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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Why we bought a boat

If you've been following me since the before times (aka pre-COVID), you know that this past February, my husband Eric and I bought a sailboat. A 26' 1971 Pearson, to be exact.

The first time we saw the boat, I couldn't believe how big she was.

Here's how it happened:

One day when Eric arrived home from work I asked how his day was and completely out of left field he said "Ummm... good. What if we bought a sailboat??"

I had no idea where this was coming from but my heart immediately started racing and I knew I wanted to make it happen.

Some backstory: Eric has always admired sailboats and sailors and has talked about wanting to learn to sail. I had looked before at the possibility of gifting him sailing lessons or figuring out how to get him on the water, but just never made it happen. He had been following the youtube channel SV Delos for a while, too, and always admired their adventures and skill. Though there was a desire very deep down to own a boat someday, he and I had honestly never considered the fact that we could possibly afford one, let alone in our 20s and with a new baby.

I came to find out that the reason it had sprung so quickly into Eric's mind was because his coworker was selling his 26' Pearson and explained all the costs and responsibilities. This helped us realize it cost way less money both to purchase and to keep a boat than we expected. Equally importantly, his coworker also offered to walk us through everything we would need to know if we wanted the boat.

Here we were inside the boat for the first time. Having no boat knowledge, we said "sure, looks good!"

That week was spent agonizing over every aspect of the decision.

On one hand, we had some credit card debt after a series of car mishaps as well as some lingering student loans to pay off. We had a 5 month old baby and one of us (me) had a fairly unstable income. We didn't know if it was even possible to learn to sail on our own, let alone with a baby on board, and it seemed like there was an infinite amount to learn about sailing and boat ownership.

But on the other hand, when we took a step back and evaluated what we want in life, the answer seemed clear: we want to adventure, spend time outside, continually learn new skills together, teach our kids that doing things unconventionally can be the best way, physically challenge our bodies, not trap ourselves into the box of "progress" by focusing too much on achieving bigger and better, and continually spend time having fun with friends and family. As city dwellers, the appeal of having a quiet place to retreat also had a huge appeal to me and especially to my introverted husband.

We evaluated the decision, consulted with other boat-owners, and eventually we realized the benefits of buying a sailboat seemed to outweigh the risks, so we took the plunge and this massive beaut became ours!

Sitting on the deck for the first time (out of the water)

It was a decision that, like all big decisions, gave me some anxiety. Did we make the right choice? Will we be judged? Will people wrongly assume we're super wealthy? Will other parents frown on us for potentially putting our baby in risky scenarios on the water? Will we even like sailing once we get to try it? The questions were endless, but we chose to, to the best of our abilities, not second guess ourselves.

Hello massive boat, I can't wait to redesign you.

And thus the work to renovate The Grey Heron began. Next week I will share all the ways we updated her, both mechanically and visually. Stay tuned!

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omg. you guys are so brave, and so strong; i love this so much. next summer we are coming to chicago and going sailing with you guys. hope you don't mind ;)

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