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Posted on Jan 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Strictly Sail Chicago 2014

Frozen Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Welcome to Chicago! Looks like those boats will have to be trucked in!

As part of a much needed vacation from house hunting and work, Dan and I spent last weekend at Strictly Sail Chicago. Our 3rd year attending, we were really looking forward to the show as we had saved the more “in-depth” seminars until we would be close to leaving. We figured that we would want the very practical information still fresh in our minds when the time came to actually start cruising. I’m glad we did because the classes we attended this year felt like they were tailor made for us!

View of the main exhibition hall

It took us 2 days to get through all of the booths

Everyone has a different view about cruising, especially those who have been doing it for many years. The more seminars we attend and individuals we talk to, the more we realize there is no “right” way to cruise. While much of the speakers’ experiences were similar, many times they gave contradictory advice! We have quickly learned that we find the best value in listening to people that we respect and adapting their lessons to our own budget, knowledge, and comfort level.  No matter how well a particular tactic has performed for another person, it may be completely useless to us.

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Learning to splice

An unexpected benefit of this year’s show was the networking with other bloggers and editor’s from sailing magazines. In fact, a big thank you to Kevin over at SailFarLiveFree.com for a set of free tickets to the show!  Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming and we are hoping to be able to work with many of them in the future. Lin Pardey herself introduced us to Herb McCormick, the editor of Cruising World, saying “These guys will certainly make some good pictures, don’t you think?” I couldn’t agree more, Lin!

Carter and Dan sanding a toy boat

Now if we could just get him to stop making this face when we tell him to smile!

Now that the show is over, I can tell that both Dan and I are really starting to feel the excitement build. We’ve been sitting on the tarmac for a long time, but we are finally taxiing towards take-off. And let me tell you, it feels pretty good.

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Dan and Carter on inflatable slide

Mom and Dad weren’t the only ones having fun!

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Posted on Jan 23, 2014 | 0 comments

So Close and Yet So Far: Morgan Out Island 372 Review

Morgan Out Island 372

Not exactly her best side.

With the sale of our house pending and the realization that our current savings was adequate for a boat purchase, I decided to start digging through Craigslist and Sailboatlistings.com to explore the for sale by owner boat market. And by digging, I mean a solid 4 hours endlessly scrolling through terrible listings trying to discern which ones were even close to what we were looking for. I mean, come on people, a few pictures of the interior and an actual description would be nice. In the course of this mind-numbing search, I came across what seemed impossible…a Morgan Out Island 372 for sale in Peoria, Illinois. Not only that, but the pictures looked okay and it was listed in our purchase price range at $26,000. I instantly sent the listing to Dan to take a look at and contact the seller.

I’m not going to lie, I was so excited I could hardly sit still. I mean, how perfect could it get? A boat that we would like, in our price range, literally 5 minutes from home? I was starting seeing a Great Lakes route to the Atlantic, a going away party with friends and family that ends with the casting off of lines, the luxury of working on the boat ourselves while still being able to work full time…I have an active imagination. I just knew this had to be the boat for us. We heard back quickly from the seller who provided us with a fairly recent survey that looked decent, another bonus. It was time to see her in person.

Aaand we were severely disappointed. To be fair, it seemed that the bones of the boat were in good shape, no major structural issues and all that. In fact, we really liked the layout and overall set-up of the boat. However, this boat had so many terrible modifications that just made us go “why did you do that!” over and over again. The water heater had been removed and sold, along with the gimbaled stove which had been replaced by a portable cooler. The icebox refrigeration had been sliced and diced to make way for a dorm sized front loader that had to be held shut with a bungy cord. The cabin sole was badly damaged and covered by ugly carpet. One of the settees had been modified into a pull-out bed with a spring support system… effectively eliminating any potential for storage space below. Trust me, I could go on. Not only were there so many cosmetic issues to be dealt with, but there were many safety issues evident as well such as the gooseneck on the mast being replaced with a “custom-designed” piece by a welder friend because it was too difficult to find the actual part. Um yea, not going to go there, thanks though. I guess the search continues.

Want more pictures? Check out the Morgan Out Island 372 photo set on flickr. While you’re there, check out our flickr photostream to see what we’re up to!

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Lovely anchor and rotted bowsprite

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I almost forgot to mention the dogder and bimini with ripping seams and fogged windows.

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If you look closely, you can see the awesome caulk job on the portholes.

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The seller told us “Not to worry, all British engines leak oil!”

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Most of the original teak cabin liners were rotted and covered over by similarly bad choices of wall coverings.

