Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vanity vs. reality

So the good news is I got a call from Blain who is doing the compound buff and wax on the Mistress. He said he is amazed at how much better the boat actually came out than even he expected. Unfortunately, it will be another week before I can get down to check it out. Apparently knocking off 8 years of oxidation from a hull and deck that haven't been waxed can make a difference. I can't wait to see her. Price for this little jobbie? $650. Beautiful boat...priceless.

On the other hand, unlike my experience calling service shops in CA, no one, and I mean no one wants to touch this 6 man Givens life raft of mine. The fact that it hasn’t been serviced in a decade doesn't bode well for the result anyway, but the fact that no one even services them anymore should tell me something. I guess it's time to pony up and shell out the dough for a new life raft. Something I was really hoping to avoid.

Due to my budget restraints I am finding my self becoming pretty stingy. Not that I live elaborately to begin with, but eating out 2 - 3 times a week certainly isn't out of order. To manage the budget to make this trip happen I am really going to have to start living the life now. Letting all "disposable" income go to the boat. Call me Mr. Frugal. First step, quit smoking. I had my last one about a week ago. I am chewing on some gum for the occasional nicotine fit, but so far so good. Time to start rediscovering the culinary delights of Raman. Cheers everyone.

Monday, November 20, 2006

If you are not a member of sailnet, you should be.

This thread kind of got my blood up. Maybe I am crazy for ditching a great job at 30 with no reentry plan or source of income while cruising, but I can no longer imagine doing anything else. I also can't imagine working at a job for someone else during the most productive years of my life and not living for myself until I can retire at 68. Whatever drive has a hold of me is powerful. I think I would do more damage by not listening than by succumbing and taking a chance.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Planning to go sailing.

Every year there is a race called the Harvest Moon Regatta from Galveston Island to Port Anarnsas, TX. It's about a 150 mile offshore treck and takes from 20 - 30 hours depending on the conditions. Kris and I have missed this years run, but are gearing up to make our own. The total trip will be around 180 miles one way by my charting from Clear Lake to Port A. This will be a pretty good test for us and the boat as neither one of us has sailed a 24 hour passage before. We will still be in pretty close to land providing some margin of safety, but we will have to keep a 24 hour watch as the Gulf is cluttered with both lit and unlit oil platforms. They are pretty well marked on the map and between the GPS with our waypoints plugged in and the radar I think we will be fine. I've put togheter a short list of projects that I will check off before we take off.

Boat Projects Prior to Offshore Sale to Port Aransas

1. Spend day onboard with J.D. Sellers. Need to better understand fuel, mechanical, and electrical systems on board before going offshore. i.e. AC Panel, access to dipstick port, water maker usage, battery volt meter configuration, etc.

2. Tear down, clean, and grease old Barient Winches (x4).

3. Have EPIRB battery replaced. Expired 3 years ago, but tests OK.

4. Have Givens 6 man life raft inspected. May need to be replaced or in need of extensive repair.

5. Replace Roller Furling line. Very worn with UV damage.

6. Set up Jack Line configuration for offshore sail.

7. Replace Cowl vent lost overboard.

8. Test run dingy and inspect all fuel lines, cooling lines, and spark plugs on outboard before departure.

9. Acquire CO2 charged life jacket with harness attachment for jacklines.

10. Acquire all USCG required safety equipment. i.e. noise maker, flares, throwables

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Our first weekend on the boat was a great one.

Kris and I flew out to Kemah this past weekend to get to know our new boat, Romance. We woke up early on Saturday to the sound of the wind early howling through the rigging at about 30 mph. We were both a little concerned about going out that day, but went ahead getting the boat rigged and ready for a day on the water. This is nothing like the charter boats we’ve handled to date. All the rigging is older and the ketch rig means that the cockpit is cluttered with standing rigging, dingy davits, and of course that mizzen mast right in the middle of the cockpit. Regardless, after going through the systems the night before and all the running rigging that morning we were sure we could handle her as long as we could get out of the slip without holing her on the dock.

Pulling out of the slip turned out to be a simple matter. We let the wind take the bow and came around almost 270 degrees right into the fairway and headed for the channel. While we were prepping I remembered one of the comments that J.D. had made during the sea trial. He hadn’t put diesel in the tank in almost three years. That comment combined with no fuel gage and a home made dipstick that didn’t inspire confidence meant we had a date with the fuel dock in high winds. We found a place on the way out and a young hand on the dock who gave us a hand getting secured. I came in a little hot trying to maintain steerage against the wind. It took another 15 minutes prying on the deck fill cap that was betraying just how long it really had been since that port had been used. We dropped in 30 gallons of fresh diesel and headed out to the Galveston Bay.

