Sailing Home – Preparation

Though we’ve always talked about living aboard a sailboat and have been actively looking for our perfect boat for some time now, the final stages of buying, preparing, and delivering Polynya was a whirlwind.  Within a matter of one week, I saw the boat for the first time, acquired a survey, agreed on a sale price, and closed on a loan to fund the remainder of the purchase. And when all of that seemed like enough to make our heads explode, we decided to round up a crew, fly down to Annapolis, and sail the boat home to Maine. Due to my work schedule and a wedding we really did not want to miss, we had a very limited timeframe with which to accomplish this. Just how close we cut it is actually remarkable. But we made it to Maine safely, learned a lot about our boat, and had a grand adventure doing it. Four days and a few hours after leaving Maryland, we completed the delivery. If there is one thing Polynya does well, it is sail. If there is one thing she does poorly, it is motor…for now.

Like anything worth doing, the path to success was wrought with challenges. Delays, stress, and downright panic at times got the best of me while preparing the boat for the voyage North. I had vouched for the integrity and value of this boat with my ever trustful wife, seeing and surveying it without her. She showed her faith in me and we closed on the boat before she ever saw it. To begin preparations for our delivery, I flew to the boat a few days in advance of Skye’s arrival. I had a work list, a suitcase full of parts and gear, and grand visions of what I could accomplish before departing days later. 

On my first day, I took delivery of the boat, shook hands with the broker, and tried to pretend I wasn’t bursting with excitement. Moments later he was gone, and I sat in the salon in complete shock. My mind raced, and my thoughts were scattered.

What just happened? How did I get here in life?  WE OWN A BOAT! Why does it smell like used oil? Holy shit, where should I start? Is that supposed to look like that? Are those wire nuts!?

I knew I needed to dive right into projects in order to meet my deadline, but I was frozen. My brain drastically swung from excitement to panic, and then back again. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do; I knew exactly what I needed to do. The problem was that everywhere I looked I saw things that needed repair, cleaning, adjustment, replacement…My pre-sale blinders had been ripped off and I was seeing everything clearly. I tried to hide my despair from Skye on the phone because I still knew we had found the perfect boat, but she could hear it in my voice. It wasn’t until that point that I realized how much the weight of the purchase was weighing on me, as the entire decision was based on my own evaluation of the boat. I wanted her to love the boat, to see its potential, and most importantly to me, I wanted to maintain her trust.

I set to work ticking items off the work list. The going was slow but steady. As with any boat project, as I dug into one repair, I noted others that were needed and fixed all that I could. When Skye arrived, the boat was far from ready and tools and gear were scattered all around the cabin. Within moments of her arrival, I felt an immense sense of relief as the weight of responsibility was spread amongst another set of shoulders. We tackled projects together and ultimately agreed, we made the right choice.

These feelings of anxiety were only a part of the way I felt that week, but I dwell on them because they were unexpected. I never thought I would feel overwhelmed, nervous, defeated, or even remotely close to the level of exhaustion I experienced. I sweat through shirt after grease-stained-shirt in the humid 95-degree weather, and with every check mark in my notebook a piece of happiness and pride returned. This was the very beginning of a giant adventure, a shift in lifestyle, and a commitment to a dream outside the realm of normal people. Had I considered it as such a milestone beforehand, I probably could have expected a little turbulence. In retrospect, the added complication of a strict timeline did nothing to ease the transition.

Matt Garand

About Matt Garand

Lifelong Mainer, and professional mariner, Matt Garand is the creator of A Life Aboard, a look at year-round living on a sailboat in Maine. Matt and his wife, Skye, live aboard in South Portland and use every available chance to throw off the lines and explore the coast.