Why Selling A Boat Is Harder Than Selling A House

Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose

Jason wants to sell the boat, and I don’t want to talk about it. I especially don’t want to talk about it while inside the boat where she can hear us speak of her demise.

His argument?

We can’t afford to buy a slip in the Santa Barbara Harbor (true. Anyone reading have a slip for rent?), there is a very long waitlist for liveaboard slips in Ventura marinas (that may be true), and sailing the boat back to Santa Barbara – against the prevailing winds – from where we currently are in San Carlos, Mexico would be a big pain in the ass (very, very, true).

I’m working from every angle here. Researching how much it would cost to have the boat trailered back to California. We’d drive her back ourselves, but the boat is too heavy to pull with our Dodge Sprinter van, so we’d have to hire out.

And now, as we begin our second winter season of cruising the coasts of Mexico, each day is met with a bittersweet moment knowing that our time on this boat – our first home together – will come to an end. 

I’m paraphrasing here, but Buddhists believe that attachment is the root of suffering, and I have to agree.

Attachment to emotions brings pain, attachment to people (especially the end of a relationship or when loved ones pass away) brings pain, attachment to drugs and alcohol brings pain to our bodies, and attachment to homes can bring lots of sorrow.

I don’t know if it’s the military-brat-turned-gypsy in me, but I’ve always realized my time in each home is limited.

So, since I’m eighteen, I’ve made a point to take a picture of every bedroom I’ve lived in: My dorm room with the twelve-foot ceilings, the quirky college apartment with slanted wooden floors, the Upper East Side one-bedroom in New York City, the charming pre-war home in Charleston, my bachelorette pad in Carpinteria.

At some point during my stay, I’ll catch the light just right and remember my time here will come to an end.

I’ll take out my camera and snap a memory knowing that one day I’ll move out of this space that has become a part of my life, never to return.

But for some reason, with our boat, it’s harder to let go.

Here’s a peek into our home of three years, Astrologer. She’s a 1969 Cal 34 sailboat that we sailed from Washington down to Baja, Mexico, and into the Sea of Cortez.

I recently met a guy named Vinny who was sitting outside a coffee shop near the marina in San Carlos.

He’s an old-school hippie, a biker yogi from Boston, a retiree from growing pot in Northern California for forty years. He and his wife settled in Mexico six years ago.

When I learned they recently lost their boat in a hurricane last spring, my face twisted in disbelief.

But he shrugged, with little sadness in his eyes and a smile on his face. “What can you do?” he said. “That’s life.”

I asked him if losing a boat is emotionally harder than losing a house.

“Oh, absolutely! It’s a part of your soul,” he said. “With a boat, you’re constantly working on it. And, when you’re out there, it’s what keeps you alive.”

All these little deaths we experience every day and don’t even realize it: The last sip of coffee. The end of a favorite song. A sunset.

How big these moments can feel if we realize they could be the last.

I’ll try to remember this as I release my grip on our boat, prying each finger away with a heavy heart.

Because even if you never settle in one spot, there’s no place like home for those fleeting moments that you do.

If you liked this, you’d love the story of when had to let go in, Goodbye Boatlife: Selling a Boat in Mexico

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  1. Wow I found your article in the Santa Barbara Sentinel while doing laundry today. Love your story and completely admire your lifestyle and free spirit. I too have chosen to live free and release the burdens of main stream life. I quit my primary job of 20 years sold everything, bought an RV and now live my dream here in Santa Barbara with my sweet love. We park host for the county parks in exchange for rent and utilities and have taken up sailing at the marina. Our dream is to build enough experience to sail down the coast someday and live on a boat full time for a few months. We are taking ASA classes here in SB and love the freedom and excitement of learning and loving by the sea. I am working on a book and try to publish a monthly blog about my adventures too.

    • Hi Deb! Thank you so much for reaching out! I’ve got poor WiFi service right now in Mexico, so my apologies for the delay in responding to you. Your comment was a great surprise when we got back on the grid. Wow! Congratulations on following your heart! I’m especially intrigued by the park host position. That’s is so creative! ASA classes are definitely the way to go! I took one a few years ago. I had minimal experience before that (did about 6 races in the SB harbor for Wet Wednesdays) and the ASA course made me more confident – even if to learn all the terms! So excited to hear about your book! What an amazing adventure in itself! Would love to meet for coffee next time I’m in SB. I really appreciate you reaching out and thank you so much for reading! So nice to know we can relate!!! xo

  2. Love this! Enjoy the moments on your sweet girl, take photos and know that no one can take away your memories when the time comes that you say goodbye. She’s given great memories and life lessons but she is equally lucky to have such loving occupants.

    • Your words warm my heart, Summer! Thank you for that. I’ll never forget what you said to me right before I packed my life into my Toyota Highlander and moved out West. “Soak up this trip,” you said. “Because it may never happen again.” I’m paraphrasing, but I think of your words often and they give me comfort. Thank you for adding more beautiful advice to the pot of gold. xoxoxo