Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I gotta get a bike
And I gotta paint it red --
Butthole Surfers

Chip got me a new bike! We'll be selling our cars in a few weeks, so it was time to double our folding bike inventory.

He's been doing research for weeks and has been itching to get me on two wheels. We decided to try a relatively inexpensive version to see how the two opposing philosophies hold up under identical conditions.

Does the more expensive Downtube folding bike with the internal hub hold up better in a marine environment? Will the less expensive Port Runner with the derailleur take the same beating and keep on pedaling? Will Tammy run into any more fences or perhaps right off the dock? Stay tuned for this and more as the wheel turns.

PLEASE NOTE: Not only did we get different brands, they are also different colors.

Monday, June 28, 2010


My car has been a hapless storage unit ever since before we sold our house. Everything that can't find a place anywhere else, anything that's being ferried from one place to another, trash, it's all in there. And today it was too much.

"We have to bring the last load in!"

What a joyous moment! We're in! We're in!

It's a jumbled up mess. The bed in the aft cabin (now dubbed the studio) is not visible through the junk, er stuff.

The next stage will be to make sense of the piles and then stow them, but, did I tell you? We're in! We have containment!

For the first time since July 2008, all of our stuff is in one place.


(I accidentally left my camera in the car last week -- in intense heat. That's why the photo of the last load looks so blurry. No worries. All it needed was a good lens cleaning.)

Monday, June 21, 2010


Chip describes selling the business like untangling a big pile of string. You methodically work out each strand until it's free, and then go back for the next one, hoping at some point to reach the last rope (insert your own "last straw" joke here).

Our chores include things like transfer the domain name, get a lease termination signed by landlord, cancel credit cards used for business purchases, notify phone company and power company of new ownership, file dba cancellation, copy and send email list to new owners, notify advertising contacts of change, pay final bills, collect invoices and receipts needed for tax purposes, find a place to store those invoices and receipts, get everything you do notarized (at least it seems like it), close LLC, close business bank account, pay final sales and use tax, closeout payroll.

Each day we get a few more things off the list. Step by step by step. Looking for that last rope, the one keeping us tied to the dock.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Most of our time is spent at the boat now. Bringing belongings in from the car, trying to find places for them. It surely seems like Keystone cars. How can this much stuff keep coming out?

We do the mindless and pleasant little chores that come with living aboard: fixing leaky faucets, cleaning out hatches.

Today's big chore was pulling out of the slip and around the dock for a pump out (emptying the holding tank).

Before we returned to our slip, Chip was sitting in the cockpit when a kid came up with a bloody foot, another victim of those perilous underwater hazards: barnacles.

It was our first use of the first aid kit. Our first first aid.

I hope all subsequent uses are as benign.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Today we handed over the keys to the wine shop.

We can no longer go in early. We are no longer on call when the store is open -- or when it's not.

For five years and 23 days, we have been on-call 24 hours a day, even on vacation. For five years and 23 days, we got the call when the security alarm went off, even at 3 a.m., even when we were in Palm Beach.

Now, we no longer have to worry about POS software or internet connection, credit card service providers or cooler compressors, ballasts or heat pumps.

Now we can worry about furlers and GPS, diesel engines and zincs, rigging and solar panels. Bottom paint, harnesses, flares, sea cocks and through-hulls.

A fair trade?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


When we opened the wine shop, we expected it to be successful. What we did not expect was the colorful cast of characters who delivered that success.

From the beginning, our customers welcomed us, entertained us, brought us gifts, shared their joys and sorrows, their pets, their families with us. We celebrated their good news: engagements, weddings and pregnancies. We laughed and cried at their stories and applauded their milestones. We welcomed their babies and watched as those babies grew into little people. We mourned the loss of a few sweet souls and miss them still.

It was this sense of community that made us go against all conventional wisdom in selling our store. Instead of keeping it under wraps, we shared all along our dream of sailing. As we made that dream a reality, our family of customers became our cheering squad.

