Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sometimes you just meet someone who makes you go "SIGH"

And for us, it is this man, Walt Genske, owner of C & E Marine

I would be lying if I said that, at times, Scott and I don't feel completely overwhelmed with ALL the "stuff" we need to get done, accomplish, consider, learn about, decide on, and buy for the boat.  Then - there is all the "stuff" we don't know about, haven't considered, didn't think about, or just plain overlooked.  It is actually pretty bewildering.  And everyone (and I mean everyone) has ideas, opinions and input for us.  It is really hard to keep it all straight.

Then Walt Genske shows up.  And like a squeegee to a dirty window, he clears it all up.  And we let out a collective "sigh".

Okay - I don't want to put too much pressure on the guy or make him sound like a Saint or anything, but when he came to our boat this past Sunday, complete with a pre-prepared checklist of action items he thought were essential for us and proceeded to go over each and every single one with suggestions and solutions - we just felt - at ease.  This guy knows what he is talking about, and it shows.  He has had a TON of experience on race boats, shipping boats, cruising boats and everything in between.  I've always said that the brightest, smartest, and classiest people in the world are those who can bring their subject matter down to the level of anyone without making the "student" feel stupid, inadequate or silly.  This is Walt.  He has a TON of knowlege.  He doesn't need to "flex his muscles" and tell you how much he knows or how great he is.  It just comes through in a genuine, matter-of-fact way.  You also get the feeling that he likes what he does, which is always a bonus.

"Currently I have four boats in various stages of doing what you are doing" he told us with a smile.  Comforting words, to say the least.  He went through our entire boat, bow to stern, taking notes and pointing out things we'll need to consider (again, with SOLUTIONS!).  I won't bore you with the details - but all of his input and all of his suggestions were fantastic. 

He followed up with an email the very next day.  He has a lot of the gear we'll need in stock and can give us a great price.  What he doesn't have in stock, he has places to source from, again at a fraction of the retail price.  Double sigh.

And you know what the best part was?

He never ONCE gave us that look of doubt, that shake of the head, that now famous line: "You guys have a LOT to do, you're gonna be lucky to get off the dock".  Maybe he thought it, but he never said it.

He just put his pen to paper, looked around the boat and with a nod of his head said,  "We'll get it done".

Scott and Walt discussing the arch that will hold a LOT of crap off the back of our boat.


Brittany & Scott

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And just like that - we got a SPONSOR!

As someone who lives, eats and breathes sales for a living - you'd think I know the value of "asking for the business" - but apparently, I do not.  When Scott started throwing around the idea of "sponsorship" months and months ago, I sortof brushed it off thinking "come on, why would anyone sponsor us!?"  I just couldn't imagine why anyone would want to support our dream for the sake of, well, supporting our dream.  So I put Scott on "sponsor" duty and went about my life assuming that nothing would come of it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (When will I heed my own advice? Who knows, I'm stubborn):

ASSUMING makes an ASS out of U and ME.  Sure does.
Because guess what?  Scott got our first sponsor in Moosejaw, an *awesome* outdoor clothing and gear outfitter.  Before I go on, I have to say - a company whose tag line is "Love the Madness" is a company after my own heart.  We've been fans for a while.  If you have not shopped at or have never heard of Moosejaw, go to their website - NOW.  You don't even need to buy anything (but you should, cause it's cool!) - just read how they got started and chuckle.  They are hilarious and, truth be told, I sortof want to work for them.  Their current catalog is dedicated to "Doing IT in Detroit" (yes, doing "it") and if that doesn't show you just how tongue in cheek (and fun) they are, any company that uses a make out session as a contest for swag and quotes "Say Anything" is just. plain. cool.  See below (copied from their website):

This is not a joke.

We need you to email us a pic of you and your lover in a full-on make out session wearing a Moosejaw tee of hoody or with a Moosejaw flag or something like that.

You get 300 Moosejaw points for a pic with a little Moosejaw love. If you don’t have anything Moosejaw still send us what you’ve got and we’ll throw 100 Moosejaw points your way which is still pretty good for a little kissing.

