Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas (and other things!)

Merry Christmas everyone!

It is 1:30 in the morning and xmas eve is just getting under way. I (Justin) got home from work a little bit ago. Jenny flew to Michigan a few days ago. I will fly out the day after Christmas to meet up with her. I had to stick around this week to work... gotta pay for that baby and boat somehow! I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and give a quick update of boatwork.

We procured our first piece of lead. It is a keel from a scrap boat and weighs in somewhere near 1000 pounds. I spent a week or so making various attempts to cut it into smaller pieces. That mostly failed due to the thickness of the lead; however, I discovered that a shrinkwrap torch works pretty darn well in melting the edge of the keel into breadpans to make brick/loafs. So I made about a dozen loafs and that got the remaining keel chunk small enough to be craned in through a hatch. Nice. Now I just gotta do that 8-10 more times and then bind it all together and glass it (VERY VERY SECURELY) into the bottom of the keel. I have been researching methods of this like crazy. One of the biggest helps has been Ben over at Blue Schooner Publishing, who built his own boat and has been sailing it around for something near to two decades now. Thanks Ben.

In the meantime, we have cleaned and scrubbed and polished the interior up pretty well. It helps to have a clean place to work in and a clean place to spend time in when we are both there and just taking a break or eating lunch or whatever... sometimes even just relaxing and enjoying our new boat. Jenny has done a lot of the cleaning as we are trying our hardest to keep her away from all of the lead that I am working with outside. (Yes, I am wearing a tyvek suit and a respirator and all that jazz) By the way, the baby is doing great. Jenny hits 27 weeks today, on xmas eve. That means that even if the baby came as a preemie tomorrow it would have a 90% chance at surviving! We are really having a baby... neato! oh yeah, back to boats.... more on baby later.

The engine (a Westerbeke W80 which is essentially brand new-- yet 30 years old-- from the previous owner, Henry) has been craned into position. The rudder has been pulled off, and is about to be given to a friend who works in a boat shop. The rudder has a large section missing where Henry had intended to attach some sort of self steering apparatus. Instead my friend is going to glass it all back in and smooth it out again. Also, with the rudder off I can begin the search for a prop shaft and get that installed hopefully sooner than later.

Mostly, work has been preparatory... it feels kind of defeating spending hours and hours shrinkwrapping and building staircases and building work sheds, and hauling tools down there, all the while just wanting to start working on the actual boat. I know it will all pay off in the long run, it just takes time. Perhaps even years, but we are excited for it no matter how long it takes.

Right now, we are just waiting on money and the holidays to sort themselves out. Our trusty Volvo broke down one too many times and we traded it in on a lease for a brand new Kia Soul. It is cheap (for a new car), safe (surprisingly), reliable, and just big enough to haul boat/kid stuff around. But the car issues and the holiday travel expenses have nixed our boat funds for december and likely january. In the meantime we can work with what we have, which is not a whole lot, but should be enough to keep us busy. Hopefully January will land another good deal on a lead keel and I can keep up that battle. The keel is really the biggest issue. If we can get the keel done, the through hulls punched, the whole thing painted with the hatches in, we can move on. It is a tall order, but not extraordinary. Patience... not one of my strong points, but I am sure working on it.

again, Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

A new boat has entered our lives...

When it comes to “choosing the right boat” everybody and their brother has at least 12 pieces of advice to offer you, and rarely is a consensus achieved. Our thoughts have evolved pretty quickly over the last few years, and the grand culmination of our ideas has landed us with another new boat. We are thrilled. It was a long search, and rather a sordid one, so I figure it might make a worthwhile story for those seeking a new liveaboard boat. Perhaps our trials and tribulations can be helpful, and just maybe, I can spin it into an entertaining tale.

As of 2006, neither Jenny nor I had ever set foot on a real sailboat in our lives. I played around in a sunfish once when I was about 15, and Jenny had done so a few times when she was 12. So sailboats weren’t even a consideration for us... They seemed like some mysterious and complex machine that you’d have to really love to enjoy (true, it turns out). When we decided to live aboard we looked for the biggest, fattest, cheapest powerboat we could find. I was starting grad school, we didn’t have but maybe $500 saved up... and that is a stretch. We soon found a big wreck of a Carver Mariner 33 that was alive and floating for $11k, already in the marina we wanted to live in. Perfect. A simple personal loan and we were aboard, and giddy about it. We immediately fell in with the local sailor crowds and spent some time on their boats sailing around the harbor for free. Then we’d try to scrape up the $100 it would take us to go run around the harbor islands for the weekend, stinking of exhaust, listening to the engine drone, and rolling in the wakes. We knew immediately that sailboats were more our styles. Damn, shoulda figured that out a few months sooner. We were still happy nonetheless - just living and being on the water was great. We had both fallen in love with the ocean and ocean life.

