Excerp from “A Change of Plans”

Note: The first couple chapters of “A Change of Plans” introduces readers to the Montoya family, Columbian siblings that comprise the counter narrative in the story. The excerpt below introduces readers to Jake and Gina Adams, the protagonists. Their story was inspired by our own cruising dreams, but goes in a decidedly different direction. At least so far…. 

Excerp from Chapter 3…

Though neither of us were raised as boaters, we both loved being on the water. I owned four boats through the years, two good, two bad, all power. The last was one of the good ones, a 27 foot Carver that we used to cruise around in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron, fishing for walleye, and pulling the kids around on tubes and kneeboards. Our love of water and boating lay dormant during our decade in the mountains, but was never dead.  The saltwater in our veins from that first trip to Solomon Island, was still there.

When I was gainfully employed, and when Gina’s business was healthy, we kept dreaming of retiring on a big trawler yacht.  We were still committed, and continued going to boat shows for fun, never forgetting that 58 foot Krogen.  Last Chance had been our inspiration.  I became a research junky, a virtual yachtsman, designing scrubbers by day, and studying up on marine electronics at night. I read up on hull forms, diesel power, navigation, and provisioning. I selected the ports and marinas we would visit when we finally bought our Krogen and cruised the Great Loop. This 6000 mile circle route follows the seasons around eastern North America – up the intracoastal waterway on the east coast in the spring, through the Great Lakes to Chicago in the summer, then down the inland river system in the fall, and finally, across the Gulf Coast and around Florida in the winter. 

We worked through the timeline. Our original five year plan would have started when I turned sixty. By then, we’d be done helping kids through college, and have the equity in both the business and our home to fund the boat. Our operating income would come from a couple pension accounts, and our 401K and IRA accounts would provide a cash cushion. We had a plan. 

On that fateful night in July, our plans changed. Our planning horizon changed, from future tense to present. An $800K Krogen wouldn’t do. We could neither afford her, nor her fuel. Our planned equity would fall far short of our projections, due in part from the accelerated timing, and even more, by depressed home and business valuations still recovering from the recession. The pension incomes would be reduced too, because of the earlier draw, and our retirement savings accounts would provide a much smaller cushion than our original plan, thanks to Wall Street. Those bastards would still be using 58 foot Krogens as dinghies, while we’d have to go with sail. But we could pull it off.

Looking back, it’s funny to think that I used to consider solar-electric propulsion on trawler type boats, because it was a cool, green thing to do. What’s funny is that the greenest form of transportation, and the oldest, is using the wind to move a boat. It’s less carbon intense than washing your socks. We humans have had this figured out for thousands of years. Over those years, we’ve gotten much better at it too. Now, one or two people can sail a small, inexpensive boat anywhere in the world. Materials, electronics, communications, navigation, weather analysis, and food preservation have lessened the risk, such that a couple can do today, what it took the king’s treasure to do just a couple hundred years ago. It’s amazing how few people realize this. That’s ok with us though, because while they kept looking for jobs, we were going to sell it all, buy a boat, and sail away. And we did.