Once clear of the bridge we decided against the main and rolled out the big 140% Genoa Headsail and went “jib and jigger” with the mizzen. She was well balanced and sailed at a steady 6.5 – 7 knots in ~15 – 20 knots of wind. Not bad for having half the sail area resting comfortably on the boom. Under sail we realized that the autopilot worked, but only when activated by the hand remote that necessitated running a cord from the interior companionway across the cockpit to the helmsman. Not the best of scenarios. Next I Kris realized just how much fun it was to use a 30 year old #26 Barient Winch on 140 Genoa in a good breeze. I though she was making it harder that it really was until I took my turn. All of sudden we are both seriously considering the upgrade to self tailing winches. I may give these at least one shot at a rebuild, but for short handed sailors self tailing winches make a pretty strong argument. Overall, I think all of us, Kris, myself, and the boat did fantastic for our first day on the water.

On our way back in we headed to our new slip in Waterford Harbor Marina on Pier 13. I don’t even thing we had the bow cleat on before we heard the neighbor yell, “Hey, new neighbors!” About 10 minutes later there were beers in hand and K and I were being introduced up and down the dock. Waterford Harbor is about as far from a remote cruising anchorage as you can get, but the welcome we received really made it feel like we had already started our trip. Pier 13 is full of great people, some live aboards like the Razorback’s in the slip next door and some are weekend warriors taking full advantage of the friendly docs to ring in the weekends. Kris and I have landed in a great spot and already seem to have made some pretty good friends.

Sunday found us tearing the boat apart. Well, at least taking a seam ripper to the hearts sewn onto the Sail Canvas. Once Kris had those off she immediately started taking down random bits of coral that had been glued to the walls of the boat with lots of little fish magnets. Pretty cheesy and the interior looks incredibly better. The whole pride of ownership has kicked in and although she is still a pretty boat, I want to bring Romance back to a much more presentable state. In that vein our neighbors pointed me towards someone who can compound wax the hull and a couple of ladies who do wonders for the bright work. She should be looking good in no time. Now if I can just earn the money needed to start the functional refit.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It’s been a tough couple of three weeks…..

I haven’t been home much lately and when I have been home it seems like I’ve been locked in my office working. Word has kind of gotten out at work that I am pursing this dream and I am a little concerned the powers that be might think I am slacking off chasing down boats when I should be working. The real truth is I have never worked harder in my life. Knowing how much work I need to have done on this boat and the strength of the desire to make this trip happen has me chasing every sale and every dollar I think I can bring in. So much so that I have all but dropped out of the MBA program and I can’t even find the time finish all the closing paperwork on the boat.

Oh yeah, I am buying the boat. We haggled a bit more and I got the seller to throw in his custom fiberglass dingy and 15 hp Johnson outboard motor. Not exactly the financial break I was looking for but it will still save me several thousand dollars finding and buying a new dingy. I am really excited about finally moving into the outfitting stage and leaving the boat hunting stage behind. I never dreamed that buying a boat would be more complicated than buying a house, but either I am not getting all the info I should be or there are just a lot more details to get a boat purchased. There have been a lot of documents overnighted lately, but if I can get the vessel title documentation in order and fedexed back to the company tomorrow I think we can close on Friday. That is trickier than it sounds as I am writing this on a flight to Reno for a software demo tomorrow (Thursday) and have a Finance exam of Friday to boot. Nope, haven’t started studying yet. Save that for the flight back home.

I did find one new reason to love my job other than the money. We had our user group meeting in San Diego this year and I had a couple of customers and colleagues that wanted to go sailing. Fortunately, Marina Sailing of Southern California has a marina down there so I was able to pick up a Hunter 420 on short notice and take out 8 customers and colleagues. It was really a tremendous day. 15 – 20 knots of wind and seeing the joy on someone’s face who has never been sailing before reminded me of my first time on a boat and how hard the bug bit. This was the first time I has skippered anything over 32 feet and also the first time I had taken anyone out sailing other than my girlfriend and myself. Seeing the effect sailing can have on people makes me want to introduce as many people to this sailing thing as possible. Sailing has magic in it. It still seems kind of crazy to me that I didn’t start sailing but four or five years ago and I am buying a boat to sail around the world.

I was trying to remember the other day when the idea first hit me. Oddly, my Mom was visiting me when I was living in Dallas not long after I had finished grad school. There was a Discovery Channel show on that detailed a new analytical instrument that could submerge for 4 or 5 months on end collecting data. They called it the Slocum after that famous sailor. I did a little research and picked up his book Sailing Alone Around the World. That led to looking up a sailing school in Dallas and then to finding the Project Bluesphere website. Needless to say the urge to go sailing snowballed to where I am today. A big part of the impetus came from the difficult transition I had from Grad School to the corporate sales world. Something just didn’t fit.

I don’t know where I picked it up but I have always been wary of success. Only because success in the wrong field is far more dangerous than failure in a field in which you belong. Sales came easy to me and the money has been good ever since I started. However, I know that if I continue this way of life I’ll end up a hollow man. That isn’t a price I am willing to pay for wealth. So be careful, even if you are good at what you are doing, if it isn’t something you love, stop. Get out. Leave it behind and do what you desire to do.