Today, that squad came running into the store to give us high fives and hugs, to cheer us on our way and warn us about pirates.

And just as I would have expected, they welcomed the new owners, Laura and Phil, with the same enthusiasm.

Even though we leave our Chip's community in good hands, it is a bittersweet farewell.

The first payment in the price of leaving.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Following is the newsletter that we sent to our Chip's Wine & Beer Market community.


... to a major celebration!
Thursday, June 17th
4:00-7:00 p.m.
Chip's WIne & Beer Market
MP6 Plaza
Wine, beer and snacks provided


What are we celebrating? Now there's a good story. And what could be better than a good story with a happy ending? How about two intertwining stories, both with happy endings?
Most of you already know that Chip's WIne & Beer Market has been for sale. We, Chip and Tammy, opened the store in 2005 to help finance our dream of sailing full time. You have watched and waited with us as we slowly (very slowly) sold our house, our belongings, sold our old sailboat, bought a new one and brought it down from the northern Chesapeake. The last thing we needed to accomplish before sailing away was to find new owners for the wine shop.
It was always important to us to leave our awesome community of customers in good hands, and if we could have magically conjured up the perfect people to leave you with, we could not have done any better.

Introducing Laura and Phil

Inline Image

It gives us great joy to introduce you to the new owners of Chip's: Laura and Phil Wayland.
Laura and Phil had a little dream too: owning their own wine shop, and just as the owners before them, they have done the hard work to accomplish their goal. We know you're going to love them, and they have great plans for improving the store.
Laura has six years of management experience in the wine business as an independent wine consultant. She repeatedly won awards for her work and just so you know how fabulous she is, her peers voted her "heart of the company" in 2008. She has marketing, communications and event coordination experience as well. Laura loves wine and loves hooking people up with wines they will love.
Phil has a degree in Integrated Science and Technology (we don't know what that is either, but he's fun and has a great sense of humor). He works in the information technology industry, but you'll be seeing him around Milepost 6 a lot. He will bring his knowledge of business operations managementto provide some back room financial oversight for the store. You might see him in the beer aisle sometimes too. ;-)
Laura and Phil are young, energetic, brilliant, snob-free and love to laugh out loud. They met in college (James Madison University), have been married 10 years and have two beautiful children, Tyler, 7, and Loxley, 6.
And by fulfilling their dream of owning a wine shop, they have enabled us to launch our adventures at the sea.
We hope you'll join us on Thursday to celebrate two happy endings, or, on second thought make that two happy beginnings. 

The Last Word

Finally, we bid you a big and tearful thank you. In part, dreams come true on the strength of a well-laid plan and hard work, but we know that we've been carried this far on the shoulders of our customers. You made this store a great success, and we have been grateful every day that you chose to shop with us. Thank you for being part of giving our dream life.
If you want to come along for the ride, you can follow us at:
Fair winds,
Chip and Tammy

Monday, June 14, 2010


It has happened. Three days short of 20 months on the market, five years and 18 days into a five-year plan, we sold the store.

Shouldn't there be leaping and tears or high fives and delirium? In fact, we are still and quiet.

This, the last item on our TO DO list, has been mythical for so long, I think I lost sight of the possibility that it could be real. It had moved into the realm of unicorns and mermaids.

But there is nothing ephemeral about what we're feeling now.

Gratitude is as big as the heavens, fathomless and eternal.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


The bank says our deal on the wine shop will close next Monday.

"What!?!?" our lawyer said. "If this were a parade, the folks aren't even lined up yet."

Our lawyer was one of the many who warned us about the last days of closing a business sale, the disagreements, the histrionics, the legal entanglements.

"I should have warned you," I said. "Things often happen this way for us. Once it's time, the door doesn't just open, it gets blown off with dynamite."

"I hope for your sake, that's what happens," he said. "It would be one for the books."

Yeah, put on your hazmat suit.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Selling a business can be a rancorous affair. Everyone has warned us.

Of course, they told us that about buying a boat -- and selling one as well.

