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Posted on Apr 9, 2014 | 3 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 21, 2013 | 0 comments

A Fresh Start

Each one of those is about 21 seconds of cruising. Start counting!

Each one of those is about 21 seconds of cruising. Start counting!

I am a sucker for new beginnings. New Year’s, birthdays, and even Mondays can generally make me feel like this time is going to be different. True, I’m usually right back to my normal routine by Wednesday, but there’s always next week, right? My most recent enthusiasm for new beginnings has been brought about by finally moving into our new house this last weekend. I mean, I love Dan’s parents for sure and am super grateful that they’ve welcomed us into their home for the last 2 months, but there’s just something about having your own space.

We’re hoping that with a new house will come some new habits and a new budget to go along with them. We’ve developed some habits in the last few years that are hard to break and hard on the pocket book, namely eating out almost every day and constantly being out running around for entertainment. You wouldn’t think that the running around part would be that big of a deal, but with $3.50/gal gas prices mingled with the propensity to buy random stuff we don’t need when we’re walking the mall for fun and then the  added likelihood of eating out if we’re already out of the house, and maybe you can see how kicking that habit could add almost $1000/month to our cruising kitty.

So how do we plan to change our bad habit? Well, first we have to start by wanting to be at home and therefore having plenty of entertainment for ourselves, sans television preferably. If the only thing we have to do at home is chores, then we don’t exactly want to spend a lot of time there. That means games, books, and possibly a new garden in a nice spot in the backyard. Also, our new neighborhood has sidewalks (yay!) and is fairly close to a couple of different parks, so walks and bike rides are definitely in our future – assuming of course that the future is warmer than today. Thirty degrees in March is precisely why winter is on its way out of my vocabulary.

I’ve also found a new meal planning subscription that we are trying out called 5 dinners 1 hour. One of my biggest problems with cooking at home is planning what we are going to have before I want to make it to ensure that we actually have the food on hand. No one (in our family at least) wants to go grocery shopping after work and then still come home and make dinner. 5 dinners 1 hour is a subscription service that provides 5 dinner recipes a week with a full grocery list and advanced preparation instructions to have all five of your entrees ready to go in an hour over the weekend. Then all I have to do is heat it up and whip up a side dish during the week. There are even 3 separate menu types to choose from: classic, clean eating, and gluten free (we chose clean eating) so you can find the right plan for your family. We just started this week, so I’ll try to post an update in a couple of weeks on how we like using it.

Do you have any suggestions for us to try? Games or great books to read? A recipe that your family loves? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Posted on Mar 7, 2013 | 0 comments

A Little Perspective

Carter at the store with his green bouncy ball

Carter at the store with his green bouncy ball

As you may have noticed, we have a two year old little boy in our house. And like pretty much all little boys, he loves to play with balls of all kinds. We also have a terrier named Winston who loves to play with balls of all kinds, and who believes that every ball in existence belongs to him. I think you may begin to see the conflict arising. A couple of days ago, Carter found a light up bouncy ball in one of our cars that he had dropped months ago and was very excited to play with it. So, he started playing with his newly rediscovered ball and then left it on the floor abandoned a few minutes later.

Abandoned balls quickly get claimed by Winston. And so it was that when Carter and I returned to the room some time later, the big green bouncy ball had been reduced to a plastic ball surrounded by a pile of green rubber. I almost started crying when I saw the heartbroken look on Carter’s face as we went to pick up his ball and showed it to me. “Mommy, my ball broten.” (that’s broken) All I could think to respond was, “I’m sorry honey, Winston ruined it.”

As I began to clean up the remnants of the sparkly rubber, I noticed that Carter had started pulling the last pieces off of the plastic light-up center. When he had finished picking them all off, he held the ball up to me and said, “Look Mommy, now it’s a rolly ball”, and proceeded to roll it around the room just as happy as he had been a few minutes ago watching it bounce off the walls. I was completely amazed and to be honest a little ashamed of myself. My 2 year old had a lot more imagination then I did when faced with a problem that hadn’t gone the way he wanted. All it took was a little perspective.

