Logistics: strategies for getting from house to boat

This blog post describes the juggling act we are performing to move our family from house to boat. My husband, not prone to hyperbole, describes our logistics planning process as “hellish.” The logistics of moving, selling our van causes me to break out in hives. And, sometimes my reaction – and it has been pointed out to me – has been one of avoidance.

Below I describe the strategies we used to downsize, store and ship our gear. I describe how we are selling our belongings from under our feet, such as our beds, camping gear and van. And, how we are moving into the boat with a degree of elegance.

Downsizing our house

While I was in Antigua taking sailing training, my husband moved our beds and clothing into one bedroom of our house. He began selling our furniture. When I returned, we downsized our belongings, ruthlessly selling, donating and throwing away things we once held dear.

Garbage outside our house. Examples of what we threw out includes scanned paperwork, broken toys, and stained clothing,
Garbage outside our house

This garbage pile was one of many. But, we gave away everything we could, right down to two dozen frozen, black bananas, which I offered on Freecycle.

During this downsizing process, our master bedroom contained three beds. We all slept in the same room. When the beds were sold we used camping gear in our house, sleeping on cots and air mattresses.

Our last night at home before we moved to the campground in Ottawa
Our last night at home before we moved to the campground in Ottawa

Storing our gear

We considered storage options. Eventually, we decided to store some items in a 7’x13′ room in the basement of our house in Ottawa. These items included:

  • sentimental items
  • paintings and photos
  • down-filled duvet inserts
  • some furniture
  • bikes
  • some clothing, shoes and boots
  • one set of outdoor winter clothing each
  • snowshoes

Our antique piano is stored at a piano storage facility. The piano belonged to my husband’s grandparents.

We scanned and saved all of our paperwork, files, greeting cards, and schoolwork. It took about three weeks to scan all of the material.

The scanned information is now in softcopy format only, and is OCR retrievable. This means we can search for words such as “Revenue Canada” or “Birth certificate” to locate information. We kept originals of important documents. Everything else was thrown away.

We took pictures of the book jackets that we particularly liked. If we decide we must have books like “Celtic Knitting” again we know we can get them on Amazon.com.

Lastly, we took pictures of our kids’ artwork, like this one done by Betty.

Art by Betty, age 8.
Art by Betty, age 8.

And, here is a diorama of our family done by Paul.

Art by Paul. Plasticine medium.
Art by Paul, age 6. Plasticine medium.

Shipping our gear

Things we shipped from Ogdensburg to our boat included:

  • Snorkeling gear
  • homeschooling books
  • a Ziploc bag full of Christmas ornaments
  • 6 Christmas stockings
  • a  collapsible Halloween spider from the dollar store
  • prescribed medications
  • pressure cooker
  • A few blankets
  • kids’ hand-me-down shoes from size 10 to size 3 (girls and boys)
  • our entire supply of maple syrup

Here is a picture of the maple syrup that we made and bottled in 2015. It might look like a lot. But, it was not a bumper year.

Maple syrup 2015
Maple syrup 2015

We considered driving our gear with a trailer. We also investigated buying a van from the USA to drive ourselves to Florida, and then sell the van. But, we will be flying out instead.

Selling our van

A friend in Ottawa has offered to sell our van for us. I need to use it right up until we leave Ottawa to attend some appointments.

Selling our camping gear

Downsizing further we have an online ad at the moment to sell our camping gear as a complete package. After we sell our camping gear we will be left with duffel bags of clothing, and some suitcases.

Moving onto the boat

My husband’s sister will be looking after our children in August. She lives in Victoria, B.C. This will allow my husband and I time to settle into our boat and get organized before our kids arrive.

As it stands, I will be flying to Victoria to escort our kids to their Auntie’s house. It should be an interesting flight. The logistics of using an airport bathroom – with four kids in tow – keeps me up at night.

I should mention that we were fortunate to have an amazing caregiver, Kerri, look after our twins full-time from January-July 2015. She lived close to our house, and gave our twins a lot of attention while our older kids were in school. It also allowed them to socialize with other children their own age. Having childcare in place allowed my husband and I time to organize and downsize together.

And that is the story of how we are moving from a larger space to a smaller space.

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