Monday, March 28, 2011


As you have surely figured out from Deb's posts, I didn't make the trip to see our new boat since it became "our new boat." I was planning to go. Right up until Friday morning I was hoping to meet her at the station for the now familiar train ride north. But work intervened and instead of sitting in the back of a train bound for Chicago I was sitting in the front of a baby-jet bound for the Quad Cities...once on Friday, 3 times on Sunday, and yet once more today. Five round trips total, 10 times back and forth over the same 167 nautical miles. Each time we departed 8R, landed on 9, departed 9 at intersection Echo, and landed back on 8R. The route was the same, CARDS7.NEENS MZV DIRECT outbound; DIRECT DIRTT DIRECT inbound. SKRAP and SNOOP, final approach fixes for 9 and 8R respectively, were loaded into the FMS at the start of each trip since we expected, and received, a clearance direct to each to set up for a visual approach. (When a pilot is loading the final approach fix for the landing runway before he leaves the ramp, he knows the routine.)  We knew the initial headings to expect, the frequencies of each Center and when we would be handed over, and the numbers for the ILSs to back up the visual. It was like being an airline pilot again.

We bought so much gas in Quad City they gave me a free shirt! (I'll bet you don't have a $4000 shirt anywhere.) Even the weather was basically the same. We flew Friday, Sunday and snowed dog snot here on Saturday afternoon. The first flakes fell on our back yard around 1430. By 1730 there was more than 4 inches piled on the deck furniture. Sunday we were flying in the clear blue sky once again and when we landed Monday for the last time, all the snow was gone.

Much as I missed being on The Tartan with Deb, it was fun to be flogging a plane through the skies on a bit of an unrelenting schedule. How lucky is a person when their main complaint about their job is that they don't get to do it enough? Even better? Saturday morning I headed to the lake, checked in on Nomad, and spent some time talking with PIPs about The Tartan. (That would be Pretty Important People, as in friends who are going to help me get the boat down here, in the water, and step the mast.) I had planned on getting the boat here and then starting down my list of things-to-fix. But I learned that some of the work (TIG welding mostly) can't really be done here very well. A cell phone call to Deb, some consultation with Crowly's, and problem avoided before it ever showed up. A couple of more phone calls today has us aiming to move the boat the middle of next week. And it just hit me...

...we have actually done this thing! We bought a boat, Deb has actually worked on it some, and it is heading this way for final fit and finish.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boat Buying 101

Now that we've officially purchased 2 boats, I've been doing a little review of the process in my mind and I thought I would pass along a few tidbits that those of you searching for your dream boat might not have thought of.
  1. Looking at and and boatquest and any of the other multitudinous sailboat sales sites that exist is a good form of entertainment for the prospective buyer.  It does in no way reflect the actual information pertaining to said prospective boat, and the pictures in many ways resemble the glossies in Vogue - you have to remember that the model in those pictures still wakes up with morning breath and smeared mascara and probably farts in her sleep..
  2. Everything pertaining to the sale of your dream boat will take approximately 2.7 times the time you have alloted for it.
  3. Everything pertaining to the sale of your dream boat will cost approximately 1.5 times the money you have alloted for it.
  4. No one cares about the transaction as much as you do.  To you, it's your home.  To the broker it's another day on the job.
  5. Finding the right name for the boat (if you're not the 1 in 100 lucky folks for whom the existing name actually means something) is worse than deciding the name of your firstborn
  6. If you want your prospective boat to actually look like the pictures in the ad, buy one from a current or former aircraft mechanic
            The Ad picture                          What it really looked like

            The Ad Picture                          What it really looked like

I'm on the train heading back to St. Louis after spending the weekend cleaning on the Tartan and I'm happy to report that she actually does now look like the ad pictures.  The jury's still out on the name issue though.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Getting to Know You..."

I come from a highly musical background.  My grandfather directed a community choir of several hundred people each year in singing Handel's Messiah, my father directed the church choir for as long as I can remember, my mother was an accomplished concert pianist, church organist, and occasional dinner music provider at one of the restaurants in Pittsburgh, my brother is an accomplished guitar player, and I believe I may quite possibly set the record for the most musical instruments learned during the school years of any student out there.  There was always music in our house from jazz and blues to the Hallelujah chorus to acapella to brass to bell choirs.  So anyone who knows me well knows that I like nearly all music (except for country - "ride my horse into the sunset twang twang...") and that the particular music I'm listening to is generally a pretty good indication of my mood and/or task at the moment.  The drive to work is usually Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young, an intricate graphics project at work is usually Tori Amos, delving deep into the bowels of the Kawasaki ZX-14 to fix something always requires Metallica (and very loud), a drive to the boat means Tommy Emmanuel, and a visit from the grandkids means Raffi.  Thank God for Pandora!