Please email everything to me and we’ll get it posted on the site.

Needless to say, this is super important work.

Lloyd Dobler: I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?

Joe: By choice, man.
-Say Anything

Thank you.

Love the madness.
So you see, to have THIS company as our first sponsor is an awesome honor, so exciting, inspiring and did I already mention suuuuuper cool?

So how did it happen?  Our friend, Tobi, just started working for Moosejaw Corporate and Scott, the half of us NOT afriad to "ask for the sale", got the contact of the appropriate person from her.  I will protect her identity so all of you don't email her asking for stuff (wink), but Scott simply sent a wonderfully crafted email asking for $(undisclosed amount) worth of retail goods for us to use on our trip.  And then he hit send.

He got a reply the next day.  They simply could not... say "no" and were, infact, so excited to say "YES"!

And just like that, we were sponsored.  By Moosejaw.  Jumping up and down and dancing around the apartment ensued, followed by a trip to Moosejaw, of course.  We bought some stuff (with our own money, not part of the deal) as "support" (maybe we were too excited?) and are now trying to compile a list of what will be the most practical stuff while giving us the most bang for our ($(undisclosed amount)) buck. :)

Ask and you shall receive my friends.

Love the madness,

Brittany & Scott

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Sea = Free

Last night, I was watching the History Channel's "The Story of Us" and learned a something very interesting about the seamen of yesteryear.  During the mid 1800's capitalism was just getting it's legs; factories were able to run longer and people able to work later as a result of a new oil made from whale blubber.  It was also during this time that slavery threatened to divide our nation into North and South..."where is she going with this!?" you on...

The whaling industry during the 19th century was one of (if not the most) prominent business at the time with hundreds of ships leaving the North East coast every year.  While I am in no way a supporter of hunting whales - during the time leading up to the civil war this industry was one of the first to ever employ slaves as equals.  The sea became a place of freedom for escaped slaves fleeing the south.  Although life aboard a whaling ship was hard, dangerous and potentially deadly - it was a risk worth taking and better than a life lived for someone else.

Fredrick Douglas, visionary, American abolitionist and reformer wrote:
"You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! ... It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave. I will take to the water."
Douglas's linking of freedom and the water was not arbitrary or simply for poetic license.  Nantucket - the birthplace of the U.S whaling industry - had begun to get a reputation for being a "land of opportunity for Blacks", largely because of the massive amount of black sailors its fishery employed.  Although he never went to sea, Douglas worked for a shipyard in Baltimore and saw it first hand.  A life at sea was, literally, an escape from a life in chains.

This is not the first time the sea and its men would be ahead of their time - blacks were often employed on pirate ships as well, again often as equals.  Scott and I went to the Field Museum here in Chicago a while back and saw the "Pirates" exhibit about the slave ship turned pirate ship "The Whydah".
After the Whydah's human cargo was unloaded in the West Indies, the ship was captured by notorious pirate Sam Bellamy and his motley crew. Hailing from many nations, they included ordinary seamen, free black men, political dissidents, escaped slaves, indentured servants, Africans freed from slave ships taken at sea, Native Americans, and runaway plantation workers.
Compared to life on land, pirate ships were islands of freedom in a world of few options.  Life aboard a pirate ship, while still very violent and unruly, was *somewhat* of a democracy.  Pirates needed leadership - but the Captain was no sole dictator. A pirate captain was really only "first among equals."  Once a pirate had become a "citizen" of the ship, he had an equal vote, an equal share of the booty, and the chance to be elected an officer. These rights extended to everyone on board—black, white, and Indian.  These guys might have been ruthless, but they were fair!

The sea and 'freedom' are synonomous and rightfully so.  There is no place on Earth more vast, more romantic and more mysterious than the sea.  It holds endless possiblities for those who chose her.  This is precisely the reason why so many of us are inexplicably drawn to that endless horizon and have been since the dawn of man.  The spirit of the sailor - the desire to cast off and be free - remains the same all these centuries later and Scott and I cannot wait to join their ranks.  As E.E.Cummings wrote:  For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It's always our self we find in the sea.

