SYRACUSE — With plans to take a year off from work, Jace Morgan and his wife, Rikki, bought a 25-foot sailboat from a marina in Syracuse, named it SugarBaby and did a complete restoration. Throughout the summer they lived on their boat on Lake Wawasee on and off. He had his own business and Rikki was a Spanish teacher at Wawasee High School. “We decided to give it all up and sold everything we owned,” he comments. They gave up their stable jobs, their home and their cars to begin a new adventure living and traveling on the SugarBaby.
Two routes were available for their new adventure. They chose to start at Lake Michigan and go south through the river systems before hitting the ocean. Their plan is to sail to Florida, regroup and do any necessary repairs, and then sail along the coast to the Caribbean islands.
Currently the couple is in Kentucky after sailing three months and approximately 550 miles.
This new lifestyle has made the Morgan couple take on a minimalistic lifestyle. They have no radar so they judge depth simply by looking at the water and do their best to avoid night travel. “We look ahead, plan the route and just go for it,” Morgan offers, mentioning that they both have navigation apps on their phones, which they use to prepare for the day ahead.
The inside portion of the boat is only five feet tall. “Rikki can stand up. I just lean a bit,” Morgan laughs. When it comes to going ashore, they use a paddleboard to get from the boat. Once ashore Jace uses a skateboard and Rikki uses a makeshift scooter to get into town for necessities such as laundry, food or refueling. Part of the reason for this minimalistic approach is that they are attempting to do the entire trip for just $1,000.
“We just took off,” Morgan states, admitting they may not have had all the tools or skills that would have been helpful on the voyage. On their first day the sailboat hit a log in Lake Michigan while going full speed and they feared they would go down. However, they make it work. Since the river systems are in a flood, the couple has also had to adjust their resupply routes since many of the refuel locations originally planned for do not currently exist.
Many individuals tend to wait until they are retired to take this adventure, but the Morgans did not want to wait. “We wanted to get out there and just do it,” he reveals. “We plan to make it from Point A to Point B and, if we do, it’s a good day.” The couple has been able to meet new people and see a new place every day. Even if they are simply sitting in the boat waiting for commercial traffic to pass for hours, they get to do it together. When all they’re worried about is going somewhere new, Morgan declares that they have learned what they are truly capable of.
“We get asked two main questions when people find out what we’re doing,” Morgan explains. “One is, ‘How old are you?’ The other is, ‘How do you make money?’” The couple is in their mid-20s and Morgan’s parents help with his business in Syracuse, which generates some income for them.
Otherwise it has been budgeting, saving and help and outreach from the community prior to leaving.
Every few weeks Jace and Rikki Morgan return to see and pick up their 4-year-old daughter, Brecklynn, and bring her along on as many adventures as possible before starting kindergarten next year. Currently they plan on building a home in Florida, though they are open to anywhere they find along the way as long as it’s near the water. After this journey they would also like to write a book on their travels and doing it on a budget.
He insists, “We’re lighting a fire for others to go after what they want to do and do it.”