However, nobody really warned us that we would sell a boat, buy a boat and sell a business, smooth as silk, and come out the other side, each time, with new friends.

The wine shop buyers, Laura and Phil, have been a pleasure. The first time I met with them at the store, Chip kept coming in to see what all the laughing was about. They have shown great respect for us and what we've built. From the start there has been an openness and trust that we feel sure will carry through to the finish.

Today we planned together how to make this transition as positive as possible for everyone concerned, how and when to announce the sale and how to introduce Laura and Phil to the customers.

There's probably a perfect sports phrase to insert here about a triple play or a trifecta or a hat something. I like to think of it more as a triple miracle.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Saturday night while we were slogging through inventory, Chip was fretting over some expensive Italian bottles on the shelf, bottles that had been there for four years.

He hates to saddle the new owners with expensive inventory that's hard to turn. We kindly took one of them (poor us).

Today, Chip was in the back room doing some paperwork when Mike, one of our employees, came in with a register receipt.

"You might want to check your high-end wines."

Someone came in and 10 minutes and $1255 later, left with all but one of those Italian bottles.

Did he have wings?

Monday, June 7, 2010


Over the months the wine shop has been on the market, I've made a half-assed effort of preparing for a fictional handoff. This week, with a real life handoff looming, my effort has become full-assed.

It's daunting the amount of work there is to do for a potential closing late this week or early next (don't know for sure), beginning with removing things from the store that don't belong here, like our sailing stuff in the back room. (Is an anchor in the back room bad Feng Shui?) And that little sailboat on the top shelf that belongs to our Mr. Fix-It, one of the many small things that accumulate over the years.

Then there is the information handoff, vendor lists, advertising contacts, phone numbers. What files do we have to keep? Which ones do we have to leave for the new owners? Which ones can just be tossed, because they are of no use to anyone? Why did I keep so much irrelevant paper?

Details, details. Who pays what portion of advertising for the year? What outstanding gift certificates are out there? How do you hand over a website and a Facebook page?

Why didn't I figure this out a long time ago?

Lack of faith, perhaps?

Sunday, June 6, 2010


As this weekend approached, we debated whether or not to do inventory at the wine shop.

If the deal on the store goes through, we will have to do a complete inventory with the buyers if they choose to do so. For our own peace of mind, we'd like to know that it is as accurate as possible. We've also included in the deal a par dollar amount for inventory. If we know exactly how much is in the store, Chip can fine tune the ordering and sales to get close to the par.

But what if it doesn't go through? We will have spent an entire weekend, Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night, counting -- all for naught. Will the count count?

The news yesterday about the loan approval bolstered our resolve --and our energy -- to start counting, to touch every bottle we own this one last time. We made it through all the wine, four hours last night, three hours this morning and four more tonight.

Before we started counting though, I helped myself to a bunch of Russian River Pinot Noir, but it turns out I'm just an amateur.

My bottles were in the $40 range. Chip was snagging $100, $200, $300 bottles. I love him. As we were counting, he would come across a wine he loved and call out, NAME OF WINE, THREE, no, make that TWO.

It seems a small reward for five years of hard, hard work, and for Chip, 30 years in the wine biz, the wine wiz. If you ask me, it's better than a gold watch.

And it makes me happy thinking of all those beautiful anchorages where we'll raise a glass.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


At 2:18 this afternoon I signed into my email and found my life free of another huge qualifier: our buyers' loan was approved! That huge "IF" is now gone.

I called Chip at the wine shop, sobbing. I'm sure he thought someone had died, but no, it was happy sobbing, relief, fatigue, joy, impatience, all coming out in great heaving gasps.

We have so much experience at waiting, but waiting for something on a far horizon is quiet, almost calming. This new waiting, so near the goal is urgent, too intense to be ignored, so deafening it commands center stage. Nothing can distract from our shining goal, right there in sight, painfully close.

And so, after the tears, we celebrate one more step on this plod to the water, close enough to touch.

Friday, June 4, 2010


"Why didn't I do this a long time ago?"

