The Amazing Lifestyle of Captain Joe

For spring break each year, we usually go to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. It’s one of our favorite places, and we’ve made some great friends on the island over the years.

For every vacation, I try to find something new for the family to do. New adventures are a lot of fun and they create lasting memories. A few of our past adventures have included:

Riding seqways
Zip lining
Helicopter tours
Swimming with the sea lions
Snorkeling
Parasailing
Midnight ghost tour of a haunted house

On a recent trip to Hilton Head Island, we did a “Vanishing Island Tour.” This tour took us to a very large sand bar called Grenedier Shoals. This sand bar only appears at low tide, which means it’s only available for an hour or two each evening. It was very cool.

The best part about the tour is that low tide was around 7 p.m., and our tour included an hour-long boat ride to get to the sand bar. Our trip back to the marina included an amazing sunset over the water and a few dolphin sightings.

The tour was led by Captain Joe, and as it turns out, he has designed a very cool lifestyle. Captain Joe is a retired high school principal. He and his wife live on a sailboat docked in the Sheltered Cove Marina, just a few steps from where we were staying

At the time of our tour, Captain Joe’s wife had a few more months of work in Savannah, Ga., before she was going to retire. She would commute from the marina in Hilton Head to Savannah each day. When she retired, they were going to sail to the Bahamas.

However, until her retirement they were living on their sailboat in a beautiful marina. They had sold their family home and only had one car, which was parked steps from their boat.

They had two sons in college. When I asked where their boys stayed when they weren’t in school, he said on a friend’s boat in the marina, or in an inexpensive Airbnb rental on the island.

Captain Joe said that it only costs them around $2,000 a month to live on their sailboat, even when sailing for long periods of time.

It was easy to see how much Captain Joe loved being on the water. He also seemed to truly love his life. You could see his happiness as he shared different stories of life on the water. Plus, he seemed to truly enjoy his part-time job… giving sunset boat tours on the water.

You might be why I’m sharing all of this?

Well, for two reasons:

  1. To highlight an incredible low-cost lifestyle. Captain Joe and his wife do not need a lot of money to live. They live in paradise for less than it costs me to live in Cleveland, Ohio. We’re often brainwashed into the idea that we need to build massive retirement accounts in order to be able to afford retirement. I don’t believe this is true. We can create amazing lifestyles without saving seven-figures. We do need monthly cashflow. (Yes, I had to put that in! I couldn’t resist).
  2. I believe it’s important to study people who live well. Unfortunately, there is no high school class or college course that teaches us how to live well.

In the book “The Long Lavender Look: A Travis McGee Novel,” I found this:

“We are here for a time. So? Why not learn from one who knows, to pass the time?”

Travis McGee, the main character in this book series, lives on a house boat. He lives very well, too!

We’re all trained to pay attention to and study successful people who’ve accomplished what we want to accomplish in terms of our careers, our businesses, and our investments; however, we rarely study people who pass time well.

We’ve all heard the saying that there are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes.

Well, there’s actually a few additional guarantees in life and one of them is that time keeps on ticking. Second-by-second. Minute-by-minute. Hour-by-hour. Day-by-day.

Since time passes without pause, shouldn’t we make it a priority to learn how to pass time well?

In fact, I would argue that we should all forget about focusing on money and instead build our lives around time. Don’t accumulate money. Instead, amass time. It’s far more valuable.

When we don’t learn how to pass time well, we end up living lives of quiet desperation. Thoreau was certainly correct.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should study people who’ve created incredible lives. They’re inspiring and instructive. We don’t have to live how everyone else lives. We don’t have to do what everyone else does. We can arrange our lives to do whatever we want to do. We don’t have to accept any limitation. We don’t have to stay in the various traps that we’ve created for ourselves.

When I asked Captain Joe how he got his wife to sell the family home and live on their sailboat, he said she absolutely loves living on the boat. My wife interrupted his answer to tell me, “Don’t even think about it. It’s not happening!” She has no desire to live on a boat. LOL.

To be completely honest, I admire Captain Joe and the life he’s created.

Think about the courage it would require to sell your family home and move into a much smaller sailboat?

I’m not sure I would be able to do what they’ve done.

Take a second and think about what it what it’d be like… no more Christmas mornings in front of the fireplace…. no more movie nights with the entire family snuggled up in the cozy living room…no more backyard cookouts. No big Sunday-morning breakfasts with the family around the kitchen table.

They’ve made some very large trades to create their incredible lifestyle. These are trades I’m not willing to make, at least at this point in my life. I’d rather rent a houseboat for a short period of time and borrow the lifestyle temporarily.