Nov 302017
 

Life becomes interesting when theory turns to practice!

It’s one thing to have an FU-Fund, hidden away in a financial institution somewhere, purely represented as numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s quite another to actually be deep into the process of cashing it in, preparing for a period of unemployment sabbatical from January 2018.

I’m doing the calculations over and over and over, cutting back all unnecessary spend, looking into capital gains tax implications, trying to make the best decisions to ensure that the bucket of cash stretches as far as possible without sacrificing any too much quality of life. It’s too late now, the deed is done….

People ask of me “Was this planned?”

Yes and No!

I’ve known for a long time this day was coming but never knew exactly when. To be honest I was only expecting it in 6 years time, at age 55. Also, the plan, if one can so grandly call it that, was always more to gather enough in order to be able to quit permanently.

But, as an old salt knows, plans should always be drawn with a stick in the sand since the tides of life have a habit of washing them away at times.

And so it has come to pass that events at The Office have become too much for me to stomach. “I quit!” is now a reality.

The FU-Fund consists of 2 portions. The first, held in unit trusts and shares, will fund phase-1; 8 to 10 months of living. If, in that time I still haven’t found another suitable and sufficient source of income, then phase-2 will be funded by the corporate pension fund (which will be transferred to a preservation fund on resignation). There’s about another 2 years of living there. If I cannot come up with some income in that timeframe then I’m going to call myself pretty useless!

The problems are few but potentially critical:

  • The FU-Fund is also the emergency fund. And we all know that life has this nasty habit of throwing “emergencies” your way, especially when they’re not needed.
  • In order to stretch the money, all savings and investments are put on hold. This obviously impacts the final FIRE date and needs be addressed asap. It also means that the FI stash is now on its own. No added monthly boosters. Only compound interest.
  • Cashing out the corporate pension should be a last resort. We need this growing towards the final FIRE date. But, there is uncertainty about whether it will be needed or not and that’s why it’s going into a preservation fund. It maintains the benefits there but allows a single transaction to cash out before 55. Just in case!
  • I’m 49, pale and male – living in South Africa. Enough said! This is most likely the end of normal, corporate career – forever.

Not all of these are negative factors. The last is probably the incentive I need to be autonomous, to create and run my own little lifestyle business?

So, while I still have one foot in the door, hoping for some kind of “offer” to keep me working here, deep down I know it’s not worth it. The stress and misery of this particular corporate is killing me. It would be a huge mistake to stay. I need to search for new opportuniies closer to the boat.

And so, for better or worse, the plan has being put into action, not in exactly the same way as envisaged but close enough. Now it’s time to ensure that my free time is not wasted.

Nov 212017
 

Another R500 supper at the local Steakhouse is behind us. The ribs were superb but it has to stop for several reasons. Firstly; there is no real value at R500 for only two people. It’s just a waste. Secondly; with no salary or cash coming in the door it makes sense to cut back on spending wherever possible. And cutting back in this area does not really affect quality of life.

I’m not sure the magnitude of what has happened has struck home yet for either of us. For the past 16 years I have had money trickle into my account each and every month without fail. Suddenly, and all because I can no longer take the pressure of being told what to do, all that is about to change. And to be honest, it’s a little unsettling.

The spreadsheet doesn’t lie. There will should be cash to live off for a while and so we’ll not starve in the short term. It’s more the longer term that concerns me. It’s hard not to feel that I’m setting us back in our efforts to live a cushy, comfortable and well-financed life.

It’s strange that feeling, because life in the corprate hell-hole has been exactly that for many years now – Hell! It’s not enough and certainly not for me anymore. This break is needed. Even if I end up taking another job again, I will take some time to sail now. Perhaps it will be good once I have this break behind me? Perhaps I’ll find another path, another way top add value and have the world and the universe provide?

In the back of my mind, always, are my kids. They aren’t really yet in a position to sustain their own lives. Surely my lack of staying power, my quitting will detrimentally affect them? Mmmm!? Perhaps. And perhaps this will add some urgency to their efforts? They are always welcome to live with us, always wanted. But for now the well of cash is about to experience a drought as severe as that of the Western Cape. It’s time to implement Level-5 restrictions.

And implementing level-5 restrictions is not so easy, not when the habits of years are at play. Never really having watched what we spend, now suddenly there is a very real need for it to be foremost in everyone’s minds. Mrs S. is working more than ever and as a result has cash to burn – and she’s burning it on the beach house for sure. Not sure she’s saving enough!? But that’s a discussion for another day since it has the potential to turn frictional.

I don’t exactly know where to from here?

