The wait for the survey of this boat to happen was agonizing. It took us outside of the 18 days we gave ourselves to perform, according to the purchase agreement. Granted, the likelihood that the seller would drop out of the deal was slim, but you never know who could show up with a better offer.
Yes, the survey did finally happen last Thurday, a week ago today. Then we waited for the report...and waited for the report. We got the report yesterday and within hours made up our minds to move forward. The survey was comprehensive and there was little we did not anticipate. My 40-minute phone call with the surveyor in Mexico was affirming.
I took a deep breath and called the escrow folks in Annacortes, Washington to tell them we were moving forward, to ask how much money we should wire that evening to settle.
"Oh, that's good, we're glad you like the boat."
"Great, thank you. Do I just use the same wire information as before? What should I send in addition to the balance due? Are there settlement charges due you?"
"Oh, hold on a sec. I'll let Sonya know when she gets into the office later, she's handling your transaction. She'll start the title search and then get a settlement statement out to you."
"How long will that take?"
"Well...what's tomorrow...Thursday, yes. If she starts the title search tomorrow, we should hear back from the Coast Guard...oh, this is a holiday weekend coming up, isn't it?"
"Uh, she should probably hear back from the Coast Guard by late Tuesday. It shouldn't take her long to finish the settlement statement after that."
"And she'll email that to me?"
"She sure will. Now, she is going to send you other paperwork you need to sign and have notarized and send back, but you can scan it and email it."
"So, I could wire the money Wednesday."
"That's probably right."
"And when does the settlement happen?"
"Well, she's got to wait to hear back from the sellers, they can't send their notarized forms back electronically, we need the original hardcopies from them."
I remembered the broker telling me that the seller is living in Asia and plans to go to a US consulate to have her paperwork notarized. "But the seller is in Asia."
"Oh, well, they're going to have to get a US-registered notary to certify their signatures, probably at a consulate."
"Yeah, that is what the broker said. So the seller then has to overnight the hardcopies to your office?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Then what? We close?"
"Uh, yes. At that time, Sonya will send all of the paperwork to the Coast Guard for them to transfer the title. It takes about four to six weeks for that to happen, but we'll send you copies of the executed agreement so you have something. Are you going to change the name of the boat from Dream Catcher?"
"Yes. Del Viento. D-"
"As in David?"
"Yes. Delta Echo Lima, new word, Victor Igloo Echo November Tango Oscar."
"Okay, I'll pass this on to Sonya. Congratulations."
"Thank you very much. We'll really feel like toasting once all of the ink is dry."
I'm not very good at it, but I know the value of recording first impressions of things as soon as possible after an event; I know that the mind is not a perfect data manager. Yet, it's hard because the notion that my first impressions will fade and be overwritten and mixed with later impressions is not intuitive. Okay, Dream Catcher:
I was about 100 yards away when I first saw the boat in her slip, from the stern. It was exciting, but not really remarkable. Yet, walking down the dock she is on, from about 30 feet away, the height of the bow formed a very strong impression. Her bow was lined up with all of the other 40+ foot boats around her and the difference was dramatic. I took this picture of Eleanor near the bow, but it doesn't really do it justice.
I tried to take it all in at that point. The impression was satisfying. Though I had not even been aboard at that point, I felt immediately like our decision to make an offer on this boat, and to spend all of the money and time to come see it in Mexico, was just right; I felt strongly it was right.
Going aboard, everything seemed bigger than I imagined. The cockpit was bigger, the decks were wider. The lines and rigging were heavier. I sat in the cockpit for a minute, in different places, and I was relieved to find it felt comfortable--large enough and with coamings high enough.
She was a little rougher than I expected. The non-skid is faded and the paint lines not as sharp as I imagined. The brightwork was not.
I'm jumping ahead, but the engine was unbelievably quiet and smooth.
Down below, I was immediately satisfied. It was much more than I imagined. Not just in terms of space, but in terms of condition. The pictures on the listing make the interior woodwork appear dingy, dirty. In person, it looks great; I would feel comfortable moving my stuff right aboard--after some light cleaning.
