Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's in A Name? Plenty.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet."  

-Juliet, Romeo and Juliet

Any boat owner can tell you that their boat is more than just a vessel.  It becomes a living entity, a part of the family, a gendered being possessing a heart and a soul.  Scott and I are of the belief that there actually is quite a bit in a name and, as such, have decided to re-name our new boat regardless of what William Shakespeare has to say about the matter.

Our boat's previous name "Fair Winds" while nice is - for lack of a better word - unoriginal.  When we bought Rasmus, we didn't change her name because a) we didn't really care and b) we didn't mind the one she had (it means "God of Wind").  "Fair Winds", however, doesn't give our beautiful new boat the je ne sais quoi that we are looking for.  First of all, it is two words and we prefer a one word boat name.  Second of all, it contains the word "wind" which is too obvious for our liking.  We didn't even need to discuss it.  She needed a name that did her more justice.  A name that we would be proud of.

To be completely honest - there are some downright appalling names on boats these days.  Just plain bad.  Whether they be horrible puns (Bow Down), tongue in cheek (Nauti Buoy), or play-on words (Miss Adventure) - boat names have taken a turn for the worse.  I don't want to offend, so I'll let the irreverent Pat Schulte do it.  Check out his thoughts on the sorry state of boat names these days (and how not to name your boat).  For more examples of questionable boat names, check out this hilarious post.

So...back to our new boat, and our new name.  We wanted something special, something unique, and something that said a little about us.  Longtime followers of this blog know that I am a huge believer in karma and putting good stuff out into the Universe.  I believe in being grateful, in the power of positive thinking and the importance of saying "thank you".  I believe that when you send gratitude out there into the Universe, good things come back to you.  It's simple and, so far, it has worked for me.  "Thank you Universe" is a phrase I say almost daily.

With that said, our new boat will be christened "Asante" (Ah-sahn-tay) which is Swahili* for "Thank You".  It rolls trippingly off the tongue, it's easy to read and pronounce, and (most importantly) means something to us: that we are thankful.  And now, we will continue to be grateful wherever we go... 

There is a lot in a name if you choose to make it so.  It has the potential to tell a story, to conjure up an image, to spark up an interesting conversation... While, "Ex-Ta-Sea"could strike up a potentially interesting discussion and "Harvey Dockbanger" does tell a bit of a story, something tells me Mr. Shakespeare would not approve.

Stay classy boaters!

* I lived in East Africa for three years, and they were some of the best years of my life - this name is also an homage to that beautiful place and the powerful and ever-present impact it had on me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nice Weekend Sail

It has been a great summer for sailing in Chicago.  Beautiful weather and favorable conditions have been the norm rather than the exception.  While we're on this mini-hiatus from full-time cruising, it sure is nice to be able to go sailing on my dad's beautiful boat whenever we'd like.  We've been getting our 'fix' weekly and Isla is a regular ole sea salt by now.  She loves the feeling of wind in her hair and watching the water from the rail.

Meanwhile, Scott is enjoying his current rotation (week two of four) as Captain aboard s/v Diamant.  He's posting pics of him and all our cruising friends that are in Grenada for hurricane season, as well as sending me images of the beautiful Grenadines while underway, keeping me thouroughly jealous.  He's loving it - and while we miss him here, it's great to know he's happy!

Lots of good stuff going on with the new boat.  I've got her on the hard in a yard, her deck work begins today, and the bottom work will begin this week.  We have begun the process of re-naming her (more on this later!), she will be USCG Documented shortly and insurance has been purchased.  All of this requires a ton of organization and paperwork, but it's worth it!  Hoping to get down to Lauderdale and check out our new 'baby' in the next week or so.   Speaking of babies, Isla is now a rolling, laughing, cooing and smiling machine.  It is so awesome being her momma.

We'll keep you posted!  Lots of exciting stuff happening!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guess What? We're Digital Nomads!

Just your typical family of Digi-Nomads
Check out this interview I did the other day for the great site "Wireless Ideology".  While you are there, check out the other great interviews from others who are living a life less ordinary and making it work for them.  They're calling us "Digital Nomads"; aka "people who leverage technology and the internet to work remotely all over the world"...  Inspiring, interesting, and food for thought...

Brittany, Scott and Isla

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cruiser Tip: Plastic Zippers are Best!

There's nothing like grabbing your rain parka when you need it and finding the zipper rusted shut.  Trust me, I know because this very thing happened to me last season.  I had to take a pliers, grab the zipper handle with all my might and yank that puppy back into place.  Thanks to salt water and a little thing called oxidation, those little teeth had grabbed tight.  Reeeeal tight.

