Murray and Heather Rand


Couple leave their jobs to live on a boat!!

Murray and Heather Rand sold their St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada home in the spring of 1997 and moved aboard Windswept IV, a C&C 40 sail boat. That summer, they left their jobs and began their travels. Since then, they head south to the Bahamas for the winter and come back to Canada for the summer. That commitment led to a shift, PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER, into living a life beyond their dreams.

Of course, this is not something they just did on the spur of the moment. They were planning this for many years before it happened. They also believed it was critical to follow their PASSION.

Neither Murray nor Heather had ever sailed before they bought their 16 foot dinghy. A visit to the local library gave them some books on “Learn to Sail”. They photocopied pertinent pages and prepared to raise the sails in their backyard. The boat almost sailed off the trailer.

Down to Long Point Bay they went along with their two boys, Jeremy & Steve aged 8 and 6. They launched the boat, raised the mast and installed the sails. It was still early spring and quite cold and all of them wore lifejackets. They practiced the maneuvers shown in the books and all enjoyed the day. But, soon they came to realize that a few lessons were in order.

“Sailing lessons” said the ad,” on evenings and weekends”. Heather and Murray called and arranged to share the total time between them. A couple of days later, the instructor called to say that he had to cancel as he was going to summer school but his parents were willing to teach them. And that is how they met Manfred & Lisa Kanter.

They taught Heather and Murray to sail in a Soling, a 26 ft keel boat used for Olympic racing. While they sailed they told Heather and Murray of their time sailing to Europe and the Caribbean with their two boys. What an adventure!

By the end of that summer, Heather and Murray knew that sailing was something that they wanted to do – but not in a dinghy. They sold it and purchased a Mirage 24. It had sleeping accommodation for the four and a toilet. For the next seven years, they sailed it every weekend and spent their summer vacations aboard cruising on Lake Erie. The boys had soon tired of sailing with their parents and asked for their own boat. They acquired a Mirror dinghy and became very good sailors.

In 1982, Manfred & Lisa Kanter offered to loan Heather and Murray their boat, a 45 footer. In the Bahamas. For 2 whole weeks. It was wonderful. There they met cruisers who lived board their boats full-time. They traveled the east coast of the US, into the Bahamas chain and down to the Caribbean. Could they do this too?

That spring, they sold the 24 ft and moved up to a 33 ft C&C. Murray thought that it was big enough to live on. For the next 10 years, Heather and Murray cruised further in the Great Lakes and honed their skills. Their son’s were in high school at the time and they thought this was not a good time to pull them out for a year living aboard. So, they planned and saved with the aim towards retiring at age 50 and heading south.

The galley (or kitchen) on the 33 was small and storagewas a problem. In 1992 they started to look for a boat on which they could live comfortably. Finally, they found a C&C 40 aft cabin. It didn’t have much storage, but Heather and Murray figured they could create some. A five year plan was drawn up and modifications made to the boat on a yearly basis. Murray took a ham radio course and gained his license. Both of them read everything they could get their hands on about cruising and living aboard. They took First Aid courses and not just your usual Red Cross ones. They took Offshore First Aid or what to do when out of reach of medical care.

Their house was sold in May of 1997 and they also sold most of their furniture and belongings. Not much fits aboard except clothes, some books, tools and charts. For another month or so, they continued to work. In July of 1997, Heather and Murray severed their ties with work and said goodbye to family and friends.

In August of 1997, they cast off their lines and left the dock with the bow headed south. Did they make it by 50? Not quite as they are both now 51. But, they did make it. Their dream is coming true.

Now, it is 2004 and Heather and Murray are still aboard. Do they love it? Most days, they report it is absolutely wonderful. There have been moments of sheer terror but those have been few and far between. Mostly there have been beautiful anchorages, wonderful beaches, great sailing friends and all the time in the world for Heather and Murray to spend together. They report this has been one of the top benefits from this adventure. Currently, they live aboard for 6 or 7 months and have a summer job in Canada for 4 or 5 months.

Heather and Murray still dream and plan. Maybe a trip to Europe or perhaps to the western Caribbean is in their future. They still read and talk to other sailors about their adventures. Who knows? They may even go around the world. They are certainly not wealthy but they are not broke either. They live in the PRESENT and do enjoy every day as it comes and spend as much as possible of that day out of doors. They believe life is much too short to waste a moment of it. When asked “How long will you continue to do this?” Their answer is still “As long as we are having FUN!”

P.S. They said, “If it is your dream, go sooner rather than later”. The islands are changing year by year. More and more boats are out here. And our lives can change so much at the drop of a hat, the screech of a tire, or the words of a physician. Your dream may be modified while underway.

What can we learn from Murray and Heather?

PASSION is something that one has to grab and run with. If you wait, well, life just gets in the way. Also, it makes it that much more enjoyable to have someone who shares your passion along for the ride!