Wednesday, February 29

It's Official!

It's official people.....Anything Goes is ours!  WE OWN A BOAT!  As the girls would say "OMG".  Owning a boat is a big deal to me and Craig.  We have always wanted to own a boat.  We plotted and schemed and dreamt of owning a boat at some point or another.  Sometimes, it was as small as a laser sailboat or as big as a 32 ft day cruiser and everything in between, including a ski boat .  And look at us now, we own a 42 foot catamaran.  Wow!  I have to say, we are quite pleased with ourselves.  We can hardly believe it.  I think we are in a state of shock, disbelief maybe.  We are thrilled to have arrived at this point in our journey.  It feels a little surreal because we can't go out back and stare at her like a shiny new car.  It's even more surreal to me because I have never seen her in person or stepped foot on her.

I will let you in on a little known fact about me and Craig.  We work really well as a team and for that, I am extremely thankful.  It may take us a while to get there, but once we make a decision and put our minds to it, we go full steam ahead.  This boat purchase is just another check mark on our to do list, albeit a rather large check mark.

We have made a couple of other decisions as well (check, check).  First, we have decided to keep the name "Anything Goes". We took a family vote and though it was not unanimous, we agreed that the name was a keeper.  Second, we have a place to store our baby until June.  We will sail Anything Goes from Ft. Lauderdale 80 miles north to Stuart Florida over spring break.  There she will wait for us at Hinckley Yachts (boatyard/marina).  She will be kept in the water at a dock and will be very well taken care of by the dock master.

Friday, February 24

Time is marching on

Time is marching on.  A little too quickly, I might add.  Can one feel panic and calmness at the same time??  That is precisely how I am feeling.  On one hand I am anxious because we have just about 3 months before we go.  But on the other hand, I feel unflustered and under control.  Perhaps I feel this way because we have accomplished some really big items on our checklist.  Buy a boat, check.  Secure boat insurance, check.  Attend offshore cruising course and Strictly Sail boat show, check, check.  
However, we still have so much more to do.  We still have to decide where we will store Anything Goes until June.  In the immediate future, she will stay in Ft. Lauderdale with the sellers.  Over spring break, we’ll spend a day or so with the sellers going over the boat systems and learning all about Anything Goes.  We’ll stay at Bahia Mar Resort, in the marina, on our boat.  Insert huge smile here!  The beauty of this strategy is that we’ll have full access to the resort and can use the pool and beach side amenities.  I am hoping this will offset the boring part of ‘working’ on the boat for the girls.   Our goal is to get a little sailing in and then deliver her to her ultimate storage location until June.
In all likelihood, leasing our house is the next biggest hurdle we face.  We met with our realtor and discussed all the details.  She assures us that we can lease it without a problem.  I hope she’s right!   I keep telling myself that this is the one last detail that will or should I say could stand in our way of attaining our dream.  If we could just get this behind us, I think I will feel better.
Some seemingly smaller details we need to check off the list are finding a moving company and storage space for all our furniture.  Figure out what to do with Craig’s car and find someone willing to sail up the east coast with us.  If we have any hope of finding a good renter, then I have some gardening and painting to do as well.
One more complicating component is the fact that Kate is in 4th grade.  This means, in our school district, they are “promoted”.  They don’t call it graduation, but it’s a graduation.  Makes perfect sense, right?!  The 4th graders move from the elementary school to the middle school.  But what this really means is that there is a plethora of 4th grade activities that take place between now and the end of school.  Good for Kate but bad for mom and dad!   Add that on top of trying to pack up the house and figure out logistics of how we are going to pull this whole thing off! 
After writing this post and breaking into a slight sweat, I have decided that there is a lot more “anxious” and less “calm” going on here.  As the wise cruisers would say, Go with the flow.  We will just keep plugging away, one day at a time!

Monday, February 20

What's in a Name?

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  -William Shakespeare

When we started shopping for a boat, of course we were more interested in the condition, equipment and layout, and less concerned about the name.   However, the name of a boat is important.  After all, for most boat owners (including ourselves), the boat represents a dream or a passion.  So the name usually has personal meaning and one could argue that it helps define who we are and what we enjoy.

Our new boat comes to us with the name “Anything Goes”.  It’s a nice name and we may decide to keep it.  It’s easy to understand and say over a radio, which is important for a sailing boat.  The original owner’s named her that, though we don’t know their personal story.  We are the third owners of Anything Goes and the current owners hail from New Zealand.  If we keep the name, we’ll definitely have to remove the hailing port and replace it with Dallas, Texas. 