I know there are things you can do to prevent metal zippers from rusting (a little WD-40 will do the trick), however we obviously did not do them.  The next best thing to me is to avoid metal zippers and try to get gear with plastic ones.  Unfortunately, most retailers don't seem to specify if their zippers are metal or plastic.  I just recently got a new The North Face Women's Venture Rain Jacket (super cute, I got mine in yellow which is the easiest color to see at sea Scott has the men's version in blue) to replace my other one that rusted out and I can confirm it has lovely, unrustable, plastic zippers.  Now does anyone know of a good dopp/toiletries kit with plastic zippers? Ours are tin roof rusted!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blue Water, Green Skipper

I love a good book.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been contacted by a few publishers of nautical books and have been granted complimentary copies of these books to read.  I just finished, Blue Water, Green Skipper by New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods and now I kind of want to race solo across the Atlantic.  Yeah.  It reminds me of the way I felt after I watched a particularly compelling documentary about people who climb Everest.  Buoyed by emotion, I thought to myself as the credits rolled, "I want to do that!!" and for a hot minute there was honestly contemplating how to go about doing so. Obviously my overzealous enthusiasm faded...  I will not, most likely, climb Everest and I probably will not sail solo in a race across the pond (but you never know?)... My point is, I was inspired.

Having never before owned anything so much as a row boat, Woods decided to pursue the peace of the open sea as he set out to single-handedly navigate the Atlantic during the 1976 Single-Handed Transatlantic Race...

The book covers Stuart's two year evolution from total newbie to full-blown solo sailor.  Rather than a dry, run of the mill "sailing memoir", this story has a definitive arc and the pages are colored with Stuart's natural charm and sharp wit.  His metamorphosis is (obviously) not without foibles and from embarrassing mishaps while learning to sail a dinghy (the only crew that would have him was a twelve year old) to a misbehaving wind vane (appropriately named "Fred", like his dog), the self-deprecating, dry humor peppered between the pages will make you chuckle.  Humor aside, what Wood's sets out to do is no small feet and his book is the perfect illustration of where a crazy idea, unwavering determination and a little luck can take you.  This story has all the guts of a true adventure tale (as it should, Wood's is a prolific author and has written fifty novels!) from controversy to tragedy, from inspiration to triumph, you best beware: Wood's memoir might just make you want to sail solo across the Atlantic...

And once again, I believe a good book is better if shared!  If you would like a chance to win this book, do the following: [Note: This contest is over, sorry!]
  1. Comment on this post with something you have done that might seem crazy to the outside world (you will notice I have removed captcha and made it easy for you!)
  2. Share our blog with like-minded family and friends; you can either share us in your own blog in the form of a post or send a link to our blog in an email (make sure you copy us on the email so we know you did it and can enter you!) AND/OR Share our Facebook Page by clicking "SHARE" on the link to this post and commenting below it. (Don't forget to comment or else I might not see that you shared us!)
BONUS:  If you do all three (i.e. share by email, blog post and share our FB page, you will be entered three times and therefore increase your odds of winning!)

Once you do one or both of those things, you will be entered to win.  I will select TWO winners on Friday morning and ship the books shortly after. 

Happy reading!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Boat Buying is Exhausting...

Phew.  I forgot how involved buying a boat is.  Turns out it's not as easy as handing over some cash and in return getting keys.  I literally ran my printer out of ink today because of all the forms I have had to print off and fill out;  addendums, buyer agreements, non-resident tax exemption forms, title changes and more.  I'm a bonafide one-woman call center getting quotes on insurance policies, sending information for US Coast Guard documentation, pricing out boat yards and calling on boat contractors.  Home phones are ringing, cell phones are ringing and emails are coming in left and right.  Not to mention I have a super cute four month old at home who gets lots of love, cuddles and attention to in between her naptimes throughout the day.

Oh yeah, and I'm doing this on my own because Scott is in the Grenadines bringing home the bacon.

Not that I'm complaining, because it's not bad... I mean, we bought a boat - life is pretty good if you can buy a boat...it's just a lot.  We've got plenty to do with this new boat (insuring her, getting her documented, getting her to a yard where she can dry out and where we can begin installations/repairs) and we want to keep the ball rolling at a good clip because the sooner we get all this started, the sooner we can shove off again.  You get me?  And here's the thing: while I am a natural leader, I am what I like to call a "passive leader" - meaning one who is just as comfortable leading as I am to say, sitting back and letting someone else (i.e. Scott) take the reigns and do all the phone calling, quote getting and form filling.  Working like a madwoman from my makeshift desk that is covered in scraps of paper with barely-legible notes, water bottles and mini York peppermint patty wrappers is taking it's toll.  I forgot to eat lunch the other day and didn't brush my teeth yesterday until 2pm.  Yep.  I'll admit it.  I'm working at a frenetic pace over here and it is taking a toll on my hygiene!

