Life is But a Swing — HeartLand Boating — January 2013

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Sea Ray 500 Sedan Bridge

Meet Mike and Rosie, Midwest boaters and authors of the popular online blog Swing Set.

By Jeanne Craig

Mike and Rosie, who hail from St. Charles, Mo. are living the dream of many boaters.

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You can’t accuse this couple of sitting on the fence when it comes to making big decisions. In fact, Mike and Rosie made one life-changing decision just a few years ago, and as a result, they are now living the dream of countless boat owners around the world.

The course of their life started to change back in 2010, following a vacation to Florida. Mike and Rosie were living in St. Louis, Mo. when they flew down to visit with friends in Cape Coral. While in that town, the couple, who have been together for 36 years, spontaneously scouted property and even found a condo they liked. “I tend to be impulsive, yet once I get something into my head, things start to happen,” says Mike, as if to explain why he spent the plane ride home crunching numbers to determine if the couple could afford to buy the place they saw.

At the time, they owned a condo in St. Louis, along with a 1996 Sea Ray 500 Sedan Bridge, Swing Set . that they really enjoyed and used as frequently as possible. In addition, both were planning to retire in the near future, so Mike was factoring in changes in income when he did the math. “In the long run, the numbers just weren’t adding up,” he says. Later, he told Rosie about his efforts to make the numbers work. Her response? “She said to me, ‘Why buy a condo in Florida when we can take our boat there and live on it full time?’”

That was the tipping point. The couple agreed that their Sea Ray would be their future home. They then crafted a strategic plan that would enable them to make it all happen. They drew up a timeline for retirement; they put their condo in St. Louis up for sale; and they determined how they would pay off the boat before they cast off lines and left land for good, with as few financial obligations as possible.

Mike reached retirement age in 2011 and left his position at a larger brewer in St. Louis. Rosie, who was an administrative assistant at a private investment company, turned in her company ID for good in April 2012. They were on track to move aboard and slip the lines the following month. They chose May because they wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the day they met while under way aboard Swing Set . The couple, who are in their mid-50s, were eager to begin the next phase of their lives together. “We didn’t want to put it off,” says Mike, “because there will come a time when we can’t do this. At this point in our lives, we’re young enough and healthy enough to enjoy the experience to the fullest.”

In the months leading up to their departure, the couple was busy tying up loose ends. Since they were selling their condo furnished, they didn’t have to worry about divesting themselves of too many personal possessions. “And we’re not pack rats,” says Rosie. “We weren’t in love with any of our stuff in St. Louis.” They sold their motorcycle and two cars, and the clothes they kept were stored in space-saver bags so they would take up less room on board.

Then there was the boat. The couple spent almost two years prepping it for full-time residence. Among the upgrades Swing Set received were new dinghy davits, larger generators, an inverter, extra fans and more galley equipment. They also converted the second of two staterooms into an office/parts room. “That modification enabled us to bring all of our stuff on board,” says Mike, who concedes there isn’t a lot of spare space on the diesel-powered cruiser. “Today, if someone comes on with even just a big purse, it cramps our purpose a bit, but for the most part, we’re very comfortable here. In fact, we sleep better on the boat than we ever did in our home.”

This article appears in the January 2013 issue of HeartLand Boating

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