I Don’t Want Children, But I Want My Child

I once had a good friend tell me this.  She was a single mom who had her daughter at a very early age (eighteen) and raised her on her own through college and law school.  By the time she and I came to be friends, she was an established, reputable lawyer and her daughter was about to start high school, and she told me this statement over lunch one day.  


Sporting our “super serious” lawyer faces.  Love you Dottie!

I was actually talking to her about my impending divorce and all the things that entails─moving to a new house, dating, finding someone new and a re-assessment of my life goals─and I disclosed to her that I didn’t think I wanted to have children.  

“Oh, I don’t want children either,” she surprised me by saying, “but I want my child.”  


It’s a funny thing.  Once you bond with someone and they become ‘family,’ you can’t really undo the connection.  Why am I telling you all of this?  Because I’ve had several folks ask me since Phillip and I began sharing our re-fit with you all whether we wish we had bought a new boat.  More specifically, a good friend recently asked me over dinner: “Do you ever think about selling your boat and just buying a new one?”  I was actually taken aback by the question because my immediate, knee-jerk reaction was: “Never, absolutely not.”

Honestly, the thought has never crossed neither mine nor Phillip’s mind.  And, in trying to explain why that was my long-ago conversation with a wise single mother and her the seemingly-oxymoron statement about children came to mind.  Phillip and I can’t just “sell our boat” and buy a new one.  She’s family.  I had to laugh because the friend I was having dinner with had actually just been telling me about some troubles she was having with her teenage son and his─as she put it─”I have no clue what I want to do with my life, but I know everything and I hate you” phase.  So, I put it to her this way: “Do you ever think about trading your child in and just getting a new one?”

Like Phillip and I, she was taken aback.  It was a thought she had never possibly considered because you just can’t.  That’s how Phillip and I feel about our Niagara.  When you find “your boat” that’s exactly what she becomes: your child.  No matter how much she may irritate you, worry you, cost you, you never fathom the possibility of just giving up on her.  You can’t.  She’s family.  


It may sound cheesy, but it’s really the best way I feel I can put it.  Although much of what we are doing during these “times on the hard” are just necessary, every-so-often major things you have to do to a boat, it seems these projects seem a little frightening to those of you who are new to boat ownership.  Even if I were to couch it in those terms, purely for the sake of argument─i.e., that what we’re dealing with is a costly, project boat─if someone were to ask me why we hadn’t considered selling this “problem child” and buying a new one, my answer would be:

We don’t want a costly project boat, but we want our boat.  

Does that make sense?  Whether you have an old, 1960’s wooden schooner or a brand new Beneteau, she’s going to need maintenance.  She’s going to cost you time and money to keep her healthy and safe and she’s going to irritate you at times, make you want to curse and slap her.  


But other times she will bring you joy you could have never fathomed was possible without her.  Well-behaved or wild child, she is yours.  And for that reason, you want her.  


I don’t mean to belittle the question of whether we would prefer to hang up the towel and buy a new boat.  It is an honest response and inquiry from someone who has not yet found “their boat.”  But I thought─as many more of you likely have children as opposed to “your boat”─this could perhaps help you understand.  Phillip and I don’t want to spend our days in the shipyard.  We don’t want to spend more money than makes us comfortable on boat projects.  We don’t want to find a new potential problem area or another repair that needs to be done next month, next season or next year.  But, we want our boat.

Screenshot 2016-03-22 at 7.41.57 AM


On a side note, in real time today is STEP DAY.  All goes well, we’ll be putting the mast back up this afternoon.  Can’t wait to see our little boat with her stick back in the air!  Cross your fingers all goes well.  “You better get to stepping!” Captain says.


Boat Shopping Should Be Fun

“It should!  It should be a fun experience,” she said.  “Not a frustrating one.”  

Pam Wall told me this, just recently when I was speaking to her over the phone to get her contribution for the Gift of Cruising announcement video.  We’re getting so close I knew I had to get my ducks in order!  And, Pam said this sort of off-the-cuff, but it stuck with me:

“Boat shopping should be fun.”