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You can see here the huge icebox…destroyed for a dorm fridge.

 

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Posted on Aug 7, 2013 | 1 comment

Look It Up

Don't know what kind of moth this is? We didn't either so we looked it up!

Don’t know what kind of moth this is? We didn’t either until we looked it up!

Dan and I like to be thoroughly well prepared for big changes and new possibilities in life. When we have a problem, we search Google and figure out how to fix it. When I was pregnant with Carter, I spent hours researching online exactly what to expect and prepare for multiple different outcomes to the point that my doctors were always surprised that I knew exactly what they were talking about and had almost no questions at any of my appointments. Dan visited countless websites and forums along with talking to other landlords before we were confident that we could make well informed decisions about buying rental properties. What can I say? We like to be educated.

Recently, we realized that we had been somewhat slacking in the cruising education division. Sure, we read a lot of other people’s blogs and had spent a lot of time reading cruisersforum and other boating sites when we were first making up our plans, but we hadn’t done a lot of in depth training because we were so focused on the financials of making sure we could get going. That mindset has been able to shift over the last few weeks… We have now reached the point where our rental reserves (six months of expenses per house) and the initial cruising kitty (10k to start, but it will be replenished each month from our various income sources while cruising… think of it as working cash) are established. Now we move into the boat savings stage. It is exhilarating to know that every dollar saved will be building towards a new home. That might not seem like a big deal, but for us it has been a major eye opener. Now we need to make sure that we are ready when the money is!

To start things out right we purchased the full pack of NauticEd* Captain’s courses and have both been working through them together. These courses cover a huge range of topics from diesel engine maintenance and proper sail trim to safety at sea and storm tactics. We have been very impressed with the quality of instruction and depth of information provided from these courses and both of us feel a lot more confident that we will be able to sail our boat safely when the time comes. They even have nice PDF graphs and quick reference guides to laminate and keep on your boat with you as well as practical exercises that we’ll be able to work on together once we get our real boat.

Another course that we are planning to take is the Mahina Expedition seminar that is given at Strictly Sail every year. This seminar is highly rated and addresses a lot of the logistical issues of living on a sailboat. Provisioning, safety, clearing in and out of countries, and having pets on-board are just a few of the topics covered in the all day seminar. The Blue Water Boats list that we’ve been referencing in many of our posts is also created by the Mahina team. These people have a lot of experience under their belts and we’re hoping to take some of that and put it to use on our own journey.

Two other big areas of focus for our studies will be first aid skills and Dan’s SCUBA instructor course. We feel that Dan getting his instructor certification could be a major benefit to us in the future and could potentially give us some additional income throughout the year. The first aid classes we are a little less sure about where to start. Dan is currently EFR/CPR certified as part of his rescue diver certification last year and plans to get his EFR instructor certification at the same time he finishes the PADI instructor certification, which would make it easy for me to get EFR certified as well (which we plan to do.) However as anyone who has taken EFR or the Red Cross first aid class will know, these classes are designed to stabilize a patient until an ambulance or other trained medical staff can reach the patient which usually only takes a short time in comparison to the days it could take if someone was seriously injured at sea. We are currently trying to find other options that would give us a more thorough training, but are having a hard time finding something reasonably priced that we could both be trained in. The most promising so far has been the Wilderness First Response program but that is about $800/person and requires a week of hands-on training so we aren’t sure if we want to jump into that without more … research.

Do you know of any other classes we should consider taking in the next year of preparation? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or shoot us an email from the Contact Us page.

*Use our coupon code followthehorizon at NauticEd to get $15 off any classes! (Full disclosure: we get a very small credit to our NauticEd account when you use this code)

We’ve also done some major updates to our To-Do List page! Click on over to check it out.

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Posted on Jun 27, 2013 | 0 comments

Boat Review: Morgan Out Island and Cape Dory 33

While we were in Panama City we decided we should take a look at a few boats that were potential candidates for us in the future. Most likely none of these exact boats will still be on the market in a year from now but it was important for us to get an idea of what condition boats were actually in that would be in our price range. It’s one thing to tour beautiful, brand-new boats at a yacht show and something else entirely to get a look at what we could realistically expect for $50,000 or less. We were a little apprehensive before going in though cautiously optimistic due to the amount of research we’ve already put in.