Hopefully by the end of the week or soon thereafter, we can have the boat hauled out, in a decent yard and have our guy Juan start working on the deck.  That's the goal at least, and how do you know what you're working towards if you've got no goal?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rasmus is For Sail...er, SALE

Photo by m/v Finally Fun
Okay, that was bad.  But she is. As much as it pains me to write that, we don't want to own two boats.  As many of you know, our Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35 is a fantastic, blue-water cruising boat that not only benefitted from a total refit in 2010 but also the impeccable (and slightly OCD) maintenance of Scott and I over the past two years.  She is a head turner, and she is ready to go.  Whether it be the Caribbean, the ABC's (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) the San Blas Islands or beyond that beckon you - she is right there, ready to go and she can carry you to wherever your dreams may take you in safety, style and comfort.  To learn more about why we chose her, read this post.  For those of you just joining and wondering why we are selling such a great boat - we recently added a new crew member to our family (and plan to add more) and we'd like a little more room to stretch out...

Rasmus At A Glance:
(this is just a little taste to wet your whistle, the full specs are below)
  • Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35 (1975)
  • Draft: 4 feet 6 inches (perfect for the Islands!)
  • Water: 60 Gallons
  • Fuel: 65 Gallons
  • New Yanmar 4JH5E 53 HP Engine (2010)
  • New Doyle Jib and Mainsail with Stackpack (2010)
  • New standing and running rigging (2010)
  • New Edson chain and cable steering (2010)
  • New Village Tec Little Wonder 5GPH watermaker (2010)
  • New seacocks and through hulls (2010)
  • Boat has been completely re-plumbed and rewired (2010)
  • New B&G Electronics (wind, speed, depth) (2010)
  • New Simrad Chartplotter with AIS (receive and transmit) (2010)
  • New Insulated backstay with SSB (2010)
  • New deep-cycle AGM battery banks (2010)
  • New Victron Energy Inverter/Transformer (2010)
  • New Lofrans Tigres Windlass and ground tackle (2010)
  • Custom built radar/solar arch with dinghy davits (2010)

Her full spec sheet can be viewed here.  As I mentioned, she underwent a complete refit in 2010 with top of the line marine gear and electronics and she also has had countless upgrades and additions as we cruised.  We do not cut corners and we do not half-ass (pardon my French).  She will be listed through this site for $79K.  Now I know I always write that "no boat is turnkey" and while I still stand by that sentiment, our Rasmus is about as close as it gets!  She is good to go.  She is, hands down, the best Hallberg-Rassy Rasmus on the market.  She is currently located at Peake's Boat Yard in Chaguaramas, Trinidad where she is under a full enclosure, being washed down and monitored (she has a dehumidifier running) twice a month.  I hear Trinidad is very nice this time of year (wink, wink)
Photo by Lara Neece
Photo by Lara Neece
If you or someone you know is interested in setting sail in a world class blue water cruiser, share our site with them.  To learn more about our beautiful boat, you can contact us at windtraveler09(at)gmail.com.

How much longer can you put off your dreams of sailing off into the horizon?  What exactly will it take to make those cruising dreams come true?  Rasmus was the impetus for us, perhaps she can be for you too?  Remember, it's not the things you do that you will regret most in life - but the things you didn't do...


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Our New Boat: A Brewer 44

We did it.  We pulled the trigger.  Scott and I are getting a new boat.  It was a LONG road to get to this point, the decision was not an easy one.  We went back and forth probably a million times.  In the end, however, we trust that this is what is best for our family.

Many of you suggested we keep Rasmus.  It seems you, like us, have a little emotional tie to our beautiful Rassy (okay, and some legitimate reasons as well).  Trust us, we get it.  We do.  However, our family is growing and Rasmus would have been very, very tight with the three of us and our respective gear.  Could we have made it work?  Of course we could have.  But the bottom line is this:  We were going to get a bigger no matter what.  It was simply a matter of time.  We found a great boat, in great shape, for a very good price (after negotiation) that would be perfect for our family.  After thinking long and hard we decided: why wait?