Many of you out there may be boat shopping now or will be soon and maybe you’ve found the whole experience stressful, overwhelming, aggravating.  I’m here to say: “Don’t!”  The shopping is a fundamental part of the whole cruising experience.  You are finding your boat, your vessel, your ticket to world travel.  She will carry you, protect you, enlighten you.   Once you begin to sail her, learn her finicky ways, crack open her chest, her ribs and start working on all the tiny little wires and hoses inside, you will see she has a soul.  She will become the most integral part of your cruising plan.  If it takes time to find her, then it takes time.  Don’t rush it.  Savor every bit of the journey.  


Looking back on mine and Phillip’s initial boat-shopping days, I realize it’s a good thing I was so blissfully ignorant about the whole cruising experience then.  It freed me from over-analyzing the boats we stepped aboard and worrying too much about whether I would want a drop-down table or a permanent one, whether a separate shower stall was “a must” or whether we simply had to have a generator.  Because it was all so new to me and because I really didn’t know what life on a boat was going to be like, I just went with the flow and soaked it all in.  Phillip was saddled with the task of worrying about everything, but he really didn’t.  He had a few key features he knew he wanted.  Aside from that, all that was required was an affordable, well-maintained seaworthy yet fun-to-sail boat that “felt right” when he stepped aboard.  Those were his very words.  So, that was my only indicator: which boat “felt right” to me.  It eliminated all stress from the equation.  


This one certainly “felt right” to me.  The interior of our Niagara 35 before she was gutted at the yard.

With that factor gone, our boat-shopping experience turned into an adventure.  In fact, it was so much fun, the story that came out of the first boat we looked at─you may recall the tale of my very first sail, HookMouth and “I’m buried to port!”─still stands as my first post on this blog: February 16, 2013 ─ My First Sail.  It was also my first article published in Cruising Outpost and even made its way into my first Amazon best-selling book, Salt of a Sailor.  If a story that good can come out of it, surely it’s an experience worth savoring.  

photo (21)

Pam Wall inspired me to write this post as I worried many of you who are boat-shopping now may be cursing the whole endeavor.  Maybe you’re finding it frustrating, irritating, stressful and my goal is to turn that around.  “Boat-shopping should be fun,” she said.  Try to treat each new boat you look at as worthy of being “The One,” assuming it─as it must─”feels right” when you step aboard.  If it doesn’t, give it the opportunity to at least become a great story to tell some day:

“Remember that boat we looked at in Tarpon Springs?”  

“Oh Lord …  and the owner.  What was his name?”

“Oh yeah.  Sammy the self-proclaimed snake-handling expert.”

You never know what can come out of it.  Savor it all.  Your boat is out there waiting for you.  I can assure you.  And, you want to find her, not a “she’ll-do” filler because you grew weary of looking.  Be patient.  

You can’t hurry love.


WHOA.  Only $10 more to go.  This is happening kids!  Who wants the last opportunity to say you were part of it when it all started?


#44: The Gift of Cruising

Big news kids!  I’m going to give an invaluable gift of cruising to one of my Patrons.  If you all help just a little, I can give something very BIG to one of YOU.  I believe this is the best way to use my Patreon funds to give back.  Get inspired.  Get on board.  And GIVE!

I hope you’re excited about this idea because Phillip and I sure are.  We kept beating our heads against the wall trying to think of a better way to use Patreon, which is an awesome platform, in a new, creative way to really help people.  I wanted to set up some rewards for my supporters and, to be honest, I felt guilty saying “Help us get to $100 so we can get a drone,” “Help us get to $200 so we can go to Cuba,” etc.  Why?  Because, it’s not about us and our needs.  It’s about you.

Many of you may agree and many of you will find when you begin cruising that cruisers are some of the most helpful people you will ever meet.  I will continue to share our journey and progress through blog posts and videos, because I love doing it and I believe in it.  The free sharing of helpful information is one of the best aspects we have found about the cruising community.  Hundreds have helped us and we want to give back.  We want your dollars to enable us to help others not just help ourselves.  

Phillip and I made the decision a long time ago to cruise and we are working very hard to do that because we have found it to be an incredibly rewarding lifestyle.  Life on the boat is smaller, more meaningful.  In my view, it is an infinitely better way to spend the only commodity I believe we really haveour time.  I have had many people who read Keys to the Kingdom and wrote to me expressing the same sentiment.  They also want to change their lifestyle, focus on living with less while enjoying more and finding a more meaningful way to spend their time.  In short, they too want to cruise, so I have decided to use Patreon to help them.