First up was the Morgan 41 Out Island. We have seen a lot of these on the cruiser’s forums as recommended family liveaboards (though it didn’t make the Mahina list). It has two good-sized staterooms and a nice big settee as well, so I can certainly understand why families with kids would like it so much. The center cockpit was also large and spacious and would certainly make a great space for entertaining. There was a lot of storage space throughout the cabins and the extra living space in the aft master stateroom would make for a relaxing retreat.

There were only a few negatives (in our opinion, they might not be for others) that we noticed about the boat. First, we aren’t very big fans of having 2 heads aka bathrooms on a boat. That might not seem like a problem, but we figure it’s wasted storage space and more hassle to deal with. Also, the walk-through hallway is pretty darn tight, as in Dan and I could not pass each other at all and we aren’t very big people. There is plenty of cabinet storage but I have a feeling that it would be somewhat cumbersome to use with how narrow the hallway is and it would be especially tight trying to work on the engine which is also accessed there. Overall, the Out Island was a very nice boat and one we wouldn’t be disappointed with, but we just weren’t really feeling it. (This particular one at least. The Out Island can be found in many different layouts and every boat is different.)

The next boat that we saw was a Cape Dory 33. To be honest, we really should have looked at this one before the Out Island instead of after. We came away feeling like it was just too small for us which was compounded by the fact that this specimen wasn’t very well cared for and had a lot of junk piled inside of it. I think even a nice one would probably be too tight of a squeeze for 3 people, but it could make a good cozy boat for a couple. The galley area was actually more spacious on the Cape Dory than the Out Island with more working counter space, but that’s about the only thing that was bigger. One of the most pressing issues that I would have living in this boat is not just the living space but the non-existent storage space. I don’t think that our SCUBA equipment would be able to find a home on this little boat and therefore neither would we!

Luckily, the next two boats we toured were ones that we would be thrilled to pick up when the time comes but we will save those for next time!

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Posted on May 1, 2013 | 2 comments

Book Review: Once Upon a Gypsy Moon

onceuponagypsymoonOnce Upon a Gypsy Moon is not so much a sea-tale as it is a man’s introspective journey into his own motivations, actions, and dreams. While Gypsy Moon (his 32-foot sloop) carried Michael from Annapolis to Nassau and beyond physically, the time he spent single-handing her over that distance carried him much farther emotionally and spiritually. He started his journey lost and lonely after an ugly divorce and ended it as a man with hope for the future.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

The world has a way of working itself out, in my experience. There are things unseen. Life is not always easy or pleasant, and it is often unfair, but it seems to unfold according to some plan of which we are only peripherally aware – like a dream, the details of which are vivid only when we are sleeping. We cannot remember- much less comprehend- that dreamworld with the powers of a rational mind.

Sailing has been a love of mine for almost as long as I can remember, and that love endures…But over the years, the idea of sailing long distances over oceans, unobliged to return, became for me less about adventure than escape- a kind of trapdoor beneath the uncertain footing of a marriage and a personal and professional life that seemed at various times to teeter on the brink of collapse… With no escape hatch, we have to face life head-on, admit our weakness, rely on our relationships, and trust others to catch us when we fall.

The insight in the book was compelling, though at times it did get a little dry. The boat journey was somewhat less exciting than the cover lead me to believe as it was mostly individual legs of a trip broken up by repair stops on his old boat rather than a continuous time line. The final chapter entitled “The Loss of the Gypsy Moon” was certainly the most thrilling of the book as *Spoiler Alert* Michael did eventually have to abandon ship during bad weather after a nasty knock-down and subsequent rescue by the US Coast Guard. Maybe someday she will be found and resuscitated but it seemed a fitting end to the tale of a man who no longer needed his escape hatch.

 

We would like to pass the book on to one of our readers in our first giveway! If you would like the chance to read Once Upon a Gypsy Moon yourself, there are four ways you can earn entries to the giveway:

  1. Subscribe to this blog via email (look for “Receive updates by email” in the right sidebar)
  2. Leave a comment on this post
  3. Follow us on Twitter @sv_horizon
  4. Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FollowTheHorizon

Each way gets you 1 entry into the drawing, for a maximum of 4 entries. We’ll do the drawing next Tuesday evening and announce the winner on the blog next week! Hope to see your name!

 (In March, we were contacted by Center Street book publishers to do a review on a new memoir that they released on April 16 called Once Upon a Gypsy Moon by Michael Hurley. We agreed, so they sent us a pre-release copy of the book that for some reason we didn’t receive until a couple of weeks ago. This is the first time that we have been contacted to do a review so we’re pretty excited that we are starting to pop up on the radar of the sailing blog world.)

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