This boat, aside from the deck issue (which we are being compensated for after getting two quotes) is impeccable.  She is meticulously maintained (just how we like 'em!), and has just about everything we were looking for.  More space, two heads, cutter rig option, center cockpit, swim scoop, lots of deck space, low engine hours, decent canvas, and the ability to control all sails from the cockpit...in other words, the bones of a great family cruising boat.  She has a gorgeous interior with a nice, spacious layout, a U-shaped galley (something we really wanted), an aft suite with a king size bed, two heads and TONS of storage.  Did I mention how much we love her cockpit?  It is the very best feature of this boat because it is HUGE.  HUGE.  Perfect for entertaining and containing little rug rats.  We loved the Brewer 44 design from the minute we set foot on her and feel 100% confident that this is the boat for us.  In fact, she's kinda like Rasmus on steroids... Did I mention that the Brewer is considered one of the 10 Best Center Cockpit Cruising Boats?  No surprise why; they are strong, stout and fast.

There is so much more to tell you about the decision making process but I need to break it down into a few posts or else this one will go on forever.  I know many of you were rooting for Rasmus, and believe me we definitely considered going back to her.  We weighed all the pros and cons and looked at this from every angle.  The new boat won.  It was not easy.  In fact it was really, really hard.  Which makes the fact that this decision has been made all the better.  

Sigh.  Time for a new chapter to begin.

Hang on tight, and enjoy the ride!  We've got work to do!  If you want to check out some more pictures of our beauty, check out this post.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Mac Race Begins!

Some images of the start of the Mac Race today...it was light winds out of the east, but a beautiful day for a sail nonetheless.  We had a fantastic day on the water.  Then again, any day on the water is great, right?  Fair winds and a safe journey to our fellow sailors!

Sweet home Chicago
Jockeying for a good start position...
And they're off!
The coasties kept rif raff like us at a safe distance.
Heading to the start
Setting the chutes for a reach
The boats heading north waaaay off in the distance...

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Chicago "Mac" Race

The start of the 2009 Mac Race - the last race we did before leaving.
This weekend is a very, very big deal for the Chicago sailing community....it is the start of the 104th Annual Race to Mackinac (pronounced: Mackinaw). Known to the initiated as The Mac Race, it is one of the longest freshwater sailing races in the world and attracts sailors from across the globe, with hundreds of entrants competing each year.  I have competed in ten myself and - in our previous lives - this time of year was the pinnacle of the summer.  Being privileged enough to race on a boat with seven or eight other crew members over the course of two to three days was why we sailed in Chicago.

To get a coveted spot on a crew for this race is an honor and for good reason;  the camaraderie that develops after months of practice and preparation, the late night sail changes under a banner of stars and steaming cups of french-pressed coffee in the cockpit as the sun rises over the horizon... The excitement of jumping into your foul weather gear to battle a sudden squall at 3am and, of course, the huge parties that ensue on the island at the finish are just a few of the hundreds of reasons people love this race.  For many, it's their only opportunity to sail 48-72 hours non-stop and it is magnificent.  The race itself is an incredible challenge - the conditions are always changing as you cover the 322 miles up the lake - you are sure to be met by everything from hair-pulling calms to raging storms, from bone-chilling cold to exceptional heat, and course and sail changes are many!  Some of my fondest memories of sailing in Chicago are from the rail of a boat during this race and the Mac has attracted the likes of everyone from Bob Seger, Steve Fossett and Roy Disney to name a few.

It's very special to Scott and I as well.  Most of you know our backgrounds involved racing on the lake, and we actually met after the 2007 Mac at the famous sailors' bar "The Pink Pony" up on the island.  Sigh.  Feels like yesterday.  I don't think either of us knew how fateful that day was, but that could have also been because we were practically drowning in a vat of Mount Gay Rum...

I digress...

Scott and I have a lot of sailing friends who are going to be competing in the race this weekend (including our good friend, George) and we want to wish them all a safe, fast Mac with fresh winds and following seas!

We're going sailing tomorrow so hopefully I'll get some nice pics of the starting line for you guys...in the meantime, here's a few pics of our last Mac...
Shift change!
Breakfast in the cockpit with my brother 
Me, trimming the chute
Another evening on the lake 
Scott, taking us under the famed Mackinac Bridge.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Surveys...

