New Longboaters Kurt and Catherine Schulz explain what life is like when your backyard is the ocean.
Catherine Schulz, a Florida native, has suffered from seasickness her whole life.
Kurt Schulz was born in Vancouver, Canada and, unlike his wife, found his love for sailing at a young age.
“I was 5 years old, and I used to make LEGO sailboats,” Kurt Schulz said. “Then my parents bought me one.”
The couple met at a marina and began dating in 1999.
“When we were dating, he would invite me to his boat for dinner,” Catherine Schulz said. “I got so sick and thought I couldn’t do it. I never planned to get on a boat again.”
They married on Dec. 13, 2003. They now call, The Catherine, their 53-foot, 55,000-pound sailboat, their home, and they’re among the Key’s newest residents.
The Schulzes, along with their two “crewmembers" — dogs Cedar and Bandit, moved to Longboat Key from Palmetto in February after gaining permission to dock at Mar Vista.
The couple charters their boat through their company, Catherine’s Florida Charters, and found that business would be better in the Sarasota area.
“We kept getting more and more calls to come to Sarasota, Anna Maria and Longboat, so we decided to just come down here,” Catherine Schulz said. “Mar Vista was great to us and very welcoming.”
The Schulzes lived in Vancouver until 2009, when they decided to move back to Florida, and Catherine Schulz chose to give sailing another chance, living at first aboard their previous boat.
“I asked him what makes him the happiest, and he said living on a boat,” Catherine Schulz said. “We figured, why not try chartering one and living on it?”
Catherine found she was able to get over her seasickness, but she did have to make sacrifices for their new home.
“The first thing I had to give up were shoes,” Catherine Schulz said. “A rule of thumb we have is if something goes in, something must go out.”
Living on their boat has taught the Schulzes how to live more simply.
“It’s small, but you adjust,” Catherine Schulz said. “You accumulate a lot less. You realize you don’t need a lot. I have a hot shower, and I can cook. Sometimes that’s all that matters.”
For repairs and to refuel, the Schulzes stop at Marina Jack in Sarasota. For laundry, they go to local laundromats.
The couple even hosted Thanksgiving dinner on their boat.
“It was cramped, but it was fun,” Catherine Schulz said. “We were able to cook the full meal in our kitchen on the boat. We had a 21-pound turkey dinner in the little oven. We almost had to shove it in with our feet, but it turned out great.”
Although Catherine Schulz did not expect to spend any of her life on a boat, she said she wouldn’t change it.
“We call it a little log cabin,” Catherine Schulz said. “I’m a destination person. He’s a journey person. Sailing is all about the journey, so I’m learning. It’s always an adventure.”
The couple lived on the boat full time until this spring, when their dog, Cedar, needed a place on land. They rented a cottage in Longbeach Village, although they still live primarily on their boat.
“Our dogs are our family,” Catherine Schulz said. “Cedar is 10 and has liver cancer and couldn’t hold his footing anymore on the boat. He needed a place to spend his time in air conditioning. Before that, our dogs were on every charter with us, but we knew there would come a day where that wouldn’t be possible.”
The Catherine was also recently featured in the Father’s Day catalog for Beall’s.
“It was an honor,” Catherine Schulz said. “To have people get to enjoy and use our boat for that purpose was great. It tells you that if you work hard, good things will come.”
Although they mainly use a car for transportation in the Sarasota area, the couple plans to eventually sail to the Florida Keys, Cuba and Mexico.
“The water is my front yard, and it’s my backyard,” Kurt Schulz said. “We’re living the dream.”