shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

The Friend Ship

September 1, 2014

What do you do when your body lives in Montana, but your heart and soul long for the ocean? When your job, your house, your wife, and your two-year old are in the valley between two lovely mountain chains, but you feel trapped by the lack of horizon and endless stretch of blue water? If you're a McBride, you quit your job, sell most everything you own, and move to Florida with glowing confidence showing for your wife and son to see, and fear and doubt in your heart. And you hope for the best.

Launching Squirt

After three years away from it, our youngest son knew he needed to get back on the water, but he also knew it wasn't going to be easy. We agreed to help in any way we could, but what none of us had anticipated was the outpouring of help from friends that truly made his lifestyle change possible.

I put out the word on social media that our son was looking for a boat. Immediately, links to various boats for sale came pouring in. Friends we hadn't talked to in years sent us information about boats for sale. Readers of Simply Sailing Online sent us links, photos, and contact information for interesting boats. A friend in Maryland even offered his extra bedroom for the kids to live in until they found a boat. Both our older sons live near the water and were willing to survey any boat David found interesting. The whole family, friends, even strangers were on the lookout. It was as if they all understood how necessary this was. We've all had dreams, and it seemed like everyone was wanting to help this 21-year old fulfill his.

The Friend Ship at last

We found a boat in Virginia that seemed promising. It showed well in pictures, the price was right, we are familiar with the area and would be comfortable leaving it there until the kids could move it down south, but we couldn't drive up from Florida to look at it. From our years in the islands, we became good friends with a young man who had grown up in that part of Virginia. We called him, he called a childhood friend who happens to be a yacht carpenter, and he willingly not only looked at it for us, but did a complete survey. And probably salvaged David's dream by convincing him not to buy it. (Tom, dinner is on us when we see you next. And Richard, all boat repair advice from DCC Boatworks is on the house for you from now on.) A guy David barely remembers spent an entire day on a boat for the sole purpose of helping him find his dream boat. That's a pretty good friend.

Boat life for a little guy

As the boat search continued, the 5 of us lived in a 485-square foot log cabin. Granted, most of us are used to boat life anyway, but somehow, throwing a 2-year old in the mix made it all seem a bit more crowded. Our landlord/friend had no problem with the extra family sharing our small rental. He even found work for David to do around the farm to help pad his boat fund. He donated an antique child's rocking chair for our grandson while he was with us. And he became part of the dream, too. He was even there when we launched Squirt, the dinghy Dave and David built for the boat they hadn't yet found.

Home is where my toys are.

Finally, after months of checking craigslist and walking the docks of every marina within driving distance, they found the boat. Not their "sail away" boat, but their "live on and save money for the sail away" boat. The marina had claimed it for unpaid back dockage. And the marina happened to be run by the wife of a good friend of ours from 10 years ago when we were first in this area. A very low price was agreed upon and once again, it was all about who you know.

A friend we have sailed in company with many times stores his boat near us. He is in the process of selling it after cruising with his family for two years, so he donated to the cause. He gave David a huge fisherman's anchor, baby toys, a jogging stroller, kid's wetsuits, lifejackets, more things than I can remember. Anyone who has tried to cruise with kids knows how hard this transition can be, so he was particularly helpful.

David and his son, back where they belong.

The week before the kids moved onboard, another friend mentioned a job opening where she works. She remembers David from when he was the long haired, barefoot 10-year old running down the dock, hustling boat detailing work. An interview, a good recommendation, and suddenly he was employed AND a new boat owner all in the same week. This same friend offered for them to live in her extra room until they got the boat thing straightened out. That's quite an offer for a single woman to make! (Mexican is on us, Angie.)

Moving day corresponded with a visit from our oldest son, so he got to help with the move aboard. How wonderful it must be, for our kids, our friends and family, even strangers who have been following the 6-month process, to have proof once again that you can make even seemingly impossible dreams come true. Though the name on the boat is "First Light," we jokingly tell David he should name it the Friend Ship.

Not happy with the life you're living? Change it. Will it be easy? Doubtful. If it were there wouldn't be so many people saying, "I wish I could." I'm thankful to have been able to teach my kids that you really can do anything you want. With a little help from your friends.

With many snowbirds considering where to spend the winter this year, MONDAY we'll share our experience at a popular spot in the Keys.

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