This is not 'the' engine, but one of the many we inspected during our search.
The engine survey came in yesterday.  If you are keeping track, that is a total of three very thorough surveys we have had done on this boat we're looking at.  One survey to look at the rig (because 'regular' marine surveys do not go aloft).  Another survey to look at the boat in general (aka the 'standard' marine survey).  And another survey still to test the engine (because, again, a regular survey will not analyze oils and run compression tests and whatever the heck else they do when they do an involved engine survey). That's a lot of investigating.  It is also a lot of paperwork.  We are nothing if we are not thorough, you gotta give us that.

Luckily, the engine - despite being the original Perkins - has relatively low hours and is in good condition.  Phew.  We were kind of holding our breath after our last survey.  Regardless of the decent engine survey, this whole "boat buying" thing is hard.  Really hard. The decision is not an easy one - there are so many variables and scenarios.  More than once Scott and I have considered throwing in the towel.  We keep going back and forth, back and forth.  Add to that the mind boggling logistics of the whole thing and our minds really start to spin.  And now, because Scott's gone back down to the islands to skipper the boat he works on, all of this is going to be decided by text messages between us.  Furthermore,  I am now the point person in the whole deal.  Not that I have a problem being the point person, but I was more than happy to give Scott the reigns on chasing down quotes and brokers and yards while I sat back and played with baby girl and blogged.  Sigh.  I sure miss him like crazy.

Either way, there is an acceptance date looming over our heads and a decision will have to be made one way or another, sooner than later.  This saga, despite how it might seem, will come to an end!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Are You a Traveling Sailor, or a Sailor Who Travels?

When we went to Ft. Lauderdale a couple months ago, we had the pleasure of meeting and enjoying a meal with some blog followers, fellow sailors who are off on their own journey in a couple months. As it does when sailors get together, talk turned to cruising and sailing and what makes us tick about floating around on boats.  "Would you consider yourself a sailor who travels, or a traveling sailor...?" they asked, "...because there's a difference" they added.

I thought this was a very interesting question that was further punctuated by a recent interview we did (coming soon) when the interviewer asked "What made you decide that this was the lifestyle you were going to pursue?" The conversation with our friends in Ft. Lauderdale resurfaced in my memory...

For me, it has always been about the travel.  I have been plagued by wanderlust all my life and some way, some how I was going to make travel a huge part of it.  I backpacked across Europe at 18, moved to Tanzania at 24, backpacked solo through South East Asia at 27 and did another solo trip to South America at 29.  In between those larger trips are countless smaller trips to equally compelling destinations around the globe.  While these quenched my thirst for expedition for a spell, I found my appetite for adventure insatiable.  Staying in one place with a two week vacation every year just to keep me from going insane wasn't going to cut it.  My love of travel combined with my passion for sailing and the ocean made it a no-brainer.   I'd live on a boat.  I'd sail around the world and make travel my life.  The logistics of making this happen were inconsequential.  I would find a way.  Now that we're actually living this life, I am still driven by the travel component.  For me, making landfall is the rush.  I get all giddy inside like a child on Christmas morning but instead of presents,  meeting the locals, shopping their markets, walking their streets and eating their food are my surprises.  While I thoroughly enjoy the sailing, it's the travel that drives me.  I am a traveler who sails.

For Scott, it's about the sailing.  Being one with the boat.  He fell in love with sailing at a young age and for him, it wasn't where he was going but the act of sailing that was the escape.  Tweaking the sails, feeling the rush of the water over the rudder, registering the wind on his face and making his little boat go.  He can sit on deck patiently and quietly for hours and hours on end, watching the water, checking the sails, adjusting the jib cars, plotting our course.  His innate sense of calm and inquisitive nature lend themselves well to a life at sea.  He doesn't need books or music to pass the time.  He can sit contentedly in the cockpit - making little adjustments as he sees them, considering ways to make our boat go a tenth of a knot faster.  He doesn't get frustrated when the wind dies.  A flapping sail is simply an invitation to do something better.  The sea fuels his ideas and his dreams.  The destination, for Scott, is simply an added bonus.  Sure he loves to see new places and Scott is no stranger to travel himself having lived more or less like a nomad since college. The real adventure for him, however, begins not when we get to shore, but when we head back out to sea.  Scott is a sailor who travels.

Whatever the motivation - sailing, traveling, or some combination of the two - our end goal is the same:  To take our lives into our own hands.  To write our story the way we want it written and not the way someone tells us to write it.  To take time to enjoy every minute of every day.  To spend as much time as we can in nature - breathing fresh air and feeling the daytime sunshine on our skin.  To become self-sufficient and self-reliant. To learn not to sweat the small stuff and revel in life's simple pleasures.  To be healthy and fit.  To meet, be inspired and learn from others.  To dream freely and openly and live the truth that less really is more.  To remain far outside the "status quo" and not to become another cog in the wheel.  To teach our children that there is another way.  To live a life less ordinary.  To live a life extraordinary.

