Articles from Freedom - A Gemini 105M - Jim and Deb Faughn

A Lifetime in a Year - Deb Faughn

As many of our endearing, “Central West Enders” may remember, Jim and I left a little over a year ago to fulfill a dream of a lifetime. Our mantra at the time was a quote from Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Jeff Fister contacted us to see how we were doing, so we sent him this reflection of our first year cruising.

On August 3rd, 2006, we sold everything – all of our landly possessions. Then on October 15th, 2006 we boarded a 34 foot catamaran and sailed away for destinations unknown, (we really did have somewhat of a plan). I suppose the original phone call shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. After all, my husband Jim and I have had a shared vision for almost twenty years. I have been in education my entire career and have always advised my students, (when the subject of future relationships came up) that you need to have a life buddy with whom you can share a vision. Whether that vision is children, travel, a particular sport… well, you get the idea. So on February 24, 2006 when I got the call, I probably should have taken it in stride. Jim said, “Hi Deb, how’s your day going?” I said it was a good day and things were running smoothly. He went on to say twelve words that would change our lives forever. “I just wanted to let you know I quit my job today.”
Jim had been at the same college for 28 years. Jim isn’t stupid, so I knew this wasn’t a whim…. and his sense of humor doesn’t rank in the top 5 - (it has improved since he stopped working). So when I asked why he quit on this particular day, at this particular hour, he had a very serious and sensible reason that I support today.
As a result, we are in the midst of our shared vision, which is to sail around part of the world – or at least the parts we want to experience.
First, we told our friends. The reaction from Jim’s work people was pretty much the same, “Are you crazy?” or “Is Deb going with you?” The last question always amazed me. Although I loved my job, would you pass up the chance to sail (if you liked to sail) to parts of the world you have never experienced? One of my friends said, Deb, you are a, “Ritz Carlton Girl.” Sailing is nothing more than camping on the water and you hate to camp. She went on to tell me that I was much too prissy to sail, “What about your nails, your hair dresser, and your Saturday luncheons at the wonderful Central West End restaurants??? You are going to hate sailing.” Many of our friends and family were sad to see us leave, but were very supportive. Many were perplexed that we could sell everything we had – yes, the house, cars, airplane Jim built, and possessions. (We both believe that we are on this earth just renting from God. We really don’t own anything, so why cherish it to the point of absurdity?) My sister was afraid that I was going to die. I guess she thought that King Neptune was going to swallow us whole.


I have to be honest; living aboard a 34 foot boat full time takes some adjusting. Patience is a virtue….. And a necessity. My husband is a “Jack of all trades.” He can fix anything, troubleshoot the worst, and has the savvy to anticipate when we need maintenance. I, on the other hand, have the manual dexterity of a Mallard Duck and the mechanical ability of a fat bellied pig.

So it quickly became apparent that I was useless when he needed help on the boat. I even failed knot tying in sailing school and my claim to fame is a cleat knot, done correctly about 90% of the time. This causes me frustration, not to mention how Jim feels. Fortunately, Jim is very patient and helps me to learn as much as my webbed hands will allow. Regarding another aspect of relationships, when you are spending all of your waking hours together (rather than 5-6 hours) then you will either get closer or you will be divorced. I’m not saying that all of our times have been perfect on the cruise, however, about day 160 we figured out what was missing. Each of us has needs and we have to respect them. We have actually learned to respect each other more and are getting closer each day. What I can say is that when the time comes to end our cruise I am sure this event will have been monumental in our relationship and we will be closer than we would have had we continued to work. This includes safety. When you sail off with your partner you are putting your life into his/her hands. You must trust each other to safeguard your personal safety and happiness.

Another aspect of sailing is nothing stays the same. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin. Picture a Ralph Lauren commercial…. beautiful people in a huge, clean, perfectly maintained wooden sail boat, gazing over a clear blue ocean, wearing a $300.00 sweater and $500.00 khakis, kicking back enjoying a chocolate martini. Well, I think many “land lubbers” have this idea of sailing. Although most of our days, nights and crossings have been excellent, nothing stays the same. You have to expect change and adapt to what happens next. We’ve learned that our plans are made in Jello and we no longer have steadfast plans. They could change or “melt away” tomorrow. Also, nothing happens slowly. When something goes a rye, it usually happens fast. Jim helped save a sinking boat in Key West this winter. It was going down like the Titanic and if it weren’t for some quick action, the boat would have seen, ‘Davy Jones Locker!’ In addition, things break. As I write this article, we are stuck in a very small town in North Carolina with a bad transmission. Luckily, we have friends who could recommend a great – and fair – boat yard and a dependable mechanic who will allow Jim to do most of the work until he needs help. We have been blessed with very few mechanical problems, and need to take the 10 day hiatus in stride.

Everyone doesn’t say it, but they wonder how we can afford to do this without a steady job. To us, money isn’t what makes the world go around. It is true that you need money to go cruising and many people go cruising with a cruising budget that may only last a year or so and plan on finding jobs again. In our case, we had planned on retiring early and, “paid ourselves first,” which meant we always lived a life which was less than we could have afforded. In our cruise we have met many people who upon hearing about this concept, have been motivated to begin “paying themselves first” and we hope this will made a difference for them. We have found the cruising lifestyle can be done inexpensively and still you can have the time of you lives without living a pauper’s life. At the same time, we have also learned that the longer we cruise the better off we will be in the future. When we ultimately decide to go back to the land life because of health or other reasons, we will have grown closer, saved money, seen more places, and experienced more than most people will ever experience.

Our travels have been many – from Kentucky Lake, down the Tennessee Tom Bigby Waterway to Mobile Bay. We have spent the winter in Key West watching beautiful sunsets, entertaining friends and making new friends. Next we worked our way up the east coast avoiding our first tropical storm then passed through the Great Dismal Swamp into the Chesapeake where we spent the summer and early fall seeing everything from Washington, D.C., Annapolis along with the small towns on the eastern shore. Since hurricane season is almost over, now we will be leaving to make a slow trip south trying to avoid cold weather and on to the Bahamas. We have met many wonderful cruisers and made many friends. Our advise is that you create a dream – and go live it. Life is too short and there are too many adventures that await those who are ready.

“The problem with all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.”
Gloria Steinem

To sail, means learning and unlearning behaviors, skills, and an alternative way of life. In any case, this year has left an indelible mark on both of us – some good, some bad, but we are still together and wish to continue the dream. If you would like to learn more, go to and read our logs. The web site is full of pictures and a chronicle of all of our adventures.

Here’s to your dream……. Jim and Deb Faughn




Web Page by Jim Faughn