Evolution of a dream

So, you’d like to chuck it all, get a boat, sell the house, quit your job & see what’s out there beyond the confines of PA Dutch country? Really??



So how’d we arrive at that conclusion? It’s been an evolution, I suppose. We were married in 1975, our backgrounds both included lots of family time in and around the water, boats and some travel, so it’s not a stretch that we grew to love boating. Our 1st boat, a 17′ Caravelle was purchased at Deep Creek Lake, where Barb’s grandparents had a cottage. She grew up spending many summers there, learned to water ski at an early age behind a 1929 Chris Craft, and introduced her then boyfriend to water skiing. Marriage followed, a baby girl, and the first boat, coincidentally purchased from a dealer in Deep Creek! We trailed that boat from Ocracoke to Ontario, to the Chesapeake, and everywhere in between. Andrea grew up with weekends on the boat, trainer skis, and frequently slept in Barb’s arms as we motored back from some far reaches of the bay or river that we would explore weekends. Nothing other than day trips, no potty, no shower, just a ride! But plenty of memories! Karen came along and we recycled some PFD’s and gear, although she was not as enthusiastic about the entire boating deal. Then Michael, and the boating continued.


Soon the 17 footer grew small for our growing crew, and we began looking for a larger boat that would enable us to overnight. We settled on (or for…) a 23 ft. Thompson. Not the most classic lines, and not the best quality build, but we could all sleep on board, Mom & Dad in the v-berth, three kids spread across an aft cabin that was stiflingly hot! A porta-pottie, solar shower, and a small galley. We were weekend bay boaters with a slip! The Thompson quickly began shrinking, so the search began for a bigger boat, prompted by a leaking fuel tank that provided the incentive to get out of the Thompson. Our least favorite boat, although we covered lots of the Bay in that boat!


Barb’s return to full-time work, kids all in school, and Steve’s buyout of his dad’s business all pointed in the direction of a bigger boat. More spreadsheets, budget crunching, amortization tables…. A 30′ Rinker was found at a used boat show in Annapolis. Only 80 hours, and the kids were thrilled! AIR CONDITIONING!!!! We decided we could probably afford it, and the Thompson was traded.

The Rinker was a step up: hot water, a shower, full galley, A/C, winch, genset to provide A/C at anchor if needed, and the capability to increase our range of cruising on the Bay. From Norfolk to Sea Isle City, NJ, we had many wonderful times with the Rinker. Our family grew a bit more as we added Sadie, our beloved curly coated retriever. Sadie grew up boating, and was the consummate boat dog. As the kids grew into teenagers (ugh!), they were less enthusiastic about spending the weekend with mom & dad, so our fleet grew with the addition of an inflatable dinghy and later, a 14′ SeaDoo jet boat.

The jet boat provided water skiing activities, and during trips to the Jersey shore, provided thrill rides in the surf! The Rinker provided lots of great memories, but as kids got older they had other interests competing with boating, and eventually we were boating without kids, just us… and Sadie. Our boating could be at a slower, more relaxed pace, we were thinking of boating with adult guests, and we again began searching for the next boat.

We began listing the attributes we wanted, and narrowed our search to an aft cabin cruiser, a 35 ft. Carver was our 1st choice. Our search was aided by the power of the internet, and we soon learned that we were going to have to look outside the Bay if we were to be able to afford the boat we wanted. Florida offered the best buys on used boats, and we ended up signing a sales contract on our 355 Carver without ever seeing it in person. My uncle Glen graciously made his many years of boating experience available for us and traveled from St. Pete to Ft. Myers Beach to check it out. We ended up bringing the Carver from there around Florida and up the east coast for the trip we’ll never forget! Lets see, breakdowns nearly every day, a bent shaft & prop, numerous fuel filter changes, transmission overheat, failed VHF, out of fuel in a storm, oh it was memorable! 13 days and our 1st trip on the ICW. We were in hog heaven despite all the problems. It was an adventure! Our Carver was wonderfully comfortable. A major step up in quality from the Rinker, she was a joy to own and a pleasure to be on board. A real bed, roomy shower, guest head, and a genset that was tolerably quiet! Oh, we could make our own ice, and keep ice cream on board! I guess we had a yacht!! We loved our Carver, and it showed with the care she received. The subsequent owners, Les & Karen kept in touch, and enjoyed the Carver until they relocated to Texas. We still see the boat when we stay at Stansbury, our “home” marina.


