“What if all I want is a small, slow, simple life?…What if I am most happy in the space of in between?… Where calm lives… What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?” … Exerpt from “What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” an essay by Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui
When I look back to how our lives have changed over the past five years and even how the tone of our blog posts have changed, I have to shake my head and wonder when we actually altered course. Our blog used to be all about what we did with the boat, where we went, the problems we had and how we solved them, the modifications we made. It was to have been a journal of sorts of our journey and in part for those who had similar boats or intentions.
We’ve had some pretty cool adventures on our little boat and made changes on her to transform her into our little water chalet . Our first year, Trois Rivieres to Quebec City . The Rideau Loop and Thousand Islands our second. New York and Long Island Sound our third. And last year our biggest adventure to date, the magestic St Lawrence River and Gaspe region.
These were all a part of a five year plus plan we created that centred around R.E.D. This year, summer 2017, was to be have been our three-month Lake Huron and Georgian Bay cruise. Weather with so much rain bringing high water levels seriously cut into our planned time away so we headed east instead where we fell in love all over again. Next year, 2018, was to have been our Great American Loop Adventure, taking a year off to cruise to the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida (maybe taking a side trip across to the Bahamas) then back up the Intracoastal Waterway making our way home. The Canadian versus US dollar and the current political climate has discouraged us from continuing down that road…for now at least.
We threw around the idea as a lot of cruisers do, living aboard or spending six months somewhere in the south on the boat during the winter months. A very appealing dream it is. But as we see with cruising bloggers whose adventures we’ve followed, so many seem to have branched off after several years into land-based pursuits leaving water life behind. And as we age, concerns about health care and increased costs of insurance became a very real focus.
We even looked into the costing of buying a land-based live-aboard vehicle, specifically the Canadian made Safari Condo with about the same amount of living space as R.E.D. Sharing our ideas and dreams with each other of travelling through our great country, through the US and further became a fun pastime for us. Loading it on a boat to cross over to Europe was also considered. But then R.E.D. happened. She was an expansion of the RV idea of travellling and exploring allowing us to change not only land plan but water as well. The best of both worlds.
There is so much more we want to do with our lives too. If we invest totally in a water life will we be able to feed our other passions? Travel for instance. Francois lived for two years in the south of France and promised that someday he would take me there. I was lucky enough to have bare boat sailed in the British Virgins so have promised to take Francois someday to re-live with him those adventures.
RED by the SEA
All of this brought us to thinking about a life at the edge of the sea instead of a life on the sea which led us to where we are now…our RED by the SEA. We can still return to cruise Lake Huron someday. We can still revisit the Great American Loop plan. But this shift has freed us up to do other things while continuing to explore this beautiful part of Canada. The Saint John River for example has been called the Rhine of North America and is now added to our water plan. And sailing the exquisite Bras d’Or Lakes nestled in the centre of the Cape Breton highlands, is something I’ve dreamed of doing for many years now.
Bras d’Or Lakes photo CaperPics
As you read this post we are no longer Montrealers. We are nomads, literally homeless for the next few weeks until RED by the SEA is legally ours. Of course we’ll return for family and friend visits but it’s with so much emotion that we leave behind our nest that was to have been our ‘forever’ place with its magnificent four season views, replacing a city life for one in the country.
Our belongings are now packed into the POD. All our wordly possessions reduced to a little over 1000 cubic feet (and yes, to those who placed your bets, everything fit thanks to my master planner. Was there really ever any doubt?)
Our Life in a Box
Are we ‘settling’? Are we compromising? A lot of thought and soul searching went into this latest decision and it feels so right. It’s like slipping into a warm bath, or putting on a favourite pair of jeans or hanging with your best friend. We haven’t settled or compromised. Not at all! We’re right where we should be, that space of in between where calm lives.
Where Calm Lives
Post Script: french translation is automated and not always perfect. Sorry
Flash back to the other day when we were still in our ‘honeymoon’ home buying phase, all priorities checked off our wish list. Add to that an excellent home inspector’s report…then a not so excellent septic report….then the sound of the other shoe dropping. Water report: unacceptable. More than good reason to terminate our contract. We felt comfortable to walk away and start our search anew. Moderately disappointing but who wants to take on a hornet’s nest of other’s problems?
Fast forward to present time. The seller is willing to replace the septic system at their expense which means it will have to be done by today’s standards, engineer designed and Nova Scotia Environment certified which means also the correct distance from the well.
What shall we do?!?!