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Posted on May 8, 2012 | 0 comments

A Wife’s Tale

It has come to my attention that I am not the “typical” boat wife. Apparently, a significantly larger percentage of men in the boating world would like to go cruising than their long-suffering wives… patiently rolling their eyes as the husband goes on again about the freedom of the open sea and other such nonsense as she sees it. Therefore, I have decided to take up my little soapbox today in the name of the crazy wives who actually think that the cruising life sounds like the best idea our husbands have ever come up with.

Let me start by saying that when Dan first brought up the idea a few years ago I actually laughed in his face. This was the most ridiculous idea he had ever come up with. We didn’t sail, I’m somewhat afraid of water, and we don’t even eat fish! No thank you. Also, I was enjoying our life and looking forward to a little family and the white picket fence; June Cleaver was my subconscious hero. In short, I just wasn’t ready yet for such a drastic dream.

Then a year ago, Dan starting looking into cruising again, more seriously this time. He brought the idea to me somewhat more cautiously optimistic than the first time, backing himself up with some realistic expectations. His enthusiasm caught my attention more than anything else. He let me know that he really wanted to go cruising but he needed me to make my own decision about it; he couldn’t let himself get any deeper without becoming emotionally committed to the dream. So I decided to do my own research and that I would make a real decision after our cruise to the Southern Caribbean, where we would be spending some time on smaller boats that would give me at least some idea of what sailing was about.

The first conclusion I came to was that living on a boat was definitely possible for us. (I know that sounds a little obvious, but it was a pretty big leap for a girl who had never been on a sailboat before.) Now I needed to decide if this was really what I wanted for me. Not because I loved my husband and wanted to make him happy, not because it would be a nice experience for my son, but because this was my dream. As I read and listened, a yearning started to build in my heart that was becoming my own. Finally, near the end of our cruise, I was standing on the top deck of our ship looking out at the huge moon reflecting off of the ocean waves and I knew: my life will not be complete until I see this scene from my own deck.

I want to encourage the wives out there, take your husband seriously when he brings you a dream that is in his heart. I believe that we find the person who was designed to unlock our deepest desires and greatest potential, but we are also the person who could crush that potential much more easily. Do you want to be the wife standing in the wings with a leash, or do you want to be a partner in a fantastic adventure?

Follow your dreams. Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on May 7, 2012 | 1 comment

How did we come up with this idea anyway?

This sums up why we wanted to move there. Bay of Islands, NZ

NaBloPoMo asks “What sports did you play as a child?” Michele and I certainly didn’t sail. I played pretty much every sport an American child in the Midwest can play, just not sailing. We’re talking basketball, baseball, football, floor hockey, soccer, swimming, track and field, you name it I played it. So how did Michele and I come up with the crazy idea to sail full time?

A few years ago I had watched the documentary Ice Blink… At the time I thought little more about it than “Wow that’s cool.” The seed of sailing (and crusing) had been planted however. As Michele and I became more and more disillusioned with money and “stuff” we began searching for alternatives. Cruising was not at the top of the list, surprisingly. We seriously explored moving to New Zealand. New Zealand is in the midst of a brain drain as most of its young educated people move elsewhere, primarily Australia. Because of this brain drain, IT workers (and especially network engineers) wanting to move into the country are on somewhat of a fast track approval.

We went so far as to tell our families we were moving to live the life of Kiwis… but what was the life of a Kiwi? Our primary motivation was to reprioritize our lives away from what is fake and towards what is real. We started talking to people from New Zealand to get a feel for what life there really is all about. We would still need to work full time, if only to keep our fast track status. Slowly, we figured out that the freedom we were searching for doesn’t have as much to do with “where” as with “when” and “what” you are doing. Time-freedom is hard to come by. Cruising fulfills both aspects of what drove Michele and I to want to move to New Zealand: time-freedom and exploration. The ability to set sail within a few hours notice for whatever port you would like definitely is quite alluring for the both of us. The time-freedom to explore those ports, as well as ourselves, is what calls us to the sea.

This post is part of our NaBloPoMo series. Follow the Horizon is participating in National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). NaBloPoMo is for bloggers who commit to post each day in the month of May.

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