The locker spaces are all dingy white and need to be repainted, all of them. The painted cabin surfaces, such as around the ports, need to be painted, dingy.
The plastic ports do not open and are opaque, nearly impossible to see through. Replacing these with opening ports (with tempered glass) will be an expensive upgrade (roughly $250 times seven ports), but probably near the top of our list--fresh air and visibility are important.
The teal-colored canvas dodger and coverings topside are not my favorite color, as I imagined, but down below, the teal-colored upholstery is not too bad.
All of the drawers and cabinets are solid and open smoothly--a mean feat given the harsh marine environment they've been exposed to since 1978.
I'm naturally skeptical, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I really didn't allow myself to openly enjoy being aboard Dream Catcher (we'll change her name with a proper ceremony soon after we all get down there) until the following day.
The aft cabin far exceed my expectations. There is standing headroom and then some (in an aft-cockpit boat!). There are two giant lockers that were not pictured in the listing. There is ample drawer space for the girls. It was pleasant to imagine them and their things scattered about in this space.
The latch on the door to the aft cabin did not catch when we were underway.
Underway...she seemed to sail nicely. The reefing lines are all run and had to be loosened to raise the sail. The lazy jacks seem to get in the way and were maybe too loose when we dropped the main to offer any assistance. The headsail has two patches, one massive, both in good shape. The main is original and there are chaffed areas around the foot, some broken threads.
The running rigging is stiff and dirty, but otherwise looks serviceable.
The autopilot worked well. The cable that connects the knotmeter to the sending unit is broken and needs to be replaced.
The engine was built no more recently than 1989, but looks like it is in really good shape, visually. There is some corrosion where the raw water joins the exhaust flow.
There were two full logs, piles of manuals, and stacks of service records with receipts aboard. In the short time I spent reviewing them, I could tell they were all very well organized.
The battery bank appears smaller than I imagined and may be overcharging, based on the hissing I heard and the moisture I observed on the tops of the cases.
You are not supposed to fall in love with a boat until after the marriage, but I held out at least past the negotiating stage. (Sellers in Mexico are at a disadvantage in this regard. When a sale is local, buyers usually go aboard and have a look at the boat before making an offer, making it more difficult for some, I imagine, to be less emotional during price negotiations, at the time it really matters. Buyers of Mexico boats must negotiate a price before ever stepping aboard, and perhaps falling hard...)
So, what now? We're back home now and the survey and sea trial and haulout ostensibly happened today. We have heard nothing. A couple of days ago the surveyor said to expect the survey report at a PDF file, via email, first thing Monday morning--it will be a long weekend for both of us.
Every cruising sailor comes to appreciate the notion that there are just as many dissimilar opinions on any boat-related topic as there are sailors to express them. Yet, despite all of this diversity, there is a bastion of sacrosanct truths that unite cruising sailors:
Reef when you first think of it. (Yes!)
Tear up the list; go cruising now. (Yes!)
Parents who take their children cruising are giving them a gift. (Yes!)
There are other tenets, but I am eager to address the last one: I knew this one was true when I was a single man in my 20's, without kids and without any regard for ever taking kids cruising or sailing. I knew it was true because I had both heard it and read it over and over. I knew it was true because it stands to reason: the richness of the cruising lifestyle is sure to enhance the well being of cruising kids in ways not possible for their dirt-dwelling brethren. Therefore, any kid on the deck of a boat traveling the world is better off. Duh.
I’m a 41-year-old parent of two very lucky girls who are a scant 12 months away from becoming cruising kids.
* * * *
This evening, I boarded a city bus for my commute home from downtown Washington, D.C. to uptown Washington, D.C. I often ride along with people who parent differently than my wife and I. I sometimes witness stressed out young mothers curse, hit, and threaten their two-year-olds. It always leaves me more eager to see my own girls.