As our pace slowed, we began talking about life beyond kids being at home, and attended our 1st TrawlerFest. TrawlerFest offers an opportunity to attend seminars on a variety of subjects of interest to cruisers both potential and current. We took in one of the late “Skipper Bob’s” humorous and insightful seminars on buying a trawler and living the cruising life style. His words and ideas are well known and oft repeated in the cruiser community. His simple yet comprehensive cruising guides are the cruiser’s bible!  His guidelines were instrumental in our planning and our dream to one day join the cruising community. We attended four TrawlerFest’s, each time honing our dream, focusing our plan & narrowing our search for a suitable boat. With only one child left at home, we could begin to see our plan coming together. The Carver was put up for sale, and bookmarks were set to the various internet sites where we could keep tabs on the market.


We met several full-time cruisers through TrawlerFest and internet connections. Bill & Vivian Wood aboard Driftwood were moving back to land after 3 years aboard, and were going to sell their 45′ Independence, a top contender for our search. We “boat-sat” Driftwood as they returned home for family time, and considered trying to work a purchase, but we had not sold the Carver. We also were able to compare side by side with a 42′ Kadey Krogen, also on our short list.


The Carver finally sold, so the search was on! We were boat-less. A 42 ft. Krogen became available, and we moved quickly to get a purchase agreement, and move toward a quick private sale, but the seller backed out the next day. It was a huge disappointment to lose the boat we dreamed of for so long.

The disappointment spurred us to look at alternatives. We had seen a 43 Solo listed on Yachtworld for sale in Florida, and kept tabs on the listing. It had been for sale for some 2 years. That generally means it’s overpriced, or there’s something that keeps it from selling, be it the vessel or the seller. Long story short, the listing asked for an offer, we made an offer that we felt was within reach, again, more spread sheets, numbers crunching and comparison lists. The owner countered at our upper limit, so we decided to fly to Florida to have a look. We ended up signing a purchase agreement, left a deposit check, and the rest is history. We settled July 13, 2006.

Pictures of our trip bringing the 43 Solo back from Morehead City, NC are included in the photo gallery here. It was a great trip, although fraught with the uncertainty of learning a new boat’s systems, dealing with a new hull configuration, more weight, slower speed, just lots of changes. But the trip home was memorable, nobody died, drowned, or was seriously injured, and we made it home on schedule. Oh, those schedules! There is a saying that a schedule is the most dangerous thing to have aboard a boat. If you read some of our posts from recent travels, you’ll notice that we don’t do the schedule thing much anymore, that’s part of the evolution, as well. We’ve evolved to the point where we’re finally slowing down and taking in the sights as we go, and enjoying every minute!


So, here we are. In April, we quit our jobs, closed the business after 25 years, sold out inventory & tools, sold the real estate. We put our home on the market, and started shedding lots of stuff we’d accumulated in 24 years living in the same house! Our plans to move aboard were delayed in April; Maerin was seriously damaged by a careless boater who fell asleep at the helm and collided with our boat as she was tied in her slip. 7 long weeks for repairs and other elective maintenance passed in preparation for cruising. Our blog began during the time Maerin was up on the hard for repairs, so our transition to life aboard has come about, and we’ve had a taste of what’s beyond the Bay on weekends. We’re looking forward to our 1st trip south on the ICW, and without a schedule!

2015 Update!! —

So, here we are in 2015! The house has been sold to a new owner who is enthusiastic about assuming stewardship of a piece of history, that mantle has been successfully passed! No more taxes, no utility bills, no painting- yes, we’re homeless! We have sold our vehicles, cancelled our insurance, and put all the “stuff” we didn’t part with in storage. We have changed our residency to Florida, so no more PA income tax. It’s liberating not having all that to deal with. We’re still cruising, still no big agenda, we cruise where we enjoy. We receive mail at our mail service, which doubles as our place of residence, that’s tricky, since Big Brother does NOT like not knowing where to send the jackboots to find you if you resist. Seriously. But we’ve ironed out the kinks and it’s working. Maerin is our home, we have everything we need within 43 ft. We also have a lot we probably don’t need, too, but that’s a constant battle! If it hasn’t been touched in a year, it goes to storage next trip home. Tools excepted!

2018 Ten Years Cruising!! —
Wow! It’s been ten years since we began our cruising adventures!  We’re now seasoned cruisers with over 35,000 miles under our keel!  A ten year factoid post is linked here….