So today I found myself shivering inside the Tartan in Crowley's boatyard polishing some bronze oil lamps while I waited for a rigging seminar to begin at their "Yachtapalooza" event (seriously - I didn't come  up with that) and due to the fact that my phone was nearly dead I refrained from Pandora.  There was no human noise,only the relentless Chicago wind battering the rigging.  For some reason, out of the most distant recesses of my musical experience pops "Getting to Know You..." most popularly performed by Bing Crosby, but more recently by James Taylor. I know that while I polished her brass I'd been thinking about names (we've definitely decided to take our chance with the sea gods and change her name), and thinking about how I was going to have to get to know her a little before the appropriate one came forward, but still, really....Bing Crosby???  Gonna have to be sure my phone's charged up before the train ride home tomorrow!

Look - No more shrink wrap!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back on the horse...

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog I got knocked off my GSXR nearly 6 months back. I haven't been on a bike since.

Years ago I suffered a major wallop which got me a couple of hundred stitches, several surgeries, one big metal rod, a collection of scars (including one over my eye that makes me look a lot tougher than I am) and a slight list (and limp) to port. Had this latest hit come from starboard my gait might have evened out. Alas, this was a port side assault as well, and though it wasn't as bad as it could have been, it was worse than it felt at first. Somewhere deep in my left ankle something is squished or bruised or barely hanging. Have you heard the, "How bad is the pain on a 1 to 10 scale" thing? Once a day or so I get a stab that is at least a 7, maybe a 7.5, so the limp is a bit more pronounced. A severed tendon in my left hand has immobilized half my little finger. It hangs out there just so; proper etiquette the next time I have tea with the Queen.

None of this matters really, life is what life is. Even if winter had not intervened there would have been no riding for yours hand to clutch with, no foot to shift with. Now Spring has sprung, hand and foot are at least manageable, and each bike that passed had me a little jealous. As a hint to how hard I fell for this sailing thing, replacement bike funds were gladly spent on The Tartan. Still, self-image is often slow to change. I have always been "a biker," and it stings a little to be without a ride. The good news is Deb is also a biker, her ZX-14 lives in the garage, and she allowed as I could take it out to play. (The woman clearly loves me, lending me her bike...)

Gearing up I was a mildly curious as to how this would go. Before the Mercedes I would have sworn that, if I saw you coming, there was no way you could get me. A bike can out-turn, out-brake and out run any car likely to be on public roads, and after 30 years and a quarter million miles I felt pretty confident I would see you coming. A left finger and foot now remind me this is not so. There are people out there who are better at crashing than I am at riding. A sobering thought...

...that preoccupied me for oh, about a block. The fact is it really isn't safe out there. Somewhere, sometime, no matter what we do, something is going to get us. Mercedes, tsunami, falling mast, whale attack, too many visits to Burger one gets out alive. Makes your choice, takes your risk, lives your life.

It was good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cleaned up and ready for new owners...

As Tim said in his previous post, we spent the day Sunday cleaning up the old girl and sprucing up some teak.    As we were getting ready to leave I took a few shots of her enjoying the sunshine.  I'll be posting a separate blog page soon with detailed for sale information but we're not going to put her up for sale until the Tartan is safely in the water.  Stay tuned...

The week before, the last of the white pelicans drifted into the marina.  It was wild - we see them for a few weeks each March and September as they migrate through, but this is the first time any of us saw them inside the confines of the marina.  They are incredible creatures.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Promises, promises

The first day of Spring always seems like a day of promises to me. Brown will give way to green, the days will get brighter, sunshine will last longer, and I will finally feel warm again. And this first day of spring was about as perfect a day as possible.

We made it to the lake yesterday evening to crash the "Burn your winter socks" party put on by Carlyle Yacht Club which is based at the other end of the lake. And they really did burn some winter socks, though it was cold enough for me to keep mine firmly on my feet. Good food, good conversation, and good folks make for a good night. Long after the sun called it day we found our way around the lake and snuggled into Nomad's V-berth for the first time this season.

