Couple wanted to leave the rat race, now they’re broke and stranded

I have a couple of acquaintances who are living the dream. A few years ago, they sold their home in Bloomington along with many of their possessions and bought a boat. Just them and their dog.

Since then, they’ve been sailing the waters of the East Coast and the Bahamas as the winds allow, taking time out whenever he — a Delta pilot — needed to fly to keep the money rolling in.

Why? Why not? Life is short.

They studied and planned and did everything right and they’re reaping the results, which includes posting warm-weather photos from the ocean to their frigid friends up north.

That’s the way to do it.

And then there’s Tanner Broadwell, 26, and Nikki Walsh, 24, of Colorado, who offer a tough-way-to-learn lesson on how not to do it.

They, too, sold their possessions and bought a boat. Just them and their dog.

The Tampa Bay Times reports they said their goodbyes and launched from Tampa headed for Key West last week.

On day two, navigating at night, they hit a shoal which ripped the keel off the sailboat.

In 20 minutes, they lost everything.

Everything. Except for what they were wearing, one cellphone, and some dog food.

They didn’t insure the boat or possessions.

They’re relying on family and friends right now to get by. They just got some new clothes and shoes from Walmart. They have no idea how they’ll pay to remove their boat, or even where they’ll live.

Broadwell said they didn’t have much to begin with. “Why do you think we wanted to live on a boat?”

They might stay with his mother, then float around the state looking for work. They’re still figuring it out. But they’re still alive, and so is the dream.

“I’m not going to give up now,” Broadwell said. “I’m going to get another boat down the road.”

“We can’t just give up on our dreams,” Walsh said.

At low tide, they can still see one of them.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • jon

    Chasing dreams is a risk.
    It’s why so many people opt to never do it.

    • Barton

      and why others prep for most of their adult life to be able to do it.

  • >>They didn’t insure the boat or possessions.<<

    Because…of course not.

    Why do so many people not opt to buy insurance on their homes/possessions? Yeah, it CAN be expensive, but seriously, you can lose EVERYTHING in a heartbeat.

    • RBHolb

      Jimmy Buffett never mentions insurance in any of his songs. I’m not saying that was the reason here, but still . . .

      • KTFoley

        He also doesn’t sing about reading a nautical chart and keeping an eye on the depth finder. 🙂

        I need to remind myself that one’s twenties are the age to make mistakes. With no children, no mortgage, no major career sacrifices, and very little sense of one’s own mortality, there’s not much to keep a person from setting out on their great life adventure.

        And if it doesn’t work out, there’s time to make something out of the recovery. I’m not too worried about Tanner & Nikki: providing the only permanent physical injury was to the boat, they have several new chapters in life opening before them right now. Less picturesque than they hoped, but then again that’s how life tends to go.

        Later, when we’re wiser, we usually have debt, dependents, pensions and decrepit knees adding to our ear-whispers about how maybe this isn’t the time to risk our stability on the adventure we’ve always dreamt of. Every year, forever and ever, if we let ’em.

        It’s not too late for a New Year’s resolution, right? Let’s not let the ear-whispers win. Let’s defeat them with plans, up to & including the right insurance policies.

        • Karl Crabkiller

          Amen to that. What an awful world this would be if people waited until all was perfect before following their dreams.

    • Jim in RF

      Besides the liability. We keep a boat in a local marina that requires $300k and to be named as a co-insured.

    • Wayne

      Sailing classes covering coastal navigation and passage making couldn’t hurt either.

  • Barton

    I have acquaintances who cycle tour full time around the world. They do so by teaching English as a second language as they go, or by picking up contract writing assignments along the way. I know their biggest expense is their insurance: life, property and health. This is because their biggest fear is getting stranded without any reserves to get them to safety. Which seems to be a very good risk to mitigate when making such life choices (see story for reasons why).

  • charo

    Chosing no insurance is ASKING for this to happen.

  • Postal Customer

    Exhibit A in our groupthink seminar. Down the hall, room 8.

  • Rob

    Note to self before skydiving: pack and bring ‘chute.

    Note to self before setting off on boat: buy insurance and learn how to captain it.

  • Brian Simon

    Failure is how we learn. They’re young enough to recover. And I’ll bet they do a few things differently next time.

  • NeetWoorjees

    Take a second to snoop around the local news site linked here, and you will see that they are already flush with cash again. They did a gofundme. They now have $11k from well-wishers.

