Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Get out there, go cruising...

July 31st 2012

Position N 27° 22.225’.
               W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL

The vista from our stern (taken using Photosyth)
I recently read on the Nordhavn Dreamers website where various ‘Dreamers’ were writing their top 5 requirements that would be on their boat...when they bought one! All people who eventually ‘go cruising’ dream. Visions of grandeur are the beginning and over time the reality of actually getting going looms. Some continue to dream striving for the unattainable to fill their minds eye picture of what is needed to realize their goal. Some come down to earth and make the necessary compromises, actually buy a boat and ‘get out there’. My point here is not to cut corners in the important stuff such as all the safety equipment but I am saying that it is not necessary to overload the pilot house with more toys than are necessary for good navigation and have the super duper entertainment system etc. I am suggesting that it is better to only ‘work’ to provide the necessary equipment and not to ‘work’ indefinitely to acquire too many toys to play with. By striving for the ‘perfect’ will delay going cruising and you will miss the wonderful adventures, people and places one meets...get out there and do it earlier rather than later. Money is not everything and working and working for it is the biggest burden standing in the way of becoming a cruiser. Just go! You will make do with what you have and have a great time; cruising does not have to be super expensive, quit work, learn how to maintain your own boat and machinery and be happy! The transition from ‘dreamer’ to ‘doer’ sometimes needs a ‘kick’ and fortunately it is sometimes a friend just giving you a push but unfortunately it is sometimes one’s own health or that of your spouse, sometimes it is letting go of work or a business, whatever... once you have taken the step I don’t think there is one cruiser out there that isn’t happy they took the plunge. Time does run out, cruising is an active lifestyle, just owning a boat, as we do, climbing, twisting crawling and the general activity a boat causes gets you, and more importantly, keeps you fit. I lost 21 lbs in the first year just living on our boat! I should qualify that by explaining that I am 5’11½”, started at 210lbs and am now 189lbs. We made ourselves a promise to outfit the boat from income and not touch our income producing savings. We are extending our leaving due to equipping the boat with some additional essential ‘stuff’, a new life raft, a redundant autopilot and some more batteries and solar panels but we do live aboard fulltime and, although not cruising very far from home port at present, are living our dream. The point here is we bought the boat we liked and could afford, sold the house and all the trappings and moved aboard. We took the first big step. This plan has worked for us and has given the time we needed to get the boat ready for ‘us’ (all owners have their idea of how the boat should be equipped, furnished etc.) and get used to living aboard. Yes, it is a ‘shock’ moving from a 3,000 sq. Ft. home to a small boat but also very freeing.

Now I want to talk about life in general; I have just listened to the news headlines plug from NBC, yes, we still have television on board. While we are at the dock we are ‘plugged in’, what it was advertising were the headlines for the next news programme...the Foreclosure debacle, the Election battle and ‘low blow’ political campaigns we have to put up with. Wow, how interesting. Courtesy of my friends Larry and his lovely wife Jo we have a modest rent to pay (they own our slip), no property taxes, no cable or water, they are included in the rent and a small electricity bill. Very few bills equal no stress and more funds for having fun and doing the things we want. At this stage of my life, I can’t speak for the Admiral totally, she voted the current guy in, I don’t care which president we have, both leading candidates, I think, are borderline and I think for the first time I will be voting for ‘someone else’, how sad! The point here is let it go folks follow your dream and make your own news. It is not hard, just have some confidence in yourself and develop your self preservation skills. Even if you don’t have any now they will come, just remind yourself that every plumber, diesel mechanic and electrician is a human being, you are one too, you can learn as they did especially if you have to, branch out become independent quench your sense of adventure go boating, coastal, off shore anywhere just go, it really is fun and liberating. The experience is like nothing else, the sea offers a freedom that is both attainable and sustainable. Enjoyable would be an understatement.

In October last year, just before we left Oriental, NC, we had the bottom of ‘Partner’ coated with Petit Trinidad antifouling paint, this month is the first month that we have had to get a diver to go down and clean off her bottom. He reported that it wasn’t too bad and that the sacrificial anodes (zincs) were fine. In the warmer waters of Florida and places south from here I find that one year for the paint is about it. One might get lucky and stretch that to 18 months if you are moving around a fair bit. Water passing over the hull bottom does have a cleaning effect especially if the sea is rough and the boat is heaving and doing a little pounding. Obviously sitting in a marina, as we have done primarily, is the worst. I am, with the help of the diver, going to stretch ours to the spring when I will get a fresh coat of paint. This timing will coincide with the beginning of summer when the water is at its warmest and the marine growth is at its worst and ‘Partner’ also leaving the dock to go cruising!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

‘Partners’ Anniversary!

