Friday, August 29, 2008


Three years and three months into building our business, we are ready to pass it along. Our five-year timeline has been thwarted by unanticipated success. The whole shebang goes on the chopping block next week, not a day too soon.

On the seventh anniversary of building our house, we will be ready to list it. I wish we could claim that we built this house knowing it would fund the foundation of the rest of our lives. Instead, we were tired of renting and wanted to provide a more stable home base for the kids. As a bonus, this house doubled in value and allowed us to start a business that quadrupled in value in just over three years. Our nest laid a nest egg.

Five years after bringing Isabella up from Fort Lauderdale, we have her ready to sell. Her toe rails are glistening. The garage will be in a few days. The fuel and tank have been cleaned. The stove is working. the tachometer is working. It's possible she will bring close to what we paid five years ago.

Our belongings disappear by the day. The desk chair is gone with an overall outlay of $149 for 8 years of use. The princess jewelry, gone. Two pairs of Doc Martens, sold for about what I paid for them 12 years ago. The Jerry Garcia doll shipped to Florida today. Our original artwork has a home until Casey's ready to provide a permanent one. Two rooms are almost empty and will be once we have the energy to have a garage sale. Half of my clothes have been distributed, the stained glass window sold.

The photos have been sorted, tossed or filed, ready to ship to Chip's mom. My old files have been sorted and mostly trashed. At least half of the CDs are on the iPod. The yard is looking more like a landscaped lawn, less like an overgrown lot. The excess wood under the house is loaded and ready to take to the dump.

We're tired but thinner, exhausted but motivated, closer and wiser than we've ever been.

--shipped the Jerry Garcia doll and the Doc Marten boots
--got the Fender Stratocaster boxed and ready to put on Ebay
--had the fuel and tank cleaned (!)
--passed along financials to the business broker

Thursday, August 28, 2008


We realized recently that once we sell the store, we'll be on a fixed income for a while. (Yeah, we're a little slow.) It's time to start buying some of the expensive things we'll be needing for our new life. things such as cameras, a laptop, another iPod, foul weather gear, folding bikes, etc. (I have to use "such as" because I'm an editor. Bear with me.)

Let the shopping begin. Make that, let the research begin. We have to figure out the best buys in all these categories. The shopping list:

--wet suits
--snorkel gear
--folding bikes
--first aid kit
--life raft
--foul weather gear
--life jackets
--fishing gear

--finished sanding the garage and got the first coat of sealer done
--cleaned and setup the downstairs bath
--untaped the boat -- photos coming soon
--sold my Doc Marten boots on Ebay! $91 -- weird
--put fuel in the boat in preparation for getting tank/fuel cleaned

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We're not young. We're not old. We're not rich. We're not poor.

We're middle-aged and middle class. We're the parents of two college kids. We own a modest house, two ordinary cars and a small business. We have hopes and dreams and bills. The washing machine breaks down, the kids need money for school and the couch has a tear in it. We're not seasoned sailors. We're neither adventurers nor athletes. There's not one thing special about us, nothing that uniquely qualifies us to set off on a sailboat.

Yet many people get misty eyed and wistful when we talk about our plans to sail away. They say things like, "I've always wanted to do that," or "I'm so jealous," as if we're doing what for them would be utterly impossible, even though from our vantage point, they are better placed to follow a dream. They're sometimes younger and more footloose, many are more financially capable. Some are stronger, more experienced or seemingly more adventurous. But they tell us we're brave, as if we're leading a charge into dangerous, eel-infested waters. They tell us we're inspiring, as if we're setting off on a mission to save starving babies in Botsganistan.

We don't fancy ourselves brave. In fact we often feel downright terrified. We don't find ourselves inspiring or the leaders of anything. We constantly seek advice from those who lead and inspire us in matters of real estate, diesel engines, finances, selling guitars and varnishing teak.

We do find ourselves tired from going about the very hard work of completing a plan that started 10 years ago and will end when we set sail next year. It is that bluewater endgame that keeps us focused and compelled to keep working, every day.

But if we are the victims of accidental inspiration, I hope we'll look back some day to find we've led a very long parade of a thousand boats following a thousand dreams.

