I met Kim Findlay this summer during an autbor takeover. When I discovered she lives on a boat with her husband and dog, I knew I needed to host her. She’s brave and fascinating. Friends, here’s Kim.
Five years ago, I was working as a CPA in Toronto. We had a sailboat we used for vacations and down time. I was excited that I’d just had two Harlequin romances published. Now, I live on a catamaran in the Caribbean fulltime. My only work is writing, and I have eight books published, seven with Harlequin, three more contracted with Harlequin and coming out next year, and three with a small publisher. The only accounting I do is for our own taxes.
How did it happen?
I don’t really think I’m adventurous, but I did go to university in Virginia, knowing no one, and then took a teaching job in Winnipeg (find North Dakota and then go north from there) so I am willing to try things. But this adventure? This was my husband’s idea.
He’s always gone 110% on any hobbies he has. When he was scuba diving, he moved up to mixed gas diving. With motorcycles, he had a dual sport and went way off road as well as taking long (days long) trips. He wanted me to share his adventures, but I’m a poor swimmer with a phobia of water plants, and a week after getting my motorcycle license, I was rear-ended on the bike, had to get my ankle pinned, and when I next drove a motorcycle he swore he could see white knuckles through my gloves.
Then a diving buddy took him out on a sailboat about ten years ago, and it was love as soon as the sails filled. This was a hobby I could share. We stay on top of the water, and once the sails fill, it’s usually very zen. We rarely go faster than six or eight knots. Sailing is long periods of calm interspersed with intervals of frantic activity. Spouse does most of that activity.
My spouse has had high stress management jobs, and when one ended in 2018, he thought it was time to live his dream of cruising on a sailboat. He knew it would be great. I had doubts. It’s one thing to live on a boat for a week or ten days on vacation. But 24/7 for an indefinite period? I wasn’t sure about that.
He proposed a test year. We’d take our boat (not really a cruising boat) for a season. Leave at the end of the summer and make our way south. If we didn’t like it (I wasn’t sure we’d make it to the coast with both of us on board) we could come back. Our sons had just graduated university, so we left them with the dog and the house and gave it a try. I closed up my accounting business and had time to write.
Since we’re now living on the boat, you know the test year went well. We left Canada in August of 2018. We flew home in April of 2019 after selling the boat, prepped our house to sell, then bought a catamaran and flew down to make this permanent in August of 2019.
It isn’t perfect. There are issues with living in the equivalent of a tiny house off grid floating on the water. But the rewards outnumber those drawbacks for us. I have asthma that cold air triggers, and down here it’s warm all the time, if not actually incredibly hot. The writing has worked out, which is a long-held dream. I like making our own water and power and being mostly independent. I’ve got used to climbing up into my bed, pumping the toilet instead of flushing, and going without some of the products available back home.
There are a lot of people doing this: long time sailors, and some who decide this is their dream and just take the leap. I’m glad we had the test year, so I didn’t feel trapped by this decision before I knew how it would be without an end date.
It’s been worth leaping off the cliff and doing something that seemed impossible. If you want to know more about this, www.kimfindlay.ca. Facebook: KimFindlayAuthor, Twitter: @missheyer74 and IG authorKimFindlay. I mostly post pictures of where we travel, and of Charlie.
Dog life on a boat.
Charlie, our cocker spaniel, adapted pretty well. He spent the first month or so as a full-time boat dog while we were in Shelter Bay Marina in Panama, where we bought our catamaran. Since we were on a dock, he got several walks every day to do his business. That changed when we started travelling, and we are rarely at a dock anymore.
Charlie has decided our starboard bow is where he goes toilet. We have a saltwater hose rigged up permanently so we can wash it down. When we left Panama, we had a nine-day crossing to Puerto Rico, so there was no option to get to land. He was great! Kept watch with whoever was on duty. Now he’s done several crossings. He’s not fond of the rough ones, but he’s happy to be with his people. Normally, we take him off the boat for a walk every morning. He’s always anxious to get to land, but just as anxious to get back to the boat – typical dog!
Learning to jump in and out of the dinghy, our ‘car’ that takes us from the boat to shore, was a bit of a curve. He fell in, several times. He can swim, but prefers to have his feet on the ground, with water no higher than his belly. Now, he rarely misses.
There aren’t very many Cocker spaniels down here, so he’s become kind of famous. People know and remember him who don’t remember us. And if you go to AJ Car Rentals in Marigot in SXM, ask for the Charlie rate.
Writing on a boat:
It’s not a big space, inside the boat, so there aren’t that many places to write. There’s the nav table, but that’s the captain’s spot, and my one leg tends to go numb if I write there very often. We have a table in the cockpit, but it’s pretty hot there in the afternoons, and the sun can shine in. I usually write at the salon table, though sometimes I have to move because the boat is on anchor and changes position with the wind. That means the sun can come in from a new angle as well. I sometimes jump around to avoid the glare and try to get any breezes going.
I’ve never been a plotter, and I don’t have a board with post-its and scenes set up, which is a good thing. There’s no option to do that here. No free wall space, and paper can have a rough time around this much water and humidity. I’m fortunate that once I start writing, I lose myself in it (same as when I’m reading) and the world around me is gone. I’m good with a place to sit, my laptop, and some internet access. I’ve written on planes, trains and busses. I’ve got words down in laundry mats and beach bars.
Sometimes though, the scenery is very distracting.
Looking at your pictures, I understand how the scenery can be a distraction. Kim, thanks so much for sharing your story with us!