Friday, July 27, 2012

Sailing Away - not in our own boat...YET!

What's life without a little up and down, back and forth, highs and lows? Since last weekend we've been on the crazy ride called - NEGOTIATION. From researching "comps" to pricing out known repairs to calling Dads, Brothers and friends we've gained a lot of knowledge and opinions on the ancient art of price negotiation. 

We put an offer in on the Gulfstar last Saturday. The broker didn't scoff but was honest in telling us that he didn't "think it would work" because the owners were already hoping for $20,000 more than he got them to list it at. The broker was right - on Monday morning the owners came back only lowering their asking price by $2,000...we were VERY far apart. We thought and talked and sought advice and more advice and TRIED to emotionally detach ourselves from the boat because no good negotiation comes from being emotionally invested. We claimed we were "over this boat", we proudly said, "there's many more boats in the sea", we convinced ourselves that we were "right at it". So we put in our "top" offer on Tuesday morning saying that we were willing to drop a deposit in the mail and sign on the line that day. 

The owners didn't budge. We were still pretty far apart. We made sure they had our phone number and were clear how motivated we are and then...we walked away

So today we sit and ever since we 'walked away' we feel like the "wind's been taken out of our sails" a bit...we are a little less excited, a little less nervous, the butterflies in our tummies have stopped fluttering, we're feeling like the kickoff to this dream which we thought was going to happen sooner than later is now going to happen later and that's left us with a bit of a defeated feeling. 

BUT all is not lost! Because this evening we are embarking on a BIG part of this dream - the Blue Water Sailing School Bareboat Charter class! Yup, that's right, tonight we are heading to Newport, RI and Sunday morning we leave on a Dufour Gib'Sea 43' sailboat and won't return to port until Friday! 

Our floating home for the next week!

We booked this class back in early March because as we started to put legs on this dream of ours we both felt like we could use some more training and confidence on sailing larger boats. We've both had a good deal of experience on smaller, day cruiser boats but nothing over say 30' and once you get up over 35' there's A LOT more to know. There's major electrical and mechanical systems, there's a lot more rigging to learn, there's a galley to learn, etc. This class was highly recommended to us because it's one of the only "live aboard" classes where you learn all the in's and out's of living aboard a cruising yacht. You learn provisioning, navigation for passage making, cooking, maintenance, etc.- you live, breath, sleep and eat sailing the whole week. At the end you get your bareboat charter license meaning that we can go down to the British Virgin Islands, rent a yacht and captain it for a week! It's a big step to the ultimate goal of getting our USCG Captain's License.We are both extremely excited! So the blog will be quiet for the next week while we get a taste of this dream of ours.

We half-joke that on our way back from Newport next Friday we'll be calling the Gulfstar broker and offering what they're asking! We have no doubt that this week will only solidify and reinvigorate our motivation for making this dream happen now and not later. But we've promised not to make any move on the Gulfstar until we return from this trip. 

Since we are heading to another seaside area we've also set up appointments to look at two other potential floating homes. We have to see what else is out there in order to truly feel like the Gulfstart is it. We'll be seeing a Hunter Legend 40 with the owner who's promised us a sail and a classic Cheoy Lee 40' Midshipman Ketch. The Hunter is a newer, production boat. The Cheoy Lee is classic with LOTS of teak, including her decks. We shall see...though our minds can't seem to let go of the Gulfstar... 

Hunter Legend 40' 

Cheoy Lee 40' Midshipman Ketch
So next week as we sit on board a 43' sailboat somewhere in Block Island Sound watching sunset or a sunrise with the water all around us I know clarity will come to us and we will know in our guts what our next move will be. 

As my absolute favorite Jimmy Buffett song says:
"...Alone on a midnight passage 
I can count the falling stars
While the Southern Cross and the satellites
They remind me of where we are
Spinning around in circles
Living it day to day
And still twenty four hours may be sixty good years
It's still not that long a stay.

We've gotta roll with the punches
Learn to play all of our hunches
Makin' the best of whatever comes your way
Forget that blind ambition 
And learn to trust your intuition
Plowin' straight ahead come what may
And there's a Cowboy in the Jungle..." 

                - Jimmy Buffett "Cowboy in the Jungle" 1978 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We may have found her!

So like I said last week, there is A LOT to update on! The biggest thing is that we may have found our floating home! A few weeks back we went up to Southern, Maine to check out a boat we'd found on Yacht World. A 1978 43' Gulfstar Mark II. She was just listed at the beginning of June and she meets everything on our top 10 "must have" list. She's bigger than we'd been looking at, a lot bigger, about 7' feet bigger. She's got the center cockpit and aft cabin we want and she's got the heavy displacement (think stability) and rugged craftsmenship that we like. She's a ketch rig which we like for heavy weather. She's in our price range AND she's local - only an hour or so north of Portsmouth! 

