Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reasons Why Wednesday: Segmenting Citrus

We know that as this plan and dream begins to really take shape we are going to face the inevitable question - "Why are you doing this?" Now there are a plethora of reasons why, some philosophical and illuminating others pragmatic and logical and others down right funny. So we thought we'd start "Reasons Why Wednesdays" where we list reasons why we are on this plan to live an unexpected life and break away from the norm. Things arise every single day that we look at one another and say, "This is why we're taking off on a sailboat!" So we thought we'd start to record those things. 

Reason #1 - Tim learned how to "Section Citrus Fruit" 
Please note the magazine this from - Yes, Tim learned to do this. 

We don't want to be the type of people who know how to section citrus fruit - we want to be the type of people who know how to fix corroded chainplates or replace teak and holly soles. We don't want to worry about our citrus salsa marinade having membranes in it we want to worry about if the weather will hold out long enough for us to make a passage between islands or if our anchor is set with an offshore current in a crowded anchorage.  

This life choice we're endeavoring on isn't for everyone and there's nothing wrong with worrying about sectioning citrus fruit, for some that's what their into - to each their own. As this plan moves along it's going to get harder and harder for us to turn away from the lifestyle and expectations of modern society but that's the thing with turning your dreams into your reality, it takes sacrifice, it takes determination, it takes faith and yes, it takes a whole lot of courage. 

Courage to be OK with giving up all our 'stuff' and knowing we are making the right decision  

Faith in each other and faith that we won't end up penniless, childless and homeless in 10 years.

Determination to overcome the numerous setbacks we'll face. 

Sacrificing the things of typical life in your 30's - vacations, new sofas, new cars, new babies, new homes...   

So the reasons why need to outweigh the reasons why not, but perhaps that's a reason unto itself - Why not?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The 'What If's'

Analysis Paralysis - (n.) Refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises.

So we went down to Merri-Mar Yacht Basin on the banks of the Merrimac River in Newburyport on Saturday to climb aboard "High Hopes" the 1981 39' Mariner that we'd found on Yacht World. High Hopes' story is bittersweet, she'd been loved and sailed by a local couple for the past 15 years and lovingly cared for in the off-season by Merri-Mar. About 2 years ago the elderly gentleman took ill. The folks at Merri-Mar and his wife were determined to get him out on the water in High Hopes at least once in the Summer of 2010. They launched her and the husband and wife went sailing 2-3 afternoons that summer. She was put "on the hard" in the yard in Fall 2010, covered in shrink wrap like she's had done every year they've owned her and there she's sat since. The gentleman got sicker and sadly passed away last month. His widow is now putting his boat up for sale. We climbed up on the ladder, through the hole in the shrink wrap and aboard this gorgeous but worn looking lady.  So, needless to say this boat needs some TLC. She needs a good scrubbing, her portholes opened to some fresh air, she needs someone to love her again. 

But that's not with every boat we'll look at in our price range, she needs some more involved work too. Her sole needs replacing. Yes, this boat needs a sole. The sole of a boat is the interior cabin floor and High Hopes' floor is showing her 30 years and her 2 years in the boat yard. She's got some water coming in and her floor is showing signs around where the floor meets the interior cabinets, etc. 
Her teak floors are not looking well... 

Notice the discoloring on the teak floors where it meets the cabinets?

This is the starboard settee looking aft, the bilge is under that hatch on the right. 
Now lucky for us Tim actually has replaced soles before down in Florida when working as a shipwright. But the boat broker said the million dollar thing, "You have to be ready for what you find once you rip up the floor." And with a 30 year old boat that might not go well. 

Replacing floors is one thing but this boat also needs a full electronics upgrade. She's sailed in sight of shore the last 15 years and has never needed full GPS, satellite, chart plotters, etc. etc. that we'll be needing to take off to points south. The electronics for a boat have come A LONG way since the 80's and we want to be sure we have the best, most reliable electronics we can for safety. Plus we'll certainly need to install a stereo system throughout the boat - I mean what would Tim & Jill be without our tunes!?
That's some pretty outdated electronic in the Nav Station
There are some really GREAT things about High Hopes too -she's got a great layout below deck. Lots of space, high head room, big aft cabin, 'spacious' galley, certainly live aboard quality. Plus there's a little set of stairs (companion way) to get below deck rather than a ladder so Toby Dog will be happy. 
Great, workable galley, lots of counter space & I love the little tile backsplash!

Comfy, roomy main salon, see the stairs out to the cockpit?

Roomy, airy aft cabin with tons of light & this was under shrink wrap!

So now comes the wonderful world of the "what if's". What if we buy this boat and we find rotted out core in the hull? What if it needs total stanchion replacement above deck? What if the engine is shot from sitting for 2 years? What if we run out of money to do all she needs done? Some of these questions would certainly be answered by the Marine Survey which we'd get done after we put in an offer. We'd have 30 days to get the survey done and then either adjust the offer or walk away based off what we find out. But still, as my best friend Catta texted me - "The What If's will eat you alive." She's a solid boat. She's got a great layout below deck. She needs some TLC and elbow grease. She'll need some substantial cash flow to do more. This much we know. It's the unknown that we're grappling with. We are trying to avoid 'analysis paralysis' because we could end up doing nothing and never fulfill this dream we have.