So we live on a boat.  We sail around.  Who knows where the heck we're going but gosh-darnit, we're doing it.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Little Piggy Did NOT Go to Market...

Isla likes to clench her little piggies!
The other morning, I woke up to the sound of Scott in the other room playing "This little piggy" with Isla.  Except in his version, the little piggies didn't go to market or go home...no, no, no!  These little piggy's went to the islands, as in:

"This little piggy went to St. Maarten, this little piggy to Martinique, this little piggy to Dominica, this little piggy to Antiqua, this little piggy allllll the way to St. Lucia" and it continued on like that.  Cutest thing ever.

Yeah.  Baby's little piggies are going to cover some ground, that is for sure!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Marine Survey

By nature, a marine survey is supposed to uncover problems with your boat.  That's what you pay them for.  So when a boat goes to survey, you should brace yourself because (if you have a good surveyor) issues, be them big or small, will rear their ugly heads.  If they don't, it could be reason for concern.  Our recent survey uncovered a few large issues that total about 25K worth of "complications".  Let's do some math: $25,000 - $1,500 = $23,500.  Yeah.  I'd say paying for a survey was worth it.

Marine surveys are one of those things that some boaters scoff at.  I'm not sure why, but there are people who feel they can inspect boats better than professionals or that the professionals who inspect boats aren't worth their salt.  I'm sure both of these scenarios are true in some circumstances, but for us - we have found neither to be the case.  In our humble opinion this is too big a purchase to take a gamble on.  I mean, we'd never buy a home without a home inspection - why would we buy a boat without a boat inspection?  Seems like a no brainer to us.  When we "inspected" the boat a couple months ago, she looked "pristine" (minus a few minor issues that we noted).  Guess that goes to show what the heck we know.  At the moment, I am literally thumbing through a ten (count that, ten) page report detailing the surveyor's "recommendations".  Sa-weet.  One line item reads "replace stainless steel anchor shackle with a conventional galvanized swivel and shackle" while another notes that there is significant water damage in areas of the balsa core deck.  These are just two extremes to be found among the eighty-six that were listed.  Eighty-six. In restaurant speak that means you're out of something.  As in, "Eighty-six the prime rib".  Sigh.  Is it time to eighty-six this boat?  Hmmm....

The big question now is, will the owner compensate us for these issues by agreeing to lower the price of the boat?  This remains to be seen.  While we don't want to nickel and dime and be difficult, 25K is not chump change and we're not ready to eat that.  We're doing some research and getting a bunch of quotes at the moment - so we'll see how this whole thing pans out.

Either way, it's not the end of the world.  Everything happens for a reason and if this boat is meant to be ours, it will be.  If it's not, it's not.  It's really that simple.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Being Married to a Sea Captain

Captain Scott at the helm
Many of you know that Scott got his Captain's License last year.  Due to the fact that Scott was a) incredibly persistant b) a hard worker and c) in the right place at the right time, he got a job with Island Windjammers - a wonderful company that runs week long cruises in the Grenadines on the beautiful tall ship, Diamant.  This, my friends, is a good thing.  Not only does he make a nice chunk of change for our cruising kitty, but he gets to do something he absolutely loves and gets paid for it - we should all be so lucky.  As long as he is can fly to where the boat is, he has a job.  This turn of events has ensured that we can continue to cruise and live aboard our boat for as long as we want.

There is, of course, a catch.  As with anything, there is a yin to this yang.  What this also means is that Scott must leave us for as many as eight weeks at a time for his rotation.  While having a reliable income has made our life at sea a little nicer, it is not easy to be apart for such a long stretch of time (although we will see him on weekends when we are in Grenada).  When Scott was offered this position on the boat we spent a long time discussing the pros and cons of such a situation.   Should he take the position (more time away, reliable schedule, ability to budget)?  Or remain a relief captain (inconsistent schedule, less time, sporadic work/pay)?  We chose to accept the regular position because of the stability and the opportunity to work with and for a great company.  Despite the weeks he'll be away from us, we'll still be together full time for the remaining 40-something weeks of the year which is still way more "together time" than your average family.  Not to mention we'll be fully funded cruisers.  These things make this whole situation a win.  While I  remain positive that this is what is best for our family, the selfish side of me knows I will miss him terribly while he is away.  Scott leaves next week for a four week rotation and even though I have said "good bye" to him many times before, it's never easy to do.  Such is the life of the Captain's wife, I suppose.

