We first debated shipping it all via a crate or pallet or renting a sprinter van, perhaps. But after playing some creative Prius Tetris in the garage and going nuts with the Space Saver bags it seemed about 80% of our boat stuff was going to fit in the Prius for the first haul. We liked this option for our first trek to Ubiquitous because it would give us a free “run-around” car for the four to six weeks we knew we would spend moving onto our new Outbound, provisioning her, and getting some things dialed in before we would fly back home to handle some work/admin matters later in the summer. Because this wasn’t a permanent move-aboard, shove-off situation.
At least not immediately, not yet. For us—two lawyers working remotely with a full workload—a sudden shift, from spending only winters aboard and commuter cruising the rest of the year, to 100% full-time liveaboards off somewhere disconnected in the remote islands, even on a boat as spacious and comfortable as the Outbound, was just too extreme at this immediate juncture. Phillip and I need reliable wifi and cell signal to continue doing the work that we love and that funds our cruising. We also need to be able to hop on a plane frequently so we can handle matters that come up that require our presence. Our version of cruising may not be what many picture when they dream about selling everything and sailing over the horizon and, you know what?
That’s totally okay. Cruising is not one size fits all. It’s whatever fits you.
And the reality of it, as opposed to the dream, will always be better, even if it’s not what you initially envisioned. Phillip and I have learned (the hard and costly way) that schedules and rigid time/place commitments can really throw a wrench in the overall goal and plan to cruise slowly safely. We also know nothing has to happen fast. Are we going to sail the Caribbean? Are we going to cross oceans? Of course, but as with everything that happens on a boat: Smooth is Fast. Hence, our goal back in April, 2021 had been to slowly move aboard, get to know and understand UbiQ (there are a lot of new systems to absorb and learn), and start to fix and maintain her minor issues while gunkholing around in the Chesapeake and flying home as needed. Then we planned to tackle the bigger items that were identified during the survey/sea-trial during a haul-out scheduled in the fall before we prepared to shove off for the winter months, as we normally do, headed south.
While the USVIs, BVIs, and the Caribbean in general have always been a goal, particularly one we would like to achieve after failing to accomplish that journey in November, 2019, it was just one potential plan among others. Honestly, after dealing with a winterized boat during the survey/sea-trial—a totally foreign concept to us in sunny Florida—that was covered in snow when we first saw photos of her, our only real plan for the winter was: TO NOT WINTERIZE THE BOAT. That was it. Whatever journey took us to climates during the winter that would not require us to winterize the boat, Phillip and I vowed to consider a successful cruising season.
Pretty simple plan, no? Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. The freedom this plan afforded us actually excited me as I had no idea what my next five to six months would look like, where exactly we would be, what sights and cities we might visit. All we knew was that we had just bought a really badass boat that was a dream to spend time on, we had steady income with the ability to work remotely, we are healthy, and the world is our oyster. Can it get any better? Our answer is no! I think you can see that excitement in this silly photo I snapped when we first started to move onto UbiQ and settle in for our first night aboard.
So, what fun things were we doing in the weeks leading up to and following 4-3-2-1? It still feels like a whirlwind …
We went out for our last sail aboard Plaintiff’s Rest as her owners, a bittersweet but heartwarming sail.
We had plenty of get-togethers with Pensacola friends we knew we wouldn’t see for a few months.
We sucked every soft good possible down and packed the Prius to the gills.
We “shoved off” on a 15-hour drive across country from Florida to Maryland.
We found ourselves mesmerized waking up in the vberth of Ubiquitous which feels more like a hotel room than a boat.
Photos preserved in Annie’s mind only …
We started finding places to put everything, then changing our minds, then changing them again (shout-out to my brother who bought us this awesome Galleyware nesting pan set that fit perfectly under the oven).
We cooked and had our first “romantic” night aboard, with our oil-stained “garage sheet” (a work sheet we’ve laid down for umpteen thousand boat projects) as our table cloth.
We started labeling things like nobody’s business (thank you P-Touch!).
We found ourselves thrilled to find we had landed in Annapolis right when all of the dogwoods and cherry trees were blooming – it was mind-blowingly beautiful.
We started the first of many “things we need for the new boat” lists.
We started doing little projects that made us feel like we were accomplishing things.
We were mesmerized at how much sailing goes on here, every day, particularly by the youngsters who find it “fun” to tack around in tiny spaces!
We cooked (lawyer by day, chef by night : ).
We hosted our first guests aboard UbiQ (say hello to long-time Annapolis sailors and good friends of UbiQ’s former owner, Richard and Idarae!).
We fell in love with watching the ducks, boaters, artists, and ice-cream eaters at the end of Ego Alley (I spent many days there working at what I call my “branch office,” which is essentially wherever I can find wifi for the day).
And, we let the boat start deciding how we were going to spend each day (#newboatnewproblems) as the boat maintenance never stops.
Those first few weeks aboard were filled with squeals, cheers, research, and head scratches as we began to dig into our new Pandora’s Box. While the Outbound was definitely a significant upgrade, in many ways it came with all of the very familiar problems, issues, comforts, and discomforts that life aboard can bring. That part of it actually thrilled me because I think the durability that life aboard requires is one of the things I love most about cruising. I kind of like that it takes extra steps to make coffee, do the laundry, shower, “start the car” (aka lower the dinghy and crank the outboard) and “keep the place up” (maintain the boat). When those extra sweaty steps come with the tradeoff that I don’t have to blow-dry my hair or put on a suit or go to a fluorescent-lit cubicle to sit and work all day, it’s a more rugged, rich lifestyle I can wrap my arms around and fully embrace.
feel that life aboard UbiQ was going to be very different than life aboard Plaintiff’s Rest but in more important ways, the very same. There is just something about happy hour in the cockpit, particularly after a physically demanding day of boat work followed by a cockpit shower, that just fills my cup. I could tell immediately this new hybrid life—with UbiQ at the center—was going to fit me like a glove.
Next time, I will share our first attempts docking this new beast (one of the things that really made us hesitate in getting a bigger boat) and our first bumps and bangs (because those are going to happen). We also look forward to sharing our thoughts on how UbiQ sails, with just the two of us aboard, her sail plan and the Dutchman system on the main, as well as using electric winches. Oh, and our first gale aboard UbiQ. Yuck. But, we survived! Stay tuned!