Friday, August 17, 2012

Go- No go

One of the first things you learn when you get your pilot's license is how to make the go-no go decision. The go-no go decision is used in many places in flying - first off, in the weather briefing, where (especially for us VFR pilots who can only fly in the clear blue sky) you must extrapolate the weather man's best scenario for your flight path by perusing multiple forecasts, prog charts, and radar screens. After deciding it's a weather go, the next go-no go decision is made at the preflight. You carefully examine the exterior of the plane for its airworthiness, fuel status, instrument readouts...if everything is OK then you're a go. As you power up and begin your takeoff, you have a point at which you must decide to take off or abort, a point which is different for each type of aircraft. And again, as you land, you must decide by a certain point if you need to go abort the landing and go around.

While the go-no go decision in aviation is a much less subjective decision, regulated by the Kinder Gentler FAA's concern for your welfare, the go-no go decision in cruising is a much less obtrusive one, and highly personal. As we've worked our way through the last 5 seasons of preparation these are the elements that we have determined we need to check off the list in order to utter the famous, "It's a go Houston".

  1. Money. I've heard from many of the sailing blog writers that I follow that you can cruise on a lot less money than you can live on land. I believe this because we live on our boat a good part of each week. I've compared the Cost of Cruising posts to our expenses on the boat and they seem to correlate.  That being said, we feel we need to have enough money in savings to cover a major expenditure, such as a new engine, should we need one. At our age we don't want to spend time sitting stuck somewhere because we don't have the money to fix something broken on the boat. And we all know how frequently that happens. We have a good retirement nest egg, but we're trying not to delve into it until we near the end of our cruising years, as we surely will physically not be able to handle a large sailing yacht at some point in the future. We would also love to be able to cruise a couple years without working in order to get our feet underneath us and determine that we do actually like and want to do this.  I have read multiple stories of people who really want to continue to cruise but have had to quit and go to work because they ran out of money. This is fine for people in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, but for us, we just don't have that many years to cruise and don't want to spend a lot of it working, especially since it would probably be much harder work and for much less pay "Welcome to Walmart" is not something I want to hear myself utter in this lifetime. Tim has repeatedly also made the point that we've been poor before in our married life and we don't want to be poor again. So what's the magic number??? Well, it's about the amount of equity that we have in the house, but due to the whole economy falling flat on its ass we can't seem to sell the house. Renting doesn't help because we need the cash. The house will go back on the market early in the Spring and we'll be holding our collective breath.
  2. The Boat. Everyone says, "The boat will never be ready. Go now." While it's true that the boat will never be perfect, in our humble opinion there are a few things that no sailor should head offshore without. These include a solid bluewater boat (check) with a good set of sails (check), good rigging (check), an autopilot (none yet), dinghy (not yet), dodger (being built as we speak), SSB or Sat phone (not yet), AIS (not yet), multiple backup GPS units and/or chartplotters (check), some sort of power generating system such as a Honda generator, solar panels, wind generator, or combination of all of the above (not yet). There are many things outside this list that are desirable, such as a fridge, freezer, or combination (have one but it's old and power hungry), some which we have and some which we do not. All of them depend on money. See point #1.
  3. The Coast Guard. Since we sail in an Illinois bathtub where you are never out of sight of land, there are a lot of bluewater legalities that we would have to accomplish before leaving. Completed paperwork such as ship's radio licences, updated flares, recertified life raft if we decide to take it, re-armed life vests, etc.
  4. The House. In order to even attempt to sell the house, we first have to finish de-toddler-izing it from the year that our grandkids lived with us. Everything below the 4 ft line on our walls has to be painted, the landscaping repaired, and the carpet cleaned. It's a little hard to do this while working 4 tens and going to the lake every other available minute.
  5. The Purge. When our kids and grandkids moved in with us for that year we did Purge Stage One. I've managed not to accumulate anything new since they moved out, but we do need to accomplish Purge Stage Two. Takes lots of time to do ebay and craigslist. See point #4.
So while the mantra for cruisers who are out there successfully cruising always seems to be "Go Now", it's going to be a little while longer before we can make the call to the transport company, unless we win the lottery or some kind millionaire reader wants to take on a charity case. Since I doubt that either one of these will happen, we will diligently work at our list, add daily to the cruising kitty, and pray like crazy that someone really wants to buy a terrific condo in the CWE of St. Louis so our go-no go decision will be a resounding "Go".


Allan S said...

Just a quick note on AIS; I heard and haven't confirmed yet that commercial vessels tune out our "class b' AIS signals therefore we only need to buy a much cheaper AIS receiver. Remember, I havn't confirmed this...Allan

(BTW, The capcha below is barely legible)

Deb said...


I just had a long-time cruiser tell me that they have had very good luck with ships responding to them on Class B. We had planned to only have a receiver, but I stumbled on a transceiver deal through Active Captain that I may pick up for just $75 more than the receiver. If you don't belong to Active Captain it's well worth a look-see.

On the Capcha, if you hit the refresh button a couple of times it appears that they get progressively easier to read. Unfortunately that's a Blogger function and one I can't control.