Monday, April 26, 2010

Are you leading a life of quiet desperation?

Henry David Thoreau wrote:
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation".
I remember reading "Walden" in high school and, truth be told, I remember really struggling through it, thinking it was pretty darn boring. But (sigh) I was a rebel without a cause back then and even if I did enjoy or find meaning in Mr. Thoreau’s incredibly profound observations in those woods, I would have denied myself that pleasure anyway. HOWEVER...I do recall that line, relatively early in the book, and it has reverberated throughout my life and the decisions I make ever since.

Ever since I can remember I have tried to swim against the current - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  I have an innate, very natural drive and thirst for adventure.  Wrapped up in this is a hunger to learn, to grow, to share with and connect with fellow human beings.  I want to live a life that is anything but ordinary and, lucky for me, I have found a life partner who has this same goals. I have theories about where this fire and desire in me comes from, not the least of which is the fact that my parents are dreamers themselves (my mom moved from England to the US alone and not knowing a soul at 18, my dad is in the process of designing his next custom aluminum boat which will take him and my mom around the world in retirement) but, really, the main motivation is best summed up in that quote by Thoreau.

So many people are not free.  I am not talking about religious, political, or cultural oppression - that is another post all together. I am talking about the souls of human beings all around us. So many people not only don't follow their hearts, but don't even know their hearts.  Our cubical mates. Our neighbors. Our family. Our friends. People don't laugh out loud with their mouths flung open for fear of seeming foolish and fail to love freely and passionately for fear of a broken heart.  They don't speak their minds for fear of sounding stupid and don't honestly share their feelings for fear of being rejected.  People don't cry in the arms of another for fear of appearing weak and, perhaps the worst of all, people don't follow their hearts for fear of failure.  We are all guilty of these things - but the question is to what extent? How free are you? How much does your soul long for something that it is missing? How quietly and desperately do you seek to laugh, love, share, speak, cry or dream freely?

I know that not everyone can (or wants to) quit it all, hop on a boat and sail off into the sunset - and not everyone needs to. Freedom comes from within. It is in your own heart. Thoreau simply went to a cabin in the woods. Where will you find your heart? Where do you need to go to set your soul free?

With love,

Brittany and Scott

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stripping our boat NAKED

I thought that maybe combining the words "stripping" and "naked" might get your attention.  But really, we are seriously stripping the heck out of our boat.  This past weekend Scott, my AMAZING uncle Bob and I got A LOT accomplished. 

Here's a list of what we did, complete with pictures!

1)  Removed the diesel tank cover (now that the engine is out, we can do this and figured that we should check out the status of our fuel tank while we can access it).  This required hours of me chipping and sanding away at layers upon layers of epoxy.  So much for that manicure I got last week.

2)  We pumped out ALL the fuel in the fuel tank.  We also got a good look inside - which was surprisingly, pretty clean! (We cleaned it thouroughly after - hooray for Simple Green!)

A little sludge, but not as bad as we thought!

3) Scott removed the steering pedestal.  Because we're going with cable and chain, as opposed to hydraulic, we will need a brand new one.  We think this one will look nice in the entry way of some lucky homeowner...anyone?  Anyone?
(Guess who got to chip away at all the nasty 35 year old gunk that helped secure it to the deck?  Yep.  Yours truly!)

Steering pedestal anyone?

4)  We (okay, Scott) removed the AC 110V wiring which, on our boat, was done with basic home wiring, NOT appropriate for a boat! Buh bye! The jury is still out as to whether we will have 110V at all - since the US is the only place we'll be able to use it...and the US is not where we're staying, so...

Look ma!  No more AC 110V!

5)  We removed the final (very stubborn) backing plate for our last sea-cock in the head.  Again, lots of chipping with a hammer and a chisle.  I have mastered this fine art.

6)  Scott removed all the icky 35 year old foam insulation from the entire engine compartment (apparently the old stuff would be a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty microorganisms once we get in humid, salty climates), we are going to replace it with this snazzy, shiny, modern stuff!

Hi!  I'm pretty, shiny and NEW!

7)  We removed all our old instruments and wiring - ready for our snappy new ones which we are in the process of selecting.  (In this photo, they are still there - imagine empty holes where ALL those panels once were).  We also discovered upon removal that our engine panel - the one 2nd from the left in the photo - was melted in some spots which is very bad.  Good riddance!

Bye bye oldies! You had a good run.

8)  Oh - and how could I forget!?! We UNCOVERED OUR BOAT from that awful white shrink wrapping that made working on her a pain in the booty (no ventillation, always having to hunch over to move forward, never seeing the light of day, did I mention no ventilation?)  I swear I heard her sigh as we ripped it all off. 

Free at last!  Free at last!  God Almighty I'm free at last!

All in all - we had a very productive weekend. As Scott likes to say, "We gotta get it all out before we put it all in" - so we're making headway. If I've learned one thing about Scott throughout this process - it's that he REALLY, REALLY enjoys ripping stuff apart.

Next Thursday, our boat is going to be shipped to Retner Marine who will be installing our new engine and new steering system.  This is a HUGE project and while we'd love to do it all ourselves, we simply do not have the time if we plan on getting out of dodge by September.  So, while it's going to cost us a little (okay, a lot) more - it will buy us more well as the peace of mind that it is going to be done right.  Fingers crossed.

Lots of love!

Brittany and Scott

PS.  A *HUGE* thank you to Uncle Bob who REALLY helped us more than he knows!  You're the best Bobby!
Pumping out fuel is fun!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Boat Work is Messy

Working on a boat sure does make a mess!  Here is the main saloon of our boat before and after "Boat Work". 
(The first pic is looking back from the V-berth, the latter looking forward)

Must be a sign of progress....right? ... Right?

