Sunday, July 29, 2007

Schools out for summer!

Twenty-five months ago I made some major changes in my life. Within a two week time span I started a new job with Thermo, moved to Albuquerque from St. Louis, started Univ. of New Mexico’s Exec. M.B.A. program, and moved in with my girlfriend whom I’d been seeing long distance for a year. Seriously, what was I thinking?

I feel like I am now closing a significant chapter in my life. I am sitting in the Albuquerque airport having just attended my very last class for the MBA program. Taking stock today, I live on a boat in Kemah, TX, I broke up with the girl I moved to Albuquerque for four months ago, and now I’ve completed the MBA that has been a constant thread running through all of the changes I’ve made in the past few years tying them together and providing the backdrop to my life.

My head really, really hurts this morning. One of my group members invited the entire class over for a blow out to celebrate. There was much over indulgence. I think saying goodbye to those people and spending a day with Kris, the ex, this weekend has set my mind to spinning and I’ve got a bit of melancholy that has settled over the occasion. This weekend brought up some old questions concerning my relationship with Kris. They are unanswerable and I probably shouldn’t even indulge them, but I can’t help but wonder if things would have worked out the same if I hadn’t taken so much on? If I hadn’t ended it so close to the end of the MBA program would the time that has been freed up allow us to reconnect like we had before I moved to Albuquerque?

I do want to try and understand how and what happened more so that I don’t repeat the mistakes I’ve made in my next relationship. A lot of people have asked me about the sailing trip since the break up. Most have wondered if it is still on. I should be pretty clear about this. I don’t want to do this trip single handed. The idea of traveling the world by sailboat seems tailor made for a couple. However, if I don’t find someone by the time I am ready to go, I am still going. It means setting the boat up a little different, but all can be done safely. And who knows who I might meet along the way.

I am probably in the worst physical condition of my life coming off the MBA. The time to do the extra work had to com from somewhere and it seems to have come at the expense of personal health and personal relationship. I am going to spend the next several months trying to rebuild both areas including going to the gym and starting to spend time with family and friends.

I suppose I’ve kept myself so busy with work and school I still haven’t really thought about how I’ve landed where I am. It’s time to put the focus on being who I want to be instead of just being a busy person.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Goals

I’ve gotten some good work done on the boat over the past few weeks, but I’ve still only scratched the surface. The other thing that dawned on me is that I’ve only had the boat out of the slip once since I moved aboard. That’s unacceptable. Granted the one time I had it out my transmission went bad, so it has been a little difficult to do much of anything. Regardless, I’ve got to start sailing again and soon if I have any chance of making a circumnavigation. I’ve never single handed Romance and I’ve got to learn. Does that strike anyone else as an odd thing to say, “Single Handed Romance”?

My transmission should be shipping back to me next week for reinstallation. This means I’ll be mobile again right after I finish my last class for school the weekend of the 27th. I’ve got three trips in mind.

First, I need to do some single handing in the Bay to get used to Romance again. I’ll need to get the autopilot installed, a GPS mounted at the helm, and learn to service and bleed the diesel. I’ll use the weekends to anchor out at Red Fish Island and break the boat in as much as I can while still within 10 miles of Clear Lake.
Second, I want to use Labor Day and maybe one other three day weekend to sail down to Port Aransas. It is about a 24 hour sail and will give me my first glimpse of sailing Romance off shore. I still don’t know how she’ll handle larger water. For this I need to make sure I’ve got my EPIRB purchased and I’d like to get my Life Raft replaced. There are several oil rigs out there so a course in Radar wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Finally, I am going to Mexico. Well, almost. It’s a 50 hour sail from Galveston to South Padre Island where my Marina has a sister facility. I figure if I can take a full week off that will give me nine days to make the trip down and back leaving 3 or four days for preparations or repairs as needed in South Padre. This trip will be the first multi day passage I’ll have made. It’s the closest thing to a shake out sail I may get before the real thing.

I need goals to drive myself. Motivation comes in waves and I want to start planning now so I can take advantage of the next one. School is almost done and I can concentrate my weekends of fixing up and sailing the boat. It is starting to feel a bit more real just thinking about sailing the boat again instead of treating her like a floating condo.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Clean Diesel Fuel and Movies

I had some guys over to the boat today with a big centrifuge to suck out the fuel and clean it up. I also installed a 4 in inspection port to try and get a better feel for the state of this 30 year old steel tank. Lots of exterior rust, but she seems pretty solid after all. Where I cut the port the tank is a little over 1/16 in thick. I won't bother replacing it until it really does spring a leak.

On another note, a couple of the sailing blogs I follow both recently published some really cool movies. I've included them below. I need to get a video camera and some editing software.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Progress, decisions, and cash

I’ve really dug into the boat projects over the past few days. I think it has something to do with not wanting to do the readings for my last semester of the MBA program or my expense reports for work. Apparently I am extremely productive when I am procrastinating.

In the past for our five days I’ve started sanding down the bright work on the boat, cleaned some of the grime off the engine and checked the freshwater impeller, topped up the battery bank with distilled water, pulled all 300 feet of chain w/ 3 anchors off the boat to prep for hot dip galvanizing, replaced and rewired my DVD player, and scheduled guys to check prices for both the replacement or repair of the Westerbeke 4108 and fuel tank.

I am still scared that I’ll get out somewhere remote and the rusty old iron fuel tank will spring a leak sending all my fuel to the bilge. That and with 8700 hours I am terrified my engine will give up the ghost. I still don’t think I can afford to rebuild or replace the 4108, at least not in the states anyways. I may be able to do it where the labor is much cheaper in Latin America. However, there is a lot of sludge built up in the fuel tank that has to come out. A good internal cleaning may well put a hole in it if it has rusted as thin as I think it might have. The guys are coming at 12:00 tomorrow to take a look and help me figure out the best way to go to ensure I have a good, clean fuel supply without breaking the bank.

My transmission should be coming back in another week or two. I am hoping now that I can complete some of the projects I’ve started in time to enjoy the boat over the Labor Day weekend. If I can learn to fully service the engine and get my autopilot installed by then I think the old girl will be ready to have a little bit of fun. I think we both need it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Over analyzing

I’ve been known to beat dead horses. There are many times when I’ve thought myself right out of a project instead of leaping in and wrestling a solution out of it. While I was working to find a transmission I pretty much lost all motivation to work on other projects thinking it might be the death of this venture. However, I’ve come almost full circle with nothing but a piece of old sand paper. It seems that jumping into the deepend is the only way sometimes.

I was standing on the dock with one of my neighbors looking at the “potential” of my boat. Next thing I know we are talking about the various merits of varnish and cetol for the teak wood work on the boat known as bright work. Romance has multicolored wood at the moment. Parts are grey where the natural wood has weathered and parts are brown where the old finish is still hanging on to the wood. Overall, the result looks like the boat has been abandoned and is a real eye sore. Anyway, next thing I know I have an old piece of sandpaper I found in my tool kit and I am seeing how hard it is to remove the old varnish. To my surprise it came right off and the wood underneath was beautiful.

Once I realized that project might not be too bad I took the same said piece of sand paper over to my old anchor that is covered in rust. Who knew it would come right of with 120 grit paper. Tomorrow I am buying an orbital sander and going to town on my woodwork and anchors. I’ll varnish the wood and paint the anchor for maximum effect. This old boat might even start to look pretty again.

Happy 4th everyone. Hope no one lost a finger this year. Or toe, Dad?