Thursday, October 30, 2008


How to buy our business:

Phase One:
Talk to the broker. Get preliminary information.

Phase Two:
Submit financial credentials. Sign nondisclosure agreement. Get P&L statement and company profile.

Phase Three:
Make an offer.

Our broker notified us that somebody moved to Phase Two this week.

We're still in a deep haze from the beer festival. Alas, it's not from drinking. It's from fatigue. Looking forward to some days off this weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2008


The beer festival is behind us now, and the universe is stirring.

After one month on the market and one person looking at the house, it's time for some action. The New York Times called our real estate agent this morning. They want to use our house in their What You Get column.

Then someone called for an appointment to see the house Wednesday morning. Then someone called for an appointment on Friday morning.

It must be house week.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


In boating it's important to watch and wait for weather windows. You can't plan a passage based on the calendar. It's more complicated than that, at least if you're smart.

You have to wait until all the right conditions converge that will allow a safe passage.

Unfortunately, when you plan a beer festival you have to base it on the calendar and hope against hope a weather window will open up around you.

The weather forecast for the week is clear except for pouring rain on the day of our beer festival.

There's a window there, but we can't see out for the rain.

Last year, it didn't rain from the end of July until October 27th, the day we had our first beer festival.

Let's review: the first year it rained. The second year it's supposed to rain. We're beginning to wonder if somebody's sending us a message here. Have a rain festival? Include mud wrestling as a stage event? Hire ducks as parking attendants?

But maybe, just maybe that little rain cloud will move on to another day.

In the meantime, we wait.

Is it just me, or do we seem to be doing a lot of waiting lately?

--checked the weather about 15 times
--got a bid on another big tent

Monday, October 20, 2008


In August my dream of cruising was so close it was tactile. I think my eyes were red from the salt and sun, I could hear the water gurgling while I slept. Or maybe that was the toilet leaking.

Either way, cruising seemed close enough to touch.

And then a huge monster loomed up on the horizon, snorting and foaming. We call it Pig Stein, our annual beer and bbq festival hosted by us and our friend Will, who owns High Cotton BBQ. This year we have 25 pit masters competing, 48 breweries coming, and we expect more than 2000 people.

My days are spent drawing diagrams of the festival site, ordering tents and porto potties, arranging for dumpsters and trash cans, scheduling radio interviews, recruiting volunteers, and most stressful of all, watching the weather forecast change from 40% chance of rain to 20% chance and back to 40.

What's that proverb about knowing what you can change and what you can't and totally freaking out about the latter. That's a paraphrase.

The good news is the festival is this Saturday. What I will change is my focus. Starting on Sunday my thoughts will be consumed by gentle tradewinds, the warm, warm sun and water as deep as forever.

--sold the banjo
--got the generator working
--put the boat on and wilmington craig's list

Thursday, October 16, 2008


More boat shopping. Seven Island Packets in one day. That's Nan Shan in the photo. It was a great boat at a great price, but we don't want a centerboard.

What those seven taught us:
>We still don't want a 38.
>Centerboards are a steal if you want them.
>The 35 v-berth is plenty big for us both.
>They all have stern access so a scoop is an expensive luxury we don't need.
>Just because it's an Island Packet doesn't mean we'll want it. We saw some pretty rough boats.

We think we're ready to buy a boat. Now if we just had some $$$.

--decided what boat we want (!)
--started varnishing the bowsprit seat and grate

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Dude, we went to the Annapolis Boat Show with hundreds in cash ready to drop and run. Foul weather gear, life jackets, folding bikes, even anchors. We were armed and dangerous.

Here's what we bought:
RAGZ -- those clothes on the right, shown sitting on the couch without us

Okay, we also bought a Chesapeake Bay Cruising Guide, but seriously, that's it.

We amused the sales reps of all the major brands of foul weather gear by trying on the offshore jackets and testing all the adjustments. It's not too unlike putting on a straight jacket what with all the velcro and zippers and adjustments. One jacket required a team of two to get me deployed. I'm not sure how you accomplish that alone on a rolling boat. They really should have put me in a moonwalk with 20 jumping kids for the true test. All jackets considered, we preferred Gill but passed on the 'deal,' since the only foul weather in our immediate future can be viewed from where those RAGZ are sitting.

