The oft-repeated joke about owners and boats goes this way: what are the two happiest days in one’s life? The day you buy a boat and the day you sell it. It’s true, and now I know from experience.

When I bought Karma five years ago, of course, I wasn’t focused on selling her–I’d bought and sold a few earlier boats and was intent on “moving up” to a vessel that would really get me somewhere. The guy who sold her to me said something I’ve only now come to appreciate. “What will you do next?” I asked him. “Oh, probably get a kayak,” he responded. I don’t know if he did, but I know why he said that.

When Karma, after suitable negotiations and an exchange of papers and cash, departed from my driveway on a large truck in April, I began to think about the essential meaning of the event. I’d spent some hours cleaning out my personal possessions and making sure the surveyor was comfortable out there in the cold, but until the boat was actually gone it didn’t dawn on me how different my life would feel–I was going to say “empty” but that would imply bereftness, and I really didn’t feel that way. No, I felt relieved of a responsibility I’d felt every spring for the past 42 years that I’ve owned “serious” boats.  Right away it began to sink in: I didn’t have to go out there, crawl up under the cover, see what had to be done and begin my annual boat-preparation ritual. As the spring unfolded and the boat jobs became dirty and tedious, I would wonder what it would be like to not have a boat to take care of. Now I’d begun to find out.

A few days later I ran into a friend who sold his boat last year. He smiled and told me his version of the experience. “You’ll be amazed,” he said, “at how healthy your checkbook will begin to look.” All those expenses-parts, paint, yard bills, mooring fees, taxes, you name it-suddenly would go away. And I’d have the comfort of the buyer’s check in my pocket as well: add it all up and I’d feel, for a while at least, more flush than usual. In the weeks after Karma rolled off down the driveway I heard other stories, like that of the guy who gave up coaching lacrosse this year and took off on a cross-country trip this spring, happy to have the time to do something new.

But what would I do with my time? Up to now, a month or two after the fact, that hasn’t been a problem, since I’ve been renovating a building and have many projects to complete. The empty space out in the driveway has been amply filled by paint jobs and other chores indoors. Right now at least, I’m very glad not to be worrying about commissioning a boat. As for that check from the buyer–it felt pretty good before I turned most of it over to various suppliers and contractors.

Another way to look at this change in my life is to see it as an opportunity to sail different boats. Not with a view to buying them (horrors!) but merely to crew for their owners, see where we might get to, open myself to new experiences. I’m not without a track record in this area, and now-freed of annual maintenance-I’m available. You know where to reach me, Skipper…

Karma is a lot of boat. She got me to Florida and back two years ago, and I felt safe and comfortable aboard the entire time. But once I was back home-and particularly after a subsequent summer’s cruising in Maine-it became very clear that I didn’t need a transatlantic vessel. She had served my purpose, just as she’d served the purposes of two previous owners, one of whom sailed her to the Caribbean and the other to Venezuela. She’s a thoroughbred, and a horse (or a boat) of her caliber needs exercise. That’s why I decided to sell her, and that’s why I find the next chapter of her story so exciting. The buyers, you see, are two Swiss gentlemen who plan to take her across the Atlantic. Now that’s an adventure a great boat deserves! They can’t sail her to Switzerland, of course, but they can take her to Italy, which they plan to do. Hearing that amidst all the emotional hubbub of the sale and Karma’s departure from my life, I asked if there might be interest in charters over in the Med…but of course, I was told. Well! My sailing life may be different for a while, but just because I don’t own a boat (right now) doesn’t mean I’m done.

Meanwhile, as I look at charts of the Mediterranean, I’m thinking about building a rowboat for cruises closer to home.

David D. Platt is former editor of The Working Waterfront.