I am going to give the Gift of Cruising to one of you.

My ultimate goal in all of this, the videos, the books, the blogs, is to share cruising with others, make folks understand the ups and downs and realities and rewards of it and get more people out on boats exploring the world.  We each have our own hurdles and obstacles holding us back and I want to give one of you that little nudge that makes this year the year you make the shift to really do it─go cruising.

So, what’s the first step?  We need to find you a boat!  I have many followers ask me what kind of boat I think they should get or what I think of certain models and layouts.  While I appreciate the credence they are giving me, I have to admit I feel like such a novice when it comes to this because I am truly only familiar with one type of boat─our Niagara 35.  For this reason, coming soon in the videos I plan to take you all on tours and show you the different types of boats we see out on the water and talk to their owners a bit for you so you can learn why they chose the boat they chose, how they use it or how they would improve it.  Learning about the different features and systems on different boats is key to helping you choose the right boat for you.  But, while learning about boats is key, it’s not enough.  What I really want to do is see one of you find your boat this year.  Hell, maybe you’ll be rigging and readying your boat to toss the lines when Phillip and I do this October.  I would love to see that happen.  With your help, I can.  

Here’s what I plan to do.  One of the first things I always recommend to anyone looking for a boat is to contact Pam Wall.  

Pam Wall and Jaime Wall sailing onboard Kandarik in Biscayne Bay, FL.
Pam Wall and Jaime Wall sailing onboard Kandarik in Biscayne Bay, FL.


For those of you who do not yet know Pam, she is a seasoned forty-year sailor, a circumnavigator, a speaker at all of the big time sailboat shows and the most knowledgeable boat owner I have ever met.  She was the cruising consultant for West Marine for years and she now offers her highly specialized skills in finding the right boat to folks just like you who are getting ready to go cruising.  Her “Find Your Boat” package is $1,000 and well worth every penny.  

photo 1 (4)     photo (10)

Pam will help you determine what types of boats will be right for your cruising needs.  She will scour boat listings, review and provide her opinion on any boat you want to consider. If you want to bring her out to the boat, she will inspect the vessel from bow to stern and provide you with her detailed thoughts and opinions.  Pam will also help you line up a surveyor and vendors whom she knows and trusts to perform repairs if necessary.  She will essentially be with you─an expert sitting on your shoulder─through every step of the boat buying process.  I mean, really?!  While we had a fantastic broker when we found our beloved Niagara, I know we would have benefited from Pam’s input as well.  Heck, she might have lifted the floorboards and found our rotten stringer.  Ha!

I want to give the gift of Pam’s knowledge and cruising skills to one of you to help you find your boat and follow your dream.  I want to see one of you in a boat this year accomplishing your cruising dreams, be it dropping the hook with your family for weekend outings or small trips or shoving off like Phillip and I for southern climates this coming season.  That is my goal, and I can do it with your help.  I’m going to do my part by donating toward Pam’s “Find Your Boat” package, Pam is going to do her part by stepping in to help one of you find your boat.  Now all we need is you, just a small donation from each of you to help support the cause.  Once my Patreon level reaches $200, your contribution will be enough to match my donation to get Pam working with one of you to help you find your boat.  Thousands of folks are watching these videos.  If you’re watching because you, too, have the desire to cruise, then I’m talking to you.  If only a fraction of my viewers give just a few dollars a week, I can do this.  What an awesome thing to be a part of!  

And, we will follow the lucky Patron as Pam connects with him or her and starts working her boat-finding magic!  We all will get to see the different boats they consider and watch as they inspect certain vessels, reject others and ultimately decide on and purchase a boat.  You will get to watch the entire journey develop.

And, I won’t stop there.  After the first gift, I’m going to give more.  I will set another goal and seek out other cruising “gifts” to give.  If you have any ideas or want to donate something for me to give one of my Patrons, I’m all ears and open arms.  This is about getting everyone “inspired and on board.”  I hope, at the next benchmark, perhaps I can send one of you to an on-the-water sailing seminar at one of the big boat shows, or give you a free ASA certification course or perhaps send you on one of Andy Schell’s offshore passages.  How effin cool would that be?!  It just takes a small donation on your part to help me give a very big gift to one of you.  You never know, it could be you!  Get inspired.  Get on board.