As we discussed it all over beers on the Brown Cow's deck I said this, "Inherent in this entire plan is risk, buying a 30-year old used sailboat, retrofitting it and sailing away is risky. There is no way around that. We just have to either accept the inherent risk and move forward being OK with it or we need to walk away from the plan." There's no process we can go through, no algorithm on a computer we can run or pro/con list we can make that will minimize the risk and that's the beauty in all this - THIS IS WHAT LIVING IS ALL ABOUT! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We want stories to tell in our 70's and we won't get those stories if we don't take some risks, some leaps of faith. However, we can be smarter about the amount and severity of the risks we take on which is why we're planning on hiring a boat broker to work with us. Someone who looks at used boats for a living and can tell us what things will cost to fix and what's just not worth wasting time with.

 Let's face it, buying a 1975 Volkswagen Bus from a hippie from northern Maine with no inspection or anything was risky but look at the rewards and fun that has reaped! 

So, we still have VERY high hopes and haven't ruled out High Hopes as a potential but we also agreed that we need to see more boats as a point of reference and hiring a boat broker is our next step. We are excited and very willing to take on the incredible adventure that is part of buying a used boat because for us:

"Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Looking at "High Hopes" with High Hopes

So we've set up an appointment on Saturday to look at a boat that Jill found on Yacht World that's right in Newburyport, only 20 minutes away! We've been looking on Yacht World for the last 4 or so months always looking for the following:

  • Used
  • 35-45' 
  • Under $50,000
  • Center Cockpit - these are best for sailing in heavy weather (you can fully enclose it and stay safe and dry) and it has an aft (back) owner's cabin has a lot of head room and space.
  • Located some where in New England
There's never a ton of results but just last week we stumble upon "High Hopes"! 
She's a 1981 39' Mariner 
S/V High Hopes in Harbor - doesn't she have classic lines?
She's younger than us, not by much, but still a plus!  In a wonderful twist of symbiosis Mariners were built in Rochester, NH from 1978-1982! So we may end up with a boat made right here on the Seacoast of NH! 

We've been furiously researching Mariners on the web and the reviews that are out there are pretty awesome.

After searching for 5 years we found the perfect CC cruising boat, the Mariner 39 sloop. It is very well built and sails like a dream. We bought the boat from the first owners who sailed it for 18 years to Alaska, Tahiti, and Peru. It a proven blue water boat.

These boats were built in Rochester, NH between 1978 and 1982. They have an excellent layout, definitely better than anything you will find on today''s new boats. Two cabins with private heads in each, lots of storage space, 180 gallons of water, 80 gals of fuel. Mine has a Perkins 4-108 diesel.

Time and again I''ve met owners of Mariner 39''s who were super pleased with their choice, both living aboard & cruising, just like the above poster. It has good build quality having been built when there were still New England ''old school'' craftsman in abundance but, regrettably, not many were built.

We also stumbled across this blog from a family who lived aboard and sailed their Mariner 39' from Maine to South America for two years and LOVED it! And another twist of symbiosis the Captain, Neil is from Duxbury where Tim grew up! Check out 

So needless to say we are excited. We are tying to control our excitement because we've been told 'never fall in love with a boat'. Just like buying a house we'll have to go through A LOT before we actually jump aboard and sail away. There will be an inspection (called a Marine Survey), a sea trial, financing, insurance, etc. And inherent in all that "red tape" things can and will go wrong so we want to keep our expectations in check.

But...we can't help it - we are PUMPED! This boat is exactly what we're looking for - live aboard layout below deck is optimal, it's blue water boat - meaning it can withstand ocean crossings, it's heavy and substantially built meaning it can stand up to heavy seas and weather and we will still feel safe, it's pretty and is a classic construction with old "New England craftsmen" quality, it's known to keep point while under sail and for all our friends and family - it has a private guest cabin in the front with your own head!!! 

So from now till Saturday we'll try and keep our emotions in check but if there's any tips or thoughts out there on what we should be looking for when we view this boat let us know - we can use all the help we can get! We will take photos and report back next week - who knows, this may be our new home and we could be moving aboard by Summer!  

"Boats, like whiskey, are all good." - Culler

"I want a boat that drinks 6, eats 4, and sleeps 2" - Earnest K. Gann

"People with the boat bug are never happier than when they are poking around marinas, fantasizing about owning other people's boats. It's a disease that costs more to cure than any other single common learning disability." - Randy Wayne White

Monday, April 9, 2012

And so it begins...

So, here is the very first post on this blog journey. I'm imaging that someday we'll look back at this post while we're halfway around the world for the 2nd time on our sailboat and say, "Wow, this is where it all began." 