This evening I saw a young couple with a very young boy, about two-years-old. The man called out the window dramatically to someone who wasn’t there, theatrical in tone, from an adult perspective. Repeatedly he called, “You want this little boy?” Ducking inside he told the boy he would get off at the next stop, to be handed off to a stranger. The boy was crying. The boy was terrified at the prospect of being abandoned. The boy promised desperately, between sobs, “not to act out.” The woman laughed and laughed at the man’s success at fooling—-and terrifying—-the boy. It was the most troubling episode of this kind I’ve witnessed in several years commuting by mass transit. My heart sank for the prospects for this young person, his identity shaped by a real, drummed-in fear of separation and abandonment, humiliated and betrayed by the only people he knew to love.
* * * *
This evening the June 2010 issue of Cruising World magazine was in the mailbox when I got home. Like every month, I went straight to the back of the magazine for Wendy Mitman Clarke’s Off Watch column.
Tonight I read for the first time an account by a writer—-a cruising parent of two!-—who wonders publicly and credibly whether the benefits of the cruising lifestyle she is experiencing as an adult, are benefiting her kids.
Her sentiment was disquieting. The things she wrote do not validate my worldview.
Though she has a platform and she has the credibility, Wendy Mitman Clarke's essay does not contain a single assertion related to the topic. Rather, she wonders aloud whether fullfillment of her and her husband's dream is in her kids' best interests. Her introspective approach makes the essay more troubling. Assertions, or statements of "fact," are easy to dismiss: "My kids are different!" But Ms. Clarke puts everything on the table, opening the debate with lots of questions. Questions echo in the back of your mind until you answer them truthfully.
Following the bus ride home tonight, I know that I affirmed, subconsciously, my own parenting by comparing it with what I saw. I hope my children feel safe and secure, free to develop, unhindered by any seeded reservations about their place in the world, without any anxiety related to our feelings for them. Nothing is more important to my wife and me than not hindering our girls, not stunting them with fears or senses of inadequacy, not inhibiting their abilities to know and project themselves. I hope that we never stunt their abilities to make and develop social connections.
Until I read Ms. Clarke's essay, it didn't occur to me that I took it for granted that my kids were the lucky beneficiaries of the cruising life plan we have in store for them.
Both Windy and I have acknowledged the stresses that will accompany the transition. It won't be pleasant for a 5-year-old to discard 90% of her life's possessions. It will be emotionally disruptive for a 7-year-old to permanently leave the home she was born in. But heck, millions of families move, making these transitions, every year. They turn out fine. More importantly, we will fare even better because the dislocation we are imposing is for a greater good--we are inducting two new lives into the cruising family fraternity. Our kids are lucky--and someday they will know it, right?
But we aren't simply moving, replacing for our kids what they know, with a copy of what they know. We are truly transitioning our kids from what they know to what they will have to come to know. We indoctrinated them in the non-cruising life. We ensured they are products of a landlubbing culture. We are not just moving, we are changing everything.
And the life they will have to come to know is sprinkled with drawbacks different from, but perhaps as significant, as those of the lives we are leaving. In her essay, Ms. Clarke addresses a significant one as follows: "A darker side of this life may also be a deep understanding of loss at too tender an age and a fear of commitment that comes with never knowing what will happen next and of always saying goodbye without knowing if and when you might meet again."
We know that we can answer for ourselves whether the benefits of the new lifestyle offset these drawbacks. Until tonight, I assumed we could answer that same question for our girls, and we can't.
Acknowledging this--for the first time, thanks to Ms. Clarke's article--Windy and I are still confident we are doing right by our girls. Aside from the oft stated benefits of the cruising lifestyle, cruising is a way of life that affords us the freedom to not work (or at least to work a lot less). Accordingly, we will spend more time with our girls than we could otherwise afford to do.* Without this lifestyle avenue, we would be unable to give the girls as much of ourselves. There are hundreds of other considerations--including the dark sides Ms. Clarke presents, including the myriad diverse experiences we will selfishly delight in exposing our girls to--but for Windy and me, everything else follows the four of us being together.
Ultimately, the questions Ms. Clarke's essay prompts remain unanswered. Our best guess, however thoughtfully considered, is just that. Like all urban parents, suburban parents, small-town parents, and the small population of water-based parents, we will move forward, loving and parenting in the way that makes sense to us.
* Surprising to many who are not familiar with cruising, sailing the world's oceans on a private yacht can be accomplished (and enjoyed!) with an income below the US poverty level for a family of four. We are going to prove it.
