Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Our future seems so fictional. We talk about sailing but it circles so far outside our current reality that it might as well be a movie we're going to see.

Sometimes I try to pull it closer, but that has its own pitfalls. If I start placing myself inside the movie, imagining the warm, clear water, the palm trees, the tradewinds, it becomes maddening.

But the fictional version lacks motivation, spark, a certain je ne sais quoi.

There we are in-between again. In between the real and the imaginary, the truth and the fiction, today and the future.


How many crossroads can there be on one trip to the water? Seems like there's one every day, and we have no map.

We applied for a boat loan. If we're approved, we might go ahead and buy an Island Packet. Gasp. Two boats and no house? That seems ridiculous even to me. So instead of that oceanfront house, it could be a soundfront boat.

It's a thought we've been struggling with for about a month as we've watched IP380s selling like it's 1999. Our thoughts: Buy now while the prices are low. Live aboard and start fitting it out, getting used to it while we're  landbound, and, most importantly, start paying it off while we still have a good income. Why pay for housing when we could be paying off our boat ....

The problem: where to dock it. There is only one liveaboard option locally (Manteo), and it's full. This week we started looking at other options: Hatteras, Ocracoke, Deltaville, Norfolk, Edenton, Oriental. Chip would stay with friends two nights a week, and I would live aboard full time.

Yesterday, Chip got a call from the Manteo dockmaster. He unexpectedly has an opening. He called us first.

So in December, we're headed back up to Rock Hall, Maryland, to look at boats.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Can our relationship thrive on a boat? Actually I'm more worried about whether or not it can survive.

We do wonder what it will be like to live together in a space about the size of a double dumpster. No real doors to slam, no long drives or even walks to blow off steam.

I've been known to hypothesize that if we could start and run a business together, cruising together would seem simple.

Sure, working together taught us a lot about, well, working together toward one goal. It taught us how to communicate, not overnight and not without a lot of kicking and screaming. We've asked other couples who run businesses together how they manage. One woman told me running straight out the back door for about 20 paces is therapeutic. Another says leaving early helps. I asked if leaving in January counts as early.

Not long ago I read about a cruising couple who has a designated DMZ on the bow of the boat. If the other person is there, you can't enter the space or talk to them.

When I told a friend this, she said we might have to do that so we won't go nuts.

"We might go nuts anyway," I said.

"Maybe but the scenery will be fantastic!" she said.


You'd think we've taken a vow of poverty.

Our near-empty apartment has no comfortable place to sit. I huddle in a slack purple chair that passed its prime about the same time I did, because the couch sends my post-prime back into spasms. Our dorm-worthy desk chair groans and creaks, just like we do if we sit in it. My car, which should have been sold two years ago, has peeling paint, a broken radio knob and a smear of rust on the door.

My clothes are so pared down, it's a struggle to keep up a good land front, and last spring I actually turned down an invitation to a party in D.C., because I didn't have shoes to wear.

A normal person would buy new shoes and furniture, but we're not normal. We've taken a vow of sailing and any step back, be it amassing furniture or clothing, would be an admission of defeat.

And yet, in addition to that discomfiture (discomfurniture?) on land, I feel almost as ill-equipped for the next life too. I read about new radar technology, wind-speed indicators and navigation software like I'm trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone. And even though my clothing is ill-suited for land, I don't know if it's well-suited for sea living either -- because I'm not there yet.

When I talk about sailing with land people, I sound like a senior talking to a freshman. When I talk about sailing with sailors, it's me that's the rising freshman.

That's what we are. Rising sailors. One foot on land, the other in the water.

--Isabella gets better by the day: restitched the whole canopy; oiled the interior wood; cleaned the portholes; replacing the starter. We'll be painting the deck soon.
--Looking at financing options for purchasing an Island Packet soon.
--No winner in the house search yet. We have until the end of December ...

Sunday, November 8, 2009


We went on that sea trial today, but there were two no-shows: the boat buyer and the wind.

But the dolphins joined us at sunset.

Friday, November 6, 2009


With fresh bottom paint and her new hatches, Isabella's looking fabulous. We went over this morning to do a little extra scrubbing and polishing for a showing tomorrow.

It was chilly and the wind was picking up. Chip was below trying to start the engine. I was in the cockpit zipping in the canopy.

The engine refused to start, and the zipper seized up.

The cold wind caught the loose canopy fabric, and it flap, flap, flapped over my head. At once I went from being angry to feeling sad and terribly guilty.

There's a disease amongst boaters known as AYB, anthropomorphizing your boat. Okay, it's not called AYB, but most of us have it. Here we were giving Isabella all this attention, just so we could sell her, and in my mind she was hunkering down and growling at us. She didn't want to go.

"She's not gonna make it easy for us, is she," I said.

As the morning wore on, warm sunshine crept slowly down the companionway stairs, and we all warmed up a bit. The engine started, and with Chip's help, I finally got that canopy zipped into place. Pleased with my progress, I turned around to see a huge section on the opposite side ripped out.

I took the offending fabric off and home for a quick repair. As I was zipping it back into place, another zipper ripped out.

Then the guy who was going to look at the boat cancelled.

Just another day in paradise.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


People frequently look at us as if we're crazy.

And then we tell them we're selling everything and going sailing.

It's all relative. If you read the right things, you'll find we're relatively sane.

Wandering Dolphin
Wandering Dolphin is a 47' aluminum sailboat, home to a family of seven. Yes, seven people on one boat. Two parents and FIVE children. And by the way, they also have a dog on there, a dog that gets seasick. I read this blog with that sort of hands-over-your-eyes nervousness I have while watching bungee jumping.

Sereia is a 36' fiberglass ketch home to a family of three and 1/3 plus one. That is, two parents, a toddler, a fetus due in May and an unrelated crew member. To those clicking on this link, I bid you a fond farewell. You will fall in love with Antonia, her antics and her writing, which will pull you in, drag you to the bottom and pin you there with a death roll.

But you will find yourself thinking, "Maybe Chip and Tammy weren't as crazy as I thought ...."

--A potential buyer's coming to look at Isabella this weekend.
--Lots of good noise on the business this week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


... not to be confused with boat drinks.

We made a list this week of all the add-ons we might want on our cruising boat. By the time we finished, it added up to a staggering $56,000.00. Shudder.

A friend of ours has come up with a brilliant scheme for softening the blow of throwing buckets of money at her boat: expenditures are now measured in Boat Units.

One Boat Unit = $1000.00.

Using this unit of measure, our wish list is magically transformed into a reasonable 56 Boat Units. At that price, we might add a cute little spinnaker and a sexy boot stripe to the list.

Monday, November 2, 2009


As reported a few weeks ago, Isabella was making a quick recovery.

The finish is beautiful. Here's the starboard settee before:

Here's the new locking, removable hatches under the cushions:

Here's all the great new storage underneath:

I love happy endings.