Itchy Keel(s)

A post started 11 months ago is finally finished.

“Don’t Postpone Joy”


I read today’s quotation as I sat in stand-still traffic, waiting to reach the Charleston crosstown on the way to Vivienne’s school.   As Moana songs played over the speakers and I stared at long lines of break lights, I remembered why I wanted to give up the rat-race, fast-paced lifestyle of the US for a slower version lived on the water.  Life is too short to live it in a traffic lane, serving myself instead of God.

Several weeks ago TJ and I started feeling lead to leave South Carolina much earlier than anticipated and head south to Florida.  After launching our business, Cruiser Movers, we have worked hard to get our name and website out there for potential customers to see.  While we have had several calls for estimates and lots of positive feedback, the thing we have found is that Charleston is simply too far north.  Most people calling us want the boats moved to or from the Miami area and we are simply “splitting the difference” between the desired location and starting point.  No one really wants the additional cost of flying us to the pickup location and back to our location.

So, we prayed.  We debated and we talked; eventually praying some more.  We decided we were willing to give up our slip in Charleston and head south, knowing Vivienne would miss her Spanish school but also knowing this day would come in the fall.   TJ and I just decided to follow Christ sooner.  We contacted Vivienne’s school, dance studio, and the marina to talk about options.  I put in my two weeks at the marina, as I was picking up more freelance writing work than my marina schedule would allow.  God was blessing us, all we had to do was further trust in Him.

A month ago we had a transient couple in the marina that took time to get to know us.  Two days before their departure, they continued trying to talk us into heading to Florida with them but we resisted; feeling bad because we signed a lease with our marina and we didn’t want to break it.  They were experienced cruising sailors and had a lot to teach us, and one quotation stood about the rest, “When it is time to go, you just know.  You feel it and you’re both ready to leave.  If you don’t go, you don’t grow.”  As he said the last sentence he pointed to his head.  If you don’t leave the marina your skills and your brain won’t grow.  Valid point.  We have been using the money we saved to go sailing to sit in a marina in Charleston instead of leaving and doing what we feel called to do because of TJ’s job loss.

We have been fortunate to have some excellent boat neighbors in our marina.  One couple is here temporarily after cruising in the Caribbean for the last four years and have become mentors to us.  After filling them in on our concerns, they echoed the advice of others telling us to go.  The wife, a wonderfully kind woman told me, “I call it the ‘itchy keel’ when you’re ready to leave and head somewhere else.”  The itchy keel…in our case keels.  We are ready to move.  God is giving us directions to leave and we have been resisting.

After TJ first lost his job we considered leaving Charleston and heading south but feared what would happen if we did.  We even had friends telling us at that point to take off because “what do you have to lose?”  Instead of following our gut at that point we hung around and God has placed more people in our path encouraging us to move on.


I wrote the above 625 words 11 months ago, January 2017.  This post never made it to publication because I was afraid.  Afraid of judgement, the unknown, and the 1,001 “what ifs” floating around in my head.  As I was sitting down to write something fresh, I decided to glance at my unfinished posts and this is the one that jumped out.  Itchy Keel(s).  I realize I still have itchy keels but I am still afraid and even more “comfortable” on Johns Island than I was when I started this post.  We have been living on Te Whakapono for 16 months and, while I’ve done some serious offshore sailing between then and now, it hasn’t been on our boat and it hasn’t been as a whole family.

The same concerns about leaving Charleston still remain–we are locked into a lease at St. John’s that doesn’t end until April; what if leaving when our lease is up is the wrong decision, especially when I now have a job with our church that I really enjoy? There are also new concerns, such as how marinas in Florida with available slips are hard to come by this season, as many cruisers aren’t making the leap over to the Bahamas due to their fears regarding hurricane damage in the Lesser Antilles.  Even if we were to move down to Florida we aren’t sure we could find a slip.  Then, of course, we still dream of the “beyond”.  Once again I find myself saying, “I didn’t move onto a boat to sit in Charleston forever.”  There is still something that calls me to want to do mission work elsewhere and the current state of the Lesser Antilles provides an amazing opportunity to serve others and be a light for Christ to a place in need.

So many unknowns.  I often wish decision making could be easier of, if I just prayed hard enough and listened close enough, I could hear the audible voice of God.  As one of the people in our Sunday School class said (regarding his own life and decision making) sometimes God gives you an audible voice or an clear sign, and sometimes He is really asking you to trust in Him and that gut feeling you get.

Not all decisions are perfectly clear; some are clear as the muddy Stono River on which we live.    

I still don’t know what is the answer for us.  I do know there are some in our lives who would love to see us stay in Charleston forever, but we know deep in our hearts that is not the answer for us.  Charleston is beautiful, we’ve met amazingly beautiful people, and Lane’s grown spiritually by leaps and bounds; perhaps that has been our purpose for staying here so long, but that doesn’t mean we will stay forever.

As I was doing Bible study, something in particular jumped out at me:

“And he said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bad, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.  And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.  And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.’ And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”
-Luke 9:3-6

Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to go when they had enough money stored up, or when they felt like they had enough in their suitcases to last for several months; no, he told them to go and trust.

Meeting transient cruisers, and growing closer to several who tell us they wish they would’ve chosen this lifestyle when their children were young, continues to give hope that we are on the right path for our family.  Perhaps we are reaching that point when God is asking us to trust that gut feeling He has given us, step out on faith, and sail South…after our lease is up, of course. 😉

Te Whakapono,
The McKelveys  

~ ~ ~ All things are possible for those who believe.  -Mark 9:23 ~ ~ ~ 

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