--varnish coat number 5
--sanded the garage to 100 grit
--painted the cockpit locker
--borrowed a truck to take the excess wood to the dump
--got advice on staging the house for sale

Sunday, August 24, 2008


We keep inviting people to come peer into this precipice and commiserate with us. The only ones who approach just see how cool it is at the bottom and not how damned hard it is to get there.

We're not pioneers by any stretch. Many have gone before us, sold everything and moved onto boats.

Alas, we know none of them.

So we fumble along, just the two of us, slogging through all these huge life changes without anyone to talk to about it. We grapple with the decisions in an echo chamber.

And so it goes. Plodding along toward the water. Just the two of us.

--retaped the port side and varnished, coat four, on the toe rails all the way around.
--sanded the garage (teak cover for the main companionway hatch) with 40-grit and then 60. boy, was that a mess.
--finished removing the eyebrow and got it ready to paint
--varnished another coat on the dorade box
--scrubbed the hand rail canvas covers, hatch cover
--bleached and scrubbed the coach roof
--sanded the cockpit locker

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Dear Tammy,

You know all those lessons we learned while refinishing the toe rails? You think you'll remember them, don't you. Trust me. I know you well enough to know that you'll forget them. So I'm doing us both this favor of writing it down here where it won't get lost.

Thinking of you always,

--don't waste my money on teak cleaner. a mixture of part bleach, part laundry detergent and some TSP works just as well, if not better
--don't EVER, EVER use a pressure washer on teak
--use 40-grit on the first pass. as john bayliss says, "it lets the teak know you're serious."
--save yourself some grief. refinish before the wood starts deteriorating.
--don't skip grits. going from 40 to 80 is too far and makes more work.
--leave the perfectionism in the cabin. the outside will take some wear and tear. it doesn't have to be perfect.
--gloves for varnishing and cleaning up. saves a lot of annoyance.
--100ml does a whole lap on isabella
--keep it thin so you won't get brushstrokes.
--don't overload the brush so you won't get drips.

Use this order:
1. clean with bleach solution and brush. rinse and brush.
2. tape fiberglass
3. sand with 40
4. sand with 60
5. sand with 80
6. sand with 100
7. sand with 120
8. clean and wipe with mineral spirits
9. check tape and add tape to hardware
10. seal with half varnish/half thinner
11. sand with 140
12. clean, wipe
13. varnish 85/15
14. sand with 160+
15. clean, wipe
16. varnish full strength
17. retape
18. keep going as long as you can stand. use scotch brite pad instead of sandpaper once it reaches the right smoothness.

--sanded with 320 and put on third coat. it's starting to shine
--3 things listed on Ebay
--took pictures of more stuff for Ebay

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Sometimes I'm so stupid I surprise even myself. I'm studying to get a ham radio license. The first step is to learn all the phonetic alphabet, you know, alpha, bravo, charlie.

So, I'm thinking (loosely speaking): "There must be an easy brain exercise to learn these. How about an acronym?"

I actually thought that.

alpha bravo charlie delta echo foxtrot golf hotel india
juliet kilo lima mike november oscar papa
quebec romeo sierra tango uniform
victor whiskey x-ray
yankee zulu

Moving on to less cerebral pursuits, I got the sealer coat on the starboard toe rail today. We're sealed! The photo gives some of the taping nightmare as well.

--getting 'varnish toe rails' off the TO DO list one letter at a time. we're at about 'varnish toe r'
--first round of sanding on the garage
--further patching of sheetrock in Casey's room
--touched up paint in living room and bedroom
--initial clearing and 'staging' of living room for selling the house

Monday, August 18, 2008


I can now start my life of crime. My fingerprints have officially been sanded off.

Six hours of sanding today bored through several layers of skin and drew blood in two spots. Begs the question: why does sandpaper make the wood so smooth and my hands so rough??

Even the palm sander gave up today. The pad let lose from its moorings about two feet away from the finish.

Despite that I finished sanding the other half of the toe rails today. At least the bare wood. The hard part is DONE, grinding through layer after layer of weathered, rough wood. It's now slick as glass and beautiful. This burden has been hanging out there for months. What a HUGE relief to have it so close to completion. I could fly if I could get up off the couch.