We went back to our original thoughts, our original list, our original impressions. We added extra criteria. Do we see ourselves here in ten years, twenty years or longer? Do I see myself here if anything should happen to Francois? Then a bigger question that gave Francois reason to stop and think. Would he be happy here if anything should happen to me? Good question, he said. After he thought for a while he said that yes, he could see himself living here without me but it would feel empty. Now I said, remove me from the equation. Pretend I’m not here (I know it’s hard to do, haha). Would you accept the new offer? I would, he said.
This septic and water issue had put a cloud over the whole deal not too dissimilar to when we first bought R.E.D., brought her home, splashed her, spent the first night onboard to awaken to 3″ of water in the cabin. More than one person advised us to return her. You can get so much more boat for that price they said. There were tears, sleepless nights and so much doubt. We lost faith in her integrity. But once the problems were remedied she regained our trust. With each issue encountered – and there were many – we fixed it, seeing it as a way to get to know our boat more intimately. We look back now and think we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We stuck with R.E.D. and she has given us five years of unforgettable adventures…and there will be more.
There is no perfect…ever. The idea of utopia keeps us all looking forward, seeking the sometimes unattainable. There will always be something better. Always a sweeter deal around the next corner. We are trying hard not to get caught up in chasing the ‘more’, the ‘better’, the ‘bigger’, the endless ‘what if’s’. But we don’t want to settle either. This little RED by the SEA is certainly not perfect. She comes with her own flaws, however charming. She’s old. She has stairs we will need to climb and should we become disabled this could present an issue. The view of the sea will diminish with time as the trees grow taller.
We sat here this morning with our first coffee revisitng the discussion of what to do. We tried really hard to come up with more than just two concerns. Then we sat in silence for a while, thinking. A question my daughter asked yesterday brought the discussion to a close. ‘Is this your dream home?’ Francois’ immediate answer, we’ll make it our dream home!
The clarity of hindsight will eventually show us the wisdom of our decision, a decision we are looking forward to living with, whatever may come.
Here we are in our little 2×4 cabin on a rainy, then foggy, then oh, it looks like the sun might break through, then no, there’s the fog and here’s the rain again day. Francois can only stand up straight in the companionway and frequently bangs his handsome head on something or other and we constantly do our boat dance, shimmingly past each other trying not to disturb what the other is trying accomplish, pick up or put away without getting pissy. And we look at each other and think we are in heaven. Is this normal, I think?
And the thought of being (land) homeless doesn’t even seen to come into play. Afterall, we’ve just been to the local farmers’ market bringing back some yummy things to keep us sustained for the next couple of days including a very good looking Polish sausage that’s hanging from a hook infusing it’s scents throughout the cabin. Is this what Poland smells like? If so, yum! Mix with that the aromas of freshly ground coffee all ready for tomorrow’s first, then second cup and oh, that crusty bread. My Frenchman does love his bread. That fresh slab of salmon that provided meals for 2 days. Feeling really good knowing we have supported four different local businesses and we haven’t even hit the butcher down the road or the lobster pound a few miles away.
And did I mentioned we’re homeless? Of course I did because I keep repeating it to myself each day. Homeless. I had to write all of this down because I can’t for the life of me figure why this isn’t more upsetting. Is there another shoe that’s going to drop? Are we going to wake up tomorrow and wonder what the hell were we thinking?
We’ve put an offer in on a property nearby after a second visit. That one that had all the points on our wish list checked off. Offer received. So what’s happening on the other end? Have they gone to bed to sleep on it while I stay awake wondering what the outcome will be? Are they just as uncertain as we are. If they turn our offer down will we walk away? The dance of uncertainty continues. But the love affair with this property is ongoing..
Room with a View
As I’m writing this we have received a firm acceptance of our offer. Papers signed. Both sides satisfied. Now comes all the other stuff. Lawyers, notaries, inspectors, insurance, interprovincial challenges,so many tests to be done within a short period of time. But the bottom line of all this is we will no longer be homeless once the snow flies. Our little Red by the Sea with all its charm, all its imperfections, the blank canvas waiting for us to imprint our own mark will soon be ours.
Our Garden Awaits
In the meantime we can now get on with enjoying the rest of our summer. Exploring our new sailing ground. Discovering corners of our new universe. We will become Aspotogans or Aspotoganites. Not really sure what residents of Nova Scotia’s Aspotogan Peninsula are called but we’ll be there absorbing everything the region has to offer.