Saturday, May 31, 2008

Airplanes, motorcycles, houses, cars, and now a boat...

Well here I sit watching the latest round of evening storms fade from the evening sky and trying to get my head around the idea that we bought a yacht. Looking back on these musings I see it was barely 9 months ago when we first even thought about getting a “starter boat,” (less then 30 feet, more than 20 feet). I have to say if 30 years ago someone had given me a list of all the things Deb and I would do, buying and working toward living on a sailboat is the one thing on that list I might have believed. On the one hand it seems like something that has happened really fast; but on the other it seems like a thing that has been a long time coming.

But right now I’m still a bit stunned. We bought a yacht. It is a little yacht mind you, just about 30 feet from stem to stern if one counts the cool looking bow sprit. It is a tick over 24 feet long at the water line, draws 3 feet 6, is 9 feet 6 wide at the widest part, and is known as “Nomad.” (I love the name.) It seems pretty modest as yachts go, not real fast (with a 24 foot LWL hull speed works out to around 6.5 knots, or 7.5 mph) and with a simple sail plan I suspect even that speed isn’t something we will see every day. But that is okay since fast is not the point

Several of the folks at the marina where we found Nomad, (and where we will be keeping her) told us that we had an “ocean going” boat. I am a bit pleased by that, even if I’m not sure I believe it. Still little Nomad looks like a sailboat should look and I have to admit I was a bit taken by her the first time we climbed aboard. Small stout little windows to keep the waves outside the hull, lots of wires and ropes running everywhere, brass, teak, bow sprit (I did mention that is a pretty cool looking part, right?) in fact I’m a bit concerned that, even with the class, I’m not sure I know what all that stuff is supposed to do. That’s okay though, virtually everyone we have met at the marina has volunteered to sail it with us and “show us the ropes.”

Drumroll please.....

We took the plunge today and left a deposit on the Com-Pac 27. Here's a picture of the new member of our family, appropriately named "Nomad". Only those of you who know us well can appreciate the appropriateness of the name.

Tim crawling around Nomad

The Galley and Companionway. Head is on the left

This is the V-berth in the front of the boat (for you non-sailboaters). We got in there to try out the size and it's much roomier than I thought. It also has a cool brass sign above the berth that says "Captain's Quarters". There's brass all over the place - around the portholes and lights and a cool brass oil lamp that's gimballed so it rocks with the boat and doesn't spill.

This is the head. Lots of teak everywhere and an incredible amount of storage in lockers, racks and hideaways.

The boat's been on the hard (on land in a cradle for you non-boaters) for more than 2 years so when we first saw it a couple weeks ago it was shrink-wrapped in this blue plastic. It was great to cut it away today and see what a beautiful boat it was underneath!

This is a picture of the cockpit. It's kind of full of stuff since we were poking around, but soon it will be clean and orderly. You can't see it very well in the picture but there's a fantastic teak floor and in the middle of the picture you can see a teak table that folds up to put drinks on.

We signed the slip contract today so Nomad has a home as soon as we get her in the water. Before we can do that, we have to paint the bottom of the boat and do a little cleaning. Not too much, fortunately. The previous owner of the boat took unbelievably good care of this boat. We're hoping to have the boat in the water by June the 14th. They're having a party at the marina and it would be fun to get to know everyone and celebrate the beginning of our nautical adventures. Ahoy Mate!

Friday, May 30, 2008

From long shot to chip shot

"Taking the plunge” may not be the best way to describe buying a boat; after all the main idea is to stay dry. But nonetheless Deb and I have jumped off into the deep end and decided to try and buy the Com-Pac 27. It is the nicest boat for sale on the lake (in our price range anyway) and, even if we found a better boat / price combo someplace else, the cost of shipping would make it less attractive then a boat already here.

Like always $ is a concern. We can write a check (with borrowed money) and pretend that it is not a big deal, but it is just pretend and it is a big deal. The boat needs bottom paint and batteries and at the moment is sitting on land. Someone is going to want some dollars to take their big boat-picking machine over to the stands, wrap straps around the hull, and haul the boat to the water. So some home budget items will have to be trimmed (Mac-N-Cheese on the boat, not steaks) and it would really help if someone wanted to buy a little motorcycle and pay us too much money for a pretty nice truck.

Like any deal on anything, the deal isn’t done until the paperwork is finished, money has changed hands and the item in question is actually (in this case) floating somewhere. Even if something happens and this doesn’t work it will still be a big first step up the learning curve. The fact is I don’t know anything about buying a boat, but it looks like that will change pretty soon.

