Good friends, well-traveled, have a special place out there. And when I finally made it down all the private roads, and down the rocky outcroppings, I was greeted with a liquor shot and direction to the nearest dive spot in the river. Good friends.
It was quiet, with only the sound of running water. No road noise, no sirens, and no car horns.
Having brought good whiskey, good rum, and good beer – I was going to be in good (or bad?) shape. Nights we spent eating, drinking, and talking. Mornings we woke up with coffee: watching the sun rise, listening to nature wake up. The middle of the day was spent diving the river, or hiking, or exploring the thousands of acres at our disposal.
Out there it was really hard to shake the feeling that we were the luckiest human beings in the world. This is the kind of time and space you need to understand. It’s no great mystery why people go out into nature to decompress, unplug or refresh.
Boat Projects (Already)
Back to reality. My boat needs work on the generator, I hate the fans, the inverter is blown, and a hatch is leaking. Nothing too major – but it ain’t cheap either. I bought the fans from West Marine, and plan on installing them myself. But the generator, the hatch, and the inverter need to be fixed professionally. I could probably do the hatch, but then my boat would be a mess after a month of the rainy season (when I finally get back down there).
But then there’s the issue of upgrading the fishing gear. And I need to get my spearfishing gear lined out. And all of my photo/video decisions need to be figured out ASAP. Shipping things to Panama isn’t really an option – the horror stories are too common.
In the near future I plan on: upgrading the solar system, increasing the house battery bank (seriously considering LiFePo), buying a Honda portable generator for redundancy, replacing the stack pack, putting in a bottom machine (possibly with a CHIRP transducer), getting AIS setup, and another host of small projects. I need to upgrade my outboard on the dinghy, and patch some leaks on my deflatable.
After conversing with a few folks in Panama and Columbia, I’m pretty convinced that:
- boat work is cheaper in Cartagena, Columbia
- boat work is higher quality in Cartagena, Columbia
- products are more expensive in Cartagena, Columbia
- Cartagena, Columbia has awesome nightlife
So, anybody got a guess where I’m headed in September? Good guess. I bet you were an A student.
Decisions About Stuff
At this point, I’m working to get the major items collected and figured out – so that I can bring them with me to the boat in June. There’s a ton of stuff, which I’ll have to tackle in another post: fishing gear, fishing lures, spearing gear, gadgets, video/photo stuff – you name it. The reality is that my job, now, is making decisions on gear. It’s not as easy as it should be.
Part of this trip was to escape the “stuff” – but if I really want to share this trip, stuff is a necessary evil. The trick is to keep it functional and minimal. But not end up with thinking “I wish I had bought X rather than Z.” I find myself justifying slightly higher prices on higher-quality items. The thought process goes like this: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so it’s acceptable to spend a little more on better gear.” Of course, whether that’s legitimate or justification isn’t clear.
Taking that thought too far ends up with me broke, halfway through the trip. With some nice gear.
Guess we’ll see.
Legal, Financial, and Health
The plan is a limited power of attorney for a couple of key people here in the States. They’ll pay my mortgage, accept rents, write checks, and open mail for me. That’s a pretty big burden I’m placing on somebody else, and I feel a little guilty for it. But it’s a necessity for the time being.
Financially, I’m in OK shape because I did well on the boat. But I need to figure out where I’m going to put my money so I can access it. Also a credit card without an annual fee and foreign transaction fees (actually on my list today). I’m becoming convinced I can make some money with options, and I have some anecdotal evidence to support this – I’ve made money trading before. And I met a guy who does it profitably, and consistently – without risking much. Learning this skill is a big project for me in the next few months.
The damn dentist cost me a small fortune. And the doctor told me I had high cholesterol – which isn’t all that surprising. I’ll fix that with a diet of fish and daily diving. But what about health insurance? Through COBRA I could extend my health-insurance from work, for $358/month. At that price, not even an option.
Many folks suggest not carrying it if you’re young, single, and relatively healthy. Health and dental care is exponentially cheaper in other countries, and all signs point to it being much better than you’d guess.
That’s fair, but I want to protect against the catastrophe.
So I opted to do two things – but I have no idea whether it was the right choice. I’m a diver – so DAN was a simple choice. I also opted for a cost-effective policy (Global Medical Insurance, Silver) from International Medical Group. It is $300 (ish) annually for me. Somewhere between the two, I feel “covered” – but with insurance, you only really know when you need to make a claim (which I hope to never do).
Guess we’ll see.
I’ve been speaking with friends a lot over the last few weeks. Some new, some old. Another adventuring soul reminded me that we’re never really ready for a big, life-changing trip. Big risks aren’t comfortable. We’re all prone to avoid change. I believe that, and it was part of what pushed me to make a boat-purchase happen quickly.
Everyone says 99% of people who talk about it don’t do it. They spend their lives saving up, then years finding the boat. Then years outfitting it, until it’s finally “perfect” – only to find they don’t have it in them to cast-off. Maybe it’s health, maybe it’s family, maybe it’s financial.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
– Mark Twain
I’m determined to not be part of that 99%, so no matter what happens over the next few months – I’m just going to keep rolling. Until I’m on the boat, comfortable with it, and able to single-hand it wherever I want to go. I’ll prepare what I can, but when it comes down to it – I’m going to cast-off.
That, I’m sure of.