Great Ambition, the beginning
In February of 2006 we decided how we would spend the rest of our lives, it would be aboard a houseboat, named Great Ambition. After raising kids and me spending a quarter of my life on the road, it was time to escape all that, get out of debt and live a full time version of the life we learned to love at Darkwater Keep and in Arecales at Caterpillar Island.
We had been looking for a better version of the venerable Northwest floating home concept, and at the 2005 Seattle Boat Show we thought we had found it in a houseboat built by Catamaran Cruisers of (coincidentally) Columbia, Tennessee.
We did a year of research, going to every boat show and studying every option. In January 2006 we flew to Tennessee to visit the factory (they encourage this) to see how the Aquacruiser and Vagabond houseboats are built. Well, we were stunned, there was such attention to detail, such sound engineering, such care and craftsmanship put into these boats that we came to the conclusion that this would be our new home.
After a month of planning we started to downsize and "check out" of the civilized world. I had finally had my fill of travel and decided I had to find a way out of the rat race, but I couldn't afford to just quit my job. Like most people I was mired in debt, "livin' on money that I ain't made yet" as they say in Five-O-Clock World. The only way out was to radically downsize and in the process, find a better, calmer life. We knew it could be done, we just had to muster the courage to just do it.
We started by selling Darkwater Keep. This was a tough decision because I needed the "Keep" to help bolster my sanity, but we could not pull ourselves away from the Keep long enough to work on the big house, which we also needed to sell.
Then we put Arecales up for sale, but it languished on the market for 9 months. We buckled down and fixed up the big house to put up for sale. By September 2006 it was on the market, but the local market had pretty much crashed, so we sat and waited, with no escape to the river, only old photos of our Darkwater Keep days to keep us sane. To make room for our new life we gave away 80% of our possessions including April's hand refinished antique piano, cars, trailers, bicycles, computers, tools, furniture, clothes, etc. You name it, we gave it away, 30 car loads to Goodwill. What we couldn't give away we threw away, 4 full dumpsters and 5 dump loads. We literally went from having 3 complete households (the Aloha house, the Keep and Arecales) to less than one.
In the meantime I got an offer for a job that didn't require travel. I took a huge pay cut, but I was buying freedom with it, and the price was more than worth it.
Finally the big house sold and we contacted the factory in Columbia and ordered our dream, which April named Great Ambition. The name comes from a misquote of a line in one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, "A Stop At Willoughby". Our great ambition in life is to be river rats, nothing more, nothing less. Choosing this life allowed me to retire at age 52, so from now on I am going to slow down and live my life full measure.
Great Ambition is now here. I will keep posting pictures here, so please come visit once in a while. I will update this page often with photos of our new life on the Columbia, on a dream built in Columbia.
- Tips on achieving your dream.
- Specifics of Great Ambition.
- Advantages of Catamara Cruisers houseboats.