Tonight we'll clean and tape. Then the week unfolds like this:

Tuesday: sealer coat on the starboard half
Wednesday: sand starboard with 150 grit and put on a coat of varnish
Thursday: 220 grit on the whole boat plus a coat of varnish
Friday, etc: sand, varnish

That routine will continue as long as I can stand it, up to 10 coats.

Next up: the wood garage that goes over the sliding hatch. It's about 3x3 feet of solid teak. The good news is it's not attached to the boat. No bending, squishing, craning, leaning, bumping.

After that's done I'll start the companionway, which has to be stripped and then sanded and varnished. Sigh. What will I do then? The bulkhead in the cabin.

Getting there, grit by grit and board by board.

I sure hope somebody's doing all this on the boat we'll eventually buy.

--finished sanding!!!!!!!
--made a list of things we need to buy
--got the tachometer working
--plucked the damn eyebrow off. it was looking dreadful.
--patched hole in sheetrock in Casey's bedroom

Friday, August 15, 2008


People are curious about how we're going to "afford" cruising. Frankly we're a little curious too, but there's a plan.

Here's how it works: cruising is C-H-E-A-P. A poll of 208 cruisers on "cruisers & sailing forums" (yeah, boring to YOU) has 77% of full-time cruisers living for less than $36K/year and 58% of those on $25K or less. Based on our research and wishful thinking, we think we can live comfortably on $25K/year give or take a few planes trips home and a random boat repair. And that's for BOTH of us.

Why so cheap? As soon as we cut land ties, our fixed expenses go down to almost nothing. No mortgage, mortgage insurance, cars, car insurance, car maintenance, gas, utilities. When you think about it, we spend tons of time working to support things, houses, cars, furnishings, clothing. Not any more.

We'll retain health insurance, income tax, food costs and add in boat maintenance, which can vary greatly; charges for entering foreign waters (minimal), sunscreen.

It's not lost on me that when we cut our land ties, our income will also go to nil. And no, we're not independently wealthy. When we sell the house and business, we will be able to put a tiny nest egg away to hedge against our elder years and see the kids through college. Otherwise, we hope to feed the cruising kitty with cleverness and a bag of crudely honed skills. (Please send money.)

Really though, we only have to come up with $200 each per week on average.

The cleverness comes into play as we think of ways to be as self-sufficient as possible. We'll use solar power to charge the batteries, a water maker to turn saltwater into drinking water (powered with solar energy). We'll use the wind to drive the boat except in extenuating circumstances, limiting our use of diesel fuel. We'll eat low on the food chain and cook all of our meals. Neither of us shop, so the danger of running up credit cards on plastic trinkets and leather pants is not a concern. Where possible, we'll do our own boat repair. We'll anchor instead of paying for mooring balls or, worse, docking. In other words, we're vacationing in the 1800s.

It's not retiring on a yacht in white clothes with a steward bringing martinis to me while I'm watching tom cruise movies on the plasma TV. On the other hand, we will have rum drinks.

--150 grit sanding on the toe rails and 85/15 varnish. second coat just in time for tonight's rain.
--found out after the $800 boat "repair" that the problem was like a spider web in the intake.
--sanded the hatch in preparation for another round of varnish

Thursday, August 14, 2008


My muscles ache. My back hurts. My skin is dry. My hands are peeling.

I guess a fairy godmother wouldn't be so captivating if we had our own magic. And don't I long for a magic wand to spin out a car for Dylan, to bestow perfect health on my friend Sparky, to instantly make the toe rails perfect and shiny, to whisk the store away, to conjure a pile of money for my friend Dan, to sell the house. Oh well, I'd probably burn it out the first day anyway.

Instead, in real, waking life, I keep plodding. Eight straight hours today sanding the toe rails, taping, wiping, varnishing. I don't know how I'm even typing. Five more coats and then I can do the other half. This will be one of the biggest things off our list. We've been dreading it for a while. A few more boat projects, and we can get the boat on the market.

Dylan left for school today, leaving a sad, lonely room. Dylan's friend Brett leaves tomorrow, the last one to go.

How many times have I said, "Once the kids are back at school, we'll ...."

Maybe i'll check Ebay for that magic wand.

