florida keys estate sales & auction services, personal property appraisals, liquidations

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

unlikely liveaboards

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2010 at 11:50 pm

So when I first really started seriously considering relocating myself and my business down to Key West, I had a paradigm shift as well.  I, brainiac that I am, would leave living on land to live (frugally and sensibly) on a live aboard.  Everyone does it, right?  It’s the Keys thing. Well, it turns out that it’s not as easy as you think.  First, I had decided that I wanted not a powerboat, but something along the lines of an old tug, or a sailboat, or a catamaran, or a reconverted something with history and style and a certain stinginess.  It had to be old, it had to have character, it had to be affordable, it should measure over 40 feet in length, and it had to have its own live aboard accessible dock (I was okay with either with or without amenities).

So I started shopping around and here’s what I learned.  Surprisingly, most of the boats in Key West have been there a while – and some a good long while, some have seen bottom or a few strong winds to say the least.  Most of the boats currently on the market through e-bay or Craigslist are old, worn, without motors, and free floating.  Most are overpriced and the houseboats each come with their own sordid stories of the number of times this or that problem has been repaired yet again, or who knows who that used to live there or used to live close by. Then there’s the added bonus that finding slippage for over 40 feet is a bit challenging if you want to stay within market prices and if you want the convenience of being centrally located.  I searched for hours, for days, for weeks, for months (I’m determined like that).  I found some beautiful boats in Miami and Key Largo but then there was the issue of moving them – some owners were willing, some not so much.  I found boats that were priced all along the continuum due to the crashing housing market and the bottoming-out boating market – no one could seem to tell us what any boat was truly “worth”.  Living aboard was not going to be easy.

And then I found her.  She was a dream, spacious and sturdy.  That’s when my education really began.  First, I must confess that even after having served several years in a particular branch of U.S. military service, I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO BOAT.  At all.  Which I know, is inconceivable especially for one entertaining notions of living on a moving vessel.  So I chatted a few times with dream-boat’s owner and I did what any self-respecting person would do, I hired a surveyor who was a USCG Captain, an educator in metallurgy, and a master diver (the owner did not want to pull said dream-boat from her station and that meant a dive to look at the hull and propellers).  And while I awaited the surveyor’s report, I started investigating all the possibilities for dockage and slippage in Key West (or should I say, lack of possibilities).  I began looking for an instructor who could fast-track teach me boating regulations, how to sail, what to do with a multi-ton vessel when the engines go, and most importantly – what to expect on a maintenance and repair schedule.  And then I called the bank.  Lucky me had selected a boat that was well beyond in years what the bank would be willing to insure – in fact, they couldn’t even give me an estimate of value.  Can’t insure it?  You’ve got to be kidding, whoever heard of such a thing.  And so when you can’t insure, you can imagine what it’s like to try to get a loan.

When the very apt surveyor called (following hefty (but reasonable) prices for his services), the news was not good and I heard it in his voice right away, bless the guy, he WANTED it to work out for me.  I don’t know whether to tell you first about the condition of the vessel, the restrictions in Garrison Bight Marina, the cavorting that had to be done to get the wise dock master’s permission on a few items, or about something I had never heard of before, “owning bottom” and transferring the slip.  With each setback and challenge and difficulty, my dream of owning a live aboard and actually living on it slipped further and further away.  I now can say I understand the saying that the two happiest days of your life are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it.  It’s a shame too, because my son would have loved to grow up ON the water, and we would have loved to have raised him in the community of boaters (we’re free-spirited like that).  My surveyor advisor was encouraging, “We can keep looking”, he said…but I knew after all of that …. live aboarding can be done easily when you’re single, when you choose a small vessel, and when you don’t care whether you can actually take the thing out on the water or not.  Otherwise, it is unlikely. And so, wiser, more educated, smarter about inter-relationships in the Keys, and more crafty about the condition of many vessels there, we’re back to dry land – like it or not.

A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind.
– Webb Chiles


packing & gutters, awards & such

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Today, I wished my adult daughter (L) a safe journey across the pond as she takes a flight from New York to Madrid to Seville to Jerez de los Caballeros, Extramedura, SPAIN.  She’ll be there until February 2011 and although I am thrilled for her adventure, I’m sad to let go and say good-bye.  The only thing that’s diverted my entire attention and anxiety on L for this trip is the fact that we also are in the midst of planning our trip to Key West 28 days from today.

When I first thought about really going down to the Southernmost Point, I was only going to take my own little Mini Cooper car on the Autotrain and that meant that there wasn’t going to be a lot of storage for all our things.  So in addition to buying bite-sized plastic containers, we had to face reality.  All of our worldly goods were going to have to be given away, sold through Craigslist, sold through EBay, or sold through Amazon.  I can now tell you I feel fully qualified to operate in and out of each of these portals and have successfully disposed of nearly 75% of our combined belongings.  The rest we’ve sold via old-fashioned yard sale, I think we took in around $400, which was excellent given that many items were marked for a dollar or so.