There are currently two properties with the potential for generating income. That’s the most obvious starting point. Neither are ideal but then much of life seldom is perfect. It’s difficult [even for me] to think of all the work Mrs S. has put into both our homes and then think of renting them out. That’s why, finances aside, it better to first try and sell 253 outright. To think of some strangers, trashing our home – it’s a little uncomfortable to say the least. And it’s the same with Woodstone Cottage. Mrs S. has elevated the place out of the dump and made it a home of note. To now think of renting that out is difficult. But perhaps it must be done?

I like living here at 16deV. I don’t think that feeling is misplaced or misguided. All the things I [think I] love doing are here. Ocean Blue, kayaking, beach runs, cycling, mountains, ocean. The list goes on. While none of these things are particularly easy, especially the sailing, they are ultimately very rewarding. I’m not ready to give up on this dream of living here yet. Not until I have given it my very best effort.

So, in that regard the decision to quit, to push the corporate beast, it has been a good one. There can only be one outcome and that is to craft more time, much more time, for living down here. Already, just that decision has opened up an opportunity to cruise the boat a little in late February. I will still negotiate with SE but the outcome will be only one thing – a transition of life to Cape Town. Any ‘deal’ that they might offer is off the table unless they include this vital piece of “Living by the boat”. I don’t think they understand or are willing. I don’t think they will be able to get their heads around that. I also don’t buy into the statement “What you have done is anti-survivalist. Done the wrong way. You should rather have asked first.” That’s utter BS. In my experience, just quietly askling nicely in a beast like SE draws zero response or action. No. Shaking the cage like I have is, ands always has been, the best way.

So the die is cast. Everyone says to me “It will work out!” I want to believe them, desparately. Deep down I think I do believe them. But damn, it would be nice to know for sure.

Nov 132017
 
“They’re thinking of selling their Astove 31,” a friend tells me.
“What’s the plan?” I reply.
“Thinking to maybe one day head offshore” he muses.
“What’s wrong with the Astove?” I wonder.
Same thing holds true for dual-purpose motorcycles. If you don’t have at least 1000cc underneath you then you can’t possibly tour the remote places of the planet.
4×4? same thing. Have to get all the gear before you can think of going outside the parking lot.
In my opinion, bigger isn’t always better or even necessary. That’s why I’m happy with my 30’Miura [and we will cruise offshore one day], my tiny x300 [yes we will adventure far and wide and on the dirt] and my aging Isuzu 4×4 [perhaps we might even head off-road one day].
The irony though; even I cannot possibly have enough time in my current life to use all these properly. Even by going small I’ve crossed some paradoxical line.
Perhaps going nothing at all would have been better under the current circumstances?.
Certainly – bigger is not always better. Sometimes though even smaller isn’t better. Sometimes total abstinence is the only logical path.
Why is that so hard?
Nov 082017
 

24/7, 365 days a year. That appears to be the new regime’s expectation.
It doesn’t leave much time or energy to further life’s important goals.
It’s an important factor that needs to be considered in the “stay and suck it up” or “leave” debate.

Jun 172017
 

“They’re thinking of selling their Astove 31,” a friend tells me.

“What’s the plan?” I reply.

“Thinking to maybe one day head offshore” he muses.

“What’s wrong with the Astove?” I wonder.

Same thing holds true for dual-purpose motorcycles. If you don’t have at least 1000cc underneath you then you can’t possibly tour the remote places of the planet.

4×4? Same thing! Have to get all the gear before you can think of going outside the parking lot.

In my opinion, bigger isn’t always better or even necessary.

That’s why I’m happy with my 30’Miura [and we will cruise offshore one day], my tiny X-300 [yes we will adventure far and wide and on the dirt] and my aging Isuzu 4×4 [perhaps we might even head off-road one day].

The irony though; I cannot possibly have enough time in my current life to use all these properly. Even by going small I’ve crossed some paradoxical line.

Perhaps going nothing at all would have been better under the current circumstances?.

Certainly – bigger is not always better. Sometimes though even smaller isn’t better. Sometimes total abstinence is the only logical path.

Why is that so hard?

Aug 222016
 

I’m sworn off boats, for today at least. The discovery of yet another structural leak (or two) has me seriously depressed with this entire boating thing. What was to have been a super-pleasurable “living the life” thing is turning into an emotional and financial disaster.

I’ve patched it with wax-based sealer (seems that’s my go-to solution these days). What I really need to do is find some ”underwater” epoxy to mix up and do some kind of botch job with.

For now, I’ve cancelled today’s sailing for fear of disturbing the leak even further. Emotionally and financially drained, I need ‘Blue to sit on her mooring for the next few months while I figure out the next steps. And to do that she needs to keep the water out, at least keep it slow enough so the bilge pump has a fighting chance.