Only about six months had went by and we’d been paying down the carver loan pretty quick when our friend was forced to sell his Ericson 35 mk-II, Madrigal, due to health reasons. We knew he was in distress about getting it sold and he told us how cheap he’d let it go for..... $6,500. He had gutted the interior of all but the bulkheads and cabinets. All the trim was in a giant pile in the galley. The water and electric systems were new, but sparse and primitive. The layout of the boat was small, and the sails didn’t fit right. But she had a bright shiny new yellow paintjob and we were sold. haha. Suckers we are, but suckers in love. We bought Madrigal that same week. And truthfully, i embellish a bit, she was in better condition than that. The motor (atomic 4) had just been rebuilt and all new components added. He gave us all kinds of new equipment still in boxes he had yet to install.

Money was still tight, but for now we had the “right boat”. We managed to sell the carver pretty quickly and condense all our boat debt down to an easily managed size. We were quite content for about a year, and then, as the sailboat bug really got into us and we really started to get into the lifestyle, the urge to go cruising for a long period of time started setting in.... and here is where the story gets hairy....

We are big fans of Don Casey’s theories which are along the lines of “GO NOW GO! GO! GO! AS SOON AS YOU CAN! IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOUR BOAT IS SMALL! JUST CRUISE NOW!” Annie Hill has cruised the world over a number of times on very cheap money... but we were still paying on our simple little Ericson. So as much as we like those theories we didn’t want to leave for cruising until 2 things happened: 1) our boat debt was gone 2) our home business of indexing could be sustained from aboard to facilitate long term cruising. In the meantime, living and working from the dock for 2 people and a dog in an Ericson 35 really did start feel small. I can’t quite stand upright. I hit my head a lot. So despite the advice to go and go now, we kept our eyes and ears open for big giant cruisers (40+ feet) that might be a bit more comfy to live dockside in. Of course, the catch is that we have no cash to pay for one, and we refuse to take a big loan that would tie us to land jobs for eons.

So we’d reached a pickle. Buying a big cruiser would tie us to land. No good. Staying dockside in the Ericson had gotten a bit frustrating. So we resolved to go cruising this fall, 2010, right about now in fact. So we spent the summer doing a number of things. First and foremost Jenny quit her land job, and started absolutely pouring herself and her time into indexing. It worked. Our business is doing very well, and although it’d be a tight budget we could cruise on it... We also paid the boat off earlier this spring, so that our boat-debt free goal was achieved (hooray for cheap boats and fixing them up ourselves!). While Jenny was furiously indexing all summer I began furiously prepping Madrigal for departure. We picked the mast off, and installed all new LED mast lights (we had no mast lights at all before). We put in a new battery bank and new inverter systems and a big giant alternator and we put in a composting head and we got new water tanks and and and and... LOTS of time and money went into getting the boat ready to cruise this fall. It was really fun, and I learned a lot along the way.

One of the last major projects pre-cruising was to haul out, paint the bottom, and install a lightning grounding plate. What a miserable set of jobs that turned out to be. We found over 100 blisters that magically were not there during our survey only 2 years ago! grr. We spent 10 days living in a blacktop parking lot in a 95-100 degree heatwave over fourth of July week. Suck. Jenny indexed away inside the sticky, stale boat all day while I ground away at fiberglass and toxic paint underneath her all day. Even the nights were hot and sticky with no reprieve from the boatyard and no friends nearby in this strange little waterfront parking lot we found ourselves now residing in. At least we had each other.

Yeah, Jenny got pregnant. It wasn’t entirely unplanned. We had wanted to start cruising first and then have a kid, but we had decided that if a kid happens sooner instead we will just alter the plans a bit. Well, obviously, it is happening sooner. So we’ve decided to stay in Boston at least until spring (kiddo is due March 25th). It is most likely that we will not be thrilled about the idea of going cruising with an infant come May 1st, nor does the idea of cruising with a 6 month old seem like it will be appealing next Oct... We may be wrong on those assumptions, but if I know us (and I do) those assumptions are correct. So, we are back to living dockside for another 2 years or so.....with a growing family aboard. Back to the bigger boat search. This Ericson is rapidly shrinking!

Luckily, like I said earlier, we’d been keeping an eye out this whole time, occasionally looking at bigger boats that might be a steal of a deal. Watching craigslist for cheap boats, trolling yachtworld for oddities that may crop up, looking at friend’s boats, etc etc etc... all the while knowing that one day we’d have a kid or two and want more space. We were looking in the $30,000.00 range, which you likely all know is nowhere near enough money to get a good solid reliable 40+ft cruiser.... not for most people anyhow. I knew it was possible, just gotta wait for it and keep a sharp eyeball, while knowing that a LOT of work is going to have to be done to fix it up.

So what have we looked at?

