I enjoyed looking at photos that one of the Seattle Yachts’ brokers posted of his clients removing personal stuff from their yacht as a result of purchasing an Endurance motoryacht. What a lovely moment in time, and I’m quite excited for the new owners. I wish them great success enjoying their new yacht with many years of happy memories to come.

Box after box, piles of pillows, enormous treasure chests of expensive furnishings, art, and trinkets collected from cruising over the years. I have no doubt that some of this loot was originally brought over from earlier boats, perhaps multiple boats.

That certainly was the case with me. And I imagine many of us perform this ritual when we move from one boat to a new one.

There is no denying it can be something of an emotional roller coaster when settling into a new boat. This is especially trying when the window to get it done is short and the boats are physically close enough that everything taken off one yacht immediately goes onto the new one. When that happens there is often very little thought given to what gets moved, or where it rightfully belongs in the new home. Everything must be off as soon as possible.

I’ve been through this numerous times, and each time it is accompanied by factors that I mostly have no control over. Perhaps the time factor is critical, as the buyers of one’s old boat need to leave for its new home. Maybe a quick closing was an important sale contingency, and you must work with these deadlines to just get it done without much planning. In such cases, and trust me I have been there often, everything comes out of one drawer or locker and goes in a box to be unloaded in the equivalent drawer or locker on the new boat. And there is no time to think about the contents.

That may explain why I found a well-aged coaster from Seattle’s Olympic Hotel along with a newer one from a Tiki bar in Key Largo. Both have moved multiple times and the Olympic memorabilia is several decades old. I keep saying I’ll go through this stuff after the move is completed. Famous last words! Despite every honest intention, rest assured it will never happen. That also goes for books of matches (remember those?) and other tchotchkes collected from a life on the water.

I always envision that one day I will enjoy a day on the boat with lots of quiet time. I will read cruising guides of all the exciting places I might go, dreaming and making lists of future voyages filled with excitement and wonder. Who am I kidding? Any free moment on the boat is already slotted for maintenance of some kind. How can I relax and dream of distant shores, stretched out on the settee with the sound of rain hitting the deck overhead, when I hear the water pump cycle on for a second or two every hour? How am I supposed to relax when the boat is talking to me to get up and fix or investigate some sound? I have never experienced the idle luxury of a Maytag repairman. Never been that lucky.

(Below: Bill checking over the engine before heading offshore.)

checking boat engine


At one time or another I could justify each thing or tool on the boat. Everything onboard had a purpose, even if it was from long ago…or from another boat.

The chart table is always the worst place to find such things. Carried over from my sailing days, some of which were also when I lived aboard as a single guy, all kinds of baubles transfer from one chart table to the next. Over several decades this creates a hodgepodge that rivals any kitchen junk drawer. The contents du jour represent over 50 years of routines, habits, and life.

At least two calculators, often more. One is always solar, a freebie from a fuel dock long ago. Another is an early attempt at hybrid power, with both solar and battery power sources. Of course, the battery is long dead. Rather than getting rid of either of these, for some reason I just add newer versions that work better.

The same is true for tape measures, note pads, pencils and pens, stamps that are no longer sufficient for even a postcard, corkscrews, lighters (some work, some don’t), rulers, rubber bands of undefined vintage, and more. If I have a multimeter, surely a second or third spare is better, right?

And the flashlights! What is it about flashlights that captivate me so that I have literally dozens around every boat I’ve owned? Some are long dead, every bit as corroded as invasive marine life on a sunken wreck. Others are solar powered (???), and there is one that a friend’s company was trying to market that needed to be shaken for five minutes to generate even a pathetic beam of light. And of course, I always have Surefire, Stinger, and other quality lights I’ve collected or received from my days with the magazine. If I have an addiction, it is clearly flashlights.

I am never surprised to see the familiar cruising guides that come off the boat, even those that sit on the shelf in company with newer and updated editions of the same guide, published by the same company. What am I, a hoarder!?! (To be fair, my cryptic notes in the margins of the old guides, as along the ICW, are invaluable.)

