By Lily Belcher
Julie and Bill Boucek have always loved boating, but it wasn’t until June 2020 that they decided they wanted to live on the water. Within a matter of weeks, the Bouceks sold their house and temporarily moved to Anna Maria Island while they searched for the perfect home on the water, which they later found in a Leopard 48 Catamaran that they plan to take to the Bahamas before hurricane season.
Living on a boat was never their plan, but they quickly realized boating was more than just a hobby when Julie was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.
“Fortunately,” Julie explained, “I was diagnosed relatively quickly, and after a week of treatments in the hospital, I was on the road to recovery. But the experience changed me. And all of us, really. We now had a tangible example of how fast life can change. How one minute everything is fine, and the next minute it’s all different.”
She made a bucket list of all her unfinished business, including a trip to the Florida Keys. After postponing the trip due to the coronavirus hitting in the spring of 2020, the ‘Boucrew’ boarded a two-day charter sailboat in Key West.
“If my illness and a pandemic started the wheels of change going, this trip on this old sailboat drove it home,” she stated.
After returning from their vacation, the Bouceks began preparing for their newfound dream, and, in November, the family of five purchased the newly christened Catamaran as the Jubilee.
Julie and Bill’s children, eighth grader Hendley, seventh grader Boss and fifth grader Anna Bea, are homeschooled, or boatschooled in the Boucek’s case, which is possible because of the strong educational foundation her kids experienced while they lived in FishHawk. On top of their schoolwork, the Boucek kids are literally learning the ropes of sailing and living on the water.
After their trip to the Bahamas, the Bouceks had planned to return to shore in time for Hendley to start highschool, but don’t see anyone in their family wanting to leave the water any time soon.
“We wake up to the most beautiful views every day. And each day is different. And I get to experience things like a pod of dolphins escorting us into West Palm Beach with my whole family,” said Boucek. “And at the end of each day, I get to climb up on top of our boat with my husband for a sundowner … and celebrate the fact that we are actually out here, living a dream.”