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Posted on Apr 17, 2014 | 1 comment

Moving to Florida

Sailboat under a Blue Sky

This doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore.

As of today, Dan has officially accepted an offer as an IT Director in Southwest Florida. We are extremely excited and more than a little stressed, because his start date is only 3 1/2 weeks from now! In the next 2 weeks, we will be attempting to pack (again) all of the contents in our small house and drive the 18 hours to get to Indiantown Marina, where Horizon (our Irwin 37) currently sits. We officially closed on her yesterday and it’s not a minute too soon, since we plan on moving directly onto her when we get to Florida.

In the meantime, our heads are spinning from the amount of work to do here in such a short time. First on the list is putting in our 2 weeks notice and finally telling our coworkers about our plans. Welcome to any of you reading this! It’s hard to keep a secret this big for so long and I know some people knew about the general plan, but Dan and I decided at the beginning that we would try to avoid talking about our plans at work. Frankly, we weren’t sure how long it would take to get to this point and we wanted to have the potential for raises and promotions if we chose to stay longer or the dream never became a reality.

Our second major task is getting all of our houses rented and hiring a property management company. Luckily, we had already started the footwork on finding a good company, but we have yet to meet with them in person and go over specifics of how our relationship will work. When we first started in the World of Rent, we had no idea how much work goes into placing new tenants. We’re hoping to make a choice by the end of this weekend and get leases signed quickly so we have time to do all of our packing.

Oh the packing… in my opinion this is the most daunting task of all. In just two weeks, I’m hoping to sort through everything in our house to determine what is staying and what is going. Let’s just say, most of it is staying. Since we are planning to move directly onto our boat, we will be trying to sell as much of our furniture and other large items as possible. If its not sold by the end of next weekend, come pick it up! We aren’t intending to rent a large moving truck, only a 5×8 U-haul trailer to hitch onto our Jeep, so there isn’t a lot of room for junk.

I have a feeling that we’ll be in shock for the next month or two as we fly around in a whirlwind, but hopefully we’ll find ourselves in the right place in the end. Check out our new What’s Next page for our basic plans until cast-off.

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Posted on Apr 9, 2014 | 2 comments

Introducing Horizon: Our Irwin 37

Horizon under sailLet me start by saying that I never expected our 100th post to include the introduction of our boat. When we first started almost three years ago, we didn’t really know where to begin. We Learned to Sail the Hard Way and then decided it would be better to just take some lessons. Dan got certified as a Dive Master then Instructor, and we also learned that it’s better to just pretend to be a Rescue Victim. The Search was on for a boat this year but some days it felt like we might never get to this point, especially when we received the call from our broker that the Cabot 36 had sold. With a little luck and a lot of prayer, we’ve made it to the next stage of our journey.

We spent nearly 8 hours in the boatyard this last Saturday looking at boat after boat, but none of them felt like home. That is until we looked at the last one on our list: the Irwin 37 center cockpit. To be completely honest, we had all but written off this boat during our search. Generally, they are known for being a mid-range quality production boat from the 70s and 80s and frankly didn’t have the best online reputation. When our broker mentioned that he had one he would like us to look at, Dan and I basically just did a bit of an eye-roll and shrug “might as well look at it”. Little did we know.

Let me stop here to say that we had a fantastic experience with the broker we used but by request have not listed his name, since he would like to go cruising eventually as well and would prefer not to be known as the “broker guy”. He was extremely professional, very easy to get a hold of, and has a true passion to help people get into boats that they are going to love. His listings are some of the most thorough that we have seen throughout the country. If you are looking for a boat or thinking of selling yours in South Florida,  just shoot us an email through the Contact Us page and we would be happy to recommend him.

As the broker described Tortuga (current name until we can close the deal), the one word he kept using was anomaly. This boat may be nearly 40 years old, but every major system on the boat had been completely redone in the last 3-4 years. New rigging, new masts (its ketch-rigged), new staysail (make that cutter-ketch), brand new full suite of sails, top-of-the-line electronics, new beefy windlass, dodger and bimini, and the list goes on. Over $100k of upgrades and renovations really sweetens the honeypot when our total budget for boat and outfit is only $50k.

