Want to Sail Away in Retirement? Read This First

Want to Sail Away in Retirement? Read This First

Dreaming of sailing on turquoise waters when you retire?  This adventurous couple set their retirement plan in motion and fulfilled this lifelong dream.  How did they fare? Here are the lessons they learned…


You Know What They Say About Plans…

Dean and Sue Pope are an articulate, open and thoughtful couple.  Avid boaters, they had a plan for their retirement.  Sell their home, buy the right boat, and sail the Caribbean for five years.  They did their research and calculated the financial impact of this dream.  Dean would work 3-4 more years before acting on their exciting retirement plan.

Then, changes at Dean’s work brought an opportunity for early retirement. Their retirement dream was accelerated significantly.  Boat shopping began a few years earlier than expected.  Their first assumption, the timing of their plan, … adjusted.


“Every assumption we made, turned out to be wrong.”


Other assumptions?  Exchange rates, price of gas, costs of goods and boat maintenance to name a few.  Their budget and expectations were regularly adjusted.  I am reminded how adaptability is a key factor to retirement success!


Life Happens

The Popes also assumed it would be five years before they became grandparents, hence the five-year boating plan.  That family blessing came in three years!  Sadly, a week after signing the boat deal, Sue’s father passed away unexpectedly.  A very rough start to the retirement dream.  Although difficult, Sue and Dean persevered and continued with their plan.


“The thing about dreams like ours is that they have a realistic undertone you don’t see when you are dreaming.”


The couple enjoyed the care-free boating life and met many friendly boaters on their travels. Yet, the reality of their new lifestyle meant they were far away from good friends and family.  “You can’t just pick up and go home for a birthday.”  Having the right communications technology helped.  They also invited close friends for winter visits to share the beauty of their boating experience.


So Much Learning and Refined Priorities

Sue and Dean prepared as much as they could for their retirement adventure.  Yet as Sue says, “you just have to do it” and learn along the way.  New challenges and new experiences brought them much nautical and boating wisdom. The nitty gritty of living in a foreign country expanded their perspective too. They also learned about themselves.

Being away from family and close friends for an extended period helped Sue and particularly Dean reset their priorities.


We don’t take much for granted now. We learned nothing is for ever, enjoy it while you can.”


The arrival of their grandson was the deciding factor in shortening their adventure by two years to come home. Their boating experience inspired them to be more engaged grandparents.  They chose to live in a new community that is closer to their children and their good friends, and are fully enjoying their loved ones. “We are content.”


Retirement is a Process, not a Thing

The Popes refer to their boating dream as their first phase of retirement. Now they are working on Retirement 2.0.  While family and friends are a priority in this phase, they are exploring more.


“We have to re-invent ourselves again and need our own life in addition to family.”


Sue and Dean are getting involved in their new community and charting what they will do next to keep ‘adventuring’.  I can hear the enthusiasm in their voices.  They are enjoying life.


Words of Wisdom

Sue: “You need to have a plan when you retire, something to work on and keep you busy. Otherwise, you can be lost in the beginning.”

Dean: “Every assumption is going to end up being different.  You need to be nimble and roll with the punches.  You will need financial capability.”

Both Sue and Dean are happy they pursued their boating dream in retirement. I’m happy they shared their story with us!  As Sue says…


 “Seeing it from the water is a lovely way to see the world.”


Care to share?

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