I recently read a blog by a fellow cruiser that was about “time”. It was a very thought provoking article so I felt compelled to attempt my own rendition about tackling such a weighty matter as what time means now that I have “left the building”. I also chose to intermingle money into the discourse, because time and money are so intertwined.
When I was still working, time was spent getting ready for work, working, coming home from work, unwinding, and having an hour or two of my own time to read, watch TV, and so forth, before I went to bed to repeat the process. Weekends were a blur of chores, getting together with friends and family, and various and other sundry tasks. That’s a good word for it – it was a task-oriented lifestyle, discounting the travel and time spent with family and friends.
We lived a life of accumulation. When we weren’t working, we were spending – both time and money. Clothes for work, a bigger TV, entertaining ourselves by eating out, unlimited telecom, vacationing, and the list goes on and on.
Once we uncluttered our lives by selling our house, our possessions, bought a boat, and became full-time cruisers on Last Tango, our perception of both time and money changed significantly. We are now focused on making sure our “island” of a boat is functioning properly and is safe. This includes spending time focusing on ensuring we are generating enough solar power, running the generator or engine to meet any unmet power demands, ensuring our water maker is keeping up with our personal demand, spending an inordinate amount of time studying the weather and navigation, and fixing anything that is broken.
Without a dishwasher or washing machine, time is spent hand washing dishes, clothes and towels. Going to the store involves taking the dinghy to shore, walking and hauling our groceries back to the dinghy. This typically involves getting drenched with seawater, as the dinghy will not plane out with a heavy load.
Entertainment can be cheap on a boat. You can just stay on the boat and take in the amazing views, jump in the water for a swim or snorkel, or hop in the dinghy and go for a ride, or just go to the beach. Many evenings involve spending an hour with fellow cruisers for a sundowner around sunset. I have fallen in love with voracious reading now that I have time. Free Wi-Fi takes on a whole new meaning as it gives me an opportunity to get caught up with friends and family,
Although we are living in “paradise” we are on a fixed income such that spending money on entertainment is kept to once or twice a week at most – we are not on vacation like most of the people around us. Cooking plays an important role – try to find a good pizza in the Bahamas and you will learn how to make one that can compete with your local pizzeria from back home!
It costs significantly less for us to live on the boat than it would in a condo or a house. We anchor just about every night, we don’t pay property or state taxes, and our basic needs are much less than living on shore. Other than insurance and telecom, we don’t spend a lot of money on bills.
The unobstructed views of the uninhabited islands, the sunrises and sunsets offer an opportunity to realize how insignificant we are in the natural order of things and put time in a different perspective altogether.
Our priorities have shifted. Things we took for granted before are now precious, like water. Time spent away from family and friends can be brutally hard sometimes. But we are travelling, and taking our home and car with us as we go. We chose to do this now, because in time, we will no longer be able to live this lifestyle comfortably as we age. We chose this path for retirement because we are learning, doing, seeing and experiencing life. It’s an adventure. And what is the alternative?