    Don’t be so quick to write off these young adventurers!

    • KTFoley

      Hmmm. They’ve raised more than the original boat cost to launch and are relying on still more generosity enough to raise the wreck as the Coast Guard has directed.

      As a flip side of my “twenties is the time to make mistakes” post, those mistakes are valuable in the lasting life lessons they impart.

      If you destroy your boat at age 12 or 13 and a kindly public scoops you up from the consequences, there’s a lasting life lesson in generosity. Yay.
      It’s appropriate to the ability to recoup the loss, and to the expectations for planning & experience of two pre-teens. It’s one step toward adulthood.

      If you destroy your boat at twice that age and a kindly public scoops you up from the consequences now, what’s the lasting life lesson there? What’s the step toward making you a more capable, experienced, resilient adult?

      • NeetWoorjees

        I see your point. Fine. But I have to ask: Why would these two NOT be grateful, where a 12- or 13-year-old would?

        Like I say, don’t be took quick to write them off!

        • KTFoley

          There’s not an expectation of gratitude on one age or the other. It’s an expectation of which logical consequences of one’s decisions an adult is equipped to bear vs. a pre-teen.

          • NeetWoorjees

            You seem to be suggesting that people should, by age 24, have everything all figured out perfectly.

            If I were still proceeding through life according to what I thought I knew at age 24, I’d be having a pretty tough time dealing with the most basic of challenges the world throws at me nowadays. The world has changed, and I learn more and more every year. I expect this to continue for as long as I live.

            Maybe you actually DID have things figured out at 24, though. And yes, maybe the two people in this little parable we are reading don’t have a clue. As you keep saying.

            Are we done?

          • KTFoley

            I get the impression that you have taken the overall tone of many comments and attributed them all to mine. I’m not suggesting that they would or should have it all figured out AT ALL — go see my first comment in this thread for evidence.

            So maybe just a little less flip-dismissive “are we done” and an little more listening to the nuances of conversations that take place on NewsCut?

          • NeetWoorjees

            Funny you should say that, because my original comment was addressed to Mr. Collins, who had missed the followup piece (in the same publication) about the successful gofundme, and instead constructed his own narrative about the folly of this duo…

          • NeetWoorjees

            Or, to say it differently: Why would two relatively impecunious young adventurers even need insurance, with gofundme there to bail them out? I mean THERE is your story, right?

          • NeetWoorjees

            Bob, perhaps you could take your own advice (“Be better”) by updating your post to report the news about the gofundme. That’s up to you though. It’s your blog, not mine …

          • I accept your apology.

          • NeetWoorjees

            You want me to apologize for writing comments that were critical of your blog post, and then disagreeing with other commenters? I’ll take a hard pass on that, thx very much

            UPDATE: edited to remove a typographical error – Sorry I made an error typing!

          • No, you should apologize for not acknowledging your intentional deception in relaying untruths as facts.

            Of you can just keep trolling, which will give you a short lifespan around here.

          • NeetWoorjees

            What “untruths” are you referring to?

            Perhaps you object to my conflating a gofundme payout with an insurance payout. Fair enough, if so.

            We should all bear in mind, though: insurance of the type I think you are describing would almost certainly involve a deductible, whereas a gofundme payout does not. Furthermore, insurance might not automatically pay out. We all know insurance companies send adjusters to look for excuses not to pay. Somebody from an insurance company would do a thorough investigation of the accident to rule out negligence.

            I do hereby apologize for whatever grief I have caused you by commenting beneath your blog post! I do not think I have trolled, as you suggest! I believe we all share a common goal of wanting to explore this topic in search of interesting insights and so forth! Thank you so much! etc

          • Pretty simple answer as to why you need insurance with GoFundMe there to bail you out.

            Insurance is a certainty. GoFundMe isn’t.

            Certainty is the whole point.

          • KTFoley

            Going north on Hwy 280, there’s a billboard that says “Your in-laws are not a retirement plan.” Same same.

          • It’s OK with me if you want to question my integrity and create a reality to support your supposition, but in your rush to craft an inaccurate scenario, you neglected to point out that the GoFundMe story that you reference (and which you didn’t provide a link to ) was written AFTER my post, not BEFORE.

            So, no. I didn’t ignore a successful GoFundMe campaign in favor of constructing my own narrative.

            Be better .

            You may continue to put me down as favoring the Weigel method of responsible sailing.