Monday, April 26, 2010

A good fit

I suppose I could bore everyone to tears and just list the work that Deb and I got done Fri/Sat/Sun, but that's no fun. I will say that the interior of Nomad is livable once again and it DO look good, if I say so myself. Though there is a thing or two left to do in the interior, major focus will shift to the outside of the boat so we can get her in the water as soon as possible. Nomad up on the hard is a thing seriously out of place in my life.

"Out of place..." It is an undercurrent that tugs at my shoes more and more. I'm sure some of it is due to still shaking off the winter, the boat still on the hard, weekends at the lake still hit or miss with my schedule. But I suspect part of that current runs much deeper.

Deb and I are charmed and have a life in St. Louis most of the people on our poor battered planet would love to wake up to each morning. There is absolutely nothing bad about this place we are in and suggesting any different would be even more boorish than a dry list of work accomplished. But sometimes I wonder if a good place can still be the wrong place. Maybe it isn't a matter of "good" or "bad," but simply a problem of fit and proportion. My hammer fits in the 4th drawer down in my toolbox, it won't go in the screwdriver drawer.

I think Deb and I are feeling that St. Louis, a good place with a good life and a lot of good memories, is also a place that doesn't fit as well as it once did. A day sail doesn't get us far enough off shore, a weekend isn't long enough to get to Cape Cod or New York, Annapolis or Charleston. (Can't sail from the lake to to those places anyway...bummer.) Flogging our days away so bosses and shareholders can get a little richer while we can pay an endless parade of bills (admittedly for things we do enjoy) doesn't seem as good a deal as it once did.

I am a bit out of place, but then some of you knew that already.

p.s. I went back to the marina Monday mid-day, stayed and worked until this (Wed) morning. The interior refit is complete, all that remains inside the cabin are a few repairs, repairs that can be done at the dock. I also pulled the winter cover and ran some of the sheets, just so she would look less like a project boat and more like a boat about to go back into the water.

Monday, April 19, 2010


As you can tell by the frequency of posts on the subject, dealing with accumulated and precious "stuff" is probably the most pressing issue when one is transitioning from a land-based life to a boat-based life (see Stuff and Such Oct 07 as an example). It's probably the most asked question when people find out we're planning to do this, because most folks just can't imagine living without their 42" flat screen, 3 cars, 8 sets of dishes, 15 sets of linens, 6 junk drawers and the 14 appliances that litter the 300 sq ft kitchen..."How are you going to live without all your stuff?  What will you do to keep occupied?"

We've spent the past week wandering around New England visiting grandbabies, living out of 2 suitcases and 2 back packs, traveling by plane, bus, train, and subway, and I can most assuredly tell you that I didn't think of all of the "stuff" at home once.  (More posts with many pictures to come as soon as I can grab the time.)  Cruisers have a mental framework that they deal in, a framework that has pared things down to what is essential to living, to what will enhance the essence of life without detracting from it.  The few possessions that we have left are carefully picked to sustain the physical life and to remind us of the important things...diaries, logs, a few photos, a few books that speak to us.  I've been mulling this all over once again while watching my granddaughters dig in the sand in Cape Cod and while watching my grandson sleep in his mama's arms on the subway and I was trying to figure out just how to put it into words that the non cruiser would "get" as my son-in-law says.   When we got home late last night I was getting caught up on the sailing blogs I follow while waiting on laundry, and one of the cruisers put it in better words than I can so I'll just let you read hers to understand.  As a little background, they decided to move back on land for a short time while their teenagers went to school and had a little social time with other kids.  They had just found a house and put their total possessions (that amounted to a few suitcases) into it, when someone broke in and stole everything (see The Ultimate Purge).  Recently the police found some of their things as well as the thieves and the police asked them to write an impact statement for the sentencing.  Their experience has moved me beyond words and may help you to understand that while we are ditching a huge amount of our physical possessions, there still remains the need too have some tangible contact with past events and people we love.  Here are her words:  In Our Own Words.

And, if you're wondering at our classification of ourselves as "cruisers" when we're only living on our boat in the summer on an inland lake?  Well I guess you've figured out by now that we've already left in so many ways.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hell's gate

I am sitting within walking distance of the famous "Hell's gate" just off Manhattan Island, New York. "Walking distance," since I am inland visiting family, and they live just a couple of blocks from Astoria Park. Standing at the fence in the park has one looking directly out on a churning channel of water that looks to be in wicked motion either north-east or south-west, depending on the state of the tide. Watching the surging and twisting whirl pools and eddies makes it easy to see how this stretch of river got its name, and has given me a new appreciation for horse power and LWL. On her best day, broad reaching with her little 9.5 hp lung huffing for all it was worth, little Nomad still couldn't muscle her way against that current. (Not that the wind could ever blow that direction!) It has also given me a new enthusiasm for mastering the tide tables.