She's BEAUTIFUL, in great shape for her age, no visible water damage anywhere that you'd expect it, warm teak interior, brand new sails and a full cockpit enclosure (think warmth and safety). She's currently "on the hard" because her current owners bought her to be their floating, cruising home and did some work to get her ready to cruise and then last winter the owner suffered and accident and is now unable to climb on her. It's a sad tale but it also bodes well for us because the current owner is the commodore of the local yacht club so he's probably not going to buy a crappy boat!
Aren't her lines pretty? And we love the ketch rig. 
She's got a lot below the water line - stability! 

Galley with fridge & lots of natural light

Some good instruments at the helm

Relatively good size cockpit  with full enclosure

Checking out the windlass - note the full dodger enclosure. 

Warm teak interior which we love

2 leaves that open up - I will be recovering the white cushions, need cozier colors

Super long navigation station & fantastic headroom leading to the aft cabin
So, after seeing this boat which was next to perfect for us we got pretty serious about our next move. We went to have beers at Joe's Boathouse in South Portland - because you can't look at a boat and not have "debrief beers" after and there were all these locals sitting around having come in from their boats talking about their days and we thought, "this could be us, on THAT boat!" 

It's like we're at this moment where we either talk about doing this for another year or we make a move and move aboard before winter sets in. Are we rushing it? Maybe. But if we wait we are one year older, one year behind the Fall '14 departure plan, one more year of rent goes in someone else's pocket, one year of "learning" is lost. And we all know all the things that can come up in a year - there's expenses that happen, trips that must be taken, family and friends who need help, etc. There are a thousand things that can and will happen between now and next spring that could deter us from our plan. Not to mention this boat might be sold! We've done A LOT of learning and research in the past 5+ months since we started this journey and though we don't know it all or have all the answers we are accepting the fact that we might never have it all figured out. Inherent in this plan is uncertainty - will we survive January in New Hampshire in the middle of a river? How will Jill, Tim and Toby dog all fit into a small cabin of a sailboat without killing one another? Will we lose power when we try and run an electric heater and the microwave? Will we misjudge the current in the river and overshoot our dock? Where will we fit our record player :) We just have to be smart enough to minimize the amount of uncertainty and the severity of the ramifications of mistakes. This is truly living - accepting uncertainty, learning from mistakes and taking risks! I feel myself taking very deep breaths these days, my heart races sometimes when I think of all that is ahead for us and though that could be looked at as stress, I see it as being alive. Feeling my heart race, taking that deep breath, my mind racing with questions in the middle of the night - to me, that's the beauty of being alive and living life fully of embracing the uncertainty and exhilaration of our life right now. Without exhilaration - what's life?

So in the past month we've done all the myriad of things that have to happen to buy a floating home. Trust us there is SOOOOO much to get in order. It's not like you just write a check and then sail away. I keep telling myself that this (stressful) part of the journey will be a distant memory once we're aboard and sitting on deck with a cold beer and the sunset. 

So in the last month:
- we have secured a boat loan (aka mortgage) for the amount of the boat
- we did a lot of comparison shopping to be sure we have a secure idea of what we'll   offer
- we read the last marine survey done on the boat in 2009 - ALL GOOD!
- we got quotes on on the land survey, the launching, commissioning and sea trial
- we read countless blogs, forums, reviews and tutorials on the Gulfstars, on sea trials, on surveys, on boat - negotiating, on boat insurance, on marinas....
- we talked to trusted 'boat people' in our lives (thanks Doc Rynne & Dad!)
- we talked to the marina about rates to move in, parking and electricity
- we talked to Town Clerks in 2 different towns in 2 different states about registration, taxes and residency - (hello Kittery, Maine!)
- we got quotes on boat insurance
- we got tutorials and quotes on shrink wrapping for winter (stay tuned, this should be fun!)
- we planned out where we'll store stuff (thanks to our parents!)
- we had numerous moments of "holy sh*t what are we doing?!"
- we worked out our down payment and our drop dead highest offer
- we had drinks overlooking as many marinas and harbors as we could to keep up the inspiration and motivation
- we figured out the price difference from mooring to slip to compare for next summer (we are most definitely slip dwelling our first winter!)

-- Oh, and we still worked full time plus some, made 2 trips to Cape Cod for family reunions and work, 1 trip to the White Mountains for Farrell family fun, and all the other life stuff that goes on daily...WHEW!

(In all truthfulness, this all wouldn't/couldn't have happened without the amazingly organized and determined Tim at the helm -there's something so great about having a cost estimator for a husband -he gets it done, done well and done fast! He is phenomenal!)
Inspiration for all this stress! September 1 maybe???