July 6th 2012

Position N 27° 22.225’,
               W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL   

Well, tropical storm ‘Debby’ has finally, finally left the State. About time we all say. Funny how life is all a trade off, during Debby’s stay in the Gulf of Mexico rain was the problem lots of it! The storm was located in the NE corner of the Gulf of Mexico and just didn’t move! This meant that the heaviest rain bands, which typically are to the right side of the storm, just kept coming continually drenching the whole State of Florida. Had we still been living in our house I would have been clearing debris, palm fronds and branches from our large oak tree plus emptying the swimming pool constantly for four days! Living on ‘Partners’ the list of chores is quite different, constant adjustment of mooring lines and fenders to ensure that we did not have any collisions with our dock plus allowing for the rising and lowering of the water level. No leaks either, I was quite amazed as all boats leak, don’t they? All the hard work (labour of love) that I put in on the re-caulking of the teak deck seems, mainly on the foredeck, worked! We experienced no leaks and one thing that Debby did provide was plenty of water and a good test for leaks. I actually received a compliment for my efforts from the Admiral...wow! 

Obviously the water level was not quite the problem as on shore, we float! The only realization to me was that if we had a direct hit from a major hurricane then the storm surge would have created a different problem...the height of the pilings in relation to the rubbing strakes on ‘Partners’. I could visualize us sitting on top of a pilling with the mooring lines, which are attached to the pilings, disappearing under water or even worse lifting off the pilings and setting us adrift! This realization will make us consider an alternative location if and when the ‘big’ one comes. Some boats did leave the marina during this event and there may be some merit in anchoring in protected Sarasota Bay. The advantage of anchoring in a sheltered corner of the bay would have been no mooring line or fender adjustments, in fact very little concern. The ‘trick’ would only be to find good holding ground so the anchor would not drag. In retrospect ‘Debby’ was no more than a ‘blow’ and a rain event, I don’t want to play it down callously as I know some dirt dwellers have suffered badly and have lost much due to the flooding in low lying areas, so our heartfelt feelings go out to those people but it can get worse, if this event had been a hurricane, as opposed to a tropical storm, the wind could have reached triple digit speeds which would have exponentially changed the whole picture. In a full hurricane, however, with up to 150 mph winds the whole scenario would be quite different and we would get the boat hauled and chained down on the hard. Our insurance company assists in the cost of hauling the boat in the event of a named storm being forecast to 'hit' in our vacinity.  

Thank you to the many friends who called us to offer us shelter during ‘Debby’. We really appreciate the thoughts and kindness and there may be a time that we will need to take one of you up on an offer, on this occasion we were fine and were totally comfortable on Partners. She is our home so we just have to take the rough with the smooth; it is not all dining on the back deck sampling the tropical breezes and raising a glass to the stars...oh, where was I! For the wannabees out there reading this stuff it is mostly dining on the back deck sampling the tropical breezes and raising a glass to the stars and in exotic places to boot.  

Another bye product of the storm is, as a result of the surge of water pushed ashore, I have noticed that the water in the marina basin is much clearer than it was, so there are other natural benefits as a result of nature’s wrath. I suppose the flushing vitalizes the waterways and bays, brings in fresh nutrients and fauna, that with only the normal small tides experienced in this part of the world (around 2 ft), would not normally happen to the extent it did with this tropical storm.  

We are approaching ‘Partners’ first anniversary (under our ownership) and my birthday the 6th of July which quite coincidentally share the same date. We have had a wonderful year and think that we have both adjusted well to a simpler and less materially oriented life. We have transited into becoming excited about planning our future cruising trips and destinations and are excited about the people we will meet and the new places that we will visit and can explore. Preparing and equipping the boat is our main focus plus reading boating books and cruisers blogs digesting all the knowledge we can to prepare ourselves. There are always many subjects of focus, for example we intend to fish but do not yet posses any fishing gear. It is fun researching the subject and making purchase choices decisions to add to the list. I was just reading another cruisers blog last night and he talked about catching a blue fin tuna weighing 25 lbs, his description moved to sautéing slivers of the tuna in olive oil, my mouth was watering as I read further.  They vacuum pack and freeze the fresh fish, can you imagine, that fish probably produced 15 lbs of steaks. One would only have to catch one of these fellows once a month to eat really well. What this cruiser does is run his fillet knife along each side of the fish to take the meat and doesn’t even bother to gut the fish; he calls it fillet and release! A Foodsaver® vacuum sealer is essential in the food department as it allows the maximum amount of food to be stored in the freezer. We ditch all the packaging and vacuum pack everything. 

Today is Sunday July 1st and a big day in Sarasota with the
annual Offshore Grand Prix being held off Lido Key, thousands of spectators will be lining the beaches to watch this event, including us! It is essential to arrive early and stake ones claim. Some of the super boats reach speeds of 160 mph and the noise, well to say deafening really is not an exaggeration. It is fun and we will be there to feel the thunder! The EUFA Euro 2012 final is today as well so after the race it is back to the boat to watch Spain & Italy battle it out, there is more, after that a friend of ours is having a birthday bash so off we go to that...wow sounds like a busy day.  
Today is my birthday! This picture is how I spent my special day...just look at that water.
July 2nd...we survived, what a full day; we had a great time yesterday standing in the Gulf of Mexico, chest deep to stay cool, watching the powerboats barrel on by and then watched Spain defeat Italy in the EUFA Euro 2012 final. Our youngest daughter is dating a Spaniard from Majorca so as England was eliminated in the quarter finals my allegiance switched to Spain. Our friend Bill had his birthday ‘bash’ and all went according to plan...a great day! 