Wow! One more site that decreases my chances of ever reading through the entire Internet: A cruiser out there named Livia Gilstrap decided to interview other cruisers (only those out of their home country at least two years) and post the interviews on her site, one each Monday. All interviews are conducted via email and consist of the same 10 questions.
I think these interviews are engaging and hope they continue. Over a period of time, they could grow to reflect an historic and evolving body of knowledge and perspectives from a diverse group of people doing pretty much the same thing.
Click the title of this post, above, or head to this address: http://interviewwithacruiser.blogspot.com/
So we were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last week, checking out the boat we plan to buy.
Earlier in the second day, in what can be characterized either as expedient parenting, sincere and measured benevolence, or self-serving indulgence, I promised Eleanor ice cream...”later, if you work with me Boo.” I needed to focus on my survey of the boat, with little distraction. I empathized with Eleanor’s boredom and her overall impatience. It was hot and we were sweaty.
Now, as Eleanor reminded me, was later.
I nodded and addressed the hotel clerk. “Hay una tienda cerca aqui que se vende helado?”
The response was considered and...negative, no helado.
An aging gringo in the lobby, who I’d assumed was just another guest, reassured me there was ice cream near. He and the clerk obviously knew one another and they had a discussion about the place. He told Eleanor and me to follow him. On the way he explained that he used to live here with his daughter. He said that when he was my age, this ice cream place was a favorite haunt. He said that seeing Eleanor and me together made him wistful.
We got our helado.
The next day, as we were getting out of the luxurious pool beside the marina, Aging Gringo reappeared.
“Hey, listen to me. Tonight, after dark, walk out to the highway. Across it, behind the taqueria is a place called Mapaches. Take your daughter there. They have raccoons you can feed, they give you a little piece of dough. She will love it.”
It was our last night and I had promised Eleanor dinner at a “fancy restaurant,” an Italian place we’d seen the night before, suspended above the water with lots of sparkling lights. We were both eager for the experience, but I had been worrying about my lack of a clean shirt (reminder to self: pack more than one-shirt-per-day when traveling in the tropics) and spending money to eat at a place where Eleanor would only order plain noodles with some melted butter-—no, margarine, we are in Mexico. This Mapaches place seemed like an out.
“Hey Boo. Would you rather go to the fancy restaurant tonight, or go to a place where we can feed raccoons?”
This time of year, it doesn’t get really dark in Puerto Vallarta before about 10:00 pm. We were too hungry and tired to wait and found ourselves dodging traffic across the busy highway on the later side of dusk.
Mapaches is not a restaurant in the sense of a closed building, but rather a road-side stand with tile flooring and a roof, but no walls. The kitchen was diner-like, surrounded by a bar and stools. Outdoor plastic tables and chairs filled the rest of the space. Off to the side was a juke box and one of those metal contraptions shaped like a car or animal or spaceship that kids sit on and that jiggle for about 60 seconds for each quarter deposited...or in this case, two pesos.
As I’m taking the place in, I’ll be damned if there is not a raccoon, sitting there next to Eleanor, much like a cat. She hadn’t noticed.
She’s learned to “be like Jane Goodall” in wild animal encounters and she sat down breathlessly near the creature, willing it to approach her, hoping against hope. Surprisingly, it did, and much to her delight. She turned her smiling face to me, seeing if I noticed this amazing event. In doing so, she missed the three or four others who quickly approached her from behind.
Her smile turned to giggles.
Before I could really process the information, there were about a dozen raccoons checking out Eleanor, and a waitress walked up to Eleanor and handed her a piece of dough...raccoons appeared from everywhere, running. More raccoons than I could quickly count, in a feeding frenzy all over Eleanor, who was now freaking out, jumping up. And they kept coming, it was suddenly like a sea of rats, like you’d see in a movie. Eleanor extracted herself from the mass, shock on her face, definitely shaken up, before I could even react. We were both stunned, right in the middle of the restaurant, a mass of fighting raccoons where there had been just one, sitting like a cat.
