Sunday, February 27, 2011

No boats

The club's No-Boat party was the expected good time even though there were, well, no boats. Lots of pictures of boats flashed on the screen, lots of stories of boats were told, lots of discussion of boats flowed along with the drinks and laughter. As the night wore on boat talk gave way to dancing and general marry making. Deb and I are not really the dancing types. Which is kind of okay seeing as any dancing days I might have had were left on the hood of an errant black Mercedes. On a good day I move with a barely discernible limp. Other days, like after spending the best part of a week laying down a new tile floor in the kitchen / dinning room, I shuffle along with even less grace than normal.

Our friends from the club were all excited about our attempt to buy The Tartan, though one or two suggested we anchor the boat out where the "Little Island" used to be as a kind of replacement. Many of them are regular charter sailors, well versed in sailing boats in the 50 foot range, and volunteered to help me figure out how to make 42 feet worth of boat go.(Something I am counting on.) Since most also have very nice boats tied to the docks in our marina, I suspect a smidgen of ulterior motive is mixed in with the largess. It hasn't been that long since watching Nomad try to make the pier with me at the helm raised every eyebrow that had us in sight. The Tartan may not be much of an adventure-in-sailing on our little lake, but she will surly be an adventure-in-maneuvering around the alleys of our floating dock system. And getting to the pump out? Oh Mama, no room to turn 42 feet of boat in there. Since the pump out ports are on the port side, we can drive in okay, but will have to back out. I think I'll sell tickets the first couple of tries, though chances are the gentry will grab boat hooks and fenders and then watch from a row of bows. (Something else I am counting on! I wouldn't want to put a scratch on the new-to-us-boat if they can help it.)

"When will the new boat will get to the lake," was the most asked question of the night. Truth is we don't know. This boat buying thing is a process with a goal but no schedule. The second most asked question was, now that we have "The Boat," when are we going to leave? The truth is we don't know that either. This going cruising thing is also a process with a goal but no schedule. Which is okay with me.

Our culture worships schedules. Everything is done with a clock and/or a calendar in the background. I remember being struck by this when I was very young, first or second grade maybe. We were lined up in the hall at the end of the school day, outside it was sunny and warm and all we really wanted to do was get out to play. But the bell had yet to ring. Two teachers stood guard at the door to ensure no child got outside a moment before the school schedule allowed. I knew there was something seriously whacked about the whole thing, but I was way too young to figure it out. I'm not so young anymore. Now I see grown people standing in line to "clock out," none caring to be docked 1/4 hour for leaving the premises 60 seconds before the work schedule allows, (though clearly all work has already stopped). Things are even more whacked than I suspected all those years ago.

We are working on getting the boat. We are going cruising. We will go when the time is right, but not on a schedule. The worship of schedules is something we hope to leave on the land.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Shameless Plug

OK I'm going to take a break from all things boat buying and house selling and give you all something I rarely do on this blog - a shameless plug for a truly amazing boat product. They're called Lock and Lock containers (not the most original name I agree, but it does get the point across).  They are airtight and as far as I can tell, watertight as well.  They have a silicone seal around the top edge of the lid and you snap down 2 handles on each long side and then snap down 2 handles on each short side.  The one I have has a lift-out plastic grate on the bottom and with the grate in place you can fill the box with cut vegetables and they will be exactly as fresh a week later as the day you put them in there.  They also work great for cut meat and cheese and cut fruit and a whole host of other things that cruisers are always trying to keep fresh on a boat.  They also stack, a rather handy little feature in volume-challenged boat refrigerators.  I highly recommend them to both land and water based galley workers.  Lock and Lock are the best!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time to spare...

...go by air.

Holed up in a casino in Iowa. Not supposed to be in Iowa, supposed to be in Missouri. Hard to get from Iowa to Missouri when one pushes the start initiate switch for the #2 engine of the jet and nothing happens. No "zoom-zoom." I've nursed a lot of less-than-perfect airplanes to the end of a trip over the years. But no "zoom-zoom" is a show stopper.

The six VIP types in the back of said jet, the reason we were in Iowa and supposed to be going back to Missouri? Not happy. Meetings cancelled, plans changed, scheduled shuffled, but they made it to Missouri after an all day rental SUV ride. Which was still faster than trying to get from where we are to St. Louis with a plane change in Chicago. Particularly since the weather is in the process of falling on its ass yet again. It is just starting to snow here, with 5 inches expected by morning. Replacement part for broken jet is supposed to be here tomorrow as well, so we may get home before the weekend.