The assumption is that this morning dawned on the cool side after a night of rain. I really wouldn't know since it was long after dawn before I worked my way up the companionway, but it was still kind of cool. Breakfast included talk of enjoying the warming south winds by getting in the first day of sailing. And we almost made it. The list of chores to get Nomad underway after a winter's respite got accomplished okay; fluids checked and topped, water heater lines connected, lines and sheets and various bits of rope run here and there and where they are supposed to go. But when we pulled the house cover the wood trim over the ports was really ratty. Not normal ratty, but flaking paint twisting up like matter fur, bare wood showing, ratty. A situation totally unacceptable for a boat about to up for sale. The air was dry, the temperature was nearing 80 degrees (on March 20!) making it a perfect day for the application of sandpaper and Cetol...and since we were at it might as well get the step and hatch cover handle. By the time we were done the day was pretty much spent, as was I. Nomad will remain at her winter berth for a couple of more weeks.

And I made myself another promise. The house has a brand new tile kitchen and dinning room floor, new tile kick panel around the kitchen cabinets, new carpet in all the bedrooms, redone bathrooms, excess furniture stored, and fresh paint everywhere. Why? Because it is going up for sale. Instead of sailing Nomad we spent the day getting her ready to sell, and felt pretty good about it when we got done. But I swear the next house I live in and the next boat I own (Both of which we hope will be The Tartan.) I'm going to get up every morning and say to myself, "This thing is for sale!" Then I'm going to keep it near perfect for us, not for some unknown potential owner.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And he said...

..."There is little chance we will buy this exact boat."

Today the magic green flowed and flowed again, and this exact boat now belong to us...signed, sealed, and yet to be delivered.

Just goes to show what I know. Next weekend we hope to attend a "Good Old Boat" party at Crowly's and spend our first night on The Tartan. (We really, really need to find a name for this thing!) This weekend we hope to spend a night on Nomad. That should make for an interesting comparison even though the little boat is floating and the big boat is sitting on the hard. I suppose stranger things have happened, but the fact that we own two boats at the moment, one in Chicago, one in Carlyle, one a cute little Com-Pac, the other a huge (to us) 42 foot Tartan; is ranking pretty high on the how-did-this-happen-meter. (Actually, that meter has a different name, but this is a family show.)

June 8, 2008 and little Nomad was about to hit the water for the first time. My post? "Let the games begin." Man, I wasn't kidding!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


...actually, more like playing hooky. Well, to be honest, more like getting a time out. The endless house projects finally overwhelmed my usual aura of gentle goodwill, humor, endless patience and general helpfulness. Upstairs an entire floor needed the furniture disassembled and lugged downstairs, old carpet and mat pulled, and squeaking floors fixed. Outside the sun finally shown, the temperatures finally rose, and barely an hour away a boat swung quietly on its lines needing covers removed, sails installed, and some general end-of-winter TLC. But house work commenced. The first round of heavy lifting was completed, most of the carpet was out of room #1, and painting (Ooos Noooos...more painting!) was about to commence.

About then Deb stopped and said, "You know, the rest of today is mostly a one person job, and that person doesn't have to be you. I think you should go out to the lake and get some stuff done on the boat." Now, in my defence, (weak as it is) I didn't run out of the house laughing. In fact I continued working for a while longer. However, the second time she suggested I go to the lake? Some things are suggestions, and some things are really, really suggestions. Hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to the lake I go.

There were far fewer people at the marina that I would have guessed, eight, with three of the total employees of the marina. Eventually night feel, the employees went home, two of the five (one having worked in fiberglass all day, the other grinding bottom paint) headed for the showers. The scattered three put away tools, closed up hatches, and then gathered with the two at the clubhouse. Charcoal was lit, food gathered, and soon the five were munching on steaks, potatoes, salad and veggies, all washed down with a sip of Rum & Coke. After the dishes were done four of the five headed to boats for the night, yours truly headed for the city.

This morning work commenced once again. My usual aura of gentle goodwill, humor, endless patience and general helpfulness restored.


Friday, March 11, 2011

A giant leap

Did you know, if you sign enough pieces of paper, they will give you money to buy a sailboat? We signed those papers today and soon (so I'm told) magic green will flow through the electronic ether and land in our account. Later someone will twist the current on some electronic do-dad somewhere and the magic green will flow out of our account and into another. Then we'll be allowed to haul the Tartan off without being accused of stealing the thing. How cool is that?

The rigging inspection was finished today as well. As expected it added another item to my things-I-will-have-to-fix list. A few small cracks on the spreader support brackets will need a brush of the T.I.G. applied before the mast goes back up, a task I will contract out. When it comes to welding I am a hell of an airplane driver.

