Saturday, March 2, 2013


There is some small hope that this will be the last weekend of snow and ice on the boat. The 10 day forecast has the temperatures up in the 50s before the next week is out. Items on the to-do list include pulling and re-bedding at least two leaking ports, (One of which leaked on Deb's new cushions ... argh!) trying to re-bed the hatch glass yet again, (I would love to hit the lottery just so I could toss these sorry bits of engineering and try something better), and working under the cockpit installing self steering gear. Each of these projects requires that the weather break before they can be started so the forecast is good news. This doesn't mean I have no projects in the works, the cabinet for the bulkhead table is well under way in the city garage. But here on the boat I don't have much going on, which isn't all bad. Last night we slept for nearly 10 hours! Deb's excuse is she is still getting over a flu bug. I don't have an excuse ... just being a bum.

At the moment I am still being a bum while Deb toils away straightening out the aft cabin for the soon-to-be-started rebuild. My excuse for typing and not straightening is that the aft cabin is too small for two to work in at the same time. I'm not very skilled in the straightening up department anyway. Still, planning and drawings will start pretty soon and I'll get to pitch in.

Those of you already gone probably worked this out already, but the constant pressure of the to-do list has me wondering about the transition from the life on land to that of being a sea gypsy. At first glance having the boat for several years, living on it as much as possible while getting ready to go, would seem a nice "half-step" from land to water. At second glance I'm starting to think it isn't any kind of a step at all. Kintala, and Nomad before her, were (are) mostly large work projects. At the dock living on the boat is just living in a very small cabin. We have AC power, shore is just a single step down off the deck, the anchor can't drag, and we don't do anything different because of weather. We don't navigate, communicate, or see anything we haven't seen before. Every hour sailing, coving out or rafted up (which is, I imagine, at least a tiny bit like cruising) is dwarfed by hundreds of hours of working on projects locked in the marina. We only spent one night on the hook during our Catamaran experience in Pensacola. (Sixty knot winds and 6 foot seas, sure ... anchor watch, sure ... but still only one night.) The week spent sailing around Long Island was a series of long day sails punctuated each night by a stay at a municipal pier. Only the trip with John involved several days in a row on the boat and away from a dock. (And, truth to tell, I think we have spent more days out in a row during long weekends here at the lake, than we did on Quetzal.) In these last 5+ years I have definitely turned into a boat mechanic, but I don't think I have become a sailor.

From what I have read it seems one must be both a boat mechanic and a sailor to be a successful cruiser. In that light maybe I have about half of what I need. I have to admit that, as we get closer to pulling the trigger on this thing, the half I don't have is starting to loom large. Knowing what I know now I'm still not sure I would have done anything differently. Nomad was a joy, the time spent with her out on the lake was fantastic. My girls went with us, grand kids came along, we had some small adventures and a lot of fun. I wouldn't want to have missed those times at all. And Kintala? Well, she is the Retirement Project now. We are fully committed to getting this boat out into big water and seeing what we see.

So on the one hand I'm starting to wish we had had the resources to put in a lot more blue water miles than we did, miles with people who had gone this way before, miles to show us what we need to know.  On the other, well, I've sure read a lot of books written by people who, if I am honest, seem lucky to have survived. For the most part they had boats much less capable than Kintala, knew next to nothing about keeping the boat running, had little or no weather and navigation experience, and taught themselves how to sail by pushing off the dock and tugging on various ropes to see what happened. Quintessential jumping-into-the-deep-end-to-learn-how-to-swim types, they managed. I guess we will as well.


SV Pelagia said...

ahhh, but you will know your boat well!

Latitude 43 said...

You only read about the "lucky" people. The people that fail miserably never create a blog, or they have one with the last post containing a link to their boat for sale.
We never spent much time doing a boat makeover. We would just sail, and maintain. Might be why our boats were never the entertainment centers of the dock. I would say we have more miles than calluses, but life up north gave a very little sail window, so we made the most of it. Now I'm in Florida toughening up my hands.

You guys will be fine out there, with one exception. You will be the go to guy for any mechanical issues on any boat in the anchorage. So keep working, we're watching.

Latitude 43 said...

I might also add, that if we could make it this far, you should have no problem. Most of it is motoring anyway :(

By the way, you are doing some nice work there.

Deb said...

David and Michelle,

You are so right about knowing the boat. I think I'll have every inch of her memorized by the time we leave. This can only be a good thing for sure, but we both want to have her sailing characteristics down pat as well!

Deb said...


Tim gets discouraged because we have so much to do on the boat, but what we're doing is basically a complete refit, and if you did a refit non-stop it would be months of all day every day. We're just doing it a couple days at a time on weekends so it's dragging on forever. The lake has a lot more water in it this Spring so hopefully we will get to sail more and anchor out more until we leave.

Latitude 43 said...

Don't get discouraged. It will never be exactly the way you want it. I fell into that mode too but eventually you just say enough and go with what you got. I give you credit for having the energy to do all that work while holding down jobs. It will pay off.

Deb said...

Paul, between the two boats we have been in a state of constant refit since we started this project. Routine maintenance and repair are burried in those hours somewhere, but I have no good feel for what is "refit" and what is "normal". My nightmare is that "cruising" is just endless "refitting" happening in places where I don't have enough room, tools, or resources to get it done right. At least one couple I follow is living that bad dream, holed up in a foreign country actually rebuilding bulkheads in a new-to-them boat, bulkheads some idiot removed to make the boat lighter and faster for racing.

Latitude 43 said...

Wow. Removed bulkheads? I've emptied water tanks, removed anchors, and made everybody take x-lax the day before a race, but I never modified the design. Yikes, you are right, what an idiot.

I guess we just plan for the worse, and hope for the best. Bring plenty of spares, tools and know how. The cruising community will fill in the rest. Lot's of helpful people out there.
We were hardly out there long enough to have too many breakdowns in systems, and I am not really qualified to advise. I suppose as long as she floats, steers, has sails and a compass we are all good to go :)

MH said...

Thank you for sharing not only your experiences but also your doubts and frustrations. As a couple who came to sailing later in life and who are experiencing lots of frustrations with our first boat, it's comforting to know that others have moments of doubt as well. And it's also nice to see a blog from someone who is NOT currently sailing in the tropics !
Maria and Patrick on SPRAY

TJ said...

MH, thanks. This blog is partly so our family can keep track of what we are up to now, partly as a record for our own use, and partly so others can learn from our mistakes. I guess any major life style change will come with some doubts ... as much as I can I try to ignore them and just keep moving along.