Well, we did it! We have officially lived aboard Gypsies Palace one year! So, how do we feel about it? Any regrets? Do we want to go back on land? Time for reflections on our 1st year cruising on our catamaran.
A year ago October we had so much going on in our lives in order to make the transition to full time cruising. We were truly in a frenzy. Our house closed at the first of the month and at that time we did not have a boat. We were certain that we were buying a catamaran, but that was about it because our first deal fell through. We had been purging, selling stuff on Craigslist and trying to decide what items that we would need on a boat. Our storage unit was packed to the gills and we were homeless at our friend’s house. My dad’s health was failing and he required more of my time. It was a crazy month to say the least. By the end of the month we had closed on Gypsies Palace.
We were fortunate to find this catamaran. It is a Leopard 47 Owner’s Version, which means that it has an owner’s stateroom. It was never in charter and a one owner boat. The former owner liked it so much he bought a newer version that is now a 51 ft Leopard. After we purchased it we spent 4 months adding things to make it a liveaboard that would work for us. Things like improving the refrigeration, adding an ice maker, increasing the holding tanks, increasing the water heater on the master side, adding solar panels, adding a watermaker, adding SAT TV, adding more exterior canvas, changing the anchor, fixing a fuel leak and the best gadget – the Docking Master, remote docking. If I could pick just one thing that I love best that we have done is to install the remote docking device.
During this time it really was hard to “love” living on the boat. Things were a mess because the boat was always being worked on. That limited the feeling of space. I won’t lie. The first few months it was hard to love the boating life because we never left the dock except to pump out. I didn’t want to go back to a house, but I was ready to get rid of the chaos and get moving. These feelings are not unlike having your kitchen remodeled – there is nothing fun about that process.
Leaving the dock on April 1st to begin the Great Loop was such a liberating feeling. I remember the day clearly and how beautiful it was. It was an omen that this would be a good life and we were doing the Great Loop!
Looking back the first part of the trip was such a blur as I am sure other Loopers would testify. We definitely planned more at the start. Now we are coming into Florida and we haven’t made any plans! Our answer is that we will figure it out and we can always anchor. By plans I mean where are we going to be? Do we have a reservation? When we will arrive and how long will we stay? We are still Looping and in a transient state, meaning we do not spend much time in any one place. That will change once we complete the Loop.
We have adjusted to everyday life. Laundry is sometimes done on board or sometimes done at the marina. Most marinas have had decent WiFi. We record TV shows just like at home. Jazzy has adjusted to life on board, including sometimes using the pee pad on the bow. We love our cockpit and outdoor living area. It is so comfortable to enjoy a nice day or evening.
Maximizing the storage space is every boater’s challenge. Because we have a catamaran we have more space than the mono hull boats. We are like a sailboat where we also have floor storage. The front of our boat has a tremendous amount of room that is why we call one hatch the “Man Cave”. I have gotten good at buying the right amount of food and using it. In my house I was always throwing food away, but on the boat I find that I let fewer things spoil. We actually have things on the boat that we put on that we have not used. When we get back to our storage unit those will come off. Mine consist of clothes and shoes that I have never worn. Steve has some tools and misc. things as well.
I thought I would exercise more since I was committed to my Jazzercise workout for years. On the Loop this has been difficult because we are always moving to another port. We have used the kayaks and bikes, but not regularly. Some stops we do a lot of walking, others we don’t. I confess to not always taking advantage on an exercise room at the marinas. This will be something that I change going forward after completing the Loop and settling into a cruising mode where we stay in places longer.
Stress – there is none! We could stress about the weather, but really what is the point? The times when we are stressed is when we have to be somewhere on a specific date. That is the hardest for all of us boaters. It is usually weather or mechanical issues that doom the plan.
Speaking of mechanical issues, we have not had any except for the time when we caught the line around our props in Canada. Everything else on the boat has worked fine thanks to Captain Steve. We have come across many other boats where they hit their props or had a major engine problem. This boat has treated us well.
Most of the trip the temperatures have been cool. Daytimes in the 70’s, but 40’s and 50’s at night. That was a surprise to us. Luckily, we had put warm clothes on board and bought some along the way. Coming back into Florida will be a shock. We have run our heater and rarely the air conditioner. This week we actually bought a space heater! We have even had nights in the 30’s which I would not have expected.
Before we started the Loop we did sit down to create a budget of expenses and to manage our money. I would say that we are right on target, if not under our projections. Where I fell off was that we eat and drink more than being home! It is fun to shop at the various farmers markets and local grocery stores. It is also true that we eat out more than being home. Our fuel and marina expenses are under budget now, but we will be seeing increasing dockage charges as we enter Florida.
We haven’t ended the Loop yet, but we have made so many new friends that we will continue to see as we continue cruising. Meeting other boaters / Loopers make this lifestyle so special. We have more friends than we would have ever had if we had stayed in the house. We have really appreciated the comradery. Our buddy boat friends on One Eye Dog just crossed their wake in Fairhope, AL and we were there for their celebration. They now flag the Looper Gold Flag for completing the Loop.
Early next year we will complete our Loop when we enter the Boca Inlet. We will end our “adventure”, but move to the “lifestyle” phase of cruising. We are excited about this new chapter, too. So, after a year, I would say that this is just the beginning! And, no, we do not miss having a land based home!
“We’re gypsies in the palace, there ain’t no wrong or right
We’re gypsies in the palace, and we’re going wild tonight.” ……Jimmy Buffett