For you see, some day in the not-too-distant future, I hope to sail a boat on those tides. Northbound, (in the spring) toward Cape Cod and southbound, (in the fall) toward the Bahamas, or maybe Bermuda, someplace warm anyway. New York, though, will be a stop along the way. We hope to spend tomorrow visiting a marina or two, getting some initial idea of what will be involved in making the Big Apple a serious lay-over.

I think we might have many years of reasons to spend time near here, the kids love it. In just 24 hours of visiting I can see why. I am completely charmed by their neighborhood, their little New York apartment, (which is still much bigger than any boat Deb and I can afford to live on) and the life they are building. Though it would never work for me, for the first time in my life I understand how someone could spend their whole lives living in just one place. The river near-by may be "Hell's Gate" but this is as cool a place to live as I have ever run across.

p.s. On Sunday morning we walked to the playground for one last romp with Christopher. Low and behold a sailboat appeared in the water between Mill Rock Park and the point of land that holds Hellgate field. Bone in her teeth and running on the ebb tide she swept under the Triborough (Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge looking as if she was doing every bit of 10 knots. In just a few minutes she was past 20th Avenue and out of sight. Whoever was on the helm made it look easy.

P.s.s. I actually consider myself more of a C.L.O.D; cruiser living on dirt. (See above.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The One

A co-worker of Tim's had been single for a long time and a lot of their time in the cockpit was filled with his conversations about the state of his dating life.  Each new girl that happened along seemed to be "the one". A few weeks ago we attended his wedding to a lovely bride, and from the look in his eyes she was indeed "the one".

I feel a bit like this sometimes as Tim and I look at boats.  We have a list of qualities we'd like to have in our final choice and even a scoring system to try to determine how each boat stacks up against it.  All well and good for a mechanical unit, but after listening to all the old salts at the marina expound on the virtues of various sailing traits, hulls, berths, heads lifelines and engines, I keep coming back to the same idea in my head, the one that says I need to love this boat.  A modified fin keel, good solid dodger, bulkhead table, and separate shower are all well and good, but ultimately there has to be a connection, a smile on my face when I see her at the dock, a knowledge that this is home.  We haven't found "the one" yet, but just like Tim's coworker, I think you'll see it in our eyes when we do.


One nice thing about boats.  They're never boring.  The past few weeks have been a long list of "firsts" but perhaps the most memorable one was today.  Tim did his first line splice and it turned out awesome:

OK so you might not think this is such a big deal, but all sailors know that this is some sort of a rite of passage.  Cruising vacationers generally do not learn how to splice a line.  Voyagers, on the other hand, realize that this is a valuable skill to know, and most perfect it.  (New sailing term for the week: fid - noun  Nautical.  1. a wooden or metal pin for parting strands of a rope.)  

As you have by now realized, Tim has not been flying much, and as a result has been filling his time with all things nautical.  Another first this week - he built a new section  of cockpit grate to fill the vacant spot left by removing the captain's seat at the aft end of the cockpit.  Here it is during the building process.  I promise to have pictures of it finished and installed.

Add to the list of firsts the headliner replacement last weekend and the side panel replacement and the seahood re-bedding and the new Dyneema lifeline making and at the moment I guess I'm pretty satisfied.  Now if we could just get her in the water...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Boat parts go ON

Baby Michael has arrived and is safely at home. Deb and I head to Cape Cod next week to meet our new Grandson, then to NY to spend time with his cousin. Little Nomad will be on her own for the next couple of weekends. We didn't quite get all we wanted done this weekend. (Note to self; it takes 4 cans of headliner adhesive to finish a 27 foot sailboat, not three.) Still, the V-berth, starboard side and forward port side of the headliner are installed, leaving just one aft port side piece and the head to do. Deb thinks two more weekends worth of work will see Nomad afloat once again. I'm thinking more like three. (We have committed to being the committee boat for the club race on May, 15. We may have to borrow a boat!)

Fresh New Headliner in the V-berth

Out of glue. Have to finish the next visit.

Even though the interior of Nomad still looks like a workshop, the fresh headliner makes it look like a new workshop. A big job that was more than worth doing. It was also kind of fun; contortionist, sweaty, stinky chemical, fiberglass-fuzz-in-your-eyebrows, I-really-hope-I'm-not-screwing-this-up, kind of fun. But I wouldn't hesitate to do it again, if needed, on our next boat. (The "not-screwing-this-up" part benefited from Deb's expertise working with fabric and, oddly enough, my years of gluing de-ice boots onto airplane wings. That's a cross-over skill I never expected!)

Temporary workshop

For the next two weekends my job changes from "boat-hack" to Grandpa-T. I suspect the urge to get on a boat full time, to spend summers off the coast with my girls and their families, will get a bit of a boost after this visit. Maybe next summer?

(I just found out our committee boat gig is in July, not May. So we won't have to borrow at boat after least I hope not.)