Which would be good since the club's NO-BOAT party is this weekend. We get together for some food, drink, and winter stories. Those who have been to the BVIs or SVIs or other interesting (as in warm) places share the fun. I hope to hear some good advice about getting a Tartan 42 on the lake, set up for living, and on its way to salt water. Yep, that means that, so far, the Tartan deal is still unfolding. We have scheduled an engine and rigging inspection since the survey came in okay. A shipping company is on line, and we have even talked with a sail maker. (The Tartan has no main at the moment.) I will not consider it a done-deal until the bank moves the money to the seller's account, but so far it is all good.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

And the survey said...

...that this 42 foot Tartan is a perfect boat, that she suffers not a blemish or a spot. In fact she is the dream boat every sailor hopes to someday take to sea, that only an extraordinary stroke of luck could have brought us to gaze upon her decks, that we would be getting the deal of the century at ten times the price.

Well, actually, it didn't say anything like that at all. We don't have the official copy yet, but we did get a courtesy call from the Ex-Navy Commander. There are a few items that will need addressed before her hull gets wet, minor stuff and some of it spotted when we first looked at the boat. There are a host of other items as well, also expected. It is, after all, a 30 year old boat. There will be projects. There are always projects. If I believed in an afterlife I would think the first thing they hand you at the pearly gate is a "to-do" list.

Getting my head around the Tartan as The Boat has been a bit of a trip. Say "sailboat" and everyone sees a mental picture, some Platonic form from which all sailboats draw their essence. For me that boat looks very much like the Tartan, beamy, with a low coach roof, a narrow stern, and smallish cockpit with the helm well aft. For a bit I wondered if the Tartan was the "second choice," that we were being forced to give up on a catamaran just because of price. But I realized I like the idea of going down the companionway rather than through sliding glass doors. That I like the idea of a cockpit more than a back porch. One of the things I love about Nomad is that, whenever I climb aboard and pass below, I know I am on a sailboat. At least to start out I want to live on a boat-boat, not something that reminds me of an apartment. If manna fell from heaven in the form of a big stack of green-backs we would probably look at a much newer boat, even (should it be a BIG stack of green-backs) a new boat. But I think, now that the decision has been made, that it would still be a single hull and beamy. (Though I'm still kind of fond of the Jeanneau cockpit with her dual helms.)

A catamaran was "a" choice. It might even be "the" choice we make in the future. But it is not the choice for now, and I'm pretty happy about that. The boat in my head will soon be the boat under my feet. I'm glad to be bringing her to the lake were we can learn each other's ways, and of leaving on our boat when we are ready.


This has been a really good day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A boat by any other name...

It seems that many good folks have been watching our journey on this blog and are cheering us on. Others hear about the Tartan when they ask me, "What's up", getting way more than they barganed for. All have been excited for us, which is a pretty cool thing when you think about it. For some reason nearly everyone asks about her name.

For now the boat will be known as "The Tartan." It isn't that "Encore" isn't a good name for a boat, it is, actually. (Particularly a retirement - we are doing this after we did that - boat.) But somehow it doesn't seem right for our boat. So, apart from all of the other things that go along with buying a 30 year old cruiser that is on the hard nearly 300 miles away, we face the truly daunting task of finding a name. (And I thought finding kid's names difficult!)

Nomad Too (chew on it for a while, it gets better), Fanai (the Celtic word for "Nomad") and "His and Hers" (Catamaran name) were all considerations. No final decision is yet decided, but "Lapis Lazuli" is currently holding the top spot. The obvious meaning of an intense blue gemstone is a good fit, not just the color of the boat but also the hue of the water we want to anchor in some day. There is also a deeper current to the name which comes via the Eldest Daughter (philosopher, writer and poet) and her Hubby (also philosopher, artist, and a really good Dad). I'll leave the interested to contemplate what that may be, should such consider it interesting enough to pursue. Most importantly the boat is big enough for the name to fit on the hull and look good! (At the moment I have two good looking boats which, I think, makes me leagally insane.)

Lesser concerns include wading through piles of paper for the financing. (One would think we were buying a house...oh yeah, we are!) There is rigging to be un-rigged, an engine to be run, and a controlled mast felling so the boat can be packaged for the road. ("Shipping" a boat? Another first for me.) Then there is the survey, copies of which seem to be demanded by just about anyone. Ours is being done by a guy who retired from the Navy as an Attack Sub COMMANDER! How freaking cool is that? Better yet, he is likely to be nearly as anal, when it comes to mechanical things, as is yours truly. Find everything that's wrong with this boat please, so I know what I need to fix. (And no, he's not the guy who came blasting up out of the depths and dropped his sub on a pleasure boat off Hawaii.)

Since we don't have a cradle for "The Tartan", getting the timing right is really important. When she gets to her new home (temporary as we hope it is) she will need to go straight from truck to splash. So truck + travel lift + operator must all meet at the same place and time. Fun, since such place is not at our marina, (travel lift too small) and time as yet even approximated, let alone determined.

