Life is But a Swing
Meet Mike and Rosie, Midwest boaters and authors of the popular online blog "Swing Set."
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Mike and Rosie's 1996 Sea Ray 500 Sedan Bridge, Swing Set.
Despite their best-laid plans, not all of the pieces fell into place before Mike and Rosie hauled anchor. The condo, for instance, was still for sale when they were ready to wave goodbye to St. Louis. (It did sell eventually.) But depart they did, Mike and Rosie and their dog, Holly, a 6-pound Yorkie-Poodle mix. They took off after the spring flood, which allowed them to travel the full, navigable length of the Tennessee River, along with the Cumberland River and Kentucky Lake. They eventually hit the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which they traveled for 450 miles en route to Alabama’s Mobile Bay, arriving in August. Mike and Rosie then traveled over to Cape Coral, Fla., where they spent five weeks before heading south. We caught up with them in Marco Island, where they were planning a run through the Everglades and then onto the Florida Keys. The Bahamas may be in their future, too. They say they’ve been cruising to a loose plan and are happy to have the luxury of not being held to a rigid schedule.
That flexibility is just one of the benefits they’ve enjoyed as full-time cruisers. Mike and Rosie have discovered many other advantages of living aboard.
There are the simple pleasures, such as mornings on the hook. “We lounge over breakfast, sometimes for up to two hours, during which we’ll read through emails,” says Mike. “It’s just so nice out. We really enjoy that time of day.” There is also the natural beauty of their surroundings. “The water gets prettier the farther south we go,” says Rosie. “Each place we arrive at is better than the port we just left.” The couple has found a social network, too. They’ve met many new people and made some good friends. A number of these acquaintances first heard about Mike and Rosie through their blog, also called Swing Set. “We receive emails from people who read about our plans to cruise through a certain area,” says Mike. “They’ll ask if we can meet up, and then they’ll bring us stuff they know we like. That has been a pleasant surprise.”
There has been one more pleasant surprise for this couple. Life aboard has been good for their relationship. “That was one of my main concerns prior to moving aboard,” says Rosie. “I’ve heard stories about people filing for divorce after just a few months on a boat together. But we are getting along very well. We like to do the same things, and we agree on most things.” The couple says one critical component to their good relationship is Holly. “Rather than focusing too much on each other, we have the dog, and she takes a lot of the pressure off the relationship,” says Mike.
Even with the many advantages of cruising full-time, Mike and Rosie are quick to note that there are some unglamorous aspects about their lifestyle. “It’s not margaritas everyday,” says Mike. There are the logistical headaches of managing water, maintaining safety at anchor (they’re on the hook 90 percent of the time), finding doctors and vets in unfamiliar locations, and even scouting for food. “In one port, finding a loaf of bread and some bologna was an extraordinary event,” says Mike.
And then there’s upkeep on the boat. “There are times when we tire of waxing and washing it every day,” he says. For these reasons, Mike and Rosie sometimes wonder if they’ll grow weary of life aboard. “We may get tired of it and decide to do something else,” says Mike. “This could last a year, or it could last ten. We just don’t know, and that’s what is so great about it. We can pretty much do what we want.”
Follow the continuing adventures of Mike and Rosie (and Holly) aboard Swing Set by by reading their blog here: http://www.heartlandboating.com/Swing-Set/.