It seems these days when Tim and I are together it's all boat all the time - we are constantly talking about the logistics, the plan, the move, the details. Every time I open up a closet in our house I have a small panic attack thinking, "oh my god, all this stuff has to find a place or be sold or thrown out!" But that part of the journey is a ways off, next up comes THE OFFER. We are heading up this Saturday at 5pm to look at her again, this time look in more crannies, lay in the bed to test out our sleeping arrangement, count closets and drawers - look at her with a much more discerning eye in terms of truly living on her in under 6 weeks! In our pockets we will have a down payment and an offer letter. If all checks out this second time we will submit our offer - HOLY COW!!! 

The next step will be for the broker to take the offer to the owner and there'll be negotiating but if we can come to deal then it's on to the marine survey...

So folks, STAY TUNED it's about to get real interesting around here....

"The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live." - Leo F. Buscaglia

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reasons Why Wednesday "Life is Short - Do it Now"

Reasons Why #3: Life is Short, Do it Now!

Sorry to be so quiet here in Blogger Land but summertime (or as Tim says, "SUMMAH TIME!") in New England means less time indoors at the computer and A LOT more time outdoors with family, friends and fun! There is so much to update on but for now I'll stick to our "Reasons Why Wednesday Theme". 

We just got home last night from 5 days down at the Scahill Family Compound on Cape Cod (definitely just as luxurious and expansive as the Kennedys - HA!). The weekend was extra special because it was a Scahill Family Reunion. Jill's Dad's side of the family gathered together. There were so many amazing moments amongst the 31 folks that gathered. Saturday evening was spent on the beach with a bonfire and pizzas. The older relatives got such joy from watching the younger ones dance in the waves, the younger kids got such joy from catching a "giantous" crab and a flounder and then releasing them. The view was priceless. The pizza never tasted as good as it does with your feet dug in the sand. Fireworks were going off on both sides of us and heat lightening - nature's fireworks - was exploding over the ocean - It was the stuff of movies. Somebody made the comment, "This is why we work all the time, for moments like this." It set my mind reeling...

Sunday was an all-day classic New England Clambake. Cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews from near and far (as far as India!) gathered together to hug, laugh, hear stories, tell stories and be together. For the older folks there was a lot more reminiscing about past reunions and missing relatives who have passed on. For younger folks it was more about everyone's jobs, houses, kids, travels, projects, plans and general life 'busy-ness' and boy are people busy these days! 

Dad & his Sister Aunt Jed - the lifetime of photos
hanging on the line behind them
Surrounding the entire patio was photos of past family adventures - there were photos of foggy sailing trips, my dad and uncle in matching green pants with Manhattan cocktails in hand, weddings, trips to Florida, Europe, Nantucket, the mountains, there were smiling faces of those who have passed on and baby faces of those who are 25 now. Looking along the line of photos you can't help but realize, even though it's cliche, life is short. While you're in it and living it you don't tend to notice time moving along and you are wrapped up in the difficulty of making ends meet, of making the big decisions of house buying or child rearing, or job seeking. It's not till you stand in front of 75 years of photos or sit with your dad and uncle who are looking at 80 years on this earth that you realize that life is short and the latter part of it isn't as easy as the early or middle part. 

Tim and I are in our early 30's, we've got no kids, no mortgages, minimal debt, we don't own companies or have an investment portfolio, we don't have daycare bills or life insurance premiums, we don't have a leaky house or a need a new water heater, we are able bodied with no achy knees or sore backs. We will undoubtedly, one day, have all of these things plus MANY more, but for now, we don't. We spent a lot of time this weekend talking to family in different stages of their life - some with young kids, some with older kids, some with grandkids and every single person said to us about our boat plans - "DO IT NOW!" Complications and reason's why not to do it come quickly and before you know it you've got a 30-year mortgage or a you've got a kid who's sick, or you need a new car or the furnace blows out. 

As I looked at those photos this weekend, at the adventures my mom, dad, grandparents, uncles and aunts had, I thought - I hope someday my kids stand in front of photos of Tim and I and think what I thought, "what a life! how much fun they had, how many places they saw, how much adventure they sought! They lived it up!"

So, today's reasons why Wednesday comes from all the family we spent this weekend with and those who looked upon us from above. LIFE IS SHORT, LIVE IT TO ITS FULLEST, DO IT NOW! 

The Family, Summer of 1980 (that's Jill, the tiny baby on Larry's Lap) 
The Family, Summer 1992 (Note Jill's Joey McIntyre NKOTB t-shirt) 
The Family, 2012 - A lot bigger! The Orange Bus was a BIG hit!