It will all fit together eventually, but for now I'm like that clown in the circus, scampering from pole to pole, trying to keep the spinning plates from falling on my head. Knowing that "The Plan" is now "The Boat" makes it a bit easier.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not leaving yet...but

Eight o'clock in the evening...

Sitting in my recliner...

Sipping on a Rum & Coke...

Keyboard on my lap, tapping through Yacht world to...wait, no need to do that anymore! Offer, counter offer, and counter-counter offer, done and dusted, offer accepted. The Retirement Project is no longer a plan, it is a 1982, 42' Tartan currently known as "Encore". (Which pretty much settles the mono v mult-hull debate. Winner? Classic plastic at a reasonable price.)

It seems a bit mystical that roughly 1,269 days ago (the date of the first entry on this blog) we started thinking about 1980s mono-hulls. Then we worked our way through newer boats and catamarans, trying to balance sailing v living v price. More than 3 years worth of diligence and we ended up right back where we started. So if I can offer any advice to those thinking of walking this same path, don't be afraid to go with your first instinct. Also, if you are seriously 5 years out with a pretty good income, look at the buy-a-boat, put-it-in-charter, sail away in 5 years option. I'm sure I'm going to loves me some 42' Tartan...but a 5 year old ex-charter boat can't possibly be any more beat than a 30 year old any kind of boat. (Having bought Nomad and spending the last 3 years working pretty constantly on her, I'm going to make the claim of having some idea of what I'm talking about.) If we wanted to wait 5 years, we would look at it. But I don't think I can keep Deb on the land that long.

So that's it, the trigger has been pulled. A lot of work remains, and we'll be land lubbers for a while yet. If you are near Carlyle, IL anytime in the next year or so, stop by and admire our ridiculously large boat for such a small lake. You can even laugh a bit if you like because, by damn, I think we're going to make it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lazy Sunday

From the north shore to the south shore, ice.  From the end of the breakwater to the inlet of the marina, ice. Even most of the slips, ice. Hard to believe the air temperature was hovering around 60 degrees.

Little Nomad rested easy at her winter pier, bow pointing north. Layered in a house cover and boom tent she had shed most of the tons of ice and snow that have buried the Midwest these past few weeks. Much has happened since the last time we spent a day on her; the trip to Bahamas on a 47 footer, the Chicago boat show, and the second trip to Chicago to look at the Tartan. We have begun the final prep-work to put the house on the market. As soon as The Big Boat is safely on the lake, (be it the Tartan or some other, as yet undiscovered potential home) Nomad will be on the market as well.

I thought our modest Com-Pac would seem kind of small when we boarded her again, but it wasn't so. She seemed just right for what she is, and what she has been to us. We brought the battery charger on line, turned on a heater to warm up the inside a bit, open some hatches to change the air, checked the bilge, and inspected the lines for chafe; all of which took about 10 minutes. Then we just stretched out in the cockpit, let the sun soak into our winter-weary faces, and listened to the armadas of snow geese as they took over the lake. The crush of activity surrounding preparations for pulling the trigger on this project has already started, but today was nothing short of a perfect lazy Sunday on the boat.

Nomad's slip is still in the ice

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Between the tides... slack water. For several months I felt like the tide would eventually carry us out to the ocean on a new-to-us catamaran to start a new way of living. Pretty exciting, a thrill even, but maybe a little further into the future than we had hoped. Sitting by the fire late at night I would sometimes question the wisdom of such a leap, but could not come up with an alternate plan that seemed to work. Then along came last weekend's boat show and the current seemed to change a bit, leading to this weekend's adventure.

We lingered over breakfast this morning, the coffee was bold and hot while outside the snow was falling on Chicago yet again. Back at the room and packed it finally occurred to us to check the schedule for the second trip to see the boat. There was 7 minutes to make the train. We were still on the sixth floor of the hotel. Seven minutes later we stepped out onto the platform with the train just coming to a stop. Perfect timing.

Crowley's boatyard is closed on Sunday. We were given a number to call so the guard would be around to open the gate for us. Turned out it was the wrong number. Since we were already on the train there was no real choice but to continue. Walking to the yard takes 15 minutes from the end of the line. The guard knew nothing of our plans, but he was just pulling through the gate when we walked up. Perfect timing again.

Set against this cosmic serendipity was the semi-disinterested attitude of the boat broker. If I were trying to sell you a yacht I flat guarantee you would be picked up at the station, dropped off at the boat in play, taken to dinner, driven to the hotel, picked up the next morning, and taken back to the station with maybe a parting gift to see you on your way. No chance would you be left stomping several blocks though 20 inches of snow to an empty boatyard, even if it was Super Bowl Sunday. (Then again I am a pilot pretending to be a sailor. If I've learned one thing on this adventure it is the boat world and the airplane world have virtually nothing in common.)