What’s the ketch you ask? Okay that was bad. Well, the person who did all of these upgrades (the owner of a major sail maker company we found out later) decided after pouring in all of the money that he actually wanted a bigger boat. So he dumped it before the interior was completely spruced up. Some of the cabinets need to be rehung, the headliner needs old holes filled and painted, the wiring needs to be organized, and some of the plumbing needs help. Luckily, everything that needs to be done are fairly easy and cheap fixes but they currently make the interior somewhat less than desirable to most buyers, especially when compared to what you expect to find after seeing the immaculate exterior. Bad news for the seller, great news for us.

Some people might be wondering right now what happened to our Blue Water Boat criteria? Well, the fact of the matter is, we’ve come to realize like so many others that every boat is a compromise. After seeing what types of boats were available in our price-range we quickly came to the conclusion that the heavily built offshore cruisers just were not going to work for our family. With our short to mid-range plans being to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean, we believe the Irwin will be a safe and functional home for the three of us. If in the future we decide to head offshore, we will meet that challenge head-on as we always do.

We hope you will continue to Follow the Horizon with us as we continue into the next exciting stage of our journey.

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Posted on Mar 24, 2014 | 0 comments

Wanted: Sailboat in South Florida

Cabot 36 from mast top

So long Cabot 36! Maybe we will find one of your sisters to be ours!

I should stay away from gambling. In our last post on Thursday, I ended by stating that we thought 2 weeks (between then and visiting the boat we intended to buy) should be a pretty safe bet. Not 6 hours later, Dan received a phone call from the broker. A buyer walked in and bought that baby right out from underneath of us, as is/where is. Needless to say, that seriously took some wind out of our sails.

So here we are, heading to Southwest Florida in a week and a half and we’d really like to find a boat while we’re there. I’ve been scouring the internet for the last 4 days trying to find anything and everything that might be worth looking at. Call me optimistic, but I figure we might as well try since we’ll already be in the right place.

While I’m trying to find every possible listing online, I’d like to ask that if you or anyone who know might have a decent lead for us (in South Florida or otherwise) in the less than $50,000 range, please send it along! We would be eternally grateful!

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Posted on Mar 20, 2014 | 0 comments

The Search is On

Oceanis 38 at Strictly Sail

This Beneteau didn’t quite make the price cut.

The search for our boat and new family home has officially begun! In fact, we started looking online in earnest in late February. It wasn’t until we closed on our final rental property this Tuesday that we felt comfortable about possibly shelling out a large portion of our savings for a boat.  Now that we are preparing the house for rental status, we have a firm grasp on our financial situation and can go into negotiations with confidence.

To start our search, I began with a list of potential blue-water boats that I had created over a year ago and discussed in my post Blue Water Boats. I essentially used the boat list provided from Mahina Expeditions and narrowed that down substantially based on our budget restrictions and preferred layout choices. I used this updated list to search every online source I could think of including Craigslist.com, Sailboatlistings.com, and Yachtworld.com primarily.

Trust me when I say that the search process takes hours, even with a limited list of boats. Try typing in “Morgan 38″ into yachtworld and you’ll see what I mean. Our next step was to narrow down these potential boats by sifting out those that looked in decent condition and had as much updated gear as possible. I created a spreadsheet of “required” vs “optional” gear including estimated costs to help us evaluate each boat objectively, and get a general idea of how much each boat would cost us overall.

Next, we started calling brokers and were honestly shocked at how unresponsive most of them were. More than one took several days to respond to our questions and a few never responded at all. You would think that a person on commission would be a little more excited about someone trying to buy their boat, but I guess maybe our price range doesn’t quite arouse their interest like a $200,000 sale. In any case, for anyone out there trying to sell a lower end boat, be choosey about your broker because you might have missed out on a sale due to their inaction.

In our first round of searching and after (finally) hearing back from brokers, we found a few good choices and 1 that is a true stand-out in our opinion. Unfortunately, that boat is halfway across the country; I guess that’s the downside to living in Illinois while trying to find a blue-water ready boat. We are convinced enough of its potential that we have officially made arrangements to see the boat and are hoping to get some good results. It’s nerve-wracking to spend $1,000 on flights and hotel to go visit a boat we’ve never seen and can’t be absolutely sure will still be available when we get there. At this point we are just praying that 2 weeks is a safe bet.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes well and I’m sure we’ll be posting more on this topic soon!

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