--finally got to use some varnish. half/half solution on port side toe rail and v-berth hatch.
--lots more CDs on the laptop

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


They say in the last moments before you die, your whole life flashes before you.

But in these slow days of August, as I sort through every old letter, every photo, every file, every song I own, it is not death but wanting to live that makes my whole life flash slowly before me. I smile, I weep, I soar, I grit my teeth, I clinch my fists, I miss, I remember, I relive, I grieve, I laugh out loud.

I made this trip through my life once before when I got divorced at 32. now, 16 years later, I have half again as much life to relive. I've gained so much, new family, new friends, yet lost my father, my grandmother.

Yeah, going back through it all, it's exhausting, sometimes it's miserable and by turns exhilarating. At the end of each day, I crumble in a washed out exhausted heap. It's my life. All of it.

--too many CDs to count
--resting up for another teak attack

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I spent four hours on the boat today. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? The sun, the water, the sand. Actually the closest I got to sand was the kind glued to paper.

Four straight hours of sanding toe rails -- and that was just one round, halfway. It was a sunny day, so I sprayed down with sunscreen, then sanded and sweated and sanded. I was a walking teak-dust monster by the end of four hours. I felt like I'd been basted, dredged and baked until well done.

Then it was shower, dress and hurry off to the store for a 6-hour shift. I'm REALLY done now. I'm almost too tired to type.

Thursday is two more laps with two more grits and then tape, wipe and seal. Then I can put on another coat of varnish every 12 hours. As many times as I can stand. Then start on the other side.

I guess they wouldn't call them dreams if they were easy to achieve.

--first round of sanding on half the boat.
--eight more CDs on laptop
--made up our own teak cleaner: 1 part laundry detergent/1 part bleach/some tsp

Monday, August 11, 2008


Boy, last week, we couldn't get a thing going, not one damn thing. It was a stalemate from beginning to the bitter end. Saturday night i thought nothing would ever go right again.

When you're out on the water, sometimes the wind shifts or the sails aren't set just right, and you slog along, heavy and sluggish, like wading in thigh-high water. Then you hank in the jib or let out the main just so and the sails snap into shape, the boat rises up out of the water, the wheel locks in, and you just fly, you, the boat and the wind all as one piece.

Sunday turned like that. $200 worth of stuff sold on Ebay -- including my lucky green Doc Martens! They went to Chicago. My princess jewelry went to Austria (!). Today that damnable chair started en route to Indiana after only one more glitch when the post office said it was too big to ship. Did I want to repack it? AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. UPS took it for only $9 more than I had collected for shipping. They had no idea how much I would have paid.

Twenty more CDs on the laptop, a plan for transporting the wood under the house to the dump, more photos in albums, a teak plan for tomorrow, it's all coming together. And perhaps most exciting of all: we opened a savings account today for our cruising pennies, straight from Ebay into savings. We've covered more ground than all of last week.

Crazy days. Sometimes I can almost taste the salt water.

--swapped out speakers between the home stereo and the store so we can sell the home system on ebay
--sold my stained glass window at the wine shop!
--shipped the damn chair to Indiana and the shoes to Chicago
--more CDs on laptop. better look back at the TO DO list. i forgot to keep up on this one ....
--opened our cruising savings account -- very exciting
--made preparations to do a teak attack tomorrow -- first round of sanding with 40 grit. That shit looks like a shingle! I could break out of prison with that stuff.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


What will we do if we don't like cruising?
What will we do if we don't like each other?
... if I get scared?
... if I don't have enough sailing experience?
... if we don't get the right boat?
... if we don't like the boat?
... if we don't have enough money?
... if we're not comfortable living on the boat?
... if the boat sinks?
... if a giant sea squid comes out of the deep and starts screaming at us in Sanskrit?
... if we run aground on an uncharted island with Amelia Earhart and Tom Hanks?

One time my friend Beth and I were setting out on a road trip across the country. Our loosely cobbled plan was to meander from Texas to North Carolina and spend the winter living at the beach.

As we were leaving Austin, she went into a meltdown.

"What will we do if we can't find a place to live? What will we do if we run out of money? What will we do if everything goes wrong? What'll we do?" her voice getting more panicky with each what if.

I turned to her and said, "um, something else?"

It's always good to have a backup plan.

