The McArthurs raised their sons to follow their passions in life, and it was the boys who ultimately led Leigh and Wendy back to theirs.
“Let’s go for it,” said my husband, Leigh! “All we have to do is sell the business, the house, the cars, get rid of all of our stuff, oh, and learn how to operate a boat.”
The idea was great; however, the execution of the idea was plenty of work. One short year later, we were in Newport, Rhode Island preparing to move aboard our beautiful Kadey-Krogen. It all started on a vacation sailing trip with our two sons and daughter-in-law in British Columbia, in August of 2014. Our boys had planned their strategy to use the trip to help us see that there was more to life than commuting on the interstate every day and working so hard. They both had followed their dreams, so now they needed to teach their parents.
On the bow of Bradford’s sailboat, we pondered, “Could our prudent 15-year plan toward retirement be turned upside down into selling everything and traveling on a trawler?” Returning to Atlanta, we began to investigate our crazy idea.
One memorable turning point was Leigh’s meeting with his entrepreneurial coach. After explaining our plan (as if we needed his validation that we had lost our minds), his immediate response was, “The only thing that will keep you from doing it is you!” This quickly became one of our mantras. Soon thereafter, sitting on the sofa one evening, we took the mental leap. “You in?” “I’m in; you in?” “I’m in.” That was it.
A large part of our decision was that I could continue my passion of painting. For more than 15 years, I have painted commissioned portraits in Atlanta, and seven years ago I delighted in the change to my own original artwork, mostly coastal themes. The thought of living the subject matter for my artwork was thrilling. I want to feel that my work evokes universal memories for all who love the water as much as we do. Then I came up with the idea of creating boat portraits, a perfect fit.
After much studying, two boat shows, two Trawler Fests, and many, many nights pouring over Yachtworld.com, our broker helped us find the perfect new home for us, a well-loved 1989 freshwater Krogen 42′. We started with no boat knowledge, but over the months of searching, we learned that we wanted an efficient, seaworthy boat that was built for passagemaking. This past October, at our first Krogen Cruisers Rendezvous, we learned that we were adopted by an incredible owners group. They are knowledgeable, always willing to help and…well, they throw great parties! Krogen owners also seem to use their boats to go places, not just stay tied to the dock.
The pilothouse of our Kadey-Krogen is a big plus for us. It’s the operation center and a great place to see the world go by while underway, and it’s a spare get-away space otherwise. We like the open feel of the galley, salon and aft deck, as they are our evening hang out. As we see more and more boats on the docks, we feel better and better that our Krogen is the best boat for us.
So, how is our new life, you ask? We love it! We moved aboard last November in Newport, RI and have made our way to Stuart, Florida. We stopped for five weeks in Beaufort, South Carolina and have spent another five weeks in Stuart. At each long stop, I have been able to find great temporary studios to keep my galleries stocked with paintings. We are now provisioning and planning to go to the Bahamas for the spring.
Some of the expected favorites of our new life are the quiet anchorages, a family of porpoise riding our bow wave, beautiful sunsets and sunrises most every day, waterfront dining every night (on our aft deck) and certainly, the great people that we have met. Some of the unexpected favorites are not having a car, riding our bikes or walking to the grocery–basically, living a simpler life. Also, we enjoy working together and learning seamanship as a team. Of course, we have had our share of memorable goof-ups along the way!
Lastly, I will leave you with the quotes and mantras that helped us keep our eyes on the prize as we worked toward getting rid of 30 years of stuff and changing our life:
Faith is taking the first step even when you cannot see the entire staircase.
Fill your life with experiences not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.
I do not need things to remember the people that I love.
You cannot start the next chapter of life if you keep rereading the last one.
Never get so used to making a living that you forget to make a life.
Let’s find some beautiful places to get lost.
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he came to see.
Leigh and Wendy McArthur
Wendy’s artwork is on her website wendymcarthur.com.