Tanton 43 cat ketch.
The first large boat we looked at seriously was a Tanton 43 cat ketch. Wow did we fall head over heals for this boat. The layout is perfect, the rig is simple, the draft is shallow enough to be useful coastal, the boat itself heavy enough to be useful offshore, the engine access fantastic, the stylings to our liking, etc etc etc. Sadly, they are typically 80-120k boats. The one we found was craigslisted at 85k and needed a LOT of work. We liked this boat enough to offer him 50k (yes we were willing to accept the loan for how much we liked this boat) but he was dead set on his 85k, despite the vast amount of work needed to make a finished boat out of her. Fiddlesticks. Back to the drawing board.

Ericson 36c.
This is certainly the smallest boat we’ve looked at as an upgrade from a 35. A friend of ours has an Ericson 36c and the amount of interior space versus our 35 is astounding. Nice 3 cabin layout. We can already attest to the sailing qualities of an Ericson, and the thoughtfulness of Bruce King’s designs. The thought of staying small-ish for dock fees and repair fees is appealing and 36c certainly comes closer to our budget, often selling in the 30-40k range. There is one sitting in the woods in Maine. You can find it on Yachtworld, listed in the low 20’s. It has been sitting in those woods for over a decade now. You can imagine what has to be done. The owner is insistent that it is worth every bit of 20k. I doubt this, severely. We bantered back and forth a bit, but for a boat that is not really “big” we decided not to pour our time into it. If we ever have a 2nd child we’d be in the same boat-too-small spot again.

Allied Mistress 39
The Allieds are awesome. I love their.... sense of purpose. Built for a task: sailing and sailing comfortably. No frills. Looks like a bathtub, but lovable for it. Of course, they hold their value. I’ve seen a couple that are priced low enough, but they are just nasty in terms of rot and what needs to be ripped out/fixed rearranged. Just can’t seem to bring myself to pay 30k for something that needs such a vast amount of help even after that price. We saw a good one down in Georgia on craigslist, at a good price, but still out of our league.... gotta keep looking.

Ericson 39
Again, we enjoy our Ericson greatly, and have a good respect for the brand. The Ericson 39 is not the perfect boat because it lacks a 3 cabin layout, but the quarterberth/pullman is quite large, and with a little ingenuity could be privatized a bit. So, when an e39 hit the market for dirt cheap nearby to us, we give it a look. Beautiful flushdeck boat, apparently quite fast for its day. But man, this boat was soaking wet inside and out. Luckily it was raining the day we viewed the boat and we were able to see that it was also raining inside the boat. What a wreck, and a shame. Too much damage was already done for me to consider paying anything substantial for that boat. Even free it’d be a tough sell. I hope somebody picks her up and restores her though, could be a beautiful boat again.

Formosa Peterson 46
The Kelly Peterson 46 is an amazing boat, but they are priced accordingly. Fast, with an awesome safe center cockpit, and a nice 3 cabin layout. The Formosa version was a ripoff of this same design, made in the formosa yard with their typical lack of supervision. The one we looked at was 80k and it had severe structural damage. Even if he’d have taken 40k for it, it wouldn’t have been sail-able for 2 or 3 years and even then I’d be sketched about the whole thing. Keel damage, deck to hull damage, rudder damage, engine of dubious quality and unknown hours... ucghk.... Sadly, I just can’t pay 40k for a boat that needs so much work.... this is turning into a recurring problem.

Pan Oceanic 38
We have a friend who is selling his PO38. Asking 50k (maybe its sold by now, haven’t looked in a while) I think its a great deal. He has done some amazing work to this ultimately stout and seaworthy beast of a 38 footer. But the 38’s aren’t for me. Too much of a motorsailer and a layout that didn’t feel right. No real sleeping cabins... It’d be too weird for a family to arrange sleeping quarters. The PO43 and PO46 are some of my favorite boats though. I’ve always kept an eye out for one, but never seen one anywhere near the right price. I’ve been in love with that flush deck pilothouse look for a while. I think one PO46 sold in the PNW last year for around 60k, but it’s decks were completely shot and needed a rebuild.... to the point of that being listed on the YW listing. Again, so much work for something that costs so much initially.

Tartan TOCK 41
The Tartan Offshore Cruising Ketch was another boat that we came close to taking out a loan to purchase. They are fairly rare, with a bizarre but awesome layout. The aft cabin is 22’x13’ and is unbelievable! It is the main living area, with a v berth and a pullman up front acting as the sleeping quarters. It would be a fantastic family boat, aside from the very close sleeping quarters. Being a Tartan, it is of dependable make and quality. It was a tempting boat because for the 50-60k it would have cost, it needed the least work of all we’d seen. A new electrical system and a bit of deck fitting rebedding might have set this boat to being just about perfect. But again, even 50k is a staggering initial cost to us, and would require a loan that we detest the idea of. Eventually, we decided to let this one go. Beautiful boat though.