“Wow, geez. Let’s sit down at a table.” I Iooked around for some appropriate reaction to the pandemonium we’d just been a part of. Nothing. Business as usual. Two guys walked in and sat at the bar; they gave passing glances at the raccoons (now largely dispersed), but were not offered any dough to feed them.
“What hurts…oh, he scratched you?”
“Are you sure it wasn’t his teeth? Are you sure he scratched you?”
The waitress approached to take our order. The menu on the wall was pretty meat focused. We settled on two plain cheese quesadillas, an order of guacamole, an horchata, and a Negra Modelo. She left and we again shook our heads at what had happened, it was really overwhelming. Juxtaposing the neutral responses of the people around us and the fact that we were nonplused, made it all the more surreal. Eleanor was not attacked, but she was buried in a pile of frenzied raccoons.
[Why the hell, at this time, did we think we were about to enjoy an uneventful meal of quesadillas and guac? –Ed.]
So the drinks and food arrived lickety-split. I was gratified to see the woman making our tortillas just as I do at home, with plastic wrap in her press. (Of course, her tortillas emerged from the pan more pliable than mine; need to keep playing with that recipe.)
After our drinks, our waitress set down our plate of guacamole and a single quesadilla before each of us. Then she walked away. We both noticed the head pop up from the seat next to Eleanor. We looked at him, kind of cute sitting there with us at the table. In a flash, he was on the table and off the table, and Eleanor’s quesadilla was gone. She laughed, thought it was hilarious...and then...there are at least 35 raccoons around our table, most fighting each other loudly for a piece of Eleanor’s dinner, many others trying to climb on our laps. There was a row of paws along the table edge, noses and faces pulled up, eyes looking.
The waitress came by and swatted at a couple stepping onto the table from the empty chairs.
“They took Eleanor’s dinner.” She nodded and said she would bring another. She headed back to the kitchen. Three raccoons were on the table at once. Following the waitress's lead, I pushed them off.
“Boo, we just have to be bold, just push them away when they come near you.” Soon, I realized that’s all we were doing, trying to protect all fronts at once. Eleanor stopped laughing. They were multiplying. I noticed my quesadilla was gone, and I hadn’t eaten it. Little black hands grabbed a chip stuck in top of the guacamole. I used the back of my hand to push back a raccoon trying doggedly to get onto my lap….”ah, geez!”
“Did he scratch you?” Eleanor asked.
“No, he bit me.”
I looked at my hand as the waitress approached, just a little scratch from his teeth, not a puncture wound or anything, but it was bleeding. The waitress shooed the raccoons matter of factly as she set Eleanor’s replacement plate down. It felt wrong to me to allow this woman to put food in front of my daughter, like she’d taken a cub from a mama bear and set it in front of Eleanor.
“They got my dinner too, necesito un otro.” She explained that she was willing to replace the first plate, but that if I wanted more, I would have to pay for it. It seemed like an absurd position, but I couldn’t focus on conversing in Spanish to respond—-she’d just set the equivalent of a baby bear cub in front of my daughter and I was worried for her safety. I nodded, bring me another.
Eleanor was fighting the valiant fight, losing bits of her quesadilla to little black hands as she held the thing tightly, too distracted to eat. A raccoon grabbed the flower from behind Eleanor's ear and made off with it. The situation was out of control. We’d both been wounded and I wondered if I was a negligent father remaining here, could this get worse? Should we get rabies shots?
“Boo, eat as fast as you can, really, just shove it in. We’ll get ice cream if you hurry.”
I fought the raccoons for my guacamole and then got smart. I kicked the two plastic chairs several feet from our table and smiled at Eleanor, happy with myself, wondering aloud why our waitress hadn’t done this. This reduced the threat to the tall ones peering over the edge of the table (our drinks and plates had earlier found their way into a little cluster at the center of the table) and the tenacious ones grasping our legs in a bid to get on our laps. A couple raccoons bridged the chair-table gap with their bodies, but I pushed the chairs back even further.
