Recently I received a message from a friend asking for more details and clarification on boatlife. Or, more specifically, boatlife logistics. Julie wrote, “I picture you guys sailing around all the time. But then you mention things like your car or boat neighbors and it’s really hard to imagine the whole thing.”
After almost 3 years, it’s second nature to me. However, I totally get where Julie is coming from with the thought process. So let me try to explain a little bit more about our specific living situation…
First, we don’t sail anywhere.
Light & Salty is a power boat. When it moves, we’re using our engines that run on diesel. Typically in the boat world we make the distinction power vs sailboat and don’t mix the terminology. I’m not 100% sure it’s wrong to say we “sail around.” But if we did, Mary Grace would correct us in a heartbeat. So we just don’t go there.
Second, our style of boatlife logistics has changed over the last 3 years so it’s understandable that friends might be confused.
When we were officially traveling the 5,500+ mile stretch of the Great Loop, every day looked a little different.
We moved our boat 2-3 times a week, most weeks. Occasionally we anchored, but an overwhelming majority of our nights were in marinas. Most often we selected our marinas based on a couple of factors: proximity to towns/cities and the availability of amenities like a courtesy car, laundry room and pool.
Sometimes we would arrive to a marina late and leave early, barely getting off of the boat. Other times we’d stay for a few days and explore. Sometimes the marinas were massive and full of boats. Other times the marinas were just a handful of docks. Sometimes we traveled with friends. And other times we were all by ourselves. All this to say, for 5,500+ miles, there was no “typical” boatlife logistics for our family.
Crossing our wake changed everything about our boatlife logistics.
Once we’d made the full circle around the Eastern part of the US, we made a lot of changes- mostly to accommodate the kids’ preferences. While they were still absolutely loving boatlife, they really wanted to spend more time enjoying our favorite places and plugging into communities.
Hilton Head Island was the first place we settled post-Loop. Our nephews brought down our car that had been stored in my mother-in-law’s garage for a year. The simple addition of our own car made our boatlife logistics so much more simple. For 5 months we stayed between 2 marinas on Hilton Head (Shelter Cove and Harbour Town.) Both places allowed parking passes for our car in closeby lots.
We joined a church, the library, and signed Miller up for baseball. Life started looking very normal. Except instead of a house, we lived on a boat. With a few exceptions, most of our friends on the Island were not from the boating community.
Then moving to Fort Myers required a logistics degree.
This particular move was the first time we needed to figure out how to move both our car and our boat roughly 500 miles south. After about a million debates on the best way to handle it, we settled on moving the car first. After a fun Halloween with friends, we rented a car and drove back to our boat in Hilton Head.
The car sat at our Fort Myers marina while we slowly made our way by boat. Fort Myers had truly become “home” for us during our Loop because of the marina.
The marina scene in Fort Myers was like one big neighborhood and we fell in love with this particular community lifestyle.
For my non-boating friends, imagine being able to pick up all your best friends’ houses and set them down on the lots on your street. The best marinas are like this, which is why many boaters come back year after year.
The more recent parts of our story are likely familiar so I’ll breeze through the details and focus on the logistics. We left Fort Myers last summer to travel the Tennessee River. Of course, we had every intention of returning to Fort Myers, but Ian had other plans for us. Currently we are in the Panhandle working hard to form a new “boat neighborhood” with some of our favorite people.
Over the last 6 months, my car presented the biggest logistical challenge.
Enterprise loves us and I fully expect them to put us on staff one day to move their fleet of cars. Unofficially, we did a nice job of that this year. It felt like every time we turned around we needed a 1 way rental somewhere!
Thankfully in the boating community resources like cars become shared responsibility. If my car could talk it would tell a funny story of all the people who’ve driven it for a variety of errands, projects and activities. In fact, we have a guard gate at our current marina and they’ve commented on how they see it coming and going all day long with different people driving.
Our nights also looked very different over the past 6 months! We’ve spent many nights on anchor, on free walls (like in downtown Knoxville for the Vol Navy), and in marinas.
Sometimes we’re among friends we’ve boated with for a while, and other nights we’re on our own. Settling in the Panhandle for this season means another round of sports and church activities. So far we’ve met a handful of people from the area, but mostly hang out with friends we’ve met boating.
When we aren’t moving the boat, boatlife logistics don’t look drastically different than a typical lifestyle. We take our car to the grocery store, church and to a variety of activities. The one exception that is brand new information is that Miller is able to walk to golf. While I thrive being a ‘soccer mom’ I think it’s pretty cool to allow him the independence of walking from activities. (Don’t worry, I can see him from our bow once he leaves the pro shop!)
One final interesting tidbit about our boatlife logistics- we vacation. Yes, our life often feels like one big vacation. However, after completing the Loop we really don’t treat it as such. Much of our travel these days involves the boat, but we do still enjoy road trips or jumping on an airplane.
As always, thanks for following along on our crazy adventures. I have a few more questions that I’ve gotten recently that I will try to structure some future posts around. Feel free to leave a comment with a question or reach out on social media.
You might also enjoy reading:
The One When Everyone Said We Were Crazy
The One About Day To Day Life On A Boat
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