Gulfstar 43
No offense to the Gulfstar owners who read this, but Gulfstar’s reputation as a less than stellar manufacturer is no secret, especially in their early years. When we learned we were having a child, we went into panic/nesting mode and decided that maybe we should look at a cheaper brand of boat. Perhaps finding a Gulftar fixer-upper would provide a cheaper initial investment and allow us to upsize quicker, yet leave us with the ability to put more money into the fixer upper half of things. We looked at a, get this, $5,000.00 Gulfstar 43. You couldn’t have paid me $5k to take that boat. And then, I still wouldn’t have been too happy with it in the end. We stopped looking at those pretty quick, after just that one.

Trawlers in general
Yes, we even looked at some trawlers. We love sailing, and we love the “free ride” aspect of it. A friend of ours spent a couple years cruising, and when he decided to come home to Boston from the Virgins all it cost him was couple weeks at sea. Not bad. That said, some trawlers are beautiful and you can’t deny the livability and space provided in the same footage as a sailboat. Nonetheless, the prices reflect it. So that idea was quickly scrapped.

And then, a couple months ago, something interesting happened. I found a Craigslist ad in Rhode Island with text as follows: “Sailboat 45 foot - free. Custom - molded fiberglass hull with balsa cored deck - 70% complete; includes mast & boom. I'm too old to complete. Ready for last primer then your favorite boat color! FREE for the taking!” That and a couple small pictures of an unpainted hull sitting in the bushes was all it had to offer.

Ok, yeah right. I’m assuming this is a giant wreck of a boat that somebody started, didn’t know what they were doing, screwed everything up, and then gave up. Then, they probably let it rot for a decade or two and now they have to get it out of there for some legal reason. Nonetheless, in the spirit of keeping a sharp eye out for deals, I sent an email asking for more info. Can’t hurt to be a keel kicker. Turns out the boat is a Creekmore 45, a big heavy full keel cruiser with a good reputation in design and hull quality. The hulls were made in Florida, and then either owner finished or sometimes finished by a yard in Rhode Island. This one was purchased as a new hull in 1980 by a man named Henry Whited. Henry was 50 years old, recently single, and planning to sail around the world. He did a fantastic job over the next 9 years building a rock solid interior. First he designed a perfect layout -almost exactly like the Tanton we loved so much, except with a flush deck and an indoor steering station like the Pan Oceanic design we love so much. The perfect melding of two great ideas (in our book). Before doing any construction, he laid 1 inch of fiberglass insulation on the inside of the hull, then glassed that in. Then he laid wood over that. That is some fantastic liveaboard friendly insulation. The bulkheads are teak and all the trim is oak. The cabinets/lockers are lined with pine. It looks beautiful.

Well, in 1989 Henry met his next wife, Birgitta. He put the Creekmore aside and built a new house and restored two other boats instead. Henry is a busy man, and quite talented with design and construction. Putting the Creekmore aside was not a sad thing, but a happy thing. He had a new wife and they daysailed together on their restored Pearson 30. They still do so. In the meantime, Henry has taken fantastic care of his beloved Creekmore. He put an elaborate tarpaulin system in place and every time it rains he checks for leaks. He’s kept the mice out of the boat. It looks like he just stopped working on it last week. It’s amazing. Even keeping it up is a lot of work, and having just turned 80 years old, Henry is tired of caring for it, and simply wants to see it get a good home with somebody who will finish it. Again, amazing.

This is not to say that the boat doesn’t need work. It needs TONS of work. The engine is still new, uninstalled from the mid-eighties (That can be good or bad, haven’t decided yet. We may or may not use this engine. Gotta look into it further). There is no electrical inside. There is no plumbing inside. The trim is not yet finished. A couple cabinets are still not finished. The steering mechanisms are not yet installed. Worst of all, there is no lead in the keel yet. Eek.

The advantage is that we aren’t paying $30-40k for a slimy old boat that needs to be disassembled before it can be reassembled. We are paying nothing and we have a fresh start. I can install electrical components the right way. I can plumb it how I want it. I can set everything up exactly how I want it. It is the barebones layout and structure that we have dreamed of, and everything else I can build to suit.

I realize this may take forever and a day to complete. The big deal will be getting the engine and the lead ballast in place. After that she can be painted and launched. The rest of it is all amenities -electronics, water, toiletry, etc etc. These can be done from living aboard it already. Even the sailing systems can be put on hold for a while until livability is situated first. So really, it might not take too horribly long to get aboard. She is being trucked up to a local boatyard for cheap, and can sit there for six month long periods on a very short dollar while I bring her up to speed.