The waitress brought my quesadilla and left. Eleanor and I were a bit smug, feeling in control. We could relax a bit and laugh at the experience. We just had to learn to manage the situation. I used my quesadilla to wipe at the guacamole still on the plate and...BAM! A large raccoon made a flying leap from one of the chairs I'd pushed back, landing on our table, sliding smack-dab into our cluster of dishes and right up to me. He recovered quickly, grabbed a hold of the quesadilla in my hand and wrenched it from me, before jumping back to the tile floor and fighting the others for his prize. In an instant, two other raccoons found their way onto our table, we were no longer in control. I told Eleanor to stand up, we were abandoning ship. I handed her the horchata and grabbed my beer. We stepped away from the table and watched it be taken over, picked clean, and then quickly abandoned. Each of us stood in the middle of the restaurant, clutching our drinks with three raccoons each standing at our feet, pawing at our legs.
I signaled for the check.
“Let’s get back across the highway, Boo. We’ll get some ice cream.”
Post Script: We were early, too early. What I left out of this story is that about the time we got our check, they began feeding all of the racoons in the back. Eleanor went to ride that two-peso contraption and more diners filed in, largely unmolested. Raccoons milled about with full bellies and people tossed food to them and took pictures. I could understand the business model and see our mistake. Even more cars pulled up as we left, we the too-early gringos.
1. There is no air filter element currently installed, one aboard? Any part number handy? 2. For the life of me, I could not identify the water pump, please include a picture of it in the survey. 3. Why are there two oil caps? One on top of the valve cover, as expected, but the other towards the front of the engine? 4. The corrosion where the raw water discharges from the heat exchanger into the exhaust line looks pretty bad. How bad and what is the best approach to fix? Cost? 5. The little drain pipes in place of scuppers looks like an elegantly over-engineered approach that introduces a potential for leaks. Cleary this has been addressed in the past, and can be further addressed, but what about potential damage to hull or deck where tubes pass through, from water over time? 6. It looks like the floor boards in the aft locker (under the ice chest) were glassed in on the port side to form a sturdy mount for the autopilot ram. Please confirm no hull repair there. 7. I forgot to note where, but it looks like the tabbing on one bulkhead separated. Please identify. 8. It looks like both battery banks are leaking (little puddles on the tops of all batteries). The two batteries, under the aft starboard berth, are hissing and squeeking like mad. Is this a condition of overcharging? Is the fault in the A/C battery charger not regulating properly, or is the solar regulator not regulating properly? 9. For many of the exposed bolt heads for deck-mounted items, there do not appear to be backing plates. For which are backing plates indicated? 10. Propane locker smells heavily of propane. Is this normal, or does this indicate a leak? 11. What is the black junction box above the cabin sole next to the mast? 12. The starboard galley footpump seems non-operational, please confirm. 13. Please let me know the sizes of all zincs. Please coordinate replacement, if needed, during haulout, and charge me, especially concerned about protecting the Max Prop. Are the zincs working? 14. Does the windlass have a provision for operating manually? Owner reports no, but the manufacturer web site seems to contradict, still researching, insight appreciated. 15. There is a vented loop/siphon break mounted in the cupboard behind the LP gas switch in the galley. How do I determine if it needs to be replaced? 16. Please include the diameters of any hoses you recommend replacing, so that replacment hoses can be brought from the US. 17. Is the massive L-shaped bar stored in the aft outside locker (under the ice chest) the emergency tiller?
It sounds like they had a blast. Dolphins at the bow and all. I don't have all the details because they got in late, and now Miguel's at work. He says the boat is "bigger and nicer" than he imagined. I'll prod him to write something about their Mexican adventure here.
We're still waiting on the surveys. Ideally, all surveys would have been done while Mike was in Mexico, but our surveyor is stuck on what sounds like a nightmare of a boat delivery. Cruising writer Beth Leonard says, "You can pick the time or you can pick the place, but you can't pick the time and the place." This is our first nibble at that reality.
It's hard to believe that we are so close to buying a boat. I feel like putting a "For Sale" sign in front today. We really do need the year to wrap things up neatly though. We have long list of small home projects to complete before we sell. The animals need new homes. I'm taking a Wilderness First Responder course through the Wilderness Medicine Institute (NOLS). The list goes on. In fact the whole list business gets a little bit insane. I'll save my cynical thoughts on lists for another post.