…..

Even the under-water epoxy doesn’t do the job. After hours of sanding in the most inaccessible of places, I seal the source of the leak and it shows me the middle finger, migrating out of the delaminated fibreglass a couple of millimeters away. Anyway, it’s (possibly) contained to a couple of drips an hour, not enough to sink the boat or stress the bilge pump too much.

It’ll need to be addressed eventually, but not now. In a huff I lock up and leave. You’re on your own for a while ‘Blue!

Leak #5

Leak #5

Jul 032016
 

It’s tempting to forever procrastinate and postpone using the excuse of not being prepared, of not being ready. Often this pretty much boils down to “I haven’t the required kit yet so I must first spend and prepare some more before I can go“. I suppose some folks don’t struggle with this but I certainly find myself having similar thoughts and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this regard.

Take a look at this picture:

Fully kitted landy

The Fully-Kitted Expedition Landy

Now imagine pulling up next to them in the paradise-campsite and hauling out your flimsy 2-man tent while they set-up camp, barely breaking a sweat and sipping ice-cold beers while watching you trying to find the right end of the right tent pole? Their solar-powered fridge delivers up an endless supply of liquid refreshment and their roll-out camp kitchen makes your attempts to cook, eat and clean out of a single-burner, single pot setup feel a little spartan and backward.

Perhaps then we start to narrow down the crux of the problem – our desire to never be uncomfortable, to have all the conveniences of modern life the instant we desire them. We forget that the people in the photo above travel and live out of their mobile Landy-home 365/24/7. They have no home other than this and so it makes sense to rig it as efficiently and as comfortably as possible. The problem arises when some cubicle-hell-slave sees this and, without considering all the sacrifices these folks have made to live their dream, instantly desires to live the life he perceives from the photograph. It sounds cool to have an expedition vehicle, to travel off the beaten track, to watch the sun set over the dusty, isolated western horizon with all the comforts of home and we think to ourselves “If they can have it then I can to. I work so hard in cubicle-hell I damn well deserve to!

And so, Mr Want-It-Now goes into spend mode, maxing out the bank loans to buy and fit out a similar vehicle [even though it will in all probability spend 99% of it’s time on the tarmac doing the daily office commute]. No expense is spared to replicate or even improve on the ultimate adventure vehicle and in turn, long, dark hours are spent servicing the debt all in a vain attempt to replicate this perceived life over the annual 2-week escape period.

I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without all the visual stimulation and marketing that this modern world has subjected us to. Us moderns, we are sorely tempted every time we see another man’s possessions. To be honest, I think this has been part of mankind throughout history, this incessant desire to have more than you need, to be “better” than your neighbour. Perhaps man’s progress as a species would not be what it is if there wasn’t this inherent drive for better, for more? On the other hand, it is exactly this drive that has the planet in crisis, terminally ill with over-consumption and rampant consumerism! On the whole I don’t believe man has found the right balance.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we cannot go now, that we need to plan and prepare [spend?] a little more before we’re ready. We just need this additional widget, this added little bit of training, a few more dollars before we’re ready to set out. It’s very, very easy to never be ready, to always remain an armchair traveler and a dreamer.

While it may be nice to have all the kit on the Expedition Landy, there is no reason why you can’t go with your 2-man tent, a portable single-burner camping stove and the desire to be outdoors. You may not be as comfortable or as efficient as Landy-Guy but the wilderness and the sunset out there is the same one that Landy-Guy spent a lot more than you to see.

Keep preparing to live or just live despite your constraints. Your choice.

Jun 292016
 

There’s a thousand things I want to do ….. http://dtm.inlandsailing.co.za/projects/ and only 24 hours in the day with limited $$.

I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning.
There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes?
I know you are unable to imagine this.
Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.” ― Meg Rosoff, What I Was
While we are postponing, life speeds by” – Seneca
The balance between sitting in hell every weekday and gently guiding the yacht over a westerly swell……..
The balance between sitting in hell every weekday and feeling the warm winter sun on your face as you sip your morning coffee……
The balance between sitting in hell every weekday and aimlessly wandering in nthe mountain wilderness……
The balance between sitting in hell every weekday and riding your bicycle down a steep gravel mountain pass…….
The balance between sitting in hell every weekday and shaping a living space from scratch…….
All of these things need to be kept “front-of-mind”, indelibly carved into one’s brain lest they are forgotten, neglected, left too late.

For now, priorities. Perhaps one day the van conversion, the wilderness motorcycle touring, the …..