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.

When You Get Overwhelmed

January 19, 2015

If you've ever tried to get a boat ready--for a weekend sail or a trip to the Caribbean--you know the feeling. The lists keep growing. It seems the more you do the more you still need to do. You buy and do and organize and work until all hours of the night and still you find you are no closer to your ultimate goal than you were before. Don't despair. You're not alone. There is hope. Here is our advice.

First of all, STOP. Stop buying, stop doing, stop planning, just stop. Take a deep breath, and be honest with yourself. If you think you must do and buy everything on the list, you will never go sailing. It's really that simple. A boat is never done. It is YOU who controls when enough is enough, so be prepared to do so. Take an honest look at your boat and start making lists. If you're like me, this is best done with pencil and paper, but I concede that there are those out there who work best on a digital device. Have at it. It's all the same result. The important thing is to get it all on paper so that you can look at every item you think you need to do or buy. Since these are separate issues, let's start with the TO DO list.

There are some projects that must be completed before others and some projects that must be completed before you sail away. (No, not every project must be done before you leave. That's a misconception that keeps many boats at the dock instead of sailing.) For example, the rot in the deck must be addressed before you repaint the decks. The toe rail needs repaired before you paint the hull. Wait a minute. Does the hull HAVE to be painted? Probably not, no. Again, YOU control the list. Have the nerve to say no. If you want to paint the hull, fine, but remember, you are trading sailing for painting. How important is that shine that you're going to wear off in a year or so?

So she needs a little work...

Once you have a prioritized list, jobs that must be completed and those that are order-specific, you may start your TO BUY list. What materials do you need for each project? If you are going to need one material for multiple projects (epoxy, for example) then you will probably save time and money by purchasing the total amount needed, rather than buying for each project. However, this is the only time you should allow yourself to buy before you are ready. I have said it before, but I don't mind beating that horse: Do NOT buy everything on your TO BUY list. I have seen it happen over and over. Look at boats for sale and you will see it, too. The boat is there, along with all the parts to fix it. But the projects never got done. Why? That overwhelmed feeling took over. If you have a pile of parts for 15 projects sitting there, it is easy to decide that it's just too much for you. You can't possibly do it all. You're right, of course. But again, you don't HAVE to do it all. YOU control the list.

Pick the top priority project. For us, this is getting a new shaft and finding a way to align the motor with a 5-foot shaft. We have battled this alignment issue for 14 years and Dave has finally decided he is going to beat it. Even if that's the only project that gets done before we splash. (I'm fully prepared for that.) Now, concentrate ALL your efforts, thought, money, and energy into completing that one project. Ignore the rest of the list. You control it, not the other way around. Once you have finished that one, most important project, you may find that the others were really just optional and it's time to go sailing, in which case, GOOD FOR YOU! If there is another project that truly must be completed before you cast off, now is the time to buy what you need to complete it and concentrate all your time, efforts, energy, and brain power on it.

But with every project that gets completed, be honest with yourself. Do you really need to go on with your list? Does the varnish really need to be done? If you are a victim of tinker-itis, then by all means, spend the next seven years getting your boat ready. If you want to go sailing, however, you might just have to crumble up that list. (That's when it's satisfying to have it on paper.)

I have seen sailors go to their boats with three-page lists and a month to complete it. And nothing gets done. If you go to your boat with ONE project to do, it will more likely get done. Besides, unless you are building a boat from the keel up, there isn't a boat out there that NEEDS three pages worth of work to go sailing. You may CHOOSE to do all those projects, or you can choose to go sailing. I'm not judging, I'm simply reminding you. YOU control the list.

Now it's time for us to get to work. We have A project to finish. We may do another one after that, but more than likely, we'll just go sailing. See you out there.

While we are waiting for the weather to clear enough for us to move Eurisko to the workyard so we can start our ONE project, we have been futzing with the dinghy. MONDAY we'll show you a cheap and easy way to get a professional-looking name on your dinghy.

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