When did this start? Let's leave out the distant past -- Family Learn to Sail on Lake George in 1997 and events like that. That's too long ago and too shrouded in the mists of recollection to be very interesting.
Let's look at the immediate past. The packing-up and moving-out past.
Let's look at the final "Let's do this" decision.
When was that?
What precipitated it?
What tipped us from staying around in Nisky, dreaming to packing up the UHaul, moving to Norfolk, and plowing the accrued capital from the big suburban dream house into a floating fiberglass tent?
We Don't Recall
We looked at our project plan for selling the house. The initial draft was 11 months ago. January of '09, more or less. It took us 9 months to clean up, reduce the stuff, and sell.
What about the final decision to actually sell? Clearly, it had to be the previous winter, some time. Perhaps it was one of those slow-to-crystalize decisions. In October of '08, we scouted marinas in Norfolk.
A Tipping Point
I think October of '08 was the final turn from dream to action. I think it was visits to places like the Willoughby Harbor Marina and Little Creek Marina that helped us know that we'd found a location that catered to vagabonds and liveaboards.
But it wasn't really that sudden. You have to go back to October of '07 when we looked at marinas in Baltimore to get a sense of how long we toyed with the idea. The Baltimore area doesn't cater well to year-round liveaboards and vagabonds. So a previous tipping point was having marina managers in Baltimore tell us that they didn't like "our kind of people" in their marina.
That was disappointing. But good in a way. It was good because if gave us a label, an identity, and a more concrete focus for our search.
I think that complex ideas -- like all the various steps and components to selling a perfectly good house to buy a boat -- don't "happen". There's no demarcation. No page 60 event that changes the screenplay in a dramatic way.
I think that complex ideas crystalize around some nucleus. For us, that nucleus had several elements mushed together in a vague way. First, even in a waterfront community, liveaboard sailors are a separate cohort. There's boaty people who power boat a few times a year. There's boaty people who go out on their boats all the time. But liveaboards are wacky.
Second, some places welcome the liveaboard sailors. Further, some places are very low-key; the manager isn't sure how many open slips they have, and whether or not there's a waiting list, or where the little piece of paper with the slip fees per foot is. We liked that.
Third, while we were standing on a dock at the very nice Deltaville Yachting Center that we realized part of what we were looking for.
The Yacht Community
An older woman runs up to us, and asks if we're going to be here for a while.
The usual answer in the hoity-toity marinas is either "We're guests" or "We're just leaving" or some other apology for besmirching their docks.
She actually didn't care much about our answer. She needed some folks to help tend lines while she and her husband maneuvered their boat out of the swell. It wasn't an open-ended question. Not so much of a "can you help?" or even "would you help?" but more of a rhetorical question as in "follow me, you two."
The sense we got from her was that folks hang around docks because they know something about boats, and one thing everyone knows is that when you need help, people will just pitch in. So we pitched in and helped her move her boat down the dock into a more sheltered location.
We never felt very salty. At that moment we were expected to be salty. I think that showed us that -- to an extent -- our decision was already made.