--another round of sanding on the toe rails
--came to the realization that we have to bleach all the teak
--sold two more things on Ebay -- and they're very small. YAY.
--glued the couch back together after a summer of teenagers
--cleaned out the cockpit locker on Isabella

Friday, August 8, 2008


Some weeks are easier than others. Chip and I have a life condition we call "being in the stream." It's when the future unfolds before you like a yellow brick road, a Disney moment when the whole world is in concert, the path ahead is obvious, smooth, even glorious. Little birds float around our heads singing, rainbows light our path. All the signs and flowers point the same way.

Then there are weeks like this.

All I wanted was a cardboard box.

I've been looking for one the whole damn week. A simple cardboard box big enough to ship the desk chair I sold on Ebay. I thought I had one on Sunday. I thought I had one on Thursday. I thought I BOUGHT one this morning. But no, after eight phone calls, a 24-mile drive, and a wasted $11, it was too small.

How hard can it be? Isn't this the lucky 08/08/08? Or do you have to be Chinese for that to apply?

If I was in the stream, that box would have been dropped of on my doorstep by bear cubs on Monday morning. It would have had a roll of strapping tape and a bunch of bubble wrap inside. An hour later a handsome UPS driver would have shown up to whisk it to Indiana for half price -- and he would have brought me a skinny latte.

What am I doing wrong that's making this so difficult? To get back in the stream I usually have to find something I'm pushing too hard or pulling too vigorously. Something I'm agitating about that needs to be left alone or something I'm leaving alone that needs attention. Help!

Shipping a chair. Sitting. Cardboard. Packing. Letting go. Fulfilling an obligation. Peanuts. Bubble wrap. Planning ahead. Anybody?

I found a crap box at Sears that looks a little Frankensteinian, but it was after 5:00 on Friday when the post office was closed. So now that glommed-together box with Sears washing machine instructions all over it has to sit glaring at me until Monday. Maybe the message is stamped on the box somewhere .... am I supposed to learn Spanish?

--packed the #&*$&*# desk chair for shipping
--bid on an attitude adjustment on Ebay

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Us: "We're selling everything and moving onto a sailboat."

"Oh, cool. where will you keep it?"
I guess it's not illogical to think we're just going to use a boat as our house -- anchor down and live in one place. If I told them I'm moving aboard a pop-up camper, I doubt they'd say "oh, cool." There is something terribly romantic about living on a sailboat. However, I don't find it at all romantic to live aboard a stationary boat. In my mind that's the worst of all worlds. If I'm giving up the conveniences of land, I darn well want to have a new and spectacular backyard every day. So where will we keep it? On the move.

"For how long?"
We are making a lifestyle change, not taking a sabbatical. Some cruisers reach some cataclysmic point where they abandon cruising forever -- a storm, seasickness, an accident, a realization that they hate each other. Some cruisers stay out there indefinitely. We hope we're the latter. We don't know.

"Where will you go?"
We'll start coastal, Chesapeake, ICW, Florida. Hop to the Bahamas, travel through the Caribbean to hone our sailing skills. Then we don't know. Panama Canal? Maybe. Down the coast of South America? Maybe. Across to Bermuda? Part of the joy of doing this is that we don't have to know.

"What will you do with your house?"
That's easy. Sell it. Maybe not so easy to sell in this market, but the decision, I mean.

"How do you and Chip agree on what to do with your stuff?"
We're lucky. We agree on everything (except who cleans the grill).

"What about pirates?"
There are pirates. There are some areas where there are more than others, but there's also a good network of communication amongst cruisers about safe areas and dangerous ones. Theft is probably more likely. We'll take precautions. It's not on the worry list.

"Will you take a gun?"
Is it just me or does having a gun in a boat seem like a really bad idea? Bullet holes in boats: BAD. We plan to wield a knife against uncleaned fish.