But it would be stupid to let a walk through the snow stand between us and what might be the right boat. So stomp we did. And climb. And poke, prod, pry, move stuff, shuffle other stuff, and in general try to envision the Tartan as home, with everything we own in da whole wide world stored in her hull. Not a catamaran, not a sleek modern boat with all of the goodies, this boat; a little rough around the edges, some miles under her keel, nicked here and crazed there with outdated systems. (A LORAN for Pete's sake!) A boat that has huge potential but is a fair bit of work, and a serious pile of cash, away from being "our" boat...our home. She is also a boat we can move to our lake and learn to make home before starting out on a new way of living, and she may get us on our way sooner rather than later. Is this the way the tide has turned? I guess we'll ride it for a while and see.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pictures as requested

But I'll let Tim do the pros and cons list.  These pictures are from when it was in the water last year.  Since it's currently under shrink wrap and sitting in 2 feet of snow, our pictures from today wouldn't be very viewable.

Very seaworthy companionway

Nice cockpit, good Lewmar winches

Salon area.  Two settees, and a pilot berth over the port setee.

Pilot berth over the port settee

Bookshelves and lockers over the starboard settee

U-shaped galley.  Three burner stove, oven, spice rack, folding counter extension, salt water foot pump.

Nav Station

Aft cabin starboard berth, hanging locker, and small seat

Main double berth on the port side


Head.  Has a separate shower with a seat just out of this picture to the left.

And now just a few of our own pictures from today:

 They cleaned a path to the boat just for us!
I think we might need some 2-way radios to anchor this boat or some really good hand signals!

 I'm ready for the night watch...

What did I get myself into???

1. Affordable
2. Big enough to ocean cruise but small enough to (barely) fit on our lake till we do that
3. Lots of room for grandkids
4. Really well-built, sturdy boat
5. Not too far away
6. Shoal draft for both Carlyle Lake and the Caribbean
7. Fits most of our criterion - modified fin keel, skeg rudder, high bridgedeck to the companionway, lots of handholds, good toerail, cutter rig, U-shape galley, separate shower.

1. Only has one hull
2. Winter weather is preventing an adequate survey and/or sea trial
3. Only has one hull

Blind Date

We're sitting on the Amtrak on our way to see the first really serious prospective for The Boat.  We've poured over pictures, and read all the details and assessed her to be worthy of meeting.  The 7-day course to get to this point began with the heart-tugging look on Tim's face as he stepped foot on three or four of the gleaming hulls last week at the Chicago boat show, his pilot and mechanic's eyes taking in the lines of each design and the view from the cockpit, even sans mast and sails.   Less enthusiastic, and having already determined the winner of the monohull/cat debate was the cat, I followed along, ever keeping watch on his hands as they absentmindedly traced the edge of the nav station and caressed one of the dual helms.  When we got to the Tartan 4400, though, I was unexpectedly swayed...just for a moment...the quality in this boat was noticeably better, the parts more durable looking, the interior construction of greater precision.  The layout was thoughtful, the galley safe.  As we walked around the boat show the rest of the afternoon I began to think to myself  "What would it take to convince me to go with the monohull instead of the cat?  After a little mulling over the issue and a few detours to the various vendor booths, I decided that the monohull would have to be half the price of the cat to get me to move that direction.  Clearly none of the boats at the show fit this bill.  On to the hotel, the laptop, and, and after a few clicks I see a 1982 Tartan 42 for sale in none other than Chicago.  Price is, you guessed it, exactly half of the cat we had looked at just a few weeks before.  I spent an hour and a half perusing the internet reading things about this boat and looking for anything that would talk me out of it.  I couldn't find anything.  I put all the details into our points system spreadsheet that we had designed early on in our sailing career, and it fit nearly all of our requirements.  Modified fin, skeg hung rudder, U-shaped galley, good handholds, good toerail, seakindly rating, on and on it went.  I sheepishly looked up at Tim and told him about the boat.  Interesting to think about he said, and before long the idea that we could put the boat on the lake (although it would be ridiculously big for our lake), work on it until we were ready to retire, and get to know her sailing characteristics, began to take shape as a doable possibility.  So here we are, on our way to see her and see if she might indeed be "The One".   Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Lot of Cruisers wish they had ice..

...and I would love to give them some.

And the white stuff that looks like snow on the ground?  Not.  It's an inch and a half of sleet that looks and feels for all the world like someone dumped the contents of a glass bead blaster on our street.

Time to look at my favorite picture again so I don't lose hope.