How We Did What We Did, and How We Do What We Do
Since we came aboard Camino in Grenada last June, Chantal and I have heard from many people and friends who have enjoyed and supported our journey. Folks have written to us and told us we are “living the dream” and providing them with the fuel for their own dreams. With that in mind, I thought I would create a post that fills in some of the back story, so that those of you who want to find your own camino can be inspired further.
It would be nice to point to a single, big-bang moment in our past and say, “That’s it! That’s what started us on this journey!” But this experience is probably more cumulative than anything else, a natural progression of the unique life we have been living ever since we met as ski instructors, fell in love, and moved to France. Historians, however, demand creation myths. Here’s ours.
In December 2016, we vacationed in Guadeloupe, and for four days and three nights we chartered a sailboat (with captain) and sailed to Marie Gallant and The Saints. It was a blast, and somewhere a seed was planted. The next year we sold the inn. And in 2021, with the housing market on fire, we sold one of our properties, and decided to buy a sailboat and go cruising.
Our reasoning was simple: We were ready for another adventure. Both our sons were graduated from university and living on their own (in properties we owned and rented to them). There were no grandchildren on the horizon. And, after two years of Covid, we wanted to travel. After defining our expectations and budget, we shopped for a boat online. The boat that became Camino popped up in Grenada, checked most of the boxes, and we bought it.
Before traveling to Grenada in June 2021 to go aboard, we had to have a plan. Part of the plan was that I would continue teaching online, something I had done at the Community College of Vermont since 2010. I would have to resign from the committees I sat on, but the teaching would provide us with a good baseline income. Our properties would be managed by our sons, so all we needed was a good internet connection and we would be off.
Like many others, we had watched lots of YouTube sailing videos—some of them good in a practical sense, some of them good in an entertaining sense. We understood that going sailing was not something to be undertaken lightly—but it could be done. So we signed up for sailing lessons and studied the ASA books diligently.
To say that we were overwhelmed when we came aboard is accurate. Everything had to be learned. “WTF Is This Thing On My Boat?” became my favorite Facebook group. We spent many Happy Hours chatting up seasoned sailors. We studied Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual. And we were graced with lots of support in the sailing community.
When our lessons to sail fell through, we found an experienced sailor to give us some instruction. Slowly, we began to venture out of Woburn Bay, sailing ourselves. We learned more about the different systems on board, remained flummoxed by much of the electronics, and settled into a hot, humid summer in Grenada, as we planned our itinerary. And then, life.
We returned to the U.S. for September and October to help a family member. The return had the benefit of giving us some perspective on what we wanted this sailing life to look like, and we decided that we would be happier spending summers in Vermont. But that was a long way off. We still needed to set some sail. On the way back down to Grenada in November we had the opportunity to crew on a friend’s boat from Newport, RI, to Florida. It was an excellent trip filled with experience and learning opportunities for us, providing us with some good seasoning.
Back in Grenada, we spent a couple of weeks preparing to leave, and then we sailed away. First around the southern tip of Grenada to St. George’s, then up to Carriacou, Union Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bequia, and Martinique. The sailing was challenging for us, with the wind and seas often on our nose, and we learned about motorsailing.
In addition to visiting some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, we tapped into an incredibly supportive community of sailors. In every anchorage we discovered people doing what we were doing, at different levels and different rates of travel. And they always found ways to come together and help each other—and share good food and drink. Without them, we could not do this.
We are now well-past the mid-winter mark and happily anchored in Martinique, which was one of our goals. We may spend a few weeks in Guadeloupe in March, but that is just an idea right now. At some point, we will point Camino south and head back to Grenada to haul out for the summer. Or maybe not. Our only solid idea that has morphed into a goal is that we will be back in Vermont for the summer. Sailing has taught us a few things about planning, so we remain flexible and grateful for this moment.
If anyone reading this would like to speak with us in greater detail about what we are doing and how we do it, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to share our knowledge as it has been shared with us. Buen Camino!