Brittany and Scott

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A little mid-week Inspiration...

Been very busy these few days, so I haven't had time to post about ALL the good stuff we got accomplished on the boat this weekend (but I will!).  However, I wanted share a lovely quote:
One ship sails east and another sails west
With the self-same winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sail and not the gale
Which determines the way they go.
As the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life,
Tis the act of the soul that determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Brittany & Scott

Friday, April 09, 2010

We're getting press!

Okay, it's not that big a deal at all, and has little to nothing to do with our 'plans' - but our engagement photos are being featured in an online Michigan magazine.  I think this is pretty cool, even if it is more because of our awesome photogs at Studio 6.23 and less because of our mugs.  They make us look much better than we usually do.  We *heart* Ben and Mindy.  But they do mention our sailing plans so it is kinda relevant to this blog...right?  ;)


No, I'm not getting all fuzzy and romantic on you.  K.I.S.S is our newest motto.  It stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid" and there is a LOT of wisdom in this snarky little acronym. 

We are getting down to the wire.  While we have made headway on a lot of projects (if you count "headway" as having conversations, information gathering, making plans about plans, and lots and lots of flipping through the West Marine catalog), we still have a LOT to do.  We are still expecting to leave in September and when we say this to people we meet around the yard or at West Marine, lots of them raise an eyebrow, shake their head (some even dramatically wipe their foreheads, you know, for impact) and say, "you've got a lot to do in a little time".  Oh, we know...we know.  But (*universe, hear me now!*) we ARE leaving in September...because if we don't, well - we will have to endure another Chicago winter and we just don't want to do that. 

So - what does this mean for us?  We are going to have to prioritize.  We are going to have to choose between the must haves and the wants.  We are going to have to sacrifice.  Luckily for us, we are going to be cruising along the east coast for a while and many of the unfinished projects can be completed as we go.  But we do have a list of essentials.  The least of which to plug the 6 holes in our boat.  A boat's gotta float, you know.

A friend gave me some advice (it's nothing new - but he articulated it in an email so I can directly quote him here):
Focus on some important things, make it sailable, and pretty reliable, and get out there. Otherwise you'll spend tons of money and be sitting at the dock.
In other words, K.I.S.S.  And that is what we are going to do.  We will NOT have refrigeration, we will have simple, straightforward electronics, and we're not going to get caught up in making our boat "perfect" - because we all know that is a loosing battle.

Here is our immediate "punch" list which will make our boat "sailable" and "reliable":
1) Install new engine (in progress - thanks Retner Marine)
2) Replace through-hulls (in progress, old ones are out, new ones bought - just need installation)
3) Replace steering system (in progress, Edson has outfitted several of our style of boat with cable and chain steering and we have the parts list - just need to purchase and install)
4) Update electronics (in progress, we know what we need - have the part numbers - just need to get it ordered and get it all in)

These are the MUST haves.  Yes, we know they are significant. Yes, we know that they will take time. Yes, we know that people usually tackle projects of this magnitude over a couple of seasons.  Luckily for us our boat has "good bones" - she is very solid, structurally sound and impecably well-maintained and we have an incredible support network of family (namely; my dad, my uncle Bob and my uncle Bill) and there is a lot of comfort in that. 

Now that spring has sprung here in Chicago - it's go time!!


Brittany & Scott

PS.  This weekend, we have LOTS of fun projects going on - I'll tell you all about it next week!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Is there a boat contractor out there?

We are in the process of re-powering with a new engine (Yanmar - uncertain of model).  Our 35 year old Volvo Penta was just not going to do the trick.  So my dad has offered us the new engine as a wedding/ "get the hell off the dock and outta my hair so I can focus on my own boat" present.  Yeah, he's pretty awesome.  However, buying a new engine for a sailboat just isn't that easy.  First, there are engine mounts (where the engine bolts onto the bottom of the boat - everything on a boat needs to be secured TO the boat in the event of a knockdown) - each engine has its own "foot print" and adjusting these mounts for a new engine involves more than I care to get into in this post.  Then there is the exhaust; currently our exhaust is on the starboard side - but our new engine has a port side exhaust manifold. Then there's prop shaft rotation.  Ours is left, new engine is right.  There's more, but you get the point.  These "little" issues aren't impossible, they just make things more complicated.  Nothing (and I mean nothing) on a boat is turn key.  Nothing.  But, this is what makes it more fun.  Kindof like a rubix cube.  And boy are those fun! ;)

Numerous times, Scott and I have dreamed how nice it would be if there were a general "boat contractor" - someone you paid to execute the project at hand and put the right people in the right place.  We watch a lot of HGTV (home and garden television) and like to watch those shows where they flip houses.  Not to say that flipping a house is easy, but the fact that you can find people who can do whatever work you need through a simple Google search makes us a little jealous.  There are experts EVERYWHERE.  But then we realize that landlubbers will have those same people at their disposal if something goes wrong.  And herein lies the fundamental difference between those at sea, and those on land.  We will not.  If our plumbing fails - we're going to have to fix it.  If our engine dies, we're going to have to service it.  If our boat leaks, we're going to have to find it and plug it (*universe, please don't let our boat leak! Thanks!*) There is no 24 hour service in the middle of the ocean.  We will have to be self sufficient and, most importantly, we will have to be the experts on our boat.  On everything.

While this fact is sobering - it is exhilarating at the same time.  We are going to learn so much.  We are going to be challenged in SO MANY ways.  We are going to see what we're made of.  And, as an added bonus, we'll know exactly what our boat is made of. 


Brittany & Scott
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