"What about storms?"
I was talking to Anna, a seven-year-old, yesterday about living on a sailboat. She said the only thing she wouldn't like about living on a boat would be the storms. I was TOTALLY with her on that. Everyone dreads storms, but we sort of have a plan. This is it so far: first, we won't take chances. We'll wait for weather windows. We know we can't sail on a schedule, because that's how you get in trouble. Second, we'll stay out of the hurricane zone during hurricane season -- boat insurance requires that anyway. Hurricanes are mostly predictable. It's foolish to get in their way. Finally, it's inevitable to get in squalls and unexpected storms. We have to be prepared with the right equipment and knowledge to hunker down and weather it. Our first big storm will be terrifying. Maybe they all will be. It's funny though, all the good sailing stories are about storms. Perfect weather days don't make for good tales. "One time, the wind was, like, perfect, and we were, like sailing all day. It was SO cool."

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”-- Louisa May Alcott

“I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits.”-- Bernard Moitessier

p.s. -- Anna also said she's really glad she's not a fish. She and i must be soulmates.

--found a large enough box to ship the office chair -- to Indiana
--went to the eye doctor
--got a prescription for antibiotic eye drops in case one of us gets an eye infection

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


"Were you waiting for me to clean the grill?" Chip asked.

"I thought you were cleaning it. I cooked."

"I cleaned it the last three times I cooked."

I rolled my eyes. He hates it when I roll my eyes. I hate it when he keeps track of who did what. It got ugly.

We unearthed the whole thing again later until it escalated into cheap shots and door slamming.

My friend Dan thinks our sailing blog should be titled, "Who will survive?" He's not only convinced that two people on a small boat will resort to murder, but he thinks it would hold the attention of the reader to know someone will die at the end.

But surely life at sea won't be this stressful. (Remind me later that I said this.) When I think about all we're trying to accomplish, I wonder that we don't resort to more than door slamming.

Any one of the things on our list would probably make me edgy. Chip says it's like having four jobs.

Job one: fix up the house to sell.
Job two: fix up the boat to sell
Job three: run a thriving business with five employees
Job four: find a boat and prepare to live aboard

I would add job five: plan a beer festival

One of the stressful things about those jobs is which one will we get fired from first? For instance, if the house sells before anything else, what the heck do we do then? That would mean getting rid of the last household belongings that were kept only to sell the house, find a place to live, move, find a place to keep Isabella, all while running the business. Technically we could live on the boat and still keep the land life operating, but that's difficult, especially since isabella has no heating or cooling. Definitely, the house selling first would be the hardest scenario, but one we could manage -- somehow.

What if the business sells first? Do we pay off the mortgage? Do we rent the house and leave? Getting on the water as soon as possible will be the most economic option. Land ties are expensive: cars, gas, car insurance, house payments, mortgage insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.

Another insightful friend told me those are high class problems. Yeah, and I'm a high class whiner.

Oh, yeah?



Tuesday, August 5, 2008


As we plow through our belongings trying to decide what stays and what goes, I curse a lot. I've never lived on a boat. I think of it as glorified camping, but what do I REALLY need to get by?

90% of our "necessary" land things are easy to eliminate: books we've read or never will; glass candleholders; stupid kitchen gadgets; decorative wall crap; refrigerator magnets; lawn chairs; shovels; tennis rackets (did anyone ever play?); roller blades; it goes on and on.

But some things truly puzzle me.

--Dictionary? Tough one. Of course, there's the internet, but we won't have consistent connection. My laptop has a dictionary on the hard drive, but does anything really replace a good, old paper dictionary?
--Tea kettle? Maybe that's just silly if a saucepan works just as well. On other hand, it's a lot safer to heat water in an enclosed vessel in rough water. On the third hand, maybe I shouldn't be heating water in rough seas.
--Blankets? We'll usually be in warm weather, but what about picnics, cool night breezes.
--Pillows? How many do we need. I know how many we need for the two of us, but how many guests are we likely to have at one time? Should we have a BYOP rule?

This all sounds ridiculous, even to me. and yet, these are the things that go through my head. "Necessities," no. But neither are we interested in living a spartan life, just a lean one.

Some days it's fun to ponder. Some days, I want to pitch it all in the dumpster -- dictionary, pillows and all -- and get the heck outta here.

--Went to the beach. a great reminder of why we're doing all this!

Monday, August 4, 2008


Boat designers are by turns truly brilliant and profoundly annoying. Take eyebrows. Please.

Every boat we're looking at -- including the one we own -- has a decorative eyebrow. That's a tiny strip of teak running around the outside perimeter of the cabin.