Once we put our first offer on a boat, naturally, we started thinking of a new name.   And when we realized the scope of our adventure, the name Outward Bound sounded like a great idea.  It seemed appropriate since we met there and it was truly a great adventure with a happy ending. (Craig and my mom came up with that name independently almost at the exact same time.)

Some people would argue that renaming a boat is bad luck.  To counter the bad luck there are many ceremonies and rituals that can or must be performed in order to keep the boat and its crew out of harms way.  We are not known for being the superstitious type, but when it comes to our (boat) home and safety of our family, we’ll definitely air on the cautious side and perform whatever the ancient gods want us to. 

At this point, we have yet to decide if we will keep her name or give her a new one.

Sunday, February 19

We Bought a Boat, Part II

It's official.  We have 'accepted' a boat!  We are buying 'Anything Goes'.  She's ours!  Yippey, Hooray!!  We couldn't be more happy to have this part of the journey complete.  We close on February 29th.
If you remember, we mentioned that Craig was going to Florida to check her out.  He went last week, on Valentine's Day.  He witnessed the survey and a very brief test sail.  All in all, she is a beauty.  The survey came back with mostly minor issues.  Most of which we will fix ourselves or with the help of the current owners.  We will all get a chance to see her over spring break in March.  We can't wait!
To see the full specs and more pictures, go to "our boat" page above.

Sunday, February 12

Questions, Questions and more Questions

We get asked a lot of questions when we explain that we are sailing for a year.  So, I thought I would post our answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Won’t you go stir crazy?
We doubt it.   We have learned from others that have ventured before us, that we’ll spend a majority of our time at anchor (or occasionally in a marina).  We won’t be sailing 24/7, 365 days of the year!  And we won’t be bound to the boat either.  We’ll sail a little (or a lot) and then spend anywhere from 2-14 days in one spot.  If we like it, we may stay longer.  If we don’t, then we’ll keep moving.  When we drop the anchor, we’ll have our dinghy with a motor that will be our transportation to and from.  We’ll be away from the boat as much as we are on it, much like it is at home.  We’ll have sights to see, snorkeling, swimming and grocery shopping to do, and friends to visit on other boats – especially if they have kids.  “Kid” boats tend to gather and travel together.

It's such a small space, how will you cope?

While this may sound like a lot of togetherness on a very small boat, it is precisely what we are looking forward to.  The families that we have read about or talked to have nothing but positive things to say about the tight bonds that are built in these small spaces.   It won’t come easy and without pain but we look forward to strengthening our bond as a family unit.  In this world where we become more and more detached due to technology and busy schedules, we look forward to old-fashioned teamwork and communication.  Sailing a boat is very conducive for doing just that.  We can only hope that the girls will rise to the occasion and take on new responsibilities and become more resilient and independent.  We want to show them the world and see it through their eyes.  We will be relying on each other for support, strength and trust.  These are precious years of our children’s lives and we want to have as much quality time as possible. 

Are you going to homeschool the kids?

Yes!  Actually in the cruising community, it’s better known as boat school.   Craig and I will be teaching 1st, 5th and 8th grade.  We met with the girls’ current schools and have gone over what we need to do concerning curriculum, what they will provide us, and re-entry when we get back.   Which by the way will be pretty simple and straight forward.  Phew!!
There are about as many styles of ‘boat’ school as there are families out there doing it.  We are planning to take an eclectic approach.  We don’t want to be restricted by deadlines and mailing assignments in for grading.  We’ll cover all the basics and keep track of progress ourselves.
One subject we are all looking forward to is History.  Not only will we be studying the history of the countries we visit, we'll also have a great opportunity right here in our own back yard!  Luckily for us, 5th and 8th grade both study US History.  How awesome is that?!  So, we will start with that while we are on the East Coast.  Which means a little schoolwork over the summer.  Somehow, I don’t think the girls will mind sailing past Plymouth Rock or the Statue of Liberty instead of just reading about it.  We hope to visit as many historical sites as possible.  This will be a win-win for all of us.  It will allow Craig and I, as teachers, to ease our way into boat school.

Are you going to sail yourself or hire a captain?
The short answer is no, we are not going to hire a captain.  We are going to sail all by ourselves.  However, we’d like to take someone along for our long passage across the Caribbean Sea.  This could be a 4-7 day crossing.  It would be great to have another able adult aboard sharing in the ‘watch’ rotation. 
We may also hire a captain to sail the boat with us from Florida to Massachusetts in June.  The main reason for this idea is because we want to get up north in a hurry.  Going off shore and sailing in the gulf-stream is the fastest way to accomplish this.    We’d like to sail with this captain to gain offshore experience under the guidance of an expert, so to speak.  This would be huge in the way of experience for our future passages.  

What about pirates?

