Owl n PussWhen I first met my husband, his rather famous younger brother had written a book about their adventures, or rather misadventures, together. They love to fly, sail, travel, skydive, abseil and generally do things a little out of the ordinary. I, on the other hand, like a slightly more sedate life. One of the things I was fascinated by was the fact that they had lived on a boat together, twice in their lives. The 1st time was close to home – close enough to get a long range cordless phone to work in the days before mobiles. The 2nd time was on the Hudson River in NYC to save on accommodation expenses. After reading of their experiences, I happened to mention that I thought it would be cool to live on a houseboat. My then future husband immediately produced drawings and detailed plans of the type of houseboat he would, one day, like to build. It was very fancy – and enormous – and came complete with every gadget imaginable. I had opened a can of worms, I could tell. The courting continued. We honeymooned on the beautiful Hawkesbury River in NSW on a houseboat – quite a lot smaller than his fantasy sketches and not nearly as fancy. My interest was definitely peaked.

So how do you go from dreaming of floating along through life to making it a reality? And why?

My husband, I’ll call him “The Adventurer”, fancies a life not unlike his hero, Tristan Jones. Tristan was a crusty old salt who sailed around the world constantly with his 3 legged dog. Says it all really, doesn’t it! After The Adventurer’s divorce, he bought a 30 year old sail boat – a 34ft Columbia. The way he describes it, most people imagine something the size of the Titanic. Yes it sleeps 7, but only if you don’t have any need for personal space. One night we managed to sleep 3 adults and 4 children. Notice I said “1 night”. We spent many lovely days and nights on our “Cherished Wish”, however it is basically a large, floating caravan, and my husband has 3 children who live with us half the week. The dream continued.

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The GFC has been tough on everyone. For most people they have no other option than to tough it out and hope they can keep their heads above water. Many don’t. I didn’t want to drown in our debt. We had a particularly tough year. As musicians who work mainly in the corporate world, we discovered the corporate world rapidly disappearing before our eyes. We also had the added expense of trying to conceive a baby through IVF. You think children are expensive once you have one, but trying to make one from scratch is unbelievably expensive, not to mention the time off from work you need to take to actually go through all the procedures…..but that’s another blog! Needless to say, with all of that and paying $30,000 a year in rent alone, we started to sink.

This is where the natural thought process turned to boats. It’s the next logical step isn’t it? Well, it is if you’re married to The Adventurer. If it was just the 2 of us, I could have entertained the thought of living on “Cherished Wish”. It’s cosy. It has a reasonable kitchen and a bathroom – well, wet room – with a toilet. But with 3 kids currently aged 12, 9 and 5, I’d be needing a strait jacket, not a life jacket! After vaguely mentioning the concept of living on a houseboat, I swear it was a matter of minutes before I had a laptop thrust before my eyes to peruse the Boats For Sale websites.

The first boat we went to see had been a commercial party boat – it had seen better days. Now being fought over in someone’s divorce, it had not been looked after and needed quite a lot of work. For some reason, we were more than happy to look past all of it’s faults and make an offer. The God’s were certainly shining on us that day, as the owner had decided to take the money pit on water off the market, so we dodged that bullet.

We found the 2nd one that same day. It looked too good to be true from the ad. It was about the same price as the floating money pit, but looked amazing. Was this trick photography at work? It was built 5 years ago by the owner who loved it so much he never took it off the mooring. We headed up to Lake Macquarie, 90minutes away, to check it out. 50ft x 18ft, lounge, kitchen, fridge, 12volt and 240volt power, 2 double bedrooms, 1 single room with bunks, bathroom with shower and FLUSHING TOILET!!!! Could it be as good as it appears? According to the surveyor, yes it can. We put a deposit on it immediately!

Now for the next hurdle – convincing the bank to lend us money. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

It took 5 weeks and the generosity of The Adventurer’s senior citizen parents for us to secure the loan. Nothing like the taste of humble pie to bring you back to earth.

So now we were the proud owners of an aqua green houseboat that can probably be seen from space. The problem now was getting it to where we actually wanted to live. This involved going “outside”. While the houseboat is built on catamaran hulls as opposed to a pontoon, it doesn’t mean it’s ready to do the Vendee Globe Yacht Race. It’s quite sea-worthy, but getting it to the enclosed, tranquil waters of  Pittwater meant spending about 5 hours in the open ocean. Too big to put on a truck and travel by road, it was our only option. The Adventurer was pretty keen to do this trip himself. Far be it from me to stamp out his dreams. But I said no anyway. We found a houseboat company that had drivers who transported houseboats from Newcastle to different waterways in the state, and waited. And waited. And waited for the picture perfect ocean day.

On March 6 2010, exactly 3 months after we first set eyes on it, our very own pea green boat floated safely into Pittwater to take up residency opposite a pub and beside a dog park.

This blog will document the ups and downs we have already experienced and the adventures I’m sure are yet to come. Join us on the journey.

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