In general I'm opposed to putting unnecessary holes in boats. That doesn't seem at all profound to me, but every day smart people drill dozens of holes into the fiberglass to attach those pencil-thin strips of wood, all for appearance. The eyebrow serves no purpose other than to exude charm.

I was on a screed about eyebrows to Eddie, the broker who was showing us the IP38 last week.

"Why do they have to put these eyebrows on here? I don't want to spend my cruising years varnishing teak!"

Eddie: "Well, idle hands are the devil's playthings ..."

Me: "Yeah? The devil invented teak."

Eddie: "Or at least the varnish!"

I'm not totally immune to charm. In fact if you haven't had the full-body treatment of sweat and teak dust, that shiny wood can really lure you in. I was totally entranced by Isabella's teak butterfly hatch -- that is, until I refinished it. A conservative estimate for that job: 48 grueling hours. Sure, it looked unbelievably beautiful. I did not.

Fool me once.

I've learned a lot of lessons from Isabella, and one of them is surely this: keep the charm below decks.

Enough already with the eyebrows. Pluck them.

--listed my green Doc Martens on Ebay
--listed my princess jewelry on Ebay
--found a home for our original artwork until Casey wants it
--sold the living room bureau pending the sale of the house

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I spent two hours in my office yesterday, clearing, tossing, reading. the desk -- with 9 drawers -- is now empty. The 13-year-old file box is empty.

But the room is a total wreck.

That's been happening a lot lately. I focus on one small area at a time. For instance, one day was for clearing the coat closet. Several things went to charity, one went to the kids, but two leather jackets are now hanging on the stair rail awaiting a photo shoot, so I can sell them on Ebay. Progress? I guess so. Take CLEAR COAT CLOSET off the list; add TAKE PHOTOS OF COATS and SELL COATS ON EBAY. Sigh

One thing off the list, two back on. Sigh.

It's a balancing act between getting rid of everything while trying to keep the house looking good to put on the market. Coats on the stair rail? Not so good. An office that's in total disarray? Bad. Maybe we can put a big sign on the front door that says WORK IN PROGRESS. Um, no. Or maybe one that says, "See something you like? PLEASE take it."

The TO DO list is something like this:

--sort through remaining junk in office
--look through jewelry and decide what has to go -- and where
--go through box of old, old photos and dispatch (halfway done)
--get four trays of slides from my childhood put on CD
--take load of books to library DONE!!
--sell wine racks (after drinking the wine!)
--clean and sort the downstairs workroom
--find a home for several boxes of old VHS movies
--figure out what to do with Chip's vinyl
--sort through the den closet
--deal with photos and photo albums from the last 10 years
--find homes/sell music instruments (cello, acoustic guitar, kunga, keyboard, etc.)
--get rid of CDs after putting them on iPod (partially done)
--is there anything in the attic? god, I hope not.
--paint the kids' bathroom
--touch up bedroom paint
--fix hole in sheetrock in downstairs bedroom (that's a good story for another day)
--clear out linen closet/decide what to keep
--go through bureau in living room. deal with the junk we find there
--mail books to the owners we borrowed them from
--don't end items with a preposition
--return yoga videos to friend in California
--mail shadow box of my dad's military memorabilia to my sister in New Mexico
--give gardening books to a friend who gardens DONE!!!
--decide what cookbooks we want on the boat and give away the rest
--evaluate what we need to add/subtract/spruce up to sell the house
--power wash the front porch DONE!!!!
--take pictures of stereo and sell on Ebay
--stop blogging and get something off the list

--gave gardening books to one of our customers
--scrubbed down the front porch
--bid on stanchion caps on Ebay (it's a boat thing)
--found boxes (sort of) to ship chair I sold on Ebay
--dropped off books we're donating to library
--gave journalism books to high school
--got boat insurance quotes

Saturday, August 2, 2008


--the kids
--my friends
--long, hot showers
--air conditioning

not so much:
--the lawn
--rolling out the trash can
--car insurance, inspections, registration, oil changes
--mortgage payments
--the same thing every day
--paying the power bill
--redneck neighbors
--two tons of stuff
--emptying the dishwasher

--glued the headliner trim
--tested gorilla glue for the deck
--gave away more stuff
--loaded up more clothes
--found a home for artwork

Friday, August 1, 2008


About three months ago we each independently looked in the mirror and thought, "hmmm, this ain't gonna float."