That's something I've said often about cruising, but, really, how would that have turned out?

My much younger self would have had some clear advantages, say stamina and grace moving about a boat, running up and down the companionway steps without groaning about it the next day. I would have been braver, more adventurous and less cautious.

On the other hand, I would have zoomed headlong, head strong and mouth first into the world, befriending and offending everyone I met. Opinion, especially my own, was synonymous with "truth." Neither did I know the difference between religion and spirituality. Subtlety was a subtlety that was lost on me.

I could not differentiate between happy people and clowns, or between being articulate and being intelligent. My place in the universe was unclear to me, I just knew it was somewhere else.

At 50, I still travel with the same demons, but I've civilized a few of them. The meaning of opinion is now clear to me, as is the realization that it rarely shares the same space with truth. And my opinion? That isn't really needed anywhere. I have grown deeply spiritual and anti-religious.

My place in the universe is more clear, and it is not on the horizon but here and now and in this cockpit. The years have shown me that if I give, it comes back, and the less I have, the richer I am, lessons too trite to put on a t-shirt.

At 50, I clearly lack the same physical grace for moving about the boat, but age has blessed me with a certain grace for moving about the planet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Can I just say I am flummoxed by how to organize a galley? We've attempted to pare back our kitchen supplies to the bare necessities, which begs the question: What are the bare necessities?

And once you've figured out what they are, where do you put them? The galley has a lot of small cabinets and compartments, some easy to reach, others deep under and behind other spaces, some underfoot. How do you decide where to put things so you're not diving head first under the sink every few days?

Enter Chef Rob Mitchell, professional galley tamer.

Rob has been working as a chef on yachts for a lot o' years and offered to help us get organized -- hey, we're not stupid (usually).

In preparation for The Galley Master, I pulled out everything I had haphazardly thrown into the cabinets and hatches and unceremoniously dumped it all on the salon table.

Rob breezed in and after five minutes of looking at our gear, sorted out about a third of it and said, "Keep this."

He then picked up a notepad and made a list of things like stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, a colander without a handle, stainless steel tongs, among other things, and said,

"Buy these things."

In 10 minutes he had accomplished what would have taken me several years -- if ever -- to figure out.

Then he looked through the galley and started stowing. I knew he would find appropriate places for all the pans and utensils -- which he did -- but I didn't expect him to sort through all our food and organize it.

Isn't food just food and you jam it anywhere and everywhere?

Not if you're smart. He arranged all the food by how and how often we will use it.

We now have a baking cabinet, an everyday/snack cabinet, a hidden storage area for things we won't use often (like dried beans and canned goods), etc.

Can I just say Rob Mitchell rocks?!??!?!?!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I worked for a few years in the public information office of a nuclear physics lab. My job was to write brochures and scripts explaining accelerator physics to the public, and as if that wasn't hard enough, all the facts  came with qualifiers. It's really difficult to coin a catchy phrase with "electrons accelerated to almost the speed of light." "Electrons zipping along at nearly the speed of light." No matter how you say it, the message is that the electrons are not going the speed of light.

I remember complaining to anyone who would listen, "Can't you just accelerate them TO the speed of light?"

Definitive statements are so much more compelling. It seemed a small thing to ask...

And now, I find myself desperate once again to dispel qualifiers from my life: we're almost ready to go sailing, we've almost sold the business, if we sell the business, when we sell, after we sell, when we're sailing, if we leave in July, if we leave in August, if we sail by the end of the year, if the loan is approved, if the deal closes in June, maybe we'll sail before the end of the summer.

The weight of the qualifiers grows heavier each day.

We thought we might hear about loan approval in two weeks, and each business day past two weeks drags by. We hear rumors of SBA money running out. We wait. We watch. We toss and turn. We answer the unasked question with a shake of the head.

Can't we just GO? Set an actual departure date?

Definitive statements are so much more compelling. Okay, maybe the speed of light was not a small thing, but this? It really does seem a small thing to ask ....