I know this could be a $70,000+ project to finish it, but I really don’t believe it will be. If I paid top dollar for everything yes, but I’m not that guy. I have friends in marine junkyards and friends who do restoration and mechanic work. We all know how to find cheap stuff for boats, and we look in awe at the people who hire out the work to have their boats refinished. Man alive would that be expensive... I can’t even imagine hiring people to do the work. But me, I know how to bargain hunt. I already have almost 10,000 pounds of lead lined up for only a few grand cash. Not bad. There are many parts that we are buying from Henry... things he bought for the Creekmore but never installed. He had planned to sell all those separate, but for a couple thousand dollars he is giving us all kinds of good crap...steering systems, wheels, sta-locs, lead molds, stainless bar stock, brand new self tailing lewmars, engine equipment, propane oven, new bomar hatches, just all kinds of stuff....... plus it has a new mast, new boom, and 5 brand new sails. I don’t mind sweat equity, and really, I love doing this kind of stuff. It is fun and it will provide a good home in the end. I won’t pick a number of how much I think it will cost. The range is too great. It all depends on what I can find where and when.

One last thing I wanted to say about the stylings of the boat is that Jenny and I really always have been suckers for the non-typical “yacht” --especially on the interior. That isn’t to say we don’t appreciate the fine stylings of our Ericson, or the amazing teak work of the old Taiwan boats, or the perfect joinery of a Hinckley, but we’ve always been drawn to those boats with a bit of homemade flair. They have a special warmth and a lovingness that is permanently embedded in them by their makers. Often times, people do a terrible job at it and the home built boats look simply bad inside.... but even those are awesome if you ask me. I think though, that we found a perfect one. Henry spent TEN YEARS(!) on that woodwork, and it shows. It has a down to earth, home built feel, but still looks nice and manages to remain classy. If you ask me, it’s perfection in design and execution.

Looking Aft

Looking Forward

In the end, I think we got a good deal. After all, $1.00 for the the title to a “new” boat is hard to beat, especially after all the $50,000.00 pieces of crap we saw. It will be a lot of work, but we are going to love this boat-- we already do. We will have a large and comfortable home for our kid(s), and we’ll have a boat that is well worthy of living aboard anywhere we want to.

Boat Moving Day...

Steps for a Pregnant Jenny

As you can see, the boat is now here in MA, about 20-30 minutes from the marina we are living in for the winter. It is all shrinkwrapped up, with it's own staircase and we even made a shrinkwrap shed next to the boat. Work is coming along nicely, but I'll save that for another post!

Jenny made this quick video as a tour of the boat:

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Terribly Embarassed

I can't believe how infrequently we've been updating the blog as of late. How terrible of us. All I can say is - life is very busy and I'm glad that we're living it rather than writing about it, at least for now. We're certain to have more updates soon, we just need to find the time to sit down and write them.

I meant to write this one long ago - nearly a month in fact, but just never got around to it.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of our halloween costumes. Anyone know who we're supposed to be???

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Living Large

Our first winter aboard a boat, we sort of roughed it. We had a wood stove and while it was nice in a lot of ways (nothing beats the smell of a wood fire), it was hard to keep warm. It went out often (we had to refill every 30 minutes or so) and it kept us cold at night (we weren't willing to get up every 1/2 hour to refill it!)

Every winter we get the boat to be a bit cozier. You may recall that last year, we purchased a rug heater from Speedheat Floor Heating and it was a fantastic thing.

This year we decided to take it a step further by buying cheap carpet and laying it out in the entire boat. Let me tell you - Madrigal is COZY. We've been walking around in our socks all day and we're in bliss. Willie has been laying on the floor like a normal dog (he wouldn't even sit on the floor before). Honestly, it's amazing. It makes Madrigal feel so much more like a home (it's unnecessary in the summer, but since we can't move the boat around in the winter, it's made all the difference in the world.)

Anyway, we love it, and wanted to share.

Friday, October 29, 2010

another photo of the new crew member

Again, not a boat related post, but a very exciting photo to us!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We Have Returned!

We are back at Constitution Marina! Thanks to our friends Dave, Mike and Mark for helping us get the boat back (no we didn't need the help, but it was fun)!

Justin is off playing a board game with Mark and I was feeling a bit punky (aka pregnant) so I decided to stay in for the night.

I will write more soon.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Three Days Left

How could it be? How could we only have three days left at Thayer's Landing? Were we really here for six months?

Actually, the summer eeked by for me. Initially I was ecstatic that I wouldn't be in the third trimester of pregnancy during the summer, but in the end I have to wonder if that might have been easier to endure than the first trimester in the continual 90+ heatwaves that we encountered. The heat mixed with morning sickness made for a fairly miserable summer. Since I was working from the boat full-time, I wasn't able to escape into a nice air conditioned library. The boat was often 100 degrees, and it seemed as if breeze was never strong enough to reach me. Finally finally finally the heat let up and we have been having absolutely beautiful fall weather here. In fact, I can't remember a more spectacular fall season. This might be the best one ever.

Heat aside, it was a fantastic and absolutely unforgettable summer. We didn't get to see friends as often now, but we had each other and it was so nice to have that time together. I have started playing guitar again (except this time I'm actually halfway decent at it, unlike last time!), we have utilized the wonderful Tufts Library of Weymouth a lot, watched the entire series of Deadwood, worked on the boat, worked, and I even flew home to Michigan for over a week to be with my family. Oh, and we even found the time to go sailing a few times in there. Oh, and we made a baby too.