“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” 

- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Friday, July 13, 2012

Can You Love Your Second Boat as Much as Your First?

One of my most favorite pictures of Rasmus, taken on the Erie Canal.
As it becomes more and more real that Scott and I might own a new boat in the near future, I find myself thinking a lot about our Rasmus and getting very, very nostalgic.  I feel like we're cheating on her.  She's sitting there, all bundled up in Trinidad, awaiting our return.  She's getting her monthly wash downs and bi-monthly check-ups, looking naked and out of place on some jack stands, ready at any moment to get back into the water and do what she does best, and here we are - looking at other boats to buy.  Thinking of all this makes me, well, kind of sad.

I think of how much blood, sweat and tears we put into her.  How excited we were when we bought her, of all the good times we've had on her.  Our first delivery to Chicago, our first storm, our first time anchoring out...a million "firsts".  I mean, we got engaged on that boat!  I think of all the late nights and early mornings spent making her perfect, all the laughter that filled her cockpit, the countless sunsets and sunrises viewed from her deck.  Adventures that never ceased and spanned the 5,000+ nautical miles we sailed from Chicago to Trinidad.  She's a mighty boat.  She's a beauty.  She has taken very, very good care of us.  I think back on when we bought her, how we knew she was "the one" the minute we set foot on her. There was no analyzing, there was no doubt.  The excitement bubbled up inside me the second I took her in with my eyes.  She was it.  She was the one.  It was as simple as that.

She was our first true love.

Which makes me wonder; is it possible to love subsequent boats as much as your first?

I honestly do not know the answer and I'm actually trying to work it out in my head.  As most of you know, this time around the boat buying process was so different.  Our ignorance (or shall I say, naiveté?) when we bought Rasmus made the whole procedure so much simpler - falling in love was easy and innocent.  This time around, however, we are so much pickier, less emotional, more calculating - we know what we want, what we don't - and no boat fits the bill "exactly".  We are going to have to make compromises, "love" hasn't really factored into the equation this time around.  This time around, there is no such thing as the "perfect" boat.  When we bought Rasmus, however, she was.  Is this a sign of maturity?  A sign that we have grown wiser and know now that mature love takes effort, work and - most importantly - time?

They say there is no love like your first.  Does the same ring true for boats?

“Something about first love defies duplication. Before it, your heart is blank. Unwritten. After, the walls are left inscribed and graffitied. When it ends, no amount of scrubbing will purge the scrawled oaths and sketched images, but sooner or later, you find that there’s space for someone else, between the words and in the margins.” 
- Tammara Webber, Where You Are

Have you owned more than one boat?  What are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sea Trial

"Trial" is right.  It was an uphill battle, that is for sure.

We had to cancel and reschedule our trip not once but twice.  A tropical storm got in our way the first time, then there was the rigging issue forcing us to reschedule again.  When we finally did make it to the airport, our flight was delayed two times.  The cause of the last delay?  The bathroom door had come off of it's hinges.  I mean, come ON!!  When we landed two and a half hours after we were supposed to at 2am, Scott and I were exhausted.  It didn't end there.  After 3 hours of restless sleep, the morning of the sea trial we awoke to thunder and lightening - the kind that makes you think Armageddon might be near.  It was not looking good.  "Maybe it will break" we thought out loud, right about the same time the nice weather lady echoing through the hotel lobby was saying how the violent storms were here to stay for the week.  Awesome.  When we went to our rental car to meet with the broker, it was the one car in the lot literally surrounded by a puddle of rainwater that was six inches deep.  After forging that obstacle "Oregon Trail" style, we got in the car and sat in silence until I said, "Do you think the Universe is trying to tell us something?"  Scott just shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.  This was getting ridiculous.  The icing on the cake, however, was when we were stopped at some train tracks on the way to the yard where I joked, "I'll bet it's a freight train".  Sure enough it was a freight train and not only that, but it STOPPED on the tracks for a solid 15 minutes before continuing on at a snail's pace.  It was at this point where I said, "The Universe is DEFINITELY trying to tell us something".  We were beyond the discouragement and laughing at this point.  If we saw a pig fly by at that moment, I don't think we would have batted an eye.

