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Setting Sail

Wanderlust takes to the open ocean for these local families

My mother is still trying to understand why my husband, REN, and I have uprooted our comfortable Wilmingtonian life in pursuit of the life aquatic.

She is supportive, despite the fact that we abducted her grandchildren and forced them onto what she sees as a barely floating wooden raft, which is waiting to validate her fears by sinking straight to the bottom of the ocean.

The other reaction we get when we explain our lifestyle of living and traveling aboard our 40-foot sailboat with our two children is the polar opposite.

Most people misconstrue our lifestyle as romantic. For this group of dreamers, our story conjures images of an endless summer.

Luckily for us, our motivation for setting sail is not dictated by either my mother’s fears or indulgent weaknesses.

We simply realized early into our relationship that our value system does not align with the way most of our culture is living. We wanted to be the ones to raise our children, choosing to sacrifice financial security in lieu of something that felt more authentic.

We aren’t the only ones.

The stretch of Intracoastal Waterway running through the Wrightsville Beach area is a stopping ground for like-minded, migrating snowbirds.

Looking over the second bridge onto Banks Channel, you may have noticed the influx of anchored boats in early spring and late fall. These boats are heading north for the summer and south for the winter, respectively.

Most of these birds are retirees, sailing on saved or residual funds. Some, however, are constantly sourcing work to fund their travels. My family happens to be among their ranks.

So are local sailors ROB and ANNA MINTON (pictured below), living aboard their 33-foot Hans Christian. This is their first year joining the migratory flock. Their motivation includes the pursuit of truth – for a real life lived beyond the margins of a perfectly balanced checkbook or a company-matched 401(k).

“I just felt myself living at work, sitting at a desk day in and day out,” Anna Minton says. “When Rob and I started dating, he was also feeling the pull to do something different. So, we decided to set sail.”

She admits that she first thought living aboard a boat would be easier than her familiar life on land. She quickly learned that is not the case. 

Abandoning a steady paycheck and the comforts of a living space larger than 200 square feet is not for the weak. It’s for the courageous or moronic – the verdict is still out.

Enjoying life at sea doesn’t always mean selling up and sailing out. There’s another breed of boater who graces the waterways of our hometown. The kind who saves up and sets sail, returning when the money runs dry.

ANTHONY and STEPHANIE TATUM (above) traveled to the Dominican Republic this way on their ketch-rigged boat. This method of travel is an inspiring way to get out there, encouraging people not to wait another minute, to take their lives back, throw themselves into the vast blue wild, and become an island of reflection.

Since their eight-month voyage, the Tatums have returned to Wilmington to work and save up for their next adventure on the high seas.

Even if the method is different, all sailors have something in common: Sailing is something we do because we feel like we have to.  

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