In closing this blog entry I am including the following:- 

The words below were written by someone I admire, Scott Flanders of ‘Egret’ a Nordhavn 46’. Since 2004 I have been following Scott’s blog ‘Voyage of Egret’ which documents Scott and his wife Mary’s circumnavigation of the globe. He inspired Lavinia and I and spurred us on to making our dream of a cruising life a reality. I am including some of his “kick you in the butt” writings. When reading this you can substitute the ‘Voyage of Egret’ with ‘Travels of Partners’ our message is the same and is all in the interest of inspiring some of you to make the move... 

“You know, ‘Voyage of Egret’ isn't free. It comes at a price, sorta like a head tax. The price you pay isn't in Pesos, Euros, Dollars, Kroner or anything linked to the gold standard. The price is your peace of mind knowing Out there someone is doing The Deal living The Life and you aren't. So in your competitive type 'A' minds there you sit in your office, at home or where ever you happen to be that isn't Out and you fantasize and wonder what it would be like. For the majority, fantasize and wonder will be all you will ever do because you are stuck in a Rut so deep you think there is no escape, or worse yet.....gasp.....don't care. Yea, I know, you have Reasons. Lame ones, heard them all before. Yea, I know, you are Different. Sure. Well, OK. 

So let's look at a few Reasons if you are a Rut Boy or Rut Girl. 

Pesos. Go brokerage, go smaller, go coastal, go sail; it's all good, just Go. 

Aging parents. TELL them what Your plans are, TELL them you love them and TELL them you will see them as often as you can but these are Your Years and need to Go. They may whine up front but will respect your decision and of course will tell their friends; MY son/daughter the Boater is in xxxxxxxxx. And so on. 

The key word here: TELL, don't Ask. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission. Don't think your parents are different. They are just people like you, only a generation older. They will get over it; just like someday your kids will Tell you their plans and you may not agree. Their/your choices will be: Get Over It and be supportive......Pout. 

Children. When the youngest leaves for university, You are free. Don't think they are any different than you. They have their own minds and can't Wait to escape, just like you at their age. And if you aren't there to hold their hand if they have a hiccup, oh well, I guess they will just have to figure it out instead of mommy and daddy doing it for them. Besides, you're always a phone call away. No problem.

House. What will we do with the house? It is just a House. That's all. Figure out what is best for you. We are talking about Your Lives. A house is just a house. Get it? 

Pets. Take them with you. So what if they scratch the floor of your precious, or shed, or whatever? We're talking about Your Lives and this isn't a rehearsal. Carpet, throw rug, sweep, dinghy them ashore, do whatever because it is no big deal. Pets also open a lot of doors. Pets, like Boat Kids are a magnet for other cruisers. And Boat Kids, Skippy or Fluffy get treated better aboard than they ever did ashore because you don't have shore side distractions and have Time for the first time in your lives. 

However there is Hope. The fall boat shows are just around the corner. Boat shows group boats so you can look at a range of different types of boats but more importantly, check out the boats You are already Dreaming about. Another advantage of fall shows is, well it is fall. In the brokerage market, owners have most likely cruised their last summer season in the boat and are ready to move on. They know winter is coming, sales slow down, dockage doesn't stop and Its Time. So deals can be had. Fall shows still leave a bit of season left for initial shake down cruising before winter, unless you happen to buy on the U.S. east coast then you can head to the Bahamas for the winter. And Bahamas cruising during the winter is great. You can fish, swim, dinghy explore, or anything you wish. You may also have children, parents or guests fly into Nassau or Marsh Harbour and stay a bit. Take the Nassau folks 30nm to Norman's Cay and let them explore the low tide white sand flats and pick up sand dollars to their hearts content. Take the Marsh Harbour guests 12nm to Hope Town and let them wander the 1800's Loyalist's streets and eat conch fritters and drink Kalix (Clicks) beer on the waterfront. It’s wonderful. 

And of course, fall shows groups the builders. They are all (always) hungry so again, deals can be had on new builds, particularly in this market. 

We only know about the U.S. East Coast fall shows. We will attend two this year. The first show is Newport, Rhode Island around mid September. Second is the Annapolis Powerboat Show, mid October in Annapolis, Maryland, and the third is the Biggie, Ft Lauderdale, the end of October. We will make the Newport and Ft Lauderdale shows. Even after all these years of first being my vocation and now cruising we still can't get enough.”