Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hard Reality of Decisions

OK, I will have to admit that this has been a hard year in deciding to take off work and go cruising for a year, or longer.  It always seems so easy when you read the different cruising blogs where they sell everything that they own, buy a boat, and head for the Caribbean.  I know there are thousands of people sitting in their cubicle, dreaming of when they will cut off the shackles of the rat race and the life of excess to take the simpler life of cruising.  It was easy  reading the blogs and enjoying the experiences that each cruiser experienced, seeing the pictures, living the good life, all from the comforts of my office or couch.  One of the real struggles that I have had is that I am getting very little support from my wife and certain friends.  Everyone was pretty supportive until the realization that I would actually leave my work, buy a very expensive boat, and sail away, at least for a year or so.  Don't get me wrong, my wife has encouraged me to follow my dreams, but it isn't a dream that she is interested in sharing, except maybe on a vacation or two.  So yes, there is a feeling of selfishness creeping in, but after working 34+ years in the IT world, I really need a break and I can't think of a better way to accomplish it than cruising for a year.  At this time my older son, Dustin, who turned 30 last year, will go with me.  This is a huge benefit, as we have been on separate paths for the last 12 years, and this will allow us to get back together.  He is also at crossroads with his life, breaking out of the restaurant industry to redefine himself and plan his next phase.  The most surprising support has been my VP here at Walmart.  He seems to understand the need to redefine and take time to do some of the things that you dream about, before other parts of life take them away.  He also took 5 months off, between jobs, to backpack throughout the islands of Indonesia.  He has encourage me to document the trip, so that my teammates back at work can follow along!
So, I am here still waiting on approval for my LOA, and trying to plan how I am going to accomplish this trip and not spend all of my saving, and still support my obligations.  So, the financial part comes into play...Well, I had sold some property back in 2010, and owner financed the whole amount for a 5 year note.  This really has been a win/win for both me and the guy that bought the property, as I am getting a good interest rate, and he is building his dream house on 91 acres.  I was hoping that he would pay me off early, as the intent was that he would be able to pay me off this spring, but it looks like he is running late, and probably will not be able to pay me until either later in the year or next year.  The other large source of funds was my original profit sharing from Walmart.  I have left a large amount of the original profit sharing all in Walmart stock, which I was assuming that I could tap into without penalties once I hit 55 (a one time withdraw).  I would only have to pay the tax on the principle and then long term capital gains on the reminder.  Well, I was informed by the retirement counselor last week that Walmart did not allow any withdrawals from the plan unless it was a hardship case.  He didn't think that funding a catamaran to go cruising fit the bill as a hardship case :).  So, if I get my 12 month LOA, and don't leave the company, I will have to be more creative in funding my cruise!  I do have a large amount of cash saved, but only about half what I need for the boat and the year cruising, so I will have to finance some of this amount with one of my properties that is currently free of debt.  This can be a temporary fix, until I get the money from my sold property, so it isn't a huge deal....but things are getting more complicated! 
So, we continue to wait on our LOA approval, now that our financial crises has been avoided! 

Stay tuned.....


  1. Dale, I'm going to have to visit with you for a bit sometime befor you check out. We were in St. Martin last week and I stumbled across your blog while searching about learning to sail. I've been thinking about long-term cruising for about eight years, but have never even gone sailing. You have inspired me to at least take the first step.

    Kent Verge

  2. Kent, this is crazy that you find my blog on sailing schools. Come by and talk with me, as I am always interested in sharing my experience. For the rest of you, Kent works in ISD with me at Walmart, in Bentonville, Arkansas. It is a small world! Our offices are in the same building complex!