2019-The RV Chapter —

For some time we’ve entertained the possibility of doing some RV travel. 2019 brought some life changes that prompted us to pursue that venue. We began researching the market, employing the same process we used to select our trawler. We distilled our list of wants & deal breakers, and visited some dealerships to help with the process and came up with a list. We located a few candidates, and settled on a 40 ft. Tiffin coach for sale by a private owner in Mississippi. We drove to MS to have a look, and ended up making an offer that was accepted, so our RV adventure began.  Photos of the rig are here...

We’ll be posting photos and logs as we go, so check back, and let us know you’ve been visiting!

5 Responses to “Evolution of a dream”

  1. Susan Blazek on 30 Oct 2008 at 11:06 AM #

    Hey Steve and Barb –
    I have so much enjoyed reading of the evolution to get to where you are now and can’t wait to keep up with your travels. I can’t say how I will miss you here at Stansbury! Having you with us for the past three years has been a pleasure. Just looking out the window, seeing first Cody and Sammy, and now the infamous Molly bounding about has brought life to our little marina. The ever busy and productive Steve has done amazing things with Maerin (with plenty of help from Barb). And Barb – well Barb is just like “what’s next”??? What a trouper – and what a team you two make! The pair of you have worked so diligently at preparing yourselves and Maerin for the future. It has truly been a lesson to me that dreams do come true! Thanks for introducing me to Dark and Stormy. Be sure that when I catch up with you somewhere south of here I’ll bring the rum! Here’s to you!! Susan

  2. Shawn on 10 Nov 2008 at 10:47 PM #

    Wow! I didn’t even know about the Carver. Thank you for the very interesting reading and the reminder that you can’t go from a dinghy to a yacht without out hitting the lottery, or in your case some very careful planning. I would say at my boat pace I’ll be in a cabin cruiser at about …. age 75 LOL. Still stuck with the center console with major repairs slated for this winter, hopefully, as long as the kids don’t drain the boat fund! IF the repairs keep up I’m ripping the gas guzzler off and dropping the biggest electric motor or two on the back and will have the best fishing boat to ever splash in Lake Redman! I already got some serious looks and a stearn question from a park ranger when I took the 21 footer to the ramp at Lake Redman to reposition it on the trailer after the haul home from OC MD.

  3. Jared Baker on 19 Dec 2008 at 4:09 PM #

    I’ve really enjoy this website. It’s amazing to know someone that has a dream that to others is so overwhelming to accomplish and you guys did it. I’m so happy for you and I hope to one day do the same. Growing up we spent many weekends on the water. Mostly on the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. From skiing to fishing, crabbing and my favorite… cruising I love boats and being on the water. As we “grew up” my family kind of drifted away from that life and so did I. Steve and Barb’s daughter Andrea was one of my best friends growing up and Steve and Barb where like my second parents and still are. I got to spend a weekend on Maerin at the 2007 Annapolis Boat show and the itch was back…bad! She is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been on, awesome! Now I have a small skiff and Steve’s been showing me the ropes in repair education. You guys are great, miss ya. Have you ever considered adding pictures of the boats that got you to Maerin?

  4. Laura & Mark on 23 Mar 2011 at 9:58 AM #

    Thanks for your wonderful blog! We want to be you someday! We are gearing ourselves up for the cruising lifestyle, and have done much of what you did to get there. We have owned 15 boats in the 15 yrs we have been married, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time, and have worked our way up from a 15′ bowrider to our current 34′ trawler with a variety in between. We are in Florida so we can cruise year round, except for the fact that we are still working. We hope to cast off in the next year or two if plans allow. Our biggest fear is quitting work too soon, and the cost of healthcare insurance while we cruise. We too have attended numerous Trawlerfests down in Stuart and this year we attended the Cruisers Expo which was GREAT! We met lots of folks living the dream, and learned you can do it no matter what your budget. It’s how many creature comforts can you live without.

    Let us know when you are done with your boat, maybe we’ll buy it from you! We were looking at a Solo down in Vero Beach, but it keeps moving around on us, and can never catch the boat there.

  5. Peggy Bjarno on 18 Nov 2016 at 11:47 AM #

    Great story, Steve, and well written, thanks! We share some but not all of your experiences (first powerboat was a 25 1/2 foot Chris Craft, piece of junk, but it taught me how to drive — and DOCK! — a boat.)
    It’s been great getting to know you both, as we share some time at the dock here in New Bern. And yes, every day we say wow. . . we are SO LUCKY to be living the dream. Yep, WOW!

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply