Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Mar 31, 2012 | 0 comments

To-Do, and Do, and Do

I like lists. I just think that lists help keep you on track and give you a good overview of your goal. Therefore, we have created a list of the things that we plan to get done over the next few years as we wait and plan. As we (hopefully) get things done we’ll post about it, and we’ll also keep a separate page available that we will check off as we go. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we get all of this done faster than we think, especially the money part!

Click the button below to check it out.

To-Do List

Read More

Posted on Mar 28, 2012 | 0 comments

Mid-Week Musings: Convenience

So, last night I was getting a glass of water for myself after dinner from our refrigerator. We have an ice maker which has a dispenser on the freezer door for our “convenience”. The problem is that it actually isn’t very convenient at all. In fact, I stood at my freezer door for a good thirty seconds and had exactly 3 pieces of ice plop into my glass. I realized, as I was standing there dehydrating, that it would have been significantly faster to just open the freezer door and scoop the ice out manually. The funny thing is, our ice dispenser has been this slow for the last 4 years, and I still continue to sit and wait for each piece of ice to make its way into my glass.

This got me thinking about the illusion of convenience. How much time and money do we spend for something to be more convenient, when it would have been faster and easier to do it the “hard” way? Our dishwasher is another good example: I completely clean off all of my dishes in the sink before I put them in the dishwasher because I don’t trust it to wash my dishes properly. Then what is the point of the appliance I continue to use every day?

Sometimes it’s just too easy to get suckered into the marketing tactics that say the newest gadget will help you save time because we agree with the basic assumption. You need more stuff to deal with the fact that you don’t have enough time. Personally, I know I don’t have enough time, that’s why I want to get rid of the stuff.

Read More

Posted on Mar 24, 2012 | 0 comments

A Little Help From My Friends

“Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement – and we will make the goal.”-Robert Collier

Do you remember when you were in school and you finished a test that you felt pretty good about, but you weren’t really sure if you had gotten a good grade or not? It’s not that you weren’t confident in the information you knew, but you just had a little nagging voice telling you all day that maybe there was something you missed. That’s a little like I’d been feeling about our plans for cruising. We were doing all of the research that we could, reading blogs, crunching numbers, but there was still that little voice saying “you’re missing something, this is all going to come crashing down at any minute now.”

Well, the little voice has been banished (for now at least) with some help from our new friends Scott and Brittany of Wind Traveler. I’d been following their blog recently and knew that they were back in the Chicago area awaiting the arrival of their new crew member (see: baby). Dan and I were also planning on going up to Chicago to spend some time with my family over the weekend, so I decided to take a shot in the dark and email Brittany to ask if the two of them would have a coffee with us and let us pick their brains a little. It was a bit of a stretch out of my comfort zone, I don’t normally invite people to coffee that I’ve never met before, but I’m so glad that I did.

Brittany and Scott were extremely helpful and very encouraging to talk to. They really helped validate our plans and gave us a lot more confidence in the knowledge that we had already acquired through reading books and blogs. They also gave us some great advice about how we can be better prepared. (I’ve already been scouring the internet for books/lessons on weather forecasting. I think I’m going to buy this set by Tim Vasquez.)  I don’t think that they can fully appreciate how much it meant to us when they looked at us and said, “We can tell you guys are going to make it.”

It felt like a big A on the test.

Read More

Posted on Mar 20, 2012 | 0 comments

Life’s Regrets

Years ago, before I had even heard of the idea of cruising, I was terrified. I was terrified that I would wake up one day at the sunset of life and regret. Not regret what I had done, regret what I had not done. This is where Bronnie Ware comes in. Bronnie was a nurse that cared for people during the last days and weeks of their lives. People tend to gain clarity during their last days and often look back on the life they have lived. Bronnie was there to experience this with her patients. She blogged, and later wrote a book, about her experiences.

In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing Bronnie explains how we can live better lives by addressing these top five regrets:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
It seems natural that unfulfilled dreams would be the greatest regret. I still have plenty of things that I want to accomplish in life. The key to this regret is not failure to achieve your dreams… it is the much more disheartening failure to pursue your dreams. To rephrase the famous saying: it is better to have pursued your dreams and fail than to not pursue them at all.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Bronnie says it best herself:

All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Be yourself. Much easier said than done. Are you afraid that you will not fit in to the mold others have crammed you into? Who cares? Life is far too short to worry about the negative people in your life. Cherish and nurture relationships with the people in your life who care about you instead. You are much more likely to pursue your dreams when you aren’t worried about what the next person in line thinks about you.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
This ties in to regret #3 for me. Do you spend more time with your family and friends or fake TV characters? How about your work? Prioritize your time. It is the only resource you can’t get more of.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Happiness is a choice. Live your life intentionally and you will be better for it. Do not coast (maybe you could cruise!) down the river of life. What makes you happy? Do that. There are many best selling books just about this subject including Live Like You Mean It: The 10 Crucial Questions That Will Help You Clarify Your Purpose / Live Intentionally / Make the Most of the Rest of Your Life and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

As Michele and I work toward our goal of becoming live aboard cruisers, it helps to look back on what started us on our journey. It helps add perspective and provide motivation when we are dealing with the daily grind of saving money, learning to sail (ok, not so much a grind but a jump off a cliff), and many other non-cruising activities.

Cruising might not be for you, it isn’t for most people. But please… for your own sake, do what is for you.

Read More

Posted on Mar 15, 2012 | 0 comments

Learning to sail, the hard way

So my brother and I decided to take our (for now unnamed) MacGregor 25 out for her maiden sail… it was quite the experience. The first “O SHIT!!!” experience of my sailing career. Up to this point my sailing experience consisted of a tiny catamaran with a sail only slightly larger than a pillow case for less than an hour… not exactly America’s Cup stuff if you know what I mean.

We brought our boat to the local marina and started stepping the mast, only to find out that there is a low hanging wire directly above the boat launch. This should have been our first clue to stop and rethink our plan. However, we are like “Oh, no problem… we can just back the boat up until its past the wire and then step the mast.” Spoiler Alert: This is one of the only times that day that things went to plan (even if this was plan B).

Spindler Marina, East Peoria, IL

So now we have the boat in the water, mast stepped, jib attached to the front wire thingy (I know… I’ll figure out what its called later), boom attached, motor lowered, the whole shebang. After some consternation we get the motor started and in reverse. I throttle the motor up to around 30-50% power and try to back off of the trailer to the small dock where I will meet up with Kyle. The boat doesn’t move. At all. I throttle the motor up a little more… still nothing. Eventually Michele, whom up to this point was videotaping my lack of intelligence, decided to point out that the boat was, in fact, tethered to the trailer via the trailer winch. Another omen.

We get the boat to the dock and Kyle comes down to the boat after parking the Jeep. We then have to decide if we are going to back out of the small marina into the main river channel or attempt to pirouette it around and motor out bow first. I was out voted by Kyle and Michele and it was decided to reverse out into the river. Needless to say our motor over heated and we were left adrift in the middle of a (thankfully empty) marina. An empty marina still has rock walls and docks, mind you. Of course we started drifting bow first towards a 10 foot rock embankment, it just makes sense. I waited until we were about 5 feet away from making the evening news, took my shoes off (I still don’t know why I took my shoes off), jumped out and pushed the boat away from the rocks and brought her around and held her port side while Kyle tried unsuccessfully to get the motor started again. Our only option was to shove the boat across the marina back to the dock and reassess our situation. I’m now on the wrong side of the marina, without shoes, standing at the bottom of  a 10 foot rock embankment.

Feet aching, I get to the other side of the marina where Kyle has wrangled the boat around and supposedly fixed our motor issues. The water intake was bobbing out of the river due to the motor not being low enough, making the engine over heat. Motor issues fixed we begin motoring out of the marina into the river proper.

Our maiden voyage, South to North

About 20 feet into the river (and around 500-1000 feet away from the channel) the motor dies again. Another omen telling us to stop whatever we are doing, thank God we are alive, and go back. Needless to say, we push on… we were going to cut the engine there anyways and begin sailing. Our plan was to sail for a bit with only the jib to get the hang of the boat without all of the power a mainsail would provide. We know that the boat won’t be able to point very well to wind with just the jib, but we think it’ll be able to go at  least 10 degrees or so into the wind. The river is extremely wide (for a river) where the marina is so even if we can only go a few degrees into the wind, it isn’t an issue. The boat, at least with us manning it, cannot go into the wind whatsoever with only the jib up. Not even a little bit. The boat decides to go downwind and fast. We haven’t yet lowered our keel so the boat is healing quite a bit, reminding us of our most recent oversight. Kyle jumps into the cabin and lowers the keel a tad too much in his excitement, bottoming out the keel. The river might be half a mile or more wide, but its only a few feet deep everywhere except the channel. So bottomed out in the middle of the river we decide to take advantage of not moving and hoist the main. In hindsight this was a very bad idea because we were unable to point head-to-wind first. In both of our tiny sailboat experiences we didn’t need to point anywhere specific to raise the sail, we just pulled on the halyard and the sail went up. Wrong. The sail went up about two thirds of the way until catching wind, making it impossible for us to hoist the sail anymore than it already was. Ok, we think, we’ll just sail with the jib. Downwind. Away from the marina.

At this point we realize that we are still dragging the keel even though we thought we raised it enough to clear the bottom. We also just happened to notice a giant bridge pier directly in our path. As it turns out, a rudder doesn’t really steer a boat when the keel is dragging. At this moment Kyle turns to me and says, “You know, this is going to be hilarious afterwards… but its a complete disaster now.” I couldn’t have agreed more. Around 60 feet from bashing the boat (and ourselves) against the pier and making the evening news even more spectacularly, the bottom drops to the channel and our rudder begins functioning. Quickly steering away from the pier, our jib tacks uncontrolled and begins pushing us towards a man-made island under construction. We get the jib under control before beaching ourselves and, for the first time, have the entire boat under control. Albeit going the wrong direction.

I can finally call Michele and give her an update on our situation and ask her to meet us at the next marina downwind (but upstream) of Spindler Marina. One problem with this plan, however, is that the Jeep keys are on a boat in the middle of the river. She is forced to drive her car to the next marina where we will meet up and then go pick up the Jeep to bring the boat back to storage, assuming it is still in one piece when we get it to the dock.

Look! The mainsail can actually go up!

We actually had a peaceful sail from around the island all the way to the next marina. All the way until we had to dock a boat only under sail, no motor. Miraculously we were able to slide in next to the dock, lower the jib, and tie off all without a hitch. We had quite an experience getting the boat back on to the trailer (once we picked up the trailer from the other side of the river) that involved shoving the boat, good aim, and a lot of pulling.

So ended our maiden voyage on our new-to-us MacGregor 25. Would I do it again knowing what would happen? You bet. Do I plan on taking her out again without a reliable motor? No way. Even though it was the longest 3 mile boat ride I have ever taken I learned quite a bit. Under pressure of smashing our boat we learned quickly how to trim a jib, how to steer, and how to dock under sail. Instead of deeming the voyage a total and complete disaster (it nearly was… a few times), I like to say we left plenty of room for improvement.

Read More