Everywhere we look there's somewhere we need to trim down our lives. Getting down to cruising weight is a multi-faceted project; extra body weight is just one more thing on the list.

I've never been -- by anyone's measure -- fat, but without noticing, I had matched the highest weight of my life, and it was not optimally arranged, if you know what I mean. If I were a piece of clay a sculptor could have trimmed me up in short order, but alas I am flabby flesh and little-used muscle -- apparently shlepping around cases of wine and beer doesn't get the job done.

We know we'll be active when we're living onboard. The way of life will keep us moving. Getting from one port to the next involves sailing activity. When we're in port, sans car, we'll be biking and walking on a daily basis, snorkeling, swimming, rowing. All good, but we want to start strong and trim.

We also want to carry healthy eating habits aboard. We've had a running debate about what "healthy eating" means. That argument is in its 11th year, but we've recently discovered the South Beach Diet. We can both agree: this is a healthy diet.

We've dropped sugar and most carbs from our diet and a lot of pounds off our bodies. We eat lean meats, lots of veggies. We're never hungry, don't have cravings, and we've completely eliminated processed foods.

No more worrying about finding Cocoa Puffs in Hopetown.

--more photos
--cleaned Isabella's engine room
--pumped out bilge and added bilge cleaner
--a brick walkway under the house
--another clear drawer in the downstairs dresser
--sold my office chair on Ebay! now add "ship chair" to TO DO list


We saved the 35' Island Packet for last on this boat-shopping trip. The 35' is really 35 feet as opposed to the 350, which is 32' plus the swim platform. 35' is only three feet longer than Isabella, but that's 10% larger-- like adding almost 200 square feet to our house -- or a 10 x 10 room. We were interested to see how well that extra space was used above and below.

Unfortunately the tricked out 35' we wanted to see was undergoing bottom painting, so we had to look at one in lesser condition. There were a lot of things conspiring against this particular boat.

First, I have a REALLY hard time overlooking flaws when I step onto a boat. That could be because I'm a perfectionist, but I think it's because I'm also a realist with a really good imagination. When I see badly varnished teak, my muscles start aching as I imagine myself sanding, bleaching, sanding, varnishing. Ugh. It ain't easy to get past that and imagine the boat in perfect condition. THEN I can get to wondering if I like it.

Second, it was a 98 degree day, and the broker didn't have the forethought (or the brain cells) to open the hatches to cool it down.

Third, the broker was a goober. He talked incessantly about things we already knew and couldn't answer any of the questions about what we didn't know.

Fourth, the boat was out of the water and stripped of canvas, which makes it hard to judge the scale above decks. All the sails were piled below making the interior difficult to judge. Another broker issue.

Despite all that, we steeled ourselves to judge the 35' as fairly and accurately as we could manage amidst sweat and broker blather.

Up top, the 35' seemed totally manageable, not significantly bigger than Isabella. The equipment was similar.

Below, the payoff was huge.

The positives as compared with Isabella:
--a whole extra cabin, aft, port side (back left if you're looking forward). It's a surprisingly spacious little cabin with an almost rectangular bed. Funny how that becomes important on a boat. Can you imagine going to a mattress store and asking for a rectangular bed? LOL
--awesome kitchen. Much better layout than most we've seen. Ample storage. Smart arrangement.
--easy engine access -- from THREE sides. Huge.
--batteries under a settee. You can only appreciate this convenient placement if you've hovered in a harness in 18 inches of space above the engine and tried to lift out or refill batteries.
--all the IP clever features: fiberglass flooring around the hatch where you shed all the water, wood in the salon; dust bin built into the floor; fold-up counter beside sink; convenient bathroom layout

The negatives:
--the v-berth was disappointingly similar to Isabella's. We were hoping for larger or wider. We're still trying to track down the dimensions.
--I can't think of anything else we didn't like.

The IP 35 is on the short list. Very short list with the 350.

Our broker, Michelle, thinks we need to have a look at the IP37'. And so we will. We can't buy a boat until other major pieces fall into place anyway.