When time forces us to finish the deal as soon as possible, we simply go through the motions, filling empty boxes and containers with everything on the boat we are leaving.

moving day on your boat 


It is staggering just how much stuff one collects after a few years of active cruising. And the list is endless: night vision goggles, cables for computers and chargers and who knows what, remotes, tackle boxes of blocks (even though we sold the sailboat years ago), pieces of twine and rope, endless pairs of reading glasses, first aid kits in every shape and size, cruising guides and other books for world travel that now have that rich patina of boat smell. Extension cords, epoxy kits and containers, galley tools that surpass what I have at home, navigation books and tools, and rules of the road. And let’s not forget the three volumes of sight reduction tables, all nicely bound for use on ships from years ago.

“You do know we use electronic charting these days, don’t you?”

There is no excuse, really, and I am guilty each time I go through this. “I promise this time will be different.” Yeah, right. Who are you kidding?

Well, maybe there is hope for this old salt. I recently sat aboard one of the new Ocean Sport 30-foot cruisers at the Annapolis office. It is a shiny white boat with two big outboards, and this boat can fly. It is also a good size for folks who want to downsize from a larger boat. It has everything one needs to go cruising…and not a thing more.

(Below: The Ocean Sport 30 Roamer.)

ocean sport 30 roamer


As I sat at the dinette of the Ocean Sport, I fantasized preparing the boat for some new adventures. Perhaps New England this summer, maybe a trip down the Florida Keys this winter. If I could base it out of the Pacific Northwest, it would be ideal to head out to the San Juan Islands, perhaps even SE Alaska. I met a bunch of cruisers one summer in Misty Fjords when we were cruising on a Northern Marine 64. The small flotilla was from Bellingham, and included boats that were much smaller and perhaps not the best choice for Alaskan cruising, including a couple of gas-powered cruisers and a tiny Willard 30 with a sewing machine-sized diesel engine. If they could do it, surely an Ocean Sport would be a grand choice.

Another twist we’re considering for potential future cruising is the idea of heading to a resort destination and then staying at the resort, keeping the boat in the marina. That way, we can enjoy the luxury and comforts of the facility and easily trade the compact, combined head/shower to a full bath with plush white bathrobes. Instead of making meals on the boat, we will enjoy fine dining at its best. At this stage of life, I feel we deserve that. Ask my wife, it’s her idea.

(Below: Abaco Beach Resort has a great marina and is a beautiful destination to dock.)

abaco beach resort 


As I sat quietly in the boat, looking around at the accommodations and use of space of this versatile cruiser and fishing boat, I realized that we could do it. But to be successful, I would have to make some serious changes in my new boat routines. This time I would have to pick and choose the gear I brought aboard the Ocean Sport, as it does not have a dedicated chart table, nor does it have storage for all the books and paraphernalia I have been accustomed to carrying with me…for no reason other than perhaps I do not know what else to do with it.

It was at that moment I had an 'Aha moment'. This old sailor, this creature of habit, may have turned the corner. If I had any illusion to go cruising on the Ocean Sport, I would have to ditch the stuff still sitting in boxes in my garage. All of it.

Instead of reloading the packed contents into a GMC Yukon and then into this new boat, as I have done before, I will have to get rid of stuff. Like the four extra dispensers of dental floss, the extra cushions that serve no purpose whatsoever, and the body lotion and sunscreen bottles that date back decades. All of it would have to stay off the boat and find a new home…in a dumpster.

I finally understand that it is time to rethink my boating needs and fit new cruising plans with the reality of what I must work with. What I can fit to use in the Ocean Sport galley will have to be minimal, which would be more than enough. I don’t plan to make Thanksgiving dinner on the boat. We go out these days, or I make pasta. Nothing wrong with that!

Thinking back to the pictures of boxes destined to move to the new Endurance, I stop and take a breath. Just because I can fit it all into a new boat does not make a plausible case for bringing everything along…just in case. I’ve spent a lifetime aligned with that “just in case” sentiment, and I can’t recall even once where that saved me from starvation, drowning, or the slightest hardship. Yes, I once fixed a wobbly bimini with dental floss, but we were not fighting for our lives against storms or pirates or killer whales off Gibraltar. No one was at risk, and that was intentional.

You see, mostly I go pleasure boating these days. And it is refreshing to consider going with less…

In fact, that might be a good name for my next new boat, a reminder that there is no longer any need to embrace my old attitude and the mantra that came with it…Just in Case.


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