Things began looking up after some delicious fish tacos (my new favorite dish) and a quick check of the weather radar.  There it was: a little patch of blue in a sea of red, green and yellow - we all saw it and knew that it was now or never.  We had a window!  We went back to the boat and within 15 minutes we were underway, bound for the Ocean.  It turned out better than any of us could have possibly expected.  The Universe, it seems, was just trying to make us fight a little for what we wanted.  And everyone knows you appreciate the view from top of the hill even more after a big struggle to get up there, right?

Today is the engine survey and marine survey, however pouring rain and lightening is delaying things (again).  The deal is far from over, but we're feeling pretty good about it.  It's very exciting!  We'll keep you posted...

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Facebook is Getting Stingy...

Facebook has gone public, and now it's got a need for greed...

Facebook now only allows the posts we make to reach a small percentage of our fans. If we want to make our posts "visible" to all our fans, we have to pay money.  Me no likey having to pay for our fans to see what we have to say.  Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook?  Maybe.  Zuckerberg sure got out while the going was good, that is for sure!

If you are a fan of our Facebook Page and want to make sure you see all of our posts and photos, hover over the 'LIKE' (or 'LIKED') button on our page please make sure that you also click 'SHOW IN NEWS FEED' so that you can be sure to see all of the posts being made.

Sorry for this impersonal post about such a boring topic, but we thought you should know!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Headed to Sea Trial, Round Deux!

Because our last sea trial was thwarted by a small rigging problem, Scott and I are heading back down south tonight.  The plan is to sail our "potential" new boat tomorrow morning and, if we like how she sails and feel good about moving forward, she'll be surveyed by one of the best guys in the biz on Thursday.  This is pretty momentous for us and we'll let you know how she does!  I'll be posting regular updates and photos to our Facebook Page if you are interested.  This whole process is making me a little nostalgic about our last survey on Rasmus...awww!

Fingers crossed that all goes well!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Monday, July 09, 2012

Analysis Paralysis

The term "analysis paralysis" refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or "perfect" solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution. 

Yep. That sounds about right.

As most of you know, Scott and I have put in an offer on a boat.  It was not, however, an easy decision.  I wrote in a previous post how there are actually several models of the boat we have chosen on the market which, in theory, might be seen as advantageous for us.  We have learned that it is not.  

Even having made a 'decision' and being under contract with a boat, Scott and I still constantly find ourselves going back and forth about what boat is the better boat for us (we ultimately narrowed our search down to two).  And it's different every time.  The little 'blip' in the process didn't help either.  We revisit the listings, scour our comparison sheet, write new pro/con lists and talk in circles about the minute details of owning one boat versus the other.  We have spent so many hours dissecting this whole thing that we are going a bit crazy and when good hearted people ask us how it's going, we both just fein a smile and say "fine" because hashing it out again would be exhausting.  We have officially reached (dun, dun, dun) analysis paralysis. 

"But you have an offer on a boat already and a deposit has been paid!" you might say.  And yes, that is true.  What some of you may not realize, however, is that we are not actually obligated to buy this boat until we accept it after the sea trial and survey.  Not only that, but at any point the owner can decide not to sell it to us.  This deal is far from over.  

It has been over two months since we first saw the boat that we "decided on" and I am beginning to think that we've just been away from her a little too long which is why doubt continues to creep into our heads.  I am hoping that when we head south this week to sea trial her, everything will be hunky dory again and we'll know we made the right choice.  She is, after all, the boat that Scott looked up at me and said, "Honey, I think this is our next boat" while we were digging around the first time and that has got to count for something, right?

All I know for sure is that for a typically decisive person, over analyzing is utterly paralyzing.  And frustrating.  And exhausting.  But despite feeling a little lost in the game at the moment, we remind ourselves that we are *this* close to our new boat and no matter what, when the time is right - we will have her - whichever and wherever she is!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Friday, July 06, 2012

Sailing in Chicago

Taken by my sis in law Stephanie of Bright Eye Photography
Here are some images of our 4th of July day on the water for your viewing pleasure! Some of these pictures are my own, while others are taken by my lovely sister in law, Stephanie, of Bright Eye Photography.
The Chicago Skyline never disappoints!

My brother Kevin.
Mama and baby on the rail. Image by Bright Eye Photography.

Isla, slumbering away.  Image by Bright Eye Photography.
My dad and brother Eric.
Another baby going to join the family in about a month!! (Thats the other photog, btw)
My handsome hubby. 

Hail to the baby!
Cooling off!
My beautiful niece, Skyler
My sis-n-law, Angel.
Watermelon and wine.  Yum!
PS.  Many of you ask what camera I use.  I shoot with a Canon G12 10 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.8 Inch Vari-Angle LCD almost exclusively.
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