I've scoured a few more images off the web, mostly from the Fuji site. Above is a stock photo of a Fuji 40. Only a handful of these boats were built so there's not a lot of info out there on them.
The deck plan (click to enlarge) might come in handy later.
I like the idea of purging ourselves of so much stuff. We'll keep the few things we intend to use on the boat. We'll store some sentimental things: art, photo albums, the chest and the tiny rocking chair. Non-essentials will vanish in two massive yard sales -- one before we sell the house, and one after. We'll move away from the weeds. Our boat (our lives!) will be be spare, sparkling clean, and hyper-organized. I already feel lighter just thinking about it.
But the other day I was browsing the West Marine catalog and I had a horrifying revelation: We need more stuff! We need boat stuff, and lots of it (minimum $200 regardless of what it is). Additionally, I need, must have, this coffee-press. It's compact, multi-functional, and -- best of all -- 100% stainless steel. Stainless steel is big on boats because it doesn't rust (well, actually it does, just not very much or very fast).
Then there's safety gear. That's a tough one for me. I can imagine emergency scenarios in which our life depends on every single emergency-related product West Marine offers (portable water-maker $999, floating signal flag $12). And ultimately we will have thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies and gear we hope not to use.
So it's not so much simplifying as trading. We're trading the stuff of one lifestyle for the stuff of another. Goodbye lamps and mirrors, hello spare parts and inflatable life vests. And even though all this sparkly, expensive gear is tempting, with limited space and dollars, we'll be running a cost-benefit analysis on everything we bring aboard.
When Mike and Eleanor get back from PV we'll have a better idea of what we'll need right away and what we can wait on or do without. The integrity of the hull, rigging (holds up the mast), sails, lifelines (fence circling the deck), and ground tackle (anchors, chain), plumbing, and electrical, and engine are at the top of the list. Also safety/emergency gear: EPIRB (emergency distress beacon), medical kit, crew recovery gear (for crew overboard), VHF (radio), life vests, tethers and attachment points, fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, bilge pumps, life raft and ditch bag ("abandon ship" bag), GPS and charts, depth meter. All those (plus whatever I missed) are essentials. So before I get in too much of a frenzy, I need to remind myself that everything else is optional, including (sigh) beautiful stainless steel coffee-presses.
I wanted to save these pictures for inspiration. "Our" Fuji is a boat, a workhorse, lots of gear sprouting out all over her, an overabundance of teal. Still, she suits us, and we think she's pretty. The pics that follow are of a sistership currently on the market. Much more expensive, not nearly as much gear, and gorgeous. --WR
First we wire our 10% deposit. Then on Saturday Mike and Eleanor are hopping on a plane for Puerto Vallarta where they will have a very busy long-weekend. One of their most important tasks will be getting a feel for the spaces on the boat. Do we fit in the berths? Headroom? Can we all comfortably chill in the cockpit? Watch a movie together? Then an engine survey, haulout (bringing her up onto land to check everything below the water line), rigging survey, general survey, sea trial (sailing with the surveyor), taking inventory, measurements, and lots of video and pics for me and Frances. The checklist is already long and growing.
The deal is contingent on our satisfaction with all of the above. If everything looks good we'll give our official stamp of approval and wire the rest of the money. If the surveys turn up something major, or even if we find the boat awkward or uncomfortable, we can walk. We've done a lot of remote legwork, and at this point we're betting that the boat will meet our expectations. Otherwise we're out a chunk of change and we keep looking. --WR
In the brochure you can see how stunning her teak interior once was. The cabinetry is gorgeous, but not ornate and heavy like many of her counterparts (click to enlarge). I also like her sleek, modern-looking exterior. She's a beauty -- and it's looking more and more like she'll be OUR beauty. Yippee! Pictures are from the Fuji Owner's website (of which, I hope, we will soon be members).--WR
“A treasure trove of useful, well-organized information on seagoing parenting.” Gary "Cap'n Fatty" Goodlander, Cruising World columnist
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In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we lived the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are.
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