Episode I: Getting Ready
Don’t tell us we can’t go from Pittsburgh, Penn., to Florida in a houseboat. That’s all we hear; you can’t do that, it won't work, you will all be killed; at least don’t take the kids. We were tired of all of this negative talk from our friends and relatives and the more we heard it, the more we were determined to prove them wrong.
We were ready to go. We had been dreaming a planning for six years and working hard for the past year. You can prepare for only so long, then you must simply do it, come hell or high water, ready or not.
Ever since my wife Rose and I, along with four friends (Mary Diane and Eddie) rented a thirty-five foot yacht in Fort Lauderdale and went to the Bahamas for a week, we had dreamed of sailing around the world, or at least a good chunk of it. As impractical as that may sound, we believe that everyone should make the best effort possible to do what they want in their lives. Not just live day-to-day doing what society and their environment expects of them. Our family was as ordinary as any other (although I have been considered a little strange form time to time.), but after our boat trip to the Bahamas, our outlook on life was changed. We now wanted to be different because that taste of adventure made us dream of someday sailing around the world in our own boat, perhaps even pioneer on our own island. We thought we could make it a new way of life…when the kids grew up and were out on their own…when the mortgage was paid…when we retired…all in the future.
Phooey, we dared each other.
We whetted our appetites by devouring as many books as the Carnegie Library had on boating activities. We read all of the great sailing stories and researched every aspect of life on the water. All of the stories about people who were not “sticks in the mud” like we were, inspired us. Why couldn’t we do some of those same things? Of course we could, all we had to do was set some goals and plan on how to reach those goals.
Together we decided that our first goal would be to get to Florida, where all the water was. Then we would get Mary Diane and Eddie through high school while we were learning how to sail a boat.
Four years had passed since our Bahamas trip and I was working for Fairchild Semiconductor Co. of Mountain View, California, covering Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. Figuring that Fairchild just might want to help us get started on our adventure, I tried to get transferred to Florida. That was unsuccessful, so Rose and I decided to accept the fact that if we were going to realize our dreams, we would have to do things for ourselves, which is after all the only way a person can expect to accomplish anything.
A lot of questions had to be answered now, such as where would we head first? How would we get there? Could we sell our house? How much money would we need? Could we stand losing the steady income we were used to? When should we plan to leave? Our daughter, Mary Diane, would graduate from high school in one year and our son, Eddie, still had three years to go. How would this affect them, their education, and did they really want to do such a thing? What will we do with our German Shepard, Shane? (Actually her mother was a German Shepard, but her father was a ne’er-do-well who worked in a nearby gas station.)
We had always lectured our children that anything is possible, follow your dreams. That put “us” in the position of practicing what we preached to them. Our family discussed these things around the dinner table every night. We also discussed the trip with our friends and relatives, who thought we were all nutty as fruitcakes for even considering it and they all “knew” that we would never get around to doing it.