An anchor line reel tempted us. It was on deal for $225, which was about half price -- the reel deal. But that's such a luxury, not in the top 10 (20 or 30). pass again.

We almost rode away on a Dahon folding bike. I was smitten by the air pump hidden inside the seat shaft. The next morning we had a bad case of un-buyer's remorse and tried to call the rep. Denied.

We're still armed and apparently not dangerous. But one thing worries me. We've promised each other two things:
1. We'll never dress alike.
2. We'll never dress up like pirates.

Apparently we missed the Blackbeard costume booth.

--decided on our brand of foul weather gear
--chose Mustang life jackets but need to find a good deal
--narrowed down our boat search (more on that tomorrow)
--learned a lot from show reps
--found out there's no way we can afford web connection via satphone

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Our past boat show visits have been fun but dreamy. We could only walk about and think wistfully of cruising sometime in the distant future. This year, with cruising so close at hand, there will be no wistful walkabouts. No, we're shopping.

Since we don't have our cruising boat yet, we're looking for all the accoutrement that is not boat specific: foul weather gear, solar panels, composting toilets, watermakers and harnesses.

On Monday, our broker has scheduled seven boats for us to look at. Seven in one day. What a luxury. It's almost time to decide between the Island Packet 350, 35 and 37. We get to see all of them side by side.

As a bonus, we can take a break from watching the stock markets plunge, watching our house sit idle and keeping the beer festival bandwagon on track.

Other forces in the universe are moving. More on that later . . .

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Wow, this blog could use some happy-ing up.

But, what can I say? We trimmed another 678 points off the Dow Jones today.

A presidential election with no incumbent is four weeks away, and the campaign is taking a backseat.

There's talk of the financial crisis overshadowing Christmas sales. The government of Iceland has seized three of its own banks to avoid bankrupting the entire country.

Our story is getting all intertwined with history.

--shredded more files (I'm starting to feel like I'm in the Nixon administration)
--sanded the bowsprit seat some more
--prepped the bowsprit for painting
--got rid of the last of the wood under the house

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


If we've learned anything in our journey together, it's that we must do the hard work of getting ourselves ready and, then, lie very still until the train comes into the station. The grace of waiting comes when the station is cold and deserted.

No, we didn't lose our minds and get two puppies. Chip sent me this photo in email this morning, a morning when we had to get up extra early to make a meeting about the beer festival. A morning when we'd been out late at a going away party after a power trip to visit Dylan in Wilmington. A morning when coffee wasn't enough.

All the email said was, "That's how it will feel for the first three weeks." He was referring to our imagined first three weeks anchored down in Ocracoke, the first three weeks after the waiting ends. What it didn't say is, "I'm so damned tired, I don't know how long I can do this." It didn't say, "Why did we take on this much? It's too much." It didn't say, "I want to sleep next to you until we can't sleep any more."

But it did.

--shredded miles of old tax files and paystubs
--sanded the bowsprit seat
--got the book "the cruiser's handbook of fishing," loaned to us by our friend rob
--continued the waiting

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The Dow Jones continued its plummet today, 508 points. Britain is trying to prop up their banks. The financial world is in a tailspin.

And yet, things are agitating in a good way in our world. Just today, somebody actually looked at our house, we got an email about our boat, and we sold our futon couch, sewing machine and kunga. Our business broker dropped by to tell us he's had a lot of inquiries, even though there have been no offers.

We talked to a kindred spirit today, a friend who is a little bit ahead of us on the road. He has already dispatched all of his belongings and plans to leave for his new life in Hawaii on Sunday. He's the first person we've talked to in months that truly understands exactly what we're doing, the paring, the piling, the gifting, the sacrifices, the joys.

Bon voyage, Shane. lead the way, we're not far behind!