Brittany & Scott

*Please note - I am not a historian and I understand that not ALL whaling/pirate ships were friendly to other races - nor were their 'causes' humanitarian in nature.  However, I found the fact that they were ahead of their time in practicing equal rights interesting.  Also, I want to reiterate that I am NOT a proponent of whaling.  Though the industry is all but gone, some countries, like Japan, still hunt whale illegally and this is a travesty.  To learn more go here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

We're gonna rock down to Electric Avenue...

No, really - we are!  Raymarine is going on TOUR!!! Yeah baby!  It's about time! They've been around for a while and we are soooo stoked - and what's even better?  They are coming RIGHT HERE to Chicago on May 15th!  They'll be playing at West Marine on North Avenue!  Such a great venue for such a great group of hard core peeps. 

Okay, by now you know Raymarine is not a hard-core electronica band - but a leading marine electronic company with all sorts of awesome gadgets and gizmos for boats.  They are doing a  42 city tour in their souped up hooptie known simply as "The Mobile Showroom".  Kind of like a boat show on wheels.  Not only will they have all the award winning technologies that we have been mulling over online and at West Marine, but they will have product experts on hand and a chance to interact with Raymarine's extensive product line.  Cool stuff.

The timing could not be better as we are in the process of deciding between Raymarine, Garmin and Simrad electronics (chartplotter, radar, depth, speed, wind...etc) - so this is going to be suuuuppper cool for us.  If you have any experience with any of this and would like to share your opinion - we'll gladly take your input!


Brittany & Scott

Monday, May 03, 2010

Everybody's working for the weekend!

Scott, my dad and I headed to the boat yard on Sunday for a long day of work.  The plan was simple - pump out the water that we knew made it's way into our empty fuel tank, put on the brand new (custom) cover (thanks Uncle Bob and your team in R&D!), take a look at the rig, put the biminy back up and call it a day.

We actually got even more done.  Here's what we accomplished, complete with photos:

1)  We pumped water out of the fuel tank, and learned that the *usually* exhaustingly exact guys in R&D made the tank camp upside down and backwards (thank god for my dad having access to an entire R&D department, as this will be easily remedied).   But it looks pretty, doesn't it?
Nice new tank cover - as modeled by Dad!
Wah wah...back to the drawing board...

2)  The grabrails on our boat were absolutely ridiculous.  A previous owner must have made them with very little thought and obviously didn't sail much.  The handrails themselves were strong and sturdy, but each one had 3-5 inches of overhang on either end - perfect for lines to get caught and snag on (it happened a lot to us last year).  NOT GOOD.  So I removed all of them to be taken into R&D to have the overhangs cut off and rounded smooth so nothing can get caught on them. 
See where the yellow tape at the end is?  They will be cut there and rounded off.

See that in front of the yellow tape?  In laymen's speak, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

3)  We removed all the wire halyards, ran messenger lines and removed the two old Lewmar winches from the mast.  These will be replaced with brand new super strong line halyards and Harken self-tailing winches which will not only be a LOT safer at sea, but a lot easier to use.
Get to work Dad! 

Bye bye wire halyard and winch - time to upgrade!

4)  We took a good look at the standing rigging (all the wires that essentially hold the mast up from the sides and forward and back) - and found some issues that our surveyor did not.  Namely that our standing rigging "swage terminals" have a little play in them - and by "play", I mean they wiggle back and forth a bit.  I'm not going to give the whole engineering explanation as to why this isn't good, but for the sake of this blog and time, just know it is not. We are now looking at replacing all of it.  Not the end of the world, but this was unforeseen and won't be cheap.  They say BOAT simply stands for "Bring On Another Thousand" - this could not be any more true.

Overall, we had a very productive Sunday Funday in the boat yard.  I also saw something I have never seen before, so I thought I'd share it here.   This brings whole new meaning to the term "dockside".
If you can't get a slip in the marina!! Bring your own! BYOD!
Surely there is a better way to do this?

Happy Monday!

Brittany & Scott
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