While it will be sad to say goodbye to this gem of a marina that we have found, it will also be nice to be back near our friends for the winter. In fact, I am actually looking forward to living in the city again! Weymouth has a lack of cozy coffee shops, but Charlestown has both Sorelle and Zume's and I am really looking forward to doing some indexing off the boat in the comfort of a cozy chair.

Well really, I could go on and on. It is always hard to say goodbye to a place that has treated us so well, but I'm sure that winter will treat us kindly and that we will enjoy the familiarity and familial aspect of Constitution Marina for yet another winter!

I'm sure the next I write, we will be all cozied up in our new winter spot. Hopefully our internet treats us kindly, whichever slip it may be!

**Note** I have tried and tried, but the internet is not working well enough to post pictures along with this update. I may very well sneak in and add pictures at a later date, but for now this is a pictureless entry. Sorry!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sailing near Hull

We were fortunate to go out sailing on Madrigal about two weeks ago with the owner of our marina, Jeff.

I was even more fortunate that Jeff was insistent upon helping out, so I was able to kick my feet back and relax which helped keep both the morning sickness and seasickness at bay!

We got caught in a bit of a squall. Even though we were only out for a few hours, our trip felt like two distinct trips - being in the storm and crazy wind, and being in the calm after the storm.

Madrigal sailed in both types of weather flawlessly, and a fine day was had by all!

Friday, September 10, 2010


If you looked back in history...say, 5 1/2 years, you would discover that the foundation of Justin and my relationship is built upon the art of camping.

Petoskey, MI

It all began in May of 2005 with an invite to go to camping with Justin and his friends Jason & Katie to Petoskey, MI. I had just gotten a tent that Christmas from my parents and was very eager to use it for the first time during that Memorial Day Weekend. Long story short - the weather forecast called for rain and thunder all weekend, so Jason & Katie wimped out and stayed at a nearby hotel/water park instead (we visited them and it WAS amazing). Justin and I thought they were crazy, so we decided that we would indeed still camp that weekend. Both of us still weren't quite sure where this new friendship/crush was going, so 4 days by ourselves really gave us time to figure that out! It turned out to be the best trip of our lives, and we still love going out in that same tent as often as we possibly can to enjoy the great outdoors together.

Jason & Katie did come out and visit us at the campsite. Despite the forecast, the weather was beautiful.

Fast forward to last weekend...

Justin had two days off of work and we took the opportunity to drive to Cape Cod with Willie to enjoy the beaches and get a little camping in. We found ourselves wandering around Provincetown for quite some time and it was lovely to be in such a dog-friendly place!

We found a campground in North Truro, which was close to all the dog-friendly beaches. We took our bikes and tried to find the beach, but took wrong turn so I didn't get to see it the first day. I was pretty exhausted (I blame the baby!) so I took a nap while Justin went exploring with his bike. He came back exclaiming, ''it's amazing. we have to go there tomorrow.'' I didn't quite realize HOW amazing it was going to be until we got there. I had such a hard time pulling msyelf away from the beach the next day. We had it nearly all to ourselves, the shoreline was immense, there were starfish washed up on the beach! The list really goes on and on. It was lovely. I never expected I would enjoy the Cape quite so much, but I can honestly say that was one of the best places I have seen in Massachusetts (if not anywhere!) It probably helped that we went off-season (by one day, haha) and it was a Tuesday.

It was fantastic.

Trusty tent.

Happy Happy.

Baby is growing and so am I!

Happy Jenny.


Digging to the other side of the world. Which is off the Southwestern coast of Australia.

Our last camping trip before the baby comes!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hurricane Earl

Extra dock lines are cleated, fenders surround our boat, our water tanks are full, batteries are fully charged.

We are about as prepared as we can be for Hurricane Earl, and yet forecasters still don't quite know what's going to happen when it reaches this far north.

It all depends upon a cold front that is moving from west to east. Will it push Earl out into the ocean? Will it move too slowly to do so? No one knows for sure yet, and so we prepare the best we can, keep a watchful eye on the weather, and wait.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We haven't been doing much sailing lately. Blame the morning sickness, blame the full-time job that Justin acquired, blame anything you want...but we just haven't made it out much lately.

Obviously, it's made for a quiet blog as of late and I feel terrible. I am hoping that once winter kicks back up, I will be more inclined to update more often. We'll be transforming our two-person boat into a baby-friendly boat, and while I don't expect that we will be making a lot of changes to Madrigal, I'm sure we'll have things to update about. Also, it's just easier to update the blog when it's blustery outside and we're holed up in our little shrink wrap cave.

In the meantime, I am excited to say that we saw our little guppy via ultrasound, and all is well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Week 8

We're having a baby!