Plans now are for Deb and I to meet the broker and look the boat over tomorrow morning, (before another potential buyer). If we don't spot a show stopper (or get a case of the willies) we will leave them a big enough check to hold the boat. After that I have to go do the first test flight on the Citation and its new engines / FMS / entertainment systems. That will chew up what is left of the day. So by this time tomorrow we may basically own a boat and have the Citation back in its home hangar and be ready to go back to work. Or we could pass on the boat and the Citation will be back in the maintenance hangar getting a list of discrepancies fixed. Either way tomorrow should be interesting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A baby step closer

I have traded a couple of more emails with the owner of the Com-Pac. It seems he is in no real hurry to list the thing so Deb and I are the only ones really looking at the boat. It may still be a long shot, but not a long, long shot. Odds improved when I dropped off the K-bike at the new owner’s garage a week or so ago. Two days later the check went into the bank and landed squarely in the “boat fund.” The little bike isn’t sold yet though and I’m thinking we are just going to have to live with the truck.

So my hopes for a Fourth of July launch seem to be fading a bit. Not only am I going to try and be responsible about the money part of it, (well not me so much as Deb keeping me from doing something really dumb, like buying the boat first and figuring out how to pay for it afterward) but also I may have to go back to actually being a Captain again pretty soon, though of a Citation V rather then a Com-Pac 27. The airplane isn’t quite finished yet but should be flying by the end of the week. The first week in June is already pretty full with four consecutive days of flying and an overnight in Biloxi. While there I might even indulge in a little more boat watching. But being back in the sky and on the road (a good thing) will put a dent in boat buying activities (a bad thing).

We spent the holiday weekend in Pittsburgh both visiting family and having family visit us. Amber and Catherine flew in from Cape Cod, so with Melanie also in attendance the only missing were Michael (being a Priest he tends to work on weekends) Kristin & Brian (busy moving to Indy) and my brother Tommy and his wife Deb, (still recovering from funding a graduation). The unanimous consensus of all in attendance was that the boat idea is a good one. Even my Mom likes it; at least I think she does. Maybe she just likes it more than the motorcycles? She did like the pictures of the Com-Pac I pulled up on the Internet. I think granddaughter Catherine was the most enthused but, since I haven’t learned to actually speak baby Catherine yet, maybe I misunderstood. At least she didn’t point to boat pictures and say, “No no no no no.” That was her response when I tried to take her out of the swing at the park. I take that as proof she will love the motion of a sailboat.

Speaking of motorcycles Deb and I did the one-day, 620 mile run from Monroeville to St. Louis, finding some rain and the backside of a cold front along the way. We ended up in rain suits, heavy coats, heavy gloves, and neck warmers and were still chilled; this on a Memorial Day weekend ride. I’m sure summer will get here eventually.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Go with the flow

I have been trading e-mails with the owner of the Com-Pac 27 Deb and I found a couple of weeks ago. It turns out our visit helped motivate him to get the boat ready to sell but he is just “going with the flow.” The boat isn’t listed anywhere yet so we may still have a (long) shot at that one. I smiled at his “going with the flow” comment. Deb and I have taken on the same kind of attitude. Without really trying very hard the BMW will probably be sold by the end of the week. We may have found someone to buy the little Suzuki as well. That will reduce the rolling two-wheel stock by half. The truck is also for sale though it may be a bit optimistic to think it will go very fast or for a very good price. (Something about gas prices…)

While it feels like we are more and more committed to making the boat thing happen, we are also less and less frantic about it. I will not be disappointed if the Com-Pac works out. I will not be disappointed if it doesn’t because some other boat will. No boat is perfect and unless I take complete leave of my senses, (something that Deb is pretty good about catching and preventing) no boat will be a disaster either. This is still a “beginner” boat. We will not be heading out to sea in this one and will live on it only for weekends and holidays. Big waves on the lake might make 2 feet and no matter which direction one looks land will always be in sight. Unless something drastic happens this will be the way we live for the next couple of years at least, and maybe a few more than that. (I do like the idea of buying even a first boat that we could have hauled over to the Mississippi. Once there we could get in, sail south until the water turns salty, hang a left, pass a couple of Keys, hang another left, and end up where we want. We would probably never do that, but it would feel good to have the option.)

Boats have moved to the top of my interest list, right next to motorcycles and a bit ahead of airplanes. I’m on the ground for most of this month with maybe just a couple of lessons in the Cub to get me airborne. Next Sunday I head for Tucson, AZ for four days of learning how to run the new FMS equipment that is being installed in the Citation. I suspect it will be about 2 hours of information crammed into four days of boredom. In any case it is more of the same. Maybe airplanes will move back to the top once I am back in the sky. I was telling Kristin the other day my perfect place would be living on a boat with my motorcycle parked in the lot that I used to ride to my Challenger (or Gulfstream or Falcon) job at the airport. But for now we just go with the flow, confident at the moment we are heading in the right direction.