That left just a few things we’re now staging to take with us in TWO cars to Key West.  I’ve learned that with a move, you have to think in terms of what you’ll need long term, what you’ll need short term, and what you’ll need for the actual travel and transportation.  For our son (S), that’s easy and just means sorting through a variety of die-cast cars and trains for toys.  For my husband (A), it’s much more complicated.  You’ve got skis and golf clubs and the TV and the stereo and I’ve had to repeat several times, “It’s not all going to fit”.  We had decided early on that we wouldn’t hire a mover and we wouldn’t move it ourselves (we had just moved from one location to another less than 12 months ago in the dead of winter and remembered with angst that experience.)

So while all of this packing is on my mind, the strangest thing has happened at the day job that I have hated with an extreme passion for such a long time. Suddenly, I am to be presented with an award tomorrow from a Cabinet Secretary for a team project I did on idea generation and social media.  It’s a big deal.  Unbelievable.  If only they knew – why is it that often awards have no rhyme or reason!

And now you’re going to think I’m making this all up, but it also so happens that we have to have our gutters cleaned under the lease we’re in, so as I type this, I have about 5 landscaping men on the roof, crawling up and down ladders, and singing little ditties to each other, not to mention a host of dirty brown leaves all over the walkway, all while I’m coughing away with a nasty little cold that won’t go away!

So let’s see:  1) L leaving; 2) Packing & Boxes; 3) Recovering from the Yard Sale; 4) Navigating Amazon, Ebay & Craigslist; 4) Award tomorrow; 5) Gutter men and 6) Sick.  That’s enough for any superwoman for one day, no?  And for L, please say a prayer with me for her safe arrival and her immersion in Spain!

to begin the journey

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Key West Kismet is a blog about my radical life change to risk it all, throw caution to the wind, take the step and move to Key West to create a new life of love, peaceful happiness and a community of real friends in the sun.  It’s been a long road getting to Countdown Day 29.  Hard to believe, but in 29 days we get on the Amtrak Auto Train – I marked my calendar in red with “The Start of Happy”.  I’ll be 47 in 19 days and if you want to say this is mid-life crisis or escapism, then you go right ahead.

I had been thinking of redesigning my life for some time.  At least seven years, if not more.  A series of events (which undoubtedly I will chronicle in one way or another through this blog) caused me to finally take the leap.  They say the hardest step is the first one, and I do believe that is true.  So along with my husband (A) and young son (N), we’re cashing in and checking out of what has become a mundane, routine, stressful and uninspired (I like to say soul-less) existence in metropolitan Washington DC to the promise and hope of well … something more … something much more.

Here’s what I absolutely won’t miss, every single day, bumper to bumper on the super highway when you’re already tired from a 10-hour day you started at 5:30 a.m, when you’ve had to go to the bathroom for at least two hours now, and you have all of 6.3 glorious minutes to get to the school to get the child out of daycare before they fine you or threaten to disenroll you again.  Nope.  Won’t miss that.  At all.  Especially at costs over $1,000 a month.

When I was in this mess, I was thinking that I had made the trip to Key West, Florida in August of 2010 on the urging of family members who do not support my ideas about a change of life scenario in any way, shape or form whatsoever (even though one of the reasons to create a second life in Key West is to be closer to Ft. Myers where they will live year round).  I had flown to Ft. Lauderdale from Reagan National and then rented a car from Enterprise and drove happily down Route 1 across 47 (plus?) bridges.  I was alone and it was glorious.  Hot but glorious.

When I finally arrived, I spent my weekend walking what I thought was nearly everywhere only to later learn that there are so many hidden alcoves and secret spots that it will take a lifetime to uncover all that is this wonderful place of 26,000 (or so) inhabitants on a 4 by 2-mile island.  I stayed in the Marriott Beachside in the middle of a summer lightning storm that rendered all the lights completely useless at least three different times over my stay.  And to tell you the truth, on the drive back home, I was charmed – but not nearly in the ways I thought I would be.  It’s hard to explain in words.  Now I know there’s a reason when all the preliminary housing calls I made were met with the standard refrain, “Have you been down here yet?”

Now that I look back, it was my night at The Strip House that cast the bewitching spell.  There it was, about 9:00 p.m., me sitting totally and completely alone out on the porch, dressed up in high heels and a black dinner number (with nylons on – never again!), eating what certainly was a delicious meal (try the creamed corn), under a full moon and a grey-cast clouded sky.

Lights on the water out at the dock and pier, gecko scampering by along the whitewashed wall, the smell of jasmine in the air, and the sound of a few late-night birds catching the last of the day.  That may not impress you much if you’re living in Paradise now, but man-oh-man it sure was a far cry from what I’ve known.  And I have tried through all the hustle and bustle of relocating and setting up a business and planning the future lives of three people to hang on to that single image.

It’s been a tremendous amount of work mentally and physically.  We’ve not had a lot of support from places and people we expected.  We’re ready though.  We’re ready to begin and so I welcome you, if you’ve ever thought “How do people do it?”, this is the story of one who ventured out, hurricanes and all, on a wonderful and magical journey.