--we clicked through a third of the vendors that will be at the boat show
--finalized plans to see 7 boats in Maryland next Monday
--unloaded more stuff in Wilmington
--moved a dresser out of the house and to a new home

Monday, October 6, 2008


We're in Wilmington attempting to escape for a few days. Instead we're at the hotel watching Wall Street collapse and the aftershocks reverberate in Europe. sigh.

There's no escape.

Our house has been on the market for nine days, and there hasn't been a single call. Not one. Every morning we make the bed, fluff the pillows on the couch, put away all the dishes. At night we come home, and everything is exactly how we left it.

Let's hope somebody looks at how pretty it is before the flowers wilt and the weeds grow back.

Big forces are moving in the universe. There must be something good in store for us. There always is.

--mounted the last dorade box
--started planning our attack on the Annapolis boat show

Thursday, October 2, 2008


One of my favorite belongings went away last Saturday, and I'm very sad that I don't know whether someone bought it at the garage sale or it got donated to charity. Why didn't I give it to someone who would care for it?

The 'it' was a palm-sized wooden box with delicate inlaid wood on the lid, a gift to me when I left my first grown-up job at Texas Tech University. When you opened the lid, it played "Try to Remember the Time of September," a lovely, bittersweet song I've listened to for 24 years.

The whole point of this blog is to remember. As I look back at my entries, they're mostly light and sweet, not so much bitter. The truth is, I've been reluctant to record the times I don't really want to remember.

But let us not forget August, a record breaking sales month at the wine shop. We were getting up at 7:00 a.m., working for two hours on the boat -- in the boiling sun -- then going to that crazy treadmill at the store, short-staffed, open late, answering stupid questions (yes, there are stupid questions). After the store closed at 9:00 p.m., we would work into the night putting stuff on Ebay, clearing out closets, sorting through belongings, copying CDs onto the iPod, shopping online for boats. I've never been a crier, but twice in August I was reduced to tears. Not those attractive soap opera tears that pool up and delicately spill down a gently blushed cheek. No, this was full-on, ugly face, Holly-Hunter-in-Broadcast-News bawling.

What could be worse? September. Once we got August out of the way, it was time to get serious about putting the house, boat and business on the market, which unfortunately meant hard labor, some of which is documented in this blog. Our days "off" were so labor intensive that "work" at the store felt like a vacation. September also launched the countdown to our beer festival, a many pronged event that requires a lot of time and coordination. And to stir it up, let's just throw in economic Armageddon and a couple of hurricanes. Tears would have been welcome, but in September the stress settled in my stomach. On two separate occasions, my stomach hurt so bad that I spent several hours throwing up.

Try to remember THAT time in September.

--had the packing gland fixed on the boat (it's an engine thing and if it fails, the boat sinks)
--finished the port side stanchions
--emptied and cleaned several cabinets in the kitchen
--gave away a few treasures to friends
--going to watch the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. do you think that will be memorable?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This journal of our plod to the water is meant to remind us of all the trials and foibles along the way, some more memorable than others. When we look back we want to remember not just the bright colors but all the shades in between. We want to remember how hot it was the day of our first garage sale, how ridiculously hard it was to box up that office chair we sold on Ebay, the days and days of labor to varnish the toe rails on Isabella, how long it took to put those CDs on the iPod.

Someday we'll look back and say, "Remember the week we put our business and house on the market, and the entire economy went to hell? Ha ha ha."

"House Rejects Bailout; Markets Plunge"
"Dow Suffers a Historic Drop, Falling 778 Points in Single Day"
"He [Paulson] warned that inaction would lead to a seizure of credit markets and a virtual halt to the lending that allows Americans to acquire mortgages and other types of loans."

If timing is everything, what does this mean?

We could fret, but we're not. We've done the hard work, the part we can control. The rest will be delivered when the time is right. All we have to do is wait and laugh.

We asked for a sign, and it says FOR SALE.

--put generator back together after repair
--the economy survived another day
--took final pictures of the house for the listing
--got a lot of beer festival stuff done. oh, yeah. in addition to everything else, we're planning a beer festival.