This is the second installment of the 12 Days of Christmas in Portugal. I hope to complete the series in a couple of weeks, occasionally interspersed with more recent news from Barry. — meps
We traveled to Portugal for three reasons: To see what was there, to go to a kick-ass New Year’s party, and to look at a boat for sale.
Our first view of Matanie in the Portimão boatyard (above right).
Of our three reasons, the boat intrigued people the most, and we had about a hundred different conversations with people about it during the Christmas party season. In every conversation, once we established that we were going to Portugal to look at a boat for sale, the immediate response was what I now call, “Question Number One.”
“But how will you get the boat home?”
Even when we returned, we still had the same conversation with new people. Last night, I had the conversation with my brother, who lives in Ohio. I told him we had not bought the boat, but that we had not ruled it out. No surprise, he then asked Question Number One.
I sighed, and I tried to explain the plan. This was followed by Question Number Two, in the most incredulous voice I’d ever heard from him:
“You mean you’d go and live there?”
Evidently, the thought of his little sister going to live on the other side of the world was completely preposterous and not a little disturbing.
His reaction illustrates why, for us, Question Number One is so hard to answer. As Barry says, it’s not how we’d get the boat home, but how long we would take to do it. At a minimum, years or decades, but who knows what other interesting detours life might provide in the meantime?
The problem with Questions Number One is that our lifestyle represents such a different paradigm that others can barely fathom it. For most people, “home” is the place from which everything else is measured. Everything you own, even if it’s a 6-ton, 33-foot floating object, has to eventually get “home,” right?
Interestingly, we talked with a couple of friends who did not ask Question Number One. Carlos did not ask us how we planned to get the boat home. That’s because Carlos calls Portugal home. He knows that his country has great sailing and wonderful people, and the cost of living is reasonable. If we bought a boat there, why would we want to leave?
Kris also didn’t ask. He has the same gypsy-vagabond-nomad tendencies that we do and understands that boats are to be used wherever you find them. He recently found a screaming good deal on a 35-foot Challenger in Florida and purchased it, no easy feat when you live in Capetown, South Africa.
So if we bought Matanie and we moved aboard, we could live in Portugal, or we could, slowly, take her someplace else. Matanie — and the whole world — would be our home.
Unlike Kris’ Challenger, however, Matanie is not a screaming good deal. She’s a little tired and a lot unusual — a junk schooner rig on a fiberglass production boat with an uncommon interior layout. When you throw in the lousy exchange rate and the steep European VAT tax, we can get a better deal closer to home.
That brings us back to the question of “home,” and whether we still live in the same paradigm as the people who ask us, “But how will you get the boat home?”
Severing our ties to the U.S. and moving aboard a boat that’s over 3000 miles from our nearest family member is akin to ripping off a Band-Aid. If we buy a boat here in the Northwest, or even in North America, we can say our goodbyes much more gently.
We want to buy a boat to see the world, not because we want to run away from home. We love the Northwest and we love our families, scattered across the U.S. If we can reconcile that with a boat on the other side of the world, we still might buy Matanie. So far, we haven’t been able to. And so the search — from our contented life here in the Northwest –continues.