To be honest, it began long before today, April 9th, 2012. The idea of living life on the move, of exploring parts of this great, green earth as a lifestyle rather than a weekend here and there has long been part of my and Tim's happiness. When we met in May 2004 it was because my friend Bridget and I had rented an RV and were planning to drive to a farm in Manchester, Tennessee for the Bonnaroo music festival and Tim and his buddies wanted in. The first time Tim laid his head on my shoulder was somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the middle of the night on the way back to Boston in an RV full of 14 stinky, exhausted, muddy, music loving friends. Later that summer we spent 3 days in ankle deep mud at an airport in northern Vermont for what at the time was the last Phish festival, Tim pulled my Corolla out of the mud first and we've been together and crazy in love ever since.

A year later Tim and I were planning a move to New Orleans to live. We'd been to Jazz Fest and at 2:30am on the first night we'd arrived while the band was warming up we looked at each other and said, "let's move here." 3 months later we were making our plans to leave when Hurricane Katrina had different plans for us. We moved south anyways, to West Palm Beach, Florida. Hurricane Wilma made us realize what it's like to live on the 18th floor of a high rise on the ocean. South Florida was soaked with happy hours, transient friends and sun but our Yankee, New England souls longed for a Cape Cod summer. We decided to move again, back to the Cape. However, our wandering souls decided we'd take a detour on the way to finally visit my childhood dream - The Redwoods of California. We packed our most important things in Army duffle bags on the roof of the Corolla, loaded Jack the dog in the back seat and set off West. As Martin Sexton sings..."In a Westerly direction, this car is my train..."
The Corolla + The Army Duffle Bags in the Redwoods
The Grand Canyon
We wandered west avoiding interstates the whole way, camping every night, we visited 5 National Parks, lost  the last of our spending money in Vegas, slept under the towering branches of Redwood trees, blew through tolls in Chicago, met awesome dogs and friendly people in Ohio. We would wake up each morning at camp and say, "this is the life, something new every day, an open agenda and wide open map in front in of us." The trip took us 8 weeks and we arrived back in the Cape house driveway with a Corolla that sounded like a dune buggy, a garbage bag full of laundry & a black lab who'd seen the country. It was pure bliss, even the 2 weeks camping with pit toilets and no running water. Something about traveling...

Toby, the new crew
New Friends for Life
Portsmouth Crew for life
We soaked up the feeling of being 'home' for about a week before we were already scheming our next move...this time north to New Hampshire. We were 26 and 27 years old and that was our last big move. We've absolutely loved living in NH, we've done a lot of great things in the past 5 years here - bought an awesome VW Camper Bus, it died at a Willie Nelson show, got a new four legged travel companion, Toby, got a Masters Degree, moved up in our careers, seen some great live music, learned to brew our own beer, GOT MARRIED!, brought the VW bus back to life, traveled all over New England, *thought* about buying a house, camped a lot, met some great life long friends, celebrated good times with old friends, watched nieces & nephews grow and parents grow wiser, all the while bringing our love of life & endless joy everywhere we go, without the family & friends we have we could never dream of making this journey a reality, we are truly blessed! 
Old Friends 
The Bus running again - Race Point, Provincetown, Cape Cod

Getting Hitched, Cape Cod, Sept. 2010 
Parents Growing Wiser...HA! 

Parents Growing Wiser...HA! 
But the gypsy soul and itchy feet that we both have been blessed with has returned and so today marks the official start to our FALL '14 DINKS plan as it's been lovingly referred to by our families. DINKS = Dual Income No Kids. We are planning to cast off our bowlines and set sail from the Seacoast of NH in Fall 2014 for points south. Plans aren't real until you set a date so that's what we're doing. Until then we have A LOT to do so we thought we'd track it here on this blog. We don't even own a boat yet! We'll mix in some hilarious stories of the Adventures of OJ our orange VW bus and keep this blog informative and hilarious because anything Tim, Toby and I do is somehow always ridiculous. 

So from OJ to to the Ocean it's time we got moving on...come along on our journey!

As Jerry Jeff sings:

It's time for a change
I'm tired of that same old same
The same old words the same old lines
The same old tricks and the same old rhymes

Days precious days
Roll in and out like waves
I got boards to bend I got planks to nail
I got charts to make I got seas to sail

I'm gonna build me a boat with these two hands
She'll be a fair curve from a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
'Cause I've got boats to build

Sails are just like wings
The wind can make them sing
Songs of life songs of hope
Songs to keep your dreams afloat

I'm gonna build me a boat with these two hands
She'll be a fair curve from a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
'Cause I've got boats to build

Shores distant shores
There's where I'm headed for
I got the stars to guide my way
To sail into the light of day

I'm gonna build me a boat with these two hands
She'll be a fair curve from a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will

'Cause I'm gonna build me a boat with these two hands
She'll be a fair curve from a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
'Cause I've got boats to build I've got boats to build
I've got boats to build
-Guy Clark's 'Boats to Build' on Jerry Jeff's Cowboy Boots & Bathin' Suits