This is one of the most popular questions we get asked.  It usually comes right after “wow”, you are doing what?!
When one says the word “pirate”, an image of Jack Sparro or Blackbeard comes to mind.   Luckily for us, there aren’t any of those kinds of pirates anymore, except in the movies and especially not along the East Coast or the Caribbean.  All joking aside, there are definitely places that should be avoided, like Venezuela and the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea.  That’s where the horror stories come from. 
We, of course, will take precautions and do our research just as we do any time we travel stateside or otherwise.   We wouldn’t travel to a new city without knowing the safe places to be and the places to avoid.  That’s just plain, common sense, right!?  We will be connected to the cruisers net, which is a tight knit group of active cruisers that post information as it happens.  So we’ll know exactly what to expect at each port.  However, If we see Jack Sparro out there, we will be sure to get his autograph

Monday, February 6

Boat Purchase Update

Life is like riding a bicycle. 
To keep your balance you must keep moving.
- Albert Einstein

It's been a while since we have mentioned anything about buying 'the' boat.  Perhaps we are feeling a little sheepish for fear of subjecting you to the emotional roller coaster we have been on.  It was a devastating blow when we lost "Emerald".  However, we didn't dwell on our bad luck too long.  We have picked ourselves up and are feeling quite confident that she wasn't the boat for us.  I won't go so far as to say it was divine intervention or fate, only because we haven't actually closed on a deal yet.
In the past couple of weeks, we have found 2 boats that we like better and have put an offer on both of them (not at the same time, of course).  The first one was nice but after a closer look by our surveyor, it may or may not have needed more work (engine, sail drives & rigging to name a few).  We were going to do a full survey until the second boat came on the market.  On paper, it has had more work done already (new sails, new rigging, new generator etc.) and has more of the items on our wish list.   Before we go into too much detail about everything she has going for her, we will just say that Craig is headed to Florida again next week for the survey and sea trial.  Once that proves to be successful, then we will spill the beans with the details and pictures.  I know, I know, it's just as hard for me to wait as it is you!

Sunday, February 5

Strictly Sail Recap

The boat show last weekend was really fun.  Chicago is such a great city.  We thoroughly enjoyed out time alone, together.  Our hotel was within walking distance to Navy Pier, where the show was held.   The weather was beautiful, complete with a couple snow showers.  The show itself was smaller than we anticipated.  Meaning they didn’t have as many boats on the floor and not one catamaran.  The largest boat they had was an 86-foot carbon fiber racing boat, which was amazing to see, but not what we “cruisers” were looking for.  Most of the boats ranged in size from 30 - 40 feet.  We laughed at ourselves as we went aboard these beautiful, modern, sleek boats, saying things like “this only has 2 cabins”, “there is no space in this galley to move around”,  “I would trip over that step 100 times a day”, “there is no storage space!”  As we climbed out of these shiny wood trimmed vessels, we consistently said “this would be fine if we were going to spend a weekend or maybe a week aboard, but definitely not for a whole year!”  My, my, my, how our attitude has changed from when we first started looking at boats.  A little education and research goes a long way!

The boat show, however, was less about the boats (for us, anyway) and more about the seminars that accompanied it.  We spent all day going to one seminar after another.  With notebooks in hand, we took copious notes, hanging on every word the presenter said.  For most of the topics, an hour was not nearly long enough.  We could have listened to some of them all day long, soaking it up like a sponge.  Our favorites were Cruising south to the Bahamas, marine plumbing, and weather.  Celestial navigation and storm tactics were overwhelming and really needed to be longer to go more in depth.  We even won a boat hook at one of the seminars because we were planning to leave for our trip this year!  Most people were planning or dreaming for “someday” in the future.  Craig and I felt like we were the youngest people there or definitely in the minority!

The boat show would not be complete without all the stuff they are selling booth after booth.  We did, shamelessly, buy a few things that were such good deals we couldn’t pass up.   For example, we bought foul weather gear that was half price; binoculars, a LED search light and our offshore inflatable life vests (also half price)!  These are things we knew we needed regardless of what boat we buy.

The main reason we attended the show was to attend Mahina Expeditions offshore cruising seminar (presented by John and Amanda Neal).  We spent all day Saturday at this course.  It was an amazing day chuck full of information, advice, tips and tricks to a successful and safe voyage.  It was complete with pictures and diagrams, as well as things that work well and things that don’t.  John and Amanda Neal made a great team, presenting to both male and female interests and areas of expertise.  Pete shared his experience from a cruising family’s perspective.   We learned a lot and asked many questions.   We came away from it with new confidence and a diploma to boot!
 Looking past Navy Pier to Lake Michigan
 Looking back at downtown Chicago
 Ice Sculpture contest taking place down on the waterfront!