Friday, 8 July 2016
Contemplating the future
This is a lovely mooring just north of Audlem with the brilliant name of Coole Pilate! It is a good place to sit and contemplate my present situation and future direction.
I was at Overwater Marina yesterday. I was really impressed by its beauty, its environmental credentials and its friendly service. It occurred to me that, if I didn't have a permanent mooring, it would be a very pleasant place to spend the winter months. I made enquiries and if I was thinking of spending this winter there (which I am not) it would cost a little over £800 for 4 months, plus electric. My current mooring at Fradley costs around £1,350 for the full year. (I have paid for Fradley until March, that's why I'm not considering a change this winter.)
The advantages of the all year round mooring are that I have somewhere I can call home and somewhere always available to me to dump my boat if I need to be somewhere else. While Fradley Post Office is still operating I have an address and while I am out cruising I have somewhere to leave my car. All really important things to sustain me, living this life.
The disadvantages, while being on a very tight budget are that if I am out cruising up to 8 months of the year, I am paying for a mooring that I am not using. Also winter can be tough to get through when you have no shore power and limited access to water and when you have to carry provisions, coal etc across a lock gate to get them to the boat. Also I have been at Fradley for six years now and being out cruising this season makes me itch for somewhere new. I don't think, even with these disadvantages, that I would consider moving if it wasn't that our lovely little community there has mostly broken up. My best friends Graham and Jan Finch have moved off the water as has my lovely neighbour Kev Lote. There are rumours of stone quarrying being planned and, having found peace and quiet while cruising, Fradley is a very busy place.
The advantages of giving up the mooring are mostly financial. I wouldn't then be paying for something I am mostly not using. In the winter months I would be on shore power and so largely not running my engine, saving on diesel and engine hours. Having done the sums, weighing up the cost of the winter mooring and electricity over diesel, I would be about £450 better off, which is nearly 5% of my entire annual budget.
Another advantage is that I would be safe and secure during the winter months and could leave the boat to visit friends and relatives without worrying about ice and snow. It would generally make winter very much easier to cope with. It is also a new place to explore with lovely walks and peace and quiet in the Cheshire countryside.
The last advantage I can think of is that, only having a mooring for 4 months of the year would make me truly embrace the travelling life as I couldn't run home if the going got tough. The boat would be my only base.
But that leads into the disadvantages. Being truly of no fixed abode has its challenges both practically and emotionally. Practically, I wouldn't have a permanent address which makes dealing with the apparatus of the state difficult. There are ways round that though. Not having a base means doctors, vets and other assistance are also harder to access.
My car is another major issue. The reason I am so attracted to Overwater Marina is its peace and isolation. But that comes with a price. I couldn't live there without my car. But they won't let me leave my car there for the months I am out cruising unless I pay for a whole year's mooring which is out of the question. So I would either have to find somewhere to store it or take it with me while cruising. This means the pain of parking it somewhere ahead, travelling back to the boat, cruising up to it and then repeating the exercise time and time again. The only advantage to this is having it available for shopping, laundry and if I needed to go somewhere.
I think the real challenge though is more of an emotional / mental one. Am I really brave enough to let go of the safe and familiar to really commit wholeheartedly to the new and unknown? Do I really want to travel entirely off grid? A question people have asked already is don't I get bored with nothing to do but cruise and stop? The answer so far is no, but I've only been out for four months. It is purpose rather than boredom that could be an issue. These 4 months have felt like a holiday and then I will return to the mooring to resume 'real life.' But if this was my whole life then what purpose would I have?
Anyway, this has turned out to be a much longer post than I intended but it has helped me to actually write down the pros and cons. I don't know what I will do but fortunately I have till next February to decide.