Today marks week 8 of Jenny's pregnancy. We are both very happy. We discovered our news right around week 4 and we have been frantically adjusting our plans. A couple months ago we had pretty much decided that we were going to cruise Madrigal south this fall... unless Jenny becomes pregnant, which of course she did. Really, the timing is perfect. We can stay in Boston for the winter, and baby is due to arrive sometime in late March. Our seasonal winter slip will end in May. After that... who knows!? That is the big question right now. We certainly plan to raise kiddo aboard the boat. We've tossed around the idea of getting a bigger boat... but maybe not for a couple years. Dunno. We would like to come back to Thayer's Landing next year, but Constitution is closer to my museum job (and lots pricier), but a mooring sounds cheap and fun (maybe not with a baby!). Life is kinda chaotic right now, but in a totally fun way. We are mostly just trying to figure out the where/when/how for all this baby stuff. The good news is we have a good place to spent the pregnant winter, with lots of friends and good medical facilities nearby, we have insurance and good jobs and indexing is going great... So life is good and baby is exciting.

In the meantime we've done a bit of sailing. We took a trip to Gloucester for a couple days then through the Annisquam River to the north side of Cape Ann. There we visited Ipswich Bay Yacht Club for an evening and returned home the next day. Jenny's morning sickness was battling her will to sail, but she prevailed. I can't get pics to upload right now, so hopefully sooner than later.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cruising World

We haven't gotten to see it with our own eyes yet, but apparently a photograph I took last year in Gloucester, MA made it in this month's Cruising World magazine!

I didn't get top prize (darn - a nice pair of binoculars would have been awesome!) but it's still neat that it made it in there, especially because I had no idea they were going to put any of them in the magazine.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the passage of one year since we got married at Round Lake in Michigan. It has been a very good year and we are both happy to have made it so happily to the one year mark. One of our wedding gifts last year was a gift certificate for a bed and breakfast in the Berkshires. Hence, part of our blogging absence has been due to the fact that we spent a couple days last week at the Berkshire 1802 House near Sheffield Mass. It was very nice place to stay for our one year celebration. The landscape is beautiful there and we got to go for a hike at Bartholomew's Cobble. The B&B served a great breakfast, and the old house had a nice feel to it. I think for us one of the best parts was having air conditioning and as much running water as we could stand. That sure felt different!

Speaking of a/c, it has been HOT here. The picture above is Willie's typical pose these days: panting. I think we've only had one day below 90 F since before we hauled the boat out. We did get to go for a nice evening sail early last week. It is always great to get out in the harbor on a Tuesday afternoon. Nobody else is on the water then and it provides a much calmer more relaxing experience. More like sailing should be.

Our haul out and bottom painting made all the difference in the world for Madrigal. I had begun feeling like we had this slow old antique sailboat.... we could only motor at about 4.5 kts, and when under sail power, even in 15 kt winds we could only get going about 6 kts SOG. It was miserable. The motor back to home from the boatyard we hauled at: 7.5 kts! It was a amazing. Truly, truly amazing. Our sail on Tuesday afternoon drove home the point of the importance of a clean bottom. It was gusty out, probably 12-15kts sustained with gusts up in the mid twenties, so we didn't even bother putting the main up. We just wanted to relax and stroll around anyhow, so we just unfurled the genoa. Lo and behold, even beating against the wind with only a headsail we never dropped under 5.5 kts. We mostly sailed around 6-7 kts the entire time. It was AWESOME.

Anyhow, Happy Anniversary to us. I'll be in New Hampshire doing some archaeological digging for the next week, and then we hope to be able to get out and do some sailing with our newfound speed in the following weeks.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Just one more day...

Here we are, still on the hard. It's been a long and arduous journey to get where we are now...

Ok, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. I blame the heat. It's been roasty toasty since we got here (upper 90s, 100s, etc.) which means the average temperature in the boat during the day has also been upper 90s, 100s, and even 105 on Wednesday. Turns out, I'm a baby when it comes to this kind of heat without having the option of going swimming.

sanding sanding sanding...

blisters ground out and drying in the heat...

Good news though - we are bottom painted and ready to go back in the water! In fact, we were ready to go in this morning but (as our luck seems to have it) the workers aren't here today. This worked out fairly well, as I have a load of work to do and it gave me all day to work on it and Justin cleaned up the boat which is very nice.

Friends are a fabulous thing, and Mike (aboard Gaia) returned from his 621 day cruise a few days ago and was kind enough to help Justin paint the bottom of the boat on Wednesday. In his ever adventurous behavior, he attempted to sail here with his newly aquired sunfish, but realized he might never make it here in time as the winds weren't in his favor. He instead took the ferry from Boston to Quincy and it's a short 1 mile walk from the ferry stop to the boat yard that we're in. The painting was quick and we were free to hang out, have some nachos, and just enjoy the evening. It's very nice to have Mike back in town.

Gaia in Boston Harbor

Oh! Speaking of Mike...

