March 2012 – Dreams to reality – European adventure Part 1
Having just finished a busy week – even retired people know when it is Saturday. I thought it was time to put fingers to the keyboard ( as against pen to paper) and write about our epic journey (or not). Lucky you – you get to share our trials and tribulations, triumphs and visions.
We have lived on a boat before – but only for a month at a time so a 6 month sojourn to the south of France is another level of boat life . Having spent a couple of holidays on the canals of Europe we have decided to take the plunge (excuse the pun – but I am sure there will be many more) and take a chunk of our lives (about 15 months ) and do for ourselves. We felt the need to shake it up and live a dream rather than envy other people and think how cool it might have been. Carpe Diem has become our watchword as we are into the sixties and we have relatives and friends in Europe to spend time with. No excuses or procrastination – no time.
I am especially concerned about my mum who at 85, is living alone in England. As an only child I want to be closer to her and able to visit for the weekend rather than live 24 hours travel time away. We also felt the need for an adventure – what is life without adventures – pretty boring. A boating adventure in Europe seemed to fit with our flamboyant nature – with emphasis on the buoyant!
Starting in January started to meat on the bones of our dream as we began our planning our trip in earnest – first was the decision. Do we go or not? We made our decision to leave Canada and our lovely life here, and followed the path of the Goethe quote “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power and magic “Now we are swept up in the organization of our trip and all the things we are doing, I would say Goethe was right on! After the decision came the budget discussion. We decided we could manage financially if a number of criteria and financial requirement were met. We needed a few things to happen for our finances to work well – but that is part of the risk of making a major shift.
Then we started on the details – a first big decision was how long we would be away – firstly we wanted summers in Europe and to spend winter with my mum (who, at 85, finds the long dark nights and bad winter weather quite difficult). So we settled on 15 months with a couple of visits back home to check on everyone and reground.
Secondly we needed to decide whether or not we should /could take our dog Kerry. This decision took some time as we need to research what it would it take to get Kerry to Europe. The answer was a lot of paperwork, visits to the vet and communication with airlines and various governmental agencies involved with the importation of animals.
It turns out that it is cheaper to take a dog into Europe than the UK . When importing dogs into UK, they are classed as cargo. Consequently the must be in a cargo storage area for pick up – this cost a lot of money both in terms of transportation and cargo services. Flying into Europe dogs are classed as excess luggage and can be picked up with the rest of the luggage – hence no cargo charges. We are all flying cargo class anyway – Air Transat from Vancouver to Amsterdam on May 17/18 to start our journey.
The next decision was renting out the house – how, what should we move and how much rent should we charge? We decided to rent furnished but taking our personal stuff out and leaving the furniture. We advertized in Sabbatical Homes .com, and had a couple of near misses with some interesting people coming to Victoria. We eventually found a lovely 3 person family to take care of our house through an ad at on the UVIC Housing.
We have been cleaning for what seems like forever to get the house, garden, car, boat and dog ready for our relocation and new life on a boat. Before the house was rented out we put an offer on a 34ft steel river cruiser in Belgium. Looked fine and relatively affordable – but we had a survey done and found that ooops – this boat is a lemon. So we spent 600 Euros but saved ourselves 20,000 extra Euros on a new engine and replating. The lesson learned is that when you are buying site unseen – get a survey or second opinion. We are still on the hunt for a nice boat – limited funds and working at a distance puts us at a disadvantage.
Selling my car has been another adventure into the world of second hand car sales. Giving people information that you are leaving seriously compromises the sale and the price as people are waiting for the price to drop as they think I must sell before I leave. Well I am going to store the car rather than lose too much money – I will need a car when I get back so it will be waiting older but less used.
So we are back on the hunt for another boat – no worries though as there are plenty for sale. Will let you know when we are successful. In the meantime we rented the house and booked our flights and sorted out the Kerry issue.
Our plan is fly to Holland ( Amsterdam) then go to the new boat ( wherever or whatever it turns out to be ) for a week. My friend Brigitte and her husband Peter will pick us up in Holland and we will all travel to the UK on the Rotterdam/Hull ferry and visit with my mum in Hull. After a day or so we pick up a narrow barge and float the canals in Yorkshire for 4 days then return to Hull to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Martin and I will spend a couple of weeks more in the UK visiting family and friends, returning to Europe, with my mum and young Joan, on the ferry before setting off for the south of France.
In the meantime I am working on getting out of here – this is a full time job – 24/7 so took a weekend off and want to the West Coast – Ucluelet for a couple of days with the most wonderful women. We wined and dined, walked and talked, shopped and explored our lives and spirits. It was marvelous to be in our most sacred of places between the land and the sea and share the experience with nine others who are of similar mind and similar heart: Wild Women of the West Coast. It was beginning of the celebrations of those turning 60 and others turning older and younger, all of us walking though the gateways of life, shedding our old existence and anticipating the new one. It was the beginning of our goodbyes by forming the bonds of shared experiences and memories