With this last inspection complete we have at least a hint of the size of project we are about to rope to our pier; wiring glitches, engine mounts, gages, new sail, rigging, plumbing, and things-we-don't-know-about-yet. It is going to take a while. In fact I'll be pretty happy if we manage a few practice runs before this year's 4th of July raft up and fireworks party. And I have to admit, had anyone at the first 4th of July raft up we attended suggested we would, in just a few years, be sailing 23,000 pounds worth of Tartan 42 to the show, I would have thought them daft.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Minding the weirdness

Yesterday was one of those days that just didn’t wear well. Deb asked me several times if I felt okay. Being tired from working on the tile project and a bit bummed that the job has highlighted that my left hand doesn’t work as well as it once did, were excuses that didn’t really explain anything. The hours nurfed by slightly out of focus, turning into a day spent walking in some stranger’s shoes.

Then last night was filled with odd dreams. I don’t usually remember dreams so this morning got off to a fuzzy start as well...blurred by muffled images of wandering around very familiar airport scenes feeling lost, surrounded by once daily companions and friends who didn’t recognize me in the slightest. I couldn’t find the airplanes I fly on the ramp anywhere, and my offices had strange furniture and even stranger people filling them. Clearly a life long addiction to flying is grinding up against an insatiable desire to be a full time sailor…a brain sized example of an irresistible force and an immovable object both trying to squeeze into one small life.

With the tile job stalled just short of being finished, (watching grout dry is even worse than watching grass grow) we decided to take sails and stuff out to Nomad and spend the afternoon. We needed to get the stuff out of the house to make room for still more projects. I really wanted to get the bolt fixed in the engine (a task left over from last season) and secretly hoped that being on the boat would help clear the weirdness out of my head.

There were a few friends gathered at the club house. Instead of getting right to work we hung out talking things Tartan. (We should have taken the time to turn the heater on in the boat first, letting it warm while we gabbed. It be cold around here again.) Rumor has it at least one other person has been inspired by our plans and is thinking of bringing a 38 to 40+ foot "retirement home" to the lake to get ready to go. We should petition the Army Corps of Engineers to change the lake's name from Lake Carlyle to Lake Wanna-be or Lake Cruiser in Training. It would be much more descriptive.

Eventually we made it out to the slip. Buy mid-afternoon the heater glowed merrily, the bolt was fixed, and the batteries topped. We sat cozy and warm while the boat rocked gently in the north wind. Deb was at the end of the settee working on a project while I checked some weather for a flight tomorrow to snow country. (Damn I’m tired of snow country!) All was right in Nomad land and I was glad to be there. Going cruising is more than just daring to change the scenery. It is more than daring to change a way of living. It’s about daring to change your mind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Questions, questions...

We got a great complement on buying not just a boat, but a true yacht. But then were asked, "How does it sail?"


There are a couple of you-tube videos that suggest the Tartan 42 sails pretty well and has even won a couple of races. John K. tells me the Tartan will sail a lot like his Kaufman 47, that we will do fine, and that we will love it. (John K, by the way, has more than 300,000 blue water miles. I have about 10. There is a small chance that what he finds easy and second nature will be a complete mystery to me.) Many people have stated that all Tartans are pretty good sailing boats...though that would include the Tartan sales rep. at the Chicago show, the Broker who is selling us this boat, (Neither of whom would tell me anything but the gold-plated truth, would they?) and a bunch of people who, so far as I can tell, have never owned or sailed on a Tartan.

Here is a list of the things that have to happen before we actually try and sail this beastie. I'll start after the closing since, if that doesn't happen, I will not care how it sails.

Un-rig the boat, drop the mast, pack all for shipping...

Put boat, mast, rigging and what-not on the truck...

Get truck and boat from Chicago to Carlyle all in one piece...

Have truck and boat, travel lift and operator meet all in the same place at the same time - on a Saturday...

Get boat from truck to water...

See if boat floats...

Make sure boat has fuel, figure out how to start engine, and get boat, mast and rigging from one marina, across the lake, to our marina - (I hope to have at least one chase boat for this operation should The Tartan need a tow to complete the trip)...

Get boat safely secured to its new home pier...

Figure out rigging, build up mast for install...

Move boat to mast hoist, step mast, rig rigging, hope nothing big falls down, and get boat back to home pier...

Order new main sail, get said sail built, (stitched, sewed, assembled, whatever) have it shipped, and figure out how it goes on the boat...

Figure out this roller furler thingy, get it on boat...

Run lines, sheets and ropes all over the place - do that as many times as it takes to get them right...

Screw up courage, toss lines, take boat out on the lake...

Then I can tell you how she sails.

Video of another Tartan 42 sailing