We hung out with him for the 4th of July. We didn't really have any plans aside from "let's hang out with Mike." So we went to Gaia and decided to go visit our friend Mark up the Charles river for the big fireworks. We wanted to let the blisters on the hull air out a bit anyway, so it was a great day to take off and have some fun.

Long story short - we found Mark and climbed aboard. There was a ton of food...tasty food. We were settling in for the fireworks when suddenly there was a knock on the hull from ~6 kayakers and canoers, asking if they could raft up to us. What a funny thing, yet not entirely surprising. I think there were at least 17 or 18 people that ended up climbing aboard (with baked goods, no less...they were prepared!) and hung out with us for the fireworks. A good time was had by all, and as soon as the fireworks ended we all climbed back in the dinghy and spent the night on Gaia. Willie was with us too - he loved the dinghy, hated the fireworks. I think overall, he was happy to have gone :)

A few of the canoers and kayakers.

Didn't get a chance to take photos of the finished bottom yet. That'll be the next post!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

sanding, painting, etc.

We slept on the boat last night while on the hard. Not sure if they wanted us to, but they knew about it and seemed fine with it. I had strange dreams of the boat tipping over, people boarding the boat, etc. Sadly, I sleep better at anchor. It should be the other way around.

The marina power washed the hull this morning around 10:30 and I was surprised at how long it took - maybe 45 minutes or so.

As soon as they were done, I grabbed the dustless power sander and got to work while Justin ran to Constitution Marina to pick up our friend Mike, who is helping with everything.

It's now after 5pm and I'm about 1/2 way through with sanding, but am utterly exhausted. The guys had lots of projects to do too, and it looks like we'll be here for quite a few days because we discovered we have a few blisters in the hull that need attending to. I'll finish the sanding tomorrow. For the rest of the evening, I have some indexing to attend to.

ugh. Blisters.

Anyhow, a couple of pictures of our progress.

Justin and Mike

holding the entire boat up with my head.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the Hard.

It has been too long since Madrigal has been bottom painted. In fact, I've never seen her bottom until today....Justin has from under the water.

Anyhow, now we're on the hard for a few days!

Slightly scary.

You'd think we had black paint on the bottom. It's actually bright blue.


Monday, June 28, 2010

a quick update

All kinds of fun stuff has happened. My parents brought their motorhome out from Michigan for about 10 days. We camped at Wompatuck Park (the same place Jenny and I stayed over 4 years ago when we came to look at Boston as a possible place to live) for a few days, then took Madrigal out for an overnighter at the harbor islands. The first day was mostly a no-wind motor, but the second day we had a great southwesterly all morning which we used to spinnaker our way out to sea and up the coast.

My mom is, well, not really scared of sailing, but more... petrified might be the right word. So a nice gentle spinnaker run was doing her some good and she was fairly relaxed. Well we didn't go very far because I knew we had to turn around and beat back into the wind to get home, so after a short while we struck the spin and tacked around to come home. Just then the wind picked up about another 10 knots and blew a consistent 20 dead on our nose. We didn't quite have the rails in the water, but I think my poor mother may never sail again. She was pale and tired by the time we skipped back into the harbor at a nice 7 knots. We struck the sails and motored our way through the myriad 100's (literally) of boats that were out enjoying what everyone around here considers perfect sailing weather. I must admit that Jenny and I were put a bit on edge by all the wind with so much boat traffic around, but mostly it was just fun. We so rarely get out in blustery weather like that. We are still getting accustomed to it ourselves.

After the sailing adventures were over we all piled into the RV for a trip up to New Hampshire's White Mountains and then over to Portland Maine for a stop and go trip down the coast back to Boston.

We ate lots of seafood and stopped at nice beaches. It was a ton of fun, but I'm out of time here and the internet is not being good about uploading pictures. Perhaps I'll get some more up later.

In the meantime we've scheduled our haulout. In 2 days time Madrigal will be sitting high and dry in Quincy Mass for a few days as we paint the bottom, change zincs, add lightning grounding plate and a transducer for a depth sounder. Should be fun despite the hard work. It will be the first time we've ever actually seen Madrigal out of the water!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Up the Mast Again

A funny thing about taking the mast down is that the crane operator wanted the Windex to be taken off the top. I guess they can get caught pretty easily and get ripped off. So...up the mast I went!

We had to get a bosun's chair (finally), because we had no one else's to borrow this time. That was fine though - we've really needed one a bunch of times now and it's such a good thing to have.

The hardest part for me was the first spreader. I must've spent a solid five minutes at this point before making it the rest of the way up.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We've Been Busy....

Not much time to write now, but just wanted to post a few pics while I got the chance. We got the mast taken off and Justin did a ton of work, so we now have anchor lights, an antenna, a radar reflector and various other fixes to the mast. It was pulled on Tuesday and put back on today.

There's something nerve wracking about watching your mast dangle above your boat. I wasn't too keen on that.

Anyway, that's all for now.